An Irish Goodbye
The episode begins with Sybil in labor and the arrival of the pompous doctor, Sir Philip Tapsell (Tim Pigott-Smith) -- which spells bad news when there are two doctors to deal with. Then again, Dr. Clarkson's (David Robb) track record isn't exactly stellar -- "he'll never walk again!" Sybil shows early signs of pre-labor "muddlement," which concerns Dr. Clarkson, while Dr. Philip just chalks everything up to her thick ankles. Excuse me, but Lady Sybil does not have cankles. Clarkson sees signs of eclampsia and recommends a caesarian but Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) thinks it's too risky and sides with the upper-crust doctor. Just as Sybil brings a new baby girl into the world and all seems peachy, she suffers fits of seizures and dies in one of the most convincing and almost too-disturbing-to-watch death scenes in recent memory.
Bates Catches a Break
Despite the grim turn of events during this week's episode, there is a glimmer of hope for another Downton couple due to Anna's (Joanne Froggatt) sleuthing work; she tracked down a possible witness to emancipate Bates (Brendan Coyle) from prison. The proof is in the pudding -- or pie, so to speak -- with Vera's friend Mrs. Bartlett (Clare Higgins), who witnesses the former Mrs. Bates bake her own suicide pie. Hopefully this will spell the end for Bates's own mini-show, The Prison Diaries. The Hooker Help
Housemaid turned hooker Ethel (Amy Nuttall) is back (yawn), but this time she's running the Crawley household. Mrs. Crawley (Penelope Wilton) offers her a leg up: to earn an honest living and work as a housemaid again in her home. Mrs. Bird ( Christine Lohr), the resident cook, is having none of it and quits immediately. While I applaud Mrs. Crawley's altruistic heart, she's become sort of the Angelina Jolie of this show, trying to rescue the less fortunate and not really thinking about the social impact. We'll see how this plays out in the big house.
A Family Divided
Sybil's death not only shocks the family but also drives a deep wedge of resentment between Robert and Cora ( Elizabeth McGovern). Cora pleaded with the family to listen to Dr. Clarkson's advice, while Robert blindly followed the person who had "Sir" in his title. Cora blames Robert for Sybil's death, and perhaps, rightly so. Meanwhile, Matthew (Dan Stevens) still has to get to the bottom of Downton's money troubles, and a distraught Mary (Michelle Dockery) sees it as Matthew picking apart the estate, ergo her father, which fuels the family feud further.
It's been rumored that not all of the cast would be returning for Season 4 -- but I did not see this one coming. If Downton has taught us anything, it is the importance of keeping a stiff upper lip, as the English do. Hopefully next week will bring brighter days.
"The decision lies with the chauffeur."
--Dowager Countess deciding who makes the call on Sybil's delivery.
"I think he equates being business-like with being mean. Or worse, middle class, like me."
--Matthew complaining about Lord Grantham.
"She was the only person living who thought you and I were such nice people."
--Mary referring to Sybil's favorable view of her sisters.
"Honestly, I cannot recommend this to anyone."
--Sybil's fate-sealing words on pregnancy.
"Mrs. Crawley has hired a prostitute to manage her house?"
--Carson referring to Ethel.