Downton Abbey: So…Yeah

Previously on Downton Abbey: Branson got himself kicked out of Ireland, Edith found a new vocation, Ethel was looked down upon and gave up her child, and a handsome new footman arrived, to Thomas’s delight.

Late at night, Clarkson arrives to check on Sybil, whose been experiencing pains a bit early. Clarkson reassures her that everything is all right, and then goes out into the hallway to reassure the menfolk of the same. Branson is rather adorably relieved. Clarkson tells them the birth is imminent, though, and Robert tells him that another doctor will be arriving the next day. “If you think it advisable,” says Clarkson, in a tone that says he certainly does not. Well, Clarkson, considering your medical track record, yes, I think I’d call for competent backup too.

The next morning, the servants discuss the impending arrival, until Carson shuts them down and sends everyone off with the warning to be quiet and not bother Sybil. The new kitchen maid’s all cheery and says she’s happy to have a new baby in the house and Daisy snaps at her that it’ll make no difference in her day-to-day. Even O’Brien’s a little thrown by her attitude.

Apparently Cora’s having second thoughts about having another doctor come to care for Sybil, so Robert reminds her how Clarkson screwed up royally with Matthew and then missed all the warning signs with Lavinia. She doesn’t feel like this other doctor knows them well enough, so Robert compromises by saying he’ll ask the man to include Clarkson in all discussions and deliberations. Jesus, folks, it’s childbirth, not neurosurgery.

Belowstairs, O’Brien asks the new footman, Jimmy, how he’s getting along and, when he tells her he gets to wind the clocks, she smilingly tells him that marks him out as first footman more than anything else. Unfortunately, Jimmy knows nothing about clocks. O’Brien suggests he ask Thomas, since he’s the clock expert in the household. She goes on to suggest he stay on Thomas’s good side, since he’s got the ear of Robert and all.

Sybil’s telling Mary how much it sucks to be pregnant, what with the swelling body and headaches, and Mary disingenuously says she’s dying to have one of her own, no matter how awful it is. Sybil had apparently planned to have the baby raised Catholic, but she’s realised that, if the baby’s born at Downton, it’ll be christened there as well, and I’m guessing they’ve got a vicar, not a priest locally. Mary tells her she doesn’t have to raise the baby Catholic if she doesn’t want to, and Sybil doesn’t seem to care what the kid’s religion is. Mary promises to stand up for her, whatever her choice.

Thomas is showing Jimmy how to wind clocks and is getting really inappropriately touchy-feely, even as he tells him not to go past the point where the clock is comfortable. Jimmy’s starting to look like they’ve gone considerably past where he’s comfortable.

Anna finally goes to see Bates again and they go over the details from Anna’s visit to Mrs. Bartlett. Bates brings up the fact that Bartlett remembered Vera scrubbing pastry from under her nails, because he remembers the pie she was making: it’s the one she had for dinner that night. She must have put the poison in it. Anna figures that this means Vera planned the whole thing; that she used her suicide to frame Bates for murder. She says she hopes Vera’s burning in hell. Don’t worry, Anna, she is.

Isobel has summoned Ethel to Crawley House to see how she’s doing and offer her a job helping Mrs. Bird. Yeah, Bird’ll love that. Ethel’s grateful for the offer, but she knows the other ladies in the family won’t approve. Isobel, of course, stands by her and says they’ll face them all together.

One of the guards has a chat with Bates’s cellmate, who tells him about Anna’s visit. Guard pours some fuel on the cellmate’s hate fire and asks him to find out where Bates keeps his letters.

Mary and Matthew are having a walk around the estate—a really crappy part of it, which Matthew says hasn’t been properly looked after or invested in because some elderly tenant lives there who can’t care for it. Matthew thinks it’d be cheaper to put the old man in a free cottage and have the land worked as it should be. He believes Robert’s still living in a dream world where money is plentiful and being businesslike is gross. Talk turns to Sybil and Matthew observes that Branson seems so thrilled and terrified at the same time, just like Matthew will be. You guys, you can talk about having a baby till you’re blue in the face, but it’s not going to improve your almost nonexistent chemistry. What happened with these two?

