Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 4 & 5

Spoilers Alert! But if you’ve seen the Episodes, throw in your 2 pebbles and make some ripples.

The SAG Win

First off, a huge CONGRATS to the cast of Downton Abbey for their win in the Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013. Too bad there were only five of them there. An unexpected win, no doubt. Click here to view Mrs. Hughes’s acceptance speech and Tom’s big smile.

Episode 4: Saddest Scene

Now, to a sombre tone. Episode 4 left me stunned and speechless. It will go down my TV viewing history as the saddest scene. Eclampsia was even trending on Twitter, I suppose. But if you Google the word, Sybil and Eclampsia will show up on the first page.

Ok, just a little deconstruction. At least this is how I take myself out of a daze. Sybil’s post-partum death is I’m sure a real life contract issue, and not the misdiagnosis of the high brow Sir Philip from London’s Harley Street. The last time I checked IMDb, Jessica Brown Findlay is filming with Russell Crowe in Winter’s Tale. So, Downton is a nice springboard.

Nevertheless, we will remember her as the most angelic character of them all. The deathbed scene is heart-wrenching. Did you not notice the positions of all the characters? The two doctors turn their backs, friends in need indeed, thanks. Matthew holds onto the bedpost wincing helplessly and Robert stands there stunned. Mary tries to be helpful but has to step back at the end, for the scene belongs to Tom and Cora.

CHRISTMAS 2012 Review 113034

Reaction downstairs is moving too, especially with Thomas. Can he not be a changed man just like the two remaining Crawley sisters, pledge to get along better? But he is a bit changed already, hasn’t he? It’s Mrs. O’Brien who remains the schemer now.

And I must mention the impressive performance by Maggie Smith as the grieving grandmother. Her posture alone is heart-breaking. But soon we find she rises above the tragedy and takes the rational helm of the family. “Cherish our memories, and the child.” She tells Robert.

Episode 5: Quotable Quotes

Just when I thought E4 is a good one, E5 gets even better. Every storyline captures my attention. We have numerous one liners from almost everybody. E5 once again confirms why I like Downton Abbey. Let these dialogues speak for themselves…

Violet Crawley: Grief makes one so terribly tired.

Go home, lie down, life goes on.

And what does life bring? A rift on religion in the Crawley family. Downton writers sure know how to stir the pot, plot. Tom is going to christen his daughter, baby Sybil, in the Catholic tradition. Robert understandably is outraged. He knows his history.

Robert: There hasn’t been a Catholic Crawley since the Reformation!

But Robert, Tom Branson is not a Crawley. For the first time, Robert feels he has totally lost his daughter, and his authority.

Not only that, Robert has lost control of all the ladies in the house, as he finds them sitting at Isobel’s table being served by Ethel the ex-prostitute. More outrage. Flabbergasted.

Cora: You’re always flabbergasted by the unconventional.

Robert, have you forgotten your fling with your former maid, what’s her name?

And all this cannot have happened without Mrs. Patmore going over to help Ethel to fortify her career move as Isobel’s cook.

Ethel: Can I really do it? Salmon mousse?

Mrs. Patmore: Anyone who has use of their limbs can make a salmon mousse.


Ethel and Mrs. Patmore

Meanwhile downstairs, Mr. Carson, Robert’s alter ego, is equally indignant with his staff, from associating with an ex-prostitute, to Fox-Trotting, to the giggling of the maids. Don’t they learn any manners from home? Flabbergasted.

Mrs. Hughes: Perhaps their mothers don’t want them in service.

Mr. Carson: What are they supposed to do? Become BANKERS and LAWYERS?

Violet Crawley can certainly add, ‘so middle class.’

As for the vibes downstairs, Daisy, Alfred, Ivy, Jimmy, and Thomas form a love pentagon. Mrs. Patmore is most sensitive with this sort of things.

Mrs. Patmore: You’re all in love with the wrong people. 

And Violet Crawley, she’s always the most rational of them all. Robert and Cora not on speaking terms, the marriage of the grieving couple is crumbling. Grief does not only make one tired, but tired of one another, and let blame set in. Violet knows where the key lies (no pun intended). She persuades Dr. Clarkson to research on Eclampsia to denounce his previous diagnosis.

Dr. Clarkson: Even to ease suffering, I could never justify telling an outright lie.

Violet: Lie is so unmusical a word… Have we nothing in common?

Well, Dr. Clarkson just might not have needed to lie, for as a Tweet says, even a Caecarean Section could not have prevented Eclampsia and death in Sybil’s case in their time, citing this medical article.

You see why Downton Abbey is amazing? Its viewers would go all out to fuse facts and fiction, living vicariously with its characters.

While E4 ends with mourning, sending viewers to devastation, E5 ends with hope and good news. After all his ordeals, Mr. Bates will finally be released from prison. Thanks to the investigative work of Anna. Now, Mr. Bates Legal Team on Twitter can disband, and the real life ‘Free Mr. Bates’ signs can come down.




Other Downton Posts:

Downton Abbey Season 3: Episode 6 & 7 Finale

Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 2 & 3

Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 1

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

20 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 4 & 5”

  1. It’s been killing me not to talk about Downton Abbey. I saw all of Season Three in early January. The episode in which Sybil died was so heart-wrenching that I haven’t been able to re-watch any of the episodes as they are aired in the U.S.


    1. Cathy,

      A little deconstruction might help… it’s the end of a contract for Sybil. But that will take away the magic of course. Thanks for keeping away spoilers. 😉


      1. I was grateful that the friend with whom I watched Season Three didn’t reveal anything, despite my persistent questioning, such as will Lady Edith be jilted. Afterward, my friend did explain that some of the plot twists and turns were affected by the actors’ career paths.


