Title: Downton Abbey S3.E04 “Episode Four”
Released: 2012
Series:  Downton Abbey

It’s Monday afternoon, which means it’s finally time to discuss Downton! This week was a bit underwhelming compared to last week and its OH SNAP ending. But at war, at peace, our Downton recaps still stand (uhhh, that didn’t quite work), so let’s discuss!

What Happened Upstairs

Things at Downton are more or less back to normal with the money issues of the estate settled and no weddings on the horizon. Mary is trying to pressure Cousin Matthew into getting more involved in the running of Downton since, after all, he has invested the entirety of Lavinia’s dead Dad’s fortune into it. Then again, who hasn’t invested their fortune into Downton these days? Mary is remodeling an old nursery and when Matthew brings up babies, Mary awkwardly shoots him down. UH OH, trouble in paradise, Mary doesn’t want Matthew to impregnate her this very minute. What does it mean? Edith seems to taking that whole “jilted at the alter” thing shockingly well. Her biggest complaint is about how bored she is now, so The Dowager encourages her to get a hobby. (Just not gardening! Never gardening!) Sybil phones the house with a confusing message and soon Branson arrives. A group of rebels burned down an aristocrat’s castle in Ireland and Branson was possibly involved. Either way, the police think he did it, so he’s on the lam. Branson and Sybil thought it would be safer to split up, which means a visibly pregnant Sybil is making the journey on her own. Lord Grantham goes to London to see what he can do about Branson’s legal issues. Sybil arrives safely at Downton, but they get word that Branson is banned from Ireland. Turns out he attended meetings where they planned the attacks and was more involved than he let on. If he ever returns to Ireland, he’ll be arrested on the spot. Edith sent a letter to a newspaper concerning women’s suffrage and it gets published. This is clearly not what The Dowager had in mind when she told Edith to get a hobby, but I love it! Matthew thinks Downton is being mismanaged and plans to ruffle some feathers.

What Happened Downstairs

Mr. Carson wants to hire more staff now that things appear to be back to normal at Downton. Cousin Isobel gives Mrs. Hughes a letter from Ethel, everyone’s favorite former maid turned lady of the night. Mrs. Hughes is going to meet Ethel and the audience is supposed to pretend that we don’t know exactly how the Ethel storyline is going to play out. Anna and Bates aren’t receiving each other’s mail. Anna is worried that Bates is trying to “set her free” but what is really happening is that one of the guards has it in for Bates. This guard is working with Bates’ jerkwad cellmate to smuggle drugs and is currently withholding Bates’ mail and not letting any visitors in. Tall footman (also known as Alfred) is trying to learn more from Mr. Carson. However, that doesn’t stop Mr. Carson from hiring a new (and extremely handsome) footman named Jimmy James. All the maids (and Thomas!) are quite excited about this new addition to the house staff. Turns out Ethel wants to turn baby Charlie over to his grandparents. (Yeah, no DOI!) She gives baby Charlie away and sweeping sad music plays in a pathetic attempt to make the viewers feel emotion. Last time I checked, nobody cares about Ethel’s story! Pretty sure I filled my monthly quota for this type of overdone plot line when I watched Les Mis a few weeks back.

Bates sets up his roommate and is inexplicably successful. It seems some of the less crooked guards now appreciate Bates and all of the letters arrive to both him and Anna. And then we are subjected to a split screen of the two of them reading their letters and crying. A new kitchen maid arrives and tall footman Alfred immediately takes a fancy to her. Poor Daisy, who continues to have terrible taste in men.

Upstairs Winner: Lady Edith

None of the Crawleys did much to be proud of this week, but I am totally excited for Edith. Not only is she rebounding fairly well, she may be turning into a suffragette! Hopefully her family won’t try and squash her new found activism because I think it could be great for her self-esteem.

Upstairs Loser: Branson

Do we have to consider Branson part of the upstairs now that he’s married to Sybil? Anyway, not only was he a selfish dick who let his pregnant wife escape Ireland on her own, he is now banned from his home country. Fate has brought him back to Downton and I do not see this working out for anyone. You can’t turn an self-righteous revolutionary into a house cat. Or, if you do, the house cat will be a monumental dick to everyone around him.

Downstairs Winner: Mr. Carson

Within one episode, Mr. Carson got a new footman and a new kitchen maid. All he ever wants is more staff, so I imagine he is feeling pretty swell right now.

Downstairs Loser: Ethel

Well, she’s a prostitute and she had to give her son away, so it’s going to be tough for anyone to beat her out for this category this week. 

Best Maggie Smith Line

Concerning gardening:

Dowager: “Well no, you can’t be as desperate as that.”

On whether the burning of an Irish aristocrat’s castle could be considered a tragedy:

Dowager: “Well, yes and no, that house was hideous. But of course that is no excuse.”

Best Outfit

It’s a tie between Edith’s orange dress and Mary’s red one from their dinner party at the beginning of the episode. Both looked lovely. 

Otherwise, I have to say I’ve been disappointed with the show’s frocks as of late. I remembered a lot prettier outfits from Mary and Sybil especially, back in earlier episodes. (Which means now is about the time I should make a joke about how they’ve really let themselves go since getting married, HEYO!

Burning Questions

  • Is Mrs. Hughes really cancer free? Or is she, as some of our commenters suggested, lying so that everyone will treat her the same?

  • Who will hook up with the handsome new footman? Anyone? Everyone?

  • Will we ever be free of Ethel?

  • How will Branson react to his “house arrest”?

  • Why doesn’t Mary want to create spawn with Cousin Matthew? IS HIS PENIS STILL BROKEN?

  • What secrets will Matthew uncover as he tries to straighten out Downton’s management?

What did you think of this week’s episodes? And any theories on what is going to happen next? (Remember, no spoilers from those of you who are British and/or pirates!)


Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.