Downton Abbey Recap: Bizarro Downton and the City of Angels

Well friends, somehow it happened. We made it to the very last last episode of Season 3. How far we’ve come! Why, when we started Little Sybbie was just another nameless fetus living in Ireland and Big Sybbie was, well, alive. Remember, as always, SPOILER ALERT. And also, as always, stay tuned for the Character Ranking at the end of the recap. WHO WON SEASON 3? Hey, no peeking!

We begin without the dog’s butt which can only mean one thing: DISASTER. A year has passed. So I guess we have to feel less sad about Dead Sybbie and more happy about Cute Sybbie?

Apparently the family is organizing to go on a fly fishing trip. Everyone, including the staff, looks very sad about this. Is this because they have all become vegans in the last year and they ethically don’t eat fish anymore?

Sad Panda Molesley (which I’ve been misspelling all season by the way, but he’s such a Sad Panda NO ONE EVEN NOTICED OR CARED) says something sad and stupid. The Molesley character is basically exactly Lutz from 30 Rock (RIP), right?

It is the future from last episode so Thomas and Jimmy the Traitor are working together but Jimmy uses his serious face the whole time because he is scared of gays and even though Carson and Robert are total allies, I guess they forgot to do an awareness seminar during New Staff Orientation this year.

Upstairs, in their Rooms of Romance, a Barely-Perceptibly Pregnant Mary is being coddled by Matthew, who thinks she should avoid the trip they are about to take. Mary, ever the modern gal, says: “Darling this isn’t 1850, no one expects me to stay inside until the baby’s born.” Seriously Matthew, look at her. She’s like only in her second trimester! She could run a marathon if she wanted to.

A year later and: Edith and her editor, sitting in a tree, calling each other on the telephone and just “happening” to be in Scotland at the same time.

At breakfast (have they STILL not left yet?), everyone seems to have longer hair. Or at least Matthew does. And Carson seems to have a strange interest in Mary’s prenatal care. I love this sub-sub-subplot of Carson and Mary being SOOO CLOSE. I wonder if they have friendship bracelets?

And finally, everyone is going to Scotland. They are leaving Branson in charge of the dog so it must mean they trust him. Hopefully, Branson and Isobel will become revolutionary friends.

Side note: I know it’s bumpy for the pregnant ladies but train travel is SO romantic. Let’s travel by train somewhere, just you and me, once this whole thing is over.

Downstairs, there seems to be a very special, very pretty new maid. Plot point clearly but like seriously, check out Edna’s face. What is this? America’s Next Top Model: Downton?

At Isobel’s it looks like the doctor is trying to stir up a little autumn romance.

Speaking of romance, back at the big house, Edna is putting Ethel-level moves on Branson in the breakfast hall.

And then we arrive at a castle in Scotland where pretty dangerous Cousin Rose is hanging out! I want to see a kilt. Maybe Cousin Rose can have an affair with an older man in a kilt?

Downstairs, a fat man in a pork pie hat enters the scene and immediately starts flirting with Mrs. Patmore. It looks like Daisy and Ivy are on good terms because together they find the whole thing very amusing.

In Scotland, the castle staff turns out to be a Bizarro version of the Downton staff. Bizarro O’Brien is even more evile than Real O’Brien with worse hair.

At dinner, a bagpiper in a kilt pipes around the table. He is either flirting with Cousin Rose or doing a traditional pre-dinner annoyance, to distract everyone from the horrible Scottish food (BURN).

There appears to be a little domestic turmoil between Shrimpy and Susan, whoever they are.

Back home, Branson and Isobel are TOTALLY getting revolutionary together by talking class warfare at their own special luncheon.

In Scotland, a pregnancy question: how come Anna isn’t pregnant? And I still contend that Mary is nowhere near due. She’s like 100 pounds.

Bizarro downstairs, O’Brien schemes with her new friend. Or maybe they just talk. They are both so conniving, it’s hard to tell.

In Bizarro drawing room, Fake-Pregnant Mary-Beyoncé cruelly judges Edith’s future true love, the editor, who has shown up with his own set of tails. Surprise surprise.

Back in Real Downton, Edna the Gorgeous is stalking Branson. This girl is destined for the fate all forward ladies in Downton must suffer. Also, she has a bad luck “E” name. See: Edith, Ethel.

In the village, I literally can’t understand a thing this shopkeeper says.

Downstairs, everybody giggles.

Back in Scotland, Robert calls his daughter an “amateur” and tells her editor/love interest that he can’t really understand why he hired her. He could use an awareness seminar himself. In other news, the editor looks a LOT like the old guy who left Edith at the altar, right?

Pretty Rose cries and sneaks a smoke outside WITHOUT A SWEATER because her mom is sooo mean. The Bateses are there though, to cheer her up.

Meanwhile, in Downton: Isobel and the doctor SITTING IN A TREE.

