Downton Abbey Recap: Revenge Is Bittersweet

Downton Abbey Season 3 Thomas James BedThis week on Downton Abbey, it looks as if Mrs. O’Brien’s plot to rid the household of Thomas is going to be a rousing success… that is, until the absolute last person you’d expect to intervene on his behalf does exactly that! Here are the deets: 

EPILOGUE TO A KISS | Finally swallowing Mrs. O’Brien’s lies that James fancies him, Thomas sneaks into the hunklet’s room while he’s sleeping and kisses him — just as Alfred bursts in! After the dust settles and what color there ever was returns to Alfred’s face, Carson suggests that, though he considers Thomas “something foul,” he use Bates’ homecoming as an excuse to leave Downton gracefully. Of course, that isn’t enough for Mrs. O’Brien! The wicked witch tells James to tell Carson that, if he gives Thomas a reference, he’ll tell the police what happened! Rendered unemployable, Thomas is, in essence, ruined! Or is he? Though Bates is only too happy to see his nemesis skedaddle, he can’t abide these circumstances. “Why do you have to be such a big girl’s blouse about it?” he (hilariously) asks James. In the end, Thomas remembers the three little words that Bates can use to strong-arm Mrs. O’Brien into setting things right: her ladyship’s soap! Unfortunately for Bates, his good deed doesn’t go unpunished: Not only does Thomas get the slate wiped clean, he gets a promotion that makes him his savior’s superior!

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AN ESTATE OF FLUX | As Matthew’s plans to make Downton self-sustaining move forward, Robert continues to sulk like a very proper 5-year-old. But, really, it all seems like it’s going to work out just fine. Heck, it only matters for about a minute and a half that the old estate manager resigns in a huff, because Tom is the ideal chap to take over his duties, isn’t he? In fact, he is! (A point that’s nicely underscored by the pep talk that Sybil’s widower gives her father.) Speaking of Tom, he makes Mary Sybil 2.0’s godmother and manages to get both Robert and Violet to attend the baby’s Christening. (Is there nothing he can’t do?!) Later, he delights Cora by choosing to remain in the main house with Sybil 2.0 until she’s older. (All together now, for the millionth time this episode: “It’s what Sybil would have wanted.”)

COOK OUT | After spotting Ethel crying on the street — the ex-hooker had been refused service at a shop, it turns out — Violet infuriates Isobel by finding her cook a new post far away from Downton. At first, Ethel wants to turn down the position — it puts her too close to her babydaddy’s family. But, when Mrs. Bryant assures her that she’ll handle her husband, supervillain mustache and all, Ethel is only too happy to relocate to a town where she might occasionally catch a glimpse of her son, Charlie!

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THIS ’N’ THAT | No sooner has Edith begun her job as a newspaper columnist than she’s learned that her besotted editor, Michael, is hitched to a madwoman. (Literally, a madwoman — she’s in an asylum and has been for years.) Violet’s great-niece, wild child Rose, visits, gets busted with her married lover at a jazz club and is sent away with (apparently) the stodgiest relative in the history of stodginess. And, at last, Matthew catches Mary visiting the same London doctor that he’s consulting and learns that a) she, not he, was the reason that they couldn’t conceive, and b) the problem has been solved. So they should be preggers in no time, right? Er, right?

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Were you surprised that Bates rode to Thomas’ rescue? Would you have liked to have seen more of Sybil 2.0’s godfather — Tom’s coarse brother, Kieran? What about Rose? (She was a hoot!) And how nice is it to see Edith happy for a change? Sound off below!

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38 Comments
  1. iMember says:

    I almost thought this was the Revenge recap! Haha. Waiting for Downton Abbey to wrap up this season so I can marathon it all on my DVR. Can’t wait for your Revenge recap soon. That was SOOOOOOOOO GOOOD tonight, oh my gosh!!!

  2. valeriel40 says:

    Loved the ep! O’Brien is just unstoppingly vicious! Who’d a thunk back in S1 that *Bates* would help out Thomas? And that Thomas & O’Brien would no longer be as thick as thieves? Good riddance to Kieran…. wish I could say the same about monochromatic Rose. As soon as she snuck off, I knew what was up. Glad Edith is finding a place for herself. Invariably in these English class stories, there’s a man with a crazy wife locked up in the attic! LOL!

  3. Amanda says:

    How long is it going to take for Jimmy/Alfred (whichever could cook) to go work for Isobel?

  4. Cecelia says:

    1. Thomas is awful. He was sexually harassing James and for that reason alone should be fired. He’s nothing but trouble and everyone in the house knows it.

    2. Edith is up to her old tricks. Once again thinking that her happiness is determined by having a man, any man, in her life and going after a married man. Also, is his wife really insane? At that time, a man could lock up his wife by pretending that she was insane.

