Spotlight: The Best of Branson
From his first interaction with Lady Sybil, Tom Branson promised to do much more than just sit behind the wheel of a motorcar. But who could have anticipated the hearts he'd win at Downton Abbey, the role he'd take saving the estate, and the utter joy the family (and the fans) would feel upon seeing him return with Sybbie? On the occasion of Branson's return to Downton, take a look back at some of his most dramatic moments. Welcome home!
Sybil: It seems rather unlikely. A revolutionary chauffeur.
Branson: Maybe. But I'm a Socialist, not a revolutionary. And I won't always be a chauffeur.
Branson's pamphlets and conversation soon inspire and awaken Sybil.
Branson: I never would have taken her there. I may be a Socialist but I'm not a lunatic.
Sybil lies to Robert and Branson about her purpose for going to Rippon, and leaps out of the car to join the people awaiting the much anticipated election results. The rally quickly becomes a mob, and Sybil gets shoved, hitting her head as she falls. Though fine, Sybil must face her father, who is ready to fire the chauffeur. Only Sybil's threat to leave if Branson is dismissed saves him his job.
Anna: You were going to assassinate the General!
Branson: Kill the General? I was not! I was going to throw that lot all over them.
Anna: What is it?
Branson: Oil and ink and a bit of a cowpat all mixed with sour milk. He'd have needed a bath right enough, but not a coffin.
As a war protest, Branson attempts to humiliate dinner guest General Strutt; he volunteers to stand in as footman. Just as dinner is being served, Anna finds a note from Branson to Sybil asking forgiveness and explaining that by the time she reads it he will have been arrested for attacking the General. In the nick of time, Anna and Carson grab a tureen from Branson's hands.
Branson: You can bet on me.
Branson wins Sybil's love, and urges her to run away with him. At the last minute, they are talked out of their elopement. Later, when Tom secures a job as a journalist in Dublin, Sybil tells the family, but is denied their blessing by a furious Robert.
Robert: And all the time, you've been driving me about, bowing and scraping and seducing my daughter behind my back?
Branson: I don't bow and scrape and I've not seduced anyone. Give your daughter some credit for knowing her own mind.
After the Spanish Flu takes Lavinia, Robert is given pause, and finally, begrudgingly, gives Sybil and Tom his blessing.
Branson's return to Downton Abbey for Matthew and Mary's wedding is off to a poor start: he doesn't own a set of tails or even a dinner jacket, and he talks politics at dinner, enraging Robert. But he finds an ally in Matthew, and their friendship is cemented when the horrible Larry Grey spikes Branson's drink, rendering him wildly drunk and defiant. Matthew asks Branson to be his best man.
Matthew: I've told you before, if we're mad enough to take on the Crawley girls, we have to stick together.
Before long, Branson returns the favor, helping to heal the financial rift between Matthew and Mary and reuniting them before their wedding.
Branson: You're meant to be together. I've known that as long as I've been at the house. And at first this kept you apart, and then that kept you apart, but please don't risk it a third time. Because I tell you this: You won't be happy with anyone else while Lady Mary walks the earth.
More drama ensues when Branson, at risk of imprisonment, flees Ireland for Downton, leaving pregnant Sybil to follow. They are reunited the following day, and she carries their baby to term at Downton, giving birth to their beautiful daughter. Yet in a heartbreaking tragedy, Sybil dies from eclampsia as Branson looks on, powerless and begging for help. He names her Sybil.
Robert: Think of this as a Christening present from Sybil.
In a gesture of reconciliation and love for his lost daughter, Robert asks Branson to become Downton Abbey's estate agent. He agrees to stay for a while, until Sybbie is older.
Branson: You understand the responsibilities we owe to the people round here, those who work for the estate and those that don't. It seems to me if we could manage to pool all of that, if we each do what we can do, then Downton has a real chance.
Robert: You are very eloquent, you are a good spokesman for Matthew's vision. Better than he has been, recently.
Robert is surprised and moved by Branson's advocacy, and agrees to accept Matthew's reform plan for the estate, on one condition: Branson agrees to play cricket for Downton.
Mrs. Hughes: You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life, but you've done well and Lady Sybil would be so proud.
Branson: I can't bear to be without her.
Mrs. Hughes: You must bear it. And one day, I hope and so would she, you'll find someone to bear it with you. But until then, be your own master and call your own tune.
Branson, feeling out of place above stairs and no longer at ease below, allows Edna to manipulate him and kiss him. Wracked with shame, he finds comfort, kindness, and valuable advice from Mrs. Hughes.
In his uninspired small talk with the Duchess of Yeovil, Branson feels more than ever like a failure, a fraud, and a fish out of water. Though Robert won't accept Branson's claim that he'll never be "one of them," Branson is vulnerable to Edna, who has returned to the house, and, brooding and drunk, he doesn't object when the manipulative maid steals into Branson’s bedroom to offer him more fulsome consolation.
Edna: All I need is your word that you'll marry me if there's a baby. Don't worry. If it happens, I mean to make a go of being your wife. I won't hold you back. You won't have any regrets.
Branson: I am already full of regrets. There is nothing but regret in me.
Branson confides in Mrs. Hughes about his dilemma with Edna, and Mrs. Hughes calls Edna's bluff about her alleged pregnancy, certain that the lady's maid had planned the whole thing in order to trap Branson. She swiftly sends Edna packing.
Branson: I don't believe in types. I believe in people.
At sea and in an effort to reconnect with his politics, Branson goes to hear a liberal party speaker in Ripon, and meets schoolteacher Sarah Bunting. When he encounters her again and helps her fix her car, he brushes up against her prejudice against the aristocracy.
Branson: We need to stand up to them, you and I. We may love them but if we don't fight our corner, they'll roll us out flat.
Edith: You're right. Thank you for that.
Branson unknowingly inspires Edith, giving her the courage to take steps to get her beloved daughter back.
Sarah: Don't you despise them? Really?
Branson: No, I don't. I’d like things to change but I don't think in black and white terms any more.
Despite a friendship and an attraction, Branson and Sarah Bunting cannot see eye-to-eye about the complexities of class, and that she could never accept that he loves the Crawley family.
Branson: I'm glad we met. You've reminded me of who I am and I'm grateful. And I won't lose touch with that again.
Branson: Why don't you just get out, you bastard!
Violet: And suddenly we’ve slipped into a foreign tongue.
Larry Merton strikes again, humiliating Isobel and poisoning her engagement before moving on to insult Atticus, Jews, and finally, once again, Branson. Branson has had enough.
Branson: What do you say we take a moment to think of Sybil? We're the three left on earth who loved her the most.
Edith, Branson and Mary meet in the nursery, each with a Christmas stocking to hang for their child. Together, on the verge of Tom and Sybbie's departure, they remember Sybil.
Robert: I've grown extremely fond of you, Tom. Sybil would be amazed to hear it, but I have. Always remember you have a home to come back to.
Branson: Sybil would be very touched, as am I. And, yes, I will think of Downton as my home.
Branson and Sybbie are leaving for America to start a new life in Boston.
Branson: It’s quite simple. I had to go all the way to Boston to find something out. But that’s what I’ve done.
Mary: Go on. What is it?
Branson: Very well. I’ve learned Downton is my home and you are my family. If I didn’t quite know it before I left,
I know it now.
Welcome home, Tom and Sybbie!