Downton Abbey Recap: Party Animals

Downton Abbey anna rapedIn this week’s Downton Abbey, the much-ballyhooed house party leaves a lady with palpitations (of the good sort), a servant with palpitations (of the bad sort) and rains down upon one beloved character a fate worse than Mrs. O’Brien’s hair. Seriously, it’s horrific. But if you think you can stomach it, read on…

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CLASS DISMISSED | From the start, Tom has a hard time mingling with all the fancypants snobs that descend upon Downton for the shindig. (He’s so dreadful at it that even judgmental Robert is sympathetic. “Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde,” he says. “That’s a relief,” Violet replies.) Naturally, Edna seizes the opportunity to cozy up anew to the former chauffeur. And, after he confesses to her, “I’m a fish out of water, and I never felt it more than today,” she serves him a bucket of whiskey, then sneaks into his room after hours. (You called that one, Mrs. Hughes!)

MATT WHO CRAWLEY? | Although handsome Anthony Foyle — aka Lord Gilligham — is already engaged, he can’t help but be drawn to Mary, who lightens up to the point that Isobel’s heart breaks at the sight. (She fears that if she allows herself a moment of happiness, it means she’s forgotten her son.) For better or worse, just when Mary starts to really relax in Anthony’s company — they even (gasp!) dance — the widow notices that the music they are so enjoying is coming from Matthew‘s old Gramophone! (Oh, Rose, you thoughtless minx! Anna told you to ask Mary first if you could pull out the record player!)

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ACE IN THE HOLE | While Edith is sure that the weekend will force her papa to get to know Michael, she underestimates Robert’s willingness to run from every — and I do mean every — opportunity to do so. Still, Michael finally manages to score some points with his future father-in-law by outwitting a card shark and winning back the small fortune Cora would have been livid to learn he’d lost. (Mind you, she’s still plenty miffed with her husband when she finds out that he and Carson planned to exclude their entertainment — opera star Dame Nellie Melba — from supper with the guests!)

A LITTLE PARTY NEVER KILLED NOBODY | Downstairs, Jimmy sprains his wrist showing off his jar-juggling “skills,” paving the way for Carson to bring in Molesley as a (lowly) footman for the night. (Gloves and all — the horror!) And Mrs. Patmore gets so stressed out about the meal that she damn near gives herself a coronary, paving the way for Alfred to step in and make sauces (his Top Chef dream come true!). Meanwhile, much to Bates’ chagrin, Anthony’s valet — who everyone confusingly calls Gillingham — takes a fancy to Anna. And, when she leaves Dame Nellie’s performance for an aspirin — hey, opera’s not for everyone — the villain corners her, beats her up and rapes her! Afterwards, she swears Mrs. Hughes to secrecy — if Bates knew, he’d seek vengeance, and as a convicted felon, vengeance, however justified, is rather a no-no.

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? After Bates’ imprisonment, I thought he and Anna — and we! — deserved a break from the tragedies, didn’t you? Not forever, maybe, but certainly longer than we got! And how dumb can Tom be, taking up with Edna? When even the staff is saying, “Dude, watch your step around her!” you bloody well watch your step! I did like Mary’s new suitor, though, and I loved that Michael was able to impress her impossible father. (Go, Team Edith!) Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sounded divine. And, of course, as always, Violet was a hoot. Her best line? “If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class.” Hit the comments.

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43 Comments
  1. Heather says:

    I cried for Anna and shook my head at Branson being daft enough to confide in Edna and then drink that tumbler full of whiskey, but rape is rape and assuming they actually do the deed after she sneaks into his room, I still don’t count that as consent. It’s hard, then as in now, for men to really understand that, so poor Branson’s going to have an uphill battle forgiving himself for what is Edna’s despicable act.

    On another note, is anyone else rooting for Edna to say something disparaging or attempt to do something that would harm Little Sybbie so that Thomas will turn on her?

    • uh huh says:

      I’m sorry, what are you talking about? Branson didn’t rape anyone!

