If you have not watched last night’s episode of Downton Abbey, you do not want to read any further, because we detail a harrowing plot point that was controversial in the U.K when season four played out a few months back.
In the episode, the beloved downstairs head housemaid Anna, played brilliantly by Joanne Froggatt, suffers a terrible fate! And fans of the series had already seen her suffer by watching her husband, Bates (Brendan Coyle), be jailed for a crime he did not commit thanks to his evil ex-wife throughout all of season three!
In the season four second episode, the Crawleys throw a lavish party which is the centerpiece for much of the drama on the episode, and during it we are introduced to Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), who is the first potential new suitor for Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), since Matthew’s death!
Lord Gillingham has with him his valet/butler named Mr. Green. Anna seems to be the flirtation or obsession of the guy, and when Anna excuses herself to go downstairs to take something for her headache, the butler follows her and within seconds he is attacking her, grabbing her by the hair, taking her to the backroom, and raping her! This all plays out while Melba, the opera singer, is performing at the party! Thus, no one can hear her screams, and she is downstairs!
Later, when Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) discovers Anna, the victim is now terrified that if she told Bates the truth he might try to kill the man and he would be sent back to jail, so she convinces Mrs. Hughes to keep quiet. And sadly at the end of the episode, she can’t even let Bates touch her!
TV Guide spoke with Downton EP Gareth Neame about the controversial plot twist that outraged so many viewers when it first aired in England! Neame related, “Like the death of the Matthew Crawley character, audiences are very protective of these characters and view them as an extension of their own families. The big thing about our show is there being big twists and surprises, and this (incident) is perpetrated on possibly the most beloved character of all: the one with the warmest heart.”
As far as why this was thrown into the story for Anna, Neame stood firm that: “It is not us just being flashy and trying to get attention It is definitely something that was an issue at the time and women did not have any of the recourse that they would have now. Anna is in a terrible predicament that gives us a great undercurrent that runs through our fourth season.”
So what did you think of the shocking turn of events for Anna on last night’s Downton Abbey? Weigh-in!