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The Downton Abbey Dish Season 4 Episode 2

British television maven and blogger Deborah Gilbert keeps you in the know with entertaining recaps of each Downton Abbey Season 4 episode. Count down the most memorable scenes from each episode, including the Dowager Countess' best zingers. New episodes of Downton Abbey Season 4 air Sundays at 9pm through February 23.
THE DOWNTON ABBEY DISH – Downton Abbey Season 4 Recap: Episode 2 (aired 1/12/14)

I have no idea what to say. I am sure you are all feeling the same way I am after watching what just happened: To say it was disturbing and upsetting is an understatement. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll have trouble sleeping tonight. It all starts out reassuringly enough though, with Isis back in the tail-wagging seat, lulling us into a false sense of security. So I suppose we’ll start there…

Whatever Edna Wants, Edna Gets – Boop Boop Diten Datum Whatem Choo
To quote Sir Charles Brown, ‘AAAAARGH!!!!’ Well, that didn’t take long. So much for keeping out of trouble. This is like one of those horror movies where you’re screaming ‘DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!’ at the screen but, of course, they can’t hear you and they walk into a chainsaw. And so it was with Branson. After days of being stuffed into a monkey suit and hit on by a cougar Duchess looking for some hot Irish caveman action, the house party made poor Tom feel like a fish out of water and crazy Edna was lying in wait, ready to reel him in. All she had to do was drop a big drink in Branson’s hand and he started swimming upstream to spawn. At least, that’s what we’re left to think when we see her let herself into his room to have her wicked way with him (do these people never lock their doors?). So yes, it doesn’t look good, but maybe I’ll be like one of those Downtonians who didn’t want to believe that Matthew was really dead. Yeah, that’s it. Maybe the next episode will begin by cutting to a scene inside Branson’s bedroom, a few minutes after Edna walked in, and they’re just sitting there playing Canasta (#HeresHoping!) . I blame this on O’Brien. She was many things, but with her noodle bangs and moustache twirling she was no femme fatale. But she’s gone and we want to explain to Tom that the only thing that her replacement, the predatory Edna, understands about him is that he’s an easy mark.

Old Friends – Bookends
Who would have thought, way back when, that we would see the relationship between Violet and Isobel go from acerbic to tender the way it has? They are still (as the Brits say) like chalk and cheese, and they bicker like an old married couple, but it makes us smile to watch this relationship grow from Hatfields and McCoys to Oscar and Felix. Quite remarkable really, and to a different degree, the same goes for Violet’s relationship with Branson (though he seems to have lost sight of it this house party weekend – and we wonder how long it will last anyway if she finds out about Dame Edna). Last week we saw Violet trying to coax Mary past her grief, and this week we see her making another attempt to encourage Isobel, but keeping just enough of the old vinegar so as she doesn’t get suspicious. Well played Violet. Well played.

Luck Be a Lady Edith – We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat
So Lady Edith finally gets Editor Charming up to her place to see her etchings (or… van Dycks). Gregson is pretty insistent he wants to get to know Lord Grantham better, but his attempts to get past Robert’s avoidance systems are unsuccessful until… did someone mention cards? It turns out he’s a gambler (NickyArnsteinNickyArnsteinNickyArnstein) who’s rather slick at playing the innocent (RedFlagRedFlagRedFlag) and slices and dices Card Sharp (or Card Shark in American) Mr. Sampson quite nicely. But was that con artist simply caught by a more sophisticated con artist? His rather adept passive/aggressive threat, ‘it wouldn’t be in your interest to cross me’ would have made Tony Soprano (or, at least, Dr. Melfi) quite proud. Gregson’s explanation to Edith was merely that he, ‘revived a dubious talent from my misspent youth.’  Misspent youth? I want to hear more about this misspent youth. Is there a criminal record involved here? Is there a connection between the misspent youth and the loony wife? Is he not really the Editor Charming he seems to be but rather Editor Nefarious who sees Edith as an easy mark? Does he have a brother who’s a Canadian mummy? Don’t they know how I worry? Yes, he did behave nobly; winning Robert and the rest their notes back, but did he do that because he really is honestly noble, or only to catch a bigger fish in the end (the same way he played Sampson)? Yes, color me suspicious that this is just a sleight of hand of another sort – this is, after all, Edith’s luck we’re talking about here. Will she ever be a Sadie? And what’s the deal with Lord Grantham and the gambling? Hello! How many other ways can they find for Robert to lose the farm? I suppose that poker is no less a gamble than any of his other anything-but-work schemes, but still. And now he suddenly thinks Gregson is a ‘decent cove’ (AKA chap) – illustrating yet again that for Lord Grantham, it’s all about the Benjamins. But given how off-base Lord Grantham usually is in his judgments about, um, everything, as soon as he decides that Editor Charming is a decent bloke, I start to see red flags. How about you? Anyway, if you’re keeping score, that’s one bacon saved and one Gutenberg Bible lost. Do you think His Lordship auctioned it off to pay the electric bill without telling anyone? Have you ever heard anyone mention a Downton librarian before? Why have we never seen him in the servant’s hall? Is he one of those who sits at the ends of the table and doesn’t speak? Whatever. That’s enough questions for now. My suggestion for the next house party: Full contact Mah Jongg. I’m there.

