Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 3 (PBS)

Here’s a Downton episode that shows why it keeps gathering fans. That’s when every plot is captivating, and every other line uttered by the characters is a quotable quote, plus, two strong female characters saving the day: Violet Crawley upstairs, and Mrs. Hughes downstairs. Thanks to them, the good regain their zest for life (Mary and Isobel), and the bad are banished (Edna Braithwaite).

The most important storyline of course is Anna and Bates. And Mrs. Hughes is the only one to know about the rape. I have been successful so far to block out spoilers for future episodes but I hope Mrs. Hughes is wise and strong enough to make sure the right steps are taken in this heart wrenching case. After the most controversial tragedy befalls a faultless character, we’re all eager to see the aftermath.

Anna is thrice victimized. First raped, then silenced, and ultimately guilt-laden. I’m sure such a scenario is real even for today. “I must have made it happen. I feel dirty. I can’t let him touch me because I’m soiled.” A gap has developed so quickly like the ground has parted suddenly between a once loving couple. Now Anna and Bates are standing on opposite sides of a deep chasm. Mrs. Hughes urges her to go to the police to report, and tell Bates about the assault. She can see how hurtful it is for him to suffer from not knowing. But Anna sees the possible reality for Bates. “Better a broken heart than a broken neck.”

Several people have noticed Anna’s recent silence. Who wouldn’t? But not many would ask Bates directly except of course Lord Grantham himself. Julian Fellowes has written him some good lines. I just want to quote the whole thing here:

“There is no such thing as a marriage between two intelligent people that does not sometimes have to negotiate thin ice. I know. You must wait until things become clear. And they will. The damage cannot be irreparable when a man and a woman love each other as much as you do.”

But as always, the punchline comes after a pause:

“My goodness that was strong talk for an Englishman.”

Downton Abbey S4E3

On a slightly more pleasant note, Lady Mary’s dilemma regarding Lord Gillingham and his lightning speed of a marriage proposal. Michelle Dockery has put forth some very fine acting in this episode, especially the scene when they are walking on the green grounds of Downton, when Gillingham asks her a very short question: “Will you marry me?” The setting is romantic, the cinematography gorgeous, but this is what I’m most gratified to hear from Lady Mary:

“I can’t. I’m not free of him. Yesterday, you said I fill your brain. Well, Matthew fills mine. Still. And I don’t want to be without him, not yet.”

After all, it’s only about seven months after Matthew’s death. Further, if Tony Gillingham can discard a previously engaged relationship so readily, what kind of a lover will he be to Mary? Again, I don’t know about any future story development, but in my heart, I wish Mary would wait a while longer. But, she gives him a warm kiss though. What a conflicting heart. Did she say later that she’d done something she might regret?

Same with Edith. Have you seen anyone signing away a document without giving it even just a skim over? Julian Fellowes knows exactly where to grab our attention… when the character is least attentive. This is a document prepared by her very sincere-looking love interest, the man admittedly had had a ‘dubious, misspent youth’, and who had won back everyone’s poker losses from a crook within the same night. Oh but love conquers all fears for Edith. Lady Rosamund reminds her she’s “gambling with her future”. So Gregson leaves for Munich the next day. Interesting.

While in London, we’re introduced to the first black character in Downton Abbey, the jazz singer Jack Ross, who leaves a fine impression on Lady Rose, launching another interesting plot line.

And don’t you just love Mrs. Hughes even more, a bulwark of discernment and authority? Tom is wise enough to come downstairs to seek her advice as Edna blackmails him to marry her for a fake, just-in-case kind of pregnancy. Even Thomas (it’s Mr. Barrows now) the schemer isn’t a bit sympathetic.

And it’s Mrs. Hughes again who is so kind, and sweet, to restore a loving memory for Mr. Carson, framing up his once, young love. Can you imagine Mrs. Hughes taking time off Downton to go to town to shop for a nice picture frame? Anyway, it’s good to know these characters have heart, and are not afraid to show it. Very well done here. And no, I don’t particularly wish that Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson would become late romantics. They are just fine now. It’s much rarer to see genuine friendship than romantic love.

Mr. Carson gets the best quote here in Season 4 Episode 3:

“The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that’s all there is.”


Season 4 Episode 2

Season 4 Opening Special


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

20 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 3 (PBS)”

  1. You do such a good job with this episode, Arti. I didn’t really think twice about Gregson’s motives or intent (duh), but now I do! As for Anna and Bates, it really gets my heart strings. I think Hughes should urge Anna to tell Bates what happened, with the simple disclaimer to him: “I will tell you what has happened if you promise me you will not do what I fear you will.” Maybe Hughes could convince her to report it because by doing so it could prevent other abuses by the rapist!


    1. Ruth,

      I can’t predict exactly what will happen, while tens of thousands of viewers have already known (in both the UK and some in US). I can only guess from hints Julian Fellowes has dropped. And also, some are just my own intuition… like, Lord Gillingham. I don’t like him as much as Matthew. So I hope Mary would not jump into any quick decision. I hope she’ll listen to her heart. What Isobel has done, in greeting Gillingham and shaking hands with him, is most generous and admirable. (I don’t think I can do that even as a viewer 😉 )


  2. I was freaking out when she signed that with barely a glance (probably to find the signature line.) And the fact that she came in at 6 a.m. means, of course, she had quite the night, I would suspect. I hope that’s not a problem but I never underestimate Julian Fellowes to find the drama!

    Like you, I like Hughes and Carson just as they are. Dear friends. The Anna/Bates tugs at me, too. You’re right — it is still an all too familiar scene. And I loved the conversation between Bates and Lord Grantham. Nice.

