Downton Abbey (2010–2015)
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Episode #3.7 

A vindictive Ms. O'Brien hatches a damaging plot. Edith makes a major decision. Matthew devises a major plan for changing things, and Tom's brother pays a visit.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
John Bates
Joseph Molesley
Anna Bates
Thomas Barrow (as Rob James-Collier)
Daisy Mason
Mrs. Patmore


Thomas fears for his job as Robert's valet and not just because John has been released back to Downton Abbey, to the delight of everybody else. The vengeful O'Brien, attempting to advance Alfred in the household, has tricked him into believing that his feelings for Jimmy are reciprocated, leading him to make a disastrous play for the shocked footman. And O'Brien makes sure that Carson finds out. Robert is doubly annoyed. Edith has decided to go to London and accept the journalist post, where she is charmed by magazine editor Gregson. Furthermore Matthew is insisting the estate be overhauled with new machinery, to make it self-sufficient. Tom's brother Kieran arrives from Liverpool for the wedding and does not endear himself to the family. However, when the old estate manager resigns in protest at Matthew's proposals Cora suggests Tom, who has farming knowledge, take on the job rather than return with Kieran to work in his garage. Isobel is angry with Violet who, claiming to act in ... Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

10 February 2013 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


When Ivy and Alfred are talking about Way Down East (1920), she mentions that she likes its star Lillian Gish, but Alfred says he prefers English stars like Ivy Close, who was the great-grandmother of Executive Producer Gareth Neame and a major silent film star of the teens and 20s. See more »


When Ethel is in the village, she stops and puts her basket down and there is woman and a pram behind her. In the next shot, she walks off and both the woman and the pram are gone. See more »


Charles Carson: Human nature is a funny business, isn't it?
Mrs. Hughes: [sarcastically] Now why didn't the poets come to you, Mr. Carson? They'd have saved themselves a lot of time and trouble.
See more »


References Way Down East (1920) See more »


Downton Abbey - The Suite
Written by John Lunn
Performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London
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User Reviews

"Welcome back, Mr. Bates! I've waited a long time to say that!"
30 October 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Episode 7 of season three is not as weird as the "maimed-imposter-heir-returns episode" of season two, but there is strangeness enough. Perhaps because it follows on tragedy and tragedy's dénouement, or perhaps because it is meant to be the lull before the grand finale, the episode does not entirely satisfy. Parts of it are quite frustrating.

Mr. Bates is finally released from prison, removed from bondage in a chauffeur-driven limousine, which seems over the top even for an employer as indulgent as Lord Grantham. For the remainder of the episode, he and Anna wander around with nothing whatsoever to do (Lord Grantham tells him to read some books). No one thought ahead to the fact that Robert would end up with two valets, Bates and Thomas. Anna uncharacteristically wants Thomas sacked, even though as valet he has been blameless. In an establishment where meticulous organization and planning are givens, the whole thing seems ridiculous. It also seems ridiculous that Anna, who showed sympathy towards Thomas recently, should speak in this selfish way.

Equally ridiculous are developments surrounding the downstairs romance mess, especially Thomas's lust for Jimmy. Misled by O'Brien, he sneaks into Jimmy's room in the night and tries to kiss him. Right on cue, all hell breaks loose, and the ensuing fear and tension downstairs becomes impossible for any of the servants to ignore. It's disappointing that Julian Fellowes resorts to the stereotype of the menacing, predatory gay male who throws himself on unsuspecting heterosexuals. Thomas is not a nice person, but he is enormously complex and there could be so much more happening with his character than this threadbare stereotyping. As for the lower servants' lusts and desires, the whole thing has become like a bunch of boring teenagers in school, and it's time for someone downstairs with some sense (Mrs. Hughes, where are you?) to shout ENOUGH!

Also ridiculous is the appearance of Tom Branson's brother, portrayed as a total caricature of a loutish, working-class boor. Is this meant to remind us that the only working-class folk who can behave with good manners are those loyal to the Downton estate or in service to it? Tom does look grand by comparison, but, my goodness, Fellowes is painting with a broad brush. Tom also shines when he eloquently tells Robert, now balking not just at Catholicism generally but also at the fact that he might have to attend a Catholic ceremony, just how much it would have meant to Sybil for her father to be at the christening of her child. It brings a tear to the eye. Tom's not perfect, but he proves that class has nothing to do with caste.

Not ridiculous, both Matthew and Edith are still fighting their way into the modern world. He is the new broom sweeping clean the nineteenth-century dust of estate mismanagement, and she is the spinster broom sweeping her way into the (for Downton) shocking world of a weekly newspaper column. Her editor is clearly a potential love interest, and it's worth noting that he has a bit of Anthony Strallan in his facial features and expressions! Robert continues to resist all, his worst moments coming at breakfast, where the etiquette of the day places him at the table alone with Edith, Matthew, and Tom and where, each morning, some grating bit of news or point of view invariably reaches his ear.

Very ridiculous, and very disappointing, is the revelation that Violet's solidarity with the Downton women and with housemaid-turned-whore-turned-housekeeper Ethel, really was just a chance to exert momentary power over her son and get more pudding into her mouth. She connives behind the scenes to remove Ethel from Isobel's household. Everyone (well, maybe not Isobel) concludes it's for the best, and the whole thing reeks of the upper class manipulating the lives of those below them because they know what's good for the lower orders better than they know it themselves. Even if the dowager countess is right, her means and her manner do not justify her end. Violet is increasingly portrayed as an aristocratic sage who can see farther than everyone else. This is not who she is, at least not as Fellowes has developed her character thus far: she is the acerbic old grandmother whose bark is worse than her bite and who proves unexpectedly resilient and flexible, while maintaining an outward and extravagant allegiance to tradition. It was refreshing last week to see her step out of her usual conformity, but this week she becomes more of a stock character. Shirley MacLaine, wherever you are, get back to Downton Abbey and fast!

Special Recycling Award for Julian Fellowes: "I prefer the American stars; I think they've got more oomph," says housemaid Elsie in the film Gosford Park. "I like the American actors; they've got more you-know-what," says kitchen maid Ivy from season three of Downton Abbey.

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