We had a bad feeling the January 12 episode of Downton Abbey would have an upsetting twist. Why? Because when the episode aired over in the United Kingdom back in October, the early copies of it were kept from the media — that's the same move Downton made during Season 3 when Lady Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay) and Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) died.
This time death did not come to Downton but beloved fan favorite Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) was targeted by a visitor to the Abbey. Warning: There are graphic details below that may be upsetting to some readers. For a recap on the rest of the article, head on over here.
One of the visitors to the household, Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), brought along his valet, Mr. Green (Nigel Harman), as is customary when attending a formal house party at the time. Mr. Green seemed to pay particular attention to Anna from the beginning, chatting her up and organizing a card game with the downstairs staff. Anna's husband, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), said he felt something was off about the overly friendly valet but he couldn't put his finger on it. From an outsider's point of view, it seemed the sometimes stodgy Bates was jealous of the fun-spirited Green who could make Anna smile and laugh. How wrong we were.
During the concert of Dame Nellie Melba (Dame Kiri Te Kanawa), Anna excuses herself to take a powder for a headache. Mr. Green follows her downstairs, which is completely deserted as everyone, including kitchen staff, is above watching the concert. Green corners Anna, asks if "that old cripple" really makes her happy, and then proceeds to hit her full in the face. The punch dazes Anna enough that Green pulls her into a secluded room.
We don't see much more from there but there is a haunting scene of the hallway with Anna's screams echoing down its dark passages as Mr. Green rapes her. To make the sequence even more jarring, the footage perpetually cuts to the upstairs performance and the blissfully rapturous faces of the Crawley family, their staff, and their visitors. Little do they know the horror taking place under the same roof.
Agonizingly, we soon cut away as other story lines unfold, wondering the whole time what happened to our dear Anna. There is a brief glimpse of Green returning to the concert, pulling down his jacket and settling into his chair. How much we want him to dissolve into the puddle of filth he is. Bates, meanwhile, wonders where Anna could have gotten off to — our hearts aching the whole time.
After the concert concludes, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) enters her office downstairs to find a very disheveled, bruised, and frightened Anna cowering in the corner. She sobs that she needs help but that Mrs. Hughes must never tell anyone what has transpired, not even the doctor and most especially not Mr. Bates. Anna's reasoning? Bates will kill the man who did this to her and so will wind up back in jail where, as a two-time offender, it's likely he'll be sentenced to death. What this means is only Mrs. Hughes and Anna know of Green's crime and so Green will likely not be held responsible for his horrendous actions. Unless, of course, he returns to Downton and word gets out.
The episode ends with Mr. Bates running into Anna as she exits Mrs. Hughes's office. She explains away her bruised face and changed dress by saying she fainted, hit her head against the sink, and stained her dress. Green then walks into the scene and, as our stomachs turn and our fists clench, wishes Mr. and Mrs. Bates a good night, smugly grinning as he walks away knowing Anna has not told her husband of the night's events. Bates reaches to comfort his clearly distraught wife only to be pushed away as Anna says she'd prefer to walk home. She heads out into the darkness alone, Bates calling her name from the doorway.
There's a lot to process from this episode including what will happen next for Anna and whether Green will ever be punished for his crimes. Share your thoughts in the comments below.