  2. It’s an action packed series for sure… and the Christmas special sets things out for series 4… (I won;t say anything.,..I am in the UK and have seen series 3 and the Xmas episode..) all I’m saying is… this is the best season so far!!!


    1. Marthafied,

      Welcome to the pond! And a big THANKS for keeping me in the dark! It’s great to see the finale Christmas Episode at Christmas, isn’t it, while we in North America see it the week before the Oscars.


  3. Well I’ve gone and done it and watched the whole thing. Talk about spoilers! No worries I will keep quiet till everyone in the U.S. and Canada finish the series…
    I want season 4 to hurry up!
    Love all your insight…


    1. Ellen,

      Looks like I’m the only one not having seen the whole Season 3! Don’t we all wish in Downtonland, a Season is like what we have… at least 3 months? They’ve shortened it to 7 weeks annually. What a long wait! And O, THANKS SO MUCH for not giving out spoilers! I really appreciate that.


  4. I think we would all agree: Each season of DA is too short, and the time between each season is too long. IN the dentist office today, I inadvertently picked up a TV guide with DA’s Mary & Matthew on the cover and read the article. Read a spoiler related to Season 4 that I really wish I hadn’t seen; now I will just have to wait and see what transpires to bring that about.


    1. I’mAllBooked,

      Ok, try this… watch a lot of other films, read a few page-turners, try new foods, play sports, climb a mountain, swim in the ocean, take photos, do just about anything you can think of to forget what you’ve read. Hopefully you can be surprised all over again when you watch the episodes. 😉


    1. nikkipolani,

      I know, I wasn’t prepared for that one. And the dialogues… best to hear them spoken within the scene. There were several LOL moments for me.


  5. Not sure what to say that hasn’t been — just a splendid wrap of this one and I couldn’t agree with you more on your assessment of just about everything! (And I know, I said it before, but Violet’s solo walk across the foyer was simply grand acting in the finest tradition.)


    1. Jeanie,

      That’s exactly the scene I’m thinking of… when Violet slowly walks into the main hall of Downton. It’s good to see her from the back too, the image just exudes weariness. She has aged overnight. But it’s great too to see her bounce back with reason and resilience, mending the marriage of Robert and Cora, albeit with a little arm twisting. Looks like she’s most lucid of all.


  6. Her condition is real and called eclampsia. I found out because I’m pregnant and diagnosed with pre-eclampsia (I’m fine, just need to be monitored closely) and at least two people mentioned poor Lady Sybill when they found out. I also had a somewhat awkward conversation with my doctor:

    Me: do you know Downton Abbey? One of the main characters dies of eclampsia.
    Him: You just ruined it for me. I’ve only watched until the Xmas special…
    Me: Ups?


    1. Alex,

      LOL! I mean your dialogues with your doctor, not your condition definitely. I do wish you well. As I mention in my post, after E4, you can now go on to Google and type in eclampsia, on the first page will have Sybil and eclampsia.

      Yes, in my post above I’ve a link to a medical article, maybe you’d want to read it for some information. The title is “A Historical Overview of Preeclampsia-Eclampsia”, very comprehensive info.


  7. So, you’re a bit happier now Arti? What are you thinking of Mary? I think she’s working out just fine. Robert was starting to get a little un-rounded there for a while.

    We rushed through series too but the Christmas special isn’t on out Blu Ray disc … unfortunately I saw a spoiler for it though without realising at first what I was seeing. Very irritating.


    1. WG,

      Yes, Mary seems to have regained her sense and sensibility. 😉 And yes too, I try so hard to avoid spoilers. Like even with the Downton cast when they met the press Q & A session after the SAG awards, they inadvertently spill the beans about a major change in S4! I was so upset to hear it. But later I checked, that ‘secret’ was out last Dec. already. But… I’d rather not know.


  8. Just like you I was aghast at the death in childbirth of poor Sybil. I did not know that this actress wanted out to make a movie. It was a scary scene. I certainly would hope that it would bring out to the eyes of the American public that death in childbirth is not something of the past. One of my bloggy friend’s sister passed away in childbirth just a couple of months ago and I read all the comments on her blog saying they were so surprised that this would happen in 2013. Well, the US in 39th in childbirth death, a mortality rate comparable to a 3rd world country, it’s more than Poland and Serbia combined. Each day, 1,000 women die in labor in the world, yes in 2013. People in the US are more interested in the fetus than the child. I read yesterday that the US is the only industrialized nation not to mandate paid maternity leave – joining Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland. ( You can read it here .) I am sure that Canada is doing a much better job for mothers and children. But I doubt that even with the popularity of Downton Abbey it will make changes here – most of the interest is before the children are born.

    I just finished a book, from the library, by Maureen E. Montgomery, a New Zealand author – “Gilded Prostitution: Status, Money and Transatlantic Marriages 1870-1914” – it explains a lot about the English attitudes around that time. I found two more books in my home library on that period, but I am finishing a book on Venice right now. I enjoy reading your thoughts on DA and the comments you receive.


    1. Vagabonde,

      Wow that certainly is a surprising fact about the US’s 39th ranking in the world. And, as I said in my post, the success of DA is that its viewers are so immersed in the story and live vicariously with the characters that facts and fiction are fused. Do click on the link to that medical article I have at the end of my post.It’s entitled “A Historical Overview of Preeclampsia-Eclampsia”. I’m sure you’ll find it informative.


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