The “Downton Abbey” Read-Cap: Death Comes To Downton

Oh, gentle readers, I write to you now with my eyes veiled by a film of tears—as I’m sure yours are. Or perhaps you are beyond tears, having cried yourself to sleep last night, awoken this morning to tear-stained sheets, wept yet again, and are now bereft of tears.

Oh, the ache! The sorrow! The inestimable woe! For never was there a sadder episode, never was there a tale whose tragedy could compare to last night’s episode of Downton Abbey!sibyl

Things started out well enough for everyone’s favorite aristocrats, the Crawleys. The once lithesome and seductive Lady Sybil, she of the willfully political nature, pillowz lips and salted-caramel voice, youngest of the Crawley girls, was great with child and experiencing the first twinges of the birthing pains. So Old Man Clarkson, the village shaman, was sent for in the dead of night. Everything looked just fine, he declared. Lady Sybil’s moist and dry humors were coming into alignment for the blessed event, and all she need do is chew on the bark of a particular tree and all would be well. But Lord Grantham wasn’t convinced. After all, Wiseman Clarkeson accidentally thought that Cousin Husband Matthew would be paralyzed and impotent forever last season despite the fact that he’s a completely indispensable main character on this show. (Also, it’s probably the doctor’s fault that Lanvivia died of Spanish Effluvia.) So, his lordship also summoned Lord Doctor Fillup Capsule to preside over his dear daughter’s birthing with all the modern medical innovation of the early 20th Century.

Downstairs, Thomas was spending his day doodling hearts in his diary and jumping at every opportunity to get close to the sexy new manservant Jimmy. “Oh, Jimmy, I bet there’s nothing you couldn’t do.” Thomas sighed, batting his eyelashes and stroking the boy’s tautly muscled bicep. What a change love had wrought in Thomas’s life! No one had heard a snide comment out of him for weeks, and he was even creepier when he wasn’t being evil! Of course, Miss O’Brien noticed all of this and set about her plans to somehow manipulate Jimbo into Thomas’s arms. Is she playing cupid? Or is this all part of her plan to destroy Thomas for some reason probably none of us remembers anymore.

Love is just running a riot for the underdwellers of Downton! Daisy is also feeling stirrings in her netherparts for goofy old puddle faced Alfred, but he has eyes only for Ivy, the new kitchen wench and the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. To our eyes, she looks like a lump of raw scone dough, bBut this is the pre-supermodel, pre-beauty-industrial-complex, pre-Photoshop era, and to Alfred, Ivy is a gem beyond compare, much to Daisy’s dismay.Burning with jealousy, she starts to take it out on the slatternly new drudge. But this is no way to win Alfred’s affections—and anyway, it appears Ivy’s young loins yearn for none other than Jimmy! Oh, the romantic entanglements of these downstairs youngsters!

Over at the county jail, Bates and Anna have been reunited after last week’s missing-letters fiasco, and it’s back to the business of clearing Bates’s name. Turns out Anna has stumbled onto proof that his evil first wife must have baked herself a poison pie—her plan being to kill herself and frame Bates for murder. But this brilliant, totally natural and believable plot point hinges on the testimony of Bates’s evil first wife’s best lady friend, who hates him and wants him to rot in gaol anyway. Also working against our star-crossed lovers is Bates’s evil cellmate and his prison-guard henchman: They’re plotting to make sure the Mrs. Best Lady Friend won’t cooperate, thus dooming Bates’s to an eternity in jail with them. “Emmys! More Emmys and Golden Globes and Baftas for this quality television show,” Julian Fellowes howls from the den of his manor.

Meanwhile, redheaded tart Ethel hasn’t gone back to prostitutin’, so Cousin Isabel offers her a job. (You gotta wonder why she didn’t just do that before poor Ginger Snap had to sell her baby to its wealthy grandparents. “Logic? How very middle class!” clucks Julian Fellowes.)

Oh, but what will everyone else think, with a former hobag playing house with Cousin Isabel? Well we know what Mrs. Conrad Birdie, Cousin Isabel’s cook thinks! She doesn’t like it one bit and threatens to quit because now the house will surely become a scandalous den of iniquity. And since Cousin Isabel doesn’t seem to mind putting a woman who wasn’t a prostitute out of work, Mrs. Big Bird is sent packing. With her fucked-up priorities, it’s no wonder Cousin Isabel is hated by everyone!  As a result, she has to eat at home all the time and Ethel can’t cook. Well, that’s bound to cause some trouble down the line, don’t you think?

So, while Cousin Isabel is home eating Ethel’s oven gristle and Hot Pockets, the rest of the Crawleys are at Downtown Arby’s celebrating the impending birth of Sybil and Branson’s wee babe with Doctor Lord Flipcup Tapwater. Old Man Clarkson is there as well at the insistence of Lady Elizabeth McGovern, though Dr. Lord Tapwater and Earl Grantham were in agreement that the aged quack ought to be kept out of the birthatorium.

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 11.07.56 AMOf course this causes tension when, suddenly, Lady Sybil starts, like, bleeding out of her eyes and nobody can agree on what to do. Lord Doctor Tapshoes says everything is fine, it’s perfectly normal for women to sweat blood and cough up toads when they’re getting ready to expel a baby. Wise Old Clarkson, on the other hand, thought they should whisk Lady Sybil away to his hut where he could slicer her open like a Christmas turkey and remove the blessed child. But then the baby just slipped out of the womb while everyone was arguing and it seemed like all would be well.

