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Downton Abbey recap: Episode 3

It’s all about the ladies of Downton as Mary (finally) makes a decision about Tony and Cora has a night out on the town.

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Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs

Downton Abbey

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith

Pretty much everyone in Downton Abbey has drama (at all times, forever), but tonight it focused more so on the females of the house.

Let’s start with Mary. The episode opens with Mary and Tony in bed—post sexscapade—in the Liverpool hotel where they’d spent time together, getting to know each other so that Mary could be sure that Tony is the one. Tony wants her to stay and asks if it’d be so bad if they were found out. He doesn’t think it will matter as they will be walking down the aisle soon anyway. Mary, insisting that they do things the proper way, says she won’t be walking down the aisle soon (uh oh) and that it does matter. “I’ve been tarnished once and won’t be tarnished again,” Mary says, of course referring to the incident with the Turk. Just as she’s leaving to go home, Spratt, Violet’s butler, spots Mary and Tony outside of the hotel. Suspicions arise.

Back at Violet’s, Spratt, who had been in Liverpool for his niece’s wedding tells Violet what he saw. Violet makes up an excuse, saying that Mary and Tony were attending a land owner’s conference, adding that she knew they were there. “What did you imagine you were witnessing,” Violet asks Spratt. “Nothing vulgar I hope. Nothing beneath the dignity of a butler of this house.” Poor Spratt. He’s spot on, and is made to look like a royal idiot. When he leaves the room, Violet is clearly distressed. She soon calls Mary and asks her to visit.

Upon Mary’s return home, Anna asks how the trip went and when the wedding will be. Mary says no date has been set, but that there’s no need to rush into it. (Double uh oh. Perhaps Mary is stalling and doesn’t actually want to marry Tony?) Mary asks Anna to hide the contraceptive in the cottage. It can’t be found in the house. Anna says she feels she’s aiding in a sin and that she doesn’t want to pay for it. Anna won’t, for the time being at least. Mary, on the other hand, has to face her grandmother.

Mary goes to visit Violet, who confronts her about her rendezvous. Mary says the news must be shocking to someone of Violet’s generation. “Don’t let us hide behind the changing times my dear,” Violet says. “This is shocking to most people in 1924.” She adds that she doesn’t want this happening again, and Mary reassures her that it won’t. She asks if there’s any chance of a proposal. Violet feels better upon discovering that Tony had already proposed and that he wants to set a date.

Violet is momentarily more at ease. But when Mary tells her she’s not sure when it will be, Violet tells her, get a move on it, girl! “If I was seduced by a man, I would not let any grass grow under his feet if he offered to do the decent thing,” Violet says. Mary maintains that she wasn’t seduced. “A young woman of good family who finds herself in the bed of a man who is not her husband has invariably been seduced,” Violet retorts, sassily. Mary asks, couldn’t she have acted out of her own free will? “Not if she’s the daughter of an Earl,” Violet says. Oh, snap.

Later, Mary tells Tom that she thinks she’s unsettled on Tony. (Triple uh oh! Could her talk with Charles prior to the trip have something to do with it? Is Tony not clever enough for her?) “He’s a nice man, a very nice man, but not, of course we talked about things, but I think my judgment was rather clouded by…,” Mary says, looking for the words. Tom helps her out: “What Ms. Elinor Glyn likes to write about in her novels.” Because Glyn was a writer whose romantic-fiction novels were deemed scandalous at the time, that’s quite the helping word choice from Tom.

NEXT: Cora’s Night Out