DowntonAbbey3_2353968b“Something happening in this house is actually about me!” said Sad Lady Edith with sparkly eyes and a luminous pre-wedding glow- a statement just dripping with dramatic irony. This is Downtown Abbey Season 3, and advanced viewers know nothing gold can stay when it comes to Lady Edith. It’s a shame because for once, Lady Edith actually looks quite lovely in that drape-y satin-y Zelda Fitzgerald-y number plus cape. But at our second wedding in two weeks, things take the predictable turn for the worse. Sir Anthony, looking more corpse-like than ever before, balks at the youthful rosy glow in his nubile bride’s cheeks. He turns on his heel and hobbles away, leaving Sad Lady Edith jilted at the altar.

The Wedding That Wasn’t MVP: Dowager Countess- for running fierce interference on Sad Lady Edith’s plaintive mutterings. The bride was four seconds away from down on her knees beggin’ baby please don’t go… and that’s both anachronistic and very middle class.

Getting the jilting out of the way early saves us from an hour of old-guy jokes and aggrieved Lord Grantham face- because can we just stop for a minute and consider what a rough time this dad’s had? Lady Mary nearly blew it with Cousin Matthew, almost costing the family the entail and all because she was in a bitchy mood post-Titanic sinking. Lady Sybill is basically a Hot Topic teenage dirtbag with her unsuitable boyfriend and teen-mom tendencies. And now Lady Edith first insists on marrying a corpse and then embarks on the dark road to spinsterhood. Daughters! Am I right?

Spinsterhood is something we 20-somethings like to joke about over brunch after a few terrifying OKCupid dates, as if a couple of actor/waiter weirdos who can’t afford not to split dinner will relegate us to a lifetime of loneliness and knitting. However, spinsterhood here is a very real and horrifying prospect. In Downton times, marriage is really everything. A single lady really can’t hold court in high society, and what with inheritance laws favoring the patriarchy a spinster will likely end up out on the street or at the mercy of her bitchy older sister who’s still smarting over that whole Mr. Pamuk affair. Lady Edith’s palpable despair- played beautifully by Laura Carmichael, finally given something meaty to work with- is weighted by the true graveness of the situation.

Spinster Pep Talk MVP: Cora- nails it on the supportive mother move. She gives her middle daughter the Downton Abbey translation of Batman’s “why do we fall?”

Before we head downstairs, there is of course the tender issue of finances and real estate. But just as in real life, it’s exceedingly boring at Downton so let’s not linger overlong. Nevertheless, Lord Grantham’s stuck in a sort of Love-it-or-List-it internal battle over the Abbey and the long shots of his silhouetted figure considering the grand estate from a short distance really are lovely in sort of a pseudo-impressionistic way. But the whole thing feels a little overwrought, since we know about Matthew’s money, and try as he might to fight the inheritance we all know Lady Mary’s eyebrows always get what they want. And naturally they do- Matthew saves Downton with his Swire money and all is well again.

But let’s stop for a moment (we aren’t going anywhere if we have to keep stopping, you should have gone before we left like I told you) and consider the hideous marital politics behind the Swire money affair. Matthew unilaterally refuses to solve the greatest problem of his beloved wife’s young life. This, based on a murky set of personal ethics stemming from Lavinia’s all-too convenient death and all sorts of angsty BS that Matthew, frankly, isn’t really entitled to as far as I’m concerned. Matthew accuses his wife of forgery when she reads Swire’s letter aloud, and forces her to go so far as to ask the help to back her up. The Help. Lady Mary actually has to make an appearance in the kitchen with her hair undone to secure her husband’s trust. Get it together.

Downstairs drama is mostly much ado about nothing this week.

-Daisy considers a future as a strong independent woman hunting down men as prey, then eyes the hotel waiter hungrily before heading off to stir the soup.

-Thomas breaks a new record for most cigarettes smoked with a single hand, and also continues his hot streak being a real butthole to everyone around him. Molesley bears the brunt of the attack in a classic case of misdirection involving a lie about O’Brien’s intention to leave Downton. Naturally, O’Brien sends withering glares Thomas’s way by the end of the night.

-Ethel. That must have been some contract she signed because this subplot expired a long time ago, and she’s now relegated to an ongoing prostitute themed “Who’s on First” routine with Cousin Isobel.

-Whatever’s happening with Bates can be metaphorically summed up by the parade of inmates walking a slow circle around the prison courtyard.

-Much Ado About Something: Mrs. Hughes has a clean bill of health. Dramatically, this was the best subplot running- subtle, emotional, a reason to see Mrs. Patmore exist outside the kitchen- so a 2-episode arc feels a little light. But it’s all worth it to see Mr. Carson singing so gleefully polishing the silver, knowing his closest confidante will live to see another day.