    • wooster182 says:

      He didn’t know he was sexually harassing him, though. Technically, it was Mrs. O’Brien that was sexually harassing Jimmy through Thomas. Thomas was being told that Jimmy liked him. He was only reciprocating.

  5. shuayb says:

    I think the most important thing that was left out of this recap is Violet’s reaction to Matthew telling Robert that Tom would be perfect for groundsman of Downton. (I’ll be paraphrasing here) ‘Thank goodness, we can go back to calling him Branson now’ she is just so amazing with her politically incorrect zingers! Season 3 is shaping up to be very dramatic. Edith always gets the raw end of the stick. Doesn’t her story remind anyone of Jane Eyre? Esp the part with falling for a married man who has a criminally insane wife?

    • johnhelvete says:

      It is almost comical that Edith finds a man that is interested in her and boom he can’t divorcee his crazy wife. Makes me think that Julian Fellowes hates the character.

  6. Amber says:

    This is my first season of Downton Abby. Can somebody tell me what happened between Mr. Bates and Thomas?

    • Elaine Bondra says:

      Thomas fancied the valets job for himself so went out of his way to cause Bates to make mistakes and make him look bad – with lots of help from Miss O’Brien. They were thick as thieves in the beginning. That went by the wayside when O’Brien’s nephew Alfred joined the crew as a footman, and Thomas felt Alfred was getting special treatment and climbing the ladder of success a little too quickly through favoratism, without really earning it as he (Thomas) had.

    • bigdede says:

      Also they tripped poor Bates when he was walking to the house his first day.

  7. The Beach says:

    I’ve been waiting for what seems like forever for someone or something to crush O’Brien. The look on her face when Bates mentioned the soap was great but I’m still waiting for the big payoff when she really gets what’s coming to her.

  8. Gail says:

    How realistic is it that so many people would be enlightened about homosexuality not being a choice in the 1920’s .

    • Spitey says:

      Not very. And most of them have ZERO tolerance for Ethel’s prostitution, which is more historically accurate. I was peeved they strove for accuracy with the woman’s storyline, but not with the man’s. Grrr. (Especially since Thomas is such a douche!)

    • Well, in all honesty it was only Mrs. Hughes that I was at all confused about and she has a history of tolerance. Just look how she was with Ethel. She was utterly unperturbed about her getting pregnant out of wedlock and and becoming a prostitute. So I didn’t feel it was too much of a stretch for her to be understanding. Bates and Lord Grantham I totally buy. Bates was a soldier and just got out of prison and Lord Grantham was a soldier and went to a public school. In those days schools like Eton and Harrow were law of the jungle schools. If a high ranking peer (like the Duke from season one) was secretly gay and hitting on you it took tact and tolerance to get out of it without making yourself a dangerous enemy. Pulicly Lord Grantham would probably denounce it loudly but privately in his home he had more leeway. As for Bates, back then prisoner’s rights were nonexistant so he probably saw a lot of things he wishes he could forget and having a man’s life destroyed over an honest mistake would rub him the wrong way no matter who it was.

  9. Pokie says:

    I think O’Brien has a little something she’s hiding as well, besides her ladyship’s soap.

  10. bigdede says:

    “Get back in the knife drawer, Ms.Sharp”. That was so funny. I so wanted Thomas to get fired. I can’t stand that character. He’s so evil and vile. For him to be under butler is not right. All that crap he did to Bates and how he harassed poor Jimmy, he needed to be fired. I don’t understand Grantham going crazy because a former ho was serving the ladies but he’s willing to put up with a gay man just because he can play cricket. That makes no sense especially since homosexuality was a crime back then. I want Edith to find some happiness with a man somewhere around her age and who isn’t married. That whole Jane Eyre thing going on is not romantic. Love Lady Grantham who is always right! I don’t feel for Edith at all. She put herself in this mess. Her whole storyline was boring except we got Lady Grantham v Isobel. “Did you take your pills today”. Love them at each other’s throats. Can’t wait to see Mary pregnant and I love that Tom is staying around with Sybil.

    • AJ Howard says:

      You have to remember that even though homosexuality was a crime back then it was basically par for course for upper class men of the period to have experienced a little bit of it while they were at boarding school. As Lord Grantham said to Bates while discussing it “If I had made a ruckus every time someone tried to kiss me while at Eaton, I’d be hoarse” Also at that time, it was a man’s world, and unless someone was very obvious about their homosexuality, men just ignored and downplayed it but a prostitute serving tea to their womenfold – OMG the scandal. The fairer sex was to be protected at all costs, upper class women at that time were usually very ignorant about things outside their own sphere. For example, also in the episode Lady Rosamond had no clue about jazz clubs before she went in to rescue Rose and had to have the cabbie spell it out exactly what type of place Rose went into.

