Downton Abbey, Episode Four Recap
“If we don’t respect the past we’ll find it harder to build our future.” — Robert
Bates is walking from his cottage up to the main house, where he meets up with Anna. Sad music is playing, in case you’ve forgotten that she should be there with him but has instead moved back into the servants’ quarters to avoid him.
Anna descends the stairs and he is waiting for her. “I don’t know why you always wait for me.” “Because I want to be the first to greet you.” She tells him there is no need for that and he says there is every need. And he will keep it up until she explains what is going on. Explain what? He tells her that one minute his life is perfect, “And then, in the space of one day, it is nothing. To me, that requires some explanation.” Anna is saved from this line of questioning when Miss Baxter, the new Lady’s maid, appears asking for some assistance with her sewing machine. For a moment, Anna and Bates talk to each other like they used to and it’s a poignant reminder what has been lost.
Downstairs, Alfred is preparing for his cooking test to work at The Ritz. Daisy is helping him, and in doing so starts seeing him in a new light. Now she sees some value in him –just as he is on he verge of leaving Downton. Poor Daisy. Is she forever doomed to romantic frustration?
Baxter, brings Cora orange juice with her breakfast tray because she knows that “Americans” like it. It is foreshadowing for another, more significant appearance of America later in the episode.
Meanwhile, the doctor is asking Isobel to employ a local boy in her garden. I’m not even going to get into this whole subplot, but consider it noted. The most interesting thing about this storyline is that Isobel tells the doctor that she does not feel a part of the Grantham family. He tells her that she is loved, whether she knows it or not.
Mary and Branson inform Robert that one of their tenants has died. The funeral is tomorrow. Robert will go, “His forebearers have been tenants since the reign of George III.” Mary says it’s time to foreclose the lease so they can farm the land themselves. “It’s sad, though,” says Robert. “After all this time in the hands of one family.” Mary says, “The world moves on and we must move with it.” Speaking of moving on, Robert shows Mary the engagement announcement for Lord Gillingham and Mabel Fox. She puts on a brave face, saying she must write and congratulate him. Then she walks away looking shell-shocked.
Mrs. Hughes summons Anna. “I don’t know why you must be so hard on Mr. Bates.” She says something about how at least Anna knows there won’t be a baby, so can’t she get past this? Tell him something, make up some excuse? Anna says she’d never get away with lying to him. “He sees through me. He reads me like a book.” Hughes says don’t you want to be honest with him? Anna says of course she does, but says, “I know what he’d do. And I can’t risk his future.” Hughes: “It’s your secret and not mine. But I think you’re making a mistake.” Cut to: Bates is in the shadows. He’s heard everything!
At the funeral of his former tenant, Robert talks to the son, Mr. Drew, who tells Robert he does not want to move out — he wants to assume tenancy. Robert is shocked. Tells him he’s sorry but the notice has been served. His father hadn’t been paying rent and they had left him in peace in his old age but that’s that. Mr. Drew says if someone had told him he’d have helped his father out. Mr. Drew begs Robert to reconsider his position.
The next day, Edith is very eager for the day’s mail. She says she hasn’t heard from Michael in a bit. (Men!)
In the drawing room (I have no idea what these rooms are called. Maybe they are in the library) Mary is writing a letter to Lord Gillingham. She wipes away a tear as her mother and Edith enter the room. Of his engagement, Edith says, “I’m surprised. I thought he was rather keen on you.” Mary snaps back, “It’s not the first time you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.” Rose joins them and they discuss planning a birthday party for Robert.
Mary goes to the nursery and finds Branson playing with Sybbie and little George. Mary asks Branson if he thinks Sybbie is having a good childhood. “I think you’re doing your best for her, if that’s what you mean.” he says.
Baxter is with Cora and says they were talking about Lady Sybil downstairs and they had nothing but praise for her, and among servants that’s rare. Cora is clearly thrilled to hear her late daughter’s name. Robert comes in and tells Cora that the deceased tenant’s son wants to stay on, but it’s not what Branson and Mary want.
Bates tries talking casually to Anna but it’s clear she can barely stand to be in the same room with him and he calls her on this. “How many times do I have to say it? You’ve done nothing wrong.” “But you’ve done something wrong.” She looks stricken. “What d’you mean?” He replies, “You’ve broken my heart.”
At dinner, Edith announces she’s going into London the next day to visit Michael’s office. (What’s the deal? Is he blowing her off because she slept with him?)
Downstairs, it’s clear Thomas if coaching Baxter on how to get in good with Cora. And he will be calling in favors when the time comes. She asks him why he doesn’t ask Anna for inside info on their employers. He says that Anna is “incorruptible” and therefore “we have nothing in common.”
