Downton Abbey—Season 3

9.5 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Draws you in with a great story, great acting, great look

Definitely is a building series where you need to see all the episodes to enjoy


The evergrowing cast…won’t all be coming back

Things at Downton Abbey weather on as joyous occasions are tempered with sad.  As Mary (Michelle Dockery) looks forward to her wedding to Matthew (Dan Stevens) while Anna (Joanne Froggatt) tries to free Bates (Brendan Coyle) from murder charges.  Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) is expecting a child as he husband Branson (Allen Leech) continues to fight to be accepted.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) pursues Sir Anthony Straller (Robert Bathurst) against her family’s wishes and the staff finds new additions in Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne), James Kent (Edward Speleers) and Ivy (Cara Theobold).  Downton Abbey is in danger…a financial crisis could destroy the home, and in a time of marriage and birth, death is also near.


Everyone wants a piece of Bates…

Downton Abbey—Season 3 aired from September 16, 2012 to November 4, 2012 on the ITV in the United Kingdom with the Christmas special on December 25, 2012.  In the United States, the series ran from January 6, 2013 to February 17, 2013 on PBS on Masterpiece Theater.  The series continues to gain rave reviews and has a cult following.

Downton Abbey really grows on you.  The first season was good, the second season got better, and this season is probably equal to the second season.  What stands Downton Abbey above other series is classy writing and stylish shooting.  I was glad to see the season was less Bates-centric and the show continues to shock.

With the great writing comes great actors and characters.  Downton Abbey is one of those shows that can quickly get people rallying for characters good and bad.  The interesting thing is that the good/bad line is often blurred.  You might hate O’Brien or Thomas for a number of episodes, but actually find yourself rooting for them in another episode.  This is pretty astounding for a series running under nine episodes a season.  It goes to show great characterization and acting carry this series a long way.


Babies are good…right?

The other thing about Downton Abbey is that no one can seem to get a break. *****Spoiler Alert***** This season sees a number of pluses for the family and staff:  Mary gets married, Bates is freed, Mrs. Hughes averts cancer, the house is saved, and an heir is born.  For every good event, however, there are two bad events.  Sybil (the nicest of the family) dies in childbirth, Edith continues to flounder in society which includes being jilted at the altar, Thomas’ secret life is exposed, and everyone is out to get Bates in prison…of course the ultimate is the final scene of the season where Matthew (the family’s new golden boy) is killed in a car accident…nothing good happens in Downton.


Welcome to Downton, Shirley!!!

Maybe it is seeing the upper class struggle, maybe it is a bit of envy, maybe it is the voyeuristic nature of the show (you often feel like you are seeing things that normally go on behind closed doors), but Downton Abbey is a show to obsess about.  I am always happen when a British show makes a splash this side of the pond, and I’m also happy for PBS stations to actually get a rabid audience for a show (especially now that BBC America has taken many of their serials).  Downton Abbey always leaves you wanting more and dying for Season 4 to come out (along with much of the cast).

Downton Abbey—Season 3 Complete Episode Guide:


“Episode 1”

3.1       Episode 1 Airdate:

Bates (Brendan Coyle) fights for an appeal while Downton hires a new footman named Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) who happens to be the nephew of O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran). Downton prepares for the wedding of Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens), but Robert (Hugh Bonneville) learns that his investments could cost him Downton Abbey. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) learns that Matthew doesn’t intend to use him as his valet, and Thomas (Rob James-Collier) wonders if he’ll replace him. Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) returns to Downton with Tom Branson (Allen Leech) despite Robert’s objections, and the staff objects to Branson’s rise in stature. Matthew discovers he is heir to a big fortune from Lavinia. Daisy (Sophie McShera) finds herself at odds with the management of Downton when they don’t advance her position. A dinner with Branson takes a wrong turn when Branson is drugged, and Edith (Laura Carmichael) continues to admire Sir Anthony Straller (Robert Bathurst) after he exposes the truth. Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) the mother of Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) arrives at Downton. Mary learns about the situation at Downton Abbey but learns Matthew doesn’t intend to use his new inheritance to save Downton. The big day approaches…can Downton Abbey be saved?


“Episode 2”

3.2       Episode 2 Airdate:  09/23/12

Mary and Matthew return from their honeymoon and the fight to save Downton Abbey begins. Thomas learns that Alfred has taken the job as Matthew’s valet at O’Brien’s request. Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) discovers she’s ill and worries she has cancer. The family debates asking Martha for money to save Downton and question how to convince her that Downton is necessary for the community. Robert asks Sir Anthony to turn down Edith’s advances. When Thomas gets Alfred fired as valet, O’Brien vows to make Thomas pay. Plans for a big community dinner go awry when the oven breaks down, and Martha takes charge to save it. Bates finds himself at odds with his cellmate.


“Episode 3”

3.3       Episode 3 Airdate:  09/30/12

Edith prepares for her wedding to Sir Anthony as Robert prepares to sell Downton Abbey. Carson tries to find out Mrs. Hughes’ condition, and the staff slowly learns the secret. Thomas strikes back at O’Brien by starting a rumor that she’s leaving. Mrs. Crawley (Penelope Wilton) learns that Ethel (Amy Nuttall) is struggling and tries to find out why. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) searches for information on Bates’ wife as Bates finds someone is trying to set-up him up. Matthew receives a letter from Lavinia’s father and learns of his wishes for the fortune. Edith’s big day arrives, but big plans might fall apart. Mrs. Hughes gets news on her condition.


