House Party Tragedy: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 2 Recap

Robert Crawley and opera singer Dame Nellie Melba at dinner
Lord Grantham and Dame Nellie Melba bond over wine at dinner, much to Robert's surprise.

It was, shall we say, a positive episode upstairs and decidely not downstairs. Let’s take a deep breath and recap Episode 2 with KCTS 9's Downton Abbey blogger Amie Simon.

I don’t know how you feel Downton fans, by my heart is absolutely in pieces after episode two—which started out almost cheerful and then disintegrated into tragedy for poor Anna Bates.

There’s a large party of people arriving at Downton complete with an Australian Opera Singer for dinner and entertainment! Among the arriving guests are handsome Lord Gillingham and his valet, Mr. Green, who immediately strikes up a flirtation with Anna. Why do I think Bates isn’t going to like this?

While Gillingham and Mary are reminiscing over childhood fun times, Edith sneaks Gregson in, already scheming about how he and her papa can become BFFs, and poor Branson gets stuck talking to the Duchess of Yeovil. Cue the Dowager’s first snark of the episode: “I’m afraid Tom’s small talk is very small indeed.” True, Violet. So true.

Down in the kitchen, Mrs. Patmore is whipping herself into a frenzy (even without the help of the evil mixer), and both Ivy and Daisy are convinced she’s going to have a heart attack. Foreshadowing! Kind of. Later, Patmore does have an anxiety attack mid-dinner prep, and Alfred fills in to make the sauces and help the girls out while she recovers. The guests practically lick their plates because he’s such a good chef. Bravo, Alfred!

And sneaky Edna Braithwaite is at it again! Pursuing Branson with no shame whatsoever. First she tries the whole, “I hope we can still be friends!” ploy, then ups the ante by approaching him with a whiskey after he’s flustered about not being able to fit in with the party guests and about not knowing all the rules, re: titles. Auuuugh! Why can’t Tom see through her completely obvious ladder-climbing strategy?

During one of the lighter moments in the episode, Jimmy and his coif try to impress Ivy by opening a sticky jar of cherries once Alfred can’t—which results in total disaster: he slips, spraining his wrist and dropping the cherry jar on the floor and making a huge mess. I love that the state of his hair is always in tandem with his mood! It ends up looking all floppy and embarrassed about his failure. Carson has to bring Molesley in for dinner service, since “James” can no longer serve. Lucky Molesley, second footman.

Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham appear to be growing closer, but it’s clear that though he’s falling for her, she’s not quite ready to give her heart to someone else. Especially since silly Rose hauls Matthew’s gramophone down from the attic to play records and sends Mary running from the dance floor near tears. Nice job, Rose! Way to ruin the mood.

The Dowager confronts Isobel about her grief, again, and begs her to come to the second night of the dinner party. Wait, what? Violet seems to be really into hanging out with Mrs. Crawley this season, doesn’t she? She must need someone to trade barbs with in order to have fun. But poor Isobel, just when she’s starting to enjoy herself, she notices Mary laughing with Gillingham and gets upset again. Bummer. (“It’s the first time I’ve heard her laugh since Matthew died,” says Tom. “Mm,” says Isobel

Of course Lord Grantham manages to get himself in trouble again, first by agreeing with Carson that the “entertainer” shouldn’t mix with the upper crust at dinner, and a second time by losing a bunch of money while playing poker with smarmy Terrance Sampson. Oh, Robert! Have you learned nothing? Do not gamble. Ever. Just stop. Luckily, Gregson realizes Sampson has been cheating all along, and saves the day by winning back everyone’s money and suavely returning it to all the players who lost at the end of the night, including his lordship. Whew! But even though Robert appreciates his generosity, he’s still not sure Gregson is good enough for Edith.

Mr. Green organizes a rowdy card game of “slaps” for the servants during dinner and conveniently places himself next to Anna, which sets Bates’ jealousy alarm off to the point of him yelling at his wife to stop making such an inappropriate racket. Yikes! Prison Bates has returned—but hopefully only for a moment.

And now comes the devastation: while the opera singer goes on upstairs, Anna leaves to sooth her jealous-Bates-stress headache and is confronted by Green in the kitchen, where he casts aside his friendly demeanor and shows his true intentions. Once she declines his amorous offers, he forces her to give him what he wants in a very brutal way. Oh, Anna! I was sobbing through this entire scene. Everybody upstairs, totally unaware of what’s going on downstairs. It was just so hard! In addition to her trauma, there’s NO WAY she can tell Bates about what happened, because he’ll definitely kill Green … which is exactly what she tells Mrs. Hughes when she asks for help covering it up. 

Later, when Bates asks what happened to Anna’s poor bruised and cut-up face, she tries to tell him she “slipped and fell,” but you can tell he’s not buying it. This is just SO devastating! And I’m sure even if she did tell Bates, or anyone else; her options for recourse are minimal. CURSE YOU, Mr. Green! Curse you. Or maybe I should be saying CURSE YOU, JULIAN FELLOWES.

