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Downton Abbey Review: The Grief Goes On

by at . Comments

In Downton Abbey episode 305, everyone is still reeling from the death of Sybil -while trying to figure out what the future holds - as the lifestyle Downton has held so dear is slowly deteriorating as time goes by.

It's been an amazing turn of events to see Mary and Matthew become a happily married couple. They've earned each other's trust and are deeply in love. Matthew has stepped up to the plate with regard to his investment in Downton, and his support has given Mary even more confidence to stand tall against her father when she believes in something.

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Even the relationship between Isobel and the Granthams has come a long way, considering Mary insisted Isobel stay for dinner because they can all use a little cheering up. Very slowly, the dynamics of the running of Downton are changing and it's interesting (and frustrating) to see it all play out.

I adored the conversation Matthew had with Mary when he asked if she thought Sybil knew she was going to die when she told Mary about Christening her baby as a Catholic. That launched them off into a conversation about not taking anything for granted, including each other, loving each other until their dying breath and how they should be used to young death after the war.

That conversation would lead me to believe the harbinger of death isn't finished with Downton, not at all.

Meanwhile, Robert Grantham and his high horse made quite the appearance during the episode, didn't he? The only agreeable thing he has done lately is admit he might have had a wee bit of culpability in Sybil's death. Other than that? Let's tick off the offenses this week:

  • Tom's decision to name his baby Sybil is "ghoulish."
  • Mary and the family standing beside her sister's decision to Christen baby Sybil as Catholic sent him into a rage.
  • He wouldn't even listen to Matthew's observations about the mismanagement of Downton.
  • His offensive remarks when speaking to Matthew in front of Tom and comparing it to speaking in front of the household staff.
  • Barging into Isobel's house to remove his ladies from the presence of Ethel the former prostitute.

Carson's taking a page out of the Earl's book and I can't even find his prudishness amusing any longer. I cannot help but wonder what Downton Abbey Season 4 will bring, as the times continue to change and the need for household help dwindles. Between him and Robert, they are stomping their feet and trying to stick with the old ways of life, but times are changing whether they like it or not.

Daisy had a fantastic offer from Mr. Mason - to be handed her future through his tenancy. She would no longer be in service and could write her own destiny. With the many setbacks she's receiving at the hands of the men of the kitchen, Alfred and Jimmy, might she just take him up on it and leave Downton? I wish that she would. Daisy deserves a life, even if it means viewers lose the spunky Daisy in the Downton kitchen.

It would seem the older men are the ones finding the societal changes the most disagreeable. Robert, Carson and Mr. Molesley were all out of sorts about Ethel working for Isobel. Even Violet didn't want to pass up a good pudding even if it was prepared by a former prostitute, deciding that good servants are hard to come by. Those two lines didn't make it all the way to the big time, but you'll find some other great ones on the Downton Abbey quotes page.

Violet was showing her softer side this week as she ached for both Cora and Robert in their grief over the loss of Sybil. Knowing that losing their marriage wouldn't help either of them, she asked Dr. Clarkson to tell a bit of a lie about Sybil's chances of survival if she had had the surgery so Cora and Robert could reconcile. Her heart was in the right place, but it was difficult for him to do. Cora and Robert sobbing together showed it was the right call. Maybe, just maybe, it will knock Robert off that damned horse he's on.

Oh, who am I kidding? Matthew is going to have to challenge him to a jousting match or something to get him off that horse. Wouldn't that be a sight to see?

I'm  hoping Tom decides to stick around and help with the management of Downton, that Edith takes the writing job and I'm interested to see what happens when Bates gets home. Did I forget to mention? He'll finally be set free. Thank God that dud of a plot line is finally over!

Take to the comments with your thoughts and wishes. Until next week!

Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (30 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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i so hope robert get the stick out you know where soon. tom is the father of that child. it's up to him and him alone what he names the child and how she is raise.