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He Works Hard For The Money – Hardly Working
It seems like this season’s Downton Abbey drinking game should be to take a drink (not you Branson…or Ivy) every time Mr. Molesley turns up with another job. This week he’s delivering for Mr. Bakewell.  Unfortunately, it seems that all his assorted odd jobs are a come down from his position with Matthew. Even Daisy feels sorry for him, which is almost as odd as Carson, who lives in a dingy little room in the attic, feeling sorry for Lady Raven who has lost her fortune and is now living in a dingy little house north of the park – demonstrating yet again that the downstairs crew can be every bit as snobby, if not snobbier, than their societal betters upstairs. And so it follows that when Carson hands him the pair of footman’s gloves, Molesley rather looks like he’s just about to be slapped across the face with them. Then showing bad form, he incurs the wrath of Carson by bringing his problems into the dining room – blithely unaware that when someone asks, ‘how are you?’, they don’t really care to hear you say anything but ‘fine’. Tune in next week when Molesley gets a job at the Ripon Dairy and invents milk cartons; the first one featuring pictures of little George and Sybbie.

Spin the Bottle – Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (AKA Jimmy and Ivy and Alfred and Daisy)
Little known fact: Flow Charts were invented in 1921 and while there is nothing in the literature to confirm this, I believe we can prove they were invented by Gwen, former Downton housemaid, now upwardly mobile secretary – because these four have got to be the reason flow charts were invented. And now this lovesick quadrangle has claimed its first victims: Mrs. Patmore’s jam jar and Jimmy’s pride. It’s sad that Gwen’s proper place in organizational history has been overlooked, but at least she got a nice card from the old gang. In other news, Carson has to call in the guy from Downton’s IT department after Mrs. Patmore blew a fuse. Dr. Clarkson thinks it is an issue with her battery overheating from running too many apps at once (he is quite prescient in that way). His suggestion is to delete Angry Birds. Pray for her.

Pilgrim Soul – Back in the Saddle
As the season changes from black to purples, Mary is slowly taking two steps forward, one step back as a house party brings a motley collection of aristocrats to Downton for an elaborate sleepover. Of course, this is no typical sleepover where everyone sits around talking about boys, eating popcorn and making crank calls. It would seem rather redundant (and maybe a little awkward) for this lot to dial a number and ask ‘have you got Prince Albert in a can?’, when Prince Albert might actually be there, down the hall, in the can, but I digress. As everyone arrives, Robert is (as usual) off the mark, mistaking Lord Gillingham for a pirate, while completely missing the real pirate in the room (Mr. Sampson). This young Lord gave up his big house and is living in the Dour House – much like the Canarvons, the real-life Lord & Lady of the manor who live in a cottage elsewhere on the estate and let out their fabulous family seat for weddings and tourists and Downton Abbey filming. Early chit chat leads Lord Gillingham to his first fumble: Clearly he is not on Twitter or he would have already known that Lady Mary is a widow. But what would happen if Lady Mary married Lord Gillingham and had another son with him? Her first son, George, would become Lord Grantham, with the big house and her second son would become Lord Gillingham with the Dour House and the land. Could this become Masterpiece’s next big hit, Downton Abbey: The Next Generation? Pledge now for the Season 1 DVD, available in January 2029. But one gets ahead of oneself; first thing’s first – he’s (maybe) close to being engaged but yet obviously taken with Mary, and things are going swimmingly until Cousin Oliver brings Matthew’s gramophone down to the gallery so everyone can get footloose. Mary runs off at the sight of it, retreating back to Matthew’s side of the bed. Is it the memory the gramophone brings or, like Isobel, not being able to bear the sudden guilt of catching herself starting to move on? Either way, with his own experience it seems that Lord Gillingham could become, at the very least, a useful estate advisor. Might he and Lady Mary become a show that flops?

