Downton Abbey Recap: Prodigal 'Son' Returns

Downton Abbey Season 3 Tom ReturnsThis week on Downton Abbey, the Crawleys forget all about The Awful Tom Formalwear Incident of 1920 when their least favorite in-law shows up at the estate with the law on his tail and without his pregnant wife. And it only gets worse from there. Read on:

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HOUSE ARREST | Turns out, Tom was involved in the torching of the (according to Violet, quite hideous) home of some Irish nobles. He feels terrible about it now… but not nearly as terrible as he feels after Robert tears him a new one for leaving Sybil behind to fend for herself. After she finally joins her hubby at Casa Crawley, Robert gets the wanted man off the hook with the po-po — provided he never again sets foot in his native country!

WHO’S THE BOSS? | Though Matthew’s bailout package made him Downton’s co-owner, Robert seems to be under the impression that his preferred son-in-law will be more of a silent partner — emphasis on the “silent.” Matthew, of course — of course! — has other ideas. And, while Robert is busy restaffing (more on that later), Mary’s better half confesses to Violet that, according to his research, Downton’s been mismanaged for… well, eons!

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HOT STUFF | Since Downton is flush again, Carson is at last allowed to add staff. He wants to promote hardworking Alfred (even though, as he notes, the lad is Mrs. O’Brien’s nephew!), but Mary — level-headed as ever — instructs him to give the loftier position to new hire Jimmy… er, James… because he has the same effect on the maids (and Thomas) that One Direction has on tweenage girls. The kitchen gets a new empoyee, too: gorgeous Ivy, who makes her entrance just as Daisy’s about to admit to Alfred that she fancies him!

GOOD LUCK, CHARLIE | After weeks of torturing Isobel with “I have something to tell you”/“No, no, I can’t possibly tell you” back-and-forth, Ethel finally comes out with it: She’s ready to give up son Charlie to his late father’s parents (even the really mean one with the mustache!). And, in a damn heartbreaking scene, she does exactly that.

YOU’VE GOT MAIL | Much ado is made of the fact that, because Bates is on some prison hooligans’ “naughty list,” he isn’t getting Anna’s letters (nor is she receiving his). But, by episode’s end, the convict has turned the tables, and mail delivery has been restored. (He even manages to get rid of his cellmate!) Back in polite society, Violet makes the mistake of telling Edith to “stop whining and find something to do.” Which results in the spinster scandalizing her father by getting an editorial published in favor of women’s suffrage!

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you happy that Tom and Sybil are back at Downton? Were you as smitten with Jimmy… er, James… as everyone else? What did you make of Mary’s (seeming) reluctance to hurry up and pop out an heir? Sound off below!

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29 Comments
  1. Kathryn says:

    No, I like Alfred better. I have to agree with the old poop, Robert, it was a loathsome thing abandoning your pregnant wife. Sometimes I don’t know why Matthew wanted to marry Mary, maybe as some punishment. First, she made it clear she didn’t want his kid when he was obviously happy about the possibility and then she’s having a cow when he finds the reason the estate almost went bankrupt; it’s being badly managed. If these problems aren’t corrected, it’s likely Downton Abbey could be in trouble again and this time more inherited wealth may not present itself to save it. Loved Edith’s letter got published but aside from Matthew no one seemed to support her.

  2. Ana says:

    Branson is reprehensible. He does not have the courage of his convictions and made a mockery of his marriage vows abandoning his pregnant wife at the 1st sign of trouble. I think O’Brien will get her revenge against Thomas using the handsome new footman. Poor Daisy. Will she ever find love? I think the vile Sir Richard has his hand in the Bates misfortune. Glad Edith is finding her voice.

  3. Deion says:

    So…Daisy falls for the footman who looks just like poor William?

