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.
Gillingham later complicates matters by telling Mary he's going to call of the engagement with Mabel Lane Fox. Mary reiterates that she's not on the market. Gillingham meets her in London and says he still loves her and he'll wait for her and not give up. She coyly puts him off. In the end, we're left with the idea that she's either going to go with Blake or Gillingham. Evelyn Napier? Sorry, dude. Still total friend-zone.
"What's a group noun for suitors?" Rose asks at one point.
The ladies come up with "desire" of suitors. I would have gone with a "crash" of suitors. Like rhinos. Really properly British rhinos.
Daisy is suddenly the most mature person at Downton
I groaned when learning that Alfred is coming to visit Downton. Will this be another tired Alfred-Daisy-Ivy situation?
It starts out that way. Alfred's father has died and he sends a letter to Ivy saying that he's coming to the funeral and would like to visit Downton while in the area.
Oh, he also adds that he'd like to marry her and have her move to London with him.
Quite the letter.
Ivy doesn't love him, so she writes a letter back turning down the proposal, which is basically the 1920s way of breaking up with someone via text message.
Alfred takes it in stride, and turns his attention to Daisy. At the urging of Patmore, she goes to spend the day away from Downton (and Alfred and Ivy). She visits her father-in-law, Mr. Mason, on the farm that she could takeover (seriously -- how long will THAT storyline last).
He urges her to say goodbye to Alfred, saying she'd regret it if she never saw him again.
Daisy bites the bullet, and does so with gusto. She brings Alfred a basket of goodies, and says that they part on great terms.
"I loved you, Alfred," she tells him. "But it's time for you to go your own way and me mine." She wishes him well, and that they'll be friends forever.
Perhaps the most heartfelt moment of the episode is Patmore's reaction to Daisy's behavior. "If you were my own daughter, I couldn't be prouder than I am now."
In related news, I would like Patmore to adopt Daisy and they open a pastry shop in London together.
Edith and Rosamund devise a baby plan
Edith is still reeling from her pregnancy news (still no info on Gregson), and devises a super-not-thought-out-well plan to keep the baby and still be able to see him/her grow up.
Her idea? Give the baby to Drewe. Yes, the pig-man. Rosamund, smartly, says that the plan is too complicated and risky (what if Drewe says something or the baby looks like Edith). Plus, you know, her baby will be raised amongst pigs.
Instead, Rosamund's plan is for the two to take a sabbatical together. "To improve our French." "In Switzerland." While there for a few months, they will give the baby to some Swiss family in need.
When they tell Cora, it's clear they're up to something. It IS extremely random, but also sort of the thing rich people might do on a whim. Cora goes along with the plan, while eying them skeptically (OK, so Cora did TWO things this episode).
The Dowager Countess, being the Dowager Countess, can tell something is up. "Rosamund has no interest in French," DC says. "If she wishes to be understood by a foreigner, she shouts."
They confess what's going on, and DC urges Edith to go through with the Swiss plan.
"Switzerland has everything to offer, except perhaps conversation," DC tells Edith. "And one can learn to live without that."
Lady Mary gets heavily involved in the Jack-Rose situation
Hey, guys! Rose is engaged! This will go over so well, right? Happily ever after!
Not quite. After Branson sees Rose and Jack on a date, he tells Mary what's going on. Mary decides to put in end to it -- but mostly because she knows that Rose is doing it to get back at her mother and make a point. Great reason to marry, Rose.
So Mary takes a trip to visit Jack at his Scandalous Back Alley Jazz Club. They have a surprisingly easy conversation about it. Jack tells Mary that he has decided to call everything off.
"I don't want to spoil her life," Jack says. "I don't want to watch while people point at her and jeer. I love her. I want her to be happy."
Rose, expectantly, takes the news harshly (Jack breaks up with her via letter as well), but knows deep down that Mary is right when she tells her, "If you're going to complicate your life do it for the right reasons."
P.S. The season finale is centered around Rose's "coming out" in London. How long do you think it will take her to find a new beau? My vote is three hours. OK, maybe four.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM PART 7
A love interest for Isobel?: Lord Merton, Mary's godfather, visits the DC and takes quite the shine to Isobel, even sending her flowers after he walks her home from lunch. Get it, Isobel.
Well, I'll never greet anyone that way again: After Isobel goes to visit the Dowager Countess, knocks on the door and says, "It's only me," the DC responds with, "I always feel that greeting betrays such a lack of self-worth.”
Loving Branson's new lady: Not only is Sarah Bunting a teacher, but the two just are very cute together. Even though she immediately thinks Branson is aristocraty. I see a good future for these two.
Sticking it to the DC: When Mary notices Branson isn't wearing tuxedo tails for dinner, he offers to change since the DC is coming. Mary, very humorously, tells him not to because her grandma should get a hint of "the real world."
Best new nicknames for Charles Blake and Mary: "Hero and heroine of the pigs."
Best DC burn: Isobel (when DC makes her have lunch with Merton since the rest of the family is busy): "I'm a feeble substitute for the entire Crawley family."
DC: "Hmm, yes. But you're better than nothing."
Worst description of New York: All Thomas can say about it is that it is, "Interesting. Very modern. Interesting."
Give away this secret: We STILL don't know what Baxter is hiding from, but we get a hint that she's being shunned or something by her family or prior community. Can't we just move past this?
Most Lady Mary-esque quote: When Gillingham tells her that he won't give up, perhaps not even as she walks down the aisle with another man, Mary says "I find that both irritating and beguiling in equal measure."
Best description of Lord Gillingham: DC: "He’s the most unconvincing fiance I’ve ever come across."