Downton Abbey
Episode Five

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B+ | 3 USERS: A-
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Life Goes On

...which is probably for the best, as downstairs, Ethel wanders in with flowers in her hand, presumably for Mrs. Patmore. Carson, of course, is unwelcoming to her, but Mrs. Hughes appears and lets Ethel know where to find Mrs. Patmore before telling Carson she hopes he never needs a favor from his fellow man. Carson is unimpressed, but says he knows Mrs. Hughes will never abandon him. Well, even though you're no spring chickens, Carson, "never" is a long time.

The dance lesson is still going on when Jimmy James comes in and blows up Alfred's spot by saying he's only learning the foxtrot to please Ivy. I'd have a problem with the tattling if Alfred weren't already being so bloody obvious about what he's doing, and Daisy obviously feels the fool for it so she's only too happy to let Jimmy James elbow Alfred out of the way to dance with her. Of course, Carson happens in and berates them for dancing "at a time like this, of sober dignity," and honestly, I think Carson was most put out when they were short-staffed about being too busy with actual work to have time to nose around in his underlings' business. Unfortunately, Jimmy James not only gets dressed down for his behavior but has to endure a lecture about taking a page out of Alfred's book. After a few choice words for Daisy, Carson leaves, followed by Jimmy James, who sardonically thanks Alfred for speaking up. Alfred then has the unmitigated gall to start to ask Daisy if she wants to practice further, but Daisy tells him she's busy before suggesting he ask Ivy. I mean, honestly, Alfred. When I think Daisy's too good for you, you've really come down in the world.

Cora and Lord Grantham turn up to the Dowager Countess' and are surprised to find Clarkson there with the lady of the house, who informs them Clarkson has something to tell them. Lord Grantham steps forward and manfully starts to make his apologies, but Dr. Clarkson -- who's uncomfortable enough without going down that road -- begs leave to speak first and then takes a deep breath before saying that he thinks he gave them the impression that his recommended course of action on that fateful night offered a real chance for Sybil's survival. However, the truth -- and he claims to have done "a great deal of research" since then -- was that the chance was tiny. He goes on that while he was correct that an early delivery would have avoided the trauma Sybil went through, what he didn't realize is that eclampsia is almost invariably fatal even with a Caesarian. I'm no expert, but it seems clear that he's at least massaging the truth to some degree. His next statement, that his course would have subjected Sybil to the pain and fear of a hurried operation, certainly seems unvarnished. Cora manages to gulp out that there was still a chance, but after a look the Dowager Countess' way, Clarkson gently tells her that it was infinitesimal. Lord Grantham asks if he means to say Tapsell was right, but Clarkson won't sign off on that, saying Tapsell ignored all the evidence "in a most unhelpful and, I may say, arrogant manner." The Dowager Countess shifts a bit, but she kind of has to give him that one, and he does complete his requested mission by concluding that, weighing all the available evidence, Sybil was going to die regardless. He leaves them, and the door hasn't even closed before Cora starts to break down. Lord Grantham goes to his wife and the two of them embrace and sob into each other's arms as the Dowager Countess looks away, knowing of the family members, she alone will carry the truth. She's said she'd do anything for family; it's wonderful to know she's as good as her word. See you next time for the first of two straight double doses.

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Downton Abbey

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