Downton Abbey Season 4: Episode 4 (PBS)

What a gripping episode. But before the most important storyline comes to a resolve, there are some interesting development.

Who’s this Baxter, new lady’s maid to Cora Grantham? Nothing is explained how she’s friends with Thomas. When Bates asks Anna’s opinion of her, and what Baxter sees in Thomas, Anna replies:

“You know the old saying: there’s nowt so queer as folk”

Layered with meaning. First for Baxter, her inexplicable (so far) relationship with Thomas; then for Anna’s own situation, the tragic and most unwanted event had turned her into a totally different person to her husband. It could also refer to Green, her attacker, although I would not venture to use that saying on him. Just too kind a comment for such an evil man.

“The world moves on and we must move with it.” Wisely says Mary. I’m glad she has finally come out of her loss and mourning and immerses in new responsibilities. But who knows moving on involves a dilemma: the tension between legal and moral rights, the rational and the heart. The Crawleys have all the legal rights to foreclose on the son of an estate where an elderly tenant just passed away, leaving debts unpaid. Robert shows his colours in letting Tim Drewe stay and farm the land. Tom waves his socialist flag and stands on the side of the farmer, leaving Mary, surprised, on her own. But she is not difficult to win over when it’s kindness that dominates.

In the mean time, upon Mr. Clarkson’s urging, Isobel tries to find a position for a village young man John Pegg. She corrects him when he calls her ‘your ladyship’, just ‘Mrs. Crawley,’ she says. Julian Fellowes can always find her the right words:

“He’s going to be so disappointed to find out how ordinary I really am.”

Edith waits in vain for news from Michael Gregson. At the mean time, she goes to London and visits a Dr. Goldman. Again, I haven’t seen any future episodes, but this doesn’t look good. I mean, we still remember Sir Anthony Strallan.

Napier is back, on business passing by. Now, why is Mary so excited to see him? She literally glows. And why does Napier look so reserved and serious? Why does he come anyway?

Iron Chef Downton version does not go well with Alfred, albeit the preparation work looks delicious. Now Daisy is grinning from ear to ear. Alfred is not going to the Ritz Hotel in London any time soon.

Bates and Anna embrace

But the pivotal story belongs to Bates and Anna. Bates goes to Mrs. Hughes after overhearing her talk with Anna. Threatening resignation, he gets the truth, but not the whole truth. Mrs. Hughes swears on her mother’s grave that the attacker is an outsider and not Green.

The scene belongs to Bates. We have seen Anna’s tragic attack in Episode 2, we now see a belated, yet vicarious reaction from Bates, just as heart-wrenching. We see him leave Mrs. Hughes’ room, stunned, holding his rage with much restraint, but soon, break down in tears.

And yet we are gratified to see, finally, the secret is out and a cathartic end to Bates and Anna’s silent ordeal. There’s no shame, he assures her:

“You are not spoiled. You’re made higher to me and holier because of the suffering you’ve been put through. You are my wife and I could never be prouder or love you more than I do at this moment.”

This will likely go down as one of the all time love quotes.

But not too soon, Bates’s last words send chills up Mrs. Hughes’s spine. You can see her nuanced reaction as she hears him utter, also with much restraint:

“Nothing is over and done with, Mrs. Hughes… Be aware, nothing is over, and nothing is done with.”

Here ignites a new storyline: The Revenge of Bates.


Season 4 Episode 3

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.

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

  1. A good episode. A very good one. Knowing Julian Fellowes penchant for drama, the smart money is on Edith being pregnant. And where in the world is Michael Gregson (and what did he have her sign last week that she didn’t read?). And don’t forget, the upcoming birthday party for Robert, which Rose wants to help plan — any guess on who her suggestion for entertainment might be?

    I couldn’t agree more about Bates’ line about loving Anna being one of the best love-lines in history. But any idea about why the plot line about Alfred? That seems to have gone up and fallen like a flat souffle. We really didn’t see the culinary side of him in season 3 — or did we and I am forgetting?

    I’m not sure on Baxter either. Whatever Thomas has in mind I’m not sure she’ll play — she was commenting on how nice people were (meaning, I think, the servants.) That could lead to an interesting Thomas/Baxter confrontation.

    And don’t forget that Blake fellow that came with Napier (and who WAS he in a previous season — I didn’t remember him at all.) He’s been in the promos a lot and they don’t put you in the promos unless you are famous or going to be key! Methinks he and Mary might develop. I doubt Edith — she’s too in love…

    Indeed, a good one!


    1. Jeanie,

      Yes, I’m glad the Bates and Anna storyline gets resolved so fast, but of course, the plot thickens some more with Bates knowing in his heart who the attacker is, despite Mrs. Hughes’s firm denial. You’re right about the other leads, I suspect the Jazz singer will be Rose’s guest to Robert’s party, and Edith, alas, what an unlucky character. Anyway, as for Alfred, it just means he’s going to stay put in Downton, And with his venturing out to London, at least to try out for an advancement in life, he has gained Ivy’s admiration. And so, we can expect Jimmy’s jealousy to burn some more and thus could lead to some dramatic development (?)

      And after that, Sherlock. What a double treats on Sundays. Alas… not for long.


  2. It does look like Baxter is indebted to Thomas for some reason, I hope she won’t turn out to be mean. As for Bates I am afraid of his temper, for his own sake. I also wonder why Lady Edith went to visit a doctor in town – I hope it won’t be a problem. I did enjoy this episode very much.


    1. VB,

      Yes, just hope Baxter is a decent human being. As for Bates’s temper, that’s where the drama lies. I don’t advocate an eye for an eye, but here in this case, I sure hope to see Bates confronting Green and giving him what he deserves. Considering the social restrictions at that time, like, there was no witness to this crime, it’s Anna’s words against Green’s, I don’t think she has a good chance in a legal suit. But of course I don’t know how the story will lead. And that’s why I’m most eager to continue my weekly ritual of being glued to the tele, so to speak. 😉


  3. So glad that things are in the open between Anna and Bates. I don’t blame the housekeeper for breaking the secret one bit. Now I just wish she and Crowley (?) would form more than a friendship. As to Mary and a future husband, whose to say? There seem to be plenty of admirers, and she can’t deny them all forever.

    I continue to love Maggie Smith best of all. I live for her lines. So to speak.


    1. Bellezza,

      Considering Mary’s reaction after she has read the newspaper announcement about GIllingham’s engagement, maybe she does have some feeling for him. Lot’s of loose ends in many story lines, which means we’re all the more lured into finding out what will happen next. So I’ll keep watching and writing about it as a weekly ritual. 😉


  4. I’m glad you say that about Baxter because I’ve been wondering whether I’d missed something … I don’t like the Bates revenge thread, but that’s because I hate revenge. The farmer story is being handled nicely, teasing out the personalities.

    Excellent write up as usual Arti. (Just saw the Xmas special last night).


    1. Baxter turns out to be not too bad of a character since her spying for Thomas looks like a coercion from Thomas. She herself looks to be an upright person. Your view on the newest episode (my newest post)? Robert’s BD party, Bates and Anna’s dinner date, Violet and Isobel’s bickering…?


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