Downton’s Mr. Bates Must Be an Assassin

by | Sep 15, 2014 | The Recent Modern Age

I know: this isn’t exactly history. But we’ve covered Downton Abbey before (twice), on more historical topics. And I can no longer keep silent.

[SPOILER ALERT: This post reveals details from Downton Abbey Seasons 1 – 4.]

I think our beloved Mr. Bates is an assassin. He’s quite an expert too, with at least three very subtle murders under his belt.

The cold eyes of a calculating killer?

The cold eyes of a calculating killer?

Two of Downton Abbey’s strange deaths were convenient for Mr. Bates. In Season 4, Mr. Green “trips in traffic” — just after Bates identifies him as his wife Anna’s rapist. And in Season 2, Bates’ first wife “commits suicide” — with no reason to die or prior sign of depression — conveniently releasing Bates from her blackmail attempts and freeing him to marry Anna.

The two deaths suggest a master assassin who can make murder look like an accident or suicide. And we have other evidence for Mr. Bates’ underworld skills. Season 4 reveals that he’s a skilled pickpocket and forger (through the caper surrounding the Prince of Wales’ love letter).

All this suggests an explanation for Downton’s forgotten mystery: the Season 1 death of poor Mr. Pamuk (in Lady Mary’s bed). The Turkish diplomat “dies of a heart attack” — despite the fact that he’s in his twenties and seems quite healthy. We don’t know why Mr. Bates would poison Mr. Pamuk, but his death looks a lot like the others: a sudden plunge off mortality’s cliff with no warning and no satisfying explanation. I think Mr. Pamuk had a role in pre- World War I intrigue among the great powers — the Ottomans, Germany, Britain, etc. — and some government told Mr. Bates to kill him.

That’s why I think Mr. Bates is a professional assassin. He could be a freelance hit man, but that seems unlikely given his sense of duty and need to belong. I suspect Bates is a British secret agent or former agent, possibly trained in the notoriously dirty Boer War.


Photo: Tn-500 brendancoyle.jpg, uploaded to Downton Abbey Wiki (Wikia) by CestWhat

© 2014 by David W. Tollen

1 Comment

  1. Alina

    In season 1 lord grantham says he would sooner see mr bates as an assasin and mr. Carson agrees


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