Downton Abbey (2010–2015)
2 user 4 critic

Episode #3.2 

A conflict between two members of the house staff escalates. Meanwhile, the family tries to impress Martha by planning a lavish dinner party.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Lady Sybil Branson (credit only)
Thomas Barrow (as Rob James-Collier)
Tom Branson (credit only)


Mary and Matthew return from their honeymoon but he is still reluctant to take the Swire inheritance so the family plans to impress Martha with a lavish dinner party, entertaining locals, in the hope that she will bankroll them. When the oven breaks down, Martha saves the day with her indoor picnic but is unable to provide the financial help the family wants. A jealous Thomas sets out to sabotage Alfred and replace him with Molesley but O'Brien gets revenge by humiliating Thomas whilst Isobel, working at a charity in York to help single mothers, spots Ethel, who runs off after being recognized. Mrs Patmore accompanies a nervous Mrs Hughes to the doctor after the housekeeper finds a lump on her chest. He takes tests but the analysis will take two months and the women agree to keep it secret from other staff. Despite her father's early disapproval that he is too old for her, Edith finally gets engaged to Sir Anthony. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


TV-14 | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 January 2013 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

16 : 9
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Did You Know?


Daisy has been warning Mrs Patmore that the wood stove is not functioning properly. There is a big dinner party for the evening and the guests are arriving. In the kitchen, all of a sudden Mrs Patmore is panicking because no food is ready, nothing has been cooked because the oven is not working. This is patently ridiculous. For a party that size, the kitchen would have been cooking for 2 days and 90% of the food would have been ready when the guests started arriving. See more »


Martha Levinson: I'm sorry I can't help you keep Downton, Robert.
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham: [in a moment of realization] That's what Mary wanted. Ah, I thought there was something.
Martha Levinson: You know the way to deal with the world today is not to ignore it. If you do, you'll just get yourself hurt...
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham: Sometimes I feel like a creature in the wilds whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed.
Martha Levinson: Some animals adapt to new surroundings. It seems a better choice than extinction.
Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham: I don't think it is a choice. I think it's what's in you.
Martha Levinson: Well, let's ...
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Downton Abbey - The Suite
Written by John Lunn
Performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London
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User Reviews

"They've come for a party. We're going to give them a party."
27 September 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The momentum established in episode one of Downton's third season continues to pick up steam in episode two, as the estate's future seems more uncertain than ever and woes aplenty are suffered upstairs and down.

Robert, Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) is a good and honorable man, but most assuredly not a man of business, and his estate, without a massive injection of cash, is destined to be lost. Matthew, heir to an unexpected fortune but himself a man of honor, believes that he must forgo the money, even though it might be Downton's salvation. Thus, the ever- beautiful Lady Mary, she of the subtle barb and the alabaster skin (Michelle Dockery), connives with her Grandmamma Violet, the Dowager Countess, she of the none-too-subtle barb and the wrinkled skin (Maggie Smith), to convince Cora's American mother to use the vast Levinson fortune in aide of Downton yet a second time. They make nice over tea and cakes. They slip comments about the importance of such estates into their conversation. Most of all, they plan an extravagant dinner party as a means of overwhelming the rich old heiress with the unbridled splendor of the whole thing. No scheme could be more naive or more mistaken. Feathers sprouting, emeralds dripping, opinions flowing, Martha Levinson (the monumental Shirley MacLaine) is not so easily taken in. Nor will Cora go along, stating that her family is not responsible for Downton's troubles, that they shouldn't have to keep bailing it out, and that there is absolutely nothing wrong with downsizing and living more sensibly.

To complicate matters, everything about the planned dinner falls apart. Sartorial mishaps and conspiracies force both Matthew and Robert to wear black tie and dinner jackets instead of white tie and tails (Robert says he feels like a Chicago bootlegger). Worst of all, the kitchen stove breaks down—no surprise to Daisy, who has been warning them all week, to no avail, that something is wrong. With the prospect of no food, the denizens of Downton stand thwarted and befuddled. Should they just give up and send everyone home? Martha Levinson to the rescue, if not with money, then at least with quick thinking! She orders cold meats, fruit, cheese, salads, whatever, to be laid out in the dining room, where guests will help themselves to a buffet dinner and then take their plates wherever they would like in the house to enjoy an indoor picnic. Isobel and Cora declare their support, Violet her horror, and the fun begins. Downstairs, everyone pitches in to help the kitchen staff, housemaids slicing and valets chopping. Upstairs, the guests are faced with something new and strange, a world turned upside down, and, behold, they end up enjoying themselves (one old bat declares she feels like one of those bright young people one reads about in newspapers)! The night ends with Martha serenading the guests, especially the unhappy Violet, with a saucy rendition of "Let Me Call You Sweetheart." Revolution has taken Downton!

All is not picnics in the drawing room, however, and the most important of the episode's subplots involves housekeeper Mrs. Hughes's discovery of a lump in her breast. Supportive, if not always saying exactly the right things in the right way, Mrs. Patmore stands by her as she begins the medical tests that will determine if she has cancer. Mrs. Hughes, as footman William once pointed out, is the true heart of the house; her loss would be unbearable. Mr. Bates is still in prison, roughing up his cell mate to remind him that he's bunking with a murderer (what did he really mean by that, we wonder). Always energetic Isobel, in full Eleanor Roosevelt mode, is out doing charitable work, this time for wayward women, which brings her into contact with former Downton maid Ethel, now walking the streets for her survival. Thomas is still scheming, but this time O'Brien is scheming right back at him (it's like watching Hitler turn on Stalin)!

And then there is the storyline that all good Romantics must love best, the burgeoning love of Lady Edith and Sir Anthony, the frustrated, plain sister and the one-armed, older gentleman. One grandmother, Violet, tried to wreck the whole thing (is she just contrary for the sake of being contrary?), but another grandmother, Martha, came to the rescue, saying bluntly and poignantly to Robert, "Your daughter is sad and lonely." It is as if she had said, "What is wrong with you people? Why are you so determined to remain stuck? Do you want to be unhappy?" In any event, every indication points to a third wedding (with the oddest assortment of brothers-in-law in the annals of storytelling).

Julian Fellowes and Downton Abbey have been criticized for sugar coating the upstairs/downstairs world of the English social structure, which was in many ways not very nice. There is some truth in that criticism, but who, after all, really wants to watch week after week a completely realistic depiction of people living and working in drudgery? What is apparent, and was also apparent in Gosford Park (and you have absolutely no business watching Downton Abbey if you have not seen Gosford Park), is that, though Fellowes comes from the world of the aristocracy and though he understands it and has some sympathy for it, he's not really, in the end, on their side. He seems to have much more admiration for the characters who are aiding progress, or who are at least willing to go along with it. They are the future, and it would appear that season three belongs to them.

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