“I missed something once before. I won’t- I can’t let that happen again.” Everyone missed something that day, Carrie. That day was tonight, when Downton Abbey’s hush-hush Homeland crossover episode aired. Sex, lies, terrorism. This is Masterpiece Classic presents: a Showtime Original Series a hundred years prior and four hundred channels down.

Letters Letters Letters

Letters Letters Letters

Downton opens with the fugitive in the rain, as Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) places her cryptic phone call collect to Edith’s crow’s feet. Then it dispenses with the intrigue and delivers Abu Nazir in Act One. A knock at the door- in the middle of dinner. How uncivilized!- and we have Branson (Allen Leech) on our doorstep, fresh from the Irish front where the terrorists are kicking the rich out of their homes and forcing them to watch it burn. We all knew Branson was a terrorist in the conventional sense, but who knew he was a terrorist of LOVE? In his efforts to avoid persecution, prosecution, incarceration he leaves his pregnant wife alone, in the rain, in Ireland to fend for herself.

Most Forceful Foot Put Down: His Lordship for nailing Branson to the cross- as the English are wont to do- for his marital misstep.

Naturally, plucky and resourceful Lady Sybil makes it back to Downton where she and her erstwhile husband will hole up likely for the rest of the season until we can find something suitable to tell the guests when they ask about the strange and hollow look in his eyes.

Sybil isn’t the only Crawley sister to take up arms for a cause. Proving the pen is mightier than a jilting at the altar, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) picks one up and writes a treatise on women’s rights with the intent to publish. His Lordship, in a spectacular display of the noble institution of Daddy Issues, declares, “That’s nice, dear but you know it will never run.” Sad Lady Edith returns for a cameo, playing gamely opposite the Dowager Countess.

Dowager Countess Zinger of the Night: On Lady Edith’s prospects for hobbies- “Gardening?” “No, you can’t be as desperate as that. Edith, You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do.”

Sad Lady Edith takes her bow, and she sure shows everyone. Proud Lady Edith makes her screen debut along with her first published byline.

Best Penmanship: This episode.

Joining Proud Lady Edith in the Field of Letters is Anna and Bates: tied for runner up for “most prolific.” Incidentally, whatever is(n’t) happening with their non-love story has crossed the border into Deeply Uninteresting, which Branson passed through on his way out of Ireland.

And Miss Congeniality in the Field of Letters: Ethel! For “Notes from a Prostitute: to my bastard son’s parents on the eve of his adoption.”

Meanwhile, Downstairs:

– Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) has a clean bill of health, which means that Coffee Talk with Hughes and Carson (Jim Carter) is back in session. This, of course, in between Mr. Carson’s efforts to Eliza Doolittle the new footman. Sneaky Thomas and even sneakier O’Brien sneak up on Carson quizzing the new footman on an array of spoons in the drawing room. Sadly, the new footman will be about as successful as my attempts at remembering his name. He doesn’t know a boullion spoon when he sees one. Come on.

– With Cousin Matthew’s influx of capital, Downton’s fiscal woes seem resolved. For the moment. Matthew seems to have discovered severe mismanagement on the books, but once again as in real life, finances make for deeply boring television and I couldn’t recount the details of it even if I cared.

– The money does mean new staff, and the newbies are hotties! Hot Jimmy succeeds the new footman as the New footman. All the ladies downstairs start swooning- all but Daisy (Sophie McShera) who’s ready to make her move on the old new footman, when a sexy new kitchen maid comes to town and steals her thunder.

Speaking of lost thunder: This might be the diagnosis for Downton Abbey’s Season Three. In this installment, we made a note of how many letters were written. That does not a narrative arc make. Here’s hoping things pick up on the Matthew/Mary Baby front or at least the Dowager Countess BitchFest 2013.