Monday night’s episode of ‘Downton Abbey’ was heartbreaking. I don’t think anything could have prepared the viewers for what transpired. If you haven’t seen the third season as of yet, I have to warn you there are major spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk!
Alright, here we go. The household is preparing for the impending arrival of Sybil and Branson’s baby after all the drama in the previous episode. The Gratham’s do not allow Branson to take Sybil away for the birth, so they remain at Downton. At first Dr. Clarkson is the preferred physician, but Robert thinks that having someone with more experience and reputation is best, so he brings in Sir Philip.
The doctors are at odds when it becomes apparent that Sybil is not doing well. All the signs are there that she suffers from preeclampsia, a dangerous condition in which a pregnant woman develops high blood pressure and high levels of protein in the urine, which can affect the mother and baby.
In Robert’s eyes Dr. Clarkson has failed several times before in his diagnosis, having missed Matthew’s recovery after his paralysis and not being able to save Lavinia’s life. Cora still believes that Dr. Clarkson is capable and insists that he is present at the birth.
After several back and forths between the men, the baby is safely delivered and all seems well. Sybil is extremely tired and all go to sleep only to be awoken in the middle of the night to the news that she is in grave danger.
Branson is overcome with grief asking her not to leave him while all of her family members can only watch in horror as she succumbs to her condition. Cora seems the most affected and is found by Mary talking to her youngest child as if she is still with her. This will prove to be a great test to Lord and Lady Gratham’s marriage as she blames him for the outcome.
In other developments, Edith gets an offer from the newspaper that published her article to write regularly, for which Matthew congratulates her, but her father is not agreeable to the idea of her daughter doing such a thing. This causes Edith to say that no one cares about her.
Mrs. Crawley is still attempting to help Ethel, and she convinces her to join her staff as a kitchen maid. Mrs. Bird, her housekeeper, is appalled and quits, stating that she can not be expected to keep a reputation while working with a prostitute. One of the funniest lines of this somber episode came when, after Mrs. Bird insinuates that people might think she is involved in similar activities as Ethel, Mrs. Crawley says, “Nobody could look at you and think that, Mrs. Bird.” Mrs. Bird is not the most attractive woman.
Matthew has a very awkward conversation with Sir Philip in which he confides that he is concerned about whether his paralysis had any effects in his reproductive capabilities. The doctor assures him that if ‘everything is working properly’ there should be no problem, but since Mary is not pregnant yet, Matthew is anxious. The good old man tells him that anxiety is the enemy when it comes to getting pregnant. Awkward indeed.
Mary catches Matthew discussing estate affairs the day following Sybil’s demise and is not happy about that. Their relationship seems lukewarm at best.
Anna is finally allowed to see her husband, Mr. Bates, and has uncovered some evidence that could set him free.
We will see how everyone copes with the devastating death of Lady Sybil. They have already found someone to nurse the baby, but Branson is sure to be inconsolable.
Ironically, as Lady Sybil was dying, in one of the most gripping moments in the series, it was announced that Downton Abbey had received the SAG Award for Best Ensemble. Congratulations to them!