Kirsty Capes reviews the sixth episode of Downton Abbey season 3…
After all the doom and gloom that’s been going on in Downton recently, it’s nice to have an episode with more positives than negatives. This episode is just that. We see the mourning period for the family is coming to a close and Cora is speaking to Robert again, even though he’s still acting like a prize tool (as per usual). Bates is finally out of prison and both he and Anna are overjoyed. Lord Grantham offers them a cottage on the estate so they can live as man and wife. Edith becomes even more independent and less of a hopeless romantic as she accepts Mr Gregson’s offer to write a column for his newspaper. Even Violet seems to be perking up.
Mary and Matthew are still having trouble conceiving and the presence of the new baby doesn’t help. It’s baby Sybil’s christening and Robert is still throwing his toys out the pram because it’s going to be a Catholic ceremony. The event does give us the opportunity to meet Tom’s brother Kieran, who is basically an aggressive drunkard. He takes the mick out of Tom for hobnobbing with the aristocracy and basically insults everyone, making the family nervous about the fact that Tom and baby Sybil are going to live with Kieran after the christening.
Meanwhile more people have a stick up their behind as Jarvis resigns on the spot upon hearing Matthew’s plans to overhaul Downton’s finances. Matthew accuses Robert of wasting Cora’s money on bailing Downton out because he refuses to make the estate profitable. Fair comment, in my opinion. Even so, the two leave the matter to be resolved at another time, although they do decide to offer Tom a position on the grounds so he doesn’t have to go and live with his scary brother as a car mechanic.
Violet places an advert in the paper for Ethel behind Isobel’s back. When Isobel kicks off about it the others point out that if Isobel sends Ethel on her way with a good reference she is likely to have a better life than stay in the village with a bad reputation and the subject of gossip. It would be much better if she could start fresh. Isobel accepts this and for once realises that she is wrong.
Downstairs, the love quadrangle is still a thing that’s happening. I’ve lost track of what’s going on myself, to be honest. In this episode, though, Alfred asks Ivy to the pictures and she accepts although clearly without the same intention as Alfred. Obviously this makes Daisy angry which means she’s a bit of a so-and-so this episode (but then again, she nearly always is). The biggest revelation of this show is the actions of Thomas, who basically makes a pass at James while he’s asleep. Thomas is under pressure because now Mr Bates is back his job as Lord Grantham’s valet is no longer secure. he’s also got saboteur O’Brien whispering his eye, suggesting that Jimmy fancies him. Confused Tom creeps into James’ room and kisses him, only for Alfred to see, James to wake up and go ape, and as a result wake Carson up. Basically the worst possible outcome for Thomas. One can’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. Anyway, Alfred after being coaxed by O’Brien tells Mr Carson what happened, who in turn questions Thomas, who basically admits himself to being gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal and punishable by jail. Poor Thomas! not sure on the historical accuracy of this plot line though.
So basically, this week at Downton is a mixed bag. Interestingly, two characters I thought I would always hate have gone slightly up in my esteem, and other more popular characters are still acting like pompous twits.