'Downton Abbey' Recap: Season 4 American Episode 4

By Chris Baggiano,

And finally Bates knows. In an episode that saw a couple storylines come to a head and introduced two new characters, Downton Abbey’s fourth episode (for America) showed that the more things change the more they stay the same. In the middle of season four, it has become clear that Downton Abbey has left a lot of the hijinks and banter in the past in exchange for even more plot and melodrama.

After Anna’s refusal to tell Bates felt as though it was dragging on, even though it had taken place over no more than an episode and a half, Bates finally found out why Anna had been distancing herself. Whether Bates’s threat to Hughes was legitimate or not it certainly achieved the desired effect as Hughes immediately launched into the truth. Well, part of the truth. Still unknown to Bates is who actually raped Anna, although his intuition tells him Green (i.e. Gilliam’s valet). Now that their relationship is on the mend there’s only one thing left for Bates to do, find out who the assailant was and exact his retribution.

While I had been skeptical of Anna’s worries about Bates’s reaction, this episode made me finally believe her. While Bates had been wrongly jailed in the past it never seemed like he would actually have it in him to hunt down the man who raped Anna. But Bates’s seething vitriol when questioning Hughes has made it seem more likely that Anna’s fears were justified. Bates almost certainly will not put himself back in jail if he does get a chance at revenge on Green but it could become a nice melodramatic moment down the line when he chooses Anna over revenge.

Throughout all of this, the downstairs was abuzz with both Alfred’s application to take the cooking test and the new lady’s maid Baxter, who Thomas told Cora to hire. Alfred’s plot ran rather quickly as he was accepted to take the test and did not place high enough to get the job all in one episode. Jimmy stoked the fires of their rivalry once Alfred received the rejection letter and Daisy was happy Alfred was staying but it seems as though Alfred won’t yet give up on his dream of becoming a chef.

Baxter, on the other hand, is something entirely new altogether. Cora has taken a liking to her already and Baxter is a proponent of the new electric sewing machine but her character remains a riddle. There are copious questions orbiting Baxter, of which none were answered. Why are the seemingly nice Baxter and the conniving Thomas friends? What sordid secret did she hint at when talking to Thomas? And, of course, why is Thomas needing Baxter to report back to him on everything that is said between the Granthams? Most, if not all, will be revealed by the end of the season but it seemed like Baxter was already displeased with Thomas’s plan and his friendship.

If that wasn’t enough, yet another suitor was introduced for Mary. Napier, apparently another old acquaintance, wanted to pop in and say hello to Mary. His work for the royal economy, something to do about investigating other estates on their profitability and finances had taken him to parts around Downton. Of course Mary couldn’t resist from offering Napier a room while he was visiting the area, despite the imminent arrival of his boss. And it was quite clear that Napier was rather fond of Mary from days past. If the two guests also happen to be around for Robert’s birthday party, which Rose would like to throw, then the more the merrier.

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