And now to the unavoidable…

Bludgeonings of Chance – Unconquerable Soul
Last season, Mrs. Hughes referred to Sybil as ‘the sweetest soul under this roof’, but I think I’d have to disagree with her on that. I think that title has always belonged to Anna, and that is just one reason why this episode was so horrifying; because this character is so loved. She is the little train that could; the personification of that voice in the human spirit that allows us to have courage in disappointment, and try again. It would have been upsetting to see this attack happen to any character, but even more so PollyAnna because she is such a pure soul, and a moral compass in this community of characters. I have to say that I knew this attack was coming (as I’m sure some of you did as well). When Downton Abbey was broadcast in the UK, I fastidiously avoided social media, and tread very carefully on the internet throughout the entire season, so I would not hear any Season 4 spoilers. But the attack on Anna was the one spoiler I could not avoid because it generated so many complaints from viewers in the UK. It became a huge news story that I accidentally came across. But even though I knew it was coming, I still jumped up and gasped when Green threw that first punch. The brutality just took my breath away.

Downton Abbey is often criticized for sugar coating the lives of the servants of this era, but they did not sugar coat this. The show has also been criticized for this plot twist, with some calling it sensationalized, but I disagree. It was shocking and brutal, but so is rape. The horror was sketched broadly but not pruriently – the camera (smartly) did not follow into the next room. I would have agreed with the critics if it had. We saw only the start of the violent confrontation, and then its aftermath. That was enough to serve the story. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I will ever enjoy that piece of music again, at least, not for a long time. The juxtaposition of the rape set against the ubiquitous, O Mio Babbino Caro, the Puccini aria that launched a thousand pasta commercials, was (I assume) meant to say something about Anna’s fears. In the aria the character is saying that she will die if she can’t be with her love, and that is, essentially, what Anna was pleading to Mrs. Hughes when she discovered her afterwards: Her fear was that Mr. Bates would murder Green and be hanged. But why didn’t Mrs. Hughes ask ‘What happened?’ when she walked in, even only as a reflex? That was odd. And why did Anna leave by herself afterwards, walking home in the dark? That, I couldn’t figure out. One would have thought she’d be afraid he’d be out there. But I suppose the safe sanctuary Downton has always given her is gone now. Will it ever come back? And that was one of the great ironies of this: When Good Samaritan Anna needed help herself there was no one there.

Has there ever been anyone there? I’ve suddenly realized that we don’t really know much about Anna or her life. I can’t recall her ever mentioning any family, can you? Could it be there is no family? It was common for girls to go from orphanages into service, so maybe that is her story. It seems that so far this season, the narrative has been to pull the rug of security out from under Anna and show that, despite her most favored nation status among servants, she still is, in fact, just a servant at the end of the day. Last week she was, incomprehensibly, treated as suspect by Lord Grantham on the false word of newbie Crazy Edna, and this week even Mary questioned her a bit peevishly about the gramophone. And on top of that, we are (sometimes) starting to see something different in her face when she looks at Bates. As happy as clams as they are, there is some pause there that wasn’t there before. But she loves him and in the immediate aftermath of the attack, her biggest fear seemed to be protecting him from what his reaction would be and losing him again because of it: She would die without her love.

It remains to be seen how the aftermath of the rape is handled. Even though I had heard about the attack in advance, I have not heard anything about what comes next, so I will be watching it all unfold – and I’ll be rooting for Anna to triumph, and Green to get what he deserves. Hopefully the show avoids the most predictable storyline; the one that’s been played out on countless other dramas. Even though she told Mrs. Hughes that no one else must know, will Anna tell Mary? It seems like she will have too. If a relationship with Lord Gillingham is going to continue for Mary, he’ll no doubt be returning to Downton with Green and that is where something will need to be done to protect Anna from further trauma, and that is where the secret might come out. I would hope Mary goes to bat for Anna in the way she should. Somehow I’m confident she will. And who knows, maybe caring for Anna would help Mary the same way helping Mr. Grigg get back on his feet helped Isobel. And if Mrs. Hughes puts two and two together, as she is so good at, she will know who the perpetrator was anyway because she saw him returning to his seat. But will there be justice for Anna? If true to the period, there likely won’t be. In reality, even Mr. Bates aside, it is understandable why she would hesitate to report the crime; for fear of the stigma, the fear she would be blamed (as she likely would be); her innate friendliness would be used as a weapon against her, and before forensics it would be her word against his. And she is a female servant; the most powerless of the powerless. The reality was, with no safety nets, servants were vulnerable to abuse of all kinds. Often a reported rape would only cause the woman to lose her reputation and her job (and her home), if she brought scandal on the house. How will Anna handle this?

