'Downton Abbey' recap: A nice day for a simple wedding

After a seemingly endless parade of Unnecessary Wedding Complications, I was beginning to think that Carson and Mrs. Hughes would never get to the altar.

What else could Julian Fellowes invent to make these two uncharacteristically fight and glare at each other more? Would another world war break out? Would the Man Without A Face Who Said He Was a Crawley return and say he's Mrs. Hughes' son?


Would Mary injure herself in a particularly fervent eye-roll session with Lady Edith? How about Carson's former song-and-dance partner returning to Downton in an attempt to revive the Cheerful Charlies act? I kind of wish that last one would have actually happened.

In this episode, there's some wedding dress issues. Read: Mrs. Hughes wants to wear something best used when dusting a living room. Like, to use as a rag to dust the living room. There's also some Patented Crawley Family Meddling about the site of the reception (Cora's brilliant solution: Ask Mrs. Hughes want SHE wants. Her ladyship is a genius!).


Eventually, we get to see the simple wedding in the town's church (the site of Edith's Great Jilting of 1920 by Anthony Strallan) followed by a small, lovingly decorated and filled with lots of food — Did Patmore make all of this?! — reception in the town's schoohouse. I'm assuming it's the modern-day equivalent of a wedding after party at a VFW lodge (not that there's anything wrong with that).

To be fair, it sort-of fits Mrs. Hughes' grand desire to have a "wedding breakfast at groaning tables" with "people having a jolly time." I didn't quite understand Mrs. Hughes' feelings about what rich people do at weddings, which apparently, to her, means standing in a large room, not talking and getting little bits of food that get stuck in their teeth. Excuse me, what now?

Moving on, we also get to see Carson make a heartfelt toast and Mrs. Hughes break into something resembling a smile — until Branson and Sybbie arrive to steal the Carsons' wedding thunder. That's right, it apparently took Branson all of a year to ditch the Boston farm equipment sales scene.

"It's quite simple. I had to go all the way to Boston to figure something out — Downton is my home and you are my family," he says.

It's not "quite simple," more like "quite cliche." But I'll take it because I love me some Branson and Sybbie calling Robert "Donk." To be fair, this scene made this longtime "Downton" fan smile widely.

But what will become of Mary, the estate's acting agent and reigning Pig-Farming Champion of England? Will Branson step back into that role, form a partnership with Mary or just be around to make sure his Irish Republican ideals still shock the dowager countess?

I'm eager to find out, but am also super-happy that we won't have to hear more letters from Branson spouting treacly nonsense like, "I dreamt last night that I was in the park at Downton walking with Sybbie under the great trees, listening to the pigeons cooing in the branches, and when I woke my eyes were filled with tears."

I picture Branson writing this while staring out a window in his Boston Farm Equipment Sales Office as the cold Boston rain beats against his single-paned window.

However Branson will now fit in the mix, Mary officially needs something to do. A rich 1925 gal needs more than the title of Pig Champion of Yorkshire, after all. There's no more Must Plan Carson's Wedding For Him opportunities, even though she showed a slightly nice side by offering to lend Mrs. Hughes a brooch to hide her wedding frock disaster. So kind!

When that doesn't pan out, she offers one of Cora's Probably Three Social Seasons Old overcoat to hide the poverty-clothing shame. Isn't there some kind of Irish Fatstock competition Mary can enter, especially now that Anna seems to be pregnant again and Mary needs something to occupy her time until she helps Anna through her "incompetent cervix" operation?

BTW: Bates' only role this season seems to be noting what Anna's mood is like at any moment. "Darling, you look sad." "Darling, you're happy again." "Darling, what does my character do again?"

One Crawley family member who actually is doing something with their life busy is Edith. After taking more Sweaty Fat-Neck Bulging Insolence from her magazine's editor, Edith finally fires him. "But, but, but you're a woman!!" he implies as he storms out (sweatily). Nice move, Edith! Except that the magazine's deadline is at 4 a.m., just nine hours away. Maybe she could have waited a day to let him go.

Another complication: A man without a bandaged face and/or isn't 92 years old, expresses interest in her! Edith has a chance encounter with Bertie Pelham in the London streets. He seems to really, really, really remember her well while Edith takes a moment to even place him in her sad-soaked memories.


Good old Bertie is the agent at Brancaster Castle, where the Crawleys had a dramatic time with the Sinderbys in last season's finale (Lord Sinderby's illegitimate child and An Evil Butler From Hell were among the highlights).