The new doctor, Sir Philip, has arrived and is having dinner with the family. Violet brings up one of his patients, a duchess, and the doctor says she had a tough time when she was first married, but he told her he’d get a baby out of her one way or another. Ha! Robert actually spit-takes and Carson nearly dies on the spot. Sir Phil says Sybil should be just fine and all they need is someone knowledgeable in childbirth. When the others bring up Clarkson, he says he’s fine including him, if it makes them feel better.

After dinner, Anna quietly asks Robert for a word and follows him into the library. Branson heads upstairs, giving Matthew some alone time with Sir Phil. Matthew mentions his wartime injury and asks him if said injury might have harmed his fertility. Matthew, your wife’s frigidity is hurting your fertility. Sir Phil asks if everything’s working properly (it is) and tells Matthew that sometimes these things take more than just a couple of months. True—I heard it takes the average couple about 5 months to conceive. He tells him to chill out and let nature take its course.

Anna’s told Robert all about the Pastry of Doom, and Robert can’t believe the police missed all this. Anna tells him Mrs. Bartlett never spoke to the police (wow, the police didn’t think to talk to the last person Vera spoke to? Why? What a terrible police force). Robert tells Anna Bartlett might not accept Bates was innocent and may not be willing to give a statement. So, they’ll have to get it fast, before she realises it could set him free. Robert promises to telephone Murray and summon him north to talk to both Anna and Bates. He congratulates her on finding the proof.

Over breakfast, Edith tells Matthew that the editor of The Sketch wants to give her a regular column. Off the strength of a single letter to the editor? Which actually wasn’t even published (from what we saw, only a commentary on it was published)? Ok, whatever. It’s a once a week column and she can write whatever she wants. That’s dangerously wide open, especially for a novice writer. Robert harshly tells her he only wants her because of her name and title. Man, what a supreme asshole he is. Matthew defends her, good man, but Edith’s fed up with this shit and tells him not to bother, because she’s always a failure in this family. As she stomps out, Robert gets a look on his face like, “What did I do?”

Bird’s gone to Isobel and told her she can’t work with Ethel, because she’ll be tarnished by association. In her mind, people will assume she was a prostitute as well. “No one could look at you and think that, Mrs. Bird,” says Isobel. Ha! I don’t know if that was supposed to be funny, but it was. Also, what kind of crazy logic is Bird using here? Why would anyone assume she worked in the same profession as Ethel, just because they’re working in the same house? I think she’s just making excuses. Isobel sticks to her guns and tells Bird she’s sorry to lose her, then. Bird looks a little shocked.

Ivy, the new kitchenmaid, is chatting flirtatiously with the footmen. Daisy comes in and orders her about, and when she’s gone, Ivy tells the boys Daisy doesn’t like her, and she has no idea why. Doesn’t seem to be bothering her too much, though. Alfred tells her that’s crazy and she asks Jimmy if he thinks the same. He evades the question and takes off.

Mary and Edith come down for dinner and find Tom waiting. They say how sorry they are the baby couldn’t be born in Dublin, but he says that nothing means more than Sybil. Oh, look at him, making up for lost ground. I’m almost coming around to genuinely liking him again. How refreshing!

They all go into the sitting room and find the others chatting away. Violet’s come for dinner and will continue coming until the baby’s born, because she hates getting news secondhand. I’m surprised she hasn’t just moved into the house for the duration. Cora mentions that Clarkson might be stopping by that evening, which gives Sir Phil a perfect segue into a decision he and Robert made: no Clarkson in the delivery room. Cora says tightly that she promised she’d call him, and Edith jumps in to volunteer to nip down to the village in the car and drive him back. She’s a modern woman, you know!

In the kitchen, Daisy fires off a bunch of instructions at Ivy. When her back’s turned, Alfred jumps in and helps her with something (remember him mentioning wanting to be a chef?). Daisy returns and sees the hollandaise sauce has curdled. Alfred says Ivy can fix it, so Daisy leaves her to do so. Naturally, he manages to save the hollandaise and lets Ivy take the credit. Once Alfred’s gone with the sauce, Patmore makes Daisy thank Ivy for pulling their asses out of the fire, and then warns her that Alfred won’t like her better for being harsh with Ivy.

