'Downton Abbey' Season 4 episode 4: Bates learns the truth (mostly)
The upstairs is rather quiet this episode. Mr. Drew, a tenant farmer, passes away and the Crawleys want to take back the land and farm it for themselves. Mr. Drew's son expresses an interest in continuing to farm it, an idea Robert is initially averse to until the younger Drew talks about a great partnership between the estate and the farmers. It wins Robert over and he even lends Drew the money (in secret) to bring the farm's account current.
Tom and Mary eventually find out about the loan and both are touched. Tom is a socialist and is always championing the little guys, while Mary likes to see her dad be a big ol' softie. Speaking of Tom and Mary, their friendship continues to be one of the best things about Season 4. When Tom entertains the idea of taking Sybbie to America, so that she doesn't grow up being trapped as the daughter of both an "uppity chauffeur" and a Lord, Mary begs him to stay, winning our ever-lasting love by saying to him, "We can't lose you, Tom."
Mary is also quite sad to see the announcement of Lord Gillingham's engagement to whatshername, but Mary did reject his proposal, so she can't be overly surprised. Perhaps her depth of feeling at the engagement is just the kick in the pants she needs to get back out there. She does seem quite excited when Evelyn Napier comes to visit.
Bates confronts Mrs. Hughes about Anna's secret and the entire thing is completely heartbreaking. First Bates is convinced that for some reason, Anna no longer loves him and he should just leave Downton, so Mrs. Hughes caves and tells him what happened. Bates is angry, but also so upset -- his crying along in the hallway for his wife was just gut-wrenching.
Bates talks to Anna and again with the heartbreak because she says she's spoiled for him now. But we know Bates would never think that and he praises her strength and says of course she's not spoiled for him. The relief flooding through Anna is palpable.
The wrinkle, of course, is that Bates knows it was Mr. Green. He's not stupid. He takes it at face value when Mrs. Hughes and Anna swear up and down it was an intruder, but we all know better. You kind of forget how scary Bates can be when he wants to be. Mr. Green better watch his back.
Meanwhile, with that horrid Edna Braithwaite gone, Thomas gets his friend Baxter in as the new lady's maid for Lady Cora. Baxter is cut from the same cloth as Thomas, knowing just what buttons to push to immediately get into her ladyship's good graces. Thomas has Baxter on high alert to report back to him anything interesting from above stairs.
Thoughts & Tidbits
- Kudos to the actors involved in Anna's rape storyline, they are absolutely killing it this season.
- We wish Baxter had been the new lady's maid from episode one. That whole Edna Braithwaite nonsense was really tiresome. What's awesome about Baxter is that she's Thomas' spy and ally just like O'Brien was, but with the added bonus of being well-liked by the other staff members. This should be fun.
- We hardly saw anything of Lady Edith this episode, after her wild night with Mr. Gregson, but at the end of the episode, was she going into a doctor's office in London? Is Lady Edith pregnant? Ruh roh.
- There are also a couple side plots that don't really go anywhere this week -- Alfred does his Ritz cooking school tryout but doesn't get accepted, and Lady Violet hires a boy as a new gardener at the behest of Dr. Clarkson and cousin Isobel, whom Violet thinks has stolen her valuable letter opener. She agrees not to fire him until there is more proof.
- The kitchen love quadrilateral continues: Jimmy's a prat but Ivy still likes him, Alfred likes Ivy, Daisy likes Alfred, Alfred doesn't get into his school, Daisy's happy he's staying and Jimmy is prat some more.
- This dumb storyline does, however, lead to more sadness for Mr. Molesley. He gets offered Alfred's job because Mr. Carson assumes Alfred is leaving, but Molesley doesn't know if he wants it because he's a trained valet and Alfred is only a footman. He eventually accepts the job, but Alfred isn't leaving anymore and there's no job to accept. Molesley also rankles Carson with his hemming and hawing. There really should be a #PoorMolesley thing started, right? I say that in my head like five times an episode.
Violet: "I wonder your halo doesn't grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara 'round the clock."
Cousin Isobel: "You make me sound very fervent."
Lady Violet: "Wars have been waged with less fervor."