    • Tess says:

      Did you notice how the tables have turned with Daisy? In season 1, William was the one pining for her while she paid him no mind in favor of fawning over Thomas; now she’s interested in Alfred and new girl Ivy comes in and he looks like he’s going to be paying more attention to her… William only got the courage to tell Daisy how he felt about her when he was going to war and even still, she never developed the same feelings, so I wonder if she will get up the courage to tell Alfred she likes him and if she does, will he feeel the same way or just view her as a friend the way she saw William?

    • Shelley says:

      That is exactly what I was thinking! Why has no one mentioned that? Odd casting. Also, William was sweeter, smarter and more cheerful–and Daisy was NOT interested. Very strange…

  4. Shaun says:

    I hate Ethel so much….such a horrid character!!

    • O'Brien says:

      My attitude changed entirely with Ethel when she said, “Spincters get out of be for breakfast.” I didn’t know she had it in her, but she seems to just be done with getting pushed around. I feel like her turn this season may end up being the most interesting.

  5. Beth says:

    Who is Violet?

  6. Ana says:

    Violet is Matthew Crawley’ s mother.

  7. Liana in San Diego says:

    So wish Matthew would grow a pair and finally tell Mary to stop bossing him around, tell Robert that the money is not a gift and that he, Matthew, will run things, and in general just get a damned backbone. But of course, since we know Stevens doesn’t return for Season 4, that means things at Downton will continue as they always have been, with more treacly soap opera than any daytime soap ever produced! So sick of all these whiney characters.

    • Templar says:

      Do you only get one channel on your TV?

    • Pokie says:

      Oh dear GOD, if you don’t like the show, then stop watching it already and leave the rest if us to enjoy it!

      • RoxieDoodles says:

        I completely agree with you, Pokie. Downton is not a soap opera in that there is a historical element-it’s more real than ‘Honey Boo-Boo’ and all those other “reality” shows, which I don’t watch because they’re always fighting, arguing, or betraying each other Ithough Edith did go that route in Season 1). I love the clothes, Ms. Maggie Smith, and I grieve for Sybil, whom I thought Matthew should have gone for. Mary’s working my nerves because she obviously has no head for business or she’d have helped her father handle his! I agree that Matthew talking to the lawyer right after Sybil died was ‘bad form’, but he’s worried. Bad enough he was nagged to take the money to save Downton, now Mary doesn’t want him to watch how it’s spent? Now, that lady could use a dose of reality.

  8. I really loved this episode. I’m totally over the seperation of Anna and Bates and they need to fix it but other than that I thought there was some great development. I can’t decide if Mary really doesn’t want to have a baby or if she thought she was pregnant and got into that prickly angry place when she found out she wasn’t because she was disappointed and she could tell that Matthew would have been happy. She didn’t look at all upset when Edith was weeping and said “look at them, Sybil pregnant, Mary probably pregnant too”. I don’t see why she would stiff up with one and not the other.
    .
    Anyone who couldn’t tell what was going to happen at the end of the scene with Ethel and Isobel is a blind idiot. Cousin Isobel had her back up but good.
    .
    I see Matthew butting heads with Robert and getting his way and instituting the begininng of big changes. ::cue bickering::
    .
    Tom Branson is a stubborn selfish hot head. I understand being a firebrand patriot but putting your wife and unborn child into danger for your patriotism (particularly when she doesn’t want to) is the most base kind of selfishness. Leave them and get your own neck in the noose if you are so determined to bathe in the blood of your country’s rebirth.
    .
    Finally, I can’t wait to watch O’Brian humiliate Thomas by using James. I love it when those two fight. It gives the rest of the house entertainment and breathing room since no one else is really vicous enough to take them on.

  9. Pokie says:

    Mary is a pain in the butt. She’s never happy. Matthew needs to tell her off AND stand up to Robert as well in manners of managing the estate.
    I love this show. There’s so much to discuss.
    I love the relationship between Bates and his wife Anna. I think it grounds the whole story.

  10. Pokie says:

    FREE BATES!

  11. i was just wondering if anyone else has noticed that jimmy or james looks alot like simon baker of the mentalist…….does anyone know his name……

  12. Joy Loflin says:

    Bring back Patrick and let him marry Edith!

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