Mr. Bates may wind up in prison again if he avenges the rape of his wife Anna. And we in the audience are emotionally caught up in that possible story line. As yet, he doesn't know the identity of the miscreant but we sense that won't be for long.
However, it's Anna's plight which gets Mr. Bates into this frenzy. Like the rest of the females on "Downton Abbey," she's the prime mover. The late Sybil chose to marry servant Tom, which changed so much in the family values. Mary broke the rules and had a love affair before marrying, throwing the family into a panic that she would be unmarkable. And now there are broad hints that Edith is pregnant, which could bring significant scandal. Her lover Michael seems to be MIA.
Meanwhile, with the exception of Mr. Bates who could get himself into a lot of trouble by taking action, the men seem to be stuck. The Earl is allowing the Abbey to slip away. Tom could be returning to his primitive radicalism. And, so far, Mary's suitors aren't very impressive. It was only by marrying Mary that late husband Matthew came into his own as a businessman.