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"Downton Abbey" Season 3, Episode 9 Recap

Episode 9 Recap

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  • PBS
  • I'm about to become the most hated man in America. I already hold that title in Britain!



There are a few things to discuss before we get to That Thing, mainly how good the Christmas Special (which is what this episode originally aired as in the U.K.) always is. We went somewhere new (Duneagle Castle), had a few opportunities to see everyone let their hair down (the fair, the Gilly Ball), witnessed a few misguided near-romances (Patmore and Mr. Tufton, Isobel and Clarkson, Edna and Branson), and got a major redemptive finish for the Thomas and Jimmy saga. Cutting the last five minutes out would have made for a very satisfying finale, both in its regular season and this Christmas Special, and worth the slog of getting through Season Two. It was gorgeously filmed, emotionally rendered, and even despite a few mistakes (the advent of Edna, the worst of a long line of terrible maids that include Ethel and Jane), it gave us everything we wanted. Until That Thing.

For all of the focus on the Upstairs characters and storylines, I maintain that things Downstairs are usually more interesting. They're not as brightly filmed, and the costuming really can't hold a candle, but the nuances of the relationships, especially between characters like Mrs. Hughes and Carson, as well as Thomas and Jimmy, are far more interesting and varied. While Upstairs things often fall to cliche (Branson and Edna) or become repetitive (like Edith's many failed attempts at love), Downstairs things are lively and fresh and seem drawn out in a better way. The scene where Jimmy approaches Thomas' room, thanks him and is honest with him ("I can't give you what you want") and then ends in a mutual declaration of friendship was made all the more moving thanks to all they had been through over so much time.