It's something of a "Downton" tradition to include a party/dinner/community event towards the end of a season in order to get all the characters together to start to tie up lot of the storylines.
Well, most of them.
In the penultimate episode of Season 4, we get this device in the form a church bazaar on the Downton grounds -- finally something for Cora to do! She seems as happy as we are to finally have her do anything.
Anyway, a lot goes down this episode: First, Downton's pig-man is now going to be Drewe (the other pig-man is clearly going to blacklisted by the Crawleys for his pig-man failure).
Secondly, Robert finally comes home from New York, having secured just a "reprimand" for his brother-in-law's involvement in the Teapot Dome scandal.
Thirdly, Baxter and Molesley? Totally buddies now. Little worried about what Thomas is going to do about this.
And that's just the minor stuff. A breakdown of the plot advancements (and none are pig-involved!):
Bates may have killed Mr. Green
Ever since his Knowing Look of Who Raped Anna, you knew it was just a matter of time before Bates (possibly) acted on his murderous revenge inclinations. When Gillingham visits Downton (yes, again), Bates takes the (not exactly sly) opportunity to ask Green where he can find Gillingham (aka: where he can totally go and murder Green).
He asks for a day off to go to York, and says he just needs to "get away." Really, not a better excuse? I would have gone with "buying Anna a present" or "visiting old prison buddies," but OK.
When Bates is away, Mary (who earlier is told by Anna that Green was the perpetrator), asks Gillingham to fire him without explaining exactly what's going on.
At the bazaar, Gillingham appears again to tell Mary that Green has been killed and all he knows is that he fell in the street and was hit by a vehicle of some sort.
Apparently, there were witnesses (which may or may not bode well for Bates). Mary tells Anna, who, you can tell, is pretty sure her husband is responsible, but just doesn't want to believe it.
She tells him that she hopes he'd never do anything to risk what they've built together. He says, of course he wouldn't.
Clearly this is far from over. Will we learn the truth in the season finale? Will Bates come up with a better reason for why he was away? Or are we in for another bleak storyline with Bates in Dickensian prison squalor?
The Mary love rectangle continues
Along with the "did he or didn't he?" Bates situation, the major storyline to probably cast a big net over Season 5 will be whom Mary picks to marry. I'm guessing that this can't be tied up int he season finale, but who knows? These dudes work fast.
At the start of the episode, Charles Blake is still at the house, and everyone notices that he and Mary now clearly enjoy each other (rescuing pigs and eating scrambled eggs together will do that).
Mary shows more emotion than she usually gives when Charles, without hesitation, picks up her baby and plays with him. Aww.
Gillingham finds yet another reason to visit, and spends most of his time brooding and casting glances at Charles Blake while learning about the Romantic Pig Rescue. "I can't leave Charles alone with you," he tells Mary at one point.