Fancy English people arrive at Downton for a house party; Anna is attacked by one of the visiting footmen

By Denise Warner
Updated January 13, 2014 at 03:00 AM EST
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Downton Abbey

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To start this bluntly, Anna gets raped during the Crawley’s Gosford Park-style house party. It’s difficult to watch, and even more difficult to write about.

Here are the facts. Anna is friendly to her would-be rapist Mr. Green — Lord Gillingham’s footman valet. [Ed note: I’m such an idiot. He’s a valet, not a footman.) She laughs at his jokes. She plays his silly card game. Meanwhile, a clearly jealous Bates helpfully mansplains to Anna that Green is no good (despite Bates’ lack of evidence for this conclusion). And yet, his suspicions are justified when — during Nellie Melba’s performance upstairs — Green follows Anna downstairs and rapes her, her screams poetically drowned out by the operatic high notes.

The dialogue leading up to the rape sounds like it comes straight from Robin Thicke’s mouth.

“You look to me like you could use a bit of real fun for once. Is that what you want?” Mr. Green says.

“What I want is to go back upstairs,” Anna replies.

“You’re not telling me that poor old cripple keeps you happy,” Green snarls.

“If you must know, yes. He keeps me very happy. Now let me by, please,” Anna pleads.

“Perhaps you’ve forgotten what you’re missing,” Green adds. And then…

As Green violently assaults Anna, Dame Melba sings “O Mio Babbino Caro.” The aria from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi details the struggle the Lauretta has with her family and the family of the boy she loves, which threatens to tear the young lovers a part. A little foreshadowing for Anna and Bates’ relationship, perhaps?

Mrs. Hughes finds Anna, helps her into a new dress, and encourages her to tell her husband what happened. Anna forces the housekeeper into one of those impossible to keep promises to keep everything a secret. Will Mrs. Hughes do the right thing? Time will tell.

At the end of the night, Bates finds his wife with a bloodied face and a new dress. He wonders what happened. Anna explains she fainted and hit her head. She shies away from him when he tries to touch her, and grits her way through a good night to Mr. Green when the footman valet engages with the married couple.

Apparently, this is the episode of sexual assault. The horrid Edna gives Tom a glass of whiskey. She later goes up to (what I assume is) his room, and asks him if he’s still awake. She walks in and closes the door. This can’t be good.

What can be said about the rest of the hour, which is decidedly more lighthearted than the Anna storyline? Mary has a new, unexpected suitor in Lord Gillingham. Robert is still a snob. Edith tries to force her father and SASYB together. Poker is played, and Robert loses a lot of money. (Did we expect anything more from him?) Gregson wins the money back from Sampson, the guest who had been fleecing all the others at the card game by cheating. Aside from his interactions with Edna, Tom tries to fit in with the uppity guests at Downton, and feels like he let Robert and the Crawleys down when he can’t.

Highjinks ensue downstairs. Jimmy hurts himself showing off for Ivy, prompting Molesley to fill in during the house party. When a crazed Mrs. Patmore takes ill with what can only be described as a panic attack, Alfred offers to cook the sauces for the dinner.

Random thoughts:

The Duchess whom Tom struggles to talk to — who shares a nice moment with Branson nonetheless — played Mrs. Gardiner in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice!

According to Downton, it’s card sharp — not card shark, a debate I’ve had for years.

Robert and Cora discuss the possibility of SASYB marrying Edith. Do they not realize that he’s married? A crazy wife is a wife, nonetheless.

Anna and Bates had a happy season three, following all the time Bates spent in prison in season 2. It must be time to make them unhappy again.

NEXT: The weekly rankings and the Dowager’s best lines.

The weekly rankings, with new characters!

20. Robert: On top of everything, he’s a degenerate gambler. Great.

19. Edna: She’s still bothering Tom. She refuses to do her work. She gets him drunk to presumably have her way with him. Yuck.

18. Tom: After a promising start, he maybe, kind of sleeps with Edna? Nope.

17. Thomas: Does he do anything in this hour?

16. Carson: He’s such a snob.

15. Jimmy: The cute footman is kind of silly in this episode.

14. Mrs. Patmore: She stresses herself — and the rest of us — out.

13. Rose: She doesn’t do much this episode except dance and flirt.

12. Edith: She’s annoying, and obvious, in her quest to get Robert to like SASYB.

11. SASYB: In the face of Robert’s dismissive behavior, SASYB still saves his hosts “bacon,” by beating Sampson at cards and winning back everyone’s money. He can stay. For now.

10. Alfred: He steps up to cook the sauces post-Patmore meltdown. Points for Alfred!

9. Ivy and Daisy: Like Rose, they don’t have much to do. Although Daisy does take charge when Mrs. Patmore falls ill.

8. Cora: She moves up because she rightly admonishes her husband and Carson for not inviting Dame Melba to dine with the party.

7. Mary: She gets upset that Rose brought down Matthew’s grammophone and stops dancing with the cute Lord Gillingham, which only serves to make him more attracted to her.

6. Molesley: I forgot him last week! Poor chap is reduced to being a fill-in footman and delivery

5. Isobel: She admirably, if not heartbreakingly, watches life go on in a post-Matthew world.

4. Mrs. Hughes: Her compassion toward Anna earned her a few spots this week.

3. Lord Gillingham: I really wanted to dislike him on principle, since he’s not Matthew. But this “glamorous pirate,” as Robert calls him, won me over, and definitely has a thing for Mary.

2. Anna and Bates: This episode is devastating for them. They will stay here for now.

1. Violet: I doubt anyone can knock her off this perch.

And the Dowager’s best quotes:

Violet: I’m afraid Tom’s small talk is very small indeed.

Robert: Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.

Violet: That’s a relief.

If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upperclass.

Don’t use me as an excuse. If you don’t want to dance, tell him.

Better by far that you should forget and smile than remember and be sad.

Violet, on Dame Melba: I thought she was going to sing after dinner.

Isobel: She is.

Violet: Then why would we want to see her before?

What a relief. I thought we might be in for some dreadful German lieder. You can always count on Puccini.

Guilt has not played a major part in my life.

And now, a poll:

Episode Recaps

Downton Abbey

The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.

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