Spring of 1920. Wedding guests descend on Downton Abbey, where disasters threaten. One of which is Cora's freewheeling American mother, who tries to loosen up her in-laws.



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Spring 1920:- Mary and Matthew's wedding is fast approaching. O'Brien fixes for her nephew Alfred, a former hotel waiter, to be the new footman though Carson finds him inefficient whilst Daisy is annoyed that, in view of the amount of cooking she does, she is still a kitchen maid and has not been promoted. Anna finds a list of all Vera's contacts and tells John she intends to write to them to discover if any of them found her suicidal. Robert, meanwhile, finds the future of Downton Abbey at risk due to money problems but Matthew annoys Mary by refusing a legacy left him by Lavinia's father. Sybil and Tom Branson arrive from Ireland - paid for by Violet - but Tom's new situation causes some awkwardness,largely for himself and the officious Carson, though he is supported by the Crawleys. When Tom appears drunk and vocal at dinner, Edith's gentlemanly admirer Sir Anthony exposes snobbish guest Larry Grey as having drugged him and Matthew asks Tom to be his best man. Tom reciprocates by ... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

6 January 2013 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


When Robert is telling Cora he lost her money, she has her hair on her chest with a ribbon while you see her face, but on her back without the ribbon while you see his face. See more »


Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham: [to Robert upon the arrival of weekend visitors] No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure settled.
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Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
By Johann Sebastian Bach
[wedding guests enter church]
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User Reviews

"If we're mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we have to stick together."
20 September 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Hard must have been the hearts that did not rejoice when the snowflakes fell from the night sky and Matthew Crawley at last dropped to his knee and proposed to Lady Mary in the final episode of Downton Abbey's second season, an episode that marked a return to the superb storytelling we had come to expect from Julian Fellowes and that had, to our mild disappointment, sometimes gone awry during the turmoil of the First World War. Now Downton is back for a third season, and the return to form is very much in evidence.

The Edwardian era is fading, and it feels as if we are finally entering the recognizable world of the twentieth century. We've seen it coming with the arrival of the telephone and electric lights, with the upset applecart of a war that made nurses of ladies and nursing homes of manor houses. We've seen it in the ideals of middle-class progressives Isobel and Matthew, not to mention freethinking Lady Sybil and revolutionary Tom Branson. In episode one Lady Mary, a pragmatist herself as her fiancé points out, is poised to marry Matthew, and Sybil and Tom are beginning their life together, venturing through uncharted territory within the tradition-bound landscape of Downton. The world has changed, and the forward-thinking moderns have taken center stage. They are joined by the delightfully outspoken Martha Levinson, Cora's wealthy American mother, whose Gilded-Age brashness was bound to irritate at least one old aristocrat. Watching Shirley MacLaine as Martha, all furs, waved hair, and plumed headpiece, sweep theatrically into the forecourt of Downton is to suddenly know that the rules of the game have changed. The century of the Brits would soon be over, the century of the Americans about to begin.

How the various characters accept change is one of the chief pleasures of Downton Abbey. Most challenged it seems is Robert, Earl of Grantham, who, despite his innate good sense, struggles quietly against progress (along with his acerbic mother and his lovable butler, both doomed to live, it seems, in a perpetual state of frustrated nostalgia). That Lord Grantham is also facing financial ruin adds a straw to the camel's back. That his one-time chauffeur is now his son-in-law does not help. But Robert will change, will slowly realize that the values he holds can expand and extend without suffering dilution. It's a pleasure to watch the subtlety with which Hugh Bonneville portrays him.

In fact, much of the conflict of the first episode centers not, as we might have expected, on Martha's arrival or on Mary and Matthew's upcoming nuptials (though there is drama to be found circling both events), but on the elevated status of Tom Branson, sympathetically portrayed by the talented and cuddly Allen Leech. A former servant now sits as an equal at the dinner table of an earl. The modern world has, indeed, arrived and it is compelling. Matthew responds in a way that makes us admire him all the more. "Bravo, well said!" his mother exclaims as he rises to the occasion in support of Tom. The burgeoning friendship between these brothers-in-law should prove a future pleasure to watch. Sir Anthony Strallan, awkward but decent, also comes unexpectedly to Tom's defense. Housekeeper Mrs. Hughes, played with steady understatement by Phyllis Logan, expresses sympathy for Tom, something not found amongst most of his former colleagues, the servants being, as Isobel once pointed out, even more conservative than their employers.

Other questions loom. Will Sir Anthony and Lady Edith find happiness together? (We hope so.) Will American wealth once again rescue the Old World, or will it be Matthew in the form of an inheritance from the unexpected Mr. Pillbox or Mr. Pumpkin—as Mary variously refers to him? (We hope he's sufficiently dead in the jungles of India.) And what of Mr. Bates' and his steadfast Anna, the perpetually thwarted downstairs lovers? Does she have a plan, and will they be reunited when he is finally exonerated? (We hope she does and he is and they are.)

Downton Abbey is a soap opera, a lavish costume-drama serial for moderately intelligent, historically minded, wistfully nostalgic souls who like their entertainment free of cynicism (and who don't mind a well-appointed drawing room when one presents itself). It's a soap opera in the same way that Dickens' novels are: first-rate story-telling, filled with twists and turns that keep us longing for the next episode and caring about the characters. Downton has its moments of villainy, but it's mostly about good people dealing with the unexpected choices and often hard turns that life throws at them: Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Robert and Cora, Mary and Matthew, Anna and Bates, Edith and Sir Anthony, Tom and Sybil, Mrs. Patmore and Daisy, the unexpectedly resilient dowager countess (an unparalleled Maggie Smith), and, yes, even the scheming O'Brien and Thomas. That damask covers the walls and tea is poured in the library and newspapers are ironed each morning are all the more reason to fall back into your chair and lose yourself in this luscious bit of escapism. To echo Mrs. Crawley, bravo, well done!

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