Downton Abbey Series 3 Episode 4 Review – Mo Money Mo Footmen

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4

This week on Downton Abbey, both the family and staff find their ranks growing a little fuller. Upstairs, Branson turned up at Downton unexpectedly, on the run from the Irish authorities for a crime he now regrets. Downstairs, a new footman and kitchen maid were hired, signalling chaos of the love lives of the servants.

Before this series began, I was worried that there wouldn’t be a reason for Sybil and Branson to spend time at Downton Abbey. I needn’t have worried apparently — Branson’s managed to ensure that the pair can’t leave. After being peripherally involved in the destruction of an estate belonging to the elite over in Ireland, Branson had to flee to Downton to escape prosecution. Thanks to wrangling by Robert, he won’t be arrested unless he returns to Ireland. While Branson seems to promise Sybil that he’ll stay with her, he does seem very eager to return home. Will he stay with his wife and accept life in England, or will he return to Ireland and face punishment for his supposed crime?

While this is the biggest situation the Crawley’s had to face this week, it was by no means the only one:

As the new co-owner of Downton Abbey, Matthew found himself going through the estate’s books. What he finds has him turning to Violet for advice; the estate is being mismanaged, but bringing it up with Robert is set to create tension. Violet feels it can’t be avoided. We’ll get to see just how tense the situation is next week.

Meanwhile, a bored Edith found something to do; she wrote to a newspaper to criticise the 1918 Representation of People Act which only grants women homeowners over thirty the right to vote. Robert isn’t pleased when her letter is published, though Matthew is incredibly supportive. It’s great to see Edith sinking her teeth into a new project, but it does feel a little like she’s still second fiddle in all aspects of life. After all, Sybil dabbled in suffrage years previously. Poor Edith. Hopefully she’ll come into her own soon.

Isobel was approached by Ethel who wanted her help setting up a meeting with her son Charlie’s grandparents. Though the grandfather looks down on her for being a prositute, his wife and he offer Ethel some money to help keep her afloat. But Ethel has other plans; she asks them to take Charlie and raise him. Their parting is quick and painful to watch, and Mrs Hughes and Isobel are left to ponder what’s left for Ethel to do now. There’s very little for us to do but wonder the same. Could she go back to being a maid servant know that there are whispers about her prostitution making the rounds of Downton?

Downstairs, the staff gain two new members. One is Ivy, a new kitchen maid, who turns up just as Daisy is about to proclaim her attraction to Alfred. Of course, Alfred has an instant attraction to Ivy. Daisy is essentially Edith’s counterpart, the poor girl. The other new arrival is Jimmy, a footman, who all the girls fancy. Thomas seems to take a liking to him too, which doesn’t go unnoticed by O’Brien. Could this be the start of something good for Thomas? I won’t hold my breath. His sexuality has either hurt him or been ignored since the very first episode of Downton Abbey. Given that history and the fact this series is set in the 1920s, I can’t see this ending well.

And then there’s Bates. I neglected to mention his storyline last week, so to briefly recap: Anna tracked down a friend of Mrs Bates last week. This woman said that Mrs Bates had been acting very nervous about seeing Bates again on the day of her death, that he was apparently coming for dinner with Mrs Bates, and that she was washing her hands thoroughly. It all sounded a bit suspicious, like perhaps she intended to poison Bates. But how or why did she end up eating the poisoned food herself?

This week both Bates and Anna are upset when communication between them is cut off with no warning. Anna, knowing only that Bates isn’t writing to her and is ‘refusing’ to see her, thinks that he’s trying to push her away for her own good. Bates, knowing that Anna isn’t writing to him and isn’t visiting him, thinks that she has lost faith in him. But Bates later finds out that contact has been cut by the prison, who have classified him as a dangerous prisoner after he roughed up his cellmate. Bates retaliates by planting contraband in his cellmates bunk, leading him to be detained by the prison guards. This puts Bates back in the prison’s good books, but not everyone will be happy with him…

I really enjoyed this episode of Downton Abbey. A lot happened, some of it incredibly moving, but the episode didn’t feel like it was cramming too much in (at least compared to usual). That said, the addition of new characters is sure to make things more interesting, and that’s great, but things are getting bit crowded downstairs with so many characters and storylines going on. I hope that they can all be done justice.

The only thing I disliked this week was Bates’ storyline, though I say that lightly. It wasn’t bad at all and it ended for the week on a lovely scene. But the storyline overall is starting to drag after just four episodes, and I’m sincerely hoping it won’t continue for the rest of series 3. Bates needs to return to Downton soon… Where should we hang our ‘Free Bates’ banners?

What did you think about this week’s Downton Abbey? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!