And that is the story going forward: The most optimistic of people has suffered the most soul shattering of crimes. What will happen to that spirit? Who will stand up for her? What will happen to her marriage and to her life? I think Anna would say that it is not what was done to her, but rather how she survives that is the story.

Dowager Countessdown(Madam Dowager’s best zingers from each episode)

- “Guilt has never played a major part in my life.”

- “Don’t use me as an excuse. If you don’t want to dance, tell him.”

- “If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it among the British upper class.”

- “It won’t bring him back for you to sit alone night after night.”

- Oh, you would!”

While I thought tonight’s episode was absolutely horrifying, it was well crafted. It is in situations like this that I often feel that successful television creators/writers like Julian Fellowes become victims of their own talent. If they didn’t create characters real enough for us to care about, they wouldn’t have to take the heat when they then write the tragic things that befall them. For fans to be outraged when bad things happen to fictitious characters says Fellowes is doing his job really well (as are the actors who make them breathe). It is the double-edged sword that they have to deal with.

What do you think about what transpired in this episode, Downtonians? Please post your comments here and let us know what you thought about it all. I have a feeling Downtonians are going to want to talk about this one.

New episodes of Downton Abbey Season 4 air Sundays at 9pm through February 23. Find out all the ways you can watch new and old episodes

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  • onwardandupward

    Hard not to be annoyed with Fellowes and successive seasons of Downton, as its believeability factor keeps dropping. Most difficult “pills to swollow” this season thus far:

    1) Hiring Edna back? Really? How long would it have taken to check with Mrs. Hughes about Edna before giving her a final yes? A lady’s maid, like a valet, is in a position of trust and intimacy with the employer. She must know that “good” references are given all the time in the process of firing people. Incredulous that she would hire a lady’s maid so hastily without talking to those who knew her well.

    2) Thomas’ unexplainable compulsion to 1) align with another shady female character, and b) to be a royal pain, especially to people who have helped him in the past (it was only six months ago that Bates saved his job and got him promoted!)

    3) Anna’s swollen face, shaken demeanor… and Bates believing she had an accident? Upon seeing Anna, Mrs. Hughes should have immediately taken action, called in Carson, and brought in the Lords. A member of her staff was brutally attacked!! That predator is still out there. Sorry, Anna’s swollen face could not have been an accident, nor a “his word against her word.”

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      I’d agree with you but remember, Anna asked her not too, and maybe her first course of action was just to do just what Anna asked. As for Thomas, remember he was thick as thieves with O’Brien but turned on her as well, so that is consistent with his character.

      • Elsa1965

        Where is OBrien?? Whenever I see her now I think of the skit that spoofs DA and her character has a mop on her head for hair. I think it was on BBC

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        O’Brien ran off in the very beginning of last week’s episode. The actress who plays her, Sioban Finneran, wanted to pursue other projects, so it remains to be seen if she returns.
        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        People are furious, aren’t they? We do love Anna. O’Brien turned on Thomas over Alfred, who she pushed to get promoted above his competence level and with truly unseemly speed that offended Thomas, as it would have offended her had anyone besides her own nephew been allowed to jump the line in such a manner. Her payback for his little prank about some garment was unrelenting and truly vicious. She actually conspired to get him sacked without a reference, and he didn’t see it coming because he thought she’d paid him back with the hidden shirts. The fact that she was behind the whole thing was a big part of what made him feel well and truly beaten, IMO.

        I was horrified by what happened to Anna. This was what you were waiting to happen so you could stop worrying about letting it slip, then. She’ll have to talk to somebody. Who better than the woman who she helped carry the body of a lover back to his room? Were I her, Mary would be the logical person on whom to unburden myself. They spend a lot of time alone together, and Mary knows her really well. She’ll detect something underneath the fainting story and press. They really are very close to one another. Mary covered for her so she could run off and marry Bates and arranged a honeymoon suite for them. Picture them sitting side by side during the trial every day; Mary wasn’t there for entertainment. Picture Mary and Bates watching Anna dance at the Gillies Ball at Duneagle, identical expressions of delight on their faces. Neither of them would consciously acknowledge it, but they really are the best of friends.

