Credit: © Copyright ITV plc 2013

Back when we first watched Downton Abbey's Season 4 as it premiered in the United Kingdom we'd heard there was a nasty twist ahead in this point in the series. How'd we get that intel? ITV, the channel on which Downton Abbey plays in the UK, made the unusual decision to withhold episode preview copies from the press.

That's the same move the channel made before Season 3's two most shocking plot twists: Lady Sybil's (Jessica Brown Findlay) death after childbirth in Episode 5 and Matthew Crawley's (Dan Stevens) fatal car accident in the Season 3 Christmas special.

This time around, the episode in question was the third for Season 4 but will be the second American audience see because of PBS's unique scheduling system (the channel made a two-hour premiere out of Episode 1 and Episode 2 on Sunday, January 5). Either way, what's coming on January 12 will be one of the more shocking surprises of the entire Downton Abbey series. 

So what could this mysterious twist be? We have the specific details but if you'd prefer to remain unspoiled, here are a couple hints: The characters involved come from among the staff rather than from the Crawley family proper and we suggest you preview the episode before showing it to any younger Downton Abbey fans. 

SourcesThe MirrorTV Line

Elisabeth Kramer is an Assistant Editor at Wetpaint Entertainment and our resident Downton Abbey expert. Follow her on Twitter and Google+!