Siobhan Finneran as the scheming Miss O’Brien.
“Downton Abbey‘s mass exodus continues: It looks like O’Brien is leaving the show, too. Actress Siobhan Finneran says that she’s ‘not doing any more,’ according to the Press Association, though it’s not clear yet how exactly her villainous character will be written off.” -- From New York Magazine, today.
SEASON FOUR, EPISODE 1, SCENE 1
(With apologies to John Kenney and The New Yorker.)
The port of Bombay. SHRIMPY and LADY SUSAN are disembarking from a steamship. O’BRIEN follows at a discreet distance, carrying Susan’s reticule and glaring. She has not had a cigarette in three weeks.
SHRIMPY: Well, here we are in sunny India, ready to begin my important work as Sub-Sub-Vice-Wallah, or whatever it is they call me.
SUSAN: I’m not looking forward to this, truly. This beastly weather. These awful people.
[Suddenly, a rogue elephant charges the pier, catching O’BRIEN between its tusks and goring her before trampling her to death and charging off in the other direction.]
SUSAN: Oh, dear. And now an elephant has just trampled my lady’s maid. That was unexpected.
SHRIMPY: Yes, particularly since African elephants are most uncommon in this part of India.
SUSAN: And now who is going to do my hair? Oh, this is vexing. I hate your posting, Shrimpy, I hate India, and most of all, I hate you — so terribly, terribly much.
[Music up as SHRIMPY and SUSAN exchange tense, hostile looks. Fade out.]
LATER IN THE SAME EPISODE
Exterior, Bombay Zoo. WILKINS, the lady’s maid dumped by Lady Susan when she hired O’Brien, steps out of the Elephant Keeper’s Hut, followed by the ELEPHANT KEEPER. Both are in some disarray and it is apparent that they have been frolicking, as Mrs. Patmore would say, though neither would seem to have enjoyed it much.
ELEPHANT KEEPER: I don’t know why I agreed to this plan of yours! Letting a mad elephant loose on the streets of Bombay! Supposing somebody gets hurt!
WILKINS: You’re the one who’ll get hurt, if you don’t keep your mouth shut.
ELEPHANT KEEPER: Do you think I’m going to tell anyone about this? I could lose my job!
[But WILKINS is no longer listening. Close-up as she glares into the middle distance.]
WILKINS (to herself): I told you you hadn’t heard the last of me, Sarah O’Brien! Nobody outsmarts Emmeline Wilkins! Nobody!
[Music up as a meteorite lands on WILKINS, killing her instantly.]