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'Downton Abbey' (PBS)
The Moment: Lady Sybil Requires Medical Attention (from "Episode 4)
Before the "Downton Abbey" season started in the States, I googled "Downton Abbey Ratings" just to get exact numbers for comparisons. Instead, a headline from The Guardian revealed the biggest twist of the first half of the season. But even knowing what was coming, Episode 4 was like a terrifying roller coaster heading to the most inevitable and tragic of conclusions. The horror just builds and builds from the original summoning of the doctors, to the differing diagnosis and course of action, to the finality of Branson standing in a window crying and holding his baby. Other things happen in the episode, but the tragedy stretches across nearly a full hour. Say what you will about the third "Downton Abbey" season, but emotional soap opera mechanics are almost never executed this well.
- Daniel Fienberg