This recap contains SPOILERS. If you did not watch the most recent episode, and have also been living under a rock, PLEASE DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. STOP. GO BACK. THE BRIDGE IS OUT.
Hi, I'm Laura Linney and…this is why you should never get pregnant.
We open with Dr. Clarkson paying a prenatal nighttime visit to Downton to check on Lady Sybil. She apparently had labor pains, but it was a false alarm. Dr. Clarkson says she's fine. Robert arrogantly tells folksy country practitioner Clarkson that Sir Philip Tapsell, a fancy London doctor, will arrive tomorrow.
Downstairs, new kitchen maid Ivy is discussing her eventual baby-making plans. She's unmarried, so let's hope we have another Ethel in the making. There's a little bit of ho-yay served up at the tea table between Jimmy and Thomas. O'Brien looks as though she has had An Idea. Daisy is still pissed that Ivy…well, exists, really.
Upstairs, it's time for breakfast in bed with a side of "I'm taking over managing the estate" talk. Matthew's got ideas about how to turn things around and save Downton for future generations, and he doesn't want to upset Robert by letting him know he's been a giant fail in that department for the last several years.
But I can't possibly be incompetent. I'm rich!
Over in Cora and Robert's room, Robert explains his decision to contact Tapsell. Clarkson misdiagnosed Matthew AND missed warning signs with Lavinia. Not his fault, really. Matthew's sudden cure was more than a tad unrealistic, and Lavinia was killed off for having an incurable case of being in the way.
Much more after the jump.
Carson has asked Jimmy to wind the clocks. O'Brien says Jimmy should ask Thomas for help with that because O'Brien knows Thomas's little secret, and she thinks that setting Jimmy up as literal jail bait will lead to Thomas being exposed as gay. However, we don't know what way Jimmy swings. He might be into Thomas, and this could just blow up in O'Brien's face and she'll walk in on all kinds of Jimmy/Thomas PDA. OR! She DOES think Jimmy is gay and she wants to get them together so they'll be caught and then she can get rid of both of them AT THE SAME TIME! Who knows what wheels turn in O'Brien's head? She's a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a tea cake.
In Sybil'sroom, Sybil has headaches and swollen ankles. These can be the normal signs of pregnancy, but as my Anglophilia also extends to Call the Midwife and I am thus an expert in childbirth, these can also be symptoms of something with the potential to be much more serious. Sybil wonders why Mary isn't knocked up yet. Turns out, Mary's having a spot of bother conceiving. Sure, she and Matthew have been fucking like rabbits, but no bundle of joy as of yet. Sybil is concerned that the baby will be christened at Downton, but Tom is Catholic and she wants to please him.
Who knew monotonous domestic tasks such as clock-winding were rife with so much ho-yay? Thomas, standing behind Jimmy (yup) wants to know if Jimmy feels a slight increase in the resistance. Ahem.
Is that a silver-polishing rag in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Bates encourages Anna to talk to Mrs. Bartlett about pie crust. Turns out that experimental patissier Vera was baking the infamous pie the last time she spoke to Mrs. Bartlett. This means she made the pie after Bates was heading back to Downton. The tell-tale evidence: Mrs. Bartlett told Anna that Vera had pie crust under her nails the last time she saw her. I'm not kidding. The case hinges on pastry dough. Later, we learn that Bates's cellmate -- who hasn't moved on from losing the Battle of the Badly Sewn Objects – has been plotting with one of the prison guards. Do we really have to go through another convoluted plot to get him released? Magic Downton 8-Ball says "Likely."
Meanwhile at Crawley House, Isobel interviews Ethel about her state. She's given up being a PROSTITUTE, but she's apparently been putting that on her CV and thusly cannot find respectable work. Isobel offers her a job helping Mrs. Bird, so Ethel will have a respectable job and a reference for future employment.
Matthew and Mary inspect a few of the cottages on the estate. Matthew proposes letting some of the tenants work the land without paying rent. Gracious Heavens! He's talking about socialism! Or maybe he intends to turn Downton into a kibbutz. In any case, Robert probably won't like it.
