Downton Abbey Season 3
Lady Edith’s Story
Note: This is fiction and is in no way meant to intrude on copyright etc. It is for fun. Having not seen Julian Fellow’s Season 3 mine has a few more episodes and my summaries are only the story of Lady Edith.
Not being able to give up on someone who calls her “lovely” brings out some of the best in Lady Edith. Like Sybil and Cora she finds it difficult to go back to the old ways, yet she yeans for her own life, her own husband and family. She’s met tons of men thru the war years when Downton was a convalescent home and finds herself looking so wistfully back to the summer of 1914 and the eagerly awaited proposal from Sir Anthony that she lost due to her dig at Mary. That’s long been sorted out of course—Mary having been found out and made to apologize and well, after a World War, it was easy to identify immature sisterly spite!
Granny’s opposition, revealed by the ever helpful Aunt Rosamund, renews rather than defeats Edith’s efforts. Anthony, too, finds himself egged on a bit just to show Violet and her smug-better-than-you son the Lofty Lord Grantham. Though an honorable man, even Sir Anthony has his limits and Super Smug Old Etonian Robert gets under his skin. The men of Winchester (Wykehamists) are better than that and Anthony is a staunch upholder of this tradition by not letting his irritation show to Robert.
Season 3, Episode 1: The Pretty People
Matthew and Mary finally marry. Edith looks bored as a bridesmaid waiting to troop up the isle until a late guest enters—Sir Anthony. In spite of his efforts he can’t help but take her in. She blushes and lights up the room. At the reception Lady Rosamund sidles up to niece Edith and reminds her she “hates it when Mama is right.” And really, isn’t what Sir Anthony needs is a loving younger wife and not a nurse? Edith heartily agrees. Some meddling with the seating plans by Aunt Rosamund leaves the Vicar on Edith’s left and Sir Anthony on her right. Let the games begin! Violet and Robert exchange worried looks and Cora, who isn’t at all upset (Edith must marry someone and he DOES have a title, a stately pile, an ample bank account thanks to the late Maud as well an admirable record in two wars and no heir) nods approvingly at Edith. Robert is unhappy.
Anthony is humiliated when his food is served prearranged on his plate as though he were a child. It was well intentioned but he has pride. Edith is furious and takes his hand under the table. Neither hears another word spoken at the table.
Wedding over we have obligatory look at the pretty people on their wedding night—which ends in disagreement.
Rest of the episode is about servants, Bates, Sybil etc. (I won’t be rewriting this part.)
Season 3, Episode 2: Glowing with Happiness
If her sister can marry the Irish, radical, Roman Catholic chauffer, Edith (encouraged by Cora and Rosamund—a rare alliance by these two) visits the new chauffer and demands the keys to a car. She drives herself to Sir Anthony’s and sweetly cajoles him out of his favorite chair in his library, away from his beloved Greek books, stamp collection, game books and his Cavalier King Charles spaniels and out to the car for a jaunt in the country and a picnic. Having been called back to the Grenadier Guards [not some Territorial Army regiment like Lord Grantham] at the start of the war Sir Anthony missed Edith’s driving lessons and is astonished to see that SHE will be driving him and tries to refuse, but she is sweet and , well, young and, well, there…..and he mustn’t be rude of course. “I say you are really quite the driver aren’t you?” She fills him in on her farming and social work with the convalescents at Downton. He tells her he wished he been sent to Downton—no one young and attentive at his place of convalescence--only a “rather fierce matron—a sort of cross between a Regimental Sargent Major and my old Nanny.” She laughs admiringly and tells him of the rehabilitation work—including some of the gadgets for men with loss of a limb. Not the right track to take and he grows quiet. They arrive at their picnic spot and she arranges things as he walks with his dogs for a while.
Refreshed by his walk, he settles on the blanket and leans against a tree and they share their picnic and he finds it the most natural thing in the world to lie down with his head in her lap, her fingers running thru his hair. We are left just knowing Violet will explode!
Just before reaching his home he asks her to stop the car. He removes a signet ring from his hand and proposes, a bunch of wildflowers between them. No need to remind her a better ring will be supplied—she is in heaven.
Season 3, Episode 3: A New Life 1921
Sir Anthony’s sister (Susan Hampshire) arrives to meet this young thing and try to change Anthony’s mind, but is won over seeing her brother so sweetly baffled at his own amazing good fortune. His cousin, and likely heir (Simon Williams), a Bishop, arrives to prepare for the wedding and finds himself in a love triangle between Rosamund and Isabelle that continues all season. Being a Bishop and well off is a pretty good recommendation. Being the great-grandson (his mother’s side) of a Duke doesn’t hurt. Even Violet approves.
Anthony is shown having the DeLazlo portrait of Maud moved to storage.