      • Kaycee

        I certainly hope you are correct in your prediction of how Mary will react to seeing the battered Anna. I have my doubts since she has been a little testy with Anna and certainly quite self involved. I know, I know, she is mourning a terrible loss, but she seems hard pressed to even come out of it for poor little George. We’ll have to see if she can muster some compassion for someone else. Also, if this puts a crimp in her budding relationship with Lord Gillingham it may be an impediment to her getting in touch with the problems of any one else. Yes, she was there for Anna and Bates in previous seasons, but as I’ve observed this season seems to be showing the aristocracy in a less benevolent light.

      • CatKinNY

        Hi Kaycee! Long time, no see. It’s MARY – bitchy and haughty is her fall back position, but she ends up where she should be after she’s given something some thought, invariably. When Carson (who she KNOWS loves her and who she loves right back) had the temerity to tell her she needed to buck up, she let him know he’d crossed the line, with just the right amount of aristocratic frost, complete with saying that she bore some of the responsibility, having encouraged over familiarity in the past. Carson, who’s known her all her life, didn’t back down, and what happened? She apologized, ended up in tears in his arms and did what he’d told her to.

        Look, I don’t know what Julian Fellows will decide to do to further his story line, but realistically, Mary could get Lord Gillingham to sack Green, without a reference, with ease, whether they have a budding relationship or not, simply by picking up the phone or putting pen to paper. Invitations to weekend house parties were terribly important in that world, especially to someone who can never reciprocate, and she could make them dry up without ever having to get explicit about what happened. He’s poor now, and that has it’s own bad smell in a world where everyone is terrified of sharing his fate. His presence is not entirely welcome, for that reason alone; give the aristos reason to wonder if he brings with him a wolf in sheep’s clothing to set loose among the servants, and they’ll cut him.

        Fellows knows this world as well, and probably better, than I do, but he also knows that most of the viewers do not, so he’s got a free hand to do as he pleases. However, Mary is the lead character in this ensemble, and making us dislike her could be fatal. Look at the anger over what happened to Anna expressed on this page. Should Mary be complicit in that misery, a lot of people might stop watching; we just have to hope that Sir Julian knows that. He likes Mary; he’s drawn her carefully. She’s not full of plot driving contradictions the way so many of the lesser characters are, so I just have to hope that he’ll continue to write her in a psychologically coherent way.

      • Kaycee

        Good to see you back in the discussion. I always enjoy your comments and I certainly hope you’re right about Mary. We shall see!

      • CatKinNY

        I’m on pins and needles until tomorrow. I hope I didn’t miss anything important that happened after Anna was attacked, because I can’t remember any of it, I was that shocked.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        You can watch last week’s episode again here on Thirteen’s website if you need to catch up.

        –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        Thanks. I realize that, but I find the experience of watching on my laptop something only to be tolerated while hospitalized. I’m something of a Luddite and don’t have a device that would allow me to stream to my old, non flat screen, non HD TV.

      • Kaycee

        Channel 13 re-airs it on Sunday evening at 8:00 pm, just before Episode 3 airs at 9:00.

      • CatKinNY

        Thanks! I forgot about that.

    • Ellen

      Let’s see.. 5 deaths, 2 rapes and we’re only 2 episodes into season 4. Characters suddenly completely changing thier personallites. At this rate by next season Mary won’t have to worry about the death taxes because she’ll be the only one left! Fellows is a one note johnny and he’s proved it again this season. Do us all a favor Mr. Fellowas turn the writing over to someone else! Someone who has fresh idea’s and not just in it so your friends , who own the house, can keep making money to fix the place up.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

        I can’t recall another rape on the show. As for 5 deaths, it was over a span of 10 years, and that included a war and epidemic, so all things considered, that’s kind-of a low body count:)
        –Deborah

      • Northstar

        Not a rape…Ethel, a seduction.

      • justine713

        I agree with you Ellen. Now it makes sense why he wrote such trash to help his friends pay fir the place! Problem is, no one will want to go into that downstairs kitchen now. He has unwittingly put a jinx on that castle now!

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        Actually, I think a bigger jinx would be all the King Tut items on display there. All the downstairs scenes on the show are filmed at a movie studio miles away from Highclere. And the downstairs at the castle doesn’t look anything like the downstairs on the show (which is a little disappointing; but then it’s also disappointing that Carson isn’t there to greet you when you arrive).
        –Deborah

  • onwardandupward

    Deborah, got kinda sidetracked… I really want to say a big thank you for your supremely entertaining reads. Carefully crafted, wonderfully spiked with inside humor. I particularly appreciate your spot-on topical references to American television shows… laugh-out-loud funny! Awesome stuff! :-)

    • sara

      Dower House, please. where the dowager goes to live when she becomes the mother-in-law, not countess-in-residence.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

