The arrival of Martha Levinson, Lady Edith's potential marriage to a wealthy local suitor and the birth of Miss Sybil Branson are some highlights from the third season of "Downton Abbey." Matthew and Mary Crawley's wedding was also a high point for viewers.
Martha Levinson is Lady Cora Grantham's American mother, played by Shirley MacLaine. She arrives during the first episode of season three to attend the wedding ceremony of Matthew and Mary Crawley. Martha and the Dowager Countess, portrayed by Maggie Smith, are not mutual fans, and sparks fly immediately.
The marriage of Matthew and Mary is good news for the whole Crawley family, since a longstanding property law of entailment guarantees that Matthew inherits Downton Abbey whether he marries Mary or not. With marriage, Donwton Abbey remains within the immediate Crawley family.
Matthew, the son of a Manchester solicitor, selects Branson to be his best man. This is a minor victory for Branson, who is the Crawleys' former chauffeur and the father of a child with Lady Sybil, the youngest Crawley daughter. When Lady Sybil subsequently dies in childbirth, baby Sybil Branson represents hope for the Crawleys and for faithful viewers of the show.
Lady Edith, the middle Crawley daughter, receives a proposal in season three from Anthony Strallan, a rich landowner. He courts Lady Edith openly, choosing her over her sisters, and Edith proceeds to plan her nuptials despite the Dowager Countess's warnings about Strallan.