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Episode 3.01 is the first episode of the third season of Downton Abbey, and the seventeenth episode overall.

It first aired on the 16th September, 2012 on ITV where it received 9.6 million viewers.[1]


Come war and peace, Downton still stands and the Crawleys are still in it!
—Martha when she steps out of the car after arriving at Downton Abbey[src]
Martha: "Oh dear, I'm afraid the war has made old women of us both."
Violet: "Oh, I wouldn't say that - but then, I always keep out of the sun. Well, how do you find Downton on your return?"
Martha: "Much the same really. Probably too much the same, but then I don't want to cast a pall over all the happiness."
— Violet and Martha reuniting at the beginning of Series 3.[src]

Set in Spring (March, April or May[2]) 1920. Cora’s mother sweeps into Downton for Matthew and Mary’s wedding, causing friction with the Dowager Countess with her "revolutionary" way of seeing things. Lord Grantham is informed that his attempt to make money for Downton by pouring the bulk of Cora's fortune into a single railway company has failed, leaving the estate near bankruptcy. Salvation is possible thanks to Matthew inheriting a large amount of money from Lavinia's father, but his high values will not let him keep the money, feeling it a betrayal of Lavinia and her father.


Spring of 1920. Daisy walks her bicycle down the road in Downton village toward the church. Inside the church, Matthew and Mary are engaged in their wedding rehearsal. They are talking about how Sybil is not going to be able to attend, as she and Tom cannot afford it. Reverend Travis is trying to preside, though the archbishop, who Lord Grantham had arranged to actually perform the ceremony stands near giving orders. Mary talks about how she hadn't thought an archbishop necessary. Mary laments that Sybil cannot come, though Robert is relieved as the notoriety has not died down yet. Isobel questions that there is actual notoriety at all, but Matthew reminds her that Sybil did elope with the chauffeur.

Daisy is riding back to Downton, where in the servant's hall they talk about Mr. Bates incarceration for his ex-wife's murder. Thomas questions the legality of Bates having put his mother's house, which was his former wife's residence, into Anna's name so that it could be rented. Carson takes offense to Mr. Bates being referred to as a murderer and tells Thomas not to do it unless he wants to eat in the yard.

Isobel, Cora, and Violet meet in the Dowager House and discuss Sybil and Tom. The Dowager Countess and Isobel both think that they should come. Isobel thinks he should fight for his place, but Violet says that if he is unobtrusive that people will lose interest in the subject. Isobel wants to send them the money to come, Cora says that Robert has forbidden it.

Robert is on the phone arranging a meeting; he says that things cannot be as bad as he is being told. Downstairs Anna and Mrs. Hughes have just returned from London. Wedding preparations are going ahead, but the house is short a footman. O'Brien has gotten a letter from her sister about her nephew Alfred Nugent needing a job, but Carson says that he doesn't have time to train a hobbledy-hoy. However, O'Brien goes over his head to Cora. Cora asks Robert about this, but he is distracted. He tells Cora that he has to go to town, but not to be concerned.

Anna visits Bates in prison. She found Vera's journal and letters, while cleaning the house, and wants Bates to go through them to make a list of all friends, acquaintances, and tradesmen as Anna wants to question everyone for more information about Vera. Bates doesn't see the point, but Anna says that she won't stop until he is proved innocent. Bates tells her that he has a new cellmate that he is unsure of, and Anna warns him not to make enemies. When he asks how much time she will spend on these investigations, she gives a sad smile and asks if he has someplace to go.

Carson thinks that Alfred is too tall to be a footman and seems to think that his experience as a hotel waiter, after getting out of the army, is inadequate. O'Brien speaks up for him and also says that, since he has already been given the job, interviewing him is pointless.

Matthew and Mary take a walk and discuss living at Downton after the wedding. Matthew thinks it will be hard to get to know each other and adapt to married life with her parents around. Despite the fact that she says that it is a big house and that he wants it to be his home as well, Matthew says that he wants to live with just Mary at first.

