Downton Abbey Pre-season Prep: A Season 2 Refresher, Plus What's Ahead in Season 3

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jan 04, 2013

When we here on this side of the pond last (officially) checked in on the Crawley family, it was Christmas 1919 and those two crazy kids named Matt and Mary had finally gotten over themselves and hooked up for serious. That whole one-night stand thing that'd been threatening to stomp all over Lady Mary’s honor since, oh about 1912, ended up being a moot point when she sucked it up and told Matthew about Kemal Pamuk and Matthew ended up being refreshingly unconcerned with the state of her virginity. How very modern of him.

Speaking of modern—everyone’s favorite pants-wearing, world-war-nursing, chauffeur-loving sister Sybil was revealed to be in a delicate state in Ireland, where husband Branson struggled to balance his inner revolutionary with the shiny new role of in-law to the Earl. Talk about a conflict of interest! I bet the potential for awkward family dinners is limitless.

Mr. Bates was still in prison for his wife’s murder, but detective Anna was on the case and Maggie Smith continued to preside over family affairs as the Dowager Countess with her tried-and-true arsenal of sass, hilarious facial expressions, and fancy hats.

I know, I know, the entirety of season 3 aired in the UK months ago and even the recent Christmas special is only a hop, skip, and a click away if you know your way around the interwebs, but it's all only just beginning this Sunday in the U.S.—so if you’re already in the know, please humor us as we indulge in this latest round of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Downton Abbey Season 3.”

Our American Cousin

Shirley MacLaine will appear as Martha Levinson, Cora’s moneybags mom, mother-in-law to the Earl of Grantham, and perpetual thorn in the Dowager Countess’s side with her “progressive” ideas and penchant for clashing with tradition. Maybe that’s where Sybil gets it? Regardless, the sass overload of the two strong-willed family matriarchs has the potential to be epic.

Awkward Family Dinners

Mealtime at Downton has always been great for the unexpected airing of grievances (Festivus season or not) and it’s doubtful that Season 3 will deprive us of that particular tradition. Between Momma Levinson taking every opportunity to snark at her title-laden counterpart, Tom Brandon’s identity crisis, and the preggers Lady Sybil stuck between the conflicting worldviews of her husband and her father, dinner will be anything but boring.

Attack of the Bridezilla

Knowing Matt and Mary, their engagement will hardly be the blissful period of easy joy that might befit their snowy winter proposal. It took them eight years just to get that far and along the way, they managed to turn arguing into a carefully styled artform. Cold feet? Angst? Tantrums? Please let there be tantrums. I love a good Lady Mary tantrum.

Friends in Low Places

Daisy grew a backbone and demanded a promotion in the 2011 Christmas special—and just typing “2011 Christmas Special” hits home with regard to just how behind we are (it’s shameful!). She also bonded with her father-in-law from that deathbed wedding to William that I suspect was supposed to be sweet, but still makes me feel really bad for Daisy since she was basically forced into it. However, she’s come a long way from scrubbing fireplaces, that one. Meanwhile, some new faces filled the ranks downstairs and Thomas didn’t seem too happy about it.

More Edith Action?

Poor Edith. Neither a ravishing beauty nor a headstrong “modern woman” like her sisters, the girl deserves a break—or at least a role outside of perpetual president of the Future Spinsters of Downton Abbey club. If she was happy with her place in life, it would be different, but as it stands, I’m a little tired of constantly feeling bad for her. We know that she’s perfectly capable of stepping outside the norm when duty calls, so let’s give her some duties beyond being the “other” Crawley sister, eh?

Money Money Money

Money woes aren’t new to Downton. We know that it was Robert’s marriage to Cora and the addition of her family fortune that kept Downton from falling into ruin years ago. Now it seems that in the wake of World War I, funding will once again become an issue for the Crawley family. How do you run a house like Downton, which is staffed by numerous servants and probably a total B to heat in the winter, when you suddenly lose your financial reserves? Idk. I guess we’ll have to watch and find out.

Downton Abbey returns to American television screens this Sunday, January 6 at 9pm on PBS. Here’s an extended preview to hold you over:

Watch Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

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  • sakuramankai Jan 07, 2013

    It's pretty ridiculous that the show is so far behind. Let's be honest here: This is 2013. 90% of the fans of the show finished this season months ago.

  • hope_19 Jan 06, 2013

    Without spoiling anything... I NEVER thought I'd feel sorry for one of the characters on this show but I did.

  • Atlantida Jan 05, 2013

    Is there a single person here who hasn't already watched season 3? #justinterested

  • withoutcanseco Jan 07, 2013

    I imagine lots of people (including myself) haven't seen it considering it hasn't been on US TV yet.

  • IndianaMom Jan 06, 2013

    I haven't seen season 3 yet. I've kind of lost interest, it's been so long. And season 2 wasn't that great.

  • angeleys151 Jan 06, 2013

    I can't get the Christmas special to play if that's helpful, but yea totally watched the entire season a while ago. *Spoilers* It's really good!

  • radiumgirl Staff Jan 05, 2013

    I'm curious too, actually!

  • LolaShepard Jan 06, 2013

    I would not have been able to wait for the U.S. release..this show is just too good and I like it way too much to wait. Waiting for the Christmas episode to air was hard enough, and they won't start filming the next season for another month! I'll have to satisfy myself with Game of Thrones in it's absence. (Not that that is a bad thing)

  • Ankh49 Jan 05, 2013

    Although I've seen it already I look forward to seeing what you make of season 3 and the Christmas special.

  • rasa_radz Jan 05, 2013

    Will you be reviewing it? With the spoilers I've accidentally read, I think I might need recaps to help me get through it all. I'm already halfway through season 3, but I still would love to read your thoughts on Downton. So far, I'm definitely liking it much more than season 2, which was overly dramatic for my taste. Season 3 seems to have gotten back to the feel of season 1 and features more Violet, which is always great, and more exploration of the characters.
    Anyway, this show is my new obsession! I've marathoned it recently and found it completely captivating.

  • radiumgirl Staff Jan 05, 2013

    I will totally be reviewing it! And I've totally heard the spoilers too. It'll be okay. We'll get through this!

  • SarahHagen2 Jan 05, 2013

    Poor Edith, she doesn't catch a break. Although none of the Crawley sisters have a good year. Season 3 definitely not my favorite, I think I may be done with this show.

  • purceli Jan 05, 2013

    I thought they meant Season 4, does it usually take this long to cross the pond? I watched Season 3 last summer I think and just saw the newest Christmas special. With all the spoilers out there, I'd hate to have to wait.

  • KevinG87 Jan 05, 2013

    series/season 3 aired September to early November in the UK, plus the Christmas, PBS gets it a few months later but they edit it down some and have two episodes stuck together, atleast they did before and that's why the US DVD/Blu-rays say "original UK edition"

  • chartah Jan 05, 2013

    Season 3 sucks... Prepare to cry. A lot.

  • katikool Jan 04, 2013

    Definitely have the kleenex available. But don't worry, happy things happen too! Like, uh... the 20's are fun! And... ummm... damn can't think of anything else. Have kleenex on hand.

  • KevinG87 Jan 05, 2013

    for every happy thing, there's 2 bad things. I'm still pissed at it!

  • katikool Jan 05, 2013

    Especially THE two bad things. I might be emotionally scarred for life :(

  • KevinG87 Jan 06, 2013

    yeah, tell me about it! I'm debating giving up on the show lol

  • KevinG87 Jan 04, 2013

    what's ahead in season 3? having seen it I can say very very very depressing things.. :(

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