Downton Abbey

Season 3 Episode 8

Episode 8

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 04, 2012 on PBS

Episode Recap

It's time for the annual Cricket match between the male inhabitants of Downton and some of the villagers.  Molesley's father reminds him how important this is and his son assures him Granthan takes it very seriously.

Carson believes that the issue with Thomas can be handled very discreetly.  Since it's time for Mr. Bates to return to his job as Lord Grantham's valet, Thomas can tender his resignation, Carson will give him a good reference and they can all part ways amicably.  For tonight, Thomas can attend to His Lordship.  Dismissing Thomas, Carson heads out into the hallway and chastizes Miss O'Brien for eavesdropping.

Meanwhile, Grantham is fretting over the House's cricket team which does not include the in-shape outside employees, but will at least include Thomas who was their best runner last year and will play before he leaves.  Nevertheless, the village team always wins.  Mary is looking tired from her trip to London which she doesn't want to discuss.

O'Brien lies to James that she's heard Carson will not be punishing Thomas for his indiscretion.  She urges him to make a complaint so that people won't believe he is the same way.

Matthew learns from Anna that Cora is in Mary's room and enters just as Cora is talking about a Dr. Ryder.  Mary won't elaborate and turns the subject to the cricket match which Matthew will have to participate in.  Matthew makes an insensitive comment about Bates being lucky not to play before catching himself.   Branson doesn't want to play either, espcially as cricket was not a game he played growing up.  Molesley, however, is as this is his first year to play on the House team, he is excited to show the staff how much he knows about the game.

While Edith explains her first article is about the struggles of returning veterans to make ends meet, Violet, Cora and Isobel enter the room to explain that they will have a visitor.  Violet is the godmother to her niece's 18-year old daughter, Rose, who is not enjoying London and will be coming to stay with her until the family's Scotland home is opened up for the summer.   Few believe that Violet will be able to relate to an 18-year old city girl or that staying with a great-aunt in the country is preferable to London life.

O'Brien presses James to make sure that Mr. Carson takes the incident seriously.  He should demand that Thomas be given a bad reference or he will go to the police.  Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Bates are both witness to this conversation.  Later, both Thomas and Bates are in the dressing room where Grantham wishes Thomas all the best.  After he leaves, Bates asks Thomas what he's planning to do.  Thomas bitterly asks what it is to him.

Ultimately, James goes to Carson and makes his demand.  Carson isn't sure the police is the appropriate choice here, but, though he is hardly liberal about these matters, he cannot allow another scandal to creep into the house.

As Mary and Matthew prepare for bed, Matthew hopes that participating in the match will show her father that some of the old ways can still be kept and also hopes for some romance, but his tired wife puts him off.

Countess Violet and her great-niece visit Isobel.  Violet pulls out a number of letters she's gotten in response to the ad placed for Ethel.  
Thomas laments to Carson that he will never get another job if he cannot produce a reference.  He wants to appeal to Lord Grantham, but Carson reminds that doing so would necessitate the whole story coming out.  Thomas knows James is not the type to decide on this course of action on his own.  He does ask Carson for permission to stay a couple of days in order to make other arrangements and it is granted him.

The Bates look at the state of their cottage, but agree to work on it as they fall on a couch that collapses, laughing.

When Edith announces she is returning to London that week, Rose asks for permission to come along, giving an excuse that, though she doesn't like London, she is arranging a surprise for her parents and doesn't want them to know she's coming.  Edith agrees, but states they will stay with Aunt Rosamund while there.  Matthew admits later that he's going to London, too, so Edith invites him to join them at Rosamund's because she has a feeling that Rose will need more handling than she can probably accomplish herself.

Branson is hoping to recruit Cora's support for Matthew's plan to farm a third of the estate. Cora knows that the change of the last few years has unsettled her husband.  Branson also plans to fix up Jarvis's cottage and Mary offers to check the attics for furniture as Jarvis took all of his.

Mrs. Hughes finds Thomas weeping in the yard.  She tries to encourage him to seek a position elsewhere as a butler for which he is well-qualified. When he tells her she doesn't know the whole story, she takes him by the arm and invites him inside to talk.  Later, she goes to Carson to advocate for Thomas.  Arguing that James is a bit of a flirt and Thomas may have misread the signals, Mrs. Hughes adds that termination without a reference is a poor way to treat a man who was injured serving his country.  Carson is not unsympathetic, but points out that it's better than prison which is what Thomas will be facing if James carries out his threat.

