Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry persuaded Henri to come back and help Agnes with the Empire Exhibition. Between the two of them, they pulled it off and Harry tried to get him to return on a more permanent basis. Mae found out that her husband’s broke and threatened to spread the news around town, Edwards and Kitty had a cute date, Mardle received an inheritance, and Victor’s clearly still carrying a torch for Agnes.
A newspaperman hawks news of a massacre in Belgium and tells Agnes and George how awful it was.
Mardle has breakfast in her new home, which is clearly feeling really large, quiet, and empty to her.
George reads the paper and gets all hot under the collar, saying every Englishman has to defend his country’s honour. Agnes tries to talk him down, telling him he can’t believe everything he reads in the paper. Especially not in the Daily Mail.
Henri’s meeting with some ominous looking man in the café near the store, promising him he’ll get his money. The man menacingly tells Henri to get in touch when they can do business.
Rose and Mae are planning a charity event, selling chocolates for Belgian relief, which I kind of find a little offensive. What would they do in WWII, sell baguettes and personalized berets to support the Resistance? I admire them for wanting to do something, but selling confectionary? How much could they possibly raise doing that? Delphine arrives, having been recruited for this by Rose, who shows her the proposed displays for the Palm Court. Mae likes a display with a bunch of flags, which Delphine thinks is a bit too traditional. Delphine prefers one with bunting and tables in a circle. Since Rose can’t take a stand here, she quickly ropes in Harry, who likes the circled tables and bunting. Mae seems displeased to have been overruled. Rose runs down the schedule for the event, which includes a chocolate-making demo by a Mr Neuhaus. Rose thinks people will basically start shoving money their way and Harry chuckles, because seriously, Rose? People hate just giving money away, even if it is for a good cause.
On her way out, Delphine suggests they set up collection points and chocolates all over the store. She also asks how things are in the Selfridge marriage and Rose admits they’re a bit better.
Victor’s getting ready for work while his uncle moans about how he’s dying and Victor can’t join up, because he has to stay and run the restaurant. Victor says Gabriella can run things, and Gio dismisses that because Gabriella’s just a girl and running a restaurant is a man’s work. Sigh. First Belgian chocolates and now an Italian misogynist? They’re really hitting stereotypes hard, aren’t they?
On their way up in the lift, Crabb and Grove talk about how everyone’s talking about joining up. They’re too old, though after a couple of years Grove would probably qualify, once the army basically started taking anyone who was ambulatory and male. As soon as the lift doors open, they blanch at the sight of a long line of male employees lined up to talk about signing up with the army.
Down in the loading docks, George tells anyone who’ll listen about the atrocities in Belgium. He tells everyone they should fight and that he plans to sign up as soon as he can. Victor, who’s taking a shipment of champagne, asks George if Agnes is aware of this. George promises he’ll tell her. Eventually. He then turns it around on Victor and Franco, asking if they plan to sign up. Victor’s evasive.
Grove, Crabb, and Harry meet to talk about what to do with all the men enlisting. Grove worries about being able to fill all these posts temporarily, but Harry remains optimistic, saying the politicians swear the war will be over by Christmas. They always say that, don’t they? Harry tells them to explore every option.
Agnes is getting the restaurant ready for the fundraiser. Victor finds her and spills the beans about George planning to enlist. Not cool, Victor. That wasn’t your news to share. Agnes asks him to talk some sense into her brother, but Victor refuses, because he has his hands full with his uncle.
More men arrive at Grove’s, passing Crabb and Harry on the way. Crabb comments that, at this rate, they’ll have their own regiment. That rings a bell for Harry, who immediately tells Crabb that he has a plan for the charity event that afternoon.
Agnes goes down to the loading bay to have it out with George, who tells her firmly that this is what he’s going to do, and nothing she says can change his mind.
Harry next has Henri in his office so he can offer him a job as Harry’s deputy. I kind of thought that was Crabb’s job. What is Crabb’s job, exactly? Henri tries to turn him down, but isn’t all that firm about it, and when Harry starts just laying cash on his desk to get Henri to accept, Henri finally does. Harry adds that Henri will also be moving into the Selfridge manse. Having apparently left his balls with the Beard of Bohemia, Henri caves to that too.
Agnes sets a collection can and a tiny plate of chocolates out on a countertop, but as soon as Thackeray sees it he tells her he won’t have that sort of nonsense in the fashion department. Agnes, meek as anything, can’t speak up for herself at all, so it’s a good thing Henri arrives and tells Thackeray to back off, because he outranks him now. Thank God she’s got a man to take command here. Her character’s really kind of pointless, isn’t it? She gets on the lift with Henri and tells him she’s glad he decided to stay.
