Catch up on what has happened in the sprawling world of Downton Abbey. Watch a short video recap for episode 3 or read the full synopsis below.
Mary's new alliance has aroused Violet's interest in matters of suitability and love. With Sybil in mind, the Dowager Countess declares, "war breaks down barriers and when peacetime re-erects them, it's very easy to find oneself on the wrong side." Indeed, among war's greatest casualties at Downton are the prescribed roles and class boundaries. Thomas is exerting his authority over the servants with aplomb; Mrs. Patmore, Daisy and Mrs. Bird are cooking up a little something on the side; and Ethel has discovered an age-old way to support the war effort. But between Robert and Bates, faith and loyalty transcend class, offering hope when Robert needs it most. Because now, the war has threatened a far more serious casualty.
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
To keep the spirits of the convalescing officers up, Edith is planning a concert and has managed to coax an unenthusiastic Mary into participating. Ethel, doing her best to keep Major Bryant's spirits up, continues her inappropriate flirtation and is chastised again, this time by Edith. But as Edith busily attends to the men, Cora and Isobel escalate their feud over the running of the home when Cora dismisses Isobel and overrides the meal schedule Isobel had in place. Isobel confronts Cora over this perceived final straw and threatens to leave if her work is unwanted. Cora so much as confirms that this is indeed the case, and a floored Isobel departs for France, where she will work with the Red Cross among those who will value her contributions.
In a frank conversation, Violet quizzes Mary about her good opinion of Lavinia, her relationship with Carlisle, and her affection for Matthew. Mary reassures Violet on all three fronts but the Dowager Countess remains skeptical. Nevertheless, she switches subjects to the youngest daughter and wonders why Sybil has no beau, speculating that such a girl might be vulnerable to romance outside of her social class. Mary, however, needn't wonder when she encounters Sybil deep in conversation with Branson. Branson, believing Sybil returns his feelings, has declared that he won't leave Downton until Sybil agrees to leave with him. Suspicious, Mary challenges Sybil about why she was talking to Branson, reminding her that he is only a chauffeur. But Mary has romantic demands of her own; Robert has received a letter from Carlisle, apologizing for not asking his permission before proposing to Mary. Surprised that Mary didn't tell him this herself, Robert questions her motives in marrying Carlisle. He urges her to write her news to Matthew.
Matthew receives her letter at the front lines in France. He and William, now his servant, are due to return home on leave. They head out on a patrol but are cut off from their own lines by the enemy, who open fire.
Daisy overhears Thomas telling O'Brien that Bates has been spotted working in a local pub and accidentally reveals the news to Mrs. Hughes, who then tells Carson. When Robert asks Thomas why he didn't tell Carson this news, Thomas is only too happy to answer that he is no longer under Carson's command. Meanwhile, in discussing Bates's return to the area with Anna, Robert learns that Bates feels he left Downton on bad terms. Feeling responsible, Robert resolves to visit him.
At Crawley House, following Isobel's departure, Mrs. Bird and Molesley are left with very little to do until a hungry former soldier arrives at the door in search of food. Before long, Mrs. Bird is running a full-on soup kitchen for war veterans, and Mrs. Patmore, Daisy in tow, enthusiastically rolls up her sleeves to help, bringing supplies from Downton. O'Brien notices that Mrs. Patmore is putting food aside, and alerts Mrs. Hughes. Spotting Mrs. Patmore and Daisy in the village with supplies confirms her suspicions that the two are up to something.
But Daisy is concerned that William is late for his promised visit, so concerned that she asks Edith for help. Edith alerts Robert who looks into it with his military connections. Robert announces at dinner his plans to visit Bates at a local pub and Violet questions Sybil about whether she has any inappropriate friendships, conscious of the blurring of social boundaries in wartime. Sybil immediately blames Mary, but Mary insists that she'd not spoken to Violet about Branson. When Sybil confides that Branson has asked her to run away with him, Mary is appalled but nevertheless vows to keep Sybil's secret so long as her sister promises not to do anything stupid. An alarming telephone call with news that Matthew and William are missing concerns Robert, who shares the news with Edith, but asks her to keep it to herself. That night, Mrs. Hughes finds Major Bryant and Ethel in bed together. Ethel is immediately dismissed and leaves before breakfast.
Robert visits Bates in the pub and apologizes to him, confiding that Matthew is missing and he is fearful for his safety. He invites Bates to return to Downton. Bates, with proof of Vera's infidelity, now feels the divorce is closer to resolution. He will pay Vera whatever it takes and awaits her answer to his offer. When he returns, the servants (with the exception of Thomas and O'Brien) are pleased to have Bates back, and Anna is elated. But Molesley is disappointed — now, he won't get the chance to take over as Robert's valet.
O'Brien informs Cora that Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Bird are selling food at a profit. Together they go to Crawley House where they find the soup kitchen. But rather than reprimanding Mrs. Patmore, Cora approvingly joins right in at work, insisting that in the future, they use Downton's produce rather than food supplied by the government.
Against Robert's instructions, Edith, with genuine concern, tells a distraught Mary that Matthew is missing. Just before the concert, Robert tells Cora. A pall is cast over the house as the heartbroken family and staff worry about their missing loved ones. Nevertheless, Mary and Edith perform a song for all the men, servants and family. And as Mary is singing, Matthew and William suddenly walk into the back of the room. They had been separated from their unit for several days, but are unharmed.
Mrs. Hughes is shocked to find that Ethel has returned to see her. She is pregnant.