Isobel explains to Ethel that the Dowager Countess is concerned about her working in a small town where everyone knows her history.  She produces the letters Violet received in response to the ad she had placed.  Isobel hopes that Ethel will look them over and, if she finds a suitable place where she can make a clean start, she can count on good references from both Isobel and Mrs. Hughes.

Mary asks Edith to her room to find out when she will be returning from London.  She would like Edith to make sure that Matthew doesn't come back earlier.

Grantham vents to his wife about how he's being kept in the dark by both Matthew and Branson about their scheme.

Bates is outside his cottage when he sees Thomas smoking in the dark.  Thomas admits he envies the happiness he sees that Bates has with his wife.  Everyone is so happy for them.  Bates advises he try being a nicer person, but as being nice got him into his present trouble, Thomas dismisses that and decrees that, with him gone, Bates will probably be glad anyway.  Bates admits that he will, but doesn't keep from looking concerned.

The next day, when Carson is tallying up the cricket team members and James notes that Thomas won't be among them, Bates makes a note of the smile on O'Brien's face.   Grantham is still unhappy that Branson won't play for their team, but he does caution Carson to keep his own displeasure invisible to Lady Cora.

Rosamund is anxious to hear any family gossip when the party from Downton arrives.  Rose sneaks off to make a phone call.

Ethel tells Isobel that most of the replies were not helpful to her, but there was one that sounded promising from a Mrs. Watson in Cheadle.  The only problem is that Cheadle is near the Bryant home.  Starting over will be difficult with her son so close, especially if the Bryants decide to cause a stir.  She is sorry if her presence here is making things difficult between Isobel and Countess Violet, but Isobel assures her that the Dowager will always have a complaint with or without Ethel here.

Gregson is complimentary of both Edith's appearance and her writing, glad to be able to provide a woman's view of what would normally considered a man's topic.  As she's unavailable that evening, she turns down his invitation to dinner.

Rose, dressed in 20s fashion, jumps into a cab.

While painting their cottage, Bates admits to Anna that,  while they are not Thomas's friends, he is going to ask Mrs. Hughes what's going on as there appears to be something more than just him being replaced as valet.  That evening, he sits with Mrs. Hughes who tells him the whole story.  He finds it surprising that Mr. Carson would be so shocked considering he had to know Thomas's inclinations.  Mrs. Hughes thinks that Carson was content not to think about it until he forced to.  Bates does agree, though, from experience, that prison is not something he would wish on Thomas.

Dinner at Rosamund's isn't kept for Rose to return, but it is interrupted when a cab driver is let upstairs to explain that Rose left in his cab, forgot her scarf which he is returning and was taken to the home of a friend where the cabbie waited for two hours before taking her and the friend to the Blue Dragon club on Greek Street.  He is reluctant to tell Rosamund what kind of club it is.

The Blue Dragon is a jazz club, complete with flappers dancing, black musicians and booze dispensed freely.  Matthew calls it the outer circle from "Dante's Inferno".  Rose's dance partner is an older man who turns out to be married.  While Rosamund and Edith interrogate him, Matthew drags Rose to the dance floor and tells her that he will convince Rosamund and Edith to keep quiet about this if Rose will agree to stay out of trouble while she is under her great-aunt's care.  She assures him that her boyfriend's wife is horrible and he's giong to divorce her in order to marry Rose.  Matthew points out that most married men who take up with young women dole out the story of the horrible wife and suggests she meet the lady herself.

Isobel has already determined that Violet's experience raising children consisted of having a bevy of nannies and governesses surrounding them with Robert and Rosamund only actually seeing their mother for an hour each day after tea.

While Carson is bringing Bates up to date on the significant events at Downton during his absence, James bursts in to complain that Thomas is still here.  Bates points out that James is acting like a child considering that the whole thing was a mistake and he is unharmed.  It doesn't change James' mind, but Bates does think Carson should know the identity of the likely culprit.

