Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 4 Recap
That look black folks get when they show up for a job interview. Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 4.Credit: Screenshot
January 21, 2014


The pall of rape during the last episode hangs heavily over this one and has us listening to yet another rework of Downton's serious opening. We're given yet another version of a somber violin trilling, not heard since the first episode of this season when we came back after Matthew's death.


While the guests and their servants pack up and get ready to take their leave of Downton, Anna and Tom are both dealing with aftermath of their respective rapes.

Tom actually apologizes for his. He let's Braithwaite know that he's not ashamed (that's a lie, he's terribly ashamed) but tries to focus on the fact that she is not a suitable mate for him. Braithwaite decides she's probably pregnant and if she is, she wants Tom's promise that he'll marry her.

She'll make a "go" of being his wife, she promises but Tom's not having it. He has nothing but regret for having been raped by her.

Anna is handling her rape by making excuses for her bruises and being uncharacteristically quiet. Thomas always asks the question in everyone's head. "Blimey, what happened to you?" We can't just chalk this up to Thomas being...well, Thomas. Everyone likes Anna, particularly Thomas who doesn't really like much of anyone.

His question embodies the real question of Anna and Bates. Not only is the honeymoon over, is the marriage over? Did Bates hurt Anna? No one but Mrs. Hughes knows about Anna's rape. It's a time when a man taking the back of his hand to his wife's face isn't exactly uncommon. Still, I suppose it's a credit to Mr. Bates that no one really thinks he's the one that hurt Anna. Despite his previous jail sentence for murder and the fact that he's the only one with access enough to Anna to have hurt her, they accept Anna's excuse of a fall and move on.

The official story is that Anna fell against the sink, bruised her face and cut her lip. Her husband, Bates, doesn't believe he and is trying to break through the shell of this hurt and broken Anna. Anna is ready to let him believe that she may just be tired of him rather than tell him the truth. She makes the decision to move back into the house because her post-rape PTSD won't allow her to let her husband touch her.

Anna is also very afraid that her barely out of jail husband will kill the man who raped her. She loves him too much to see him hang for revenge. Good lord this is complicated. I still can't forgive Fellowes and Co. for doing this to Anna. It seems they pride themselves on breaking up happy couples. Froggatt handles the material so damned well that Anna's hurt is tangible. I actually think it's Froggatt's acting chops that make this so awful to endure on top of the emotional weight of it all.

No matter, this is still a god-awful and unforgivable story arc.

On a lighter note, Downton BFF's, The Dowager and Mrs. Crowley are taking a walk through the cemetery. They have a lovely talk about how hard it is to watch Mary "come back to life" when her husband, Mrs. Crowley's son, is dead, dead, dead.

Mary garners a marriage proposal from the old school chum who turned up last episode. Oddly enough, she tells him the exactly same thing she told Matthew the first time he asked her. "You don't know me."

Before it's all said and done, Mrs. Crowley, manages to shake the bloke's hand, wringing a wry admission of admiration from her DBFF, Violet. Despite even this last bit of approval and everyone else's, Mary is not ready to move on and regretfully declines this proposal. Yet, she does give the fellow a kiss and so we know he's just the rebound guy. Let the marriage games begin. We're left knowing that more suitors are sure to follow and soon.

Where Lady Rose goes, black people follow. The first glimpse of black people on Downton came when Lady Rose went to a speak easy in London. The band was cooking and they were brown. Very brown.

Drunk boyfriend making a spectacle of himself. No reaction. Drunk boyfriend runs off to hurl, leaving Rose embarrassed and alone on the dance floor. Nobody moves.

Black band leader to the rescue. He fills in on the spot and Lady Rosamunde about dies and finally sends Tom to fetch her niece away from the clutches of the decent man, not the guy who was dragging her across the dance floor and making a drunken ass of himself.

"Oh Mary!" she exclaims and sends Tom to fetch Rose from the graceful charms of this most unsuitable suitor (ya' know, because he's black and all). Mary is a bit surprised, but honestly, she's so absorbed in looking stunning in two shades of gray silk and her Lady Mary flat tiara, it's amazing that she noticed Rose dancing with the back band leader.

Even Rose is shocked enough to rattle the beads on her own livelier gray silk. But in this odd little world, the shock of having a black man to dance with beats the disgrace of having no man to dance with.

There are subtle signs that Rose is no longer the little girl of this series and quickly on her way to becoming a true lady. There's a brief mention of her "coming out," taking place soon. Lord Grantham gets to his feet when she enters a room all on her own, the truest sign that she is no longer a young girl but a young woman to be recognized in her own right. And last but not least, Lady Rose has the grace to thank Jack Ross for coming to her rescue and the presence of mind to give him a formal introduction to her family. Lady Rose went up 20 notches in my estimation in that moment. Her action was worthy of the Dowager herself and I can give her no higher praise than that.

Jack Ross, our new resident black band leader, is cool personified with his squeaky tenor and finger waves that haven't been seen on film and on a man this handsome since Prince in "Under the Cherry Moon." When Rose gets escorted off by her family, he not only waves goodbye but bursts into the song, "A Rose By Any Other Name." How can you not like a man who always knows the right thing to do and the right words at his disposal?

I hope we haven't seen the last of Mr. Ross but I almost think I liked Downton better when they ignored the existence of black people rather than putting up with tokenism.

When in doubt, Tom always takes his troubles to Mrs. Hughes. Edna Braithwaite has definitely become a problem with her scheming to become the second Mrs. Branson. Mrs. Hughes, who never wanted Edna Braithwaite back at Downton anyway, wastes no time in exposing that little minx's plans of forcing Tom into an engagement and getting knocked up by any means necessary to seal the deal. Mrs. Hughes is formidable and sells wolf tickets like the hardcore housekeeper she is and sends Braithwaite packing for good.

Tom: How did you know she wasn't pregnant.
Mrs. Hughes: I didn't.

All of Edna's plans at marrying up into the Grantham family are dashed and Thomas Barrow, her former partner in crime, makes sure to rub salt in the wound.

"Well, if we're playing the truth game, then you're a manipulative little witch and if your schemes have come to nothing, I'm delighted."

And good riddance Braithwaite.

Then there's Lady Edith making sure that the last of the Crowley sisters won't die a virgin. Edith gets caught doing the walk of shame by her aunt's maid. Lady Rosamunde gives her a talking a to and is none too kind about Lady Edith staying out until six in the morning like one of Snoop Dogg's bitches in "Gin & Juice." Think that's harsh? Lady Rosamunde was harsher.

Edith is just happy the deed is done with a man she loves and plans to marry. But Shady Boyfriend is leaving for Germany in a week and had Edith sign some paper that supposedly left her in charge of his affairs but that Edith barely took time to glance at, let alone read.

Daisy is my absolute favorite character in the whole show. Mainly because when I first started watching it, I had the flu. In my feverish state, I thought the whole show was about her and she was the main character. For all that, there is nothing on God's Green Earth that can interest me in the Eternal Love Quadrangle between kitchen maids Daisy, Ivy and the two interchangeable footman whom I call Tall Ginger and Short Ginger. I know one is Jimmy and the other was O'Brien's nephew and who cares. They're loveable and wonderful but in the end, their story arc needs work.

So Tom's rapist has left Downton for good leaving Cora to find yet another lady's maid. Anna is still recovering and trying to find her feet after being violently raped. Lady Rose and Edith both have unsuitable new boyfriends and Lady Mary, while not yet ready to move on, isn't quite sure that she did the right thing and drives off with Tom to deal with the ever looming estate taxes.

Surely there's a not going to be a romance brewing there?

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