Anna Probably Didn't Kill Mr Green On 'Downtown,' But Would Viewers Be Mad If She Did?
Anna Bates’ storyline on Downtown Abbey was pretty boring for the first few seasons — all that nonsense about marrying Bates and him allegedly killing his ex-wife and keeping Mary’s secrets and yadda yadda yadda. Snoozeville, and not at all that difficult a role for Joanne Froggatt to play. But last season, during Season 4, things got very interesting: While the rest of Downton Abbey’s residents were happily enjoying a concert, Lord Gillingham’s valet, Mr. Green, viciously assaulted and raped Anna while the two were alone in the servants’ quarters.
Beaten, bruised, and embarrassed, Anna confessed the incident to only one person: Mrs. Hughes. She would not tell Mr. Bates what had happened, because when you’re accused of murdering your ex-wife, people seem to think you can fly off the handle. At the end of Season 4, it was revealed that Mr. Green was killed in a road accent in London’s Piccadilly neighborhood, on a day that Mr. Bates was off from work “in York.” Of course, Anna was then thinking what we were all thinking: Mr. Bates offed Mr. Green after putting all the pieces together with what Mr. Green did to Anna.
Suffice it to say, a lot has changed since the end of Season 4. Now at the end of Season 5, recent events have taken Mr. Bates out of suspicion of these charges, and he has (or had, since Mary chucked it out because she’s Mary and, come on, Mary, get it together) the return ticket stub to prove he never went to London. Now, Anna has been charged with Mr. Green’s murder. Even though we know that she did not kill Mr. Green, this raises the question: Would viewers be at all uncomfortable if she did?
We were watchers in this assault, in which Anna was brutally attacked, and with no warning at all. Downton Abbey did not shy away from the ferocity of Mr. Green during the rape. But that was all over in a few minutes, and, for the next few episodes, Froggatt beautifully played a woman coming to terms with the shame, confusion, and sadness of being raped (Froggatt won a Golden Globe for this portrayal this year). As viewers accompanied Anna on this frightful journey, they, too, became angry and confused, and, eventually — this is the important part – satisfied with Mr. Green’s death.
Far be it from me to condemn vigilantism as a suitable means of justice, but it’s the only way his storyline could have ended. Rapes are vastly underreported (Anna never reported hers) and those that are reported rarely get a conviction of any kind. Frequently, the victim in those cases is asked what she could have done better so she wouldn’t have been attacked. The burden is on the victim and not at all on the accused.
Due to this lack of prosecution, there is an undercurrent in entertainment that believes that victims must take matters into their own hands and seek revenge on their attackers: Movies like I Spit On Your Grave glorify this sort of violence, and audiences gladly eat it up. If Anna had actually murdered Mr. Green (which I still don't think she did) no one would bat an eyelash. Sergeant Willis confirmed that Mr. Green had attacked a slew of maids, all of which never came forward. Even if Mr. Bates had killed Mr. Green, it would have been framed as a man defending his wife. Mr. Green was a bad, bad man who deserved all that he got, and audiences would not at all be turned off if the victim got the better of her attacker. I just hope that Anna and Mr. Bates can finally find a happy storyline hidden in all their sorrows.
Image: Courtesy of ©Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2013 for MASTERPIECE; Giphy (2)