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Episode 3.05 is the fifth episode of the third season of Downton Abbey, and the twenty-first episode overall.

It first aired on the 14th October, 2012 on ITV in the UK.


Set in summer 1920, likely August or September.[1]

Sybil is in bed experiencing labor pains. Dr. Clarkson examines her and declares that she is in good health. Robert has decided to call in a specialist, Sir Philip Tapsel, from London to oversee Sybil's impending delivery. Meanwhile, downstairs the help is talking about the coming baby and Mr. Carson orders everyone to be quiet upstairs so as not to disturb Sybil.

Daisy is talking rudely to Ivy, the new kitchen maid, because she has the attention of the footmen, especially Alfred. The footmen start teasing Ivy about having a baby so that Ivy asks what Mr. Carson would say about their talk.

James having been told by Carson to wind the clocks, asks Thomas for instruction and he is more than happy to oblige. Thomas gets very close to James and guides him carefully. O’Brien is very subtly urging Thomas toward James and telling James to be nice to Thomas in order to curry favor with Lord Grantham. In prison Anna and Bates discuss the last evening of Vera's life and realize that she made the poisoned cake while Bates was on the train back to Downton.

Isobel offers a job in her house to Ethel who has quit working as a prostitute but is concerned about the trouble working in Isobel’s house will cause within the family and Mrs. Bird. The cook, Mrs. Bird, eventually resigns because she feels that she cannot work with Ethel, the former prostitute. Touring one of the farms, Mathew explains to Mary about inefficient management of the estate. He comments that Lord Grantham does not understand that running things like a business is not mean or middle-class.

In the dining room Edith announces the editor of the Sketch, a London newspaper, has offered her a job writing a regular article. Even though Mathew is supportive based on Edith’s previous letter to a newspaper, Robert says that it is only because of her name, Lady Edith Crawley. Sir Philip does his best to keep Clarkson out of the loop about Sybil’s delivery. When Clarkson express concern about Sybil's condition, Sir Philip orders him to be silent. Tom is with Sybil in the room where she is suffering from confusion and has too much albumin in her urine. The doctors disagree about the proper treatment for possible eclampsia and Sir Philip insists that his opinion is the only correct one. Finally, Lord Grantham decides to go with Sir Philip and the baby, a girl, is born.

A few hours later, in the middle of the night, Mary in a panic wakes the family to go to Sybil's room. The young 24 year old is in bed having seizures. Clarkson informs them that it is eclampsia and that nothing can be done. After several minutes of distress Sybil cannot breathe and dies right in front of the whole family. The next day the house is in mourning and the morticians come to get Sybil’s body.

Mr. Murray, the lawyer, has arrived at Downton to hear the new evidence that Anna has uncovered. While he is there, Mathew has a discussion with him about the finances of the estate. Mary enters the room and catches them talking and reprimands them for deciding the future of Downton without including her father.

Later, when the Dowager arrives dressed in black, she and Carson exchange the view that even though they have been through some hard times together, nothing could be worse than the death of Sybil. Once the family is gathered in the drawing room, Lady Cora tells them that she will write to Dr. Clarkson to apologize for their behavior. When queried as to why, she says that because they did not take his advice and followed the orders of Sir Philip and Lord Grantham, Sybil died. The Lord then admits to his mother that there is some truth in that and she tries to console him.

Cast list[]


  1. Sybbie was born in August or September 1920; we can infer this from Robert's words of "Tennessee is going to ratify the 19th Amendment." in Episode 3.04; this happened in August 1920 meaning that Episode 3.04 is set before August, or at least before August 18th when the Amendment was ratified. This means, as the 2012 Christmas Special is set in September 1921, that Sybil must have been born in August - as this is after 3.04 - or September 1920 - which is a year before the events of the 2012 Christmas Special.

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