Mr Selfridge: Baby You Can Drive My Car

Mr_Selfridge Episode 5-ITVPreviously on Mr Selfridge: Ellen got fired after gatecrashing an event with Anna Pavlova and making an ass of herself; Drunken Dad also took the opportunity to make an ass of himself, costing Agnes her job. Things between Rose and Turner the artist went perhaps a touch further than is strictly proper.

Wow, no teaser scene this week. Right to the credits.

Selfridge and Crabb head into a warehouse, where sits a beautiful Rolls Royce that Harry’s going to put in the window, just as Henri promised. Crabb’s a bit worried about the cost (of course), and he warns Harry that the car is not insured to be driven, not even by Harry. Henri shows up and declares the car magnificent. Harry wants the window to be all about motoring for the modern age. Henri says he needs Agnes and Harry’s like, fine, go ahead and grab her. Henri looks at him like he’s an idiot and reminds him that Agnes doesn’t work there anymore, after that business with her dad.

Agnes is spending her now plentiful leisure hours strolling with Victor and filling him in. Her dad’s back living with them, because the landlady found him on their steps and threatened to evict them all. Why not just call the police and report a vagrant? Having him in jail for a bit would get him out of your hair, at least, and give you a chance to maybe look for another place to live. Just a thought. Agnes asks Victor to look out for George, who somehow still has a job at Selfridge’s (why would only Agnes lose her position?). Victor brightsides that, now they don’t work together, they can officially date. Agnes, being a bit dim here, is surprised to find out he likes her. Has she not been paying attention? She tries to warn him off, telling him she comes with a lot of baggage, but he doesn’t care. He leans forward and kisses here, and that, apparently, makes it official.

At the shop, Doris and Mardle unpack a ladies’ motoring hat and look at it like it’s some strange, foreign thing. Kitty comes over and tells Mardle that a customer’s come in asking for Agnes to help her. Mardle tells her that Agnes doesn’t work there, so Kitty should just help the woman herself. Kitty really needed Mardle to tell her that? God, she’s stupid.

Henri and Irene are going through fashion, looking for a ladies’ driving coat to put in the window. Something cutting edge. She shows him one and suggestively tells him it comes in leather. Shock me blue!

Over at the Selfridge manse, Roddy elbows his way past the butler and is intercepted by Rose, who gracefully greets him and steers him into the sitting room, where she closes the door and asks what he’s doing there. He says he wants to apologise for acting like a complete child the last time they were together. She counter-apologises for not telling him who she was, and now they’re friends again. He’s brought the painting and she asks to see it, so he unwraps it. Dear God, it’s hideous. It’s really, really awful. Drab as hell, and I think he turned the right side of her face into the Phantom of the Opera’s. She’s also dressed much more suggestively than we ever saw her when she was posing, with just a loose robe or something slipping off her shoulder and half exposing one breast. Harry’s going to have some questions about this. Rose thinks it’s beautiful, and taken with her lack of knowledge of women in art that she exhibited at the National Gallery, I conclude that Rose doesn’t know shit about good art. Or any art, really. She pointedly tells him that Harry will like it. He petulantly says he doesn’t want Harry to have it. Not your call, Roddy. Rose tells him that, now he’s brought the thing into the house, she pretty much has to give it to Harry. He starts to get a bit threatening, encroaching on her personal space, even as she looks away from him and backs up, and he tells her that her husband neglects her. How does he know that? She says that Harry loves her (true, despite Ellen) and that she loves him. Roddy decides this is the time to kiss her again, and wouldn’t you know it, one of the kids comes in. The littlest one, Beatrice. They spring apart and Rose explains that this is Roddy and he’s been doing her picture as a gift for Harry. She sends Bea off and tells her not to mention this. I give it half an episode before she blabs.

Bea leaves and Rose freaks out quietly. Roddy kisses her again, because that’s all he knows how to do well, and she tells him he has to leave. He asks her to come away with him and she tells him no. ‘You’ll see me again. You can bet on it,’ he says before swirling out. I’m sure in his crazy little mind that was really romantic, but it sounded creepy and threatening.

That night, Harry bonds with his son, chatting about the car as the girls peek in. They come running in and Beatrice tells her dad she has a secret she’s not allowed to tell him. He playfully says he’s going to tickle it out of her.

Cut to him looking at the painting, not laughing anymore.

He goes into the bedroom to stare a bit creepily and intensely at a sleeping Rose, until she wakes and sees he’s now got the painting propped up just opposite their bed. She sighs that it was supposed to be a surprise and he zeroes in on the fact that she must miss painting. He also asks who the artist is and she tells him it’s a man named Roderick Temple, and that she met him at the National Gallery. Harry darkly asks where the man painted her and she honestly replies that it was in his studio, and that Roddy’s just a boy and she didn’t think there was anything inappropriate about it. She thought it could go in Harry’s office. Yes, Rose, I’m sure your husband would love to put up a terrible painting of you with your dress half slipping off in the office where he entertains business associates and employees. Rose goes to her dressing table and Harry tells her he values her more than anything. Values her. Like one would any precious possession. She says she knows. He says there’s something he needs to do and leaves, frowning.