Later than night, though, the whole house was awakened by Sybil’s shrieks of agony: It seems Clarkson was right all along; the demon Verklemptsia had taken possession of our dear Sybil. The family looked on in horror as she writhed in inhuman torment, her body wracked with pain, contorting in such a strange and frightening manner. “There must be something you can do! It’s the future!” Lord Grantham cried, but Sir Doctor Captoe just slunk into the shadows. “I have no more power here,” he whispered, and faded away into the night.

tumblr_meirns6HQO1rmd8fho1_1280Sweet reader, we must be strong now, and face the fact that dearest Sybil is gone. Yes, the liveliest soul at Downton Abbey went home to meet Jesus last night, leaving the rest of us confused and adrift. How could such a bright spark be snuffed out so quickly and so cruelly? What will become of Branson now that his lady wife is gone? Will the Crawleys cast him out and whither shall he go? What’s to become of the daughter Lady Sybil has left behind? And as for the rest of us, Dowton Abbey is now a colder, more sober place without the light and warmth of the youngest, most beloved Crawley girl. How can we bear to return to this venerable estate next week? How will we learn to soldier on without here? These are questions we must each grapple with on our own. But for now, we want to remember Lady Sybil at her finest hour: as an 18-year-old debutante on the cusp of womanhood. You know the moment. You remember the frock. Here’s to you, Lady Sybil Carwley: May heaven be filled with aqua pant suits!

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  • 1EqualityUSA

    In addition to the diverse approaches to manage preeclampsia-eclampsia in the 20th century, the use of magnesium sulfate was introduced. Although a mainstay of current treatment, it was not until 1906 that Horn first used magnesium sulfate to manage preeclampsia-eclampsia (Chesley, 1984). During the 1920’s, the parenteral use of magnesium sulfate in the treatment of preeclampsia-eclampsia was popularized by Lazard and Dorsett (Chesley, 1984), for Dr. Lazard’s work (as cited in Gabbe, 1996) demonstrated that treatment with intravenous magnesium sulfate was both efficacious and safe.

    (A Historical Overview of Preeclampsia-Eclampsia

    Mandy J. Bell, BSN, RN, Doctoral student and National Institute of Nursing Research Predoctoral Fellow)

    That was one of the most amazing death scenes ever filmed for television. How the Hell did that actress get her neck to stick out like that during the seizures? Bummer that one of the best characters was picked off so early.

  • mulletkitty

    These “recaps” are crazy inspired and deserve a million hits.

    I wish you were writing the script….if only this show were this campy.

    Things are gonna get chilly and sniffly next week. How many cups of tea will be offered? Tea fixes everything.

  • rand503

    I’m so glad soeone died! It was in danger of becoming a soap opera, and now it’s a real drama.

  • blkluvla

    @rand503: I agree – I was worried about a certain loss of focus and meandering style of the show that gave it a soap-opera quality whose only redemption was the clipped English accents. The death was portrayed in a realistic and horrific fashion that made my hair stand on end, even though I’m an MD myself and have seen such things in real life. Incredible acting. What was most agonizing was of course that there was nothing anyone could do – no 911, no injectable medications, just an utter feeling of helplessness. I was riveted.

    The recap is wonderful!

  • Joel J

    Weddings and Funerals would be a better title for this tv drama. Lady Sybil is not the last character to be knocked off in this soap opera. The question is, will Thomas get into Jimmy’s pants and will O’Brien blow the whistle on them? The plot thickens.

  • LadyL

    Poor sweet Sybil, it was awful watching her die and everyone who loved her in the throes of agonized disbelief. Even Thomas was shattered, grieving, as he put it, one of the few who’d ever been kind to him.
    Poor sad Thomas; you can tell the infatuation with Jimmy will not end well. Jimmy seems distinctly uncomfortable with Thomas’s “familiarity” and the manipulative O’Brien is looking a little too self-satisfied about it all.
    Say what you like about his arrogance and fits of spitefulness– when all is said and done, Thomas can’t match O’Brien for cold, calculating cruelty.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Sometimes O’Brien looks like Mrs. Blalock, the evil, Rottweiler-toting nanny that looked after Damien in, “The Omen.”

    I wanted Gwen, the type writing secretary to weave back into Sybil’s life, after having had huge success with the telephone company, of which she got in on the ground floor. (Thatcan’thappennowShedead.) Maybe the fruit of her loins will benefit from her mother’s unprecedented kindness. Gwen needs to come back into the story line. That tendril is just hanging.

    Clearly, I blame my spouse for getting me hooked onto this story. Fling-fling-fling-FLING-fling-fling-fling-fling.

  • muscl954

    These recaps are amazingly witty and clever. The author is a hoot!

  • snj29

    Sorry. These recaps are neither “witty” nor “clever”. If they are “amazingly” anything, its insipid. I’d of kept my thoughts to myself until two commenters chimed in to the contrary. In the face of such weak writing it seems hard to believe these two posts are not from friends of the “author”.

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