Monday, January 28, 2013

The Sweetest Spirit - Downton Abbey

I want to watch this episode again (Season 3, Episode 4), but I don't think I can. Crying, sobbing, ripping up the living room rug to use as Kleenex does not even come close to describing how devastating it was to watch this episode. The fact that ANYTHING else happened in this episode is incredulous. However, that's sort of the reality, isn't it? Horrible things happen but life goes on and other stuff happens. People are in prison trying to get out, prostitutes are getting real jobs and girls and boys have crushes on boys. I'll get to the other stuff in a bit, but let's dive in to the Sybil saga...

So, I'm ordering my TEAM DR. CLARKSON t-shirt today, who's with me? The episode opens with Dr. Clarkson checking on Sybil and assuring everyone things are moving along, baby is imminent and he'll be checking in on her. A poignant handshake from Tom to the good doctor at the top of the stairs after Doc assures Tom that everything is okay was a wee bit o' foreshadowing I would say. But of course Robert has to get all Lord of Grantham on us and get the esteemed Dr. Tapsell from London to deliver Sybil's baby. Why? The real reason is because he delivers all the hoity-toity babies these days, but Robert rationalizes that Dr. Clarkson misdiagnosed Matthew and didn't see threatening signs with Lavinia (can you say streeeeeeeetch?). Cora immediately argues the unfairness of those accusations and negotiates Dr. Clarkson at least being a consult.  Suddenly things are not going well for Sybill, and Dr. Clarkson is concerned: she's mentally "muddled" and her ankles are swollen, signs of eclampsia. Dr., Tapsell's response: maybe she has thick ankles. Dr. Clarkson: but, she doesn't. Right there tells you that Cora is right, Dr. Clarkson knows Sybil better than anyone when it comes to medical biz. So here is where I said out loud "oh my god, they are going to kill Sybil." But in my heart, I was hoping for a good ol' Downton fake-out. The doctors are arguing and consulting the family, Robert fully on Dr. Dipshit's side, who is saying this is all part of the childbirth process, no worries. Cora is fully on Dr. Clarkson's side saying she would've had Sybil in the hospital an hour ago. But in the end, as the Dowager says, "the decision lies with the chauffer." I was convinced that Tom would definitely side with his handshake buddy, but Tom doesn't even get the chance because Sybil gives birth to a gorgeous baby girl. Happy days! Everyone can go to bed now. Phew.

truly awful
And then Dr. Clarkson's worst fears come true. But no dainty, eloquent Lavinia-like death scene for our Sybil. The writers want us to feel all of this, and rightly so since this is our Sybil! (oh, and she shouldn't be dying! because they should have listened to Dr. Clarkson!) Of all the the excruciating parts of this scene - Cora and Tom begging Sybil to breath, Robert yelling at the doctors, the doctors just standing by because there is nothing to be done - the most horrific has to be Sybil herself screaming in pain and then writhing, suffocating on the bed. This seemed to go on forever. (Where is Dr. Doug Ross to make a tracheotomy out of a Bic pen?!) Alas, Sybil is gone and I am surprised Dr. Dipshit wasn't beaten to a pulp right there in the room. To be honest, I had to pause the show here and get out some hearty sobs so I could even see the TV. And then there's the baby girl crying down the hallway. (*pause TV again* *sob uncontrollably*)

"my baby"
As the stunned family continues to weep, a shocked (and seemingly distant) Robert states "This can't be. She's only 24. This just can't be." This is really the only reaction we see on-screen from Robert, which pains me. We do not see him grieve at all, and I wonder if this was done purposefully to make us hate him a little bit more because we blame him for his part in this. Rationally I understand he is devastated and grieved off-screen, but I feel that I really need to see him grieve to make him seem human. As remote as Robert seemed, Cora was very present in the moment. Grasping at Sybil in the bed during her ordeal, and then sitting by her side later in the night. This scene by far was the most real and tender. After Mary asks if she wants to be alone and Cora says yes (and tells Mary to tell Robert to sleep elsewhere. Boom!) those lingering moments between Cora and her "baby" were so touching and horrible. Her words were beautiful, but the long pauses were almost unbearable. "You are my baby and you always will be." (Full disclosure: I am crying as I type this, just remembering this scene.)

