Downton Abbey Watch: Season 3 Premiere - Wedding Bells And Money Issues

By Leslie Kasperowicz 2013-01-07 00:21:59 discussion comments
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It’s been a long wait for Downton Abbey fans, and those of us with friends in the UK have had to cover our ears and hide our eyes while they watched Season 3 and we waited. But tonight the wait came to an end with the long-awaited premiere of Downton’s third installment on this side of the pond. If you’re not up to date on Downton and haven’t watched the Season 3 premiere yet, there are spoilers ahead.

The two-hour premiere of Downton delivered on the promises made at the end of Season 2. The Crawley family has come through both the first World War and the Spanish Flu, and Lady Mary is finally set to marry Matthew. I half expected to see a last-minute cancellation of the wedding to draw out the on-again, off-again romance even further, but the show did in fact go on. With all of the lead-up to the big day, it was somewhat disappointing however that the wedding scene was cut off as the two met the altar, cutting to them returning from their honeymoon. The missed opportunity for a grand romantic moment was an unusual choice, but perhaps a sign of things to come.

If Season 2 of Downton offered much in the way of upheaval, the third season at first seemed to have brought everyone back to their place – with the notable exception of Bates who remains in jail fighting for his freedom. But while some things are the same - Thomas is up to his old tricks - there is a wind of change blowing through the estate that gives us a hint of what’s to come in the third season. It begins with the word that Lord Grantham’s investments have gone sour. Then Lady Grantham’s most decidedly American mother (the perfectly cast Shirley MacLaine) arrives for the nuptials of Mary and Matthew and stays on to encourage Lady Edith in her romantic pursuits and become the force behind Downton’s first ever indoor picnic.

If there is one moment that was most awaited in the premiere aside from the wedding, it has to be the face to face meeting of the Dowager Countess and Martha Levinson, the new-money American mother of Lady Grantham – and that moment does not disappoint. The Dowager has in fact met her match, and is outplayed in the end, when Martha drops the bomb that she couldn’t help Downton even if she wanted to. Downstairs meanwhile, the break-up between Thomas and O’Brien is almost gleefully fun to watch, as is Daisy’s ridiculous attempt at a strike, while the secret of Mrs. Hughes illness strikes a chord that grounds the episode.

If there was a feeling that things were changing at Downton in Season 2, by the end of the Season 3 premiere that feeling is only stronger. Downton is at risk, and the old way of life clung to by its residents with it. The question we are left with is that of whether that is something to mourn – or to celebrate. Certainly it seems we can celebrate a strong opening to a third season that promises to improve upon a second that suffered a little from sophomore slump.
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