Of all the faces we expected to see roaming the halls of Downton Abbey during Season 4, Edna Braithwaite’s (MyAnna Buring) wasn’t one of them.
Edna first entered our lives at the tail end of Season 3. At first, she seemed harmless enough, just another maid who would neither win us over like Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) nor, we thought, be a diabolical as O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran). Oh, how very wrong we were.
Don’t get us wrong. We’re no Dowager-era prudes. It’s just that Tom’s been very emotionally vulnerable ever since the tragic death of Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay). Plus, this is Sybil’s man and the father of her child we’re talking about. Any woman who wants to take a ride with this particular chauffeur needs to make sure she adequately fills Sybil’s harem pants. Edna simply does not measure up.
The Abbey is in need of a new lady’s maid to replace the India-bound O'Brien, and so, fresh from lady’s maid school (yep, that’s a real thing), deals in a little trickery to get the job.
First, she interviews directly with Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), who, Dowager bless her, isn’t exactly the best judge of character. Then, Edna presents the good reference Mrs. Hughes felt forced to write last season to smooth her hasty exit. Seeing such a glowing review, the Countess of Grantham hires Edna on the spot.
With the new power afforded a lady’s maid, Edna attracts the attention of Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) who’s actively on the hunt for a frenemy to replace O'Brien. Edna also resets her sights on Tom who, in a moment of alcohol-fueled weakness gives into the maid’s persistent advances.
Edna then proceeds to hold the threat of a potential pregnancy over the honorable Tom, trying to force the rising star into marrying her even though she knows full well she isn’t expecting. Thankfully, Mrs. Hughes isn’t so easily fooled. After some well-timed snooping, uncovers incriminating evidence of Edna’s questionable moral fabric that sends her packing for the rest of Season 4.
Job well done, Mrs. Hughes, and good riddance to you, Edna Braithwaite!