Bertie's highlight was apparently meeting Edith, because he has the She's The One look in his eyes and asks her out for a drink. Edith continues her, "But poor old me! I'm shocked anyone likes me!" routine for a second, but then accepts because This Is The New Edith Who Is Slightly Less Annoying And Has More Gumption Than Previous Seasons.

Later, Bertie willingly embarks on the worst first date ever, staying up super late to help Edith and her strangely invested secretary — the woman doesn't even get a name, but gosh darnit, she will help Edith publish this edition! — get her magazine to the printers on time. All it takes is some rearranging of copy, lots of coffee and Bertie offering helpful advice like putting pretty people in pretty clothes front and center.

Note: I've been alerted by readers that the secretary's name is, in fact, Audrey. I apologize to Audrey's friends and family.

Edith, apparently, is running the 1925 British equivalent of "Us" magazine.

"You inspire me," Bertie says when the ordeal is over. Edith: "Not many people say that."

"They would if they knew you," Bertie replies. Not really, Bertie, but OK.

Edith, marry this man. His name is Bertie, which leaves the door open for so many cute and fun pet names. And he's also sensible enough to suggest that you should just run this magazine yourself, which is so very, very obvious. I also get the vibe that he won't mind when you tell him Marigold isn't your "ward" but is your illegitimate child. Marry. This. Man.

Apart from the Carson-Hughes wedding and Edith's magazine adventure, we're treated to several forgettable subplots in Episode 3. The Hospital Battle No One Cares About rages on, with Isobel reeking of self-importance, the dowager still unwilling to budge and Cora figuring out that, "Hey, maybe I should just check out the hospital in York to see if they can actually help the people of the community" because suddenly she's the only person is town with any sense at all.

Clarkson starts the episode as the dowager's lone ally — Robert is still playing neutral party, which is not exactly admirable. Go with your wife, Robert — but after getting a scolding from Isobel, the doctor decides that maybe he's being short-sighted about how the York Takeover could help the community. So all it takes is Isobel insulting you to get on her side? Good to know.

The only good thing to come from the hospital battle was seeing Cora get so worked up that she later Misplaced Anger Yells at Mrs. Hughes for trying on one of her dresses after Mary forgets to tell her mom that she said it was OK. In a special moment, Cora later apologizes and has the coat fitted for Hughes' wedding. Mrs. Hughes can even keep the old thing! So charitable these Crawleys!


The Denker-Spratt battle also continues (for some reason) and we're treated to a random storyline in which Spratt's nephew has escaped from prison, with Denker finding out that Spratt had let him stay in the dowager's potting shed for a night. So THAT's what a potting shed is for!


Denker doesn't give Spratt up to the police (who are more than happy to investigate something NOT involving Valet From Hell Mr. Green) but instead files the information away in her Rolodex of Hate.

As far as small subplots go, I'm much more interested in Molesley reinventing himself as Daisy's teacher/proponent of education as she is randomly taking some school exams. Even the schoolmaster notices perpetually down on his luck Molesley's aptitude for teaching. Future job alert! Daisy enjoys all this book learnin', but is preoccupied with Cora's maybe-it-will-work plan of having Mr. Mason take over the Drewe's farm so that the Crawley's have taken away Marigold and banished them to another land unfairly. Cora was busy this episode!

And we are treated to another Thomas Barrow job search adventure. You've got to hand it to Thomas, who's still trying real hard to land a new position even after last episode's unfortunate "you're delicate, aren't you?" icky job interview.

Since Julian Fellowes isn't quite sure if you get the point that TIMES ARE DIFFERENT, the home's master (Sir Living In the Past) leads Thomas through his House Personifying Societal Change.

Sir Living In the Past's is wife is dead (and so are his two sons) and there seems to be one other servant there sometimes and .... paintings aren't even hung in the foyer!!! His drying his clothes on the fireplace!!! A bear rug isn't on the floor but ... on the table!!!

Sir Living In the Past remembers when they had grand parties and drones on and on about the candlelight illuminating the happy faces of the Upper Class During Times That Won't Ever Happen Again

Thomas hightails it out of there, left with the realization that — again — TIMES ARE DIFFERENT and his job skills will soon be obsolete. Either that, or he thinks Sir Living In the Past was going to murder him and turn him into a table rug.

Both seemed like likely possibilities.

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