'Downton Abbey’ Recap: The subdued grieving of Sybil, some thoughts

Death comes to us all, but when someone passes before their life can be fully lived, it is far more tragic. We celebrate a long life lived well, with large family left in legacy, but what of a new mother who never got to know her child?

The subdued grief displayed over Sybil's death perplexes a bit, as the only visible tears occasionally flow from husband Tom, that is until we see the anger that Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) holds for Robert (Hugh Bonneville), and it wounds him to the core. It is all so very buttoned up, so very ...English.

Last night's episode also shows us how judgmental people in that time period are of women... and specifically over the taint of prostitution, regardless of how hard one tries to reform. But have things really changed?

Lord Grantham cannot process how to ask for forgiveness over Sybil's death, and we almost believe he doesn't comprehend WHY he is in the doghouse with his wife. He chose title over Dr. Carson's lifelong experience, and in doing so the one possible chance he had to save his daughter's life was lost over ego and snobbery.

This terrible split in the Abbey spurs the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) to beg Dr. Clarkson to lie to Cora and say Sybil would have died either way to smooth things over in this marital rift.

The Catholic problem continues as Tom’s (Allen Leech) decisions about the new baby are resolute, she will be a "left footer" as Robert calls them. Robert also felt that naming his granddaughter Sybil was a bit "ghoulish" and here I actually agree with him just a tad. Perhaps a middle name, but to remind grieving parents over and again of their lost child is a bit tough.

Ever the cheery and helpful cousin Isobel (Penelope Wilton) enlists maid Ethel to create a simple lunch for Cora, Violet and the girls to perk everyone up for an afternoon. This leads to Ethel, forever branded with a scarlet "A" for her prostitution past, a desperate meeting with Mrs. Patmore, who nervously agrees to help the hapless cook actually make something edible.

Mr. Carson of course sees Mrs. Patmore talking to Ethel and tattletales to Lord Robert, who then came barging in to the ladies' luncheon - right when a tasty Charlotte Russe was being served! Of course no one makes a move, it's not often someone brings in a deep dish bowl of tasty fresh custard and creme cake.

Poor Robert is also besieged by Matthew’s (Dan Stevens) new ideas to ramp up the profitability and make the Abbey more efficient. Change is so very hard on men like Carson and Robert. Cough..ahem...read between the lines here.

Happy news for Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates who will soon be reunited based on new evidence.

Ever the bubbly source of all things delicious, Mrs. Patmore tells the lusty downstairs young lot: “You know the trouble with you lot? You’re all in love with the wrong people! She also delivers a dose of shame to those who fear making a salmon mousse in one funny scene.

O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) continues her lurking Machiavellian ways of winding up people and causing all kinds of possibly big Gay drama. She scares me.  And makes me hate bangs.

Further Reading on M&C