‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4, Episode 4 Recap: Secrets, Lies & A Surgeon

As her marriage continued to crumble, Anna refused to tell Mr. Bates about her assault. But, on Sunday night’s “Downton Abbey,” someone else changed things by keeping quiet no longer.

Elsewhere, Lady Mary and her father dealt with a tenant twist, Thomas planted a spy, Alfred took his cooking exam, a new suitor came to Downton and Lady Edith did something rather unexpected in London.

Here’s what happened to the “Downton Abbey” characters in Sunday night’s episode:

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Anna, Mr. Bates & Mrs. Hughes: Not having his wife living in their cottage didn’t stop Mr. Bates from performing little courtesies for her, like greeting Anna in the morning when she walked down the stairs for breakfast. Anna assured him there was no need for nice gestures. “There’s every need and I will keep it up until you explain what’s gone wrong between us,” he told her. “My life is perfect and then, within the space of one day, it is nothing. To me that requires an explanation.”

Mr. Bates got one, but it wasn’t from his wife. While Anna was running an errand, Mr. Bates told Mrs. Hughes that his life at Downton had become “unbearable.” “My wife no longer loves me. The sight of me is torture for her, which is torture for me,” he told Mrs. Hughes, adding that he planned to quit his post and leave while Anna was out unless Mrs. Hughes told him what was wrong.

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She did (mostly), and then, in an attempt to convince Mr. Bates that Anna’s rapist was not Lord Gillingham’s valet Green, but an unknown assailant, Mrs. Hughes went so far as to swear on her mother’s grave.

The news hit Mr. Bates hard, leaving him in tears, but he regained his composure before speaking with his wife. It came as somewhat of a relief for Anna, who said, “My shame has nowhere to hide.” “I don’t accept that there is any shame in this,” he said in the episode’s tearjerker moment. “You can never be spoiled. You are made higher and holier to me 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,” he told her as they embraced.

Running into Mrs. Hughes later, the cold side of Mr. Bates came out when he said he will not let this rest. “Be aware, nothing is over, nothing is done with,” he said.

Thomas & Ms. Baxter: At the end of last week’s episode, Thomas Barrow said he had a candidate for the lady’s maid position left vacant when schemer Edna Braithwaite made a swift departure. Enter Ms. Baxter, a seemingly kind woman who immediately made some of the staff wonder why she was Thomas’ friend.

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Upstairs, she made a splash by serving Lady Cora some orange juice (she noted she heard Americans like OJ with their breakfast). She also made inroads with the downstairs staff by teaching Daisy a bit of sewing and fixing Mrs. Patmore’s apron in a time of urgent need.

Later, we found out why she was so chummy with all of Downton’s in habitants. Ms. Baxter is a woman with a past that Thomas knows about, and he’s recruited her to spy. He wants to know everything she hears, especially about all maneuvers upstairs.

Alfred, Daisy & Mrs. Patmore: Alfred continued to pursue his dream of getting a place on the chef’s training course in London and he got a little help from Daisy, who gave him instructions on egg and cheese fillings. “It’s very hard Mrs. Patmore. I feel like I’m helping him to leave us,” Daisy sighed, her heart heavy over his possible departure.

Alfred traveled down to London and took the test, administered by a French chef from the Ritz, and returned to Downton full of hope.

When the letter holding his fate arrived, the whole downstairs staff was gathered at the table. “Well?” Mr. Carson asked Alfred in front of the others. Sadly, Alfred didn’t get the post, but was told he was nearly in the top four. Mr. Carson urged him to continue to pursue his dream.

Isobel Crawley & Violet “The Dowager” Crawley: Continuing to get back on her feet following the death of her son, Isobel took up a new pet project — helping a young man named Pegg, from the village, get a gardening job in Violet’s home.

The Dowager Countess gave him one, but then later, when she couldn’t find something on her desk (a letter opener, given to her late husband by a king), she suggested to Dr. Clarkson and Isobel that Pegg took it!

Lady Mary, Tom Branson, Robert “Lord Grantham” Crawley: Upstairs, there were matters of the heart and of the estate to tend to. Lady Mary suggested it was time to foreclose on Yew Tree farm, as the tenant, who was in arrears on rent, had died. “The world moves on and we must move with it,” she told her father and brother-in-law. She had a little trouble taking her own advice though when she saw a notice in the paper announcing Lord Gillingham’s engagement. Later, while writing a proper congratulatory letter, Lady Mary had to wipe away tears.

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As for the matter of that foreclosure, Lord Grantham met the late tenant’s son, one Mr. Drew, who tried to convince him to let his family stay on their ancestral land. “I’m a Yorkshire man, m’lord. This is where I belong,” he told Lord Grantham, who came up with an idea to stop the foreclosure. Mr. Drew made the offer suggested, starting with a full repayment of the rent in arrears (which he did with the help of a loan in the amount of 50 pounds from Lord Grantham). Lady Mary and Tom Branson found out about the secret loan and were fine with it. She said it made her feel like they are “in partnership with a very decent man.”

Another man – one from Lady Mary’s past (Lady Edith revealed he used to court her sister) came to Downton. “You’ve been in my thoughts a great deal since the whole ghastly business,” Mr. Napier said like a 1920s Hugh Grant. Up in the North on work (he is reviewing landed estates for the government), Lady Mary was almost giddy when she insisted he stay at Downton. When he advised her his boss is on the way, she insisted he should stay too.

While Downton was taking in guests, one who has never felt at home there — Tom Branson — brought up the idea of moving with daughter Sybbie to America. “I have family there now and they’re doing quite well,” Tom told his in laws, noting that in America his daughter could grow up without “being the daughter of an uppity chauffer.”

Lady Edith: The post arrived, but Lady Edith didn’t get a letter from Michael. She told her family she needed to go to London to stop by Michael’s office, but when she got out of the car she walked into the office of a surgeon – one Dr. T. Goldman! Could she be pregnant?

“Downton Abbey” airs Sunday nights on PBS’ Masterpiece.

-- Jolie Lash

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