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CONTINUED FROM BELOW: It's likely all of his life Thomas has been lonely and despairing of finding the kind of loving companionship that everyone around him, above stairs and below, take for granted--which has kept him guarded and resentful. He was and still is truly grief-stricken at the death of the kind and forward-thinking Sybil, and knows that if Bates returns his own days at valet to Lord Robert are numbered. The watchful and perceptive O'Brien knows all of this if she knows anything. That she could steer her old frenemy toward such a level of humiliation, heartbreak and pain is difficult to comprehend and will be excrutiating to watch.

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I too loved the way the women stood up to the men in this episode. It was quite beautiful the way each of them in her way supported one another, with the possible exceptions of young Daisy's continuing jealousy of Ivy, and especially the implacable O'Brien, who is becoming more malevolent with every passing season. It's chilling to watch her cold calculation as she manipulates both Jimmy and Thomas, setting them on an obvious collision course. Jimmy has done nothing to deserve being played like this, he's merely an ambitious newcomer eager to find a comfortable place for himself within the household. And Thomas--as insufferable and spiteful as Thomas can be and has been, what O'Brien is setting him up for is beyond the bounds of decency. Quite a lot of Thomas's nastiness can be explained by the plight of being gay in a time and place with little tolerance, understanding or kindness for people who were different in this way. It's likely all of his life he has been lonely and despairing of finding the kind of loving relationship everyone else around him, above stairs and below, take for granted, which has made him guarded and resentful. He was genuinely grief-stricken by the death of Sybil and knows if Bates returns his days as Robert's valet are numbered. The watchful and perceptive O'Brien surely knows all this. That she could deliberately subject her frenemy to such cruel humiliation and pain is difficult to comprehend and will be excrutiating to watch.

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CONTINUED FROM BELOW... What I do like to see is how these ladies, especially Mrs. Hughes & Mrs. Patmore, walk that line of tolerance & good humor so they continue to have a good working relationship with Carson while supporting Ethel's attempt at rehabilitation. That's some tricky diplomacy that everyone should learn. BTW, I don't think Dr. Carson was lying. The way I understood it Sybil would have had to have a Caesarean much earlier, like a month prior, in order for her life to have been saved. Wasn't she in Ireland at the time? A c-section during the birth was simply too late to make much difference, and would have deprived her of those moments she had with her baby & Tom right after the delivery since she would have been totally unconscious (as they did c-sections back then).

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I think this was one of the most emotionally honest episodes of DA we've seen. The rawness of Cora's every expression and movement was strangely beautiful to watch when recalling how light she was in Season 1. She couldn't go through the mannered motions dictated by proper society in her grief. It also rang true that losing Sybil moderated Mary's outlook on nearly everything as she felt her parents drift far apart. All the ladies of the house, upstairs and downstairs, are becoming more unable to tolerate the posturing and shallow lines of "proper" behavior represented by Robert, Carson & Molesley as not one of these men can seem to sympathize with losing a child, being nearly homeless, or being thrown out into the street with no means to support yourself. For all of his money troubles and losing his daughter, you would think Robert would be able to sympathize with Ethel. But, it's clear that empathy and compassion are only being displayed by the distaff side of Downton Abbey...CONTINUED ABOVE

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I could ALMOST forgive Robert for his prudishness under his present circumstances, but Carson? As Roseanne once said on her show, you couldn't drag a needle outta that butt with a tractor. O'Brien's up to her old tricks I see--out to get Thomas in trouble with the new footman. Meanwhile, with Bates on his way back to Downton, sum'n tells me Thomas's valeting days are numbered. And though I've said it before:
1. PLEASE eat something Mary...you look like a swizzle stick.
2. DISH-whore....right on time.

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Completely agree with all you said, although it seems Daisy was finally getting a little attention from Jimmy this episode. She also mentioned William for the first time in a while. Carson was aggrivating me as well with his firm stance. I loved that Mrs. Hughes and all of the women ignored his and Robert's demands.