Downton Abbey season 4, episode 2 aired last night on PBS and included a surprise twist concerning Anna Bates. Spoiler warning!

Last night on Downton Abbey, Anna was raped by Lord Gillingham’s Valet Mr. Green downstairs while everyone else was enjoying an opera singer’s performance upstairs. You can read our recap to learn about the episode in more detail.

When the episode aired in the U.K. last year, viewers were upset and outraged that the show would introduce that kind of plot. PBS knew the outrage would happen here in the U.S. as well, and last night after the episode aired they made a special post on their website to address concerns.

“The complex and loving journey of Anna and Bates has been central to the narrative of the show,” Downton Abbey production company Carnival Films said in a statement on PBS’ site. “The events in episode two were we believe acted and directed with great sensitivity. Viewers will see in the forthcoming episodes how Anna and Bates struggle to come to terms with what has happened.”

Actress Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna Bates, spoke about her character being raped on a U.K. morning program after it aired abroad. “We all just felt a big responsibility to get it right,” she said in October. “I think it’s a really brave thing to do… I believe that Julian has written it in a way that is not gratuitous at all.”

Added show creator Julian Fellowes in a separate statement, “The whole point of the way we do things on Downton is we don’t do them gratuitously. We are interested in exploring the resultant emotions and the effect these things have on people.”

As Fellowes says, Anna’s rape and how it reflects her and Mr. Bates’ relationship will play out during season 4 when it airs Sunday nights on PBS.

No matter how it plays out in the future, do you think the story line was suitable for Downton Abbey?

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