This was a sad week for Downton Abbey, dear readers. Sybil died from complications caused by childbirth, leaving a grieving family and a motherless little girl. It was horrendously upsetting to watch, especially since it may have been avoidable. That is something that will haunt Robert for a long while yet — did his insistence on listening to the maternity doctor he brought in contribute to Sybil’s death? Could Dr Clarkson have saved her life?
Given that Downton Abbey has just lost one of its main characters, arguably the nicest one (as the staff so tearfully pointed out), the other events this week seem trivial in comparison.
Edith was offering a newspaper column, but because this is Edith, she was at first treated dismissively by all but Matthew, and then overshadowed by Sybil’s death, ending all possible in-depth discussion about the offer.
There was Ethel’s hiring by Isobel, which could end terribly or be a surprising success depending on how well her cooking skills come on by next week.
Anna’s found the key piece of information that could prove Bates’ innocence. Trouble is, the woman who holds the information doesn’t like Bates. The race is on to get her to talk before she realises that she’s actually helping him — but a corrupt prison warden and Bates’ cellmate are out to scupper that plan.
The new kitchen maid sparked a love square downstairs; Daisy likes Alfred, who lives Ivy, who likes Jimmy, who likes Ivy. (Daisy is essentially the Edith-below-stairs right now.) Daisy reacted to Ivy’s presence badly, but hopefully Daisy is going to be a little nicer from now on, if only to stop Alfred from disliking her.
There was also a scheming O’Brien telling Jimmy to keep in Thomas’ good books if he wants to come out on top at Downton, which means he at least doesn’t object to Thomas’ obvious flirting, though he looks non-too-pleased by it. (I have to admit that before Sybil’s death, I thought the character death spoiler for this series may have referred to Thomas getting killed Brokeback-style after making Jimmy uncomfortable.)
Before she died, Sybil asked Cora to make sure Branson and the baby were looked after. It’s impossible to imagine Cora not doing so, but does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion that all this talk about Matthew and Mary having a baby is actually leading up to Branson handing the baby over to them? I really hope that doesn’t happen. I still find Mary to be obnoxious (seriously, couldn’t she have just lied when Edith asked if they may be nicer to each other, rather than saying ‘I doubt it’?), and I’d rather her have time to mellow out during her own pregnancy rather than be handed a baby to create an insta-family.
Whatever happens, things aren’t looking good for Robert. It’s bad enough that he’s been mismanaging the estate and almost leading Downton Abbey into financial ruin, but now his bad judgement may have cost him the life of his child. It’s impossible to say what would have happened if he had listened to Dr Clarkson, and so it’s perhaps unfair to lay any blame on him, but it doesn’t look like Cora is going to forgive him anytime soon. Will Sybil’s death drive them apart? We’ll have to wait and see.
Overall, a fantastic episode, though it could perhaps have done without the ridiculous love square downstairs. Nonetheless, brilliant performances by all, and some interesting plot points set up for the future. I can’t wait to see how things turn out next week.
What did you think about this week’s Downton Abbey? Did Robert make the right decisions? Do you have any theories about the future of Branson and his baby? Perhaps you have a few words to say about Sybil? Leave all your thoughts in the comments below!