Robert and Cora clash over the death of Sybil and change has everyone reeling at Downton Abbey.

One word that describes the sentiment of the Crawley family, which was highlighted in this past episode, is fractured. Have you taken sides yet?

With the shocking death of the beloved Sybil in the last episode, everyone at Downton is on edge trying to deal with the loss. But loss isn’t the only thing shaking up this stuffy aristocratic family. Change is on the horizon with the management of the Crawley estate that has Robert’s undergarments in a knot. Also, pioneering women, Isobel and Edith face adversity in equal rights for women and progress.

It’s hard not to hate Robert after the dumb, egotistical decision he made regarding Sybil’s health care. Cora spirals deeper into her grief for the loss of her child and has no problem letting everyone know that she blames her husband. This also sends Lord G into an emotional state, even shedding a tear, which earned him a bit of sympathy I did not think could be felt. But as he continues his reluctance to move with the times, even butting up against Matthew about the estate being mismanaged, sympathy for Robert is waning.

The Dowager Countess, Violet, sees major trouble ahead for his son’s marriage, so she hatches a plan to nip their impending divorce in the bud. And who could really go against Violet? I must admit, though, I love the drama between Cora and Robert and didn’t want it to end too quickly. But Violet managed to get Dr. Clarkson to lie to Cora telling her that his recommendation was only a slight possibility. Of course, Robert breathes a sigh of relief and Cora lifts the blame off of him. Way to manipulate that one, Violet.

One happy thing to come out of the doom and gloom is Sybil and Branson’s newborn baby. But it seems no matter what he does, Branson always finds himself on the wrong side of the Crawley tracks. When he decides to name the baby Sybil, the family, mainly Robert, is outraged. He gets unlikely support from Lady Mary who backs him up. She also backs him when he reveals he is going to baptize baby “Sybbie” in the Catholic faith (gasp!).

Lady Mary is also a champion to Anna, supporting her through her efforts to get Bates out of prison for good. Lady Mary has been quite admirable this season and is showing her maturity with her sister Edith, who she gives her blessing to take the writing job at the paper.

Going against the wishes of her father, and Carson, who always has a strong opinion against anything to do with change, Edith does take the job and I can’t wait to see where this storyline takes her.

Also pushing for change is Isobel. But unfortunately her well-intended efforts to assist others less fortunate, often backfires. When the family finds out that she’s hired Ethel as her cook and had Mrs. Patmore give her some cooking tips, all hell breaks loose. After all, having this kind of woman in the home would be damning to the family’s honour and character. But she insists on going against the grain to help out this poor soul, who has nothing.

MVP of episode six: Lady Mary. Mary is finally growing up and seeing change as a good thing and is has been supportive of Tom Branson, Matthew and her sister Edith, which makes her the hero of the episode.

What’s up next week? Thomas’s status as valet is threatened when Bates returns to Downton, Lady Edith has an interesting meeting with her editor and O’Brien heats up her plans to throw Thomas in Jimmy’s arms.

Downton Abbey airs on Sundays at 9pm on PBS.



—Toni-Marie Ippolito






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