Meanwhile, downstairs everyone is shocked and saddened as well, and that was as hard to watch as anything. Even Thomas pulled at my heartstrings with his tears and his heartfelt words about Sybil being kind to him. Mrs. Hughes says it all when she says "the sweetest spirit under this roof is gone."

As if to directly support that statement upstairs, when Edith proposes to Mary that with Sybil gone now, perhaps they should try to get along better in the future (aside: is she for serious here? this is the second time she has said something similar in three weeks!), Mary in her bitchiest Mary way says basically "No, no... but let's hug here next to Sybil." Damn, this girl can be awful.

no words
I must say I was shocked that Sybil was taken from us. And in the worst, I mean, truly in the worst way... she just had her baby! I had read that there would be a death during the season, but of course I was sidetracked by Mrs. Hughes ordeal, I guess, and also assumed it would be later in the season. And while Downton is prone to just sweeping things under the rug, this will have far-reaching implications on Downton. I mean, if I'm this devastated, they have to be, right? RIGHT?! The obvious questions are: Is Cora mad enough at Robert that it ruins the marriage? Divorce? Or co-habitation but nothing else? What will that mean to Downton? Will Mary ever want to have a baby after watching her sister die in childbirth? Who will raise Sybil's baby? Is Tom going to live his whole life at Downton? Is he going to split and leave the baby with the Crawley clan? Or take the baby away somewhere? And will he name the baby...sniff... Sybil?

I guess some other stuff happened on last night's episode...

Other, non-Sybil related things:
- please, PLEASE move this Bates thing along and get him out of prison. I was so happy that it seemed like things were moving fast in this episode, but I fear the worst. And by worst I mean that they will drag this out for more than one more episode.
- the Daisy, Ivy, Alfred, Jimmy (and Thomas?) love triangle polygon is very interesting if not a little heartbreaking. I want Daisy and Alfred to be happy together, but I don't want Alfred treating Daisy like the runner-up. And this whole Thomas - Jimmy thing is destined to be baaaaaaad newwwwws for one or both. I'm thinking really, really bad since O'Brien is involved.
- Oh, Isobel Crawley and your causes and dreams! Good for her for having the strength of character to hire Ethel (who frankly, I thought would be a never-heard-from-again after last episode) in the face of social suicide. But in the end, the woman seems to really like her dinner and tea, and Ethel sucks at that. I did laugh out loud when Mrs. Bird was essentially giving her notice and said that she couldn't risk people thinking that she did what Ethel did and Isobel replied, "no one could look at you and think that." Zing!
- blah blah blah Matthew and his business ideas for Downton blah blah blah Mary so mad blah blah blah
- also, I hope Matthew realizes now that he asked the wrong Doc for sperm advice

What did you think of the episode? Were you as devastated as I was about Sybil's death? Are you so sick of Bates in prison? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Poor Edith is the Name of My Band... and Other Downton Abbey Things

I don't understand what he's saying either, Edith! What is he saying?!
Poor Edith!  I mean, POOR EDITH! I knew something was going to go awry with Edith and her bliss, since I had read some spoilery things in Entertainment Weekly and other places. I thought perhaps our Sir Anthony would possibly have a heart attack or die in some horrible way soon after the wedding. Then as I was watching the latest episode (Season 3, Episode 2), I thought he might have a heart attack right there at the wedding, given how absolutely pallid he looked. NEVER, let me repeat, NEVER did I think he would leave her there at the alter! Did anyone think he had the fortitude to do such a thing? Especially since Edith looked the best she ever has and her dress was much more gorgeous than Mary's? (There. I said it. Truth!) I suppose that goes to his character, sort of not being able to stand up for himself and then making the worst possible decision at the worst possible time. (I'm actually not sure that we've seen evidence of this in the past, but but his overall weakness to others seems to indicate he may have made some bad decisions in the past. I bet.) Such a credit to Downton Abbey that even when I read spoilers, I'm still shocked at what happened. Also credit for making me actually weep for Poor Edith, when, you know, she can be kind of a bitch.

