‘Downton’ Drama: An unexpected tragedy

1:00 pm EDT, October 18, 2012

From the miracle of a birth, to the tragedy we never saw coming, Downton Abbey doesn’t get more dramatic than this. Major season 3 spoilers ahead.

I’m sure everyone you ask was deeply affected by the fifth episode of Downton Abbey. Not only was it profoundly sad, but it was also infinitely tragic. This reaction could only have been emitted from a tragedy surrounding a beloved character, which is why I truly believe that Sybil’s death was more than sad, it was powerfully moving. It got the reader’s attention just as the deaths of beloved characters in Harry Potter such as Sirius, Lupin, Snape, Fred, Dumbledore and Dobby. These deaths had an impressive effect on the fandom, who refused to forget the sacrifices and honour of these characters.

The significance of Sybil’s death, in comparison to these immeasurable tragedies, is the legacy that she leaves behind. Whilst Sybil may not be your favourite character, I believe that it would be hard to find anyone who could possibly dislike her. She was always kind, caring and generous, which makes her death that much more tragic. I personally claim Mary and then Matthew to be my favourite characters, but there is a purity within Sybil that has always stood out to me.

Do you remember in series 1 when Sybil worked to help Gwen the housemaid to achieve her dream of becoming a secretary? She refused to give in to the roles that everyone else in society had accepted. She continued to rebel against her family and her station, going to political rallies in support of women’s right to vote, and demonstrated her compassion in working as a nurse during the war.

In order to prepare for being a nurse, Sybil secretly asked Mrs. Patmore and Daisy for help regarding cooking skills, as Isobel suggested she would need some basic skills. When Sybil came back to Downton as a fully trained nurse, Branson asked her if she could go back to her life after the war, and she responded, ‘No I could never go back to that.”

This is severely contrasted against almost everyone else at Downton.

Even her relationship with Branson emphasises the tragedy of her death. Rather than the beginning of a romance, their first meeting marks the beginning of a strong, yet ‘undesirable’ friendship, as her family members come to worry about her reputation. In an interview, Jessica Brown Findlay, who plays Sybil said, “The connection she has with Branson is beautiful. In the first series, I never saw it. I never saw it sort of being romantic or anything like that. I never read it as that. She’s just so happy for there to be someone she could talk to, and understand her.” Their friendship evolves into romance as they come to understand each other intimately, demonstrating the breaking of ties between the classes.

Reflecting on this reminds me of the importance of Sybil. She was kind and generous to a fault, irrespective of status. Her importance lies in this legacy she leaves behind, that we all share the same role, we are all human. Unlike others of her class, she refused to disregard the efforts and circumstances of those ‘below’ her, and never treated them as such. Therein lies the tragedy of Sybil’s death.

How else could we possibly describe the death of a beloved character, who had so much further in life to go, as a mother and as a woman of an aristocratic family who believed in equal rights?

Knowing that someone was to die in this episode, as soon as the episode began, I believed it would be Sybil’s baby, and yes, that would be sad, but not so infinitely tragic as the death of Sybil herself. There is something purely good in Sybil, her soul radiates a purity that cannot be found elsewhere. Her death was not only shocking to her family, but also to the servants, who too were devastated by her death. This is particularly evidenced through Thomas, who is visibly in tears at the word of her death, “In my life I can tell you that not many have been kind to me, she was one of the few,” he said, further demonstrating her complete goodness.

Because of this, I feel that Sybil is one of the few characters on not only Downton Abbey, but countless other TV shows and in countless books, who actually deserves a truly happy ending. But she didn’t get hers. This is why Sybil’s death was a complete tragedy, because her pure goodness is unparalleled and utterly deserving of true happiness. I for one, am just grateful that she got her moment with her husband and child before she had to leave them.

I am certainly going to miss Sybil. She will be remembered.

Cassandra Clare keeps expanding the Shadowhunters’ universe, with the first adult books of the chronicles just announced!

Clare announced via press release this morning that she’ll publish a trilogy about Magnus Bane, the fan-favorite warlock who’s appeared in every single one of her books and already received a collection of eleven spin-off novellas all about him (The Bane Chronicles). There is no word yet on whether the new books will tie in with the stories told in The Bane Chronicles.

Interestingly, this trilogy will be Clare’s first foray into adult literature, after writing extensively in the YA realm. She always pushed the boundaries of YA, though, with the inclusion of “Dirty Sexy Balcony Scenes” and the like. The first Shadowhunter book, City of Bones, was published in 2007, and the teens who picked it up back then will feel right at home in the adult section of a bookstore today.