He has his driver take him to Agnes’s, where she’s warily watching her dad get up and start his day. DD tells her she’ll have to get another job, because they’re so easy to come by without a reference, as she well knows. Apparently the idea of him working is no longer a consideration. Downstairs, Harry asks the landlady for Agnes, handing over his card. She points him toward the parlour and goes to fetch Agnes.

Agnes comes down and is shocked to see Harry there. He asks her why she isn’t at work and tells her she showed great potential and he wants her back. He recognises a bit of himself in her, saying that, like her, he was keen as mustard to grasp every chance that came his way. I wish we’d actually seen more of this from her character; it might have made her a bit more interesting. Instead, she just kept getting nabbed by Henri to sit around and do nothing while he came up with a perfume bottle design. Harry tells her that nobody will care about what happened with her dad if she does. She bursts into tears and tells Harry that she can never seem to escape this man, that every time she and George get away and get themselves set up, he finds them. Harry sweetly hands her a handkerchief and offers to have a word with DD.

Upstairs he goes, where he immediately lays it out for DD: he’s to leave London immediately. DD tries to assert himself, amazed that Harry would think he could just show up and tell DD what to do. Well, DD, he’s a rich and powerful man with rich and powerful friends, so yeah, I think he can, actually, tell you what to do.

Harry lays some cash on the table, saying that should see DD through until he can find some work. He puts particular emphasis on the word ‘work.’ DD disgustingly guesses that Harry’s got a thing going on with Agnes, and with that, Harry’s temper snaps and he throws DD down on the table, growling that he is not to contact Agnes or show up at Selfridge’s ever again. He screams in the man’s face that he’s not going to let DD ruin her life. I think we’re seeing some repressed daddy issues at work here. DD calls uncle, Harry throws the money in his face, and leaves.

Out in the hall, he flashes back to his childhood, to when he was bullied by kids who told him his father wasn’t a war hero but was, instead, a deadbeat dad who took off after the Civil War, leaving his wife to fend for herself with four sons, three of whom died, leaving her with just Harry. No wonder he felt the need to prove himself. In the flashback, Harry finds his dad shacked up with some other woman somewhere. In the present, he finds a window and gasps for air. Agnes calls up the stairs, asking if everything’s ok, and he gathers himself and says her dad will be gone by the time she gets home from work that evening. He offers to give her a ride to work.

It’s evidently her first time in a car, and she’s delighted. Harry seems pleased by her excitement, but I think it’s worth noting that it’s a very paternal sort of pleasure; I don’t get the feeling he’s interested in her in that way. Before she goes in, he tells her not to apologise or explain to anyone, a tactic that’s apparently worked well for him.

Agnes strides in and tells Mardle that she’s back. Mardle tries tell her that can’t be right but Agnes says she’s back on Harry’s orders, so Mardle can’t do much about it. Mardle sends her off to unpack new stock and Kitty hisses that Agnes can’t just come wandering back in. ‘Looks like I just have,’ says Agnes. Ahh, there’s that glimpse of spirit! Henri welcomes her back.

One of the unmarked vans pulls up to the loading dock and Alf orders George to help load it while Victor watches from nearby.

Oh dear. Ellen gets out of a taxi at the Selfridge manse, rings the bell, and asks to see Rose. Rose welcomes her warmly and offers her coffee. Ellen wastes no time telling Rose that Harry’s been having an affair with her, and Rose, rather marvellously, pauses for just an instant and then says she thinks she’ll have a cup of coffee, even if Ellen won’t. Ellen has no idea how to respond to that. Rose tells her this is no surprise to her, but she’s canny enough to realise that Ellen wouldn’t be there telling Rose about the affair if it wasn’t over. Ellen spits that Rose is frigid and Rose sympathetically observes that Ellen’s got him bad. She then drives the knife in by telling Ellen that she’s just the latest in a long line of chorus girls. Trying to retain some dignity, Ellen insists she’s not a chorus girl. Rose doesn’t care. She dismisses Ellen, handing her over to the butler and asking for her coffee. Ellen tells Rose to tell Harry that she won’t be gotten rid of so easily. Looks like Rose and Harry both have stalkers now.

Out in the hall, Mama Selfridge spots Ellen leaving and silently pokes her head into the sitting room, where Rose is now sobbing. Mama Selfridge withdraws and, not for the first time, looks a bit ashamed of her son.