Robert is in London at his lawyer George Murray's office in Chancery Lane. He is told that his investment in the Canadian Grand Trunk Railway, which he made over the advice of counsel, has been lost. The line is bankrupt and will be nationalized. The majority of Cora's money is gone. Murray says that the estate could be broken up and sold, but Robert refuses. The estate must be a major employer and support the house or what is the point. Robert says that he will not give up and be the Earl who lost it all.

Downton village is being decorated for the wedding. Edith meets Sir Anthony Strallan in town and is glad to sit in his car, worn out from wedding preparations. She tells him that Sybil has written that she will be coming to the wedding and she hopes that her father will be pleased. Her grandmother, Martha Levinson is also coming from America. Strallan says that weddings remind one of being lonely.

Molesley talks to Matthew about living at the main house after the wedding, but is unhappy to learn that Matthew is not going to take him to Downton, but will be leaving him as butler with Isobel, his mother. He says that Molesley is essential, and his mother relies on him.

Robert learns from Thomas that the new tall footman has started. He confronts Cora that there must be no more new servants, and he complains about how much the wedding is costing. Downstairs, Alfred is nervous. O'Brien tries to encourage him, but Thomas goes on about his not being experienced enough. O'Brien tells him that he is skilled and, in a loud voice so Tomas can hear, comments that he has a nice manner, not vain like Thomas. Daisy is angry as she was promised that she would get promoted, when the new kitchen maid was hired. Thomas instigates that she should refuse to work, but tells her not to say he put her up to it.

At dinner, Mary tells Violet that Sybil is coming and that her grandmother, Mrs. Martha Levinson will arrive by ship at Liverpool. Isobel tries to bring up Branson, Matthew chides her. The dowager says she is looking forward to seeing Cora's mother as it reminds her of the virtues of the English. When Matthew points out that she is American, Violet says exactly.

Alfred makes the mistake of serving food onto plates, instead of allowing people to serve themselves. Carson berates him for having trained in a hotel, and goes on to say that they need a second footman. Matthew says that they should live simpler, while Violet insists that it is the duty of the aristocracy to employ lots of servants. Robert wonders aloud that some don't have a choice.

Thomas is angry when learning from Molesley that Matthew expects him to be the only valet at Downton. When asked how dinner went, Mr. Carson tells them how Alfred was confused about how to serve, but Anna tells him to persevere. O'Brien asks a complaining Molesley if he worries that his job is in jeopardy. Molesley is asked to stay for dinner, but he wants to be home to let Matthew and Isobel in. O'Brien implies that he is trying very hard for someone who thinks he is essential. After dinner, Matthew talks to Mary about how the lawyer of the recently deceased Mr. Swire, Lavinia's father, is coming to the estate to see him. She suspects that he has been left something; Matthew hopes not. Isobel tries to hurry Matthew as he lingers to talk to Mary. When he tells her about how he looks forward to many things (after their marriage), he prompts Mary to chide him for making her blush.

The next day, Sybil and Tom Branson arrive, and everyone is out front to greet them. Sybil hopes that it was her father who had sent the money, but he doesn't know what she is talking about. Cora greets Branson in a friendly manner, and welcomes him. Robert says nothing and Mary says for all of them to go inside for tea. As Tom passes, Mr. Carson gives him a stern look. Tom tries to say hello, but Carson only nods and turns away.

Swire's lawyer had seen Matthew, and informed him that Reggie Swire had, contrary to the lifestyle he led, left an enormous fortune. Matthew tells his mother that he has been named the third candidate to inherit. However, the first man died and the second, Mr. Clive Pullbrook, disappeared on a trip to visit his tea plantations in India.

Both Mr. Carson and Thomas absolutely refuse to dress Tom Branson or even check to make sure that he doesn't need anything. Mrs. Hughes says that Alfred will have to learn to handle it, even though Mr. Carson says that he won't know more than to pick up shoes left for cleaning outside the door (a hotel practice).