      • Alichat says:

        Heather is calling Edna a rapist. I believe she means that if Tom and Edna ended up sleeping together, then Edna raped Tom. She took advantage of him while he was inebriated….that he was too intoxicated to consent.

        • S. says:

          Oh she totally did. Men can be raped by women, but they get made socially to act like they’re studs and are happy they got laid. If they complain, everybody puts them down. Instead of saying a woman was asking for it and blaming the victim, they criticize the man for NOT asking for it. They practically accuse the man of being gay (as if that’s a bad thing, another issue entirely). He never would’ve slept with Edna on purpose, he appreciated what he thought was a friendly gesture getting the drink, but he’s still mourning Sybil. She knew exactly what she was doing. He’ll be lucky if he remembers what happened. For all we know there wasn’t sex but she’ll let everyone think that’s what happened, including Tom. You know she’s been trying to trap Tom for awhile now and that ladies maid position advertisement was her way back in. Rose, why couldn’t you let Cora post it in The Lady and mind your business? Ugh.

      • GTS says:

        No, Edna did (if she has sex with Branson while he is drugged, which they didn’t actually show).

      • Jo says:

        She’s saying that because Branson was too drunk to give consent, if they do have sex, Edna raped Branson.

  2. Duke says:

    That was a darker turn than I’d expected from this show, and left a cold knot in my stomach that remains even now.

    I was so hoping that one of the other characters who had left the performance would have heard and intervened.

    • Stormy says:

      I’m afraid that the show is teetering on the brink of Days Of Our Lives. If Anna turns out to be pregnant and doesn’t know if Bates or the rapist fathered the child, that will finish it for me.

  3. HSM says:

    I think they refer to the valet as Gillingham because the custom was to call the staff of visitor’s by the visitor’s name so that the downstairs folks would know who they worked for . . . learned that from Gosford Park.

    • uh huh says:

      Also established in the last episode last season in Scotland, where the Scotland staff was aghast that the Downton help was called by their given names.

  4. uh huh says:

    Can we just change the name to DOWNER Abbey and be done with it? Wow.

    Here’s a shark, Downton. Jump.

    • S. says:

      Just because a show has a depressing storyline doesn’t make it a shark jump. To borrow a line from The Princess Bride, “You keep using that [phrase], I do not think it means what you think it means.” You have no idea how it’s going to wrap up. Patience, grasshopper.

      • Sharky says:

        I’m sorry, but you can’t “undo” a rape.

        When too much of a bad thing happened at the end of last season, I didn’t blame Julian Fellowes because he had no choice – an actor wanted out.

        This one is all on him.

        I perfectly understand the phrase “jumped the shark”. And last night…

        …”Downton Abbey” jumped the shark.

        • Fonzy says:

          I said the same thing…Consider the shark jumped…Because I’m sure the next part of that story is she gets pregnant and then wrestles with telling Bates but ultimately she will lose the child.

          • Sarah Elias says:

            After all these months, reading so many blogs, I still haven’t been able to figure out why everyone is so worried about Anna getting pregnant. After all, she’s married and she and Bates presumably aren’t celibate, so how would she or anyone else know if the child is Green’s or Bates’?

  5. Simon says:

    Why are people so quick to criticize the dark tone of the show. It’s a drama. A drama set in the 1920’s a lot of bad stuff went down. Illnesses were not met quickly with advancing medicines, women were not seen as equals. Yes I love the lighter side of Downton but it’s not a drama if they arent going to be some dark moments. But I will say seeing our darling Anna in in such a horrific scene scared the crap out of me. Also Tom was drunk, due to Edna. It’s not like he’s in love with her. I hope she gets her just desserts by the way. Can’t stand her.