        Hi, yes, that’s a pun:)
        –Deborah

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      Thank you! Glad you’re enjoying it!
      –Deborah

  • Buzz

    Dower house. Clarence House was the dower house for the Queen Mother . . . who wasn’t dour.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      Yes, that’s a pun.
      –Deborah

  • Disgusted Cats

    The characters are not staying true to their nature. I also find unlikely the formerly feisty and rabble-rousing Tom sunken into a stupor of insecurity and self pity, and the dowager’s sudden solicitous nature toward all of those below her station does not ring true either. The Bates pair shall now be the wronged and mistreated for yet another season…really? Meanwhile, Fellowes adds a host of new characters, while the downstairs lot have a deadly boring plot line of who has a crush on whom. Perhaps we would have done better to end the whole thing last season. Yawn.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      I agree that the downstairs love quadrangle has run it’s course. But I think it completely logical that Tom would still be depressed and lost without Sybil. And the Dowager has always been contrary; she did do a lot to try to help Molesley and William during the war, and often been ‘caught’ being nice to those beneath her station (like the senior Mr. Molesley in season 1). And that relationship between her and Isobel has been on a long simmer, on both sides. With regard to Anna and Bates, it is possible that he thinks of them the same way he thinks of Edith: Unlucky. He has said that some people are lucky and some are just unlucky.
      –Deborah

  • Buck

    Does anyone else remember that Mrs. Bridges suffered a heart attack during the formal dinner for King Edward on “Upstairs, Downstairs”?

  • Heidi T.

    I think your comments about Anna’s attack are spot on. My first reaction after the episode was over was “Why?” and “Was that really necessary?” But after thinking about it, perhaps this is an opportunity to, as you said, see how Anna survives, and to learn more about her as a character. Maybe this will serve to bring Anna and Bates even closer (if that’s possible)? If it doesn’t, I’m going to have to send Julian Fellowes a strongly worded letter of protest, lol.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      Thanks! I also hope this plot is used to tell more of the story of women’s inequality back then. Like the references to Women’s Suffrage, I think it’s an important story to tell, and telling it within the context of a show like Downton could be compelling if handled the right way. and I have confidence they will.
      –Deborah

      • Heidi T.

        Did you see this? http://www.the-broad-side.com/using-downton-abbey-annas-rape-to-end-the-stigma-of-sexual-violence-linda-lowen

        Amazing. I agree with everything she said. Thought of what you’d written and had to share.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

        Thank you for sharing that. I also agree with everything the writer said. And like her, I disagree with the quote from the blog that referred to Anna as being flirtatious with Green. I’ve heard other people say that this past week and I completely disagree. She was not flirting with him at all, and in fact I wrote about that in the new Downton Abbey Dish, for episode #3, that will be posted tonight.

        –Deborah

  • Northstar

    Not sure why all the annoyance with Julian Fellowes, it was actually quite brilliant bit of writing. I was immediately fired up for justice.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      I second that emotion!

      –Deborah

  • justine713

    I will never watch this show againit made me sick and i could not sleep. I woke up in distress over it as well. . Its clear Julian Fellows hates women. All the older women in the story and the men do well, he only makes the younger women look foolish, have tragic luck, or turn out to be sluts. He paints all the relatively younger women as not having any good judgment or if they do they have no chance of happiness anyway. I was surprised to learn he had a wife. I can only imagine he must have been rejected by many women because he takes it out on them in these pathetic story lines he gives them. This isn’t entertaining, informative, educational or enjoyable anymore. It is completely self serving and it does not qualify as art. He, the writer, needs therapy if he thinks his audience of today’s women want to see this crap.

  • justine713

    I just posted a few minutes ago but don’t see it hete?

  • justine713

    Nevermind, sorry

  • ewetopia

    Wonderful commentary! I’m just curious why Fellowes didn’t write a proper exit for O’Brien. It seems he missed a story opportunity there – why let her just disappear? But no matter. We have other things to ponder!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      Thank you! I don’t know why Fellowes wrote her exit that way either, but I’d be interested in asking him! Maybe he wanted to leave her exit with an air of mystery to be mined later, in case she decides to return for the last season. I guess time will tell.
      –Deborah

      • CatKinNY

        It may simply have been contractual. Siobhan may not have been available to film an exit, and it also provided a motivation for Cousin Oliver to try to undo the harm done by Mummy poaching her. If Edna had answered Edith’s advert in The Lady, she’d never have been hired, because Cora would have talked to Mrs Hughes instead of just reading her glowing letter in a tea shop.

