‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Everyone Suffers Sybil’s Labor Pains

Sun, January 27, 2013 10:00pm EST by 30 Comments
Downton Abbey Sybil Dies
Courtesy of PBS

The Crawley family was changed forever, as the show’s most dramatic season yet took another dark turn.

On the Jan. 27 episode of Downton Abbey, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) discovered a way to prove Bates’ innocence, Edith (Laura Carmichael) finally found a small amount of self-worth, and Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) gave birth to a perfectly healthy baby girl. But wait, this is Downton Abbey, right? Cue the unexpected, horrific tragedy…

Sybil began to show signs of eclampsia after the baby was born, and following a series of full-on seizures, she died. Dr. Clarkson tried to warn everybody, but no one ever listens to him. He’s like the Edith of the medical world.

Seeing the Crawleys and the rest of the abbey react to Sybil’s death was heartbreaking — don’t even get me started on how my sweet prince Tom (Allen Leech) wept by her bedside — but my favorite death-related interaction came courtesy of Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Edith.

Mary: She was the only person living who always thought you and I were such nice people.
Edith: Oh, Mary, do you think we might get along a little better in the future?
Mary: I doubt it, but since this is the last time we three shall all be together in this life, let’s love each other now, as sisters should.

(Translation: We may be the only two Crawley girls left, but you’re still f*****g awful, and we will never be friends. Carry on.)

The effects of Sybil’s death will be felt for many weeks to come, not only because Tom is now left to raise their daughter alone, but also because Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) clearly blames Robert (Hugh Bonneville) for letting her die. He’s in the dog house for sure — even if, given that this is Downton Abbey, the dog house is probably a two-story building with a full staff of servants.

Matthew Talks About His Penis

With everyone in the house excited about the new baby, Matthew (Dan Stevens) is starting to worry about beginning his own family with Mary, so he had a super-awkward chat with Sir Phillip about whether or not his peeper might be on the fritz. Mind you, this was long before Sir Phillip let Matthew’s sister-in-law die, so I really hope he doesn’t put too much stock in anything the “good” doctor has to say.

Downstairs Drama (aka Everybody Hates Daisy)

The relationships downstairs at the abbey became more complicated than ever this week. Here’s a rundown, in case you need a refresher: No one likes Daisy who likes Alfred who likes Ivy who likes Jimmy. (But seriously, no one likes Daisy. That point cannot be stressed enough. She’s the worst.)

Thomas also has his eye, and hands, on Jimmy; and O’Brien, whose God-awful hair is looking more God-awful than ever, is loving every minute of the uncomfortable drama. In fact, she’s egging on both sides, hoping Jimmy will get Thomas fired for “unseemly” behavior. Just when you think she can’t be a bigger bitch…

Ethel Parks: From Hooking To Cooking

Because this was such a heavy episode, let’s end on a lighter note by discussing what went down at Isabelle’s house. Because she’s a firm believer in “once a ho, always a ho,” Mrs. Bird refused to work alongside Ethel, so she quit. I’m OK with that for two reasons: First, Mrs. Bird has always sucked, and second, her quitting allowed Isabelle to make an incredible back-handed joke. When Mrs. Bird suggested people might think she‘d become a prostitute, Isabelle replied, “No one could look at you and think that, Mrs. Bird.” Burn!

Speaking of burning, Ethel pretty much screwed up everything she did this week, first by burning the kidney souffle, then by putting honey in the tea. She should go back to hooking, I think. At least she was good at that.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Were you devastated by Sybil’s death? Do you hate Daisy as much as I do? Drop all of your thoughts in the comments section below!

— Andy Swift

More Downton Abbey on HollywoodLife.com:

  1. ‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Tom & Sybil — International Fugitives?
  2. ‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Matthew & Mary’s Wedding Day Finally Arrives
  3. ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 3: Five Most Epic Moments To Look Forward To

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Frances

Posted at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2013  

Edith is awful? Mary is awful. She has been a venomous, snotty, horrible sister to Edith for years. And now Edith offers an olive branch over their sister’s DEAD BODY, and Mary turns it down with a typical snide remark. Cold-hearted b***h.