So now what? I'll tell you this: Lord Grantham better Buckle.Up.Fast. If Lady Edith was bitter, biting and spiteful before, you better believe our new Super Spinster Lady Edith will be x100 and will give even Lady Dowager a run for her money in the blunt irreverence category. Absolutely zero fucks will be given by Super Spinster Lady Edith. And I can't really blame Edith for what's about to come Lord Grantham's way... he definitely was the cause of this. As much as I was frustrated by the Mary/Matthew business of customs and how a Lady has to marry someone of means, etc. this bit about Edith not being able to marry Sir Anthony because of his age and his disability seems outrageous. (Aside: I love the way Edith handled the first separation, telling Lord Grantham: "Sybil runs off and marries our chauffer..." etc. and gets him to change his mind. Bravo, Edith!) Also, isn't there quite an age difference between Lord Grantham and Cora? (Must research.)

Some favorite scenes/dialogue from Edith, post-almost-wedding:

"A spinster always gets up for breakfast."
Scene 1
Cora:  "You are being tested. And you know what they say, my darling. Being tested only makes you stronger."
Edith: "I don't think that's working with me."

Scene 2
Anna: "What would you like me to get you?'
Edith: "A different life."

In other news, I'm certainly not in love with this story line of Anna and Mr. Bates, with Mr. Bates seemingly becoming a hardened man in jail. On the one hand, I do enjoy their meetings - they are so perfect for each other! And I definitely like the fact that Anna is not giving up and is going to do her own search to try and clear Mr. Bates. However, I feel like Anna might be a terrible investigator. She doesn't seem to get much out of the friend, BUT when the friend tells Anna that the Vera was scrubbing the pie crust off her hands viciously, I thought, "Well, isn't that a red flag since the poison was in the pie? Couldn't she have been trying to get the poison off her hands so she can set up Mr. Bates?" I guess I can't blame Anna for not responding to that... I've seen way more TV than she has. She'll probably remember this down the line.

This business with Ms. Hughes is heart-wrenching. She has done an amazing job of portraying someone who is trying to be strong, but is so scared and everything in between. The emotion she shows on her face when Cora tells her that Downton will take care of her was enough to bring tears to my eyes. But in typical Downton fashion, all this handwringing was for naught, since she seems cancer free at the end of the episode. Is this true, or is Mrs. Hughes just telling people this because she doesn't want people to know she really does have cancer? I have my doubts, but she does seem sincerely happy, especially when she sees Mr. Carson so happy in that last scene. However, she went into the doctor's office alone, so we may not know the true truth for some time. I have a sad feeling about this and I will be very, VERY sad if she leaves us.

Other stuff:

- I'm not even talking about the whole Matthew finally agrees to use the "Livinia money" to save Downton because we knew it was going to happen all along.
- I don't think I can take another Ethel-Isobel scene without some serious progress. I mean, cooooome ooooonnnnn... we get it, she's a hooker who wants better things for her son. Let's pick up the pace here.
- Is Daisy going to muster up some American-type sass and go after our new friend Alfred? She could use some sass and maybe a smooch or two. I hope good things happen for Daisy.
- More Mrs. Patmore please!

Is it possible that I have written an entire blog entry about Downton Abbey without mentioning Mary Crawley? (I mean other than to say Edith's dress is waaaayy better than hers?). I suppose I could say that she is probably going to bear many attacks from Super Spinster Edith as well. But will she care? Doubtful.