Tonight on “Downton Abbey,” PBS finally aired an episode that has become renowned in the United Kingdom as the most controversial in the series’ history. It has not really been that disputed as to whether or not the performance and the acting within it is good. However, what has been controversial about it is whether or not it is appropriate tonally for a show that is often idealistic to go down this road.
Of course, we’ll still issue a MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT here just in the event that you haven’t seen the episode. We’ve got our full review of the British airing of the episode at the link here; we’re focusing specifically on the Anna / Bates issue in this article.
From a personal standpoint, watching Anna being assaulted by Lord Gillingham’s valet Mr. Green was something that just felt like it was way too painful and far too shocking for this show. Green did find the right time to make a move, sadly, since everyone was so distracted watching the performance of Dame Melba upstairs. Even the servants were invited to hear her sing. This moment has completely destroyed Anna, and is also going to make her start to change the way she acts when it comes to being around her husband. It’s strange in a sense that a show that deals with death created those situations that felt fairly sterile, and then made this one so traumatic.
PBS did have their own way of warning people that the incident was coming, at least in that there was a “Viewer Discretion Advised” warning with it. But was this enough for some people? After all of the rapes that have strangely been shown on TV these days, we wonder if this is going to become a specific warning placed before certain episodes similar to how they warn you about language. Even though they did not show most of the horrific act here, this is still something very sensitive that produces that reaction.
We weren’t grading episode of “Downton Abbey” at the time that we did the first review, so let’s hand one to it now. It was a supremely well-acted hour, even if the nature of the content was a bit surprising and far too much. Grade: B.