"Downton Abbey" Episode #3.1 (TV Episode 2012) - Plot Summary Poster

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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 reconciling Mary and Matthew. Another guest, Cora's brash American mother, Martha Levinson, turns up and there is an inevitable clash with Violet over Old and New World values.

  • A distraught Lord Grantham learns that most of his wife's fortune has been lost in a bad investment. The family's financial situation notwithstanding, Matthew and Lady Mary are in the final preparations for their wedding. Matthew learns he he may inherit a fortune from Lavinia Swire's father. It all creates a rift and puts the wedding at risk when he tells Mary he won't accept the money regardless of her father's financial challenges. Sybil and her husband Tom arrive for the wedding leading to discomfort both for Lord Grantham and the servants. Lady Cora's mother, Martha Levinson, also arrives for the wedding. Edith continues her friendship with Sir Anthony and is all the more interested in him after he exposes a dinner guest for spiking Tom's drink. O'Brien arranges for her nephew Alfred Nugent to take a position as footman. Anna continues her search for evidence to clear her husband John.

  • 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.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "Downton Abbey" - Episode 3.1 - Jan. 6, 2013

    It is spring 1920. And upstairs is abuzz. The big day is almost here, Matthew and Mary are finally to be married.

    Matthew and Mary are busy with the rehearsal at the church and they're all very sad that Branson and Sybil can't make the wedding. All except Robert who is glad to have one less headache to deal with, namely the brouhaha and gossip that would ensue with the return of the chauffeur.

    The Dowager Countess and Cora know that Isobel is thinking of sending Sybil and Branson the money to come and ask her not to since Robert would be mad.

    Mary and Matthew talk about the future, where they'll live. He doesn't want to move to London but he's not so sure about living under the watchful eyes of everyone at Downton while he and Mary get to know each other.

    That might not be an issue since Robert has got some serious problems. He goes to London to meet with his lawyer/accountant Murray and it turns out that he made a disastrous investment during the war and he's lost most of his fortune-- which was really mostly Cora's-- which will have dire consequences for Downton. Robert is shattered and can't believe that he will be the failure of the long line of his family and caretakers of Downton Abbey. He starts muttering about the cost of the wedding when he returns but doesn't let the cat out of the bag right away.

    Edith runs into Sir Anthony and they have a lovely chat and she invites him to Matthew and Mary's wedding as her guest.

    At dinner it is announced that Sybil will be attending the wedding after all and that Cora's mother, Mary's grandmother from the United States, Martha (played in grand fashion by Shirley MacLaine) will be attending as well. The Dowager Countess acidly notes that she can't wait to see her again because whenever she does she's reminded of the virtues of the English.

    Sybil and Branson arrive back home. Cora makes a point of calling Tom by his first name and saying he's welcome. Robert -- and the servants-- are less warm. Carson and Thomas are annoyed at the idea of working as a valet for Branson. The family is snooty about Branson wearing street clothes to dinner. He and Sybil point out that they live a very different life in Dublin. He points out that he can't turn into someone else to please them. Isobel supports him. They argue about Irish/English politics, which upsets Carson and Robert and Sybil.

    Sybil talks to Mary about her life in Dublin and how she has no regrets and how happy she is and how she hopes the family will know him. Mary says they will know and cherish him. She's also pregnant by the by. She goes to Branson and asks him to not talk about Ireland so much. He asks her not to disappoint him and let her conviction waver now that they're there.

    Matthew confides in both his mother and Mary that he's getting a visit from Reg Swire's attorney. Mary correctly surmises that this means he's left him something. And that something could be very big indeed. His entire fortune. But ther there is a catch. There were three possible heirs. The first died. The second has been hard to trace. If he turns up dead then Matthew hits the jackpot. Matthew tells Mary he can't keep the money. She agrees.

    Robert finally tells Cora about the loss of all the money. He is clearly heartbroken. She is angry but also incredibly understanding saying it will all be okay saying "I'm an American, have gun, will travel." She says they should focus on the wedding and if it's to be the last of their lovely home and life they should make it a good one. Now that's a great wife.

    The next day Matthew runs into Branson in town and offers him solidarity, saying they are brothers-in-law with high-minded wives and they need to stick together. He even asks him to be his best man after a snooty nobleman talks down to Branson at the party the night before the wedding. At this same party the Dowager Countess turns down a newfangled "cocktail."

    That same snooty nobleman slips Branson a mickey in his drink and he bellows on and on at dinner. Everyone is angry at him until Sir Anthony points out that he was drugged. The family defends Thomas and the snooty nobleman's father also stands up for him. Edith is thrilled that Sir Anthony saved the day and she asks to see more of him and he agrees.

