'Downton Abbey' Insufferability Index: Bully for Bates

In this week's insufferability report, the Dowager Countess is her delightfully quippy self, the new ladies maid is inscrutable, and Bates is an unbearable bull in a poorly-plotted china shop.

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Last night's Downton Abbey saw the return of Bates to our insufferability index, as he carried out a rather blunt investigation into Anna's current state of mood. Congratulations, Jerklock Holmes.


Lord Grantham: We were all set to put Lord G in the insufferable category, where he's spent this entire season, when he started talking business at a funeral, but he turned out to be quite generous when it came to one of Downton's long-term tenants. "You and I are in partnership with a very decent man," Mary says to Tom of her father at the end of the episode. We'd have to agree with you there, Mary.

Dowager Countess: Let's all hail the return of the Dowager Countess' bon mots! The Dowager Countess hadn't had much opportunity to be her sassy self this season, what with her being actually sympathetic to Isobel and all, but a silly plot line involving a clash between the two grande dames of Downton gave her the chance to dole out some fabulous zingers. Our favorite, to Isobel: "I wonder your halo doesn't grow heavy? It must be like wearing a tiara round the clock." She, of course, became pigheaded when she suspects Young Peg of stealing, but her quips outweigh all.

Baxter: While Cora's new ladies maid is certainly up to something with Thomas—thus far it's only been made clear that she is to funnel information to him—but a) Thomas's schemes are fun and make the show better, and b) Baxter brought Cora orange juice with her breakfast because she thought an American custom like that would be nice for her ladyship.


Isobel: Oh Mrs. Crawley, we have to side with the Dowager Countess on this one. Just try being a little less earnest. You have a good heart, but your eagerness to do right becomes aggravating quickly.

Daisy: For Pete's blessed sake, Daisy. We get it. You have a thing for Alfred. But just because you're the fragile, meek kitchen girl doesn't make it adorable when you admit that you were hoping for the abject professional failure of your beloved so that he could stay in the Downton dungeon with the rest of you go-nowheres.

Mr. Molesley: Sometimes, insufferability brings with it its own comeuppance. So it was for Molesley, whose initial reaction to Carson's offer of a footman job was a prideful bit of hedging that made it all too easy for Carson to ultimately revoke the offer when Alfred returned. At this point, Molesley is something of a Charlie Brown type, forever glumming about, waiting for everybody else to prove him right about the world's basic inhospitality.

Most Insufferable

Bates: We've been over how Anna's rape plot was not a good move for the show, and for the past two weeks we resisted including either Anna or Bates in this list, but Bates definitely earns his place this week. He blackmails Mrs. Hughes—really the best person at Downton—into telling him what exactly happened to Anna. When he ultimately approaches Anna with his knowledge their interaction becomes quickly creepy. She worries about being "spoiled" for him, and he says: "You are made higher to me and holier because of the suffering you have been put through." So, it's great that he's not shaming her, but this comment is also patronizing and gross. It's like he's finally accepting her as someone on his level because she's been through trauma like he has.

But they are back together, and Anna has finally relieved herself of the burden of her secret. So that's good, right? Well, no. Despite his wife's wishes to move on, Bates makes it clear he's going to seek revenge. Green, the valet who perpetrated this crime against Anna, should pay for his deeds, but Bates is insistent on doing so even if it causes more hurt to the woman he loves.  

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.