(Review originally posted in October, 2012. Episodes 1&2 were combined for the American broadcast, making this the 5th British episode, but only the 4th US.)
This is a serious spoiler warning. I know most people on tumbler have been unable to avoid this because the fandom has been vomiting it up. But still, if you haven't been spoiled yet, please don't let me be the cause of spoiling you now. Move away from the computer quickly.
Yes, I was spoiled. I've rarely seen such a reaction get so violently widespread on tumbler so that even an accidental viewing with spoil it. Normally I avoid tumblr until after watching Downton, but my head has been off this week and I accidentally ventured to scroll down a bit after it aired (not remembering that it would have just finished).
No warnings. None. Just ranting. And so of course I then had to go into the Downton tag and learn what had happened because I couldn't wait for captions to get up to learn more details.
Oh my fellow Downtonians... handkerchiefs all around.
Sybil was probably the single most universally adored character on the show. I've never met or heard of a person who didn't love Sybil. She was sweet and kind and spunky and independent She was gorgeous and devoted and so very, very loving. She was an idealist. She would have been a wonderful mother.
I don't know why they chose to kill her off. Well, drama and plot, but... this seems a really huge thing to insert for the sake of story. Seriously. This is worse than Joss Whedon, and that's saying a lot.
Even Thomas cried. Thomas. And I felt bad for Thomas.
I can't believe Robert insisted the way he did. I can't believe he wouldn't listen to Cora. Childbirth is a female arena and was doubly so in those days - he knew nothing about the subject and yet insisted on controlling the situation. His pride wouldn't allow him to utilize an option that could save his daughter.
Although to be honest a Cesarean even now has plenty of risk, so Sybil or her child might still have died. Medicine was changing in these days, and it wasn't until after WWII that most babies were born in hospitals, meaning that medical intervention was still looked at warily by older, traditional physicians like Dr. Phillip whatshisface. Dr. Clarkson may not be a perfect doctor, but he still knows his stuff and demonstrates the wisdom of having a medical professional who knows your situation well and understands your body, so he can notice when something is going wrong.
You can read more about toxemia here: http://www.helium.com/items/1105505-signs-and-symptoms-of-toxemia (and it is worth knowing about).
Anna and Bates progressed, but honestly their whole storyline should have been moved up an episode. Set in this episode it just distracted from the emotions we were all tied up in.
Still, I'll admit that I cared about Ethel in this episode, which is a big change for me. I didn't mind having her around, especially since they dialed her part back once things got serious with Sybil.
And the bright note - Huzzah for Edith getting a job offer as a columnest! I hate that her family keeps putting her down, although I understand the mindset they're coming from. Thank God she has such an awesome brother in Matthew!
Now we have a whole new set of things to deal with, and Downton is never going to be the same.