Downton Abbey Series 3 Episode 5 Review — Hello, Goodbye

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!

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  • Drew Spencer

    A shocking and infuriating episode.

  • Austin Pearce

    I’ll miss Sybil. 

  • http://www.devonwebdesigners.com/ Elizabeth Jamieson

    It’s all about class and changing roles. Branson being Irish and wanting the baby to be a Catholic, and his also being a freedom fighter of sorts for Irish independence represents the new future where people no longer bow and scrape. Matthew bringing his middle-class values to the aristocracy, as with his mother in parallel doing the same thing with the maid Ethel who was a prostitute, by allowing her into her house.  

    There is also a class focus on working class Ethel giving up her baby in the previous episode to it’s father’s middle class parents so that it could escape poverty.  This is before the welfare state was established and people like her would have had few choices if they could not find work. Unless of course they are like Edith, who gets a job on the strength of her class and nothing else. She has no proven skill nor experience.  It’s all about the changing class structure and the introduction of new social trends in England. Everything in the story line is set up to examine that from some angle or other.  It is also about wasted talent.  Robert is clearly not the brightest person on the planet, but his un-earned position in life means he gets to make bad decisions unchecked. The times they are a-changing.  

  • Larrianne

    Extremely disappointing episode. I hope they start getting better.

  • RJ2083420

    I actually liked this episode, even tho the last 15 minutes or so left me nearly dehydrated! Her death leaves the door open for some interesting dynamics between Brandon and the family, and has exposed several cracks in the family. Some of the subplots are very interesting, if they are handled correctly, and will add to the overall story arch masterfully!

  • AussieFan

    RIP Sybill :”( ill miss you xo

  • squirrelgirl55

    Shocking turn of events….Sybill was my favorite of the sisters. Just heartbreaking and what a cascade of new threads to follow……I am still just shocked they wrote Sybil out!

    • ILoveDA

      I agree, she was the most humble and down to earth of the sisters. I’l miss the balance she brings to elite mindedness of the house! Still dont understand what the end game of writing her off is.

    • ILoveDA

      I agree, she was the most humble and down to earth of the sisters. I’l miss the balance she brings to elite mindedness of the house! Still dont understand what the end game of writing her off is.

  • Michael

    I don’t like lady Mary is obnoxious at all!! The whole point is that she’s honest, it’s her honesty I love because its so true to family life

    • Michael

      *I don’t think

  • Milka197

    Ooooh, so hartbreaking… I was in tears yesterday… they were my favourite couple and I didn’t expect this to happen, poor Tom!

  • http://twitter.com/frogcreekwoods frogcreekwoods

    I can’t believe they did that to us.  Downton Abbey is about an earl, his wife, and his three daughters.  Three daughters.Those characters should be sacred and safe.  It was just cruel to take Lady Sybil away from us.  If he was going for a shock value, Julian Fellowes achieved it. But at the cost of his fan base.  I guess there are many that watch drama to experience the range of emotions.  They like to cry.  But for me, I have enough drama in real life.  Downton Abbey was my happy place.  A place of elegance and beauty, where everything turns out all right in the end.  Mary and Matthew finally get together.  As do Anna and Bates, who I believe will be freed some day.   Mrs. Hughes does NOT have cancer. We lost William last year, but it was in a heroic act to protect country and friend, and I can handle that. To have Sybil die senselessly in childbirth may be historically accurate, but aren’t watching a documentary.  We are watching a story where we are supposed to feel good in the end. Sybil’s death scene was well-acted, but it will haunt me for years. I don’t want to be haunted.   

    I can not imagine a story line that could ever bring Downton Abbey back to that happy place for me.  It is ruined.  I won’t even be able to watch Seasons 1 and 2 now without that taint. Downton Abbey has turned into a soap opera in the worse sense of the phrase. I feel betrayed and bitterly disappointed. 

    Time to go back to Jane Austen.

