Downton Abbey Recap: The Secret’s Out

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Nick Briggs / Carnival Films / PBS

Skipped this week’s Downton to watch the Grammys? Find out what happened here.

Spoilers follow!

(MORE: Catch up with last week’s recap)

Things got better for the Bateses…sort of: Though the episode begins with things much as they have been chez Bates — they’re sad; she’s not living in the cottage; she won’t say why — it doesn’t last. When Mrs. Hughes confronts Anna about being too hard on Mr. Bates (now that she knows she’s not pregnant, why not move on?), he eavesdrops. Later, he threatens to quit unless Mrs. Hughes tell him what she knows. She relents, but says that a stranger broke in and raped Anna; she swears on her mother’s grave that it wasn’t Green, because Anna has told her that Bates will kill Green if he knows. When he brings this information to his wife, she confirms that it wasn’t Green — how could she have sat down to breakfast with him the next morning? — and, while she was worried he would shun her when he knew what happened, he instead embraces her and says he loves her more than ever.

“You’re made higher to me and holier because of the suffering you’ve been put through,” he tells her — which we know is supposed to be the right thing to say, but is slightly weird. On the one hand, his speech about how she’s the victim and should feel no shame is very modern and admirable. But on the other hand, should he really be telling his wife, someone he already puts on a pedestal to an extent that’s probably unhealthy, that her being raped makes her “holier” to him? Just a thought.

Anyway, things seem to end as happily as they could have, as Anna decides to move back in with him so they can move on, but this story isn’t over: even though Anna and Mrs. Hughes swear they don’t know who the man was, Mr. Bates is on a mission to find out — and to kill him.

Meanwhile…

Downton turned into Top ChefAlfred learns that he’ll get a chance to try out for the fancy Escoffier cooking school he wants to go to, and Mrs. Patmore and Daisy help him prepare. Though Jimmy mocks him for wanting to cook, Ivy is impressed with his ambition and the family supports his decision to go big with the cooking thing. The test is basically an episode of a cooking competition but with all the chefs wearing neckerchiefs. He does well, but not quite well enough to make it into the class — everyone is disappointed (particularly Molesley, who was going to take over his footman job if he left) except Daisy, who’s happy Alfred won’t be leaving.

Sybie stole the show — and maybe Branson’s plot line: Giving a cute little girl a line like “uh-oh!” is really not fair to the adult actors around her. But being cute wasn’t Sybie’s only task for the episode: concerned that his daughter will grow up knowing she’s the child of a chauffeur, and that neither of them can really fit in in England or Ireland, Tom contemplates whether he should take her to America where they can start fresh.

Robert’s going to have a birthday party: Rose has an idea for the entertainment, and we can all guess who she’s talking about.

Four new characters arrived:

  • Edna’s replacement, Baxter, arrives at Downton. She gets in good with Cora by bringing her O.J. (which everyone knows Americans love) and with the staff downstairs by showing off her sewing machine. Though it’s a mystery how she and Thomas are friends — if you’ll remember, he recommended her for the job — but it becomes clear that he wants her to befriend everyone so she can feed him all the gossip. If anything is going down at Downton, he wants to know, and everyone is too suspicious of him to tell him outright.
  • A tenant farmer named Drewe dies and, because he was behind on rent, Tom and Mary decide to foreclose on his farm — but his son, also named Mr. Drewe, convinces Robert that the tenant-Lord partnership they’ve had for hundreds of years is worth preserving. Robert secretly loans Drewe the money to catch him up on rent, and when Tom and Mary find out, rather than being upset, they’re convinced that Robert really does care about his tenants.
  • Isobel decides to help a young village boy, John Pegg, get a job as a gardener for the Dowager Countess; when a paper knife presented to the late Lord Grantham by the King of Sweden goes missing, Pegg is the suspect.
  • Downton gets a refrigerator. (Mrs. Patmore, Robert’s twin in fear of change, is not a fan.)

One old-new character, too: Evelyn Napier suddenly showed up. Back in Season 1, he was Mary’s potential suitor, the one who brought the ill-fated Kemal Pamuk (the Turkish guy who died in Mary’s bed) to Downton. He’s working for the government, doing a survey of how the landed estates of Yorkshire and faring post-war. Mary — still reeling from learning that Lord Gillingham went ahead and got engaged to Mabel Lane-Fox — convinces him (and his boss, as yet unseen) to stay at Downton while they’re working in the area.

A sort-of mystery was introduced: Edith hasn’t heard from Michael Gregson for a while but when she tells her family that she’s going down to London to check in at his office, that’s not where she goes. Instead she goes to a doctor! This is TV, so naturally we all assume she’s pregnant, because that’s pretty much the number one reason people on TV go to doctors after having scandalous sexual adventures the episode before — but we don’t yet know for sure.

(MORE: Hold On To Your Bloomers: Downton Abbey Gets a Porn Parody)

Dowager Zinger of the Week:
To Isobel: “I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara ’round the clock.”

History Lesson of the Week: According to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, the household electric refrigerator was invented in 1914 by Fred W. Wolf Jr — but it wasn’t until 1918 that Frigidaire came out with the first mass-produced version.

4 comments
LauraSteel
LauraSteel

The Bates's story line should become less irritating, now that Anna has stopped being a martyr.

Ayalablu
Ayalablu

The idea that suffering makes a person holy is not a new one, in fact, it is a very Christian idea. For example, read Crime and Punishment--Raskolnikov kneels before Sonya, who has been forced to become a prostitute to support her family, explicitly because of the suffering she endures. A very famous scene from the novel, that I think the scene in Downton Abbey references.

RogerTyson
RogerTyson

The Anna storyline continues to bug the hell out of me - so much so that I've pretty much given up on "Downton Abbey" after so enjoying the first 3 seasons (yes, even Season 2's "Downton Hospital").

My frustration has been so great that I actually made a short (1 minute) video about how I feel.  If you've been as disappointed as I have with Season 4 of "Downton Abbey", you might find it amusing.  If not... best not to watch!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWxWojaRQf8

PaulaDuffy
PaulaDuffy

Love the political leanings discussion in the drawing room. No worries about blood being spilled any longer, and perhaps that is the best plot switch offered this season. Branson calls himself an "uppity chauffeur" and wants Sybie to have  a life without class distinctions and the Crawleys pump him up with compliments and affection so he'll stay. Sybil would be proud. And Edith...she finally "takes a lover" and she pays the ultimate price? Oops..http://tvruckus.com/2014/01/27/downton-abbey-is-lady-edith-pregnant/