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:

Cassandra Clare keeps expanding the Shadowhunters’ universe, with the first adult books of the chronicles just announced!

Clare announced via press release this morning that she’ll publish a trilogy about Magnus Bane, the fan-favorite warlock who’s appeared in every single one of her books and already received a collection of eleven spin-off novellas all about him (The Bane Chronicles). There is no word yet on whether the new books will tie in with the stories told in The Bane Chronicles.

Interestingly, this trilogy will be Clare’s first foray into adult literature, after writing extensively in the YA realm. She always pushed the boundaries of YA, though, with the inclusion of “Dirty Sexy Balcony Scenes” and the like. The first Shadowhunter book, City of Bones, was published in 2007, and the teens who picked it up back then will feel right at home in the adult section of a bookstore today.

Also of note, the series will be co-written with Wesley Chu (author of The Lives of Tao). Clare seems to like having co-writers when dealing with Magnus Bane; The Bane Chronicles are the only other Shadowhunter books that have other authors attached.

The first Magnus Bane book is expected to be published in November 2017. This means that Cassandra Clare will have three Shadowhunters series being published concurrently… The Dark Artifices, The Last Hours, and this Magnus Bane series.

If various sources are to be believed, all three will have an installment published in 2017. The second Dark Artifices book, Lord of Shadows, is expected in April. The Magnus Bane book, as mentioned above, is due in November. And the official site of the Shadowhunter Chronicles still says that the first Last Hours book, Chain of Thorns, is expected in 2017. Clare has a sixth series planned after getting some of these finished, The Wicked Powers, so there’ll be more Shadowhunters coming to a bookstore near you at least through the early 2020s.

Perhaps the decision to publish the Magnus Bane trilogy was based on the character’s success on the Shadowhunters TV show, where the fan favorite is portrayed by Harry Shum Jr. Shadowhunters was renewed for a second season by ABC Family, and it looks like they may have many seasons ahead of them.

Clare said, “Over the years writing the Shadowhunter books, Magnus Bane has emerged as one of the most fun and fascinating characters for me to bring to life… There are so many things we don’t know about Magnus, from the story of his first love to the secrets of his parentage, to the beginning of his relationship with Alec. All those are things I was able to touch on in The Bane Chronicles, but I’m excited to dig in even more deeply in these three volumes devoted to Magnus, his past, his future, and his present.”

Are you excited for three books all about Magnus Bane, or is this Shadowhunter overkill?

The Boxcar Children are heading to the big screen for a new movie series.

Many of us grew up with the wonderful Boxcar Children book series when we were kids. The stories by Gertrude Chandler Warner follow Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny, who live in a train boxcar as they search for a home. As kids we all wanted to live in that boxcar (or at least I did — I thought it was so cool to live in a train car with friends!).

According to a press release from Shout! Factory Studios and Legacy Classics, work on a new Boxcar Children animated movie series is well underway, with the first movie aiming for a release in 2017 (which marks the 75th anniversary of Boxcar Children #1). Two more Boxcar Children stories are also in development.

If the animation quality is at the Sunday-morning-cartoon level I probably won’t be very excited about it, but if it’s a more mature animation style (like a Pixar or a Coraline) I can imagine myself loving it.


The Boxcar Children movie series is poised to do well thanks to the overall success of the books they’re based on. The novels have collectively sold over 70 million copies worldwide, with over 160 books (?!) in its arsenal. The two most recent books are titled The Legend of the Irish Castle and The Celebrity Cat Caper, which were both published this year. Looking through the history of the series, roughly four Boxcar Children books have been published annually. The original author, Gertrude Chandler Warner, only wrote the first 19.

A low-budget animated Boxcar Children film debuted two years ago, but today’s announcement marks a reboot with a new studio at the helm.

Arrested Development‘s fourth season aired three years ago today. To celebrate its legacy (and to try to forget how much we’re missing it right now), let’s rank the best recurring Arrested Development jokes!

It’s really no secret that Arrested Development has some of the best recurring jokes and gags of all time. Even people who don’t watch the show are familiar with things like “There’s always money in the banana stand” and “I’ve made a huge mistake.” The jokes in this show are just so understated and catchy that it would’ve been crazy had they not have caught on. Thanks to Arrested Development‘s recurring jokes, pop culture has never been quite the same.

To celebrate our undying love for Arrested Development, we decided to forgo the banner (sorry, everyone) and instead put together a list of all of the gags and jokes that we think are the best ones the show’s ever done. Not only that, but we’re leaving it up to you to rank them!

How to play: Love a certain joke and think that it should be at the top of the list? Upvote it. Really hate another joke and don’t understand how it got on the list in the first place? Hit that little downward-facing arrow. Don’t care either way for some of these gags? Then you can just leave them untouched. It’s all good! We just want to know what YOU think! With everyone participating we’ll be able to build a definitive list of the best Arrested Development jokes!

So, grab your denim cut-offs and hot ham water, and maybe even do a little chicken dance to get yourself pumped up (but not with the hot ham water in your hand, please). If you’re an Arrested Development fan, you’re sure to love ranking these jokes.

(Just be careful about which arrow you hit. You don’t want to hit the wrong one and find yourself saying “I’ve made a huge mistake.”)

Are there any ‘Arrested Development’ jokes missing from the list? Add them below!

Related: Arrested Development season 4 drinking game