Frustrated, James storms into the dining room where he complains to Alfred.  Ivy doesn't understand what this is all about, but she does think that getting rid of Thomas without a reference isn't right.  James snaps at her and leaves.  O'Brien advises her to stay out of it.
Riding together, Isobel tells Countess Violet that Ethel doesn't want to leave.  She explains about the offer from Cheadle which Ethel really shouldn't take because she'd likely be drawn to Charlie and because the Bryants could make trouble.  Violet is sympathetic and becomes thoughtful.

In London, Dr. Ryder assures Matthew that there's nothing wrong with him.  Matthew asks if his wife has been to see him, but Ryder denies it and admits he couldn't tell Matthew if she had.  On the way downstairs, however, Matthew spots Mary giving her name as Levinson.    They sit at tea while Mary explains that Matthew wasn't the problem, she was.  She had minor surgery a few weeks ago to correct the problem which is why she has been spurning his advances.  Her most recent visit confirms she's healed and they should have baby news by the time of her next follow-up appointment in six months.

Both Matthew and Mary head to Rosamund's where Rose gets one last dressing down as Rosamund resents not being allowed to tell her mother what happened.  Matthew assures her he will personally telephone the mother if Rose misbehaves again.  When they drop Rose off at Countess Violet's, Edith reminds Rose of her agreement, assures her that no one will say anything if she behaves and warns her that Great-Aunt Violet will be furious if she finds out.  Great-Aunt Violet, at the top of the staircase, overhearing this conversation, looks as though she probably will.

Molesley is giving cricket tips to the amused staff as Alfred expresses his discomfort over the issue with Thomas.  The girls don't know what he's going to do and Mrs. Patmore thinks he could do well in America.  James doesn't think it's anyone's concern.  Mrs. Patmore tells the confused Daisy and Ivy that they wouldn't understand.

Lord Grantham, however, understands perfectly as Bates explains the issue while dressing him.   Robert isn't happy that Carson's authority is being undermined, and, seeing as they all knew what Thomas was, he finds it irritating that James is making such a fuss, especially since Grantham quips that he himself would have been voiceless after a month at Eton if he squealed everytime someone tried to kiss him there.  Bates opines that O'Brien is fueling it all which is surprising as both she and Thomas had seemed to be partners in crime.

Countess Violet tells Rose that her mother had contacted her with the decree that Rose will be going to the family's home in Scottland to stay with her Aunt Agatha until the rest of the family comes.  Rose demands to know who told on her, but Violet claims not to have a clue.  Her maid will escort Rose to Scotland to make sure she doesn't take off as she threatens.

Bates goes to Thomas to urge him to fight for his right to a reference.  If he doesn't, his job prospects are nil. Thomas notes that prison seems to have changed Bates who has to admit it probably has.  He explains that he suspects O'Brien is behind this.  If Thomas knows something that can be used against her, Bates is willing to use it to try to change her mind.

At the big meeting, Grantham barks at Matthew and Branson about their plans.  He would prefer to invest the Swire fortune in one of the many financial schemes he's heard of, such as the one in America run by Charles Ponzi.  Matthew vehemently objects that questionable investments caused the loss of Cora's fortune.  Though Cora doesn't want to hear her husband being treated disrespectfully, she does, however, explain to Robert that his only plan seems to be to act as if nothing has changed.  She is going to side with Matthew on this.  Feeling backed into a corner by his whole family, Robert decides that he'll just let them manage the place from now on and stomps into the hallway, past Edith who is on the phone trying to get information about Gregson.

The Bates are hosting their first guest to tea:  Miss O'Brien.  Anna doesn't understand why he is doing all of this for Thomas, but Bates explains that he knows what it's like to feel powerless and prison is not something he would wish on anyone.    When O'Brien arrives, tea is served and Bates wonders why her opinion of Thomas has changed.  He would like her to get James to back down on the threat to go to the police.  If she doesn't, he will not longer keep her secret.  He leans over and whispers something in her ear that causes her to quickly leave.

O'Brien quickly finds James and explains that she only encouraged him to take a stand to protect his reputation.  Now that there is no doubt where his romantic interests lie, it's time to do the gentlemanly thing and let it drop.  It will show him to be the better man.    James isn't happy as he wasn't eager to go this far in the first place, but does ask to speak with Mr. Carson immediately.

