“Downton Abbey” aired its fourth episode of season three on Jan. 27. It started out as a joyous occasion as youngest Crawley daughter Sybil is about ready to give birth to the first grandchild of Robert and Cora. However, things took a tragic turn.
Dr. Clarkson has known the girls since they were very young, so he was Cora’s first choice to call when her youngest started labor. He told the family that the pains are just very early labor so everyone goes back to bed and he leaves for the night. On the other hand, Lord Grantham decided to call in Sir Philip. This starts the clash of the doctors. This can’t be a good thing.
When labor really begins, Dr. Clarkson becomes extremely concerned because Sybil’s ankles are very swollen and she seems muddled. Sir Philip is not happy and tells the family doctor to stop interfering and worrying the family needlessly. He assures them that these are just normal signs of childbirth. After taking a urine sample, Dr. Clarkson states that Sybil is suffering from a dangerous condition called eclampsia in which she could die from if she doesn’t get to a hospital. He thinks a caesarean is in order to save her life. Perhaps they should consult with Tom? After Robert’s plea to listen to Sir Philip’s advice to keep her at Downton, and because Dr. Clarkson cannot swear that a caesarean would save Sybil’s life for certain, Tom decides to side with his father-in-law.
Later, Sybil gives birth to a healthy baby girl. The family is thrilled and everything seemed to turn out fine after all. However, Mary wakes Cora in the middle of the night as something is terribly wrong with the new mother. Sybil is having seizures, just as Dr. Clarkson predicted. As the poor girl is gasping for breath, Tom and Cora are frantically crying and trying to help. The family stands around not knowing what is going on. Unfortunately, Dr. Clarkson does, but it is too late to do anything for her. Lord Grantham yells at Sir Philip, but all he can say is, "The human life is unpredictable.” Sybil stops breathing, leaving the family to grieve and the small baby girl without a mother to care for her.
Poor Cora is most affected by her daughter’s unexpected death. She vows to her youngest that she will take care of Tom and her granddaughter. Later, Cora tells the family that she is off to write an apology letter to Dr. Clarkson. Her riveting words of, "Because if we'd listened to him, Sybil might still be alive, but Sir Philip and your father knew better and now she's dead,” hit straight to the heart. Robert is now faced with his wife’s mournful scorn.
Are you shocked that Sybil died? Will Cora ever forgive Robert for this tragedy?
Stay tuned for more “Downton Abbey” Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.