      • Kaycee

        Absolutely correct. And gullible Cora never noticed the slip Edna made when asked about arrangements for her non-existent aunt. Of course all of this had to happen for the Edna story to go on. Still it makes me more and more impatient with Cora.

  • Mimi

    This was an upsetting episode and not up to what I think the caliber of Downton’s previous seasons. I don’t like the idea that Fellows chose to use Anna’s friendliness with Green lead to rape. It goes to all the stereotypes that women ask for it. If they wanted some sexual tension they could have Green try to get Anna alone with Bates coming to her rescue and teaching a Green a lesson. The rape was really uncalled for especially in a series that isn’t “Criminal Minds” or Law and Order SVU”. Very very disappointing.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      I don’t think it plays on any kind of ‘asking for it’ steroetype. I think it brings to the conversation that rapists don’t necessarily look like monsters who jump out from behind the bushes. Green was a handsome and seemingly regular, charming guy on the surface, and that’s actually scarier than it being the kind of guy you’d cross the street to avoid. And I did not see any ‘sexual tension’ there. I thought Anna treated him exactly the way she treats everyone else. I didn’t see any flirting at all.

      –Deborah

  • Sue

    Another great recap, Deborah! Very amusing and insightful. Like everyone else I was shocked and upset by the attack on Anna, but it will be interesting to see how they handle her reaction and life with Bates going forward. My only critique of how that episode was written, is that the attack on Anna occurred and ended with over ten minutes of episode left to go, mostly about the “upstairs” characters. I was still so stunned and upset that I literally couldn’t even concentrate on what the upstairs characters were saying, or their story lines. I barely noticed what anyone said or did except for noting Crazy Edna slipping into Branson’s room. I wonder if other viewers had the same experience of being “thrown out of the story” for the rest of the episode.

    • Kaycee

      I too had trouble tuning in to what was happening after Anna walked off into the night. It was a very dark and powerful and upsetting part of the episode.

  • SherryMarion

    I can’t stand Edna.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      You must have liked last night’s episode then!

      –Deborah

  • Kaycee

    Oh, I see it now. Fellows hooked us and lured us in and here we sit caring about these characters and held captive to see how this season plays out. If the Robert and Cora we have seen in these first two episodes of Season 4 had been presented to us in Season 1, there may not have been a Season 2! We had to like the Lord and Lady, at least a little, if we were going to care about them and their progeny. As Americans we would have liked the downstairs people pretty easily. As for the evil ones, they served a purpose in keeping us caring about the good and kind ones. The upstairs people, while fascinating, would not have caused us to care about them if they hadn’t exhibited some qualities of genuine human concern for others. From what I’ve learned of this period in history the landed gentry, the Lords and Ladies of the Manor, really had very little concern for the people they didn’t want to see or hear, who traveled the back halls and stairs of their little empires. Robert and Cora, I think, were products of a beneficent writer’s imagination so that audiences would stay tuned to see and care about what was happening in their lives as readily as they would be drawn into the lives of the people serving them. Well played, Fellows! Now in this season we see Robert acting more like a real Robert of his time probably would have. Imperious, nasty, turning on Mary when she stepped away from the wilting lily to a place of some strength, clearly wanting Matthew’s letter to disappear or at least not show testamentary intent, being a bit of a stuffed up bully. Then, in episode 2 here, he lies so easily to Cora about losing money in the card game. Downton would have been long gone if her fortune hadn’t saved it and still he handles the money and loses a chunk of it and lies to her! And does anyone believe that this Robert would have financed Bates’ legal counsel and appeal? Oh I think not. With the disgrace brought on the house by the accusation against his valet, even if it was tied peripherally to Lady Mary’s not so ladylike behavior, Bates would have been out on his bum with Anna landing on the heap as well. There would have been no cozy Bates cottage on the estate for sure. Cora’s character is just acting like a coddled idiot and that may be more in keeping with what the ladies of the time were really like. She relied on someone brought to her by the woman/child who is under her care and has never before exhibited any kind of judgment other than bad. And we wouldn’t have taken Cora to our hearts as we had if that character hadn’t been crafted differently at the start. Yes, she would have won us when Sybil died but I doubt if the series would have gotten that far if this were the first Cora we met. So Thomas is evil through and through. Always was, always will be. He always resented Bates, always will. Evil has no memory for kindness I suppose. Edna is drawn so widely and so darkly that she is almost a cartoon version of a bad person. Branson just slipped off the cliff. Somehow I can’t muster sympathy for him. Just too obvious. Is he that stupid? Anna is wise to want to keep Bates out of this, awful as her attack was. He would kill Green and he would hang. She has no rights. A servant at that time likely wouldn’t have been treated well either by the law or her employer. Remember, this is the new and maybe real Robert and he and Cora already suspect that Anna is causing trouble with the lady’s maid of the moment. I can also understand her recoiling at Bates’ touch and wanting to walk off alone. Very common in rape victims. She is terrified and trying at the same time to save her husband. This story line, although heartbreaking and difficult, will probably be more interesting than watching what happens upstairs. Edith really has no moral compass. She will do whatever she can to be happy. Can we blame her? She has been treated badly or at least dismissively by her family, both parents and especially Mary, who to Edith and the rest of the world exhibited none of the softness that Matthew imagined in her. Finally, I love Mrs. Hughes! Carson has a skewed view of what is tragic and what is grand but at least he is true to his place in the whole set up. And finally, really, Violet and Isobel are perfect!