At dinner, Tom has not changed out of his suit. He explains that they lead a simpler life, and he doesn't have any need in his life for tails, a dinner jacket, nor a morning coat for weddings. Mary suggests they buy a separate wardrobe to leave at Downton for visits. Carson seems to resent bowing forward to serve Tom. Isobel and Matthew ask about the political situation in Ireland which causes Tom to launch into discussing his support of Irish independence from British rule. He isn't happy about the plan to divide the country in two, and he predicts that soon Ireland will throw off the British yoke. At his comment that Ireland cares about the English monarchy about as much as the British would want to be ruled by the German Kaiser, Carson snaps a wine glass in two and apologies for clumsiness.

As the servants dine, Alfred is of the opinion that everyone was hard on Tom upstairs, but Thomas says that he knows nothing. Carson is surprised that Lord Grantham was able to keep his temper when Tom insulted the king. Mrs. Hughes is sympathetic to Tom being a former chauffeur thrown into dinner with his disapproving former employers. Tom suddenly appears at the doorway and agrees with her understanding of him. Carson stands, with the rest hurrying to follow suit, except for Thomas, who takes his time and doesn't look at Tom. Tom tries to tell them they don't need to stand, while Carson very frostily asks, "Do you need something, Sir?"

Tom just wanted to say hello, as he doesn't want them to think he considers himself superior. Mrs. Hughes and Anna chat with him. He tells Anna of his concern for Bates, as Sybil gets news from Mary. Tom excuses himself so they can have their dinner, and Mrs. Hughes thanks him for coming down. After he goes, Carson is indignant that Branson called Lady Mary by only her first name, as is never done when talking to the servants. Upstairs the ladies of the house are playing cards and talking about the same thing. Tom, during dinner, referred to Cora and Violet as "m'lady". Robert suggests that Tom use their titles, which Sybil considers overly formal. Matthew answers Mary that Swire's lawyer did want to talk about the will, but he doesn't want to go into it now, instead he asks about wedding guests.

Mrs. Patmore is confronted by an angry Daisy, who asks why Carson got a new footman, but she hasn't gotten the help of the new kitchen maid who was promised. Mrs. Patmore tells her that she doesn't know how Carson managed it as his Lordship has decreed no new servants. Daisy has gotten a raise of seven shillings and the title of assistant cook, but is still unsatisfied.

Sybil tells Mary in the drawing room that class is irrelevant in Dublin, where she is Mrs. Branson. She insists that her husband is a wonderful man and she will never regret her marriage. Being at Downton has made Tom feel patronized and he hates that. Sybil hopes that they come to know and appreciate him. Mary assures her that they will. Mary warns her that the Greys are coming for dinner, including Sybil's former suitor Larry and that she should warn Tom. Also, she says that she shouldn't tell her father that people in Dublin call her Mrs. Branson.

In bed, Sybil tells Tom that Lord Merton Grey is Mary's godfather and that Larry Grey was keen on her when they were young, though she doesn't think that she ever cared about him, as she really doesn't remember. She tells him that they have the money to go to town and buy a set of tails, but Tom is adamant that he won't spend any more of that money. She asks him to try to fit in and not to speak about Ireland so much. He wonders if this is to help him or her, and hopes she won't disappoint him now that they are back at Downton.

Matthew has told Mary about the Swire inheritance but is certain that they will find the other heir, Pullbrook. And besides he is adamant that he can't keep the money. Mary is uncertain about accepting this, but supports him. Robert has had to tell Cora, as they are prepared for bed, that he has lost a lot of money in a bad investment. He hesitantly tells her that he has lost almost all of her fortune and then breaks into tears. Cora comforts him, and he is grateful for her. "I'm an American," she says with a smile. "Have gun, will travel." She says that she is glad for the wedding, one last celebration in their lovely home with the lovely people they live among.

