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!