Downton Abbey Recap: Truth or Consequences

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Downton Abbey Season 4In this week’s Downton Abbey, Mrs. Hughes does everything she can think of to ease Bates and Anna’s suffering, from exaggerating about the lady’s maid’s busy schedule to beseeching the rape victim to come clean with her husband. When none of that works — and Robert’s valet threatens to quit rather than continue to live in agonizing bewilderment — the head housekeeper does what Anna doesn’t dare to: She tells the truth. Well, kind of. Read on, and I’ll explain.

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ANYONE BUT THE BUTLER DID IT | Knowing that Anna fears Bates will seek vengeance on her attacker — and knowing that she’s probably right about that! — Mrs. Hughes lies that the perp was an outsider, not Tony’s valet. Afterward, the sensitive tough guy weeps for his missus and sweetly assures her that she’s not in the least, as she thinks, “spoiled” for him. But neither the revelation of the (bent) truth nor Anna’s decision to move back in with her spouse means it’s all over and done. On the contrary, “nothing is over,” Bates tells Mrs. Hughes, looking for all the world like the wild-eyed Axeman from American Horror Story: Coven, “and nothing is done.”

WHAT’S COOKIN’ | Meanwhile, the rest of the servants are preoccupied by the arrival of Cora’s new maid, the seemingly lovely Mrs. Baxter, who’s in cahoots with and/or indebted to Thomas, and Alfred’s upcoming culinary school admissions test. Predicting that the wannabe chef will pass his exam, Carson offers Molesley his job. But instead of accept at once, the former valet dithers about whether he can take the step down to footman for so long that Alfred has time not only to take the test but flunk it. If Molesley had said yes right away, Carson explains that he would have been stuck with him as an employee. Now, however, he’s missed his chance. “As I generally do,” the sad sack observes.

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BUSINESS, AFFAIRS | Upstairs, Robert surprises — and pleases — Mary and Tom (and, for that matter, me) by loaning a dead tenant’s son the money he needs to repay his debts and keep farming the land that’s been in his family for generations. On the downside, Mary learns that Tony and Mabel are now engaged, and Tom starts talking about moving to America with baby Sybbie. Even more upsetting, we get a hunch as to why Edith is so upset not to have heard from Michael lately — not that not hearing from her beau isn’t bad enough — when she pays a visit to a doctor in London. (Pregnant much?) Violet’s good deed — hiring a young gardener named John at (as usual!) Isobel’s urging — seems to be punished when her prized paper knife, Mr. Pointy, mysteriously goes missing. (Note: She doesn’t actually call it Mr. Pointy.) And finally, when Mrs. Patmore balks at the installation of a fridge in place of the ice box, Cora’s moved to ask whether there’s “any aspect of the present day that you can accept without resistance.” To which the cook responds, pricelessly, “Well, m’lady, I wouldn’t mind getting rid of me corset.”

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? I thought Bates’ reaction to Anna’s shame was rather beautiful. But, as much as Mr. Green has it coming to him, I’m not crazy about the idea of another murder so soon after Vera’s demise. (This is Downton Abbey, after all, not Bates Motel!) If we need a mystery on the show, Mrs. Baxter’s connection to Thomas will suffice nicely, thank you. Hit the comments!

Comments (10)

  • I’ve been bragging to the posters on EW’s recap about how much better [less snarky and "witty"] the TVLine re-cappers are. IMO you’re sailing a bit too close to the wind with this one.

    Comment by Tico – January 26, 2014 07:09 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • IMO great recap, Andy!

      Comment by Josh – January 27, 2014 06:30 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • I found the repartee between Violet and Isobel this week to be very awesome.
    Whoever didn’t see the preggers drama was blind and its resolution which will be seen later on is even more predictable but enjoyable.

    Thomas is vile, he really needs to be put down in season 5. He has not suffered enough.

    Comment by shuayb – January 26, 2014 08:29 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • Agree with all three.

      Comment by Carol C – January 27, 2014 06:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • SO tired of the Bates/Anna plotline. I had hoped against hope that when Bates found out the truth (OK, most of it, anyway) behind Anna’s coldness, that would put an end to this unsatisfying and, yes, boring bit of business. Seems to me continuation will only serve to rehash a been-there-done-that-Bates-in-prison element. Maybe someone can conk Bates on the head, and he’ll permanently forget that he’s hellbent on revenge.

    Comment by Maisie – January 27, 2014 08:26 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I agree about the been-there-done-that aspect of any storyline that would send Bates back to prison, and I doubt if the writers would go in that direction. Bates learned a lot in prison about how to manipulate the system, so he may get revenge in a more subtle but devastating way. Not sure what that would be other than destroying the bad guy’s career, which doesn’t seem devastating enough. Maybe he’ll engineer some kind of set-up that would expose the bad guy. Maybe he’ll even get in cahoots with Thomas, who would be sure to have a few ideas on how to make somebody suffer without getting caught at it. I guess I’ll just stick around and see what develops. At least the story has moved on from Anna shutting out Bates. Now THAT was boring and unsatisfying.

      Comment by Jenks – January 27, 2014 09:07 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • LOL..your comment left me in stitches! :D

      Comment by P99 – January 27, 2014 09:10 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • I hope Bates goes to Lord Grantham with the facts and that Robert gets in touch with Anthony Gillingham and together they find a viable way to proceed.

      Comment by Stormy – January 27, 2014 11:47 AM PDT  Reply To This Post
  • Thank God some of these storylines are moving forward! Several of them have gotten SO tiring. It was such a relief to see the 90210 kitchen crew do something besides out flirt each other. Why Mrs. Patmore hasn’t cracked those skulls together, I don’t know. Those kids only make me love Thomas even more, at least he’s interesting even if he’s diabolical. I’m so grateful SOMEBODY finally told Bates, I was ready to tell him myself! I absolutely LOVED how he cried for her, how she broke down in his arms. Her quivering chin had me sobbing. I am so done with this Moseley thing, either give him a real job or get him off the show!

    Comment by jenferner8 – January 27, 2014 02:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post
    • In my view, the last two eps (including Christmas Special) Molesley is one of the best bits of the entire show. Hang on there on that one!

      Comment by Ben – January 27, 2014 10:10 PM PDT  Reply To This Post

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