The next day in the village, Matthew sees Tom going into the pub and remarks it is too early to drink. Tom is thinking of moving there until they leave, as he can't take more dinners like the night before. Matthew jokingly suggests that Tom was partly to blame and asks Tom if he thought to recruit cousin Robert into Sinn Fein (the legal political wing of the Irish Republican Army). Tom says that they all disapprove of him. Matthew tells Tom that he and Mary welcome him. Tom questions Mary's feeling about him, but Matthew insists that Mary is pragmatic and has come around. Matthew tells Tom to forget the pub and forms a camaraderie with him, as brothers-in-law with high-minded wives.

Anna visits Bates in prison to get his list and notes on Vera's acquaintances. Even though Vera left no suicide note, she is certain that Vera put the arsenic into the pie herself, and hopes that Vera talked or better yet wrote to someone about being despondent.

Alfred is regretting that he didn't go into cooking as it interests him from his days in the hotel. It is revealed that his aunt Sarah O'Brien talked him into pursuing a path to being a butler instead. She says that it is hard for a man to get ahead in the kitchen. He would likely be stuck getting orders from some red-faced old woman. Daisy agrees, but Mrs. Patmore takes offense at the characterization of the cook.

Edith has Anna do her hair a little different for Sir Anthony Strallan who is coming for dinner. She uses Anna as an example that everyone is wrong, because Anna is younger than Bates and that their marriage is very happy. Anna reminds her that their situation is not ideal (i.e. his imprisonment), but otherwise agrees. O'Brien goes to Thomas and tries to get him to teach Alfred to be a valet since Alfred was enlisted as Tom's, and Matthew is leaving Molesley behind to Isobel's butler. Thomas is unequivocally opposed to helping Alfred (an incompetent barely experienced footman) to become valet in a large house all in one leap, after the years of struggle and effort that he himself had to go through. He asks O'Brien if she remembers that. She looks unpleased as Thomas walks away.

The Greys arrive in a string of cars at cocktails time. Matthew and Mary discuss his best man being ill and needing to ask someone else to fill in. Larry Grey corners Tom, he says that he is surprised to be meeting him, as he thought Sybil would never come back to Downton having married Tom, and he wonders if Tom's suitcase was lost. Tom says no, his suitcase arrived, as did his manners. Sir Anthony Strallan admires Edith's hair and she insists that he come to Mary's wedding. Just then Strallan looks toward Larry Grey, who is standing near Branson's unattended cocktail, and voices surprise. However, just then Carson announces that dinner is served.

Alfred tells the servants that Branson seems to have gotten drunk, which is surprising as he only had one cocktail. At dinner Tom is loudly espousing pro-Irish and anti-British views upsetting everyone, including Sybil. He says that if the Black and Tans have been brought in to Ireland to end unrest, they should just kill everyone and that would end the complaining. He accuses Lord Merton of Irish repression. Larry Grey is laughing at the "display of Irish character" and Sybil begs Tom to stop. Strallan suddenly realizes that what he saw was Larry putting something in Tom's drink. He confronts him with this in front of everyone. Larry is surprised that Edith seems upset, he says that she could always take a joke (it is likely that he played practical jokes on Edith when they were children). Mary calls this a bully's defense, she then announces to the table what has happened and says that Tom should be escorted to his room. Lady Cora says that, Tom not being at fault, everyone should forget his words, but Violet doesn't think this likely. Larry Grey asks why anyone cares as he is just a grubby little chauffeur, but his father, Lord Merton, who is furious, apologizes to Tom and hopes that he will be recovered in time for the wedding. Matthew seconds it, as he has decided to ask Tom to be his best man. He receives praise from Isobel and Mary.

Edith thanks Strallan for saving the day, but he humbly gives the credit to Matthew. She hopes to see more of him, and he agrees that he would very much like to. Her father looking a bit disapproving tells Edith to let him go, and she does after kissing him on the cheek.

