Downton Abbey recap: People Like Us Are Never Unhappily Married

Cora shuts Robert out after Sybil's death, and it's up to the Dowager Countess to bring them back together
Ep. 05 | Aired Feb 3, 2013

CAN THEY HANDLE THE TRUTH? Robert and Cora are at odds following Sybil's untimely demise, and their marriage hangs in the balance.

PBS

Robert's descent into worst character territory started off last season, when he -- annoyed because Cora wouldn't have lunch with him -- kissed the maid, Jane. But we forgave him because of his valiant "find a cowboy from the middle west" speech to Mary. This season, however, he's become such a cad.

His many crimes include causing Edith to be jilted at the altar, telling Matthew that they will be co-masters of Downton, then dismissing his heir's concerns about the management of the estate, insulting Edith when she received an offer to write a column, the entire Sir Philip Tapsell vs. Dr. Clarkson debacle, and a general refusal to let go of tradition.

And that brings us to tonight's episode. Cora wants nothing to do with Robert and still blames him for Sybil's death. Last week, she asked her eldest daughter to tell her husband to sleep in the dressing room. This week, the Countess is still not ready to let the Earl back into her bed. "You believed Tapsell because he's knighted and fashionable and has a practice at Harley Street. You let all that nonsense weigh against saving our daughter's life, which is what I find so very hard to forgive," a teary-eyed Cora tells her husband. "Do you think I miss her any less than you?" Robert asks. "I should think you miss her more. Since you blocked the last chance we had to prevent her death," she answers. Yikes. At least there are no maids, that we know of, for Robert to turn to.

While he is concerned with his wife and their marriage, he decides to focus on his son-in-law. He wants to kick Tom and the baby out as soon as possible. During breakfast, when Tom says he will leave Downton when he finds a job, the Earl agrees with this plan. "Tom's right. He has to start to make a life for himself sometime," Robert says, despite Edith and Matthew's attempts to get Tom to stay. But although Robert doesn't want Tom around, he does want to exert his influence on how his granddaughter is raised.

First, she shouldn't be baptized Catholic, like Tom says she will be. "The only chance that child will have of achieving anything in life is because of the blood of her mother," Robert squawks to Mary as they sit outside on the grounds. For her part, Mary disagrees with her father. At least the eldest Crawley daughter learned not to be such a snob.

Second, Robert takes issue with the name Tom has chosen to give her -- Sybil. "That's another thing. I think it's ghoulish to call her after Sybil," he shouts. Nothing pleases him these days.

NEXT: The Dowager steps in

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