[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.
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.
© 2014 by David W. Tollen