Upstairs, there’s some minor tussling over the first/second footman position. Why hasn’t Carson clarified this yet? The pecking order amongst servants was very important in households such as this, and the first footman would have responsibilities under footmen wouldn’t have, so it makes no sense that this hasn’t been set down in stone yet.

The conversation has stalled, so Matthew asks Edith if she’s written back to the editor. This leads to the revelation to Violet that Edith’s been invited to write for a newspaper. Oh, she’ll love that, I’m sure. Indeed, she runs the idea down as well. “See?” Edith says knowingly to Matthew.

Suddenly, in comes the nurse, which is the signal they all need that Sybil’s gone into labour. Everyone rushes out. Jimmy reports to the kitchen that dinner’s been put on hold.

Clarkson tells the assembled family, which is waiting in the library, that they’re concerned about Sybil because her ankles are swollen (isn’t that fairly normal late in pregnancy?) and she seems a little muddled. Sir Phil isn’t concerned and bundles Clarkson out of the room for a word. Cora worries about him bullying Clarkson into silence.

Outside the room, Sir Phil tells Clarkson he’s alarming everyone for no reason. Clarkson snaps that he thinks Sybil has toxemia and preeclampsia. WHAT? Where the hell did that diagnosis come from? Swollen ankles? Ok, yes, swelling can indicate eclampsia (which, by the way, is the same thing as toxemia, so he just diagnosed her twice for the same thing), but that’s usually very sudden swelling of ankles and face, which Clarkson (and Sir, Philip, really) should have picked up on during a previous exam, along with other symptoms like those headaches she mentioned and high blood pressure. Those, by the way, are symptoms of mild eclampsia; severe eclampsia has much more extreme symptoms that a doctor would have to be a complete moron to overlook. Just diagnosing a fairly unusual pregnancy complication off of a heavily pregnant woman’s enlarged ankles is quite a leap. And even if that were true, it’s a bit late to do anything about it just now, she’s already in labour! What insane technology is he going to whip out of his cummerbund to fix that? Please, please don’t let him be right about this, because it’s just too dumb for words. Sir Phil says this all seems totally normal to him and thinks Sybil just has thicker than average ankles. Clarkson, who’s closely acquainted with Sybil’s ankle development since birth, says she doesn’t. Sir Phil tells him to just relax. How come neither of you are checking her blood pressure to confirm or reject this diagnosis?

Ethel’s trying to make dinner at Crawley House and mucking it up rather badly, mostly because she’s being a bit too ambitious.

Belowstairs at Downton, Molesley pulls Carson aside and shows him a letter he received from Bird, telling him all about the circumstances of her leaving.

Upstairs, Sybil’s sweating and trying to hold it together while Tom tries to distract her by talking about a brother he has in Liverpool they can live near. She bears down when another pain comes and tells him they can just lie back and look at the stars. Tom’s concerned but Sir Phil says this is normal. Really? Being that out of it? I will say, that’s a bit strange, even if you’re in quite a bit of pain. From what I can tell, though, that’s not a sign of eclampsia. Clarkson comes steaming in with Cora to demand a urine sample to test, presumably for protein. They had those tests then? Sybil asks Clarkson if she’s on duty and he reassures her she’s not.

Carson is enraged to hear that Isobel hired a prostitute to keep her house. Hughes tells him this isn’t just some random, it’s Ethel, and all Isobel’s doing is trying to help her out. Carson tells her none of this matters—now, no respectable person can be seen entering Isobel’s house. Hughes insists Ethel’s given it all up and asks if they can just keep quiet for the time being. Carson grudgingly agrees but says none of the maids or footmen are to go to the house.

