Episode 302 of Downton Abbey greeted us with worries about Mrs. Hughes and her health... a war between the domestic help... wedding preparations... and the plan to sell the manor, even though Matthew might be sitting on a huge inheritance.
In a variance of the true soap opera form, most of these issues were wrapped up by the end of hour.
Many have wondered why the wedding of Mary and Matthew was such a blip in the opening of Downton Abbey Season 3, and that may be because of the impending wedding of Lady Edith to Sir Anthony. At some point, the misbegotten sister needed her due and we shared in the preparation of her big day with dinners and talks of dresses and the entire family speaking disparagingly behind her back.
Seriously, there was less meddling in Sybil’s affairs with Tom than there was with Edith’s choice in marrying Sir Anthony. She fell in love with an older man and you’d think the word was coming to an end. Even women years his senior found it an odd match and were hoping against it. In the end, Lord Grantham went too far in his persuasion by asking Sir Anthony repeatedly call it off - because it worked.
If ever there was a scene I didn’t want to see, it was of Edith’s one day of happiness being crushed, especially coming at the hands of her own family. Edith was left to listen to her mother tell her she was being tested and it only makes you stronger. That would be much easier to hear if the tests weren't coming from the people who were supposed to love you the most. I cried when she told Anna the thing she could get her was another life, only to rebound with the comment that spinsters get up for their breakfast.
Edith was always a little bit difficult to understand and rally around, but she has my full support now.
Elsewhere around Downton, Thomas went a bit overboard with Mrs. O’Brien by telling Molesley that she was leaving Downton. He started an all-out war. Sadly, the two most annoying characters are cracking each other’s heads and it’s really difficult to care. If only they would have a dual at sunrise and both shoot to kill.
Word of Mrs. Hughes’ illness got around and Cora offered that if she were sick, she would be cared for and need never worry. It was, as Mrs. Hughes said, quite touching, especially given that the family is in dire financial straights. Well, as dire as they can manage while still living out their lives at a grand mansion with “only” seven or eight servants.
Once again, the shining ray of light shone down upon Matthew, and in turn, Mary. Lavinia told her father that Matthew was giving up his happiness to be with her and it was with his full knowledge that he named Matthew an heir.
Matthew rode in on his white steed and saved the day, saved Downton and saved the family from retiring to the wretched country home where they would have to live a cramped existence.
The upside to his playing savior again was the staff we all love so well remain; they are truly the heart and soul of Downton Abbey. It would have been difficult to have had to choose only seven or eight to take along, and even though I knew it would never come to that, I’m glad they didn't even come close to the decision-making process.
I did discover that I don't understand much about the ownership of Downton at the moment, because I thought Matthew and Isobel were there because he had inherited it and was to be the new Lord Grantham. Or something. Wasn't that how he came into their lives in the first place? So why did he have to buy a part of it to become partners with Robert? Well, he is now, so Mary should be delighted.
Finally, in the love department, we had Anna and Bates. Anna was still scouring the city trying to find clues to Bates' innocence in his previous wife's death and Bates was making enemies in prison. As much as I adored their love story as it first played out, there is nothing even remotely romantic about any of what's left. They're going to have to give us more to keep their tale alive and kicking.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.