Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"The sweetest spirit under this roof is gone . . ."

You said a mouthful, Mrs. Hughes.

Even if you've seen spoilers for Season 3, you couldn't help but be moved by Sunday night's Downton Abbey. (Read no further if you haven't viewed Episode 4 yet.) Lady Sybil Crawley, Mrs. Tom Branson, died from eclampsia shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. Her devastated family and servants miss her and so will we.

Mr. Carson to Mrs. Hughes: I knew her all her life, you see. I've known her since she was born.

Lady Cora to Lady Mary: This is my chance to say goodbye to my baby.

Lady Mary to Lady Edith: She was the only person living who thought you and I were such nice people.

Thomas to Anna: In my life I can tell you not many have been kind to me. She was one of the few.

What may be the most heartbreaking episode yet also brought us some of the best writing and acting of the series, allowing the characters from upstairs and downstairs to show their anguish.

Dowager Countess: Oh, Carson, we've seen some troubles you and I. Nothing worse than this.

Mr. Carson: Nothing could be worse than this, My Lady.

It's hard to imagine that Maggie Smith could get any better, but she outdid herself when the  grief-stricken Dowager Countess walked away from Carson, trying to steady herself on her cane. Dame Maggie Smith is a better actor walking away from the camra than most actors are coming toward it.

While Episode 4 was airing, Downton Abbey won the SAG award for outstanding ensemble in a drama series at the 19th Screen Actors Guild Awards (besting Boardwalk Empire, Breaking Bad, Homeland and Mad Men). Some surprised but delighted Downton cast members were in Los Angeles to accept the award: Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Allen Leech (Tom Branson),  Amy Nuttall (Ethel Parks) and Sophie McShera (Daisy), left to right in the photo below. Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith were also nominated for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series.

Photos:  Carnival Film & Television for Masterpiece/ITV/Getty