Grove pokes his head into the anteroom to Harry’s office and asks Blenkinsop how Harry’s mood is. Harry thrusts his head out and tells him his mood’s just fine, so speak up. Grove goes into the office and tells him Victor’s reported suspected thieving in the loading bay. Harry wonders what’s going on with this store and I’m wondering the same thing. These guys were loading up entire vans full of stuff on a regular basis for what seemed like months in show time and nobody noticed? Except one of the waiters from the restaurant? The hell? Do they not do inventory at this store? How could they not notice that huge amounts of stock were just going missing? What does Grove do all day? Why wasn’t Crabb the money man all over this?

Harry tells Grove to catch the thieves red-handed and toss them out. As Grove goes to leave, Harry informs him that Agnes is back on the payroll. Grove protests, reminding Harry that her father behaved disgracefully. Harry tells him that the parent is not the child and Grove snippily asks if he should have Miss Bunting back or turn a blind eye to the loading bay workers. Harry informs him that those are entirely different situations, and I don’t see how Grove himself doesn’t realise that. Stealing is 1) detrimental to the store, 2) illega,l and 3) entirely the choice of the person doing it. Agnes’s drunken asshole father’s performance was detrimental to the store, but having a loser dad is not against the law, and it’s also entirely not something she can control. Stealing from work should be punishable. Having embarrassing relatives should not, or nobody would have a job. Grove tells Harry the staff won’t understand why Agnes is back and Harry offers to explain it to them that evening. Use small words, Harry, these people are morons.

Victor rushes down the back stairs to the loading docks, where he yanks George aside and out of sight just as Grove and some store detectives show up to catch Alf and one of the other guys stealing and toss them out onto the street. Victor tells George to wise up before he gets himself into trouble. He also finds out, via George, that Agnes is back at the store.

Henri shows Agnes the car and tells her he wants to put a whole family in it for the display, with the car at an angle so it looks like it’s flying. His brilliant ideas include a sailor suit for one of the kids and Agnes suggests a white pinafore for the little girl. This is what you needed her back for, Henri? The most expected, clichéd clothing suggestions? You couldn’t honestly come up with the idea of putting the girl in a white pinafore? That was pretty much every little girl’s daily uniform at the time.

Agnes admires the car and Henri says this could be an exciting time for her. She tells him that Harry is the best guy ever and that he got rid of her father for her. Henri says that the world is opening up for her and there’s a lot for her to learn if she just reaches out and takes it. She considers it, smiling.

Ellen’s posters are being taken down from all over Selfridge’s as Mae wanders in and gleefully notes that Miss Love’s day is over. She wonders to her toyboy who might replace her.

Grove, meanwhile, is whining to Mardle that Harry doesn’t appreciate him. Oh, wah, wah. He throws his toys out of the pram and wonders if he should tender his resignation. Oh, please do, you big baby. Mardle urges him to stay, even though she really should want him to leave, because if he did, they could be together more openly without fear of losing their jobs, but that would take actual thought on their parts.

Mae goes up to the restaurant, where she runs into Harry. Tony the babyfaced jerk tells Harry he saw Rose at the Chelsea arts club recently, having rather a good time with Roddy Temple. This, of course, is news to Harry, and Mae doesn’t look too delighted by this move on her lover’s part. Harry explains that Temple has been painting her portrait and tries to change the subject, but Tony won’t let it go, until finally Mae steps in and shuts him up, offering Harry a lifeline by mentioning the Duchess of Rutland’s love of the arts. Harry excuses himself and Mae scolds Tony for being childish, telling him to get her permission before he does anything like that again. And then she dumps him. Off he goes, as Victor approaches the table and pours her some tea. Mae figures he must have some ambitions beyond the palm court and asks what they are. He tells her about his dream of opening a restaurant. She says she has rich friends and some influence and invites him to come cook for her that evening so they can talk about this. When did he become Louisa Trotter?

Harry arrives back at his office, where Blenkinsop greets him with ‘What an interesting portrait of Mrs Selfridge.’ Interesting is one word to use. The portrait’s being hung right across from his desk. Harry stares at it for a bit, then orders up a whole lot of white roses for his wife.

Downstairs, Victor’s pulled Agnes aside to ask her what the heck is going on. She tells him about Harry going to bat for her and he figures it’ll be fine, they’ll just have to keep their romance quiet. And then he kisses her. On the shop floor. Well done, you two. He asks her to take off with him for a bit and she reminds him that Harry’s going to be addressing the workers. He urges her to play hooky, but she wants to stay. He suggests they go out after and she says Henri needs her. Isn’t he supposed to be making dinner for Mae anyway? He sulks and she tells him she’s tired of being told what to do before stomping off.

Rosalie’s going over dress designs with her mother and grandmother. Rose is clearly not paying any attention. The butler comes in with a huge bouquet of roses and Rose pulls out the card: Dear Rose, for my one and only, Harry. Rosalie hopes she can find a husband like her dad. Rose gets a look on her face that says, ‘dear God, let’s hope not.’

