Your favorite Edwardian drama is back! Our Downton Abbey season 4, episode 1 recap breaks down the events of the premiere, which aired Sunday, January 5 on PBS.

Last year’s season 3 finale left viewers on a big cliffhanger: Matthew Crawley had died on the same day as the birth of his and Lady Mary’s firstborn. The Downton Abbey season 4 premiere jumps ahead six months as Lady Mary and family are still recovering from the loss of Matthew.

The episode begins with a dark-cloaked figure leaving the family. It’s O’Brien, who’s departing the show because the actress who plays her (Siobhan Finneran) wanted to leave. Anna discovers the letter O’Brien left in the middle of the night and news spreads quickly around the home. Anna offers to take care of Cora while they find a replacement.

Lady Mary is still struggling from the loss of Matthew more than anyone, and understandably so. Even six months after his passing, she’s still wearing all black and insists on wearing no other colors. She also has a hard time bonding with her son, Master George, going so far as to describe him as an orphan.

Out on the farm handling the estate, Branson and Lord Grantham are discussing paying Matthew’s death duties and disagree over how they should be handled. Branson insists that Lady Mary be involved with the decisions, but Robert says that since he owns half of everything, he thinks he should manage George’s fortune. Later, Cora and Robert debate keeping Mary involved with the estate. “Matthew is co-owner, and now his son is. I worked with Matthew, now I must work for his boy,” Robert argues.

Looking to get Lady out of the emotional hole, Branson goes to Carson to ask him to speak to Lady Mary. He goes through with it, but Mary is offended that Carson would disagree with Robert’s plans for the estate. She believes her father is making the best decisions possible. “You’re letting yourself be defeated,” he tells her before stepping out of the room.

At dinner, there is more debate over the managing of the estate – including comments from Violet – and it sets Mary off. She storms out of the room. Later that night before leaving, Violet goes to Mary’s bedroom and offers some advice. “I love you,” she tells Mary. “Now you must remember your son. He needs you very much. The fact is, you have a straightforward choice before you: You must choose either death or life.”

“And you think I should choose life,” Mary asks. Violet nods.

After talking with her father, Lady Mary realizes that she is being taken advantage of and goes to apologize to Carson. She gets emotional and the two embrace in a warm hug.

Meanwhile, Molesley is in need of a job after the death of Matthew, who he worked for. He asks Carson to continue at Downton, but Carson isn’t interested in him staying around.

Also in mourning is Isobel Crawley, Matthew’s mother. She is wondering what her purpose is anymore. Edith reminds her, “You’re a grandmother, and I know you’re going to be a wonderful one.” Later, Lady Violet agrees that Isobel should use George to give her purpose. While Violet is at Isobel’s, Molesley comes in and asks for a job, but Isobel doesn’t think she needs assistance. Violet is interested in helping him, however, and sets up an opportunity.

Speaking of Edith, she was tasked with putting an ad up at a local store for the open maid’s position that O’Brien left vacant. Edna – who we saw in a previous season of Downton – has been training for a position like this and applies. Edith and Cora meet with Edna over tea, and she gets the job thanks largely to a letter of recommendation from Mrs. Hughes. There’s just one problem: In season 3, the recommendation letter was given to her as leverage after a quick romantic relationship between her and Branson.

Edith also went into London to meet with Michael, who informs her that he’s interested in moving to Germany. Over dinner at the Criterion, Michael professes his love for Edith. He also tells her he can divorce his wife Lizzie if he becomes a German citizen. At tea later, Edith invites her man to Downton so the family can meet him at a house party.

Barrow and Nanny West enter into a tiff over the course of the first half of the episode over silly things related to each other’s power. Always looking to stir up trouble, Barrow rats on West by telling Cora that she has been neglecting Branson and Mary’s children. Later, Cora peeks in on West taking care of the kids and hears her calling Sybil and Branson’s child a crossbreed. She fires her on the spot.

The end of the first half of the episode concluded with Lady Mary – now dressed in purple instead of her mourning-black – entering an afternoon event with Branson, Robert, and farmers from around Downton.

