Mr. and Mrs. Bates.

Mr. and Mrs. Bates (PBS/Carnival Productions / January 26, 2014)

Since Bates (and also the audience) can't handle more scenes of Anna shuddering at his very sight, he takes it upon himsef to get to the bottom of the matter. 

And he almost hears the whole truth. 

Mirroring the beginning of last week's episode, when a deeply depressed Anna walks alone to the house, we now first see Bates by himself, walking from the Cottage of Despair to Downton. 

Anna is seen still applying make-up to cover her injuries, and after a few scenes of her refusing to tell Mary what's up and turning a deaf ear to Mrs. Hughes urging her to tell the truth, you get the sense this is all going to come to a head soon.

(BTW: This season, Mrs. Hughes should have been paid extra for all the problem-solving she has had to undertake). 

Bates goes to Hughes after he happens to overhear her telling Anna she'll still keep her secret. He threatens to resign from Downton if Hughes doesn't tell him what's going on. That, of course, works. 

We don't hear the whole confession on-screen, but we learn that Hughes tells Bates that Anna was raped, but not by Mr. Green. She makes up a story that an intruder broke in and waited for Anna downstairs. A countryside intruder at Downton? Sure. 

Bates doesn't buy it. He knows deep down it was Green, Gillingham's valet. 

The most heartbreaking scene? Bates, after learning the news, goes to a dark corner and immediately starts to cry. Alone. This was awful to watch, sort of like a seal crying when its mother is eaten by a killer whale or something.

I predict this will become a description of extreme sadness: "I felt iike I was watching Bates cry in the corner alone." 

Later, Bates goes to Anna, who has sequestered herself in a shoeshine room (what, you don't have one) for most of the episode so she can avoid her husband.

He says two words: "I know." Anna's lip quivers. 

Still, Bates tells her that "if it was the valet, he's a dead man." Which is exactly what Anna assumed he'd say if he found out. 

"My shame has nowhere to hide," Anna tells her husband, later adding, 'I'm spoiled for you. And I can never be unspoiled." 

Bates, being Bates, will not hear any of this. Seriously, did you have any doubt that he wouldn't be anything but comforting?

"I have never loved you more than I love you at this moment," he says in the very Batesian way he expect.

OH, but it's not over. Though Anna is moving back to the cottage (and already exchanging cutesey glances with her husband), Bates tells Hughes that he's not letting this go. 

"Be aware -- nothing is over," he tells Hughes. "Nothing is done with."

So much for getting back to normal.

Mary deals with land (and yet another dude)

In this otherwise somewhat unremarkable episode (it's one of those Downton "let's move along the plot a bit" hours), much of the rest of the time was spent with Mary, Branson and Robert dealing with that farm eviction. Thrilling stuff, this is. 

We learn that the man who runs the farm has died, and what better time than the funeral for Robert to tell his son that he's, you know, being kicked out of the property so the Crawleys can farm it themselves. 

This is what Branson and Mary at first want, but Robert feels a sense of history with the family, the fact that the family and the Crawleys were in "partnership" with the land. 

Robert, without telling Mary and Branson, offers Mr. Drew a loan to cover the difference of what they own. Drew stays on the land, but Mary and Branson are surprised to find out about the loan. Still they don't care that much, and recognize how awesome Robert is. Sometimes. 

Meanwhile, there's an unexpected reappearance of Evelyn Napier. Reminder: We first met Evelyn in Season 1, and he has the distinction of being the first to introduce Mary to the soon-to-croak-on-top-of-Mary Mr. Pamuk.

Napier's a family friend who was first thought to have been a suitable match for Mary, but who was cast aside because Mary was, like, totally smitten with Pamuk. Napier was also the one who told Mary of the rumor that was spreading about her in London related to Pamuk. 

So, in the tradition of men coming out of the woodwork this season, here he is again. 

To be fair, he's officially at Downton on government business, assigned to look into how, post-war, the large estates are going to survive (if they are). He says Downton's not in serious trouble, but he's spending time investigating with his boss, Charles Blake (whom we don't meet -- yet). 

The family urges Napier to stay at Downton. Because that's not a conflict at all with his new job. 

Alfred's big chance

Confession: I always thought Alfred was kind of dopey. But I'm liking him more this season, a) because he fights off Jimmy's bored snarls and comments with class and b) he wants to be a chef. 

He gets invited to take a cooking test at the Ritz Carlton London, and he's never been to London, so it's pretty cute to watch him be so nervous. 

At the test, we meet the Stereotypical French Sous Chef at the hotel ("I am zeeee sous chef at the Reeetz," he says, and you expect him to whip out a beret and start chain-smoking and losing wars). 

Alfred is tasked with making vichyssoise, surrounded by other would-be chefs and ZEE FRENCH CHEF. Not intimidating at all. The chef seems impressed, but Alfred later gets a letter saying he didn't make the top 4 of the class but was very close. 

Let's hope he gets out there. There's only so much more Jimmy bully-for-no-reason comments we can take. 

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM PART FOUR

And introducing.... Thomas has brought in a new lady's maid for Cora. Baxter, who sort of looks like a softer O'Brien, seems kind (she brings Cora orange juice for breakfast because "it's American") and all, but it's clear she ans Thomas are in a bargain -- she'll spy on upstairs goings-ons and tell Thomas everything. There's also some sort of secret that Thomas knows about Baxter: "I'm grateful for this job, Thomas, and we both know why, but what's this all about?" Baxter asks about his machinations. 

Most unnescessary storyline: Clarkson urging Isobel to find employment for a young guy, then Isobel pretty much forcing the Dowager Countess to hire him. Then the Dowager Countess thinking this young guy stole a paper knife. Seriously, who cares? Let's give these three something else to do. Like, anything to do. 

Least mysterious moment designed to try to be mysterious: Edith going to see a doctor in London. Does anyone out there NOT think that she's pregnant? 

The return of Mary vs. Edith: OK, so the sisterly rivalry never went away, but Mary gets in two great insults this episode:

1. We learn that Gillingham has decided to marry Mabel Lane Fox (Mary hides her tears), and Edith states that she thought Gillingham was "quite keen" on Mary.

Mary: "Not for the first time you've gotten the wrong end of the stick."

2. After Branson says he feels totally out of place at Downton and is considering moving with his daughter to America, this exchange went down.

Branson: "I feel like an intruder, living where I don't belong."

Edith: "Welcome to the club."

Mary: "Oh, stop moaning."

Worst way to refer to a dead husband and baby daddy: Napier sums the situation up by just callinf it "ghastly business."

Most awkward way to woo Mary: Napier says that it's "lovely to see you looking so lovely."

Mrs. Patmore's fear of the future, Part 1: "I feel quite dizzy watching!" Patmore on a sewing machine.

Mrs. Patmore's fear of the future, Part 2: She's super-scared to get a refrigerator and throw out the old ice box, to which Cora asks, "Is there any aspect of the present day you can accept without resistance?" Patmore's cute reply: Getting rid of her corset. 

Understatement of the episode: Thomas says Anna is "incorruptible so we have nothing in common."

Molesley suicide watch: The level is high. When Alfred is away in London, Carson offers Molesley the footman job, and when Molesley is still insulted by lowering his status in the house, he goes home to think about it, only to swallow his pride and return in just enough time to miss out because Alfred didn't get the chef gig.