Welcome once again to your Downton Abbey Season 3 Recaps! SPOILER ALERT! I am about to tell you what happened in Episode 3, so if you don’t want to know, act like Edith and TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! With all the weddings out of the way, hopefully, it looks like we can get deep into old school Downton intrigue! Are you ready? Then join me, why don’t you?

This episode starts off with mail. Of all the forms of communication that happen at Downton, mail is by far the most dramatic so this is a promising start. Even though, as we soon realize, in this case the drama is being caused by our favorite blonde detective, Anna, NOT getting mail.

Over in Downton Oz there is also a conspicuous lack of mail. Since Anna and Bates are true loves, and will remain so even if it is revealed that he is a wife murderer, it is clear that something tricky is afoot. Personally, I’m not worried. I’ve said it before but Bates just looks like he’d be a big deal in prison.

The sending and/or not sending of important letters continues with Mrs. Crawley, the savior of all downtrodden street walkers. Her mail situation is complicated: she has a letter she did not write, which she must give to someone else so they can send it to someone ELSE. My understanding of the British postal system is clearly incomplete; is it like Facebook where you can only send messages to people you know? And finally, Mrs. Crawley acknowledges the real elephant in the room: how weird everyone is about the word “prostitute.”

In Man Time, we begin to see a possible rift between Old-Time Robert and Newy McNewerson, Matthew who wants to “straighten out the books” like some sort of radical. Which master will Carson serve? WHO WILL GET TO WALK THE DOG?

In the morning dining room we discover a little-known rule, similar to the “a footman can never be over 6 foot 1 law laid down by God on Day 1: you can only have breakfast in bed if you’re married. And Edith finally has her cause! A raison d’etre! LET HER EAT BREAKFAST IN BED IF SHE WANTS TO! Also, ladies should get the vote.

At dinner downstairs, the Thomas/O’Brien Family war is opening up! And thank goodness! It appears that Alfred is an exceptable adversary, unlike man baby Mosely. Poor Mosely. He must have had a really hard time in middle school.

In a weird, slightly dirty scene in Matthew and Mary’s soon-to-be sitting room, we begin to wonder: does Mary not want babies?! Prediction: somehow Branson and Sybil’s Irish freedom fighter baby inherits Downton!

Back at the Dowager House, Grandma Violet tells poor, lost, no-breakfast-in-bed Edith: “You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do!” Oh Grandma! Edith WILL do something! Let’s rename this show Downton Edith! Or at least let’s give her a spinoff!

The contents of one secret important letter are finally revealed and… the prostitute wants to give up her baby! Look, I see the appeal in getting your son raised up rich, I really do, but let’s be honest, the son of a prostitute can be so many interesting things! A vigilante, a soulful artist, an upstart politician — but when you give your kid a trust fund, you destroy his soul! Give him a hard upbringing for HIM, Ethel! For HIM.

Out of nowhere, Lord Grantham gets racist about Catholics.

Suddenly things aren’t looking good for pregnant Sybil. It’s raining, for one thing, ominously. And she’s on the phone and we all know how dangerous phone calls are. It looks like Tom is in trouble! Intrigue!

And in the same rainstorm… Branson is on the run! Is Ireland really like 2 minutes down the road? Why doesn’t someone just pick Sybil up instead of interrogating the no-longer-tame revolutionary? But if anyone can fend for herself, even more than Jail Boss Bates, it is the lady with the modern hair. Lord Grantham is another story. He is completely confused by this new world outside of his control and can now only muster a strong GO TO BED. Sorry Robert. These girls aren’t toddlers anymore. They are grown women and they want to eat breakfast WHEREVER.

Downstairs, Carson conflates sheltering a “dangerous revolutionary” with an electric toaster. Rightly so, Carson, rightly so.

And then! Oh daaaaaaaamn this new potential footman is triple fiiiiiine! Please be Thomas’s love interest. Please. Please. Please.

Back with Ethel the Prostitute and Mrs. Crawley the Savior, little Charlie, the bastard son of a very rich (dead?) jerk, is adorable. Unfortunately, his grandpa is about the worst human being of all time. His mustache tells the whole story.

In Oz: Mr. Bates is going to become president of this jail, I can feel it.

After a conversation with his favorite whine monster, Mary, Carson decides to pick the cutest boy as the new footman. Unlike Robert, Carson can roll with the changing tides. Secretly, he’s all for gay marriage I bet. For that, 10 points to Carson.

Ultimately, the prostitute gives away her baby because she doesn’t want him to grow up to be an artist and/or drug king pin. Her loss. We always knew she made terrible choices. But what will happen to Ethel now? I have a feeling she’s going to die of the consumption, Fantine-style.

This seems obvious but I have a message for the cellmate of Bates: you clearly need to learn the most important lesson of Downton Oz: Don’t mess with Bates.

Back in the castle, the Sybil/Branson reunion kiss is the most passion I’ve seen out of either of them, maybe ever. Way to not be the most boring couple in all the British Isles you two!

Speaking of passion…downstairs, Thomas and the new footman are heating it up with long, knowing glances. More shots of shirtless what’s-his-name!

Episode idea for Downton Edith: Daisy and Edith start a Downton Women’s Rights Group! They write awesome letters to all the editors and change the world. Go letters! Go ladies!

It turns out No-Shirt-And-Not-Too-Tall Footman is named JIMMY! With a name like that, O’Brien knows that Thomas will be unable to keep his hands off. I understand where Thomas is coming from completely.

In the final scenes of this best episode of Downton yet this seas, battle lines are being drawn: Lord Grantham v Matthew. Carson v Electric Toaster. Edith v The Man. Thomas v The O’Briens. Thomas v Jimmy’s Abs. Daisy v New Kitchen Maid Hussy. Next week: Downton Abbey Bracket? Who’s with me? Can Thomas be in twice? Who will help me put noses out of joint? Whose noses? Where are the joints?

Character ranking:

5. Jimmy: Have you seen that boy? Let’s get married Jimmy. Show me what you did to Lady Whatever that made her beg you to come to Paris.

4. Alfred: I like where he’s going with his open defiance of Thomas. If he wants to move up in the ranks though he better start ignoring that stupid new kitchen maid.

3. Bates: Bates has lost his limp and gained his swagger. Watch out world!

Tied for 2. Daisy and Edith: Fighting the good fight, moving up in the ranks… these two underdogs won’t stay underdogs for long. Just remember girls: a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle!

1. Letters: The real winner of this episode was LETTERS. Everything important that happened or didn’t happen was because of the power of written correspondence. Is this a subliminal message to the American people to stop trying to dismantle the Postal Service? Is Edith getting even more political than we thought?

Stay tuned to find what subliminal message we will receive next week and whose well-formed noses will be sadly put out of joint! See you then!

Downton Abbey Recap: A Great Many Noses Will Be Out Of Joint But The Postman Will Remain Happy 20 January,2013Lizzy Acker

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