Search form

Donate Today

The World Moves On: Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 4

The characters at Downton Abbey are beginning to move on—some more readily than others—but are we ready? Read on for Amie Simon's weekly recap of Downton Abbey season 4, episode 4

Downton fans, I have to admit: I’m still so traumatized from Anna’s assault that I was dreading this week’s episode. And sure enough, episode 4 starts with a lonely Bates walking from his empty home to the main house, and ends with a beautiful confession and reconciliation—albeit one fraught with a dangerous future.

While Bates is insisting Anna tell him what the heck is going on, the new ladies’ maid, Ms. Baxter (aka Barrow’s BFF), interrupts them to ask about using her electric sewing machine in the servant’s hall. What! Another new evil appliance? What will Patmore say?

During breakfast, Patmore asks Carson if the kitchen staff can train Alfred to cook for his test at The Ritz, and after he goes on and on about it, Patmore cuts him off with, “I was just checking, I wasn’t inciting a revolution.” Ho ho ho. Nice one, Patmore!

Baxter seems to be settling in well, even bringing Cora some fresh-squeezed orange juice. Watch out Cora! That woman will be slipping a soap bar under your feet in no time if you’re not careful.

While Branson and Mary conference with Lord Grantham in the library about an estate matter, Robert hands the paper over to her. There’s an announcement about Lord Gillingham and and Ms. Lane Fox. Aw, sad. Mary holds it together in front of them, but looks stricken as she exits the room and is seen crying later when she writes her “letter of congratulations.” Booooooo.

Meanwhile, all the servants are entranced with the new appliance: EVIL SEWING MACHINE! It’s electric! And controlled with a pedal! How mysterious! No surprise that Mrs. Patmore is not having it, saying, “Well I don’t think it has any business in the servant’s hall!” I’m sure you don’t, Mrs. Patmore. I’m sure you don’t.

In another super sad Anna scene, Hughes confronts her and begs her to tell Mr. Bates what happened so she can get out from behind her “veil of shadows.” She’s so right, Anna! Just tell him already, please!

Oh look, Isobel has a new cause! She’s championing a young gardener (John Pegg) who needs work. I have to say it’s really nice to see that she’s finally shed her mourning clothes, even if she’s still being all emo about “not being one of the family.” Her emo-ness elicits my favorite line from Doctor Carson, ever: “If it serves you to think yourself unloved, then nothing I say will make any difference.” Truth!

Lord Grantham attends the funeral of one of the farmers on the estate, and is shocked to learn his son, Timothy Drewe (am I crazy, or does he look like a younger Russell Crowe?), doesn’t want to give up his father’s land. He presses Robert to give him a chance, and later his lordship surprises everyone by lending Drewe money to pay off the debt his father left and create a partnership between himself and the young farmer. WHOA.

Thankfully, we have Daisy and Alfred’s cute kitchen antics to relieve the pall over this episode left by Anna and Bates. Daisy is just so friggin’ cute while she helps him make egg and cheese tarts … even though her heart is clearly breaking.

We get a brief glimpse of Lady Edith this episode; first we learn that she hasn’t heard from Gregson in quite some time (DUHN DUHN DUHNNN! Trouble ahead!), then later she travels to London to visit … a doctor’s office. It’s not where she told dear mama she was headed, and we are sadly not privy to what happens inside.

While trying to find a job for young Pegg, Isobel, of course, goes to Violet to ask if he can become her new gardener. While the Dowager scoffs, she does accept, but not without a few good zingers! I love that these two are hanging out more this season, even if I can’t tell whether Violet hates her or loves her.

Jimmy and his coif try to put the damper on Alfred’s happiness about being accepted to test at The Ritz by making fun of him for having never been to London, and by saying, “I just can’t see the fun in a life chained to the stove!” WHATEVER, JAMES! You can’t kill his dream! Even Lord Grantham wishes him well after tasting his amazing tarts.

And finally, we get a little bit of news about Barrow and his new protégé. He’s got some dirt on Baxter, and has placed her in the ladies’ maid job in order to get “news” about the goings-on upstairs. He also warns her not to make enemies downstairs, as that was “O’Brien’s mistake.” Oh no! Another creepy alliance is in place. This is going to end badly; I just know it. But for whom?

Ut-oh! It looks like a second evil appliance is going to make an appearance! Lady Grantham suggests that Patmore allow a modern refrigerator to replace the ice box in the kitchen, but Patmore is not keen on that idea. After protesting, Cora says, “Mrs. Patmore, is there any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistance?” Patmore’s answer: “Oh m’lday, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of my corset.” HAHA.

