Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 3 Recap
Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 3Credit: Screenshot
January 21, 2014


Downton is in full swing, in the throes of a party the likes we haven't seen since Downton was plunged into double morning by the deaths of Lady Sybil and Mr. Matthew.

Oh and just FYI, Anna and Tom are both raped. Shocked? So was I.


Lady Mary goes out for a horse ride with one of her childhood chums. He's now an Earl, having come into his inheritance the hard way (dead father). He's obviously attracted to Mary and even though she tried to get anyone and everyone to accompany them, they wind up riding out alone- the first time we've seen her on a horse in a good long wile. This prompts what I think is an unintended double entendre about her husband being dead and her sex life lacking.

I haven't been in the saddle for ages. I'll be stiff as a board the next day.

Really, Lady Mary?

Oh and just FYI, Anna and Tom are both raped.

As if we haven't had enough of Mosley’s career issues, he's on deck as a servant again complaining that's he's having his "career backwards." Honestly he needs to stop bitching about it. He has a bloody job which a lot of people don't. More importantly, he has people who care about his well-being and look after him. Instead of constantly bemoaning his lot, he needs to start counting his blessings.

At least he wasn't raped like Anna Bates or Tom Branson.

The Dowager fills her roll as DBF (Downton Best Friend) to Mrs. Crowley by convincing her to attend the concert given by Dame Nelly. Mrs Crowley is treated to the depressing sight of her ex-daughter-in-law being courted by new suitors.

Oh and just FYI, Anna and Tom are both raped.

Lord Grantham & Violet are dismayed and disproving at having to treat the entertainment as an honored guest. Cora begs to differ as the only member of her family "living in the 20th Century." If Dame Nellie is good enough to be honored by the King himself then by golly she's good enough for Downton's carefully measured tables. Lord Grantham will sit next to her, chat her up about wine and learn to like it. Elizabeth McGovern gives Lady Mary a run for her money by looking absolutely divine in everything she wears in this episode from a white patterned blouse in the sitting room to the chiffon gray number she dons with Lady Grantham's official tiara. Half-morning in effect, but still very sexy.

Oh and just FYI, Anna and Tom are both raped.

Mrs. Pattmore has a panic attack in the kitchen which is really stupid. She's worked under worse stress with worse vision and only one kitchen helper. Now she has two competently trained young women to help her, great eyesight and a few modern conveniences (all hail the mixer) and she's still stressed? I have a hard time believing Mrs. Pattmore would go out like that.

Oh, and just FYI, Anna and Tom are both raped.

Lord Grantham takes a "walloping" at poker. Edith's now definitely shady boyfriend dusts off his college poker skills and wins back all the money Lord Grantham and his pals have lost to a card sharp. Shady Boyfriend returns the notes to their rightful owners and earns Lord Grantham's highest praise.

"...he did behave in a way I found quite gentlemanly."

Considering he's been shunning Edith's boyfriend quite coldly, it seems Shady Boyfriend has wormed his way into Papa Grantham's heart just when we find out that he's really and most probably up to no good.

Did I mention yet that Anna and Tom are both raped?

Edna Braithwaite replaced O'Brien as Lady's Maid to Cora, replacing one scheming vixen fr another. She's obviously after Tom and she's going to get him in more ways than one even if she has to become a rapist to do it. Because a woman getting raped is violent and bad. But a man being taken advantage of when he's had to much to drink is kind of ok. No, Julian Fellowes, it's really not.

Both Tom and Anna are raped.

The rape of Tom goes mostly ignored as not really rape (as male rape usually is) and the rape of Anna in this episode is violent, sickening, heart-rending and completely beyond the pale. It puts a hideous mark on what used to be a stellar, if not fluffy, series.

If Fellowes has not outright ruined this series, he has certainly put a stain on it that cannot be removed. What he did to the renowned opera singer Nellie Melba was untenable in the real world and in the television world of Downton. To use her lovely singing as a mixtape for rape and then to insult her on top of it was just downright rude and ugly.

Julian Fellowes and even Joanne Froggatt, the actor who plays Anna have defended the rape scene as "bold" and "brave" and "realistic".

I contend that it was a vile, stupid, hideous and an unnecessary trigger for women and men in a world that is filled with sexual assault.

If I want gratuitous rape portrayed as entertainment I could watch Law and Order SVU or Family Guy.

I don't watch Downton Abbey for gritty or imagined reality. This series has never been about realism.

If you watched this episode and feel that you need to talk to someone, by all means, please do. I did and I'm better for it.

There are several writers who have addressed the issue of being triggered by the rape in this episode. There is now even a blog that is dedicated to compiling writings by people who were hurt by this episode called DownTurn Abbey. I recommend this as a very good place to begin healing.

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