Although a servant, Mr. Bates might be evolving into the tragic hero on “Downton Abbey.” Through Mrs. Hughes he finally found out why Anna had been so distant and had moved out of the cottage. She had been raped. As yet Mr. Bates doesn't know who the villain is but he is determined to find out. That's the rub.
What the audience knows of Mr. Bates is that he, despite the veneer of self-restraint, is a creature of instinct. When he ferrets out the rapist, it is unlikely that he will turn the matter over to the authorities. The odds are high he will kill the valet who had been visiting the Abbey.
Mr. Bates has the nobility of a tragic hero. In fact, there's more depth to him than there is shared by all the males who roam about upstairs. The Earl doesn't understand a changing world. Tom is returing to his youthful radicalism. Mary's suitors don't have much to them. Edith's lover Michael is MIA, perhaps because he suspects that his beloved is with child.