Just when all the fans of Downton Abbey didn't think things could possibly get worse for Lord Grantham, they did. Hugh Bonneville, the actor who plays him, received death threats after last week's episode when he followed the wrong doctor's advice which resulted in his daughter Sybil's death during childbirth.
Things do get even worse for the earl when wife Cora in tonight's episode continues to blame him for their daughter's death. She banishes him from their bedroom, snapping he should feel responsible for her death.
Lord Grantham, with his stiff British upper lip, retires calmly with the words, "I'll say goodnight then." Not quite as dramatic as when Clark Gable in Gone With The Wind told Scarlett O'Hara off with the words, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"
Lord Grantham retreats more often than a losing general in war in this one episode after he retreats from his wife's boudouir. Later, he will retreat from the dining room when his son-in-law Mathew Crawley informs him he is incompetently running Downton Abbey.
His line this time is, "We'll discuss this another time." Translated, that means he doesn't ever want to discuss it.
Poor Lord Grantham! But worse is still to come. A strong Anglican, he is disturbed when Sybil's husband says he intends to have his baby girl baptized as a Catholic.
"Nobody in this family has been baptized as a Catholic since the Reformation!" he thunders in frustration at his son-in-law.
Then oldest daughter Mary even sides against him when she says, "Sybil said on her deathbed she didn't mind if her daughter is baptized Catholic if that makes her husband happy."
Stunned, Lord Grantham once again retreats from the room in defeat.
Then he is defeated yet again when he attempts to retrieve his wife and daughters from a luncheon hosted by Matthew's mother to give them moral support during their season of grief and mourning. To his astonishment, he is rebuffed once again.
"But don't you realize this dinner was prepared by a former prostitute? This will bring scandal to Downton Abbey," he roars.
Once again he retreats when this time his own mother, played by Maggie Smith, sides with his wife and daughters in refusing to leave with him. Instead they stay and finish the meal.
About to give up on everything, including his marriage, he confides in desperation to his mother that he thinks his marriage has gone bad because Lady Grantham (Cora) blames him for their daughter's death.
At this point Lord Grantham is obviously heartbroken and has no idea what to do about the new and changes in the world around him.
His mother saves the day at the end of the episode for poor Lord Grantham by coercing the family doctor into telling Cora that Sybil would've died no matter what the doctors did or didn't do. How true the doctor's statement are regarding the survival rate of mother's in Sybil's condition is vague to the fans of Downton Abbey. Was the doctor totally honest about Sybil's chances of survival or did Lord Grantham's mother persuade him to say what was necessary to help Cora and Robert grieve together and thus save their marriage? Cora forgives him and they now can grieve together and are left in a loving embrace at the close of this episode.
The episode also ends on another high note when a dramatic letter is received that Bates, who has been in prison for murdering his ex-wife, is to be released in a few weeks because a witness has changed her story. Fans hoping to "free Bates" should be elated at this news.
Bates served with Lord Grantham during the war and was hired at Dowton Abbey before his arrest.
Previews for the upcoming episode leave Downton Abbey loyal viewers anticipating more of the same drama.
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