The second hour of the episode kicked off with a box arriving from the office of Matthew, and in it Robert finds a letter that reveals he wanted Mary to be his sole heiress. Before taking it to his daughter, Robert presents this note to Violet, who encourages him to share the letter with Mary even if it isn’t legally valid.

Speaking with Mary privately, Robert reveals the existence of the letter. They then bring it to Isobel and the rest of the upstairs family so they can all read it together. Robert still insists they bring it to their lawyer Murray because it is not a will.

Later, Violet comes up with a plan to help Mary run the estate: Tom will teach Mary the ropes of farming. “Let her see the problems facing the estate,” she explains. Mary is hesitant about this plan because they’re keeping Robert in the dark, but in Violet’s wise words, “There can be too much truth in any relationship.”

Lady Rose asks Anna to go with her into town to go dancing. She’s not interested but is dragged along anyway. At the dance hall, Rose immediately begins batting her eyelashes at several gentlemen. Her dashing looks work – Rose picks up a man and tells him she’s a lady’s maid at Downton. It comes back to bite her later when he makes a surprise visit to Downton to see her again. In what is a great moment, Anna suggests she dresses up as a maid and says she’s actually seeing someone else.

At the end of the episode we learn that Mary does indeed own half the estate because Matthew’s letter was valid. She and Robert promise to begin discussions the next day about the handling of the farms.

Other notes about the episode:

– Barreling into modern times, downstairs receives an electric mixer, which puts off Mrs. Patmore, who doesn’t like new technology.

– Anna tries to give Mr. Molesley some money to pay off his debts, but he refuses to accept them. Later, Bates works with Violet to give him money. Anna asks how he pulled it off, and he credits prison with a proud smile.

– Carson showed his romantic side – once with his knowledge of Valentine’s Day, and second when we hear about a former flame. A plot involving a former friend of his begins and ends on the episode when Isobel and Mrs. Hughes organize a repair.

– A love triangle has formed between Alfred, Ivy, and Daisy.

The best ‘Downton Abbey’ quotes of the episode

“We must all have our hearts broken once or twice before we’re done.” – Mrs. Hughes

“It’s getting harder and harder to say no.” – Edith to Michael

“There can be too much truth in any relationship.” – Lady Violet

“How do people have time to write when the week is just beginning?” – Mrs. Hughes

“It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere.” – Lady Violet

“It’s not for me to have an opinion, but I will say this.” – Mrs. Hughes

What did you think of ‘Downton Abbey’ season 4’s premiere?

Episode 2 airs Sunday, January 12 at 9 p.m. eastern on PBS. Watch a trailer below:

Quiz: What is your pet’s Ilvermorny house?

Why should you be the only one who gets a second wizarding house?

1:00 pm EDT, July 29, 2016

Will your pet be sorted into the same Ilvermorny house as you, or will you have to disown them for joining your rival?

Step aside Hogwarts, there’s a new wizarding school in town (or rather, across the sea)! With a new school comes new houses, and a new sorting test. You might’ve gone through an identity crisis after taking the test for yourself, but you’re not the only one who needs sorting. That furry, scaly, or feathery friend needs to know where they belong too, and we’re here to do just that! Last time we helped you find out what Hogwarts house your pet would be sorted into, so now we’ll help you figure out what Ilvermorny house they belong in.

It’s typical for pets to have similar personalities to their owners, so maybe your pet will end up in the same house as you. But to those who have house rivalries, brace yourselves: It’s also possible your pet will end up in a different house than you, maybe even your rival house! Will you be saying ‘bye bye birdie,’ or do you thrive in competition? That probably depends on your Hogwarts and Ilvermorny house.

Whether you have a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, or reptile, all pets are welcome at Hypable’s Ilvermorny sorting ceremony! Take the quiz below and let us know where your pet’s loyalties lie, and be sure to take it for each of your pets (unless they’re a squib. Is there an American name for squib?). Don’t want any of them to feel left out!


