By Caryn James | James on Screens January 27, 2013 at 9:30AM
If there is one episode of 'Downton Abbey' you won’t want to miss, it’s this week’s. I won’t give anything away, except to say that the video preview here doesn’t begin to prepare you for the high drama of the most tension-filled episode so far -- in fact, until the season finale. (DVR the Screen Actors Guild Awards; all those actors will still be there babbling about their SAG cards when you’re ready.)
As we know from previous episodes (stop reading if you’re not up to date) Downton has been saved from financial ruin, but Matthew is tangling with his backward-looking father-in-law, who has with all good intentions seriously mismanaged the estate’s business affairs. Edith has been left at the altar; it takes lot for us to feel sorry for Edith, who so often feels sorry for herself, but that was rough. Sybil and her husband, Tom – as if having been their chauffeur weren’t disreputable enough, he’s also an Irish Republican activist -- are back at Downton; but now Tom can only return to Ireland under threat of prison. (What a clever way for the series to keep him around; he’s the season’s most dynamic character).
Bates is managing to survive in prison. And, oh yes, in other news of how the old world is crumbling, Isobel has been working to rehabilitate fallen women, including her former maid Ethel –or, as Carson puts it with shocked disdain in this preview, “Mrs. Crawley has hired a prostitute!” Maggie Smith as The Dowager continues to have the best lines – and line readings -- but Jim Carter as Carson is closing in.
That’s all I can reveal for now . . . and if your jaw drops, don’t say I didn’t warn you. (After you've watched, you can find my full review here.)
Here’s the preview, sly enough to avoid spoilers.