Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 1

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Set in Spring 1920…

Matthew and Mary stroll the grounds at Downton Abbey

Matthew and Mary talk about the future

Wedding preparations are in full swing at Downton Abbey and the scene opens with Mary and Matthew’s wedding rehearsal. Mary wants Sybil at the wedding, but Lord Grantham insists the timing isn’t right for a visit from Sybil and Branson. He imagines it would need to be handled delicately as Branson is an object of fascination in the county. But it doesn’t take long for Sybil and Branson to arrive… It’s later revealed to be Countess Violet who provided the money, even though Isobel threatened to send them the cash. Violet says, “Tom, you’re a member of the family now. You’ll find we Crawleys stick together.”


Lord Grantham receives a mysterious phone call – gone are the days of white envelopes. The phone call precedes his mysterious trip to London to see Murray the lawyer. The estate of Downton is broke. The fortune was heavily invested in a Canadian railroad which went belly up. In a strange coincidence, it looks like Matthew might inherit quite a bit of money from Lavinia’s father’s estate. Matthew is loathe to profit from Lavinia’s death. Mary and Matthew have a predictable quarrel right before the wedding. But a heart to heart and a kiss later, all is reconciled.

Crawley sisters

The Crawley sisters are awed by Grandmama's arrival

The big event this episode is the much heralded arrival of Martha Levinson from America. Her entrance is predictably dramatic and leaves both staff and family reeling. Her encounters with Violet deliver the sparring we all expected.

Martha and Violet Hug

No love lost here...

At one of the more livelier Downton dinners, Sybil’s old beau Larry Gray spikes Branson’s drink. Branson appears quite drunk and goes off on an uncomfortable political tangent. Anthony Strallan comes to the rescue and exposes Larry Gray. Who knew people brought the 1920s equivalent of Rohypnol to dinner parties. Matthew also jumps to Tom’s aid, asking him to be the best man at the wedding. Matthew says, “If we’re mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we’ve got to stick together.” Both Matthew and Strallan are dinner time heros. Edith is all over old Sir Anthony Strallan, as usual.

Down below, Thomas and O’Brien are up to their usual tricks. Thomas makes a few needling remarks about Bates and gets a proper dressing down from Carson. Weasely O’Brien suggests her nephew as a new footman and Carson says he doesn’t have time to train hobboldly hoys – we can only assume this is the equivalent of country bumpkins. O’Brien goes to Lady Cora behind Carson’s back to get the nephew hired. Carson is not amused. The new footman also creates a riff between O’Brien and Thomas.

O'Brien's nephew

"You're too tall to be a footman" says Carson's eyebrow

Anna continues to stand by her man. She visits him often in prison and continues working on proving his innocence. Bates has a troublesome cellmate.

Anna visits Bates in prison

Stoney faced Anna visits Bates in prison

Daisy is angry her promised promotion hasn’t arrived. Thomas suggests she goes on strike. Mrs. Patmore largely ignores Daisy’s strike and she gets on with business as usual eventually. Down in the village, Mr. Molesley wants to be Matthew’s valet and seems disappointed when he finds out he will remain as Isobel’s butler, but is reassured when Matthew tells him he’s irreplaceable.

Daisy from Downton

Daisy on her work to rule campaign

And of course, the WEDDING…

Matthew and Mary at the altar

Lady Mary and Matthew make it down the aisle

Quotes from Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 1

Lord Grantham: Branson is still an object of fascination in the county.

Matthew: You must think country life more exciting than it is if you imagine people don’t care when an Earl’s daughter runs off with a chauffeur.

Carson:  May I remind you Mr Barrow that in this house Mr. Bates is a wronged man seeking justice. If you have any problems with that definition, I suggest you eat in the yard.

Countess Violet: And I shall make sure he behaves normally because I shall hold his hand on the radiator until he does

Isobel: I like a man of strong beliefs. I think I’ll send them the money.

Violet gives Isobel 'the stare'...

Violet gives Isobel 'the stare'...

Anna: I’d rather work to get you free than dine with the king at Buckingham Palace.

Carson: You’re too tall to be a footman. No footman should be over 6 foot 1.

Matthew: I doubt I’ll get used to taking you to bed with your father watching.

Matthew and Mary kiss

Matthew and Mary kiss and make up before the wedding

Lord Grantham: “Are you really telling me that all the money is gone?”

Lady Cora: “Mary was never going to marry on the cheap”

Lady Mary in wedding veil

Lady Mary rides in style to the wedding

Countess Violet: “Are you really that tall? I thought you might be walking on stilts”

Countess Violet: “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”
Matthew: “But isn’t she American?”
Countess Violet: “Exactly”

Countess Violet: “Oh don’t say that. It’s our job to provide employment. An aristocrat with no servants is as much use to the county as a glass hammer.”

Carson: “If he wants to play their game, he better learn their rules.”

Countess Violet: “Tomorrow let’s ask the servants to come up and dine with us. It will make things easier.”

Mrs. Patmore: “Oh dear, have you swallowed a dictionary?”

Branson: “No my suitcase arrived safely thank you. Along with my manners.”

Lord Grantham: “Hello Maman, can I tempt you to one of these new cocktails.”
Countess Violet: “No no, I don’t think so. They look too exciting for so early in the evening.”

Countess Violet: “Is there any way to shut him up?”
Lord Grantham: “If I knew how to control him he wouldn’t be here in the first place.”

Matthew: “If we’re mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we have to stick together.”

Countess Violet: “You weren’t the first drunk in that dining room I can assure you.”
Branson: “Only the first Republican…”
Countess Violet: “Well you’ve got me there.”

Isobel: “I’ve always admired the way Mrs. Levinson isn’t over awed by the whole set up at Downton.”
Countess Violet: “Was Napoleon overawed by the Bourbons?”

Martha and Violet

The old birds puffed and fluffed at the wedding

Martha Levinson: “It seems so strange to think of the English embracing change.”

Martha Levinson: “I would so like to understand why he gets to inherit my late husband’s money.”
Matthew Crawley: “I know it’s funny, isn’t it?”
Martha Levinson: “Not everyone shares your sense of humour.”

Martha Levinson: “Oh dear, I’m afraid the war has made old women of us both.”
Countess Violet: “I wouldn’t say that, but then I always keep out of the sun.”

Martha Levinson: “Nothing ever alters for you people does it. Revolutions erupt and monarchies crash to the ground and the groom still cannot see the bride before the wedding.”
Countess Violet: “You Americans never understand the importance of tradition.”
Martha Levinson: “Yes we do, we just don’t give it power over us. History and tradition took Europe into a world war. Maybe you should think about letting go of its hand.”

Countess Violet: “She’s like a homing pigeon. She finds our underbelly every time.”