    • S. says:

      Preach. Some people need confusing upbeat storylines with good which is weird because Breaking Bad is not a warm and fuzzy show, but people crowed about it. If anything, it got darker and darker. I guess in Downton’s case, the romance aspect of it and the fact that it started in a time before WWI when much of this world was more innocent means they weren’t thinking it would take on darker stuff. The fact is things like what happened to Anna happened to female servants so it’s completely believable. There’s a reason women at that time go around chaperoned and with an eye to what men they were with and under what circumstances because it wasn’t just some social stigma. You were being physically protected. Of course she’s gonna wanna protect Bates to the point that she’ll lie and hide it. Besides, if she goes and screams about it, she’s thinking of the ensuing attention for a lot of others–Anna’s a selfless person to a fault. She needs someone to look out for her here, bless Mrs. Hughes.

  6. Alichat says:

    Well, this was probably the worst Downton episode ever. Going that path with Anna was just too much. And for the love of god, if we don’t get rid of Edna soon, I will do major damage to my television with all the shoes I’m throwing.

    • S. says:

      Worst? Hardly. Something makes you feel bad and probably should make you feel bad and you declare it worst? Sometimes you’re having the exactly reaction they want, and that reaction might be to feel horrified and upset. Why should you have to feel happy or weepy about something for it to get a good review? I’d say it was incredible work by Joanne Froggatt. Surely she’ll submit this or one of the following eps. Arguably her strongest performance and utterly heartbreaking.

      • Alichat says:

        Do not assume I am calling this the worst of the episodes because it made me feel bad. And just because you don’t agree with me, doesn’t mean my opinion is wrong. I felt it was cliched and cheap.

        • J says:

          I think it was awesome. It shows that the actors and characters have dynamic. I didn’t find it cliched or cheap at all. Being able to set the feel and emotion of the scene between Anna and Mrs. Hughes says a lot about the acting skill of Joanne Froggatt.

        • Amie says:

          I agree with you. Resorting to a rape storyline is the stuff of 80s soap operas — bad 80s soap operas — and putting the possible Branson assault by Edna in there, too? YUCK. Cheap, cliched and the laziest kind of storytelling.

    • Ben says:

      The season as a whole is a nice shape, even if it starts with a few pointy corners.

  7. gdv says:

    Oh, god, PLEASE don’t let Anna get pregnant with her rapist’s child. Ugh, that would be awful. Having said that, I really don’t understand why they wouldn’t just get the police. I know Bates can have a temper, but I’m sure he would be satisfied if the man had just been arrested. He wouldn’t have needed to murder the man himself. Poor Anna.

    • Calli says:

      Considering how many people keep their rapes a secret and don’t go to see a doctor or call the police in our current time, it doesn’t seem odd at all that this is the way someone would handle it in the 1920’s.

      • J says:

        It was something totally not talked about back during that time. Also remember Anna is staff, it would have been totally different had it been Mary or Edith.

        • gdv says:

          I understand what you mean, but rape was talked about during that time, and hundreds of years before. I can see how in a stuffy English society it would be shocking, but Anna isn’t a young girl who would be too scared to say anything. She’s a respectable, married woman beloved by the household (even though she is “staff”) and never struck me as a character to back down (i.e. I expected her to accuse her rapist right away, or at least tell Mrs. Hughes to call the police). And remember, this is the same show where Mary’s lover died in her bedroom and Thomas’ preferences are generally accepted, so it doesn’t always follow stuffy English society to a T (as we know it).

          • Mary says:

            I wanted Mrs. Hughes to tell Carston at the very least, but I understood Anna not wanting anyone to know. Bates would not have been satisfied until he beat the rapist to a bloody pulp and that counts as murder. Plus, Anna could have felt she brought the rape on, that maybe if she hadn’t been so friendly it never would have happened. Rape is one of those situations where it’s hard to predict how one would act until they do. Maybe Bates would have surprised Anna and not become violent, but she wasn’t willing to take that chance.

    • AngieD says:

      Different time…. Back then, most people would blame Anna for leading Gillingham on. There are plenty of witnesses who could say that Anna didn’t ‘push’ him away while he was flirting with her and how her behavior upset her husband on multiple occasions and she ignored that he was angered.

    • Aleksa says:

      Oh no, there’s NO way Bates would let that stand without physical retribution.

  8. Jeff says:

    Just too predictable and soap opera ish – the show is a drama, but still, they have to do that awful rape scene, then the predictable victim swearing someone to secrecy about what happened, which you know will eventually be found out by someone else, etc. etc.

