'Downton Abbey' Season 3 episode 3x02 spoilers: An engagement and some bad news

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shirley-maclaine-downton-abbey-maggie-smith.jpgThe second episode of "Downton Abbey" Season 3 is a bit quieter than the lively season premiere, but it does set a couple interesting things in motion. Let's dive right in, but don't keep reading if you don't want to be spoiled.

Upstairs

Downton's financial difficulties are front and center, with Matthew being officially named the Swire heir, but still refusing to use the money to save Downton. He sees it as making him no more than a common criminal, while Mary can't understand why he won't help. It's interesting that he sees it as using one woman's money for the woman he left her for, while Mary (we think) simply sees it as saving the estate and legacy.

Meanwhile, Violet and Mary are conspiring to see if Martha will foot the bill yet again and they stage an elaborate dinner to show off the house's true purpose. But it all goes horribly wrong (in their eyes), though the ensuing "indoor picnic" and Martha's serenade of the Countess are absolutely priceless. In the end, though, Martha can't help even if she wanted to (which she doesn't) -- her late husband tied the money up so that no more of his fortune could be dumped into Downton.

But in happier news, despite Robert and Violet trying to break up Edith and Sir Anthony, Robert finally acquiesces to his middle daughter's wishes and it sounds as though the two are engaged and planning to marry within a month. Which is wonderful for Lady Edith. And also probably means more Tom and Sybil!

Downstairs

Mrs. Hughes appears to have breast cancer, which is such a shame. Killing her off in Season 3 by way of a cancer death would be quite the compelling storyline, though we hope that isn't how it ends.

In other intrigues, Thomas is sabotaging Alfred because he doesn't think he should be Matthew's new valet, which pits O'Brien against her old partner in crime. Clearly Thomas is minor league compared to O'Brien's conniving, which is pretty delightful to watch.

Thoughts & Tidbits

  • This episode seemed very blah compared to last week's. Are we alone in that? It's not as though every single one is going to be action-packed, but it definitely was there as a bridge in the action and not so much the action itself.
  • Lady Violet had some great lines tonight. Our personal favorite was "No guest should be admitted without the date of their departure settled." Amen, sister.
  • Is anybody that excited about Alfred's romance with Martha's maid? We found that a little shoe-horned in. Usually this show lays groundwork better than that.
  • The Bates thing didn't really go anywhere this time around, but we like what has been established for the weeks to come. Just what is his cellmate up to?

What did you think of the second episode of the season?
Photo/Video credit: ITV