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'Downton Abbey' recap: A wedding and changing times (+video)

'Downton Abbey' returned for its third season, and things were – of course – not all well in the world of the aristocrats and the servants. The new season of 'Downton Abbey' kicked off with a super-sized two-hour episode.

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Long-suffering Bates, the former Downton valet who was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for the supposed murder of his wife, was still in jail, visited regularly by his new wife, Downton maid Anna. Anna, who was determined to prove his innocence, gave him papers belonging to his former wife that contained names of her acquaintances. Anna thought that if she were to track those people down, one of them may have a clue that would help them. 

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Staff writer

Molly Driscoll is a Books and the Culture staff writer.

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Anna told her husband that she declined to join Mary on her honeymoon, but Bates urged her to go, telling her that she was living life for both of them now. There was also trouble between Bates and his new cellmate, who provoked Bates into hitting him. “I forgot I was sharing a cell with a murderer,” his cellmate told him afterward. “And don’t you forget it,” Bates replies.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper, discovered she had a lump on her breast and went to see the doctor. (Cook Mrs. Patmore accompanied her and provided welcome comic relief, exclaiming, “Oh my God!” every time the doctor said something new. "Mrs. Patmore, will you please leave the hysteria to me?" Mrs. Hughes asked.) The test the doctor performed proved inconclusive, and Mrs. Hughes would have to wait two months to find out whether it was cancer.

Also, in the least interesting subplot of all time, kitchen maid Daisy was angry that she was promised someone else to help her in the kitchen and decided to go on strike. Then she decided not to be on strike anymore.

Mary and Violet decided that the surest way to get the money to save Downton would be to ask Martha, resolving they must show her how important Downton is to the community. The best way to do so? Throw a grand dinner and invite all the neighbors. One person who wouldn't be coming, at least at first, was Sir Anthony Strallan, who Robert had previously asked to stay away from his daughter. Edith was incredibly upset and asked her father to invite him back. Robert finally broke down and gave in to her request.

Things got off to a rough start when Matthew’s coat, damaged by Alfred and sent up to London for repairs, didn't arrive in time. Matthew had to (gasp) go down to dinner in a more casual jacket. Robert’s dinner shirts were still missing, so he was forced to wear a less formal shirt as well, leading to one of the night’s best moments when Violet absentmindedly asked him for a drink. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she told him when she realized her mistake. “I thought you were a waiter.” (Violet’s judgment on “these new cocktails” earlier in the episode: “They look too exciting for so early in the evening.”)

Improper shirts were as nothing when, despite repeated warnings from Daisy, the stove was discovered to be broken. The Crawleys were stuck without any dinner to serve their guests. Martha suggested rounding up all the food available and serving it picnic-style in the parlor. It actually seemed to go well, but Mary and Violet’s hopes were dashed when they asked Martha for the much-needed money and Martha told them that her money was tied up and could not be used to save Downton. 

However, one person was happy – Edith and Sir Anthony appeared to have become engaged by the end of the party. 

Will Edith, who’s gotten depressing plot line after depressing plot line, actually find happiness? Only time will tell.

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