(Series 4, ep.6) As social commentary Downton might not be the most detailed or nuanced thing, or 100% historically accurate and so on, but it’s not a documentary, it’s a Sunday night chocolate box of an entertainment. It succeeds at this brilliantly, but it manages to make some serious points too.
I wasn’t sure what to make of the episode in which Anna was raped, and I said at the time I wanted to wait until the ensuing events put it in a context to decide how I felt. The context has now settled firmly into place, and I have to say I now think the storyline is being extremely well handled (and acted by Joanne Froggatt, who is amazing). There is obviously a part of it which is about the feeling of Mr Bates that his wife has been violated and it’s up to him to seek revenge – that might well come to a head next week when the offending valet, Green, is due for another appearance at Downton. But it’s been much more about Anna’s personal feelings and how she’s tried to move on from the incident, but finds it still takes over every part of her life. What I really hope for Anna is that she somehow manages to take some of the power back for herself and Green will get his comeuppance from Anna rather than her husband. She may have an ally in Ivy, who found that Jimmy expected more than just a kiss in return for taking her to see a film (though he wasn’t threatening and he did take no for an answer).
It’s not just the female servants who were suffering this week. Lady Edith has discovered she’s pregnant, and her soon-to-be-German boyfriend is AWOL in Munich.
Lady Rose decided to surprise Cousin Robert by arranging for a jazz band to play at his birthday party. Since proximity to an opera singer has previously made Lord G come over all confused and worried, it was perhaps a bit of a leap to imagine that he’d welcome such a racy concept as jazz into his home, but Rose’s real motive was that she wanted to get singer Jack Ross under her roof so she could pursue him romantically.
Speaking of romance, two new men are staying at Downton and one of them (I really do need to learn some names) really annoys Mary. They spent the episode being sarcastic and bitchy about each other, which is a sure sign that romance is just over the horizon for them.
It’s a shame, because I think Mary and Tom would make a lovely couple. They spend enough time together in the nursery with Little George and Little Sybbie, and patrolling the perimeter of the Downton lands. There was a lovely little scene in which the two of them were joined in the nursery by Mrs Crawley, and they all fell to reminiscing about their late spouses. They’d all known true love, and even though their loved ones were now gone, Mrs Crawley said, “Aren’t we lucky?”
And Thomas did nothing except stand in shadowy corners, sometimes smoking, sometimes not, trying to extract useful gossip from Lady Cora’s maid.