Downton Abbey Review: Wedded Bliss?

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Behold, American viewers: the Downton Abbey Season 3 premiere is finally upon us!

It was strange to watch Matthew and Mary trying to get to know each other after all the years they've spent doing just that. But I suppose all the lies and the hiding of feelings makes their entire lives a fresh start in a way.

Matthew wanting to try to do it without the prying eyes of her family was sort of charming, although I could thoroughly understand Mary's desire to have her loved ones nearby. Time will tell if the house is as large as Mary thinks.

Mary and Matthew at the Altar

What awful timing for Robert to find out they are broke. As if he wasn't already under pressure to put on a grand affair after a war that did quite a bit to alter the family's lifestyle - and now he discovers he's practically penniless in the face of a wedding that will impact the morale of an entire village. That's a lot for any man to take.

It was so sad to see what happened to the relationship between Sybil and her family because of her marriage to Tom Branson. They were barely accepted at the house. They seemed blissfully happy with their lives in Dublin, and so miserable when they were with the Granthams.

It was perfectly Downton for it to take an old suitor of Sybil's spiking Tom's drink for the family to finally understand and accept Tom for who he is. When Matthew asked Tom to be his best man, I actually cried with relief. The look of happiness on Mary's face was a beautiful wedding gift. How could they have known at that moment he was also their best chance at ensuring the ceremony would go forward? Matthew was right: he and Tom were in it together with those strong willed Crawley women. 

Isobel and Violet forcing Tom into a Morning Coat was priceless. The sheer power of the women of Downton Abbey was almost impossible to beat, and then Shirley McLaine as Martha Levinson hopped out of a car. I couldn't help but hope that she might be an ally to Tom with her stark comments and inability to keep her opinions to herself. 

Matthew is, once again, an heir to an extraordinarily large sum of money. Some people are born with all the luck! This time it was Lavinia's father leaving Matthew as the third in a line of possible heirs. Matthew was adamant he couldn't keep the money if it became his, as was becoming increasingly likely. Mary figured his inheritance would solve all of Downton's problems, and Matthew's disagreement on the topic meant, to her, he was against everything Crawley. 

Poor Matthew, hoping to start a life with Mary in a far less grand way than they were accustomed, again being thrust into the financial spotlight as a possible savior of the entire family, if not the village itself. But, as Tom said, he would never be happy with another woman as long as Mary Crawley walked the face of this earth. During their kiss prior the night before their wedding, Mary cheated, opening her eyes to gaze and then grin at her husband to be. 

I just can't help but think that starting their marriage with a looming financial crisis over their heads, and one they were at odds over, can possibly mean good tidings for the enamored couple. Their relationship has been rocky at the best of times, and all the talk of saving the family when they disagree over the morality of the method is troubling.

Edith has fallen so far in love with Sir Anthony, and what Lord Grantham did to try to keep them apart was just horrible. Edith is always the overlooked daughter. Even when she was practically running the convalescence hospital in the Abbey, her work was overlooked as the other daughter's shined. I want her to find happiness. Finding it with an older man was hardly a scandal in that day, was it? As she rightly pointed out, half the men of a suitable age had been killed in the war. If she found love and it was real, how could her loving father stop it?

Speaking of love, as much as I have always been a fan of Anna and Bates, his being in prison is draining. I wanted her to have a fantasy love story and this is not it. I just wanted a little bit of romantic happiness for them and one night wasn't enough. They cannot clear up this story fast enough for my taste. Just being in prison is turning Bates into a thug. If he stays in there too long, it could be too hard for him to leave that behind.

I’ve never thought much about the fate of people who found things like lumps in their breasts when surgery was in its infancy. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore were so engaging as friends, and it was perfect that Patmore never let her sense of humor disappear while she supported her friend. Pointing out it's better to spend money on a doctor than on a funeral? CLASSIC. 

Was anyone else secretly cheering the fact Miss O'Brien finally noticed Thomas is not a knight in shining armor? Again and again that woman was willing to lay her own future on the to protect him, but when her own kin was in the line of fire, it seemed to knock her out of her stupor. As characters come and go on Downton Abbey, I keep waiting for Thomas to pack his bags or have them packed for him.

One last very important note from the premiere: now that I've seen it done Downton style, I see no reason my own wedding, better late than never, shouldn't consist of me being cheered on as I ride through the cobbled streets of a small British village in a lovely covered carriage to a gorgeous historical church. A girl can dream, right?!

So what did you think of Downton Abbey's return? What are your wishes for the season? There was a major, series changing development that can be read in the Downton Abbey spoilers section, but please, please don't look if you're not absolutely sure you don't want the series affected before you're ready. You've been warned!


Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (68 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


We really enjoyed watching Downton Abbey We did not think that they showed enough of the wedding. We did not hear them exchange vows. Next they were coming back from their Honeymoon. We think that Thomas killed Bates's first wife. We think that he planned it with O Brien because she found out his secret. Is Patrick and Sir Anthony the same person?


"As characters come and go on Downton Abbey, I keep waiting for Thomas to pack his bags or have them packed for him." I say "Ladies first!", assuming you can call O'Brien a lady. Sack her and leave a permanent footprint on her hindquarters. At first I was kinda relieved to learn that the gruesome twosome would be infighting instead of plotting against the other innocent servants, but ultimately, their little pranks end up reflecting badly on Matthew and Robert. As much as I want to see Edith find some happiness instead of just being "the other Crawley sister", her thing for Anthony Strallan kinda creeps me out. On the up side, the ep had lots of humorous moments too--Patmore's dictionary remark, O'Brien's remark about cross, red-haired lady cooks within earshot of Mrs. P, the bantering between Lady Violet and Martha....


I was disappointed with the two hours. after much anticipation of the wedding, they spent so little time with the actual event.
Thankful that we got to see Mary in her dress, but it would have been nice to see some of the reception and "the going away" could have been special with Mary in her beautiful blue suit throwing the bouquet. it could have been a great TV moment to remember! I felt that the entire two hours were rushed and disjointed. very hard to follow the quick scene changes. Bates and Anna, especially, were painfully fast sketches. Why did the director rush this two hours? Let us savor the characters and scenes, PLEASE!


Poor Edith. My roommate strongly dislikes her but I feel for her. Like you said she is always overlooked. Every man she has liked or cared for has prefered her sister or was married. She cared so much for the men staying at the home during the war and all she got for it was one mention at a family dinner. She deserves some happiness. Mary still bugs me. She has never understood Matthew's guilt about Lavinia. I truly think he cared for her and it pains him that he hurt her after she was nothing but sweet and supportive. I cannot wait for the family to get past Tom's differences and I hope Tom learns to control himself and give in a little to what the family wants. Forcing him into the coat was probably one of the funniest moments. No mention of Daisy and her little protest/watching of Alfred? I'm glad to see she feels better about everything that happened with William (I still miss him) and I hope she finds some real happiness this season. She just needs to stop listening to Thomas!


There were several layers when Matthew told Branson that Mary was a "pragmatist."


Edith, not Ethel! Poor girl, not even the reviewer can take the time to learn her name!


Edith, not Ethel. Ethel is former maid of Downton, who go pregnant with an officer and lost her job in season 2!

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Downton Abbey Season 3 Episode 1 Quotes

Miss O'Brien, we are about to hire a footman, and I have no time to be training hobbledeehoys.

Mr. Carson

May I remind you, Mr. Barrow, that in this house Mr. Bates is a wronged man seeking justice. If you have any problems with that definition, I suggest you eat in the yard.

Mr. Carson