Now that you know your pet’s Ilvermorny house, maybe you’ll want to decorate their bed with their house crest (shoutout to the Hufflepuffs)! Or maybe you’ll forbid them from entering your room if they’re in a different house (shoutout to the Slytherins)!

Did your pet get the same Ilvermorny house as you?

Forget seeing Luke Cage and Daisy Johnson in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. According to Jeph Loeb, it’s simply too hard to plan.

Although the Marvel movies and TV series ostensibly exist in the same universe, and although Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does its best to include Avengers references whenever possible, TV show characters are unlikely to ever show up in the movies.

This despite Chloe Bennet’s continued efforts to remind people that she is, in fact, Marvel’s first on-screen female Asian superhero, and the awesome crossover possibilities the Marvel Netflix series have opened up.

Marvel fans have long been aware of the difficulties of bringing TV characters into the movie ‘verse, but at the 2016 TCAs, Jeph Loeb provided a few more reasons for why it’s practically impossible to coordinate.

“Part of the challenge of doing this sort of thing is that the movies are planned out years in advance of what it is that we are doing,” Loeb says, as quoted by SlashFilm. “Television moves at an incredible speed. The other part of the problem is that when you stop and think about it, if I’m shooting a television series and that’s going to go on over a six-month or eight-month period, how am I going to get Mike [Colter] to be able to go be in a movie? I need Mike to be in a television show.”

In terms of planning out the character arcs, this makes a lot of sense. A Marvel movie might be mapped out years in advance of production, for not to mention release, which means any character scheduled to appear would need to have their stories planned for many seasons in advance. The continuity would certainly be hard to keep track of.

Of course they could still throw in cameos, which fans would probably really appreciate — and crossovers from movies-TV are much more doable, as evidenced by Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander)’s multiple appearances on AoS.

But Marvel is wary of doing that too much, too, because “we never want to be known as an Easter egg farm. It has to work within the story. We never want to do Luke Cage gets into a cab as Foggy Nelson and Matt Murdock are getting out of the cab,” Loeb says, referencing The Man From U.N.C.L.E..

However, don’t lose hope yet. “Anything is possible,” says Loeb. “As I often get reported by you folks for saying #ItsAllConnected, our feeling is that the connection isn’t just whether or not somebody is walking into a movie or walking out of a television show. It’s connected in the way that the shows come from the same place, that they are real, that they are grounded.”

Would you like to see Marvel TV and movie characters cross over more?

If Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda weren’t enough to get you excited about Mary Poppins Returns, maybe Meryl Streep’s name on the roster will do the trick.

Mary Poppins Returns is not a remake of the original 1964 classic but rather a sequel to the Julie Andrews-led musical. As such, it stands to reason that we’ll be getting some new characters this time around. One of those characters will be Miranda’s Jack, who will be a street lamplighter.

And, according to Variety, another one of those new characters will also be portrayed by none other than Meryl Streep, who will be taking on the role of Mary Poppins’ cousin, Topsy. And, yes, the legendary actress will be taking on a singing role for the film.

This will also reunite Streep with her Into the Woods co-star Blunt, as well as Director Rob Marshall and Producer Marc Platt. Streep played the Witch in Into the Woods, while Blunt portrayed the Baker’s Wife opposite James Corden.

Disney’s official synopsis for Mary Poppins Returns reads:

Blunt has been cast as Mary Poppins and Miranda will play a new character, a street lamplighter named Jack. Drawing from the wealth of material in P.L. Travers’ seven additional novels, the story will take place in Depression-era London (when the books were originally written) and follows a now-grown Jane and Michael Banks, who, along with Michael’s three children, are visited by the enigmatic Mary Poppins following a personal loss. Through her unique magical skills, and with the aid of her friend Jack, she helps the family rediscover the joy and wonder missing in their lives.

Mary Poppins Returns and will hit theaters December 25, 2018.

Are you on board with ‘Mary Poppins Returns’ now that Meryl Streep has joined the cast?