The staff has gathered for Harry’s big speech. Today’s theme: Honesty. As he speaks, we see Agnes is standing beside Henri, and Kitty takes the opportunity to be a bitch and whisper to Victor that the window-dressing wonders make a lovely couple. Harry makes it clear he won’t tolerate dishonesty, but he’s there for everyone if they need help. He explains that he wouldn’t accept Agnes’s resignation because what happened wasn’t her fault, and he’d do the same for everyone else there.

Victor shows up at Lady Mae’s with a grocery bag and rings the bell at the front door, which would never happen. Nor would he be admitted through the front door. He’s shown into the sitting room and tells Mae he’s got some spatchcocked quail for her. I’ll bet he does. Mae tells the butler to show Victor to the kitchen.

Harry arrives home, greets his son, and finds Rose reading with Beatrice. He asks her if she received the flowers (since you walked past several bouquets of them on your way into the house, Harry, I think you already know the answer.) Bea observes that her mother’s blushing, but not quite the same way she was when ‘the painter man’ kissed her. Ooof. From the mouths of babes, eh?

Victor strolls into the dining room, where Mae’s enjoying the dinner he’s made for her. She compliments his cooking and invites him to sit down and pour himself a glass of wine. He does, and she asks him to tell her all about himself.

Henri finds Agnes draping a scarf around a mannequin and drapes the scarf around her instead. He gives it to her as a gift for all her hard work. She says she can’t accept it, but he says it’s no big deal, he’ll just pay for it the next day. Who wants to bet that’s going to come back and bite her in the ass? She thanks him, and when she’s home, she checks out her new scarf in the mirror, letting her hair down (both literally and figuratively, I think we can say).

At the Selfridge manse, Harry tucks in Beatrice and then goes out into the hall to have it out with his wife, yelling at her not only for kissing another guy, but for doing it in front of one of the kids. I think you could assume she didn’t do that intentionally, Harry. She informs him that Ellen paid her a visit that day and calls him out on holding a double standard. Harry can’t really respond to that. All he can say is that it’s over, before he asks Rose if she’s gotten physical with Roddy. She tells him she hasn’t, but if she had, could he blame her, after she’s sat at home all these years and let him run around and have his fun? He falls right into a victim routine, asking her if she really thinks he wants to be this way. She incredulously asks him if he really expects her to feel sorry for him and tells him to go to hell.

Instead, he goes to that place where he plays cards all the time (I think it’s supposed to be a gentlemen’s club, but Ellen keeps getting in, which I’m pretty sure was a no-no for most men’s clubs at the time). Edwards finds him there, drinking and losing at cards, which is unusual. He asks what’s up and Harry tells him about Ellen having paid Rose a visit. He adds that Rose thinks he’s no good, and that she may be right. I don’t think she actually thinks that, Harry. Harry says he usually stays away from drink, because his father was a bit too fond of it. That surprises Edwards, because Mama Selfridge always makes Papa Selfridge sound rather saintly. Harry chuckles grimly and says his mother prefers to remember the good times. He nonetheless raises a glass to his father and everything that he stood for. One of the servants comes over and whispers to Harry that there’s someone to see him. He adds an apology, claiming he couldn’t stop her. Really? She weighs, like, 98 pounds. You could have stopped her.

It’s Ellen, of course, all weepy and frail looking. She tells Harry she won’t be just cast off. He tells her she’s not thinking straight and should just go home. She resorts to begging and he reminds her that he has a family. She veers between anger and pleading for a minute, until Edwards bundles her out.

Harry flashes back to his father putting on his army uniform and actually being a decent dad for a bit. In the present, Edwards tells him he’ll go check on Ellen later to make sure she’s ok.

Harry drunkenly stumbles towards the store, looking at one of the windows, having flashbacks to attacking Agnes’s dad, hearing Bea say she has a secret, etc. While watching this, I can’t help but wonder if Jeremy Piven’s never actually seen a drunk person before, because his drunk acting is terrible. He lurches around bizarrely like he’s got some sort of neurological problem.

Edwards arrives at Ellen’s dressing room to check on her, as promised, but doesn’t find her there.

Harry goes to the warehouse and eyes the car.

Edwards next goes to Ellen’s apartment, where he finds her passed out in the bedroom beside a spilled bottle of pills. He manages to rouse her, she calls him Harry, and he gathers her up to get her some medical attention.

Harry drives the lovely, lovely Rolls rather fast through the streets of London, flashing back all over the place to his dad, to Rose walking away, to Ellen putting on makeup, to Agnes saying she can’t seem to escape her father. He also imagines Roddy kissing his wife. And at that, he crashes the car. Crabb is going to have a stroke.



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