Frankly, I'm gobsmacked. This incident, unprecedented in its seriousness in Downton history – Mr Pamuk notwithstanding – demanded some incredible acting performances. Everyone rose to the task admirably, but it seemed almost cruel to the actors. One minute they were gossiping about kidney souffles, stopped clocks and poisoned pastry, the next they were witnessing the death of one of the house's most loved characters.
Sybil was the first sister to cross the great class divide; obviously by marrying the chauffeur but also in other ways, such as nursing during the war and asking Mrs Patmore to show her how to bake a cake. Edith is showing nascent signs of breaking out of her gilded cage by writing to the newspaper, while obdurately classbound Mary remains hostile to her husband's attempts to bring the estate into the 20th century.
related books and DVDs (the Season 3 DVD set is just around the corner), as well as our Downton Forum!