At dinner, Tapsell arrogantly agrees to allow Clarkson in the delivery room. All that's necessary, according to Tapsell, is a knowledge of childbirth. If you don't have a bad feeling yet, well you should. Matthew wants to talk to Tapsell about his – ahem -- issues. Tapsell asks if everything is functioning properly (wink wink) and Matthew answers that yes, his man parts are manparting Mary quite swimmingly. British people should not talk about erections. Like. Ever.
Tapsell tells him that anxiety can cause fertility issues, so he tells him to
relax. Yeah. In that family. Good effing luck.
Anna talks to Robert in the study about Mrs. Bartlett's version of events. Robert may be failboating huge, but he still cares about clearing Bates. He questions whether Mrs. Bartlett would be willing to testify on Bates's behalf and tells her he will call his beleaguered all-purpose attorney Murray.
Thoroughly Modern Edith has been offered a regular, weekly column by the editor of The Sketch. Robert tells her he's only interested in her name and her title. Matthew unsuccessfully tries to stick up for Edith, but Edith announces that she's the family failure and leaves the room.
Mrs. Bird lets Isobel know that she cannot work alongside Ethel because Ethel was a PROSTITUTE. Mrs. Bird is concerned that if she works with Ethel, the town busybodies will assume she is a PROSTITUTE too. Isobel calms her fears by saying: "Nobody could look at you and think that." (Burn!)Isobel accepts Mrs. Bird's unintended resignation. Ethel: 1; Mrs. Bird: 0
Down in the kitchen, Alfred is hitting on Ivy. Yeah, slow down there, Casanoway. She's totally into Jimmy and not Alfred. Jimmy is friendly with Ivy, but he doesn't notice her in any kind of serious way. Could there be a reason for his lack of interest? Stay tuned!Daisy walks in and bosses Ivy because she's jealous that Alfred's paying attention to Ivy instead of her. Daisy's gone from crushing on the gay guy to crushing on the dorky footman, which to me is a lateral move. Let's hope Daisy sets her sights a little higher for her next bout of unrequited love. But first! We must save the hollandaise!! Daisy barks orders to the pitiably overwhelmed Ivy, and Alfred gallantly swoops in to rescue the fish course by adding an egg to the hollandaise. Who knew that adding eggs to a recipe that is primarily eggs would produce the desired result?
Expect soon the release of Arsenic Pie and Eggless Hollandaise: A Treasury of Downton Recipes.
At dinner, the Crawleys are waiting for Sybil go to into labor. Matthew tries to break the awkward silence in his usual manner by bringing up something slightly less awkward. He alights on Edith's newspaper column, and Lady Violet wants to know if Edith's famewhoring will extend to her becoming an actress. She may as well just join Ethel in her disrepute. Fortunately, Sybil interrupts dinner via really needing to be at a hospital like twenty minutes ago.Clarkson is concerned with signs that Sybil has developed a septic reaction. Tapsell insists it's nothing to worry about and tells Clarkson to be silent, and it's Robert's opinion that Clarkson is letting his professional pride get in the way.
In Ethel can't cook news, Ethel can't cook. She can't make tea, either. I get she's a bad cook, but how can one screw up tea? Don’t they, like, revoke your Brit card for that? Seriously.
Upstairs in the birthing room, Sybil is failing fast. She is delirious, but Tapsell arrogantly and idiotically claims she's totally fine. Cora comes in with Clarkson and Clarkson wants to test Sybil's pee for proteinuria. Clarkson tries to talk to Sybil, but she's far too confused to know what's happening.
Clarkson tries to insist that Sybil is pre-eclampsic and she should be moved to hospital and have the baby by Caesarian. Tapsell insists that pre-eclampsia is rare and Sybil doesn't have it, even though she exhibits textbook symptoms. Tapsell insists a Caesarian is too risky and dismisses Clarkson as a hayseed quack. Ass. What follows is a tragic lesson in what happens when arrogant people place their egos above all else. Sybil's condition worsens. A really heated argument takes place in the upstairs hallway. No one can ask Sybil about her own medical care since she's, you know, delirious and screaming in pain. They put it all on Tom. Robert barks at Tom to side with Tapsell, who assures a safe birth. Cora takes Clarkson's part, who is honest and tells Tom that he can't promise anything, but if Sybil goes into convulsions, it will be too late and she will die. Tom appears as though he's about to side with Clarkson however, in the next moment, Sybil screams and her labor begins.
