This season of BBC’s Downton Abbey has given audiences a lot to think about in a short time, but it has been focusing on some pretty trivial nonsense. This episode really made everyone think and cry, like little babies.
Mary and Matthew are still at odds with one another. Matthew is trying to reign in the horrible mismanagement of Downton without stepping on any toes. In the past we’ve praised Lord Grantham for his kindness and his consideration of his wait staff, but now it seems like a good heart is getting in the way of a smooth operation. Luckily, Mary doesn’t let an opportunity to bitch at Mattew pass by.
Now that Tom Branson has royally pissed off Lord Grantham, Sybil’s father does not trust him or any non-English person. He calls upon Sir Philip, a sort of mamby pamby quack who is essentially an OBGYN, but mainly he just belittles women and dresses up for dinner. He brags during the meal that he told one Duchess that struggled to get pregnant, “I’ll get a baby out of you one way or another.” Real classy bro.
Even though Dr. Clarkson seemed to have misdiagnosed Matthew’s paralysis and didn’t catch Lavinia’s health problems before it was too late, Cora still trusts the family doctor as he has been around since the girls were little. She insists that he be present while Sybil is in labor even though Sir Philip claims to be the ultimate expert. Sometime during Sybil’s experience, Clarkson notices that she is not responding normally and says she may be toxemic, which could lead to ecalmpsia and possible death. He advises the family to take Sybil to the hospital and have an emergency c-section.
Both Lord Grantham and Sir Philip are aghast at this suggestion and do not wish to follow his advice. Cora doesn’t know what to do and naturally trusts Clarkson while no one will allow Tom to make the ultimate decision. Sybil has the baby and everything seems fine. She advises Tom not to take a mechanic job in Liverpool because it will mean he is moving backwards in his career. Before they can discuss it further she begins having major seizures in front of the whole family as Cora and Tom try unsuccessfully to be there for her. The doctors stand there like a couple of morons and Grantham is in shock.
After everyone realizes that yes, Sybil is indeed super dead and Lord Grantham has made a serious error, Mary makes sure to turn the moment into another squabble with Edith. She always says things like, “It’s true we’ve never got along, blah blah blah.” But Edith has been really normal and nice lately while Mary is just horrible. Maybe the problem is YOU Mary! Edith seems to get the short end of many sticks, especially in general appearance.
Also, the Dowager was sad and Carson was sad. This made things even more sad. The sadness continues. Carson informs the staff of Sybil’s death and everyone is traumatized. Sybil really was the coolest sister, not to mention one of the coolest characters on the show. Seems like Edith may take up her feminist mantel by writing a weekly column in the newspaper, despite Grantham’s wishes against it.
Meanwhile, Thomas is totally getting all up in Jimmy’s grill, creepily teaching him how to set clocks and what not. On the one hand Thomas’ situation is a great commentary on the hardships of gay folk in the past, having to sneakily pursue their happiness in ill begotten ways, but on some level I feel like Thomas isn’t doing the gay community any favors. They’ve been trying to warm us up to him and even showed him crying at the news of Sybil’s death, which worries us all that something bad is going to happen to him. If O’Brien gets her way, he’ll be caught being too handsy and get fired. And if they take away our hot gay romance, we will riot.
Also, Daisy is being jealous and mean to Ivy because it seems freakishly tall Alfred likes the new girl rather than the kitchen assistant. It makes for some entertaining discourse if anything.
Then there is Mrs. Crawley and Ethel. It was nice to see Crawley stand up to Mrs. Bird and tell her to hit the road, but it is also hilarious to see her eat crow when Ethel can’t even make a cup of tea. I know I’m a modern woman, but what the hell is up with the constant prostitution talk? Calm down folks!
Oh, and Bates. Does anyone care about his situation anymore? I’m so bored with Anna’s attempt to get evidence of his ex-wives’ suicide. I was always a little bothered by the Bates/Anna relationship even though I do like him. But now, set up against Sybil’s death, who gives a flying you-know-what?
It was well deserved when Cora told Robert that he ‘dun goofed’. And the Dowager let him know that it truly was not his fault. The point is, SYBIL IS DEAD. And it was the most sad thing we’ve been thrown yet, which begs the question of what other atrocities these writers will throw at us? A Mary/Matthew divorce? Loss of Downton? Tom Branson going rogue for the Irish and bombing the shit out of an English manor? It’s anyone’s guess now.