Welcome to the unofficial support group for those who’ve just finished watching the January 12 episode of Downton Abbey Season 4. It’s a tough one to get through for so many reasons (and, if you haven’t watched it yet, you may want to read this before continuing).
Without sending us all back to the freezer for another scoop of ice cream, let’s just say the combination of deception, betrayal, and assault presented in the episode makes it one of the more unforgettable of the entire series — and one of the most controversial.
When the episode premiered in the United Kingdom back in October, it inspired more than 60 formal complaints to British broadcaster ITV. For weeks, people quizzed show creator Julian Fellowes as to why he would bring in a plot point as graphic and emotionally devastating as rape.
“The whole point of the way we do things on Downton is we don’t do them gratuitously,” Julian explained to The BBC at the time. “We are interested in exploring the resultant emotions and the effect these things have on people.”
“I was really proud of the show for tackling a subject like this,” she said on BBC Breakfast. “I feel it’s a really brave thing to do and I really do believe that Julian’s written that in a way that is not gratuitous at all.”
As for the man now at the top of fans’ “Most Hated” list, Mr. Green, the actor who plays him acknowledges the storyline is “shocking.” “For a show like Downton Abbey it really leaps out as a bold and risky idea,” Nigel Harman explained in an interview soon after the episode debuted in the U.K.
For anyone who’s seen the remainder of Season 4, you’ll know where Anna, her husband, and Mr. Green all end up. For those of you waiting to see what happens next, try and take comfort in knowing that the season won’t end with us sobbing.