Robert and Cora discuss the evening's dramatic events. They are glad that Cora's mother wasn't there to witness it as they wouldn't hear the end of it, and besides, she will be bringing her own drama. Robert thinks that, even before the wedding, he needs to tells Mary about their losing Downton, as she and Matthew need to decide where to live. However, they don't think they should tell Cora's mother.

Bates is in his cell reading Vera's letters. His cellmate thinks it's pointless, as Bates needs to admit his guilt if he is ever to get out. Bates refuses to confess to something he didn't do. His cellmate accuses him of being pious and overly touchy, and Bates emphatically "warns" him to mind his own business.

Mary is trying on her "going away" outfit, which all the women in her bedroom praise. When Lord Grantham comes in he remarks how expensive it looks. He asks the others to let him speak to Mary alone, to give her his blessing.

The Dowager Countess is at Isobel's house. Isobel asks if she is going to see Mrs. Martha Levinson's arrival, and says, "I have always admired how Mrs. Levinson is never overawed by the whole set up at Downton." Violet replies, "Was Napoleon ever overawed by the Bourbons?" Tom enters, having been summoned by Violet. He starts by apologizing for his behavior at the dinner the night before. Isobel wants to have Molesly alter Matthew's old morning coat to fit him. Tom begins to talk about not approving of costumes of oppression and how he would be uncomfortable. The dowager waits for him to finish and asks him to take his jacket off; even though she says please, the order is implicit. Matthew comes in and is told that neither of them have any say in this.

Cora's mother arrives with all ceremony. Mrs Levinson starts giving orders and opinions to everyone, then breezes into the house. In the kitchen Daisy is unhappy and Mrs Levinson's maid arrives to give very specific instructions concerning her food.

In the library, Matthew is explaining to Martha that his great-great-grandfather was a younger son of the third earl. She, being sarcastic, says she finds it difficult to understand why he inherits her late husband's money, but Isobel points out that it doesn't matter now that he is marrying Mary. She is also introduced to Tom.

As Mary is seeing Matthew out, he shows her the telegram from Swire's lawyer. Pullbrook is dead, but they must still investigate if he died before or after Reggie. If he died before, then Matthew gets everything, though he insists that he won't keep it. Mary then tells him that he must keep the money as her father has lost most of the fortune and is nearly ruined, so that they will lose Downton. However, Matthew explains that Reggie Swire put him in the will as he believed Matthew to be the true love of his dead daughter Lavinia. Mary says that he was, but Matthew counters that Reggie never knew that he had broken Lavinia's heart, when she learned that he loved Mary, and he cannot now profit from Lavinia's death. He believes that Lavinia lost the will to live because of him. An upset and angry Mary can't believe that Matthew would see the assuaging of his own guilt as more important to him than all the rest of them and Downton Abbey. Matthew says that he will do anything for them, but she says that is not true as he won't save them. Her father will live the remainder of his life humiliated and their children will be robbed of their heritage. She calls him a disappointment and accuses him of not being on their side. She runs out of the room in tears. Leaving a conflicted Matthew and a confused Edith, who just saw the last of the argument.

Anna is visiting Bates in prison. He tells her that he doesn't like his cellmate, but he would rather talk about the house and the wedding, as that is the stuff of his dreams. He asks about the honeymoon. They are going to stay with Rosamund for a couple of days and then go to the south of France. Anna doesn't think that she should go, she wants to hire someone and stay with Bates, but he insists that she goes. Even if she is gone for a month, she can live life and make memories for both of them.

Violet and Martha finally come face to face and present each other with backhanded compliments. They talk of Matthew, whom Violet says Martha will like when she knows him. The fact that he has gone home so as not to see the bride before the wedding leads to a discussion about tradition. Violet says that Americans never care about it, but Martha says that they just don't let it have power over them, and that history and tradition had led Europe into WWI, so Violet should let go of its hand. Violet complains to Edith that Martha can always find the soft underbelly of an opponent.