  • Linda F.

    Debbie, your recap actually gave me some much-needed relief and perspective. I was angry at everyone involved in the rape storyline until your comments made me consider it in a different light. I have to say that a TV rape hasn’t upset me this much since my favorite character on “The Sopranos,” Dr. Melfi the psychiatrist, was attacked in the stairwell of her parking garage. I still feel ill every time I think of it. On a lighter note, there’s another reason this episode of Downton was hard to take: I just hate it when Bates is right! LOL

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      LOL, Thanks!

      –Deborah

  • purple angel

    I was just as shocked about Anna and agree that anytime I hear that aria I will be hearing Anna’s screams. Horrifying. But I must say that I enjoyed two characters this episode. I found Molesley’s acting to be quite funny. When he complained that he was moving backwards in life , especially the surprised as well as downfallen look on his face as he said it was priceless.
    The other character that got interesting was Gregson and I just loved the way he outsmarted the wily Sampson by being even wilier. That helped water down some of the horror of the very violent scene of the rape. I hope Green gets his cumuppance. Though, I suspect that Julian Fellowse will make us suffer for many episodes as he did with Bates previously. Bates’s suffering and Anna’s never seems to abate long enough .

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      I hope Green gets what he deserves as well. I expect that whatever happens will take a while to play out. It is such a big story, I think it has too. And yes, I hope they keep up this running gag with Molesley. He is the perfect character for that.

      –Deborah

      • angela

        to vs too….you confuse them. It happens far to often
        –angela

  • Crisaily

    THis season of Downton Abby is turning into a disappointment. The episodes have been choppy rushed and seem to lack continuity..not to mention dark. Rather disappointed thus far. Hope it gets better

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      Don’t give up the ship just yet! Wait til you see tonight’s episode.

      –Deborah

  • Kaycee

    For anyone else whose mind was blown after the Anna Assault and kind of checked out emotionally and may have missed some of the bits of the story that followed, remember that Channel 13 runs a repeat of this episode at 8:00 pm. Then follows that for which we have been waiting all week, Episode 3 at 9:00!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      Thanks for the reminder!

      –Deborah

  • Cousinly Love

    The narrative peaks so far have been the union of Matthew and Mary at the end of Season Two and the rescue of Bates by Anna in Season three. I find it enfuriating that both have been undone in the script. For this neo-Thomas Hardian, these slips can only be redeemed at the level of tragedy, not that of soap opera! I pray that Fellowes and his stable have the cojones to do it.

  • Lisa

    The fact that Gregson appears to be showing colors unanticipated in the past, gambling, German Linguist, married man carrying on with innocent waif—-
    Well, becoming a German citizen when Germany is suffering the aftermath of the ravages of war and Hitler is rising to power is setting the seen for trouble. Is this guy a masochist or a German sympathiser?
    Also, why didn’t Edith read that paper he gallantly hands to her as well as the pen…. very interesting. One more comment, why does Mary have to continue to be same ole Mary—so sullen so two dimensional– WAKE UP!!!!!!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      Yes, those were my first thoughts as well. As for the signing of something without reading it, I’m assuming that being a sheltered rich kid she has no experience whatsoever about anything regarding money and business.

      –Deborah

  • Kaycee

    Hello! Where is the Dish for episode 3? Deborah, where are you?

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/the-downton-abbey-dish-season-4-episode-2/ Gotham Tomato

      You can always just click at the bottom of any post, where is says “next episode” and that will take you forward to the next post.

      –Deborah

      • Kaycee

        Thanks, Deborah. There was just a delay in the “next episode” button popping up. Found you!

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