Downton Abbey shows no signs of slowing down in its fourth season. After the bombshell dropped in the January 12 episode, we didn’t know what to expect come January 19. Julian Fellowes didn’t disappoint, though, serving up secret after secret during the most recent show.
If you’re interested in what happens between Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) and Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), we’ve got the answer. In fact, so much happens between these two that we’ve written a separate article all about it. Once you’re done catching up on their romance, continue reading below for the latest on the other secrets running rampant at Downton.
How Is Anna Bates Doing?
The horror of what happened to Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) at the end of the January 12 episode is still fresh. Not only is Anna dealing with wounds both physical and mental, but to keep her secret, she must act normally around her attacker, Mr. Green (Nigel Harman). Despite the brave face she tries to put on, however, Anna’s uncharacteristic coldness has the whole household worried. In particular, her husband, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), is convinced he’s done something horribly wrong.
To make matters even worse, Anna feels “so dirty” and so unworthy of her husband that she decides to move out of their adorable, newly painted cottage and back into the main house. The move leaves Bates distraught and our hearts aching.
Part of us so wants Anna to listen to Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and tell someone what happened so justice can be sought. But then again, we understand Anna’s point when she says to tell would only end in her ex-convict husband’s ruin — “Better a broken heart than a broken neck,” as she puts it. At the end of the day, the sexual assault happened to Anna and it is up to Anna to decide how she wants to deal with its aftermath. Still, as Lady Mary says, when a secret is too hard to hold inside, “Find someone you can tell. It will help more than you know.”
Let's Listen to Some Jazz
While out enjoying jazz at London’s Lotus Club, her dance partner and recent visitor to Downton, Sir John Bullock (Andrew Alexander), makes a drunken fool of himself. After Sir John rushes off to un-whiskey himself in the nearest toilet and/or potted plant, a flustered and embarrassed Rose is left alone in the middle of the dance floor. In swoops jazz singer Jack Ross (Gary Carr).
We’ve been long awaiting the arrival of Downton’s first black character and Jack doesn’t disappoint. He’s as smooth and sophisticated as you’d expect London’s hottest jazz singer to be and his confident ways sweep Rose off her feet — literally. They also draw the disapproving gaze of Rose’s family. Remember, it’s 1922. A white woman dancing with a black man just isn’t done and so, with barely enough time to tell her dance partner her name, Rose is promptly “fetched” away by her family. Despite the obvious taboo presented by their relationship, we don’t see Jack disappearing from Rose’s life anytime soon.
Tom Branson’s Unfortunate Drunken Mistake
In other secrets springing up at Downton, a heavily intoxicated Tom Branson (Allen Leech) made the unfortunate mistake of sleeping with lady’s maid/stalker, Edna Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring). The day after their nighttime escapades, Edna tries to convince Tom to pledge himself to marry her in case she’s pregnant with his child. Sound fishy? It is and once again Mrs. Hughes comes to the rescue.
After a world-weary Tom confesses the whole “sordid tale” to Mrs. Hughes, the head housekeeper takes it upon herself to go through Edna’s things. There she finds a book on how to avoid pregnancy (they had those?). She trots Edna in front of Tom and has her confess the evil plot.
In a nutshell, Edna aimed to trap the lonely, up-and-coming widower into marriage by convincing him she was pregnant although she knew she wasn’t. Then, once the ring was firmly on her finger, she’d get knocked up by some other man. Perhaps that’s why she was always so friendly with Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier)...
Her plan exposed, Edna rushes into the night just like another evil lady’s maid before her. In O'Brien’s defense, at least she never tried to trick anyone into marrying her.
So are we convinced Edna’s gone for good? No. Are we convinced she’s not pregnant? No, though we sure as heck hope so. Are we convinced Mrs. Hughes is a badass? You bet your britches.
Lady Edith Makes Her Own Gamble
Speaking of one-night stands and unexpected pregnancies, how about that Edith (Laura Carmichael)? We know we’ve said that same thing before about the middle Crawley daughter, but boy oh boy is Lady Edith pushing the envelope this season.
With her beloved editor Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) leaving for Munich in less than a week to begin the process of divorcing his mentally unstable wife, Edith goes to visit him in London. In an interesting move on his part, Michael sends his help away for the evening, meaning it’s just him and Edith alone at his flat. He has her sign a legal document that gives her more control over his assets, and then the two, well, it looks like the two spend the rest of the night in, if you catch our drift.
Afterwards, Lady Edith sneaks home late only to be spotted by one of her Aunt Rosamund’s (Samantha Bond) maids. Clued in by the help, Auntie Rosamund promptly sits Edith down to talk about her rather rash choice. “You’re trusting this man with your name and your reputation,” she points out as Edith attempts to hold her head up high and defend her risky behavior.
We love us a good love story and are all for the new Edith, but we have to side with Auntie Rosamund on this one. If Edith’s night of passion does indeed lead to an unexpected arrival, she has everything to lose. As much as things have changed since the war, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy in 1922 would cast Edith into the shadows for the rest of her days. Plus, despite how wonderful Michael appears to be and how much we like to think he wants the best for Edith, he will be far away in Germany if anything unexpected occurs.
The quote of the night goes to that sneaky underbutler, Thomas Barrow, and his chat in the stairwell with the “manipulative little witch” Edna right before her rushed departure. How we do love to hate Thomas and his snark.
Could our fan fiction dreams finally be coming true? Could a romantic connection be forming between Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) and Mrs. Hughes? As unlikely as youthful passion may seem between the two pillars of the household staff, both showed a softer side during this episode as they bonded over old flames. As Mrs. Hughes sought to remind her counterpart, he does “have a heart.” Perhaps it’s a heart you’d like to win, Elsie?
In the latest update of downstairs drama, Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) walks in on fun-lovin', dream big Jimmy Kent (Ed Speleers) kissing kitchen maid Ivy (Cara Theobold). Seeing his crush in the arms of another man inspires Alfred to focus on his dreams of becoming a chef. Sadly, this means Alfred may leave the Abbey for good and so Daisy Lewis (Sophie McShera) will have yet another failed romance to add to her list. She’s pretty much the Edith of the downstairs staff, you guys.