We join the family deep in grief following Sybil’s funeral. Her death continues to affect the lives of all at Downton Abbey in this week’s episode.
Robert and Cora’s relationship remains strained, with Robert banned from the marital bed. Cora still blames Robert for Sybil’s death after he trusted the advice of Harley Street’s pompous Sir Philip Tapsell over Doctor Clarkson. The Dowager Countess advises Robert to give Cora some space.
Tom reveals his plans for his daughter to the shocked Crawleys: he wants to name her Sybil and raise her Catholic. This is all far too much for Robert, but Matthew and Mary remain loyal to what would have been Sybil’s wishes.
Isobel plans a luncheon to cheer up Cora and the girls by getting them out of the grief-stricken Downton. Ethel plans to cook an ambitious meal and asks advice from Mrs Patmore.
In other news, the Bates’ drama continues. When a lawyer visits Vera’s friend Hazel Bartlett she denies the truth of the ground breaking evidence she admitted to Anna in last week’s episode. Without this crucial witness statement will Bates ever be proved innocent? Both the lawyer and Bates believe that there has been a tip off and bribery involved which has made Mrs Bartlett change her story. Bates immediately suspects his cell mate Craig and pins him up against a wall and threatens him in no uncertain terms.
Back at the abbey, the Dowager Countess speaks to the Dr Clarkson about the chances of saving Sybil from eclampsia. In order to help Robert and Cora’s marriage she asks him to lie, saying that even if Sybil had been operated on the chance of survival would have been slim. But will he go against his own professional opinion?
Isobel’s luncheon goes remarkably well and Ethel’s ambitious food is a success. That is until Robert storms in and demands they all leave because their food has been cooked by a prostitute. Importantly no one leaves and we see all too clearly Robert’s power slipping away.
The world isn’t going Robert’s way at the moment. The estate is still very unstable, his relationship with Cora is tense and the only thing he has left to remind him off his daughter, baby Sybil, will soon be taken away by Tom.
But one thing can bring a smile to Lord Crawley’s face; Bates is being released from prison. Mrs Bartlett has revised her statement and the lawyer is confident that this will prove Bates’ innocence.
Dr Clarkson agrees to review his medical opinion and reassures both Clara and Robert that Sybil was in all likelihood destined to die from eclampsia, whether she had been operated on or not. The episode ends with Robert and Cora in an embrace, both comforted to some extent by the news and prevented from playing the ‘blame game’ that was making them both so miserable.
A thoroughly gripping episode, but can we have a more cheery Downton next week please Mr Fellowes?
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