With happiness finally within her grasp, Lady Mary takes a moment to consider new ways to make herself miserable.
London | Although currently on hiatus and its developments a closely-held secret, Downton Abbey’s much anticipated third season was discovered by this reporter, who crawled through the dumpsters outside the offices of the show’s creator and head writer Julian Fellowes to retrieve the discarded plot outlines and notes for the upcoming season.
Lady Sybil’s off in Dublin with her Irish chauffeur, so it’s up to Lady Mary — pluckily determined to make herself tragically unhappy — and her fiancé Matthew, who was safer in the trenches in France than he is hanging around Mary, to move things forward.
Matthew enjoying his solitude the morning of his horse riding accident and his transformation into a little French girl.
Sure enough, one afternoon while out riding, Mary challenges Matthew to a race, resulting in Matthew missing a jump, falling from his horse, and landing headfirst onto a startled badger.
Hysterical, Mary races back to the Abbey and enlists the help of the help to carry Matthew home. When he awakes the next morning, he believes himself to be a 12 year old French school girl named Thérèse, speaks only lisping French, eats madeleines, sips lavender tea, and wants to wear Mary’s clothes. Lord Grantham’s reaction to this terrible development is to wander alone in the library, pursing his lips, seeking solace in his fine collection of unopened leather-bound classics, and occasionally eying the new housemaid Miss Bellechose.
Dear Mr. Bates and his lovable, ever faithful Anna can never be happy or there will be very little reason to watch Downton Abbey. Season Three does not disappoint, with misery and treachery just around the corner for these two love birds!
Meanwhile, things have been looking dodgy for dear Mr. Bates, Lord Grantham’s valet, and his endearing lover Anna, the housemaid. Bates has been convicted of his wife Vera’s murder, but exculpatory evidence is discovered! Vera was in league with a chancer named Scrobbers, who confessed to a fellow cutpurse that he was the one “wot done ’er in.”
Everyone back at the Abbey is overjoyed to hear the news of dear, dear Mr. Bates’ release from Newgate Prison, and Anna goes to the train station to greet him. While standing on the platform, she is approached by a muffled figure, who smacks her on the noggin with a cosh, and packs her into a waiting lorry. Emerging from the lorry is the spit and image of Anna, but it’s her identical twin sister, the jealous and spiteful Scarlet, recruited by Lady Grantham’s scheming maid O’Brien, for no other purpose than to thwart Anna’s and Mr. Bates’s happiness yet again and to drive the fans of Downton Abbey crazy.
Drugged and bound, Anna is hustled off to Liverpool, where she carried aboard a coal steamer headed for China, among its crew some of the worst degenerates afloat. Her evil doppelganger greets dear Mr. Bates with a kiss of such depth and articulation that dear Mr. Bates wonders if there might be few things he doesn’t know about Anna.
O’Brien and Thomas continue to plot against dear Mr. Bates and poor Anna, this time kidnapping Anna and putting her aboard a steamer bound for China and substituting Anna’s vicious identical twin Scarlet to greet dear Mr. Bates upon his return.
Back at the Abbey, the conniving servant Thomas Barrow, who has been angling for the valet’s position, is bitterly disappointed by Bates’ return, but is assured by his confederate in treachery O’Brien that the evil Scarlet will soon make Mr. Bates so miserable that he will no doubt blow his brains out, allowing Thomas to move up a notch.
With a predilection for poking about in Lord Grantham’s chambers, Thomas is caught once again fondling Lord Robert’s walnut shell collection by the sonorous and stately butler, Mr. Carson. Carson informs Lord Grantham of Thomas’s perfidy. Lord Gratham immediately purses his lips and repairs to the library to sip a glass of sherry, seeking solace in his well-worn copy of The Diary of A Naughty Nun.
Branson and Lady Sybil, in the happier days of their courtship.
In Dublin, Branson the former chauffeur and now Irish revolutionary, is blown to bits when the bomb he is making goes off unexpectedly, thus rendering the husky-voiced Lady Sybil a newly-minted, delicious young widow. To assuage her grief, she throws herself into the war against the Brits, but soon tires of eating potatoes three times a day and finds Guinness to be a loathesome drink.
Contacted by one of her former beaus from her debutante season, Sybil decides to join him and boards a packet for France to become one of the Lost Generation expatriate community in Paris!
Lady Sybil learns how to do the Shimmy and the Black Bottom from none other than Josephine Baker.
In the wink of an eye, Sibbie is modeling in the nude for Picasso, trading punches with Hemingway, fending off advances from Gertrude Stein, gargling champagne with Scott and Zelda, learning the shimmy from Josephine Baker, and living the mad, gay life. News of her fallen state reaches the Abbey, causing both Lord Robert and Lady Cora to not only purse their lips but to furrow their brows. Befuddled, they retire to the library, each to consume a bottle of port.
Lady Cora and Lord Robert receive news of Lady Sybil’s hijinks in Paris, setting off an extended interlude of lip pursing, brow furrowing, and sherry sipping.
But what of Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, waspishly played by the redoubtable Maggie Smith, whose possible absence from the series was the subject of furious speculation?
As it turns out, Ms. Smith did actually decide to walk and signed up instead for the next Harry Potter movie, a prequel that reveals how Severus Snape and Harry’s mother were secret lovers, raising questions about Harry’s true parentage.
“I’m not getting any younger,” said a feisty Ms. Smith in a recent interview, “and those damned costumes in Downton had me sweating like a horse. Plus, nothing pays like Potter movie!”
The fate of her Downton character is unknown, but rumor has it that the show’s creator Julian Fellowes was so outraged that he has decided to have Lady Violet burn to death when her gown catches fire at a soirée.
The middle daughter Lady Edith Crawley, the one who has neither the beauty nor the vivacity of her sisters and about whom we really don’t care much at all, continues to mope about the house and decides to take up topiary.
The Crawley sisters: The darkly alluring Mary (big hat), the dewy and tender Sibyl (little hat) and the other one.
The diminutive kitchen wench Daisy remains as stupid and lovable as ever and once again almost poisons the entire household with a batch of spotted dick gone wrong.
In a shocking turn of events, the doughty and wise housekeeper Mrs. Hughes absconds with all the household silverware and departs for New York City where she buys a townhouse in Greenwich Village and lives la vie bohème. When Mr. Carson informs Lord Grantham of Mrs. Hughes’s betrayal, Lord Robert purses his lips so severely that he is unable to unpurse them and has to consult a surgical specialist in London.