Robert is dispatched to America to help bail out Cora’s brother, Harold, who is embroiled in the Tea Pot Dome financial scandal. Anna puts on a brave face when she learns that Bates is to accompany him, but she is devastated at the thought of being without his support. When Mrs. Hughes turns to Mary for help convincing Robert to take Thomas instead, she discloses the secret of Anna's rape (but not the rapist). Mary is successful, and Bates is to stay.
As the family and servants prepare to say their goodbyes, Thomas charges Baxter with finding out why Bates is staying at Downton and he is going to America in his place. The exchange does not go unnoticed by Molesley. The Dowager barely makes it through the departure, as she is falling ill. Branson drives Isobel home and as they discuss his life outside the estate, she suggests they get tickets to hear liberal politician John Ward speaking in Ripon. Initially reluctant, he agrees.
With the departure of Robert and Thomas, attention turns to the arrival of the pigs. Blake endorses the venture but is dubious about whether the family fully appreciates the project's large scope. When Mary quizzes Blake why places like Downton are failing, he explains that few are making the most of what they have to offer. Mary presumes that he doesn’t understand their way of life and later, asking Napier why Blake is always so superior, she is surprised to learn that he thinks she is aloof.
Edith plans a trip to London; she has learned that Gregson checked into his Munich hotel and went out, but never returned. She plans to stay in a hotel but Cora insists on telephoning Rosamund. Terribly vulnerable, Edith obliquely confides her troubling thoughts with Cora, and as her resolve breaks, she asks if she is bad. Cora lovingly reassures her, but there is no comfort for Edith, isolated with her secret. Rose begs to come along to London and Cora grants her permission.
Carson receives word from Alfred that his father is ill and he plans to stop in at Downton on his way home. Ivy is pleased, which only spurs Daisy's ire. Concerned that seeing Alfred would disrupt a tentative truce between Daisy and Ivy, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore and Carson conspire to keep Alfred away by concocting a story of flu in the house.
Isobel checks in on Violet and discovers her ill. She fetches Dr. Clarkson who diagnoses bronchitis. To prevent pneumonia, Violet will require twenty-four hour care. Isobel volunteers to nurse her.
Preparing Mary for bed, Anna thanks her for intervening with Bates. Acknowledging that she knows the circumstances, Mary questions Anna about her attacker but Anna can’t bear to speak about it.
Carson puts the disappointed Alfred off from the house by meeting him for a drink and putting him up at the pub. When Ivy says that she's sorry not to see him, Daisy accuses her of making his life a misery while he was there, confirming for Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore that they were right keep him away. But Alfred arrives at Downton, flu or no flu. Ivy is pleased to see him and to his great pleasure, tells him so, giving the eager suitor something to think about, while infuriating Daisy.
Meanwhile, delirious and gripped by fever, Violet complains bitterly about Isobel’s nursing. As her outbursts continue, Dr. Clarkson insists there must be no let-up in her care. Back at Downton, Branson announces that the pigs have arrived safely. Without Isobel, he doesn’t think he will bother attending the political talk, but Mary insists that he should. At the political talk, he takes the empty seat next to a young woman, Sarah Bunting. Afterwards, the two talk politics.
In London, when Rosamund queries Edith about her plans, Edith tearfully confesses her pregnancy and her plans for a termination. Rosamund is supportive, but asks: What if Gregson turns up alive? Nevertheless, Rosamund offers accompany her. Rose, meanwhile, enjoys a romantic day out with band singer Jack Ross. Jack is worried that their burgeoning romance has no future but Rose wants to live life in the moment and convinces him to take her to the club that night.
That evening, Blake dines with Cora and Mary and suggests an evening walk to visit the pigs. He and Mary find them nearly dead from dehydration. With no time to fetch the farmer, Blake and Mary grab buckets and head to the nearest water supply. In the dark and the mud, they bring bucket after bucket of water back, saving the pigs. Covered in mud, they share a playful moment, and back at Downton, Mary prepares scrambled eggs for him in the servant’s kitchen.
Back in London, Edith and Rosamund visit the clinic where the despondent Edith has a sudden change of heart. Rosamund reassures her that there will be a way forward.
Cora surprises Mary with news that Gillingham is visiting. Blake reveals they know each other from the war. Gillingham clearly still has feelings for Mary despite his engagement, and is concerned about the competition posed by Blake. But with Gillingham comes Green, whose unexpected arrival stops Anna in her tracks…observed by Bates.
After a feverish night, Violet, greatly improved, is shocked to learn that it was Isobel alone who nursed her. Exhausted but still eager, Isobel reassures the reluctant Violet she will only leave for a short bath, soon returning to keep the Dowager company playing cards.
Mrs. Hughes confronts Green in the boot room, revealing she knows what he’s done and he warning him to keep to the shadows. But at the servants’ dinner, Green boasts that he couldn't bear to hear Dame Nellie sing, so came downstairs for peace and quiet. Bates gives him a murderous look.