Unhappily, Edith tells everyone she's going back to London.  Matthew presses Branson to play on the cricket team in order to make Robert happy.  Cora doesn't want Tom pressured to do anything he doesn't want to do, but does mention how sad it will be when he and the baby move into a cottage.

Bates soon regrets his interference when Grantham, glad the Thomas situation is resolved, thinks it would be better that, instead of sending him off with a reference, Thomas be found something else to do here by Mr. Carson.  Alfred is even less happy than Bates when he learns that Thomas is getting off.  James admits he'd rather not drag all this out, especially when Thomas will be gone soon anyway.

The next morning at breakfast, Robert doesn't bother accepting an invitation by Matthew to tour the grounds.  Branson stays behind to suggest that everyone in this family, including the ones who marry into it, put their talents to use for the good of them all.  Matthew has experience with business and the law, Branson can work the land and Robert knows the importance of being responsible to the people who've lived here for generations.  If they pool their talents, they can all make a difference.  Grantham agrees to give it a try so long as Tom is willing to play cricket on the House team.

Having received a mysterious invitation for them both to visit the Dower House, Isobel and Ethel arrive to find Violet entertaining Mrs. Bryant.  She explains that she felt it was important to determine what the Bryants' reaction would be if Ethel were to work somewhere near them.  Mrs. Bryant tells Ethel that she has grown to worry about the impact of keeping Charlie's mother from him.  She would like Ethel to take up the offer Mrs. Watson has extended.  Though she'd rather not Charlie know his mother's identity right away, they agree that Ethel will be described as his original nanny for the time being.  In addition, Mrs. Bryant vows to handle her husband.

The Bates, Mrs. Hughes and Carson discuss how to fit Thomas into the staff.  Mrs. Hughes suggests that he be an under-butler of some kind.  Carson isn't so fussed about titles, but Bates isn't thrilled with the idea of Thomas outranking him.  As for what James will think, Carson believes that's up to Lord Grantham to handle since he wants to keep Thomas.

Matthew teaches Branson how to play cricket.

Edith confronts Gregson over his romantic overtures considering she's learned that he's a married man.  He admits he is married, but his wife has been institutionalized for years due to a mental condition.  Divorce laws require both parties to be either guilty or innocent.  Since his wife can be decreed neither, he must remain married to her while she still lives.  He does hope that Edith will continue to work for the paper as her writing cheers him up.

As the cricket match commences, the ladies watch from the sidelines.  Violet is glad things worked out with Ethel, but Isobel still thinks her motive was to eliminate a scandal for her family rather than helping someone.  While Matthew misses and Molesley is doing more harm than good, Thomas does well, getting a handshake from Grantham and a sigh from Bates as to how he'd only intended to get Thomas his reference.  Anna asks what he said to O'Brien.  Bates admits he doesn't understand it, but Thomas told him to bring up "Her Ladyship's Soap".

Rose confronts Rosamund and Edith over which one of them exposed her.  It's obvious Countess Violet knows exactly what is going on, having told Rosamund that Edith said something and allowing Rosamund to provide the details.

Grantham and Carson meet James, congratulate him on his playing and compliment his good grace to drop his complaint and let Thomas stay.  James isn't quite prepared to accept the last bit until Robert also mentions his promotion to first footman.  This doesn't end the issue when a police car pulls up and two officers explain to Robert that Alfred Nugent has made a complaint to them about one of the employees being the victim of a criminal assault.  Carson holds them at bay while Lord Grantham goes to retrieve Alfred, taking a quiet moment between them to remind Alfred that none of them are perfect and ask if Thomas' whole life should be ruined over this.

Then brings Alfred to the officers where Alfred explains he might have misinterpreted some roughhousing while he was drinking a little too much.

The head of the Village Team, Dr. Clarkson, apologizes to Mr. Molesley about his son, but Molesley, Sr. admits Joseph's talk about cricket was really only talk.

At one of the tents, Branson watches his daughter being held by Mary.  He asks Cora if it might be alright for them to stay at Downton until Sybil gets older.  Cora is sure that's what her daughter would have wanted.  Matthew and Mary walk among the grounds, her father having finally agreed to be a part of this plan, dreaming of the future they will give their children.

Branson catches a shot by Clarkson and is joined on the field by his two new partners.