Dear Downton Abbey,
It was so nice to see you last week. It had been a while. Branson (or “Tom,” sometimes) is looking handsome as ever and it’s nice to see Lady Edith get some attention from a man who seems to actually enjoy being around her. Plus, he’s older and emotionally unavailable, which is exactly what Lady Edith looks for in a suitor. I suppose it makes sense that she’d be the one with the daddy issues, as she’s the middle daughter with thin lips and a flawed schnoz. Useless.
I was excited to see you again last night. Even after a three-hour-long award show I was eager to see what you were up to. That Edna! Wow. What a sociopath. “Let’s corner Branson when he’s most vulnerable and bring him a massive glass of whiskey and then sneak into his room…”.
There’s a word for that. Maybe. I don’t know. I guess I’ll find out what exactly happened when I see you next week. I have to admit, though, I’m not too concerned for Branson (or “Tom,” sometimes) at the moment. The person I’m really concerned for — the person who I’ve been very, very concerned for ever since you and I first met — is Anna.
Anna is one of the strongest people in the entire house. She’s indestructible. She risked her professional and social life when she fell in love with a married man. She put up with that married man’s vengeful wife. When she finally married that man he was immediately arrested, so she spent an entire year (or longer — it’s hard to tell with you) working tirelessly to bust him out of prison. Oh, and she helped hide a body. And she never said shit.
Why did you have to punish Anna again? In such a terrifying, brutal way? Is it because she and Mr. Bates were finally in the same place at the same time being a married couple? Is it because you got tired of merely killing people?
I didn’t cry when you took Sybil away. I nearly broke my parents’ television, though. I was sick that day. Horribly sick. I was somewhat stoned on Theraflu and couldn’t really breathe all that well. When the episode ended I sat up and looked around and contemplated how much trouble I’d get in if I actually hurled my mug of hot tea at the screen. Ultimately I decided not to do it. There was no point. It wouldn’t bring Sybil back.
I cried last night, though. What you did to Anna made me cry. I cried because she was hurt and I cried because she was scared and I cried because all she could say to Mrs. Hughes was that she didn’t want her husband to know what happened. She is a victim, and she is afraid of what will happen if she tells the truth.
Downton, please don’t have Mr. Bates tell Anna that she was asking for it. It’s too upsetting for me to imagine that happening. It’s also upsetting that I even find myself saying this to you, because the likelihood that something like that will happen is all too, like, likely. The fact is, for all the ways in which the world has changed when it comes to this sort of thing, the idea that people still suggest that anyone ever asks for this sort of thing…
When I hear the words, “The kinda girls who are asking for it,” I can physically feel my blood pressure rising. I find myself wishing I was more practiced at meditation. I forget all the essays I read in college and I forget all the court cases that have been in the news and I forget how to talk like a halfway intelligent person and all I can muster is a simple, pointed, “What do you mean ‘asking for it‘?” Then again, there’s really no other response. Why should there be? Why should I waste my eloquence on such profound bullshit? Wouldn’t a kick in the balls be much more efficient?
I’m interested to see what you do next, Downton. Please, though — I’m begging you — please don’t just brush this aside. Please don’t mention this once or twice and then never address it again (as in the way people occasionally kind of almost vaguely refer to Sybil’s violent final moments). If Mr. Bates does break Anna’s heart, let that be dealt with in a realistic fashion. Please try to teach us something instead of just showing us something upsetting for the sake of showing us something upsetting. Let the characters evolve. Let Anna’s suffering make her stronger. If Anna tells Lady Mary or Lady Grantham what happened, please have them be supportive. They owe her. They really, really owe her.
And please, give The Dowager Countess more screen time. She’s still your best feature.