Anyone else getting a little dizzy from all the super-speed travel? In Scotland, the editor turns out to be named Michael and his BASIC FACT is that he’s in love with Edith. Still, they do not kiss.

Mary, the Hater of All Things Edith, is being a jerk to Michael. Matthew appears to have Stockholm-syndrome, because after Mary tears down her sister’s love interest for the millionth time, he tells her that he KNOWS she is nice “’cause I’ve seen you naked and held you in my arms.” Um, yeah. It’s quite possible to see a not nice person naked and even hold one in your arms from time to time. False logic dude.

In Downton, a fair is coming to town and Carson allows everyone but himself to go. Sacrifices you make when you are butler, in charge of everything, but as he says: “uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

In Scotland, it is becoming clear that this Susan character is a real b-word (“bad-mooded-person”).

In Downton, in the burn of the episode, Thomas says of Mrs. Patmore that she’s a woman “only technically.” Snap!

In the Highlands, Robert and Shrimpy stalk deer. A little history: these places used to be filled with people farming until they were all run off for the rich lords and their sheep. Yay!

Downstairs, miles away, Mrs. Patmore is so adorable in love. Luckily Serious Mrs. Hughes is around to give her the Downstairs Lady-version of the birds and bees talk… the wife talk.

In Bizarro Downton, the Bateses take a little romantic picnic. Snooooooze.

Out on the moors or whatever, Shrimpy opens up to Robert about how he and Susan don’t like each other. Clearly. I wish he would open up about why this is such a major plot point for the episode.

For some strange reason, Matthew and Michael are on their own special stalking expedition. I don’t understand Scotland.

The ladies’ maids are whispering. I am so confused by pretty much everything.

In a lovely anachronistic moment in the drawing room, the discussion turns to Shrimpy’s upcoming overseas post and Violet says: “All the costumes of imperial rule are always so peculiarly unsuited to the climate.”

Later, in a surprise twist, Mary is mean to Edith. “Why must you sound so heartless?” Edith says to Mary. Uh oh. She thinks Mary just “sounds” heartless. Who’s going to break the bad news?

In Real Downton, Branson is shaking it up by going to dinner with the servants.

The doctor is also shaking it up, by asking Isobel on a date.

Even Matthew is on to Mary’s meanness in Scotland when he tells her: “You are horrid when you want to be.” Hey Mary: NO ONE EXCEPT CARSON LIKES YOU ANYMORE.

In a cute non sequitur, Rose teaches Anna to dance a reel.

Back in Downton, Jimmy and Alfred appear to be having a relationship. Is this why they both almost destroyed Thomas, because THEY are in love?

Also: Edna is incredibly annoying. She has the cheek bones of a Brazilian swimsuit model and I don’t like it.

The whole team heads for the fair where Mrs. Patmore gets HELLA flirted with by the man in the pork pie hat who apparently wants to marry her.

At the tug-o-war, all the men see a chance to prove their manliness.

As Matthew and Michael, new BFFs, fly-fish in the Highlands, Matthew lays down some hard truth on dreamer Michael, who thinks he can convince Robert that it’s cool for Edith to be his mistress: “You’ve been misled by our surroundings… we’re not in a novel by Walter Scott.” Historically accurate SLAM.

Back in England, the Downton boys win tug-o-war and all the ladies swooooooon.

In Scotland, my working theory is that everyone pretty much agrees Edith should be alone forever.

At the fair, Winner Jimmy is buying everyone drinks. While he gets ominously hammered, Alfred works on his audition video for Top Chef Downton and Hughes watches Pork Pie Hat make out with strangers who are NOT Mrs. Patmore.

Drunk Jimmy gets jumped under a bridge and Thomas jumps in for true love and gets beat up instead.

Above the bridge, Doctor Clarkson is trying so hard to get it on with Isobel. Unfortunately, he has no game.

In Scotland, Rose is called a “slut” by her mom, which is a LITTLE accurate, right?

Down south, Thomas the Attacked is a bit of a hero. But he is also very bloody.

Apparently when the staff went to the fair, they forgot about Baby Sybbie. Luckily, Grandpa Carson is there to give her hugs and kisses in the cutest scene of the series.

Up north, they have a traditional dance. I guess it is traditional to let maids dance? Bizarro O’Brien works on trying to out-evil O’Brien by drugging her drink. She could learn a thing or two about drugging from Larry the Drugger as whiskey just tastes like whiskey, which is both delicious and not exactly a roofie. Her terribly stupid plan backfires anyway when Drunk Sad Panda Molesley takes the drink off Real O’Brien.

More proof that Duneagle is really officially Bizarro Downton: the lord has lost his money, his marriage is in tatters, and he has a wife with brown hair and a wild young daughter.

I am still unclear on a) why Anna is allowed to dance and b) why said dance is such a happy surprise for both Bates and Mary.

Back home in Downton, Hughes sets Mrs. Patmore straight about the Pork Pie Womanizer. Even though she looks lovely in her pink shirt, it is good she has realized that ultimately all he wanted was her sandwiches and not in a euphemistic way. That woman makes a mean sandwich! I’d marry her face off!

