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Downton Abbey: Season 3, Episode 2: She Stole My Heart Away

My dear friends – was this the longest week in your life? Perhaps you were waiting to see if your favorite sports team would advance and waiting for season 3, episode 2 of Downton Abbey. It has been an emotional night for us all, hasn’t it? If you’re ready to relive the glory, the drama and the disappointment, please read on for Amie Simon’s recap …

Another wedding at Downton? So soon? Yes! Preparations for the wedding of Lady Edith and Sir Anthony Strallan have started, and as Edith expresses surprise—“Something happening in this house is actually about me!”—I allowed myself to get excited with her. The Dowager Countess is less than thrilled that her granddaughter is marrying a “drudge of a man,” but she’s rolling with it anyway.

While Thomas & O’Brien are still sparring over those stolen shirts, Mrs. Patmore checks in Mrs. Hughes about whether or not she’s heard from the doctor, and Carson overhears. Uh-oh! So much for keeping that whole business a secret …

Lord Grantham and Cora discuss what will happen when the Abbey goes up for sale and come up with a plan to tour another house he owns, suggesting they could rename it “Downton Place.” Cute! But sad. He also wonders when to tell the staff that they are leaving, and Matthew looks uncomfortable during the whole conversation (as well he should!).

After finding out that Moseley knows someone looking for a position as a lady’s maid, Thomas enacts some revenge by telling Moseley that O’Brien is leaving, and that he should approach Lady Cora now to get a good word in. Moseley awkwardly enters the drawing room and announces this plan to all the Crawleys. Unsurprisingly, no one seems upset by the prospect of O’Brien leaving except Cora.

Later on, Matthew confesses to Mary that Reggie Swire’s lawyer is coming to deliver the death certificate and the inheritance … and that he is still reluctant to accept. This is obviously a HUGE point of contention between the two of them, and it’s starting to strain their relationship even more.

Sneaky Carson corners Dr. Clarkson in town and probes him for information about Mrs. Hughes, but he refuses to share details—which really doesn’t matter, since Carson is apparently just as adept at trickery as anyone else at Downton, and talks Mrs. Patmore into spilling the beans, then leaves her to brood over the news that Hughes may have cancer.

While getting ready to tour their new home, Cora asks O’Brien what’s going on. But of course she has no idea, and her lack of an answer only frustrates Lady Grantham—especially when Carson approaches Cora about Mrs. Hughes being ill and asks if they can “lighten her load.” Oh, Carson! Your heart is in a good place, but maybe you should stay out of this one.

Sir Strallan and Lord Grantham make peace about Strallan’s marrying Edith, coming to an understanding about why Robert objected to the marriage. Anthony agrees he is way too old for her, but promises that he will make Edith happy, always. Lord Grantham agrees that the thing is done, and that he hopes the union will be happy for both of them, but we can all tell his heart really isn’t in it. Perhaps something in how many times he uses the word "happy" gives him away.

While Isobel is trying to teach her “women of ill repute” to sew, most of them act unruly and appear to only be interested in free food. Shockingly, Ethel reappears and starts to explain that she doesn’t want help for herself, but then runs out again before telling Isobel what’s up. How many times it his going to happen? The suspense is killing me!

With the family gone, Anna sets off on a secret mission to deliver money to a Mrs. Bartlett for information about Vera’s death. But she doesn’t get the answers she’s looking for; Mrs. Bartlett tells her Vera was terrified of Bates, and that she firmly believes Bates murdered Vera. Bartlett does say that Vera was scrubbing her hands furiously after making pastries for Bates’ return that evening—hmm. Interesting! Could this be the piece of information Anna’s been searching for? Who knows?!?!

The Crawleys’ new house is actually quite pretty, and Cora confirms that it’s a good choice, although Sybil points out that it will be kind of cramped. Tom rebuffs that point by saying that it’s basically a palace to anyone but the Crawleys, and the Countess quips that she doesn’t know where she’ll stay now and maybe she should open up a little shop. Ha! The Dowager Countess, working for a living? Hilarious!

During yard time, another prisoner warns Bates that his cellmate is going to set him up somehow and that he should check his bedding for contraband. Good thing too, because just as the guards are coming in to toss the cell, Bates finds some drugs and is able to hide them behind his back. YIKES! That was close. Too close.

Matthew tells Mary that he received a letter from Swire but he hasn’t opened it because he’s afraid that it will confirm everything he believes about Lavinia’s father being snowed by the idea that Matthew actually loved his daughter. Mary finds this ridiculous, of course, and continues to make exasperated sighs about the whole situation.

O’Brien finally figures out what’s been going on and tells Lady Grantham that it was all a misunderstanding, but Cora still believes that O’Brien must have said something that made Moseley think she hated her job and wants to leave. When Mrs. Hughes arrives, Cora confronts her about her illness and tells her that she is welcome to stay with the family and that they will make sure she is taken care of, no matter what happens. Break out the tissues! What an amazingly kind offer.

