Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 4 (ITV) Review


After the massive controversy sparked by last week’s Downton Abbey, everyone was watching this fourth episode waiting to see if the Anna storyline would be as justified and tactful as promised, or whether it would dig itself in even deeper. After seeing it, I guess the jury’s still out, but it’s clear whatever happens that this plot line is going to be dragged out for as long as possible. One well-written conversation between Anna and Mrs Hughes does not make up for the abundant misery of the other 35-minutes.

Nothing there is resolved, though Bates does suspect something serious is wrong when Anna wants to move back into Downton, and we’re left to deal with the other sexual assault of episode three. Edna tells a poor, bewildered Tom that, not only did they have sex, but she’s pregnant with his child. Because Tom’s a bloke, the show tells us this is obviously all his fault (how little has changed), and he spends the rest of the hour imagining how much of a mess his life could be in should he really have gotten his mother in law’s lady’s maid pregnant.

Thankfully, Mrs Hughes is on fire this week and, in addition to helping Anna where she can, she also exposes Edna’s pregnancy as a lie. Edna leaves Downton, much to Thomas’ unconcealed glee, but I can’t imagine that’s the last we’ll see of her. Thomas knows he needs someone like Edna to scheme with and, now that O’Brien has departed, he seems a little lost. Plotting evil plans isn’t as fun when you’re alone, after all.

Moving upstairs, Mary’s new suitor turns out to be a short lived dalliance, as she shuts down his proposal because of residual feelings for Matthew. That’s good because I didn’t like him very much, and three weeks in our time isn’t long enough to get over such a vital character. Will we see him again? I’m sure his valet is going to continue to be a feature, on account of Anna, so it’s a possibility. Edith, meanwhile, spent the hour getting deflowered ahead of her boyfriend’s trip to Germany – if this doesn’t end in tears for her then I’ll be genuinely shocked.

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Downton handled the introduction of it’s first black character well? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.