The Great War is over and a long-awaited engagement is on, but all is not tranquil at Downton Abbey as wrenching social changes, romantic intrigues, and personal crises grip the majestic English country estate for a third thrilling season. As other great houses are crippled psychologically and financially in the wake of World War I, Robert, Earl of Grantham, sticks to his duty to maintain Downton more firmly than ever. But in this changing landscape nothing is assured, and could it be that even the war-weary Crawleys must fight a new battle to safeguard their beloved Downton?
The returning cast includes Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jim Carter, Penelope Wilton, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle and a host of others, joined by Shirley MacLaine, who plays Martha Levinson, the very American mother of Cora, Countess of Grantham. Written and created by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey, Season 3 is a Carnival Films and Masterpiece co-production, in association with NBCUniversal.
Includes the Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale, "A Journey to the Highlands." The jewel in the Masterpiece Classic
crown greets the 1920s with more history, romance--and dresses, gorgeous dresses. The old ways are changing, and the winds of social progress rustle through the well-appointed manor. Though war has ended, dark clouds gather as the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) loses the family fortune to bad financial investments, the first of several shortsighted decisions on his part, making him the season's most unexpected villain--by contrast, even Mrs. O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) doesn't seem so destructive. After his mother-in-law, Martha (Shirley MacLaine), arrives for the wedding of Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens), Robert pins his hopes on the affluent American to bail them out. As expected, the tradition-minded Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith) clashes with the thoroughly modern matron, who suggests they look elsewhere for a handout.
While visiting from Dublin, Sybil's husband, former chauffeur Tom Branson (Allen Leech, who really comes in to his own), clashes with most everyone until a tragedy helps to heal the political and religious divides, allowing him to more fully integrate into their world, a theme that runs throughout the year. Other conflicts revolve around Edith's fiancÃ©, Sir Anthony (Robert Bathurst), and the new footman, Alfred (Matt Milne), who strikes Thomas (Rob James-Collier) as a threat to his hegemony. Though Daisy (Sophie McShera) finds him appealing, Alfred prefers her kitchen colleague, Ivy (Cara Theobold), but she only has eyes for Jimmy (Ed Speleers), whom Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) aptly describes as "vain and silly." In its third go-round, some storylines meander unnecessarily, like the saga of the fallen woman trying to reenter respectable society, but the multiple plotlines are always easy to follow, and Downton remains gloriously addictive. Abundant extra features examine every aspect of the production, including the tragic event that concludes the finale. Kathleen C. Fennessy