Clarkson’s reporting back to the family that he thinks Sybil’s got eclampsia, though Phil thinks this is nonsense. Clarkson reports that the baby is small, she’s confused, and there’s too much protein in her urine, which grosses Robert out. Quick question—how long has Sybil been at Downton? Shouldn’t Clarkson have been checking on her, especially after her sudden flight form Dublin? Eclampsia is not usually something that just pops up all of a sudden when a woman goes into labour, there are signs of it ahead of time, like high blood pressure and, well, protein in her urine. If the baby’s small, why didn’t he note that earlier? Even if he’s right (and I’m sure he will be), he’s still really fallen down on the diagnostic job here. Clarkson wants to take Sybil to the hospital and perform a caesarean. This from the guy who wouldn’t even treat dropsy a couple of seasons ago. Phil is not on board with this, because a caesarean is a major operation and was extremely dangerous at the time, even in a hospital. Robert takes Phil’s side, but Mary tells him this isn’t his kid and asks how Tom feels. Robert says Tom hasn’t hired Philip and is not master here, so he doesn’t get a say in his own wife’s and child’s health. Man, I HATE Robert so much now. What a completely useless pompous ass. This is not your decision you self-centred douchebag! Cora and Violet tell Robert he’s being ridiculous and they need to talk to Tom.

Anna reports to Hughes and Carson that all does not seem well.

Tom seems to be leaning towards taking Sybil to the hospital, and even Philip seems to be waffling a bit. Robert says that Phil’s sure he’ll bring Sybil through safely, while Clarkson can’t guarantee she’ll survive an operation. Cora desperately reminds Robert that Clarkson’s known Sybil all her life, like that really matters here. They hear Sybil start screaming and all run in the direction of her room.

Ethel delivers some after-dinner coffee to Isobel that’s got honey in it, because Ethel’s sort of an idiot.

At Downton, almost everyone’s pacing back and forth in the library, anxious. Mary bursts in, all smiles, and tells Tom he has a daughter, and both she and Sybil are fine. Ha! Clarkson, wrong again! Worst. Doctor. Ever. Except, of course she’s going to succumb to some late infection or something that proves him right in the end.

Tom cuddles his wife and child and tells Sybil how much he loves her, and it’s terribly, terribly sweet. Sybil says she wants to sleep, so everyone departs. Before her mother goes, Sybil tells Cora about the job Tom’s been considering in Liverpool. Cora tells her not to worry about it, but Sybil keeps babbling and, oh, god, she’s going to die, isn’t she? She’s just talking too much for that not to be the case. Cora bids her youngest goodnight and Sybil settles down to sleep.

Out in the hallway, Cora and Robert embrace happily and Cora apologises for doubting him and Phil. Clarkson pouts in the background. Phil suggests they all get some sleep.

Carson reports the birth to the servants and Thomas smiles over the good news. Jimmy asks if he’s fond of Sybil and Thomas says he is, because she’s a lovely person, just like Jimmy. Jimmy looks supremely creeped out, which O’Brien notices and immediately takes advantage of, asking him if anything’s wrong. Once Thomas is gone, Jimmy says he’s awfully familiar. She says that’s a good sign, because it’ll mean he’ll put in a good word with Robert. Jimmy wants to tell him to keep his distance, but O’Brien says that’s a sure way to get sacked.

Late at night, Mary wakes her parents and tells them something’s wrong with Sybil. They all rush into her bedroom, where everyone’s gathered and Clarkson’s…giving her a shot or something. They had time to summon Clarkson before waking Sybil’s parents? Actually, it seems like they waited until the last second to wake the parents, which is rather odd. They brought in her sisters and her brother-in-law before her own mother. Sybil’s writhing in pain, screaming about her head as Mary tries to put a compress on it, Tom weeps, and Matthew looks horrified. She begins to convulse in a very convincing fit. Clarkson says this is eclampsia while Philip looks rather lost. Clarkson says this is hopeless, because once the seizures start, there’s nothing to be done. Crap, I knew it. Cora and Tom try to tell her to breathe, but she can’t. Everyone watches in horror as Sybil asphyxiates right in front of them. Well, shit.

Naturally, right on cue, the baby starts to cry in another room.

