Downton Abbey Recap: Episode 4 teaches us to carry on, because it’s what we must do

Downton Abbey Sybil Baby
Downton Abbey Sybil Baby

By Randi Bergman and Paige Dzenis

Downton dealt such a blow to humanity last night that even Thomas cried. While we’d been avoiding BBC spoilers for months now, we did know that something really bad was going to happen and now we know what that truly awful spin was. After the sobfest, we were feeling very un-funny. But as Carson ever so wisely told Daisy, “Carry on, as we must.” And we must. Be forewarned: spoilers appear through the rest of this piece.

Biggest question about names:
Does O’Brien have a first name? We noticed that she’s not only referred to as “O’Brien” by the other servants, but by Cora as well. We know they’re very familiar with one another, but it seems much to casual for the properness of Downton.

Vaguest conversation ever:
Are we ever thankful to live in an era with doctors who are actually able to talk about medical issues while using the proper technical terms! Matthew and Sir Phillip’s conversation about his potential fertility problems was painful to watch—as was every other moment that Sir Phillip tried to give medical advice. He might as well have told Matthew not to worry, the stork would make sure a baby came his way!

Best way to have a lifetime of pregnancy anxiety:
Ugghhhh, good luck to anyone at Downton being able to follow Sir Phillips’s “anxiety is an enemy to pregnancy” advice now. We can’t imagine that Matthew will be hoping for a pregnancy anytime soon. Then again, considering how pissed Mary was upon discovering Matthew in talks with the estate lawyer the day after Sybil died, he probably won’t have to worry about potential conception for a long time.

Most GIFable moment:
When the doctors argue over the particulars of Sybil’s case, Lord Grantham tries to stop them from being too gross around the Dowager Countess. Gran’s “peace!” assurance that she was a-ok to hear ‘em is sure to make it to Vine anytime soon.

Best hidden insult:
When cousin Isobel offers Ethel a place on staff, Mrs. Bird quits, arguing that if she works alongside a prostitute, it would be like being one herself. To that, cousin Isobel responds: “No one could look at you and think that.” Burn, hatchetface!

Downton Abbey Daisy

Best new sass:
Daisy! We didn’t see it coming, but you certainly are putting the new kitchen maid in her place. Consider us as impressed as O’Brien—who basically went bug-eyed when she overheard you scolding Ivy.

Best/worth death scene:
While we’re never going to fully recover from watching Sybil die, it must be noted that the heart-wrenching scene was one of the most impressive we’ve ever seen on TV. From the terrible cries of grief from Cora, Branson and Mary to the delirious, shudder-inducing last moments of Sybil’s life, we were transfixed in sad, sad awe. (Also, the Downton Abbey makeup artist deserves to win many an award for that scene alone.)

Best realization:
It would only make sense for Gran and Carson to have a long history together, but it took her consoling conversation with him after Sybil’s death to see just how close the two might be. And then we cried, obviously.

Worst comforting moment:
“You’re not to blame, no one is to blame,” says Gran to the Earl after Cora (rightfully so!) blames him and Sir Phillip for Sybil’s death. While we always appreciate your advice, Gran, this time you are so very wrong: the Earl is totally to blame.

Worst ever edition to Dr. Clarkson’s history of mis-diagnosing:
We’ve been onto Dr. Clarkson’s questionable know-how for quite sometime. First, there was the fight with cousin Isobel regarding the use of morphine on farmer John Drake in season one, then there was the miraculous Matthew tingles, and then this brilliant Vanity Fair jab—how is it possible that the one time he was correct, he wasn’t listened to?

And that’s it folks, until next week! Stay tuned for our recap of Episode 5 next Monday, February 4! You can catch new episodes of Downton Abbey Sunday nights at 9 p.m on PBS

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