I don’t even know what to say about next week’s episode. I can’t imagine any of it will be good in the aftermath of Green’s assault on Anna. Maybe we can hope for some comic relief from the kitchen? Please let Daisy order another new-fangled kitchen gadget!

TOP QUOTES:

Best snark from The Dowager, re: the opera singer:

“I thought she was going to sing after dinner. Well then why would we want to see her before?”

Most shocking line, from Mr. Green to Anna:
“You’re not telling me that sad old cripple actually makes you happy?”

Most brazen behavior: Edna bringing Tom a glass of whiskey:
Tom: “You understand me, don’t you?”
Edna: “I like to think so.”
Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Best line all episode, from Cora to Robert, re: the opera singer:
Cora: “You will have her next to you at dinner. And you WILL like it.”

Editor’s addendum:

The UK producers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films, has stated that “The complex and loving journey of Anna and Bates has been central to the narrative of the show. The events in this episode were, we believe, acted and directed with great sensitivity. Viewers will see in the forthcoming episodes how Anna and Bates struggle to come to terms with what has happened.”

This BBC article includes a video interview with the actress who plays Anna, Joanne Froggatt, as well as comments from writer Julian Fellowes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24448002

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01/21/14

I suspect that the consequences of Anna being attacked will be that she will find out that she is pregnant and she will not be able to celebrate it, as she cannot be sure that the father is her husband Bates, or if it is as a result of her being raped. She cannot tell Bates about the attack as he would be so incensed as to possibly kill Mr. Green and Anna cannot risk Bates having to go back into prison. So how is she going to deal with the pregnancy and what is going to happen to their idyllic marriage?

01/14/14

I became an avid fan of Downton because 5 of the key story lines were love stories: Matthew-Mary; Bates-Anna; Sybill-Tom; Daisy-William and Cora and Lord Grantham.

Daisy-William ended in the 2d Season.

Sybill-Tom and Matthew-Mary ended in the 3d Season.

Bates-Anna are on the ropes maybe never to truly recover.

Cora-Lord Grantham are a shadow of their former selves.

Why should I keep watching.

01/13/14

Downton Abbey has just lost three viewers after last night's episode. What a bare-faced potboiler! Flighty Rose causes more trouble, ho hum; Lord Grantham is over-the-top stupid on at least 3 counts--poker, managing the land, and hosting the singer; Edna is hired without checking her reference, with predictable results (now it's Tom's turn to be stupid); and above all, Mr. Green rapes Anna. There is NO justification for such brutality in DA unless the actress who plays Anna wants out of the series and so her suicide is being orchestrated.
I have no inside knowledge and that was only a cynical guess, but my friends and I are giving up watching this once-fine series because we don't watch it to be made cynical.
What's going on here? Has some genius decided to grow the audience even further with sensationalism? Did he or she also decide the new viewers they're hoping to lure wouldn't stay with the show during that wonderful concert without a lurid distraction? Talk about killing the golden goose. (And if I were Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, I'd sue.)

01/13/14

Yes, horrifying and yes....part of their culture/time and completely realistic. There have been a lot of times its been difficult for me to watch the show. But its like watching a slice of time in world history. Nonetheless....no one can be happy to have it happen to Anna (or anyone else for that matter). As heartbreaking as real life.

01/13/14

I have looked forward to each episode from day one and last night's episode was so disappointing. Downton has been such a nice, and usually fun, break from reality. I realize the storyline is no fault of KCTS; I'm just sad that the story took that turn.

01/13/14

I am horrified that the author wud cause such a traumatic thing. Poor matthew was one thing but sweet Anna. And her Mr Bates. What drew me was the tenderness of the loves of the main characters. All night and this while day I have felt terrible for poor Anna. The repercussions to the tenderness of downton abbey how can he draw us back in. Im so disappted.

01/13/14

My heart is broken for Anna, and almost as much for Bates who has know way of knowing what has happened to his beloved wife. It is not just that her attacker hurt her physically, but he took something from her emotionally and spiritually as well. Anna is the woman who encouraged Bates to "get used to being happy, and trust it," and who reminded Mary that "good men don't come along on buses every ten minutes." She sees goodness in people and draws it out of them. But, after this, how can she look at life the same way again?

I watch Downton principally for its many great romances, but last season two of those were dashed to pieces. Now I fear Anna and Bates may be next. It is one thing, as Yeats said, to love "moments of glad grace, and... beauty with love false or true." But, to borrow from Yeats again, we shall now see how much John Bates loves "the pilgrim soul in [her] and love[s] the changing sorrows of her face."

01/13/14

I was absolutely HORRIFIED!!!! REALLY? REALLY? RAPE?

CURSE YOU, JULIAN FELLOWES. TASTELESS!

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