Edith wrote that stupid letter ten years ago. Time to let it go.

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perrym

Posted at 8:20 PM on January 28, 2013  

Fellowes did not want to be a Shakespeare. Jessica Brown Findlay and Dan Stevens refused to stay on the show, so Sybil and Mathew had to be killed.

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Datch

Posted at 6:42 AM on January 29, 2013  

Um…for those of us that are mere mortals and have not yet watched episodes that have not yet aired, we were not aware that Matthew died….perhaps best to focus on the topic of the post, and not offer spoilers?

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elleseventy

Posted at 7:17 PM on January 28, 2013  

It’s important to keep remembering this is fiction– it is a drama- a high end soap opera and its duty is to reflect true life situations, otherwise it wouldn’t be a good drama. We can’t expect shows to all be happily ever after fairy tales if we want a mature show. I love this show because of its richness and attention to detail. Young women died a lot in childbirth in those days- it was their reality. It was a very moving episode and so well done that obviously many people have taken it as a real event. The actress who plays the part is alive and well– just remember that and continue to enjoy the show for what it is– a great drama- it’s funny, but we don’t seem to mind all the police shows and “action” movies with all sorts of horrible things in them.

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Martha

Posted at 9:00 AM on January 29, 2013  

That’s because DA is an ongoing drama, where we are allowed time to love, like and dislike the characters. Sybil was so special and a breath of fresh air. I will miss her and was so looking forward to her character returning, oh well I guess they know what their doing.

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Frances

Posted at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2013  

No, they don’t.

 
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eileen drape

Posted at 6:42 PM on January 28, 2013  

Count me out of “Downton Abbey.” Sorry, but killing off Sybil was a big mistake. It breached the trust that had been established between the creator and audience. That relationship was built on the sense that this was harmless entertainment – a drama yes, but not high tragedy. We know that conflicts were central, but we also knew it would not take a turn into the abyss. Yes, peripheral characters died (like Lavinia) but we were not at all invested in those characters. Then came the terrible ordeal of Sybil, and the trust was broken. It was like killing off Little Joe on “Bonanza.” It was inconsistent with the long-established trust that the story would not turn deeply dark – that this was Dickens, not Shakespeare. But our trust was broken. Clearly Fellowes decided, yes, he could be Shakespeare – an over-reach. In the end, the show has failed as what it was and for the reason it became popular — that we knew it was harmless and wouldn’t reek havoc on our souls. He set us up — so don’t count on me any further. I’m done with Downton. And I’m not the only one.

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Jane Cosgrove

Posted at 3:41 PM on January 30, 2013  

You obviously have not read a lot of Dickens. Check out his later novels.

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Laurel

Posted at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2013  

I love Downton Abbey and was happily watching Sunday’s latest episode when Sybil’s very sudden and unexpected demise suddenly became very personal for me. It was like watching my own mother’s life and near death being re-lived. My mother nearly died of Eclampsia in the 1930′s. She, like the Sybil character, was newly married, young and experiencing her first pregnancy. Out of no where, as she had no symptoms, her blood pressure went through the roof. Within a few hours her health went from normal appearing to a series of seizures and then to a coma. An emergency therapeutic abortion was the only option known then. My 24-year-old father had to make the life and death decision. He chose life for my mother but she still lingered in a coma for three months and did not walk again or remember much for an entire year. Though she later recovered and eventually gave birth to three other children she was never quite the same person she had been before that tragic situation. She only mentioned the story once to me but I know she quietly grieved from it for the rest of her life.