In the morning. Edith heads to London along with Alfred, who is taking his cooking exam. Instead of going to Michael’s office, she stands outside a doctor’s office building.
Mr. Drew meets with Robert about a financial settlement to keep his family’s land. “Will you let me come home?” he asks. Robert says he’ll see what he can do. He offers to lend Mr. Drew the money to pay the back rent.
When he tells Mary that he is talking settlement with Mr. Drew, she is skeptical. Robert shuts her down with: “If we don’t respect the past we’ll find it harder to build our future.” Violet, queen of the one-liners, is impressed with that one.
Bates tries talking to Anna one more time, but she is having none of it. She tells him she has to go out to do errands for Mary.
At the house, a young man named Mr. Napier shows up to visit Mary. He’s in the area and took a chance on dropping by. Apparently an old friend. She seems very happy to see him. He says she’s been in his thoughts a great deal since “the whole ghastly business.” They sit down to tea with her parents, and Napier explains he’s on business for the government assessing the state of the land and damage done by the war years.
Mary offers to have him stay at the house. He says but he’ll have his boss with him, Charles Blake.
Alfred is busy taking his cooking test.
Bates goes to talk to Mrs. Hughes and says he overheard Hughes telling Anna she should tell him what’s going on. Hughes resists telling him anything, and Bates says then he cannot stay at Downton. He says his wife no longer loves him, which is torture for him. If she won’t help him get to the truth he will hand in his resignation and be gone before Anna returns from her errands. Hughes is appalled. She says it would kill Anna if he were to leave. “Anna knows you very very much.” In desperation, Mrs. Hughes says she will tell him what happened to make him stay, and if she is doing the wrong thing than she asks for the mercy of god. THEY CUT away to Violet and the new gardener. When we are back to Hughes and Bates, she is saying, “And that’s all of it.” Bates: “You haven’t said when it happened. Was it the last night of the house party?” “Yes.” “Then I know who it was.” With barely controlled fury, he guesses it was Lord Gillingham’s valet. Hughes insists no, a man broke into the house. He asks Hughes to swear on it and Hughes does. Bates promises he will find out who it was. She says you can try but you don’t have much to go on. He thanks her. Hughes looks somewhat in shock at what she has just done.
Standing in hallways after, Bates breaks down and cries.
Edith is back at the house after her mysterious trip into the city. She is walking with Robert and says she heard Napier dropped in. “Is he still in pursuit of Mary?”
In the drawing room (library?), Branson confesses to the family that he doesn’t feel he belongs. But he also no longer belongs in Ireland because he has changed too much. He is a man without a country. He thinks it will be easier for Sybbie growing up with a clean slate — not as the scandal-ridden daughter of a chauffer. He has family who are doing well in American, and he thinks he should join them.
Later, Cora and Robert are talking. She says, “Tom thinks America is the land of opportunity, and so do I.” Robert says he doesn’t want to lose Sybil’s daughter. “It’s too much to bear.” Robert says Sybbie and George could grow up like b brother and sister, and Cora thinks he’s talking about the class issue of their different parentage, but he says that’s not what he means. “I only meant if she stays she’d always have a home here and be loved.” They hope Branson comes to see the value in that, “before it’s too late.”
Bates goes to find Anna. She is busy doing busy work. He places his hand on hers to stop her from working. He says,“I know.” Her lip trembles. He says he forced Hughes to tell him. Anna is appalled. That was wrong! It wasn’t her secret to tell. Anna asked what she said. Bates repeats the false story about a man breaking into the house. He says, “But if it was the valet, he’s a dead man.” Anna is quick to reply that she wouldn’t have sat down with him at breakfast if it had been him. Bates asks, why didn’t you tell me? She says now her shame has nowhere to hide. He says he doesn’t accept that there’s any shame in this. She says but I’m spoiled for you and he says no you’re made higher to me and holier for the suffering you’ve been put through. She asks, “Truly?” and he says “Truly.” They embrace, and she sobs against him.
Alfred gets letter about his cooking exam while entire staff looks on. He failed. Everyone is encouraging except for a snide remark from Barrow.
Anna goes to visit Mrs. Hughes. She tells Anna she swore on her mother’s grave it wasn’t Mr. Green. Anna says he believed her. She is going to move back into her home with him. Hughes says she hates to think of “that evil man” getting away with it, but maybe it’s for the best.
Hughes runs into Bates in the hallways and says she’s glad it’s all over and done with. Bates says nothing is over. And nothing is done with.
Ominous music plays.