Downton Abbey producer Gareth Neame is defending the decision to add a shocking and disturbing twist to one of the best loved characters in the period drama, Anna (Joanne Froggatt).
If you haven’t watched last weekend’s episode, be warned, this article contains SPOILERS.
In perhaps, one of the most shocking developments in Downton Abbey’s story line, this past Sunday’s episode left fans in complete and utter shock, when one of the best liked characters in the series — Anna — was brutally beaten and raped by a visiting valet, Mr. Green.
Social media was abuzz, as it was when the episode originally aired in the fall in the UK, leaving fans crying foul once again. Many have threatened to stop watching.
It wasn’t enough to have to go through the death of a central character, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) during the Christmas Special for Season 3, which — again — left fans totally stunned.
Now writer Julian Fellowes has decided to throw this cruel twist in Anna’s way, when she already endured hell trying to get her husband, Mr. Bates (Brandon Coyle), out of jail for a crime he didn’t commit.
But, as Fellowes has argued in the past, happiness is boring when it comes to a miniseries and so, Anna is now the victim of a most hideous and humiliating crime.
In those days of the early 1920s, women did not have all the legal recourse they have now and certainly the rape of a lowly maid — even if she works at Downton Abbey — is not something that would have been seen as anything of import, except by her husband, who already has a reputation of losing his temper.
Attempting to explain the decision to deal this cruel twist to Anna, who is one of the favorite characters in all of Downton, Neame told TV Guide:
“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. It is not us just being flashy and trying to get attention.”
As Downton Abbey takes a darker turn in its plot, it remains to be seen whether the fans will keep watching or be turned off as Fellowes takes the unexpected route.
So what next? What will happen when Bates finds out? So far the only one that knows of the rape is the loyal Mrs. Hughes, but eventually others will find out. Logic says Bates should be next to know, after all they are married.
Lady Mary may also realize something is wrong with her saintly maid — who has been with her though thick and thin. The take charge aristocrat is sure to fume if and when she discovers what has been done to poor Anna.
We will have to wait and see the next episode of Downton Abbey which airs on Sunday night on PBS.