At dinner, the discussion turns to who sent the money to Sybil and Tom, so that they could come. Cora says that she wishes that she had, and Robert believes it was Matthew's mother. Finally, Violet admits that it was her and that she asked her maid to send the letter. She wanted her granddaughter and her husband at the wedding. Tom is surprised (Carson not discretely opens a napkin over his lap), as is Martha, but Violet assures her that she is a woman of many parts. Tom says he is touched by her gesture and Violet reminds him he is one of the family and the Crawleys stick together, prompting a still upset Mary to say to that this is not always the case, before starting to cry and running out of the room.

In the kitchen, Daisy is on strike, but Mrs. Patmore ignores this; she consults with Daisy about everything, getting no answers, and justs carries on. In the dining room, everyone is concerned about Mary's attack of nerves. However, Edith has told them about the quarrel with Matthew and her saying that he wasn't on their side. Robert wants to go talk to Matthew, but Tom says that he will go. As best man and one who has married into Downton, he will understand. Martha supports this.

In the kitchen Daisy says that Mrs. Patmore is not responding to her protest, and Mrs. Patmore correctly guesses that Daisy has been listening to Thomas. Daisy gives up and starts to dry dishes.

Mary is talking to Anna about Matthew not accepting the money to safe Downton, saying that he is putting himself first. However, Anna says that Matthew is true to his convictions and a good man and, unlike buses, another won't be along in ten minutes. She leaves Mary staring into the mirror. Tom is also telling Matthew that he and Mary are meant to be together. So many things have kept them apart, but Tom says that Matthew will never be happy with anyone else as long as Lady Mary walks the earth.

Tom brings Matthew to Mary's door, and they must talk with the door between them so he can't see her. She questions if they should call the marriage off, but Matthew says they mustn't. The money might never come and they will quarrel at times, but he tells her what Tom said and says that he thinks she feels the same for him. He wants to kiss her and she agrees, if he keeps his eyes closed.

The next day Tom is dressed in morning coat, with top hat and gloves in hand, and is off to get Matthew. Robert compliments his appearance and calls him "Tom", saying that he is one of the family, and he thanks Tom for getting Matthew and Mary back together. Tom says that they are both strong willed and will probably fight in the future. Cora is asking Mary if she has any questions about marriage. Mary replies that she probably knows more than her mother did when she married. Cora says that when two people love each other everything can be a lot of fun, causing everyone to laugh. Edith, Sybil, and Cora have their moments with Mary and then leave so Anna can dress her.

Mrs. Hughes puts the flower girls in a car to go to the church, before going to the kitchens to check on the food. Daisy wishes that the could go to the wedding, but Mrs. Patmore says they have to have the food ready for when everyone gets back. Still they go to get their coats to watch outside as the bride leaves for the church.

Cora and the girls leave for the church. Robert and Carson stand at the foot of the stairs as Mary descends. She asks Carson if she will do and he says very well. Robert says that he is glad it is all settled between her and Matthew. She tells him that it's not quite settled, but she is happy. Robert says that he is so happy that his heart may burst. Arm-in-arm they walk out.

At the church, Edith greets Sir Anthony Strallan and asks him to sit up front with the rest of them. Matthew and Tom arrive and they thank Molesley personally on how he has gotten Tom up to the mark. Molesley gives a self-satisfied smile to O'Brien who turns away. Carson tells Mrs. Hughes that it is a proud day, and she is just glad that he is happy. Cora tells Edith that she is next. Violet says that the future is unfolding, and Martha replies that she should remember that it will bear no resemblance to the past.

The carriage drives through the decorated Downton village, while people line the streets waving flags and cheering. After the crowd follows it to the church to watch Mary descend from the carriage. Inside the church, Matthew and Tom hears the cheers and Tom says good luck. The archbishop stands to perform the ceremony and the bride holding lilies is followed by four flower girls. When Matthew says that he wasn't sure that she would come, she says that is good as she would hate to be predictable. The large doors of the church are closed.

Cast list[]


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