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Downton Abbey: Did Bates commit murder?

Julian Ovenden (left) as Lord Gillingham with Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary
Julian Ovenden (left) as Lord Gillingham with Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary
Carnival Films

Downton Abbey fans today are wondering it if's possible Bates committed a murder when he took a day off and left town. Last night's (Sunday, Feb. 16) episode raised that question as the program ended.

Lady Mary was sipping some wine as the church bazaar wound down when Lord Tony Gillingham materialized on the front lawn of Downtown Abbey in the midst of the gaiety of the crowd and solemnly informed her his man Green has been killed. He was run over by a bus or truck in London after mysteriously falling into the road.

Gillingham wonders if Lady Mary might know something since a day earlier she'd asked that Gillingham fire Green for some "horrific" deed he has committed. Although she refused to disclose to him what that deed was it has now piqued Gillingham's interest.

Gillingham has become an ardent suitor of Lady Mary's in Season Four following the tragic death of her husband Matthew Crawly at the end of Season Three in an automobile accident. Still not recovered from her late husband's sudden passage, she has discouraged all her new suitors including Gillingham who is engaged to Mabel.

Earlier in the episode Gillingham told Mary, "I won't give up on you 'til you've walked down the aisle with another. Maybe not even then."

Mary is clearly flattered by his promise of undying pursuit but inquires as to when he will tell Mabel he's breaking off the engagement. For someone who's not interested in her new suitor, she is incredibly interested as to when the engagement will end.

The plot is further complicated when Blake, yet another suitor, appears unexpectedly at Downton, and also expresses more than a friendly interest in Mary. Charles Blake, who as a government agent for Lloyd George has been doing a survey regarding the financial stability of estates across England, was at first perceived an enemy by Lady Mary. But as a result of a romantic frolic involving Mary and him and muddy pigs, he has also become a suitor.

Mary asks Blake toward the end of last night's episode, "What would you do if somebody had done something illegal, but you believed them to be in the right?"

She is obviously referring to Bates who she fears murdered Green. Green had raped Bates' wife Anna who has tried to keep it a secret because she fears her husband will murder her rapist if he discovers his identity.

Blake considered Mary's question for a long moment and then asks, "Are you certain this person is in the right?"

Mary asserted, "Yes, I am."

Blake said, "Then I wouldn't report it to the authorities."

Thus the fans of the show are left with a cliffhanger ending worthy of a Charles Dickens novel and the program moves directly into thanking Darlene and Donald Shiley for their support.

Lord Grantham arrived back from his adventures in America near the end of the show. He had to travel across the Atlantic to support his wife Lady Cora's brother who was involved in some unsavory business called the Teapot Dome Scandal. Fortunately, he got off with only a reprimand and the family is relieved.

The Dowager, played by Maggie Smith, is up to her usual arrogant form in this episode. When Matthew Crawly's mother pops into the room, she says to the dowager, "It's only me."

The Dowager sniffs, "That greeting always indicates to me a lack of self-worth."

The show's millions of viewers around the globe are relieved the depiction of Edwardian England has rolled on ahead fine without the presence of Dan Stevens who abandoned the show for a microscopic role in a movie regarding Julian Assange. Hopefully, he'll have a bigger role in his next movie based on a Lawrence Block novel.

Next Sunday will be the season's final episode on PBS. Fans need to watch to find out if Bates murdered the rapist.

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