Henri gets on the phone with Mr Webb, presumably the guy he met at the café earlier, and tells him he has the money.
Mae’s trying to pick an outfit for the event and finally tells her maid to decide for her. She also asks the maid to spy on Loxsley when he has some boot manufacturers over later that day.
Agnes and Henri discuss boxes for the chocolates, which you’d think would have been decided on before the day of the benefit, but whatever. Agnes is, as per usual, uncertain, until Henri basically forces her to be decisive about something.
Grove and Crabb interview a man for a loading dock position. The man’s…well, considerably older than the other loading dock employees, and when he’s asked to pick up a heavy carton, he fails.
Out in the hallway, Harry runs into Victor and, once he discerns that the Palm Court is all ready, he asks Victor to discreetly help Rose and the other ladies raise funds, because they’re pretty clueless about this sort of thing. Victor agrees. Crabb comes rushing out of Grove’s office and calls for some smelling salts from Harry’s secretary.
The benefit gets underway with the chocolate demo from Neuhaus, who looks disconcertingly like Thackeray. Neuhaus sells the sensuality of chocolate hard, and it’s clearly getting Rose a bit warmed up. As he creates a chocolate rose, he thanks everyone for helping out his country, and then thanks Rose in particular for arranging the event. He gives her the chocolate rose and offers her a plate of truffles. She takes one, bites into it, and declares it delicious.
Victor and Franco circulate with champagne while Mae complains to some society ladies about how her chauffeur’s joined up, which means she might actually have to start walking. Delphine steps in and sends the ladies on their way with a pamphlet. She reminds Mae that more people need to be served and reminds her that the event means a lot to Rose and they want it to be a success.
Downstairs, the two cosmetics assistants help themselves to some of the chocolates near the collection can. Mardle reminds them that those are for the customers and they tell her they donated. They offer up the chocolate plate and she ponies up and takes one. It’s so good she pays up and grabs another.
Back upstairs, Delphine and Harry discuss what a success the event seems to be. Harry, smiling both proudly and fondly at Rose, comments that he hasn’t seen her look so happy in ages, and he thought he’d never see it again.
Downstairs again, Edwards has stopped by Kitty’s counter to tell her he’s been given his own column. She’s pleased for him, but like the good saleswoman she is, takes advantage of a chance to get him to donate to the Belgians.
Mardle’s made her way up to the benefit, where Neuhaus himself offers her a chocolate, insisting she take one. She tries to refuse, but he sells her on it by saying that women’s body temperatures are always slightly higher than men’s, which makes the experience of eating chocolate slightly more sensual for women. I don’t really see precisely how those two things are related, but Mardle’s sold. He pops a truffle into her mouth and she giggles and blushes. She’s pretty adorable.
Edwards fetches Mae a glass of champagne, like the good friend he is, and tells her this is a fine cause. He also brings up the fact that Loxsley’s started working with the ministry for procurement. Mae confirms it, and he’s surprised to hear that someone like Loxsley might want to do some good. Mae tells him that war brings out the best in people, which is very, very untrue. It may bring out the best in some, but I think generally it brings out the worst in people.
Neuhaus is telling Mardle about how horrible it is in Belgium, and she reflects that it’s kind of gross to be standing around stuffing themselves with chocolate when all that’s going on. He backpedals and tries to get her to take another chocolate but she firmly refuses this time and goes back downstairs.
Champagne’s running low, so Victor sends Franco to the loading bay for more.
Harry tells Rose and Delphine they’ve done a fabulous job, but Delphine’s not done. She’s planning to auction off the massive chocolate rose basket that’s been serving as a centerpiece. As amazing as it is, I can’t imagine wanting it, because how would you get it home without it melting all over the place?
The auction gets underway, and Delphine, not too surprisingly, is a pro at this. She basically forces Harry to bid for it, and he offers 18. She pretends to mishear him and says he bid 20, then announces the auction won, at 25. Everyone, Harry included, laughs good-naturedly and applauds.
Victor heads down to the loading bay and finds Franco engaging in some fisticuffs with some of the men down there. He swiftly breaks it up and roughly manhandles his cousin back upstairs.
Agnes tends to Franco’s slight wounds while Franco whines about how everyone hates them.
Loxsley’s meeting with a boot manufacturer named Pratt, and while the boots are good, Loxsley will only throw the bid Pratt’s way if he offers Loxsley a kickback. Pratt, clearly not used to dealing with this type of a situation, doesn’t know what’s going on, so he’s out. Mae’s maid overhears all.
Back at the store, Agnes and Victor are discussing his sudden plan to join up. She doesn’t want him to, but he thinks it’s the right thing to do and says there are some things worth fighting for. She stammers that he shouldn’t do this for her, because she’d much prefer that he just stay home. But his mind’s made up, so the only thing for her to do is to ask him to look after George when they’re over there.
