Downton Abbey Season 3: Episode 4 on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4: Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore

As rebellion reached Downton Abbey last week in episode 3, we were thrown into the drama of Tom and Lady Sybil’s flight from Ireland, Lady Edith’s venture into women’s suffrage and Cousin Matthew’s resistance of how the Downton estate has been managed over the years. Downstairs, new staff added the needed hands to bring the service back up to the pre-war standards that butler Mr. Carson and housekeeper Mrs. Hughes demand. While two new footman James and kitchen maid Ivy flutter a few hearts, the recently promoted lady’s maid Anna and her incarcerated husband Mr. Bates had a rocky separation before months of their correspondence was released by the prison and delivered to each of them.

Recap of episode 4 (major spoilers ahead)

Downstairs, Miss O’Brien is planting her seeds of destruction against valet Thomas, now rightfully called Mr. Barrow in honor due his position and not his personality. She advises footman James to seek his assistance when he can, hoping to throw them into each others path to fuel her plot to destroy Thomas’ pride and position. Daisy is in a tizzy over the attentions that the two footmen James and Alfred are lavishing on the comely new kitchen maid Ivy. She is doubly hard on her, barking commands and being all-around surly until Alfred sees an opportunity to save Ivy from embarrassment and steps in to fix the Hollandaise sauce at the last minute for her. Mrs. Patmore’s sharp eyes see all and humbles Daisy into acknowledging Ivy’s skill by making her thank her for her good work. Lady’s maid Ann finally visits her husband John Bates in jail and they discuss a new fact previously overlooked that might set him free. It all hinges on the word of a woman who hates him, so extra precautions must be taken with Vera’s neighbor Mrs. Bartlett so that she does not know that her word might overturn his conviction.

Upstairs, Lady Mary and her husband Matthew discuss Downton’s management (or mismanagement) as they tour the estate. His understanding of how Downton has been run in the past is from a business perspective which shows his middle-class upbringing, while Mary’s father sees things from an aristocratic view of caring for his tenants as individuals no matter what the financial outcome. Mrs. Crawley offers Ethel a job in her household which causes quite a stir. Her housekeeper Mrs. Bird refuses to work with a women with a past and gives Mrs. Crawley a her or me ultimatum, the outcome of which is not what she expected. Later, the staff at Downton are shocked to learn that Mrs. Bird has resigned because of Ethel. Outraged that a fallen women is working in service for a lady, Mr. Carson will not allow any of the maids or the footmen to go to Mrs. Crawley’s house lest everyone’s reputation be tainted by association. Lady Sybil’s baby is due and Lady Grantham seeks the advice of the local physician Dr. Clarkson while Lord Grantham sends for a famous doctor from London. The two doctors do not see eye to eye and the family is divided during a crisis while she is in labor. A baby girl arrives and everyone is relieved until Sybil’s health takes a turn with the worst possible outcome. Her death is a deep blow to everyone at Downton and the blame game begins between Lady Grantham and her husband.

Favorite Moments

There really is nothing wrong?” – Tom Branson

Nothing at all.” – Dr. Clarkson

Tom Branson asks the family doctor about his wife’s health so close to her delivery. Of course he says nothing is wrong. This from the man who prescribed cinnamon and milk for the Spanish Flu!

You better ask Mr. Barrow. He’s the clock expert. He used to wind them but it is of course quite wrong for a valet to do it.” – Miss O’Brien

Mr. Barrow won’t mind?” – James Kent

Oh no. I can see he likes you and that’s good since he’s got the ear of his Lordship.” – Miss O’Brien

Miss O’Brien the Dear Abbey of Downton Abbey – offering advice to the needy – yeah right! She knows  whose clock Thomas wants to wind.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4: Matthew Crawley

I think he harks back to a time when money was abundant and there wasn’t much need to keep on top of it. I think he equates being businesslike with being mean or worse, middle class like me.” – Matthew Crawley

Ah. Another light bulb revelation. As Matthew and Mary discuss money matters of the Downton estate we are shown the difference between the classes. An interesting point, but why are Mary and Matthew always discussing money? Since he will inherit the estate and she wears the pants in the family, it is her point of view that must evolve here. This could be fun.

Don’t bother Matthew. I’m always a failure in this family.” – Lady Edith Crawley

Edith is astounded to receive an offer of employment from the editor of The Sketch who wants her to write a weekly column. Someone values her opinion! How sad that her father Lord Grantham thinks that they only want her for her name and the title. Buck up Edith. If you storm out of rooms every time you get dinged by a member of your dysfunctional family you will be in constant motion. #TeamEdith

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4: downstairs kitchen

Just one of the tricks of the trade.” – Ivy

Well done Ivy you played a good one there. Thank her Daisy.” – Mrs. Patmore

Daisy is riding the new kitchen maid Ivy pretty hard while the two footmen James and Alfred vie for her attention. In this scene we get to see Alfred help save the Hollandaise sauce that has separated and make Ivy look like a star. *raised eyebrow*

Oh don’t look at me. Cora is right. The decision lies with the chauffeur.” – Violet, Dowager Counter of Grantham

In a scene reminiscent of a tennis volley, the two doctors present differing opinions on Lady’s Sybil’s condition while in labor dividing the family: Lady Cora on the side of Dr. Clarkson and Lord Grantham on the side of Dr. Tapsell. Lady Violet, always the voice of reason in the family almost never agrees with her daughter-in-law’s decisions, but finally does, and we are left to applaud.

She was the only person living who always thought you and I were such nice people.” – Lady Mary

Oh, Mary. Do you think you and I might get along a little better in the future?”– Lady Edith

I doubt it. But since this is the last time we all three shall be together in this life, let’s love each other as sisters should.” – Lady Mary

Black. Everything is black. Goodbye Lady Sybil.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 4: Sybil and Tom Branson and new baby

My Review

I am really quite numb after this episode. Sybil’s death was not expected and I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under us. It has overshadowed any of the other plot developments such as Edith’s good news about an invitation to write for a newspaper, or Ethel getting a job with Mrs. Crawley. Sybil was such a bright and energetic soul. Seeing all of her family in black morning and the servants with armbands was so devastating. When people die, one never knows what to say beyond offering condolences – and so, I am also speechless.

The staff story is heating up. #CrankyDaisy is back and miffed over the attention that the pretty new kitchen maid is receiving from the two footmen. It was interesting to see the footman Alfred to the rescue with the Hollandaise sauce. He obviously knows a thing or two about cooking. Miss O’Brien is weaving her evil web over Thomas and innocent James is being used for her selfish purpose. I don’t like where this is going, nor how Thomas is  being portrayed like a lecherous stalker. Finally a ray of hope for Anna and Bates, but whenever that corrupt prison guard and Bate’s cellmate put their heads together I am left wondering why. What is their motive?

How did you like episode four? Are you all as stunned as I am with the outcome and new developments?

Images courtesy © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE; text © Laurel Ann Nattress,

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