(Haven't seen Season 3 yet? Better not read this!)
With Downton Abbey rolling cameras on season 4, it's time for another slew of news to hit the web. We've seen the first set pictures (which includes two heartbreaking tombstones), heard there's going to be a character of color, and learned that Lady Mary will get plenty of screentime and a romance. Today's headline is the departure of Siobhan Finneran, also known as lady's maid Sarah O'Brian, or 'THE BANGS.'
While the other news bytes are more or less expected, this one came as a surprise (to me, at least). O'Brian has been our resident lady we love to hate, and is a solid fixture at Downton. Now that she's also got a nephew working there, how are they going to explain her absence? Will the Scottish lady from the Christmas Special lure her away to India? Will she have a health breakdown? It's all supposed to take place offscreen, so presumably Cora discovering the true cause of the miscarriage is not going to be the reason.
I detested O'Brian in season 1. In season 2 we saw her empathy towards the victim of PTSD, and her obsessive devotion to Cora, and finally her regret over her involvement in the Vera Affair. Season 3 brought in a new cause of mischief, but this time we could empathize with her. She had every right to expect Thomas to take her nephew Alfred under his wing, and I could certainly sympathize with her hurt and anger when he did the opposite. I was looking forwards to seeing further character development in season 4.
Will I mourn O'Brian's absence? Not the way I mourn Sybil and Matthew. However, her presence at Downton is going to be missed, and I'm sure I'm not the only viewer who'll note it.