Downton Abbey recap: The Fighting Irish

Branson abandons Sybil, Anna thinks Bates wants her to move on, and Carson hires a hot new footman
Ep. 03 | Aired Jan 20, 2013

K-I-S-S-I-N-G Branson and Sybil reunite at Downton, but that doesn't mean the ex-chauffeur is happy to be back with his in-laws. And they're not really happy to have him, either.

PBS

No, this week's Downton has nothing to do with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend. But it might have been better if it had. To me, this hour felt like a filler after the Matthew-Mary wedding/Shirley MacLaine/jilted-Edith/Downton-saving drama of late. Nonetheless, Branson and Sybil provide some intrigue, although it ultimately proved he's still a complete jerk. Meanwhile, Anna believes Bates is ignoring her, and Bates thinks Anna is ignoring him. Sigh. At least Carson hires a sexy new footman, who makes all the ladies downstairs, and Thomas, swoon.

Edith receives a mysterious phone call from her sister in Ireland before the Crawleys' big dinner with the Archbishop. "I've no time to talk, but tell them I'm all right. I'm out of the flat. They haven't stopped me," Sybil explains. "Who hasn't stopped you?" Edith asks, but Sybil hangs up before answering. Edith tells Cora and Mary of the call, leaving all the ladies a bit perplexed.

Then, during the dinner, there's a loud knock on the front door. It's Tom! Mary rushes to greet her brother-in-law and inquires after her sister, who is clearly not with her husband. Tom's cowardice comes out in his explanation. "I had to get away and leave her to follow." That's right, he left his pregnant wife while he ran away. (Later, Robert will be appropriately angry about the situation.)

Mary returns to the table and tells everyone that it was just an "idiotic man trying to deliver a pamphlet" -- a description that suits Tom perfectly. After the Archbishop and other guest leave, Tom spins his story to his in-laws. Basically, the police think he helped burn down an Irish castle and now he's on the lam. Oh yeah, and the police might have Sybil. If they do, Tom says, he's ready to go back in exchange for her freedom. Robert gets red in the face and yells a lot, admonishing Tom and telling him to "go to bed."

The next day, Robert travels to London to fix the situation in the only way an Earl can. In the meantime, Sybil arrives at Downton unharmed and she and Tom share a passionate, yet undeserved on his part, kiss.

Back from London, the Earl informs his family that Tom was a bit more involved with the Irish protests that he had let on, which angers Sybil. The Earl also tells them that Tom can never go back to Ireland, lest he go to prison. That night, in bed, Sybil and Tom argue. She wants to stay at Downton to give birth. He wants to be a brat about everything. They kiss again. Someone explain to me why she married him.

NEXT: Wait a minute, Mr. Postman

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