“Episode 4”

3.4       Episode 4 Airdate:  10/07/12

Anna finds Bates isn’t writing and Bates learns Anna isn’t writing. Matthew tries to adjust to being a co-owner of Downton Abbey but finds himself at odds with Robert over how it should be run. When Branson arrives at Downton Abbey in a middle of a rainstorm, the family learns Branson might be wanted by the police, and Sybil could pay the price. Ethel meets her child’s grandparents and makes a decision about what to do with the child. Bates learns that the guards are cutting him off from Anna due to his cellmate and sets to right it. James Kent (Edward Speleers) is hired as the new footman and O’Brien finds it could be a new way to get to Thomas. Branson and Sybil’s situation in Ireland is decided. Matthew goes to Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) when he worries that Downton Abbey is being mismanaged.


“Episode 5”

3.5       Episode 5 Airdate:  10/14/12

Sybil’s grows close to birth, and Robert worries about the health of the baby. O’Brien pushes James toward Thomas.  Bates uncovers information that could clear him but his former cellmate decides to try to get revenge.  Mrs. Crawley decides to help Ethel and offers her employment despite the stigma.  Edith is offered a new career and debates taking it.  Daisy finds herself at odds with the new assistant cook Ivy (Cara Theobold) when she catches the attention of Alfred.  When Sir Phillip Tapsell (Tim Pigott-Smith) is called in from London, Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) is left out, and Matthew voices his concern over his own fertility.  When Sybil looks like her pregnancy is in distress, a fight breaks out on what should be done…a decision is made that cost dearly and rocks Downton Abbey’s family and staff.


“Episode 6”

3.6       Episode 6 Airdate:  10/21/12

Sybil is buried, and everyone in Downton Abbey is in mourning.  Cora finds herself resenting the fact that Robert supported Tapsell decision not to operate on Sybil.  Branson makes decisions about his child (now called Sybil), and Robert questions how to stop it.  Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) breaks Carson’s rules by helping Ethel prepare a meal for the women of Downton.  Daisy learns that Mason (Paul Copley) wants him to work for the farm.  Carson finds out the women of Downton are going to be served by Ethel, and it leads to a showdown between Cora and Robert.  Bates finds his chance at freedom possibly ruined and decides to take matters into his own hands.


“Episode 7”

3.7       Episode 7 Airdate:  10/28/12

Bates is freed from prison and returns to Downton Abbey challenging Thomas’ job.  Matthew argues with Robert about making Downton Abbey self-supporting to help it survive.  Violet goes to Isobel about Ethel and enlists Edith for help.  James finds himself rallying with Alfred for his position and gets advice from Thomas.  When Thomas is convinced to make a move on James by O’Brien, his plans backfire when Alfred catches him.  Edith travels to London to meet with the editor of the paper Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) about a column and agrees to take the offer.  Branson’s brother Kiernan (Ruairi Conaghan) arrives and objects to Branson’s adapting to Downton Abbey.  As Branson prepares to move, a new option arises to keep him at Downton.  Alfred is forced to go to Carson about Thomas, and Carson debates Thomas’ future.


“Episode 8”

3.8       Episode 8 Airdate:  11/04/12

It is the annual cricket match between Downton Abbey and the village and the staff is getting ready.  Carson decides Thomas should go but O’Brien tries to get James to turn him in.  When James plays his hand, Thomas learns that he’ll be out without a reference or could face jail.  Rose (Lily James) comes to Downton Abbey for a visit and decides to go to London with Edith.  Matthew makes a secret trip to London with Edith and Rose, and Edith is forced to keep him from running into Mary who has a trip of her own.  Bates learns of Thomas’ situation and begins to make waves.  When Rose sneaks away from Edith and Matthew in London, Rose reveals she’s involved with a married man.  Bates offs O’Brien an ultimatum on Thomas and threatens to reveal her secret.  When Thomas appears to be staying, the staff must find a way to convince James to accept him.  Violet provides Ethel with an opportunity to start a new life.  Edith confronts Michael about his flirting and learns the secret of his marriage.  When Alfred steps over his bounds, Robert is forced to step in.


“Christmas Special: A Journey to the Highlands”

3.9       Christmas Special:  A Journey to the Highlands Airdate:  12/25/12

The family is headed to Scotland for the annual trip, and Mary is going despite her pregnancy.  A new maid named Edna (MyAnna Buring) shows interest in Branson when he is left behind at Downton.  Mrs. Patmore finds an admirer in a new delivery man named Jos Tufton (John Henshaw).  The Crawleys family meets with their relatives Hugh “Shrimpie” MacClare (Peter Egan), Susan (Phoebe Nicholls), and Rose while their staff mixes with O’Brien, Anna, and Bates.  Edith’s editor Michael comes to the Scottish home, and Edith tries to get her family to accept him.  A festival comes near Downton and the staff decides to go with Branson driving.  When Matthew learns Gregson’s situation, he has a suggestion for his relationship with Edith.  Isobel Crawley finds herself spending more time with Dr. Clarkson, and Clarkson has a proposition for her.  After a big win, James is jumped at the festival and finds an unlikely hero.  When O’Brien accidentally crosses Susan’s maid Wilkins (Simone Lahbib), Wilkins plots a revenge at the dance, but her plans backfire.  As Shrimpie reveals financial crisis, Susan goes to Cora for help with Rose.  When Mary’s baby comes early, it looks like happiness can maybe find Downton Abbey…but darkness follows.

Related Links:

Downton Abbey—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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