    After dinner Cora asks Robert not to tell Mary about the money problems before the wedding. But he wants them to know their future. He asks if he should tell her mother and she says no and not to worry since she'll bring enough drama of her own.

    Isobel and the Dowager Countess call a confab with Branson and offer him Matthew's old morning coat. Branson complains, noisily about these "costumes" and how he'll be uncomfortable wearing the suit of oppression. They don't give him a choice.

    And then finally, Martha Levenson herself arrives, swanning in with grand style and American moxie greeting family and servants alike with quips and sassy attitude. She also brings her maid Mrs. Reid, who has all of her requirements for Mrs. Patmore (no fats, no crabs, nothing from the marrow family.) Martha is totally on Tom's side and less than amused by the fact that Matthew will inherit all her money.

    Robert breaks the news to Mary and she immediately thinks of the Swire money as a savior, because Matthew is indeed the heir. He doesn't want to take the money even though it would save Downton because he feels like he betrayed Lavinia and broke a dying woman's heart. This makes Mary livid and accuses him of not being on their "side."

    Martha and the Dowager Countess have a moment with Martha complaining about the lack of change in tradition in England and the DC slyly undercutting Martha about the importance of tradition. At dinner the DC confesses she sent Sybil and Branson the money to come to the wedding and she welcomes him to the family. She says the Crawleys stick together but Mary tearfully says not always.

    Anna counsels Mary that good men are not like buses.

    Tom counsels Matthew that he and Mary are meant to be together and not to risk losing her, no matter what because he won't be happy.

    Both counsels work and Matthew goes to the house-- careful to talk to Mary through the door so he doesn't see her before the wedding-- and convinces her that he's in fact on their side and they can work it all. They kiss with their eyes closed. Awww.

    Downstairs the talk is all about Bates, whom Thomas can't believe is still held in esteem and Carson calls "a wronged man seeking justice" and if Thomas doesn't like it he can eat out in the yard.

    Anna and Mrs. Hughes went to London to close up Mr. Bates' house. Anna returns later to see Bates in prison and tells him to make notes on a list of names she found in an address book in the house. She'll take the notes about each person and start investigating them with Robert's lawyer Mr. Murray. Bates reports that he acquired a new cell mate that he's not so sure about and Anna tells him to not make any enemies by accident. She tells him to keep faith and that even if their next few leads fall though they will eventually hit on something that will help free him. He asks if she ever doubts, and she says no. On her next visit Bates gives her the notes and Anna advances her "Vera committed suicide" theory and says she'll write to all these people and ask about her theory. Later we meet his pill of a cell mate, it's clear why Bates doesn't like him. On her next visit he tells Anna he doesn't like his cell mate but he wants to hear all about the wedding, the stuff of his dreams, now that he's in jail. He wants to make sure she goes on the honeymoon in France as well so she can get them some memories.

    O'Brien puts forth to Carson a nephew for a footman's job but at the moment with the wedding he can't be bothered. So she goes to Cora, who asks a distracted Robert, who waves a yes in their direction and thus Alfred, the new footman arrives. Carson complains he's too tall and has attitude about the whole thing since O'Brien went behind his back. He's very eager to try to do his best. He serves at dinner and botches it, partially because he's so tall and Carson is annoyed. O'Brien tries to reassure Alfred, who actually wanted to go into cooking. O'Brien goes to Thomas and asks him to help Alfred become Matthew's valet. He's annoyed given how much work he put in to become Robert's valet.

    Mr. Moseley is disappointed that he won't be Mr. Crawley's valet in the big house when he's married. Matthew says he wants to live more simply and that his mother relies on Moseley and Mr. Bird. Thomas is annoyed that this means that he'll have to look after Matthew as well.

    Thomas, agitating as always, advises a grumbling Daisy to ask Mrs. Patmore why she hasn't gotten an assistant since she really could use the help given that there's money to hire Alfred. Daisy does then grumble to Mrs. Patmore, who tells her they aren't taking on any new people much to Daisy's consternation. Daisy then stages a "protest" but Mrs. Patmore doesn't bite. And Daisy caves.

    Branson comes down to say hello to the servants trying to prove he's not too big for his boots. Anna is sweet to him and he says he follows the Bates' prison story. Mrs. Hughes thanks him for coming down but Carson is still annoyed at him.

    Matthew and Mary's wedding day has arrived!

    And for a change, things go off, basically without a hitch.

    Her sisters wish her well, more or less. Cora wishes her luck. And Anna makes her pretty. And Robert and Carson are both gobsmacked by Mary's beauty as she descends the stairs.

    The whole of the village turns out to welcome Mary to the church in a parade of waving flags.

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