Oh man, we all saw this coming: Mary opens the letter from Reggie Swire and reads it to a now furious Matthew. It reveals that Mr. Swire knew Matthew was going to marry Lavinia even though he was in love with Mary, and that Swire greatly admired his sacrifice. Swire gives Matthew his blessing to take the money regardless—but Matthew still doesn’t believe it and initially accuses Mary of writing the letter herself, saying there’s no way Lavinia could have posted a letter to her father while she was ill.
Mary dashes to the servant’s quarters to ask about Lavinia sending a letter on the day she died so she can confirm she’s right. No one knows anything about it, Carson insists, as anything so important would have been reported … except good old Daisy! She says she posted a letter from Miss Swire the day she died. Now ecstatic, Mary delivers the news to Matthew and he finally caves and agrees to save Downton! But on one condition: they can’t steal Edith’s thunder and will announce it the next day.

On the morning of the wedding, Edith looks lovely in her wedding dress and fabulous rhinestone headband. She’s come a long way from the shy, plain Edith of season 1! So happy and glowing. Even Mary gives her a kiss on the cheek and tries to make nice (after the biggest understatement of the series: “I know we haven’t always got along”).

Cut to the church; wedding guests filling the aisles, the Dowager Countess making snide remarks, and Strallan looking concerned and uncomfortable. In fact, he looks like he’s going to throw up, and then just as the wedding starts, Sir Anthony says HE CAN’T MARRY HER! Oh, Edith!!!! Oh no. He declares he should have stopped it long ago and tries to get a shocked Lord Grantham to agree. Edith exclaims that he makes her so terribly happy; but the Countess steps in and says to let him go as Strallan runs out of the church and leaves Edith standing at the altar sobbing. [Ed. Note: I do believe we got more of poor Edith at the altar than we did of Mary and Matthew. Oh, Julian Fellowes, how you tease us.]

With the day in shambles, Matthew decides to share the good news with Lord Grantham about accepting Reggie’s money and using it to save Downton Abbey. But Robert refuses to take his money … unless he can accept it as an investment and share it with Matthew as equal masters of the estate. Downton is saved! Everybody cheer! We were rather concerned about season four being called "Downton Place."

In one of the more hilarious scenes this episode, Daisy asks Anna if she thinks it’s right that women should say what they think; especially about romance. Anna says it’s a great idea, but with most of the men she’s met, if a woman tried to court them they’d be so terrified they’d run a mile. Daisy gives Alfred an awkward glance just as they finish talking. Love is in the air … maybe.

At dinner, the family expresses concern about Edith, who hasn’t left her room since the wedding day, and also hasn’t eaten. Always helpful, Isobel suggests they give Edith something to do (presumably besides yelling about how much luckier her sisters are).

The staff also talks about poor Lady Edith as they consume the wedding feast—as directed by Cora so that Edith doesn’t have to see anything related to her sad day. Everyone is upset for her, except Alfred who calls it as he sees it: “She can do much better than that broken down old crock!” I like Alfred, I really do, but poor Strallan. He can’t help being old.

Anna enters Edith’s room and asks what she can bring her. To which Edith replies, “A different life.” But she does eventually get up, exclaiming that she’s a “youthful spinster.” Welcome back, cynical, resigned Edith. We missed you.
Carson catches Mrs. Hughes as she’s going to see the doctor and get her test results. He asks if he can help, but she says she has to go without him. Mrs. Patmore does go with her, and Hughes is shown entering the Doctor’s office, but we aren’t told at this point what the result is.

Cut to O’Brien confronting Thomas and promising DOOM for trying to sabotage her job. These two, I swear. What else can they possibly do to each other? How far can this go? I’m so anxious to see what the next retaliation is.

The episode ends with Mrs. Patmore telling Carson that Mrs. Hughes DOES NOT HAVE CANCER. Hooray! Smiling, Carson tells her not to tell Mrs. Hughes, because she doesn’t know that he knows. But of course she knows! As Carson polishes some silver, he starts to sing (the cutest thing in the entire world), and Mrs. Hughes overhears him and starts to cry.

Wait a minute. What does this mean? Is Carson in love with Hughes? Is Hughes in love with Carson? Will either one of them ever admit it? And, more importantly, is what Mrs. Patmore said true? Or was it all a ruse to throw Carson off so he doesn’t treat Mrs. Hughes as a dying woman? OH THE SUSPENSE.

I can’t wait until next week to see what happens! Season three, you are so good!!!

Season 3, Episode 2 highlights:
Best line from Dowager Countess: “At my age, one must learn to ration one’s excitement.”

Most scandalous moment: Mrs. Bartlett confessing that Vera was terrified of Bates on the day she died.

Most romantic scene: Carson’s many moments of concern over Mrs. Hughes, capped off by his singing with joy over her diagnosis.

Most devastating betrayal: Sir Strallan jilting Edith at the altar! Even Lord Grantham looked upset.