The wedding takes place quietly after Rosamund gets Sir Richard Carlisle to publish a story on the “Radical Earl of Grantham: Chauffer ok, Hero of the Realm not!” Violet and Robert acquiesce. It is revealed that Robert first went after Maud, the late Lady Strallan, who as the daughter of a very well- funded Duke and was much sought as a potential wife. But being rather socially inept and not even horsey she fell for the Baronet instead of the Earl’s heir.
The wedding night sees Edith deposited at the doorway of her newly redone bedroom, a lady’s maid waiting to attend her. Sir Anthony, quite nervous, goes off for a bath. The door opens, we see him in the tub downing a quick glass of something settling. He looks up, expecting his valet with a towel and dressing gown and instead sees Edith! Gasping he can’t decide to be well-mannered and stand up or be well mannered and drown! She solves the problem for him and we see her silk dressing gown hit the floor and hear her step into the tub…………….
Season 3 Episdoe 4: Lady Strallan
3 months later
Mary and Matthew gnash their teeth over no progress in the heir stakes. Meanwhile Edith and Anthony, honeymoon bliss giving way to real life, settle in. She finds to her surprise that her father is actually quite wrong. It isn’t Anthony who is “dull as paint,” but rather his circle of fusty friends. She bolts from the dinner table to his horror and we see her make it to her room in time to retch into a waste basket. The heir is on his way. Cora, Mary and Violet come for a rather tense tea—Cora encouragingly asks how married life is going. Violet and Mary roll their eyes and Edith beams! “Delightful!” she answers and blurts out that she’s pregnant. Echoing the first appearance of Sir Anthony, Mary blurts out “Good God” and Violet mutters something pithy that will be all over youtube in real life the next day. Cora’s smile is huge and she gives Violet a certain look, then embraces Edith. Edith then announces they have been invited to Harewood House—King’s soon-to-be son-in-law Viscount Lascelles,(another older man, younger woman couple) who is a brother Grenadier and fellow lover of Italian art. Even Violet is impressed, though in the car she makes a disparaging remark about how boring Princess Mary and Lascelles are.
Season 3 Episode 5: Breathing Room
Anthony is overwhelmed by his new marriage. A wife who wants him to SLEEP in her room? Oh my! He had no idea anyone….. Maud never…. She is so sweetly helpful, but he loves his routine. Of course he never complains when she joins him on his morning walk with the dogs. But dear Maud did tend to just quietly do her needlework or read and not intrude on his library—his inner sanctum. She also never sat on his lap or pursued him in the bath and well that wasn’t so terrible now, was it? It’s so confusing for him.
When Cora calls unannounced to see how Edith is feeling and finds her out at a charity meeting (while pregnant! Anthony is scandalized) he confesses over a much-needed cup of tea that Edith’s “enthusiasm” for life is almost “exhausting.” We see Cora stifle a laugh at the double entendre which he did not intend. He also wonders if, like his own father who died when he was at Winchester, he might not be a bit “long in the tooth” for fatherhood. He then tells Cora in some detail of Edith's many unsettling new-fangled notions about motherhood. She’s actually thinking of NOT having a Nanny! He can’t even bring himself to THINK, let alone SPEAK of, her idea of actually, gulp, shudder, nurse the child herself! He is stunned and doesn’t understand how a nanny-less life could work. Cora assures him “this too shall pass” and plans a nice way to set Edith straight.
Cora returns the next day for tea with Edith and explains a bit about men of her generation and their need for what we today call “space.” Anthony goes off to London for meeting of the British Legion of which he is a founding board member—grateful to escape to his Club for a bit. The relief on his face is palpable.
Season 3 Episode 6: An heir
Edith’s due date is upon the Strallan household. Cora and Sir Anthony have successfully located a Nanny and a baby nurse (for immediately after the birth) behind Edith’s back. Anthony shares with Cora that Lord Lascelles has agreed to be godfather and that his, cousin, the Bishop, will christen the child in the family christening gown. Does she think this is a suitable gift for the mother? He opens a velvet box that makes Cora’s jaw drop. Sputtering she agrees it will do nicely!
Edith’s labor begins in the night and Sir Anthony is grateful for servants who can handle things. Cora arrives to be with Edith, but spends more time calming Anthony—even embracing him and giving him a kiss on the cheek which sends his mind reeling. Mary arrives just as the doctor announces to the family that “It’s a boy.” Mary storms out and an incredibly smug Edith is shown in bed holding her son.
The christening is held with the newly married Royal couple in attendance with a hasty apology for inexplicably bringing along her brother, Prince Albert (future King George VI). Matthew attends, but must provide an excuse for Mary who cannot bear it all. She’s being upstaged!! And we learn that while Lord Grantham is an Earl, Sir Anthony’s baronetcy is older by a couple of centuries. Edith preens even more. In honor of the unexpected guest the baby is Christened “Albert Henry Rupert Anthony Jocelyn,” (the last for Sir Anthony’s father) but will be known as Rupert. Edith’s smugness is almost unendurable, but even the bitter Robert swallows his pride and attends and gives her a very well deserved kiss. He even finds it in himself to congratulate Strallan who is suitably modest.
