Downton Abbey recap: The Whole Ghastly Business

Mr. Bates finds out what happened to Anna and Robert is not the worst anymore.
Ep. 04 | Aired Jan 26, 2014

SECRETS, SECRETS ARE NO FUN: Mr. Bates threatens to leave, forcing Mrs. Hughes to reveal that Anna was raped.

Nick Briggs/PBS

Evelyn Napier appears again at Downton, and it's been a while since we've seen or heard from the man who introduced Mary to Mr. Pamuk. Evelyn tells Mary that he's sorry about "the whole ghastly business" -- meaning Matthew's death. But it feels like that speaks to the entirety of season 4.

Aside from everyone having to deal with the passing of the Crawley heir, it's been a rough few months in Yorkshire. Mary turned down Tony, and now he's engaged to Mabel Lane-Fox. Tom had his hands full with Edna, the horrid maid. (Thank heavens she's gone.) Thomas keeps being Thomas, having learned nothing from season 3, or life in general. Cousin Rose has absolutely nothing to do, even though she started this season, surprisingly, with some promise. The depressing love square between Daisy, Alfred, Ivy, and Jimmy continues to simmer in the kitchen.  It looks like Edith has been jilted again, this time by Gregson. (Fine, I will start calling him by his real name. I still think he looks like Anthony Strallan.) Molesley can't catch a break. And then of course, there's Anna.

Anna's rape has colored these last three episodes, and in "Part Four," Mr. Bates finally finds out. Frustrated with his wife's inability to communicate with him -- and his conclusion that she no longer loves him -- Bates hatches a plan.

Bates catches Anna and Mrs. Hughes discussing the incident in the hall. He later tells Mrs. Hughes that he's tendering his resignation, since Anna hates him. Mrs. Hughes, faced with a difficult decision of betraying Anna's trust or letting Bates leave, confesses. Bates rightly guesses that it was Mr. Green, but the housekeeper swears on her mother's grave that it wasn't, saying that it was someone who had broken in to the house. Bates pretends to believe her.

Lord Grantham's valet then confronts his wife. He knows her secret. Anna feels both relieved and embarrassed. Bates assures her that he loves her now more than ever. He promises to put the rape in the past so they can move on with their lives. Anna does believe him.

But Bates has other ideas. At the end of the episode, he says to Mrs. Hughes that it's far from over. Uh oh, Bates. Hopefully he doesn't end up in prison again.

In lighter news, back to Evelyn's return. He's working for the government, researching the English estates and whether they are still viable after the war. Mary is glad to see him, and wants him and his boss to stay with them at Downton while they do their work.

When Edith finds out about Evelyn's presence, she's sorry she missed him. (Unfortunately, the much put-upon middle daughter was in London, at a doctor's office. I can't imagine what that means.) However, Mr. Napier's visit does lead to this cute exchange between Edith and her father.

"Is he still in pursuit of Mary?" Edith wonders.

"I didn't ask him," a perplexed Robert replies.

And in Robert is taking a turn for the better news, Lord Grantham helps the son of a long-time tenant farmer. Thomas Drew's father passed away, leaving Yew Tree Farm in debt, with the Crawleys planning to take over. Drew explains to Robert he had no idea about the financial issues, but still wants to stay to farm the land. Robert secretly offers Drew the 50 pounds to pay back the debt so that Mary and Tom will agree to let him stay. In past years, he probably would have just demanded that Mary and Tom let Drew stay without paying the money or giving his daughter or son-in-law any say in the matter. This time, he doesn't, and it as refreshing as the good deed he does by lending the money.

Meanwhile, to round out the rest of the story lines, Tom inexplicably wants to move to America and take baby Sybbie with him. Alfred gets accepted to test for the Ritz. With Daisy's tutelage in the kitchen, he sets off for London. He does well -- but he barely misses the cut. Cora has a new lady's maid, Baxter, who has ties to Thomas. Carson, thinking that Alfred will soon be gone, offers the footman job to Molesley, who takes his time deciding. Too much time, and once again, Molesley finds himself without a permanent place. Isobel pressures Violet to hire a local boy to work in her garden, and he may or may not have ended up stealing an expensive knife from the Dowager. Oh and the family is going to throw a party for Robert's birthday, with Rose taking charge. Maybe she will be Downton's resident party planner? At least it would be something for her character.

NEXT: Character rankings and Violet's best lines

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