Most ridiculous bit of soapy melodrama: Edith running up the stairs at Downton and dramatically tearing off her veil and tossing it over the stairwell, where we watch it float down in slow motion.



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So, you the reviewer and summarizer, are convinced that Mrs. Hughes really doesn't have cancer? I hope you're right, but she may have fibbed just because she doesn't want everyone to hover over her and feel sorry for it. I loved the scene of Carson singing while polishing the silver when he heard that Mrs. Hughes didn't have cancer. I can't wait until both of them realize how much they like each other. Best Downton Abbey wedding of all!

Interesting irony: Lavinia's father admired Matthew for commiting to marry Lavinia even though he loved someone else; Edith's father didn't want Strallan to marry Edith even though he loved her.

What's a matter with Julian Fellows? I'm convinced he dislikes Americans. He couldn't even leave the American grandmother in England for Edith's wedding, even though she was sympathetic to Edith and even though Edith's wedding was near the date from grandmother's visit. American grandmama could have bucked Edith up, took her back with her to America, and there Edith could have learned how to be an independent woman!

I'm thoroughly tired of Ethel popping in and out of Isabel Crawley's shelter. And, give me a break, the prison guards wouldn't have searched Bates person for contraband?

I'm not convinced, but I HOPE it's true she doesn't -- because I really adore Mrs. Hughes.

You are right! SO IRONIC. I'm also betting the problem with the American grandmother staying had more to do with schedule/budget conflicts than Fellows dislking us. :)

Ethel better spill the beans soon, or I'm going to freak out. And yes, it was odd that the guards didn't also search Bates, but they needed an out for him so I can see why it didn't happen. Also: did you notice they showed that the drugs he was holding left some kind of smear on the wall behind him when he moved away? Possible future problems, non?

@ Amie - yes, I did notice the brown smear on the wall. It was ridiculous, I thought, that Bates didn't immediately try to get rid of that smear as soon as the guards left. So sloppy either of Bates or of the writers.

I, too, adore Mrs. Hughes. When, do you think, we will find out her first name? Interesting tradition - we know the first names of almost all of the upstairs people but don't know the first names of any of the downstairs people who are "topdogs."

I'm convinced Fellows dislikes Americans. Shirley MacLaine has never looked so tacky as she did on this show and has never, in my memory, been given such poor lines. She is a consummate performer and could have been a worthy opponent to Maggie Smith had she been allowed to. Did you see Fellow's movie "Gosford Park"? Great movie but the two Americans are louts!

It would be lovely if we found out her name! :)

I did see Gosford Park, but it's been quite some time so I don't remember it all clearly.

Downton Abbey Season 3, Episode 2: What Really Happened

Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess object to Edith marrying Sir Anthony Strallan. They feel he's too old, he's a cripple, Edith will be pushing him around in a wheelchair. Lord Grantham writes to him to discourage him; Edith sees what's happening and cuts right through it, and she and Sir Anthony get engaged. But, after getting a final cold shoulder from Lord Grantham, Sir Anthony jilts Edith at the altar.

1) Their objections are ridiculous
Wheeling around someone in a wheelchair? But weren't we ready to accept Matthew in one? And why is he going to be in a wheelchair anyway? He hurt his ARM.
This is a wound he got fighting in the war. Did people really -- especially with so many boys and men gone forever -- did they really balk at their daughters marrying men with war wounds?
He's not THAT old. Yes, he's older than Edith. But I bet Bates has more years on Anna than Strallan has on Edith. And then there was Mary's beau, Sir Richard, not exactly a spring chicken. And speaking of Mary, didn't we first meet Sir Anthony in the first season, as a potential husband for her?
2) Sir Anthony's character
Given everything we've seen of Sir Anthony Strallan, he simply would not have left her at the altar. Period.

Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess ARE concerned that Sir Anthony is too old for Edith, but they speak to her about it, and she convinces them that this is what she wants. Maybe after this conversation the Dowager says something afterward like, "Well, it's her funeral. Or, more likely, his ..."
When Sir Anthony brings up the topic after dinner, Robert is gracious. Which is far more in character for him.
Edith and Sir Anthony get married.
He continues the improvements to his estate, including mechanized farming, that he talked about in the first season. Robert finds it a little easier to take, picking up ideas from him, than from Matthew.
Edith is busy with all kinds of things. She writes a letter to the newspaper about women voting, which she is now able to do since she's married but she hasn't forgotten what a non-person it felt like to be denied the vote when she was unmarried. Sir Anthony is proud of her. She also takes a turn in one of the newer tractors, and she gets into an accident, which is serious for a while but then she pulls through. Ironically for a time she is the one being pushed in a wheelchair by her husband. Robert reverts a bit, rails at Edith's headstrong behavior and tries to blame him for letting her drive. Sir Anthony defends her, praises her to her family and also praises them for bringing her up to be so courageous. Mary comments, "Edith was always looking for something to prove."