The men and Lady Violet wait in the study and Lady Mary enters to announce that a girl has been born and she and Sybil appear to be fine. Upstairs, Sybil complains of being tired, and says that she "just wants to sleep." She has a private moment with Cora where Sybil, visibly still in distress, tries to talk to her about Tom's plan to move them to Liverpool, where he can work as a mechanic. Cora says they'll talk about it in the morning. No. Not on this show, you don't. You don't wait until the morning. You nail that shit down. Cora says, "Now, sleep, darling,"
If you don't have your hankies prepared, get them out now.
Downstairs, Carson announces the birth to the staff. Jimmy asks Thomas if Thomas likes Lady Sybil. Is Jimmy really asking if Thomas is into chicks? Thomas responds with the simple answer that he worked with Sybil in the war. O'Brien approaches Jimmy after Thomas leaves. Jimmy says he wants Thomas to keep his distance, and O'Brien smiles slyly. Is Jimmy repulsed by Thomas's overtures or is he interested, but doesn't know what to do with his feelings? Will Julian Fellowes stop cock-blocking Thomas and let him get some action? We all know if Thomas got laid every once in a while, he wouldn't be such an asshole.
We all know pride goeth and all that jazz, but I don't think Robert was quite prepared for later that night. Sybil is going into toxic shock – eclampsia -- and they're not going to be able to save her. Clarkson tells them there's nothing to be done, and Robert desperately asks Tapsell if Clarkson is wrong. He's not. Tapsell has already realized Clarkson was right all along. Soon Sybil is unable to breathe, in pain, and surrounded by her crying and disbelieving family, she dies. There is silence in the room except for the sound of tears, and a moment later, the baby cries.
Carson delivers the news to the stunned staff, who have been roused from their beds. Mrs. Hughes comforts a crying Daisy. In a rare moment of humanity, Thomas breaks down. He tells Anna that Sybil was one of the very few people in his life who have been kind to him.
Please now produce your second hankies. Lady Cora is sitting with Sybil, who has been laid out on the bed where she died. In an affecting and well-acted scene (can we get Elizabeth McGovern an Emmy already?), Cora promises to look after Branson and the baby. Mary enters, and Cora asks Mary to ask Robert to sleep in the dressing room.
Life does continue at Downton. Mr. Murray keeps his appointment talk to Anna, who is wearing mourning but still tells him about the pie crust. Matthew talks to him after his interview with Anna, and Mary barges in. She chastises them for talking about business after Sybil has just died. Murray lies and says he didn't know and excuses himself, leaving Matthew on the hook. Has this most recent episode of Robert's poor judgment given impetus to Matthew to get things moving on saving Downton?
Branson and Mary are upstairs with Sybil. Edith enters and tells them that the undertaker has arrived. Mary and Edith agree to be less bitchy to each other in the future. Cora, on the other hand, is mad as hell. Lady Violet tries to assure Robert that this is the time to cherish Sybil's memory, but Robert is fully aware that he ignored Clarkson's advice.
In seriousness, you haven't lived until you've seen Maggie Smith show mourning and steely resolve in less than three lines that are little more than "oh hai!"
What will happen with Branson? Will Sybil's daughter be christened Catholic or Protestant? We all know from last week's episode that Robert thinks Catholics are Johnny Foreigner. Will he relent this time or try to maintain control (given his recent decision-making, will end in disaster)? Cora's holding Robert at fault, so will Branson follow suit? If Mary and Matthew can't conceive, will they persuade Branson to let them adopt the baby and somehow get the entailment changed to allow for a female heir?
Kudos to Jessica Brown-Findlay for her performance in her final episode. The internet says she has been cast in a film adaptation of A Winter's Tale, opposite Russell Crowe. A Winter's Tale is a period piece, so we will still get to see her rock an Edwardian frock. Best of luck, Jessica!
"The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone." Rest in peace, Lady Sybil. You will be missed.