Season 3: Episode 7: Feeling left out
A year or so after the birth
While Sir Anthony is enormously relieved to have an unexpected son and heir (the Bishop is his age and also has no heir) he is feeling very slighted as Edith focuses her life on their son. The congratulations from friends are over and frankly he’s feeling slighted by his lovely wife. He’s no Lord Grantham so doesn’t go kissing servants or anything, but does find more and more excuses to visit with his very distraught mother-in-law, who understands what Edith sees in him. Temptation is there and shocks both, but nothing happens. She wisely suggests he put his foot down and insist on Edith accompanying him on a holiday. Cora’s “little talk” on the management of husbands gets a less-than-warm reception this time around. Edith is just too thrilled to have a son when Mary does not!! The Strallans depart for a holiday in Florence with Edith weeping over leaving Rupert and Anthony, wisely, not letting his irritation show. Florence delights and they enjoy a second honeymoon, only to be summoned home to find Anthony called to duty by the Palace to replace an older Aide de Camp who has died suddenly. His face when told he will accompany the young Prince of Wales on an almost year-long tour of the Empire is a sight to behold. The couple’s farewell is lovely and passionate! Just when he feels he has Edith’s love back focused squarely on himself, he must attend to the boy who will be king—fully knowing the second honeymoon will not last.
Season 3 Episdoe 8:
The Strallans are shown briefly—she with Rupert and reading and re-reading Anthony’s letters and telegrams, longing for him as her second pregnancy comes full course. He is shown bored and disgusted with the debauched behavior of the young heir to the throne and like many thinks the shy Prince Albert is the dutiful son, if not as bright and charismatic.
Season 3 Episode 9: Home at Last
Anthony’s duty done he arrives home thinking only of reclaiming his life, but enters a house in turmoil. Edith is in labor and doing badly—a breech birth. Isabelle and Cora, who were having tea with her as labor started, are still in the house. Cora is with Edith and Isabelle is frantically phoning various doctors. Anthony shocked that his wife is expecting, but hearing the prognosis flashes back to Maud’s death and goes straight to Edith, his face a study in terror. The child is born alive and lives, but Edith hovers briefly between, it seems, life and death. In reality she’s just exhausted and passes out but not before Anthony loses his composure and breaks down clutching her to him. We see her weakly put her arms around him as she revives. Unlike with Rupert’s birth this child holds little appeal to her. A girl isn’t big news even to Edith. But she certainly is to her father. He will dote on her in ways the try Edith to the limit. We have a brief shot of the Christening of Henrietta Edith Rosamund Cora Strallin.
Season 3 Finale: Times Change
Edith is in tears and a slight boy with lovely blue eyes and wistful expression is trying to follow what all she is saying to him. It’s time for boarding school and Rupert Strallan is excited to be going somewhere in which playing cricket is a central theme and of which his father speaks highly. Edith “cannot bear it” and mentions how barbaric boarding school is and how it’s “bad enough if you’re stuck in India” but for once Sir Anthony is firm. Rupert will go and he does his best to keep the boy’s spirits up. For once Edith wants her daughter along, but this is not to be. Anthony knows she’ll cry too and he’ll have his hands full with Edith. We see the car arrive at school, the trunk being unloaded by flunkies and then Rupert’s parents accompany him to his dorm where he and the other boys are asked to introduce themselves. A striking white-blonde haired boy confidently introduces himself as “Philip.” “Philip?” Sir Anthony asks encouraging him to give his surname. “Just Philip.” They shrug it off, leave Rupert and return to the car. “What an odd child. Just Philip, indeed” remarks Anthony. “Darling, that’s Prince Louis of Battenberg’s grandson—Philip of Greece.” Edith preens, then returns to crying and Anthony indulges her by pulling her close with his good arm as the Chauffeur turns the car out of the school grounds.
The episode fast-forwards to late 1939
Fearing war Anthony steps in where he’s not wanted and decides Henrietta (his darling) MUST be presented at Court in case this stops during the war. Henrietta is terribly tall and plain girl, unsophisticated, gawky and much in love with horses and dogs. Against Edith’s wishes she has been educated at home by a governess when Edith wished her to be sent to boarding school like her brother [then a new idea]. Cora and Mary step in to take her in hand and turn her into a passable debutante. The war starts. Rupert has chosen Sandhurst over his father’s Oxford and we see his Passing Out Parade (graduation) where his “almost”-Godfather the king recognizes him and acknowledges him. Soon after we see Anthony sitting near the wireless, different dogs now at his fee,t with a foreboding expression on his face. Edith is trying not to cry. We hear Chamberlain announce war.
End of Season 3 or of the whole show. From what I've heard of the real Season 3 end of the whole show may be best!!!