Series Three: Episode Four
August 1920 Bates and Anna are both worried when they don't hear from each other, and Anna is no longer allowed to visit the prison. Anna fears that Bates has decided to let her go and live her life. Later in the episode we discover that in fact Bates' cellmate and the guards were taking revenge on him, getting the prison governor to put him on the violent prisoners' list, which meant he was denied privileges. Eventually this punishment is rescinded (after Bates sets up his cellmate in the same way that he had done in the previous episode) and he receives a large bundle of letters from Anna.
Edith receives a strange phone call from Sybil in Ireland and it is clear there is something wrong. Shortly afterwards Branson arrives at the Abbey soaking wet, having fled Ireland in a hurry. Sybil was supposed to follow directly after him, but she missed the last boat. It transpires that Branson was present at the burning of a castle belonging to English aristocrats, and is wanted by the Irish police. The family are furious with him for leaving the pregnant Sybil behind. The next day Lord Grantham goes to London to speak to the Home Secretary about Branson's case. Sybil arrives from Dublin and it becomes clear that Branson did not abandon her. When Lord Grantham returns from London he tells Branson that he has struck a deal: Branson will not be arrested in England, on condition that he never returns to Ireland.
Edith is looking for something to do now that her marriage has fallen through, and becomes passionate about women's rights. At Matthew's suggestion she writes a letter to The Times on the matter, which horrifies Violet. The paper publishes her piece and praises it as excellent writing. Matthew is very impressed, although Lord Grantham is appalled.
Below stairs new staff have been hired now that the future of the Abbey is secure. A new footman, James (Jimmy) Kent is employed and it appears that Thomas is immediately attracted to him. Daisy is promoted to assistant cook and Ivy Stewart is hired as kitchen maid.
Ethel meets with Isobel and Mrs Hughes, telling them that now she has been forced into prostitution she has decided that she will give up her son Charlie to his grandparents, the Bryants, as they had wanted her to do in the previous series. Isobel tries to dissuade her, but she is determined. She rejects an offer of money, but still gives them her son.
Matthew begins to immerse himself in the business of running the estate, and discovers several ways in which it is being inefficiently or incompetently handled. He tries to speak to Lord Grantham about it, but he is resistant to change.