In Scotland at the dance, Edith stands up for love while Mosley the Sad Panda becomes the season’s most ridiculous drunk. Known fact: Pandas can’t handle their liquor.

In Downton, Branson takes his shirt off. Pause. The Brazilian swimsuit model Edna walks in on him and can’t help but make a move. She’s the worst but I mean, can you blame her?

In Duneagle, this tiny little dance is really incredibly un-exciting. Something is clearly up with Mary’s fetus and it is time for her to return to civilization. These Crawley girls have pregnancy problems. Also, why does everything Mary says to Matthew sound so ominous?

At home, everyone agrees it is time to fire the uppity maid.

FUTURE PLOT ALERT: It appears Rose is going to become the new Sybil! Who will her Branson be? Jimmy??

Hughes lays it out for Branson: no fraternizing with the America’s Next Top Model: Downton cast members! Hughes is the dark horse for best character of the season: a) she’s down with the prostitutes and the gays and b) she’s so motherly and nice all the time!

Mary gets off the train and looks, romantically, like she’s going to die. This is not surprising. Instead of foreshadowing the writing technique employed most in this episode is called “telegraphing.”

We can all let out a sigh of relief as Hughes sends Edna off, telling her this isn’t the life for her. She’s right. Brazilian swimsuit models need Brazil. And swimsuits.

Before they leave the Highlands, Robert gets the message the universe (the writers) are trying to send to him: HE’S SO LUCKY THAT HIS WIFE ISN’T UGLY.

Rose is strangely excited to be moving to Downton… or maybe she’s seen a picture of Branson without his shirt? Will Branson be her Branson?

Even at the hospital, about to give birth, I’m still convinced Mary is faking this pregnancy.

At the house, it suddenly occurs to everyone that we haven’t seen Thomas since The Fight for Honor, so Jimmy the Pretty goes into his bedroom, sending what we in the biz of liking boys call “mixed signals.” The whole episode turns into an “It Gets Better Video” when Jimmy decides he can be friends with Thomas even though he is gay. Message: once you get the holy crap beat out of you, other boys will be cool with your homosexuality.

Carson is so excited about Mary being okay after giving birth that he doesn’t even think to ask the gender of the baby. She is his all-time favorite in such an extreme way that I’m starting to think he’s her real dad.

Oh snap, Mary has a baby boy. FINALLY. A LEGIT HEIR in Downton. None of this baby girl tea party business. Matthew says to Mary: “You are going to be such a wonderful mother.” Does he mean a wonderful lady who wears dresses and gloves and lets someone else walk her baby around the grounds? Because I am pretty sure that’s what she’s going to be wonderful at.

It seems like everyone is so much more excited about the boy than about Little Sybbie. I still love you Sybbie!

And then: in a flashback to City of Angels, Matthew gets unceremoniously smashed by a car.

And that, my friends, is the season.

Character Ranking (for this episode):

5. Edith: Not her strongest episode, but still, she’s getting what she wants.

4. Branson: This is just and only exactly for the scene in which he takes of his shirt followed directly by the scene in which he cries.

3. Mrs. Patmore: She’s funny, she can cook, she looks good in pink and you know what? I like her attitude.

2. Hughes: I feel like Hughes should have office hours and just counsel everyone on how to be better people.

1. Baby Sybbie: Yeah, we didn’t get a lot of her but what we did get was MAGIC. Get it girl.

FINAL TOTAL SEASON CHARACTER RANKINGS! (Please note: this is scientific and I used math to find out who really won this season, according to my ranking system.):

5. Violet: Strong season though not her strongest. She got weird there in the middle and isn’t quipping as much as usual.

4. Sybbie: For a character who didn’t speak one word this season, a big kudos to Baby Sybbie, the cutest member of the Crawley family, even if she is a Left Footer and a Branson.

Tied for 3. Daisy and Hughes: Both solid, mostly friendly downstair-ers. Is Daisy the future Mrs. Hughes or will she become a farmer? TUNE IN NEXT SEASON to find out!

1. Edith: Yes, this was the season of the OTHER sister. She might have been left at the alter but at least she didn’t DIE. At least her husband didn’t DIE. Way to keep it together Edith and do something no one else in your family can do: land a job!

There you have it! Good night friends and see you next season!

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Lizzy Acker

Lizzy Acker is a fiction writer whose first book, Monster Party, was released in December 2010 by Small Desk Press. Her work has been published in Nano Fiction, We Who Are About To Die and Tramp Quarterly, among others. She was the co-creator/curator of the San Francisco reading series Funny/Sexy/Sad. She blogs regularly at lizzyacker.com.Lizzy is from Oregon, but now lives in San Francisco where she recently received her MFA from San Francisco State University. Currently, she writes status updates and processes member donations for KQED and is a contributing blogger to KQED Arts.

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