    • J says:

      I disagree with your statement. Downton is probably the best acted and written show on TV. It’s much better than a lot of this crap that is shown on television lately. The writers are covering a wide span of time and touching on events that actually relevant to the time period they are working in. Just wait for the next few episodes you will see this even more. Take for instance Mary, women of that period were not involved in running estates, however they are showing Mary’s struggle to have her father accept her as an equal partner. I find this episode, thought provoking and certainly appropriate for the time period.

  9. DJR says:

    Having Anna get raped was disgusting. If I want this kind of shoddy story-telling, I’ll watch the news. The writers and producers should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of imagination. (There were so many changes happening in the world in the 1920’s…why is rape even considered a story point for this type of show?) I only watched this show periodically after the first season. Now, I’ll never watch another episode. I hope this show dies an ugly, slow death. For those of you that still love this show, I applaude your determinism…but it’s not for me anymore. Good riddance!

  10. Rose Moore says:

    I hated this episode. The rape was completely uncalled for. If this is the way the show is going, I hope it ends.

    • DJR says:

      Thank you.

    • Sandy says:

      Wow thank you Rose Moore ! That’s a very nice thought for people who still love the show. If you don’t like it anymore, it’s your right, but why do you “hope that it ends” ? As Thomas would say, what’s it to you ??? Just let it go, go live your life and let people enjoy the show.

      I don’t understand people who suddenly dislike/hate a show and at the same time, wish it dies an “ugly, slow death”. That’s stupid. How old are you guys ? 12 ? You can’t accept that others might still like the show ?

  11. JL says:

    Just when you think Anna and Bates are set, this happens. We all know bad things happen but how can they keep piling up on the same characters? And as far as her reporting it to the poilice, please! We may have come a long way but woman are still suspect whenever they report a rape! And I agree with Anna. Bates would most definetly want to murder him.

  12. Diggy says:

    Obviously, seeing such a beloved character go through something like that is upsetting, to say the least. My feeling is that we haven’t been given enough time to enjoy Anna & Bates being together, following their previously drawn out separation arc, and that’s making an already upsetting storyline even worse. And the Edna storyline has been too obvious, so far. I hope they take that & the rape storyline & do something different with both. An Anna pregnant by her rapist storyline would be as boring as the hackneyed crap they do on Revenge. BTW, am I the only one who thinks Grantham has been coming off as a complete putz?

  13. Cm_limy says:

    I truly hate this story line but I honestly think it would have been as terrible if they hadn’t put us viewers through so much already! For me, killing off both Sybil and Matthew in the same season was terrible. They managed to kill off the only two characters who were progressive ( they also happened to be my favorite characters) and the third season left me feeling cold and empty. Now they put yet another hardship on the kindest sweetest most beloved character of all? I had a out in my stomache when I first say the guy and had a feeling he would try something, but up until the moment when you heard Anna’s screams I held out hope that Bates or any other character would come to her rescue. Also I’m sure that bates would have figured it out when he saw her. He’s not stupid and the way she was acting, especially how she shied away from his touch and averted her eyes when her rapist wished her a good night not to mention the fact that she was clearly beat up, not bruised from a fall. It was all just too much for me, and I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. I love this show soo much and am holding out hope for redemption, but if Anna ends up pregnant then I won’t be able to stand it anymore!

    • Well, I agree about how tragic it was to lose Sybil and Matthew as they were two of my favorite characters too but that is totally on the actors. Both of them wanted to leave the show. You can’t have the heir to Downton and one of the daughters of Downton just disappear. It would be unnatural. They really didn’t have a choice.
      .
      That being said, I almost threw up while watching the rape sequence. It was horrifying. Why, oh why couldn’t it have been another character? I know that Anna is probably the only staff member with a reason to lie and cover it up but still for Pete’s sake, give her and Bates a break!

  14. emma says:

    Love the show, all story lines will upset peoples….. if you don’t like it stop watching it!!!

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