Rose thanks Mae for her help with the benefit. Mae admits that things have been difficult since her husband showed up, so it was nice to have something else to focus on. Rose stupidly asks if everything’s all right, even though Mae just told her it wasn’t, and Mae tells Rose not to worry about her, because she’s just dandy. She turns the conversation to Delphine and how entertaining she was that day, and offers a veiled warning that Rose had better watch out.
Delphine and Harry discuss the success of the day and Harry admits he wants to do more. Delphine offers to hook him up with some people who might be able to help.
Loxsley’s found a bootmaker willing to play ball with him.
Harry calls everyone in the Palm Court to attention and lifts a glass to Rose and the stalwarts of Selfridge’s. I guess Mae and Delphine just get ignored here. He asks everyone to follow him out to the balcony that overlooks the main sales floor. Right on cue, a drummer in uniform marches in, playing a sharp marching tune. In the loading bay, Crabb gets all the men who have enlisted lined up and crisply marches them upstairs. Clearly Crabb’s got a bit of a military background himself. Boer War, maybe? The men follow the drummer in, lining up at attention (Franco and Victor included), and Harry presents their soldiers, off to fight for king and country. He also promises the men that all of them will still have jobs at the store when they return. How optimistic of him to assume they’ll all be back. George leads the way to the military recruiter who’s set up at a desk in the store, and is the first one to officially join up. I have a bleak feeling he’ll be dead before long. I mean, one of the guys we know has to die, and I really don’t think it’s going to be Victor.
Agnes looks on, depressed, as the men join up. Mardle joins her and comments that she must feel both proud and terrified. She also offers to have Agnes come and be her roommate after George leaves. Agnes agrees.
Gabriella comes rushing into the store and hurries over to Victor with the news that Gio’s collapsed.
Harry and Crabb discuss the excellent display of patriotism. Crabb wonders who will replace all these men and Harry reassures him that Grove has it all in hand.
Henri meets Webb at the café, just as Thackaray happens to be passing. Webb takes his payoff and leaves.
Grove’s plan is to employ women in all the places the men are vacating: loading bay, driving the lorries, cooking. Crabb is shocked by the notion that women could possibly do any of these things. Yet more misogyny. Thanks, show.
Gabriella tends to Gio, who’s had a heart attack.
Mardle’s next bit of do-gooding is to take in some Belgian refugees. Good on her.
Gio’s got Victor alone, which is an excellent chance for him to ask Victor to stay and take charge of the family. Victor promises to do so, and I guess it’s actually a possibility because he never did make it to the front of the line at the recruiting station before Gabriella came to fetch him.
Henri arrives at the Selfridge Manse.
Rose, still glowing from her success, tells Harry she’s turning in for the night. She’s completely knackered from her long afternoon of boxing chocolates. She thanks Harry for all his help and he flirts with her charmingly and genuinely tells her he’s in love with her. She comes close for a kiss. Things definitely are looking up in the Selfridge home. Harry watches her go up the stairs, smiling.
Victor drinks wine, alone in Gio’s restaurant, until there’s a knock on the door and he goes to open it.
Harry, Henri, and Edwards are having a cigar and a drink. Harry wants Edwards to put the news that he plans to hold all those jobs for the men in his new column, because this man never misses an opportunity to get publicity. Edwards tells him he might not have to hold them for long, because already the slaughter on the Continent is pretty bad. And he’s not allowed to write about it, because censorship is the new rule. He resents it but Harry thinks it’s probably for the best, because men need to trust their leaders. Even if those leaders are fatally incompetent. Edwards doesn’t agree, but he does agree to run the story about Selfridge’s, mostly because it’s the only one he has.
Agnes has arrived at Gio’s and gets filled in by Victor on that deathbed promise he just made. Agnes is relieved, for the entirely selfish reason that now she won’t have to bid farewell to both George and Victor. He tells her he’s not a coward and she says she knows, taking his hand and squeezing it. Gabriella comes in and sees that. Agnes hurries away, under Gabriella’s steely Italian woman look, which typically means someone’s going to find some glass in his tagliatelle before long. Once she’s gone, Gabriella simply states, ‘you love her.’ He doesn’t deny it. Which doesn’t explain why he refused to answer Agnes’s postcards while she was in France or acted like such an asshole towards her when she got back.
Agnes is sitting deep in thought in her flat. George tells her he’s going out for some fun with the boys and she rouses herself to make him presentable, then admits that she’s going to miss him, because he’s all she’s got. She asks him to promise he’ll come home and he does. The music swells as they embrace.