(originally posted in September, 2012)
Issuing the required SPOILER WARNING...
DOWNTON IS BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACCCCCK
Who else wanted to cheer when the camera rounded the bend and we saw our beautiful old estate in all its glory? Of course, the episode started on a rather more abrupt and personal note - in the church, at the rehearsal for Matthew and Mary's wedding. This was a bit jarring for me, but then, Downton has always plunged right into the story from minute one of nearly every episode. Once you start watching, you can't pull yourself away, which is one reason why I think it has continued to be so successful.
So we're promised early on that the wedding is seriously on this time, and we'll hopefully get to see it by the end of the episode. Hopefully. I mean, this is Mary and Matthew we're talking about so anything could happen...
Anna faithfully visits Bates in jail, although little happens other than Anna finding a possible lead for proving him innocent. I did however appreciate the scene in which Bates encouraged Anna to go with Mary as her maid on the honeymoon and "live for both of us."
Thomas is just as much a jerk as ever (and here I was softening towards him in season 2!). After all that O'Brian has done to support him, he couldn't spare a minute of his concern to help out her poor nephew. Grrrr.
Edith, remember how much I disliked Edith at the beginning of last season? And now I'm delighted to see her, delighted she has a second chance with Sir Anthony, delighted that she seems so happy.
And Sybil is just radiant - as we get to see on screen thanks to Grandmama Violet arranging for her and Tom to attend the wedding. Tom of course is bound and determined to stand his ground, but Matthew talks sense into him, asks him to be his best man (who else loved that?) and when things looked bleak for the wedding, it was Tom who saved the day. Go Tom!
Mary and Matthew are always going to argue over things. We know that. Matthew finally knows it. Mary probably will have to take more time to learn the lesson. Of course their argument isn't such a petty one, because it relates to a very real danger to Downton.
Oh Lord Grantham. What is going to happen to him if he loses Downton? We know everyone else will be all right (although, no show! So it must be saved!), but Grantham would have a complete breakdown and become utterly depressed and... oh I couldn't bear it.
On the upside, Grandmama Violet is in high form, with a perfect and equal verbal sparring partner in the form of Cora's mother, recently arrived from America.
It wasn't an explosive or shocking episode, but it was a very good one, showing us everything we love about Downton before the sky (inevitably) turns black.
(Episodes 1 and 2 were combined for the American broadcast, read my original review for episode 2 here)