Upstairs, the arrival of yet another handsome stranger from Mary’s past sends her into glowing rapture. Enter Mr. Napier! The young man that Mary was supposed to be matched with in season 1, but was unfortunately overshadowed by the mysterious Pamuk. Oh, Pamuk! That scandal will never be forgotten. [Ed. note: WE HOPE.]

I admit that I’m a fan of Napier, but that dude definitely does not have a way with words … especially when you put his romantic speeches up against Lord Gillingham’s, I know the last time they saw each other it was REALLY awkward, but still!

Bates finally reaches his breaking point, and pressures Mrs. Hughes to spill the entire story by threatening to give his resignation if she doesn’t. Hughes smartly covers up that fact that it was Mr. Green by spinning a lie about it being a random stranger who broke in and waited for Anna to wander downstairs and attack her. This is not going to last, of course. Bates is WAY smarter than that!

Over at the Dowager’s house, a surprised Violet shuffles into her study in her bathrobe to find Pegg skulking around with a watering can, and upon further investigation finds that her fancy royalty-gifted letter opener is MISSING! Ut-oh. When she confronts Clarkson and Isobel with her concerns, Isobel insists Pegg is innocent.

Right before dinner at Downton, Branson announces that he should leave for America at once because he doesn’t fit in anywhere and can’t go back to Ireland. Take Sybbie away from her family? Noooooooooo. I don’t like this plan.

Another plan I’m skeptical of: Molesley returning to Downton as a footman. Mostly because Carson seems so condescending about it! Expecting Molesley will accept since he’s “fallen so far.” And then being kind of a jerk about it when he doesn’t immediately agree to be a footman, and further being a jerk by taking great joy in telling him it won’t work because Alfred is staying. GAHHH. Carson! I prefer your softer, wistfully romantic side.

Oh no! HERE IT COMES! Bates approaches Anna in the boot room and confesses that he knows of her attack. He then confirms Anna’s suspicions about his temper by saying, “If it was the valet, he’s a dead man.” And then Anna is forced to defend her attacker and says she’s “spoiled” for Bates, and I sobbed for a solid 30 minutes.

Bates also contributed to that sobbing, but in a good way, with his speech back to her while holding her face in his hands:

“You are not spoiled. You remain higher to me, and holier because of the suffering you have been put through. You are my wife! And I have never been prouder, nor loved you more than this moment.”


New farmer Timothy Drewe sweet talks Lady Mary into believing he can farm the land his father left him successfully, then accidently reveals Robert’s financial assistance. After a shocked Mary recovers, she admits to Branson that her papa did the right thing, and she’s glad about it. Aw. Sweet!

And then just when you think this business with Bates attempting to kill Green might be a non-issue, while talking to a relieved Mrs. Hughes, we see the emergence of Prison Bates! With rage on his face, Bates exclaims, “Be aware. Nothing is over. And nothing is done with.” Oh man.

Bates has to know that Mr. Green assaulted Anna, because he’s not stupid, right? Things are going to explode soon! Who wants to bet that by the next episode, he’s tracked the evil valet down and confronted him? Let’s just hope Green doesn’t have any arsenic on hand …


Best zinger from the Dowager, to Isobel:
“I wonder your halo doesn’t grow rather heavy; it must be like wearing a tiara around the clock.”

Most heartbreaking line:
Anna to Bates: “Well it’s in the open; no more secrets. No more fear of being found out. Because I am found out, my shame has nowhere to hide. I am spoiled for you! And I can never be unspoiled.”

Most obvious statement of the entire episode:
Barrow, to Baxter: “Mrs. Patmore is not what you call a futurist.”


There are 2 comments

Read Comments Hide Comments

I do hope Bates does not go back to prison, that would be horrible!!!! Please Mr. Fellows do not send Bates back to prison!!!! let that mess be resolved legally and safely for Anna and Bates's sake!!!!!

To follow up on what Donna said, I have been dreading the possibility of Bates going back to prison ever since Anna was attacked. I hope that Ms. Simon is correct that Bates definitively knows that Green attacked Anna, because the other possibility I am dreading is that Bates will go after the wrong man and end up killing an innocent person instead of a guilty one. Lies, even well-intentioned ones generally have a consequence.

Bates' "higher and holier" speech was beautiful and reminded me of one of Julian Fellowes' greatest strengths as a writer. He simply writes beautiful dialogue. I still find myself quoting lines from The Young Victoria years after I first saw it, to say nothing of his work on Downton Abbey. Unfortunately, it also brings to light the fact that one of Anna and Bates' most endearing qualities may also be their tragic flaw. They do not simply love each other: they adore and worship each other. No one can live up to that expectation.