Carson is handing out the day's mail and it looks like everyone's got at least one letter today... everyone except Anna, who looks around plaintively, probably wondering how a couple of these maids are getting mail when no one even knows their names. Anna asks Carson if there's really no letter for her and he intones, "No, Anna. Once again, I'm afraid there's nothing for you." His tone is heavy, but he's still not much for softening the blow, is he?
Meanwhile, Bates similarly receives nothing and is similarly disappointed. The positioning of these scenes makes it rather blindingly obvious what's going on, even if we don't yet know the reason why. But they're going to drag out that realization for the characters, which is sadly fitting for anything involving Bates and Anna.
From the look of dread on his face when Lord Grantham proclaimed him co-owner of Downton, it's not surprising that Matthew is less than super-psyched about getting into the details of the place's management, but Mary tells him it's his duty now to do so. Matthew sighs that he doesn't want to challenge Lord Grantham, but Mary says he won't have any reason to -- he just needs to pull his weight. She's kind of impatient about it for someone who seriously almost went out of her mind before he finally coughed up the cash to keep the place afloat. Rather than point that out, though, Matthew asks Anna how Bates is, but Anna tells him she's not seen or heard from him in a while; they stopped permitting him to have visitors and he's not written to tell her why. And seriously, maybe Anna's too emotional to figure it out, but you'd think that between Mary and Matthew there would be enough brainpower to come up with the idea that maybe the visitation and mail issues are linked. (Okay, I meant to write "between Mary and Mary.") Anna brave-little-toasters her way on out of there...
...and then Isobel is popping in to see Mrs. Hughes again. After apologizing for "pushing in" on her, Isobel says that she did manage to see Ethel, and produces a letter Ethel asks Isobel to pass on to Mrs. Hughes. It's a lucky thing Isobel closed the door first so Anna doesn't see it and get all verklempt again. Mrs. Hughes recalls Isobel worrying that Ethel had fallen into bad ways, and Isobel's like, I hope you know what hooking is so I don't have to explain it? She goes on that Ethel is deeply miserable and that she wishes Ethel would accept her help, but she won't, so if Mrs. Hughes learns anything from the letter that might help, would she please let her know? As nosy as Isobel is, I'm a bit surprised she didn't read the letter herself, given that she could probably rationalize it as a righteous action. We certainly have ample evidence that it's what Mary would have done. Mrs. Hughes promises she will, adding that Isobel's concern does her credit. "But I suspect she will be too ashamed to face how far she's fallen." I mean, I take her point from many angles, but let's not forget Ethel was a pretty shitty maid. Isobel bids Mrs. Hughes good night.