Monday, January 28, 2013

Downton Abbey (27 January episode) - SPOILERS

Again, SPOILERS. After the jump.

I knew before this episode started that something big was going to happen. It's my own fault for daring to read anything on the internet this morning after I knew the episode had already aired in the US. I managed to look away quickly from one friend's fb post that I saw included an OMG and lots of !!!!. Then my dad sent an email labeled "spoiler-free" that also said this episode was "a bit much." After those two close calls, I stayed the heck away from Twitter and fb for the rest of the day until I could gather my wits about me and watch the episode myself (with Jeremy).

Well, was it a bit much? Maybe. But you know what? As Granny herself said, women die(d) in childbirth all the time, so this storyline was not on the par of unlikely ridiculousness with, say, the mummy-bandage guy who came back from the war and claimed to be the heir to Downton last season. According to this article, maternal mortality in England in the 1920s was somewhere around 45/1000, so it definitely happened. The same article talks about "hundreds" dying from pre-eclamptic or eclamptic convulsions during the 1920s.

(Side note: how maddening was it that while Sybil was upstairs being ripped in half by contractions, a room full of men were deciding what was best for her? Argh. I was hopeful when I heard one of them suggest, "oh, but this isn't up to us, shouldn't we ask--" but then they said "Tom" instead of "Sybil." Sigh. Again, I guess it was in keeping with the times.)

So it was a dramatic turn of events, but I don't find it especially soapy or unlikely. And it is sad. Sybil, I will miss you and your fabulous hair and sexy smoky voice, even if you were kind of spineless lately when it came to your husband and/or future wishes for your child. Now any time I re-watch season 1 or 2 I will be filled with a sense of foreboding every time she comes on the screen. Poor thing.

Also, I have to wonder how the real-life actress feels about being cut out of what must have been an increasingly great role for her career.

Speaking of the real-life actresses, there was one scene in this episode that was either so well acted that it seemed real, or else it just showed how it really is - the scene where Edith walks into the room and greets Maggie Smith. Edith's enthusiasm seemed so genuine and it made me think about what a joy it must be to walk into a room and greet Maggie Smith of an evening. Sigh.

Re: other plots. I don't know exactly who O'Brien is playing a slow-burning joke on, Jimmy or Thomas, but it cracks me up. Cranky Daisy also cracks me up. And could there have been anything more awkward about this episode than the extremely veiled discussion about Matthew's, er, "everything else" working properly? Granny might disagree with me and say the most awkward part was when the doctor dared to say the word "urine" out loud in polite company.

Anyone want to guess what they name the baby (if they mention it at all during this season)? I'm guessing Sybil, or maybe something ultra-Irish like Saoirse or Shauna.

PS: I should note that Jeremy and I watched about six full minutes of Season TWO Episode 5 before we realized our error. We thought maybe it was some kind of elaborate flashback that would shed new light on William's death or Matthew's paralysis. A really long, elaborate flashback.


Jessie said...

Yes, yes, yes I know women died in childbirth all the time back then and I kept reminding myself of that. But the writers are clearly saying, "Okay, what is THE MOST SHOCKING THING we could possibly do next??" I'm annoyed, and I miss season one.

The dying scene was well-acted. I was pretty much horrified.

Bridget said...

When I heard that something big was going down this episode, I was wondering what would be the most shocking and I thought that maybe they would reveal that Bates DID kill Vera. So when it was "just" Sybil dying in childbirth it didn't seem so shocking in comparison.

The way things go with this show, I suppose we could still find that out about Bates.

Jen said...

I am getting so tired of Bates-and-Anna-back-and-forth-upstairs-downstairs-brood-some-more.

I found the scene with Thomas crying over the loss of Sybill to be quite heartening, actually...and I like him even more.

Also? Not a great episode for the girl who's giving birth in 3 weeks. (I'd accidentally seen enough on Facebook to know that something goes wrong with Sybill that I wiki-spoiled it first to see if I could handle it at this point.)

And....At some point, Matthew has to make an exit this season. Surely they won't kill him off as well....will they?

Bridget said...

Do not answer this if it is a spoiler, but: why exactly does Matthew have to make an exit this season??

Thomas crying over Sybil = heartbreaking.

Jen said...

Dan Stevens didn't renew his contract....he's out after season 3.

Crys said...

You sort of get insulated when you read all the natural child birth books that there use to be a time when things went wrong that you couldn't just turn the case over and women would die in childbirth. My grandmothers family is Christian scientist, don't go to the doctors and one of my distant cousins died during child birth when I was a teen. It was really sad. That being all being really why couldn't they have killed of Branson, lord granthum, or maybe O'brien instead. Oh we'll. I predict Matthew and Mary can't have a baby and get divorced and he runs off. The end!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Sad that it had to be Sybil's death that spiced up the show. The other person who lives in this house thinks that's a contrived crock, to have herdie like that. I've read enough death certs to know that women died of birth- related causes More than they should have. If docs had washed their hands many lives would have been spared

It seems natural that Tom would want to name the baby Sybil but then he's Irish, so how about Bridget? That would give Granny a heart attack! It almost gave my Dad one

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

I was so mad at that doctor! Fat ankles my eye. Meanwhile, you don't know me but I just love reading your blog. I found it from the Andersons blog, which I met through a common acquaintance. Long story short, we're hoping on a move to Dubai in the Fall and it's been so fun to peek into the lives of the ward members there through everyone's blogs :)


Bridget said...

Ooooooh, can't wait to meet you! I hope you make it over here!

Lucia- insert creative nickname said...

:o) Ditto, although it's gonna be awkward when (if?) I stroll into relief society and know everyone's name, and their life story. Oh well, I'll just have to make a point to leave lots of blog comments so i'm not a complete stranger.

Cait said...

There is also one scene where Sybil is in there laboring and EVERYONE, even the nurse, are in the hallway talking about her condition. Though the hospital system nowadays irks me, I cannot imagine giving birth with those kind of doctors!


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