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JK71618

Posted at 3:01 PM on January 28, 2013  

Sybil’s death last night was tragic, but I could not believe the way Robert acted. This is the second week in a row where I feel like his ego has gotten in the way. Last week I felt the way he was treating Matthew was terrible. I’m just catching up with this week’s episode because I was working late at DISH last night, so I wasn’t home to watch it air. I’ve been able to keep up so far this season though, thanks to my DISH Hopper. It can record over 400 hours of HD programming, so having free space isn’t an issue for me. I have both seasons of Downton Abbey, the five seasons of Fringe, and American Horror Story all with plenty of space for Downton’s third season to watch at my convenience.

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ChristinaF

Posted at 1:27 PM on January 28, 2013  

You couldn’t help but to see Sybil’s death coming when the idiot doctor Robert brought into the household, but I still held out hope for her. :(

I’m also so ready for this whole Bates thing to be over with…enough already!!

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Connecticut Sam

Posted at 1:17 AM on January 28, 2013  

Sybil was the best looking woman in the family. i will miss her for sure.

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Andy Swift

Posted at 8:41 AM on January 28, 2013  

As Mrs. Hughes said, she was “the sweetest spirit under this roof.”

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Khahilia Rose

Posted at 12:19 AM on January 28, 2013  

that was the most awful, horrible thing ever. and i knew it was going to happen from the moment the stupid snobbery doctors started. i, quite frankly, hate julian fellowes for doing this (ratings? this is what happens when a show gets popular) and I now thoroughly detest robert and his snobbery. cora finally showed her stripes. but my god, if only she had done it sooner.
sybil was without a doubt the most redeeming character of the series.
broke my heart.

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Andy Swift

Posted at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2013  

I don’t hate Julian Fellowes. Making good drama means making tough choices.

Plus, we don’t know what went on behind the scenes. Maybe Jessica wanted to be killed off.

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Carrie

Posted at 6:03 PM on February 15, 2013  

My guess is Jessica wanted out as she has at least three movies coming out this year.

 
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Mary Jo Proctor

Posted at 10:58 PM on January 27, 2013  

A true depiction of the horrors of toxemia which was very true of the mortality issue at the time in the United Kingdom. It is too bad the trusted doctor by Lord G blew it since Cora will never let him live that down.

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Andy Swift

Posted at 11:19 PM on January 27, 2013  

Oh, trust me, she does NOT let him forget it.

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Frances

Posted at 5:29 PM on July 15, 2013  

Actually she forgives him way too quickly. She is fierce for half an episode and then goes back on her Valium.

 
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Mary

Posted at 9:33 AM on January 28, 2013  

Mary Jo, my grandmother died in 1923′ after giving birth to my Father, she was 36 yrs old, to old at the time to have a child, they said (the Doctor’s). How things have changed in the 21 century!

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Muriel watson

Posted at 10:43 PM on January 27, 2013  

Stunned. Heartbroken for Sybil, and her baby who will grow up without a mother. And with a radical father, who will likely turn into a hotheaded fool, w/out Sybil to soften his ideals into reality. I like Daisy. It’s like no one ever valued her when she was young. She is guileless, and doesn’t have social skills to handle her emotions. She’s the same as Thomas. Neither believe they have value, they just react differently. I hope it comes to light that Ethel has a juicy black book, w/aristocrats that enjoyed her services. That ought to be a interesting twist, her serving dinner to snooty wives of men she serviced. Watching them cringe.

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Andy Swift

Posted at 11:19 PM on January 27, 2013  

That would be a fun twist, but for now, I’m just having fun watching her screw up. Her scenes with Isabelle tonight were hilarious, in an episode mostly devoid of humor.

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Abbeyfan

Posted at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2013  

That was the saddest episode yet on Downton Abbey. Sybil dying was heartbreaking but seeing Thomas Barrow cry over her death got me. I feel badly for Thomas, he really is a damaged soul. I don’t see his future being very bright though, thanks to O’Brien. The acting on Downton Abbey is brilliant. My favorite character though is Violet. Maggie Smith has the best lines in the show! I’m beginning to hate Robert. His snobbery cost him his daughter’s life and Cora will never forgive him for that.

 
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Martha

Posted at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2013  

Llet’s hope the baby’s grandfather is one of them!!!!!

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