  11. Drew says:

    Yeah, the resolution to the Thomas story seemed like it was catering more to today’s audience than it was to historical accuracy. And homosexuality aside, Carson was right about Thomas being foul, if only because he is a horrible and ugly person. He and O’Brien should both get humiliated, destroyed and put out on the street. It is a shame that Bates didn’t get out of prison just a little bit later. :)

  12. Whatever says:

    O’Brien was also responsible for telling Mr Bates wife about him and Anna being happy together which eventually resulted in Bates going to jail.
    Even Thomas thought that she went too far at the time.
    Should be interesting to see what Thomas has in store for O’Brien now and if Bates will be involved.
    Good Grief,Lord Grantham has been acting like a spoiled 5 year old ! Man he’s been a whiner lately.
    And I wish they would let Lady Edith have some joy.They need to spread the misery around instead of it always being her burden to bare.

  13. Melck713 says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that O’Brien is really Alfred’s mom?

  14. JustMeBarbP says:

    What about Mrs. Hughes and her gentle remonstrances toward Mr. Carson? Both she and Mrs. Patmore are showing some 20th century empowerment, just as the women ‘upstairs’ are.

  15. We have all the time in the world says:

    Well, I’d say Downton Abbey has once again been steered by an expert hand. The wheels are really turning about next week’s finale. I know I’m just waiting for some storylines to kick into high gear! After some of the nonsense plotting this year, I really hope the show doesn’t go off the road again — or roll over and play dead, like it did in S2. I’d be crushed! Though it might kill me to watch sometimes, Downton Abbey is one show I’ll never ditch.

    • shanghaiedinlalaland says:

      Pixley, is that you? … LMAO. That’s HYSTERICAL. (If could fave you I would.) … But you forgot to throw in the part about DA “driving you to distraction” and this being a “crash and burn” season. ;-)

    • zoot says:

      very clever

      • Wicked Old Woman says:

        I rather like Thomas. He’s one of the most interesting characters, and I enjoy “analyzing” him and trying to understand why he’s the way he is.

        • At first I positively disliked Thomas. He was so self serving. And then faking the war injury and weaselling the position at the house/rehab center. But then he seemed to pull that off rather well. And he tried so hard to start an independant life, if only he hadn’t been so smug. And he was just destroyed. But it was his grief over Sybil’s death, that set a new more sympathetic tone for the character. And now the way O’Brien played him. I think we may see a new loyalty to THE FAMILY.

  16. Jeff says:

    I hope they continue to develop Thomas’ character and his being gay. Makes for interesting television.

  17. Alichat says:

    Finally saw this episode today. I feel sorry that Bates’ generosity was repaid with Thomas getting the Underbutler position and not Thomas remaining as valet. I really thought Alfred was a smart, nice guy when he first started, but now he seems to be the dumbest guy in the house! And his attraction to Ivy just solidifies his stupidity. I was hoping we would see some bonding between Mary and Edith when Mary asked her to make sure Matthew didn’t take an earlier train home. I wish there were a few more episodes like this one before the finale…..knowing what is coming in the finale just made it bittersweet. Carson finally calling Tom “Mr. Branson,” family members finally supporting Edith in something, Lord Grantham finally warming up to Tom…somewhat, Bates free and home, Ms Hughes, Carson, and Bates rallying around a co-worker, loads of Dowager witticisms, all Mrs Patmore’s quips, and Matthew handling crazy Lily. And I would love to see more bonding time with Matthew and Tom…..just loved all the scenes between the two of them in this episode.

    I really think kudos should be given to Rob James-Collier for his portrayal of Thomas. I mean, that character is a conniving, selfish douche, and still I felt sorry for him so often this season. Especially this episode, and when Lady Sybil passed.

  18. Kay says:

    I absolutely HATED this episode! It was absolutely ridiculous that THOMAS got an actual promotion for his sexual harassment to Jimmy. I know OBrien was the leading cause but it was never her idea to have him sneak in and kiss him in his bed. This would have been a huge scandal if THOMAS would have done the exact some thing to a girl! I understand he didnt deserve to have a life destroyed by this mark and no recommendation. But having Lord Grantham simply urge a good recommendation and maybe even a job offer in another location would have been more than enough. But to have him stay on and have a new position made for him that is indeed a promotion, just shows that this is historically inaccurate. It is extremely offensive that Ethel would be treated so harshly by Lord Grantham only for him to turn around and act as if homosexuality isn’t a scandal for the time. It is extremely sexist. And just shows that the producers are more concerned with timely politics than accuracy and historical concern. I don’t not like this direction. And I hope they know that not all viewers are gay pride advocates. Especially since the time period looked harshly on those that homosexual and it was indeed a crime! Lord Grantham decides to hush up Alfred and make him look the fool. I think it is ludicrous and is the wrong direction for a show that has so much potential.

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