Downton Abbey: Season 3, Episode 4

Episode #3.4 (20 Jan. 2013)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama
8.1
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August 1920: Two social revolutions arrive at Downton Abbey: the Irish civil war and the fight for women's suffrage. A mysterious conspiracy keeps Anna and Bates apart.

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Title: Episode #3.4 (20 Jan 2013)

Episode #3.4 (20 Jan 2013) on IMDb 8.1/10

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August 1920. At Ethel's request, Isobel and Mrs Hughes arrange a meeting with Mr and Mrs Bryant as Ethel believes her son Charlie would have a better life with them. The kindly Mrs Bryant offers money but Ethel, though it is heart-breaking for her, agrees that the couple should raise her son for his own benefit. Edith, incensed at the limits of women's suffrage, has an article published in the press, which annoys Robert, but he is even more angry when Tom and the pregnant Sybil arrive from Ireland. Tom is on the run as an I.R.A sympathiser who has attended their meetings and will be arrested if he returns to Dublin, making them exiles though Tom expresses a wish to return to his homeland. Handsome new footman Jimmy turns the heads of the maids - and Thomas - whilst Daisy is put out when Alfred seems smitten by new kitchen maid Ivy. Written by don @ minifie-1

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irish

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Drama

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20 January 2013 (USA)  »

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Downton Abbey - The Suite
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Written by John Lunn
Performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London
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"We all live in a harsh world. But at least I know I do."
11 October 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Episode three of the third season brought us the hard-to-watch jilting of Lady Edith at the alter, and episode four continues the theme of pathos by giving us yet more harsh situations, including one scene almost too heartbreaking to endure.

The Anna and Bates storyline is now dragging on like, well, a prison sentence. Corrupt penitentiary politics has stopped their periodic visits, and neither one knows why they have not received letters from the other. Thinking her husband wants her free to move on without him, Anna is especially despondent. Mrs. Hughes, ever the font of good sense, assures her that, whatever might have caused the halt in communication, Mr. Bates surely counts her still as his beloved. It ends well, and the letters are restored, though poor Mr. Bates appears no closer to release than at the start of the season.

Robert, Lord Grantham, is becoming decidedly less lovable—and less dependable, if it's possible to be less dependable after losing the family fortune once already. He makes what, to modern ears, is a shockingly stark anti-Catholic remark (though admittedly in character for an aristocrat of his era), and, here we go again, there are hints that the business affairs of Downton are as disordered as ever. Matthew—a corporate lawyer, remember—is quietly going through the ledgers and not liking what he sees. It is great fun on the part of writer Julian Fellowes to have him confess his worries not to Robert or to Mary but to Violet (Maggie Smith), who is fierce in defending her family and her ancestral estate (let's face it—Violet is just plain fierce). She won't stand for any nonsense, even from her own son. As the two of them confront financial malfeasance, Matthew can bring the brains and the pretty eyes, and the dowager countess can bring the passion and the witty asides: a perfect team.

While Lady Edith fills the long hours writing incendiary letters to the Times and Lady Mary sits around waiting for the dressing gong, Lady Sybil is outsmarting the Irish authorities and fleeing the country in the wake of her revolutionary husband! High drama commences. The rotund Archbishop of York has no sooner started to chow down in the Downton dining room when, rain pouring in the darkness, a knock on the door brings both Tom Branson and news that he has fled Ireland after being associated with rather violent revolutionary activities. (I almost expected, with the rain and the knock and all, to see Miss Roberts from long-ago "Upstairs Downstairs," standing there clutching Lady Marjorie's jewel box!) Do we put our sympathies on the side of Tom and the revolutionaries, who, their violent methods notwithstanding, fight for equality and independence, or do we place them on the side of Robert, who reveres private property, notwithstanding the fact that he perpetually mismanages his own? Well, there is more to life than fat cigars and tawny port, after all. On the other hand, the authorities have all but assured that Tom and Sybil will have to remain close to Downton in future episodes.

The hardest development of episode four, and the hardest of the entire series to date, involves former housemaid Ethel and the efforts of Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Crawley to help her (the under-appreciated Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley is especially good in these scenes). We meet Ethel's cherubic, sweet little boy, whom we have not seen since he was a baby, and we, sadly, are reintroduced to the parents of the deceased army officer who impregnated Ethel some years back. The wife is a cowed, dithering sort, and the mustachioed husband is a bullying British blimp. It's not good. It's not good at all, and it will break your heart. The only potential salvation to be had is the look on the face of Mrs. Crawley when the dust finally settles. Does our tireless reformer have a plan? Let's hope so.

Episode four throws it all at us, in greater or lesser amounts: lost letters, nighttime escapes, smoking toasters, cooked books, a lugubrious old archbishop, a sprightly new footman, and pure, unadulterated heartbreak. Onward we go, as enthralled by the inhabitants of Downton Abbey as ever we were.


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