Also of note, the series will be co-written with Wesley Chu (author of The Lives of Tao). Clare seems to like having co-writers when dealing with Magnus Bane; The Bane Chronicles are the only other Shadowhunter books that have other authors attached.

The first Magnus Bane book is expected to be published in November 2017. This means that Cassandra Clare will have three Shadowhunters series being published concurrently… The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours, and this Magnus Bane series.

If various sources are to be believed, all three will have an installment published in 2017. The second Dark Artifices book, Lord of Shadows, is expected in April. The Magnus Bane book, as mentioned above, is due in November. And the official site of the Shadowhunter Chronicles still says that the first Last Hours book, Chain of Thorns, is expected in 2017. Clare has a sixth series planned after getting some of these finished, The Wicked Powers, so there’ll be more Shadowhunters coming to a bookstore near you at least through the early 2020s.

Perhaps the decision to publish the Magnus Bane trilogy was based on the character’s success on the Shadowhunters TV show, where the fan favorite is portrayed by Harry Shum Jr. Shadowhunters was renewed for a second season by ABC Family, and it looks like they may have many seasons ahead of them.

Clare said, “Over the years writing the Shadowhunter books, Magnus Bane has emerged as one of the most fun and fascinating characters for me to bring to life… There are so many things we don’t know about Magnus, from the story of his first love to the secrets of his parentage, to the beginning of his relationship with Alec. All those are things I was able to touch on in The Bane Chronicles, but I’m excited to dig in even more deeply in these three volumes devoted to Magnus, his past, his future, and his present.”

Are you excited for three books all about Magnus Bane, or is this Shadowhunter overkill?

The Boxcar Children are heading to the big screen for a new movie series.

Many of us grew up with the wonderful Boxcar Children book series when we were kids. The stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner follow Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, who live in a train boxcar as they search for a home. As kids we all wanted to live in that boxcar (or at least I did — I thought it was so cool to live in a train car with friends!).

According to a press release from Shout! Factory Studios and Legacy Classics, work on a new Boxcar Children animated movie series is well underway, with the first movie aiming for a release in 2017 (which marks the 75th anniversary of Boxcar Children #1). Two more Boxcar Children stories are also in development.

If the animation quality is at the Sunday-morning-cartoon level I probably won’t be very excited about it, but if it’s a more mature animation style (like a Pixar or a Coraline) I can imagine myself loving it.


The Boxcar Children movie series is poised to do well thanks to the overall success of the books they’re based on. The novels have collectively sold over 70 million copies worldwide, with over 160 books (?!) in its arsenal. The two most recent books are titled The Legend of the Irish Castle and The Celebrity Cat Caper, which were both published this year. Looking through the history of the series, roughly four Boxcar Children books have been published annually. The original author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, only wrote the first 19.

A low-budget animated Boxcar Children film debuted two years ago, but today’s announcement marks a reboot with a new studio at the helm.

Arrested Development‘s fourth season aired three years ago today. To celebrate its legacy (and to try to forget how much we’re missing it right now), let’s rank the best recurring Arrested Development jokes!

It’s really no secret that Arrested Development has some of the best recurring jokes and gags of all time. Even people who don’t watch the show are familiar with things like “There’s always money in the banana stand” and “I’ve made a huge mistake.” The jokes in this show are just so understated and catchy that it would’ve been crazy had they not have caught on. Thanks to Arrested Development‘s recurring jokes, pop culture has never been quite the same.

To celebrate our undying love for Arrested Development, we decided to forgo the banner (sorry, everyone) and instead put together a list of all of the gags and jokes that we think are the best ones the show’s ever done. Not only that, but we’re leaving it up to you to rank them!

How to play: Love a certain joke and think that it should be at the top of the list? Upvote it. Really hate another joke and don’t understand how it got on the list in the first place? Hit that little downward-facing arrow. Don’t care either way for some of these gags? Then you can just leave them untouched. It’s all good! We just want to know what YOU think! With everyone participating we’ll be able to build a definitive list of the best Arrested Development jokes!

So, grab your denim cut-offs and hot ham water, and maybe even do a little chicken dance to get yourself pumped up (but not with the hot ham water in your hand, please). If you’re an Arrested Development fan, you’re sure to love ranking these jokes.

(Just be careful about which arrow you hit. You don’t want to hit the wrong one and find yourself saying “I’ve made a huge mistake.”)

Are there any ‘Arrested Development’ jokes missing from the list? Add them below!

Related: Arrested Development season 4 drinking game