The staff have just received the news from Carson, who can barely hold it together. Anna and some of the others are crying. Thomas leaves the room suddenly and Hughes steps forward to embrace Daisy, who starts to sob. Anna follows Thomas and finds him weeping in the hallway. He says Sybil was one of the few people who was genuinely kind to him in life.

Hughes goes to Carson’s room, where she finds him staring off into the distance. She gently asks if he’s ok and he tells her he’s known her since she was born. They cry together.

Cora’s sitting with her daughter’s body, reassuring her they’ll look after both Tom and the baby. Mary comes in and tells her mother she needs to go to bed, because she’ll need her strength for tomorrow. Cora says this is her chance to say goodbye to her baby. Mary offers to stay, unless Cora prefers to be alone. Cora does, but she thanks her, and asks her to tell Robert to sleep in the dressing room. Something tells me he’s going to be in there for a good long time.

The next morning, Murray arrives, probably unaware of the utter mess he’s just wandered into. Matthew meets with him and tells him he probably won’t be able to see Robert that day. Murray completely understands. Carson brings Anna in and Matthew offers to leave them to it, but first he asks to have a word with Murray before he goes. He and Carson leave Anna with him.

Edith tiptoes into Sybil’s room to tell Tom that the undertakers have arrived. Mary’s with him, and she steps forward to kiss Sybil and bid her farewell. Edith tearfully does the same. Mary, staring down almost curiously at her sibling, observes that Sybil was the only person in the world who thought she and Edith were nice. Edith cries a little harder and wonders if they’ll get along a little better in the future. Mary doubts that’s going to happen. Why not? Can you not make the effort or something? Jesus, she sucks. Honestly, it seems like they’d been getting along fairly well these days anyhow, so I don’t know what she’s on about.

Anna tells Murray about Bartlett and what she knows.

Poor Tom’s now all alone with Sybil. He takes her hand and sobs.

Matthew’s now meeting with Murray and apparently telling him he wants to make some changes to the management of Downton, which Murray is pleased to hear. Mary comes in just then and is disgusted with them for talking business at such a time and without Robert. Murray explains he’s only there to see Anna, and now he’s off to see Bates to see what he has to say. Murray asks Mary to send his condolences to her parents and gives Matthew a great look that says, “Good luck with this one, man.” Once he’s gone, Matthew apologises to Mary for talking business and she snaps that her father’s just lost his daughter, and does he has to lose his estate on the same day? Mary, were you not paying attention? Murray was just saying that this would save the estate! Sorry, sweetheart, but time moves on and things need to be done. It’s not like Matthew and Murray can just Skype or something.

Murray’s visiting Bates, who can only talk about the loss of Sybil. Murray promises to do what he can for him as the visit comes to an end. From a distance, the crooked guard and Cellmate observe and guess the man’s Bates’s lawyer. Guard says the man’s going to get a shock when he contacts Mrs. Bartlett. Jesus, Bates just can’t catch a break.

Violet arrives at Downton, veiled and dressed in black. At the door, she greets Carson and sadly says they’ve both seen some troubles, but this is certainly the worst. Both Maggie Smith and the makeup people are really to be commended here, because she looks so terribly pale and haggard as she slowly makes her way through the hall, weeping.

She joins the family in the sitting room. Robert reports that they’ve found a nurse for the baby. She asks after Tom and hears he’s upstairs, and they keep asking if he wants anything, but he doesn’t. Cora says he wants his wife back, but he can’t have that. She then gets up to write a letter to Clarkson, apologising for their behaviour. She thinks that if they’d listened to him Sybil would still be alive. No guarantee of that, Cora. She could very well have died on the operating table. She sweeps out and Violet quietly observes that, when tragedy strikes, we all want someone to blame, and when there’s no one readily available, we usually blame ourselves. She reassures Robert that it’s not his fault Sybil died, it’s just that horrible, horrible things happen. All that can be done is to cherish the memory of the one lost and the life of the new child. But Robert hollowly says that he is, in a sense, to blame for this.

The camera sweeps up the exterior of the house and catches Tom holding his baby, standing by the window, alone.

Jesus, between this and the last episode of Hunderby, I’m starting to rather rethink those plans to start a family. I need to go watch something cheerful now.



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