This has been a hard couple of weeks for me in terms of TV.
Fringe went off the air with Walter walking into the light, Parenthood had an emotionally-charged season finale and Liz Lemon will blerg for the last time later this week. Then there was Sunday night’s episode of Downton Abbey.
I think the reason why this TV show that could has taken North America by storm is that it takes massive risks with story arc and character developments, which most North American shows are too scared to do. But before I get into that, I’ll get all the other things that happened in this episode out of the way.
A love quadrilateral was brewing downstairs. Daisy had eyes for Alfred, who had eyes for Ivy, who had eyes for Jimmy, who had eyes for Ivy. Oh, and did I mention that Thomas threw himself into the mix because he’s hot for Jimmy, mainly because O’Brien put it in his head that Jimmy wants him too? Daisy thought that berating Ivy would make a difference, but it was actually pushing Alfred closer to Ivy. Clearly, Daisy knows nothing about the opposite sex. I hope Mrs. Patmore can her be love guru, as I’m secretly rooting for a Daisy/Alfred union. I think they would be all sorts of adorkable. Not Zooey Deschanel annoying adorkable. Like legit, Cory and Topanga adorkable.
Meanwhile, Isobel hired Ethel in the hopes of turning her into a fine cook. I hope Isobel has insurance on her house, because it looked like it was about to go up in flames. Carson got wind of this and forbid any of the employees from going to Isobel’s because if they did, they might be seen as ladies of the evening in Downton. Aw, Mr. Carson. Your old-fashioned ways are so adorable.
Now, while Downton Abbey has been known to make me smile, laugh and swoon, Sunday’s episode threw a massive, yet necessary, curveball. Lady Sybil died after giving birth to her daughter. Yeah, let’s just take that in for a second and absorb it.
I honestly thought that if anyone on this show was to bite the big one, it would be someone downstairs, or a character that breezed through Downton (cough, Mamut). But with this episode, Julian Fellowes reminded us that all the riches in the world can’t save the Crawley family from grief and heartache, and that nobody is safe, something that I think other shows can take into consideration (I’m looking at you , Homeland and Vampire Diaries).
While Sybil was in labour, the family was alerted by Dr. Clarkson that there was something wrong. Still, Sir Phillip remained adamant that everything was fine. The man was far too stubborn to heed the advise of a physician that he thought was beneath him and, in my opinion, he was to blame (along with Robert) for the death of Sybil.
Could Sybil’s death have been prevented? Probably. Would she have lived if Robert listened to Dr. Clarkson? Maybe. But I’m guessing that, as a concerned parent, Robert wasn’t going to gamble the life of his unborn child on a whim of a local doctor. But then again, this season has been the season of Robert’s stubbornness and inability to listen to reason. It almost sent Downton into ruins, it sent Sybil to Ireland in the first place and it, indirectly, cost her her life.
Can I just say that Jessica Brown Findlay is a fine actress? Her future is a bright one as her death scene brought me to tears. And poor Tom. We were never really treated to his and Sybil’s love story during Season 2, like we were with Anna/Bates and Mary/Matthew. But the way he held on to Sybil’s arm as life slipped away from her truly conveyed the star-crossed lovers aspect of their brief romance.
While the Crawleys were in complete shock over their sudden loss, the staff downstairs took it just as hard, mainly Thomas and Carson. It was actually nice to see a side of Thomas that we haven’t seen in nearly three seasons: a sense of realness and vulnerability. Can we see this Thomas more often, please? As for Mr. Carson, I believe he considers Mary, Edith and Sybil the children that he never had. But, in true Carson fashion, he was steadfast and held his head high as a sort of inspiration for the rest of the staff to keep moving on.
In the end, Cora went through one of the stages of grief, directing the blame squarely at Robert. But, honestly, can you blame her?
Next week Cora and Robert are at odds, Tom insists his daughter be a Catholic and Bates is still in jail.
What did you think of Sunday’s episode? Will Tom stay at Downton? Will Cora ever forgive Robert? Comment below.
Downton Abbey airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.