  • http://twitter.com/frogcreekwoods frogcreekwoods

    I can’t believe they did that to us.  Downton Abbey is about an earl, his wife, and his three daughters.  Three daughters.Those characters should be sacred and safe.  It was just cruel to take Lady Sybil away from us.  If he was going for a shock value, Julian Fellowes achieved it. But at the cost of his fan base.  I guess there are many that watch drama to experience the range of emotions.  They like to cry.  But for me, I have enough drama in real life.  Downton Abbey was my happy place.  A place of elegance and beauty, where everything turns out all right in the end.  Mary and Matthew finally get together.  As do Anna and Bates, who I believe will be freed some day.   Mrs. Hughes does NOT have cancer. We lost William last year, but it was in a heroic act to protect country and friend, and I can handle that. To have Sybil die senselessly in childbirth may be historically accurate, but aren’t watching a documentary.  We are watching a story where we are supposed to feel good in the end. Sybil’s death scene was well-acted, but it will haunt me for years. I don’t want to be haunted.   

    I can not imagine a story line that could ever bring Downton Abbey back to that happy place for me.  It is ruined.  I won’t even be able to watch Seasons 1 and 2 now without that taint. Downton Abbey has turned into a soap opera in the worse sense of the phrase. I feel betrayed and bitterly disappointed. 

    Time to go back to Jane Austen.

    • Mette Kreutzfeldt

      I totally get what your ‘re saying… I tried watching  a couple of episodes from the 2nd season, but it was ruined for me. Sybil and Branson were/are my favourite couple, and even when watching scenes with them, it left me feeling sad. Downton will never be the same again… I just don’t get why, it doesn’t fit into the plot, and it was totally unnecessary…. But it was some of the best acting I’ve seen throughout the entire series… 

    • Andrea

       So you’re basically saying you wanted the show to just move forward without any character development or realism? This story examines how life was like in that era, not everything was easy, not everyone ended up with a happy ending, people died, people changed, people lived their lives. I think this show is so fantastic because it doesn’t try to cover up the flaws of the family, it shows them proudly and thus makes them more real.

      You said you’re watching a story where people are supposed to feel good in the end, but that isn’t true. You’re watching a Drama, and a far cry from a soap opera, if you can’t handle good television maybe you SHOULD go back to Jane Austen.

  • Al_veli

    I have not cried since I was a child, but Sybill’s death was both so real and so tragic… And she was the best thing on that show anyhow, I have no idea why they would write her off!

  • Guest

    I think there is foreshadowing that Lady Mary is unable to have a baby let alone producing an heir which would complicate inheritance even further. I think Matthew has regained all his ‘functions’, but it is Mary who can’t regardless of her age. Then in the Christmas special Lady Mary is pregnant to everyone’s joyous surprise. I think Uncle Matthew and Aunt Mary along with Aunt Edith, Grandpapa Crawley, Grandmama Cora, & Great Granny Violet (& Great grandmama Martha) will help Tom raise little Sybil. It is too dangerous for Tom to go back to Ireland and to separate father and daughter by sending the baby to live with her other grandmother (Grandnana Branson) is risky. Besides, little Sybil is the only connection left of her mother. I hope they both stay at Downton (or perhaps go to America to live with great grandmama Levinson). 

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/H3P55XVTYFNEUMT25CTDNZHAMI FourHand454

    I was literally devastated when Sybil died. I just sat there is total disbelief. I kept waiting for her to wake up and surprise everyone, but it never happened. :’( And I loved Sybil, she was my favourite character. Any hope that she is just in a coma?? 

    great acting though, that scene with Maggie Smith in the hall was just heart breaking.

  • jcarne

    An amazing episode…Sybil will be missed!  Slightly different subject…is anyone else starting to think the Bates DID kill his wife?

    • http://www.devonwebdesigners.com/ Elizabeth Jamieson

      I am pretty sure he killed his wife or at least will be found guilty of it.

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