    I don’t know if we’ve seen the last of Tony G. They gave him a pretty big build up in the promos and I’m not sure they would have done that for just a couple of episodes, given that he’s not a Shirley MacLaine or Kiri TeKanawa stature-wise. Which of course brings Green into play again. Yes, it certainly leaves room for more conflict before it resolves.

    Arti, I don’t remember if I told you this, but when I was in London I saw Michael Gregson as Bertie in the stage production of “The King’s Speech.” He was so impressive — of course, I didn’t have a clue who he was, not recognizing him from anything. For some reason I looked up his credits and when it showed up, went back to my records from the cast (glad I took the photos of those posters!). When I saw him on Downton he looked vaguely familiar, but I thought it must have been another Brit-dram! Made him extra fun!

    As they say, “the plot thickens!”


    1. Jeanie,

      I’m beginning to feel kind of strange that we’re conducting these conversations, guessing and speculating what will happen while tens of thousands have already known. This feeling just overcame me as I replied Ruth’s comment. I sure hope in the next Season, the North Am and the UK broadcast dates for Downton will align. Then we can respond together, and no need to tiptoe around avoiding spoilers.

      How cool is that that you could see The King’s Speech on stage, and what a performance that must have been for Gregson to be stuttering Bertie. I’m always interested in movie adaptations from other media, like The King’s Speech, a stage play. Another I’m thinking of that’s currently screening is August: Osage County.

      You’re right. I think Gillingham (and his valet Green) will come around Downton some more times. I sure hope Anna and Bates can soon reconcile and see justice prevail as well. Here we are in the dark, voluntarily so… this is just so strange a feeling. Don’t you agree? But of course, I want to stay with PBS and watch DA one episode at a time. 😉


  3. I have to say I breathed a sigh of relief at the end of this episode. Loved the lines for sure “We don’t all have to live off battered fish and meat pies!” I was so happy to see the Maid go…


    1. Ellen,

      You’re right. I like that line from James. We sure have some exciting stories cooking from those foursome. Will Alfred ultimately leave Downton?


  4. I was so impressed by the quote from Mr. Carson that I wrote it down! And the one Lord Crawley made was also very profound. I do believe Mr Bates will definitely get to the bottom of Anna’s issue. He doesn’t seem the type to leave that alone. I cannot wait to see how that turns out. The writing for this show is awesome! Thanks for the reviews!~


    1. Courtney,

      Julian Fellowes sure knows how to put the right words in his characters’ mouth. I’m eager to find out what will happen next to all of them. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Yes, DA is a good source of quotable quotes. 😉


  5. I was a latecomer to Downton Abbey. I just did a marathon of the last two seasons to be able to watch season 4 with the rest of the U.S. Seeing it all so close together has given me a wonderful picture of the depth of the characters and the brilliant writing.

    I am quite worried about Anna. Her plot lines are rarely quick in their resolution, unlike many of the others.

    I didn’t quite grasp until you mentioned it how Edith may be headed for more trouble than the obvious. I quite like her and, with everyone else, want to see her happy. Perhaps I am so anxious to see her get there that I, too, might be blinded.


    1. Michelle,

      Never too late to catch up with Downton. I’m sure it’s still gathering first time viewers. Glad you’ve ‘joined the club’. But I believe once you’ve seen the first episode of the first season, you’ll get hooked. I agree with you about the resolution with Anna’s story lines in the past. Definitely an issue so serious as rape right now will take much longer. I think boht she and Bates are characters that can stand the test of time. I’m most eager to follow along. And Edith… oh, I don’t know how she would withstand another blow. Julian Fellowes has got our attention indeed.


  6. Arti, your summary of the episode is exactly how I saw it! I might add that I find it hard to believe that parents would actually be so focused on pushing their recently widowed daughter into another marriage that they are oblivious to their other daughter’s very precarious situation. Not very realistic.


    1. Jean,

      Welcome to the pond… where you get to throw in your two pebbles and make some ripples. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your exasperation… what parents would rush their daughter widowed for just a few months into another marriage? I trust Mary’s heart more. As for Edith, O I don’t want to predict. Anything can happen. I’m fine with waiting week after week for the upcoming episodes. It builds character (In me, that is.) 😉


      1. Jean and Arti,
        I have to say that I have a converse opinion about the subject of Mary’s parents pushing her into marriage right away. I felt that it would be on point with the period for Mary to possibly marry again, even so quickly. Marriage was more about social mobility and financial security than it was about love. I could see Mary being pushed into marriage so that her father could rest assured that she had a secure future.
        However, I completely agree with everyone about the slip with Gregson. I’m so glad that you pointed out the lapse in Edith’s judgement in signing that document. I was caught up in the romance of it all, and missed the subtle allusion to a possible dramatic situation. I hope poor Edith doesn’t have to go through having her heart broken again!


  7. I love reading your commentary Arti … and I agree, Mrs Hughes is a wonderful character. I wouldn’t like to see a romance between her and Carson either. There’s such depth in the characters.


    1. WG,

      Thanks. Glad you stop by and share your thoughts. I appreciate your contribution. Yes, let’s hope Julian Fellowes will keep their friendship strong and pure. 😉


  8. I appreciate your comment that genuine friendship (at least portrayed in films) is much rarer than romance. I haven’t started this season’s DA and probably won’t for a while yet but I like reading your reviews for something to look forward to.


  9. I really like your post on this episode of Downton Abbey. I did also write Mr. Carson’s quote about memory in my quotation document, after I heard it, and I can’t say anymore as I am getting too upset (since my husband is losing his.)


    1. VB,

      What you’ve been doing so wonderfully on your blog is exactly this, isn’t it? Recollections. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s situation. You’re an important memory keeper for him as well.


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