Mr Selfridge: If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free

mr-selfridge-ep-10Previously on Mr Selfridge: Grove inappropriately inserted himself into Mardle’s relationship, in the most offensive way possible; Harry’s daughters and mother came over from America just as Rose was getting some possibly-bad news from her doctor; and Mae and Edwards decided to try and clear Harry’s name.

The Selfridge dinner table is a noisy and lively place, with all the girls plus Mae (where’s Henri? Isn’t he still living at the Selfridge Manse?). Once they’re finished, the kids get ready to scatter, but before they go, Rose reminds them that Thanksgiving is coming up and she wants everyone to gather together for a good old-fashioned meal.

Victor and Franco are also having dinner, in the dimly lit, rather tatty looking former Uncle Gio’s. They talk about sprucing it up for the wedding and Franco proposes a toast to the future Mr and Mrs.

At Mardle’s, Florian goes to her door and knocks. When she opens it, he asks what he did to upset her. She shortly informs him that they can’t be together, because she’s too old for him and there’s no future in it. He points out that he should really have a say in this as well, but her mind’s pretty well made up. He tells her he loves her and leaves.

The following morning, Agnes meets Victor at her front gate so they can walk to work together. They discuss handing in their notice ahead of the rushed marriage and Agnes mentions that George plans to stop by the store that day.

Meanwhile, at the Selfridge Manse, Henri gets word that the charges against him have been dropped, so he can now pack up and go to France to get shot. Harry understands.

At the store, Blenkinsop and Plunkett bicker over Harry’s appointment book in the most childish way imaginable. Nothing ever comes of this, so let’s glide on by.

Downstairs, Mardle’s in a foul mood and nearly bites Miss C’s head off. She then apologises and Miss C accepts it, because she’s quite sweet. She’s also a tiny bit nosy and urges Mardle to confide in someone, or take some sort of action to make herself feel better.

Lois catches Rose heading out and offers to accompany her on errands. Rose puts her off and rushes out the door.

Victor and Agnes go to see Harry and hand in their notice. Harry seems confused by this and asks Agnes to stay and talk with him for a moment. Once they’re alone, he says he’s aware it’s common for married women to give up their jobs, but he’s willing to bend the rules for her. She thanks him but says she’s going to be helping Victor run a family business, so she’ll be busy. He’s sorry to hear that and mentions that he’s losing a lot of people that day, including Henri. Now it’s Agnes’s turn to look surprised.

Speaking of Henri, he goes to the Palm Court to apologise to Victor for sticking his nose into his relationship with Agnes. He, too, mentions his plan to leave for France soon and wishes both Agnes and Victor well. Victor thanks him and hopes he’ll be back soon, but Henri informs him that he won’t be returning to Selfridge’s.

Rose is getting the final word from the doctor: she’s dying. Bummer. I still think it’s odd that they changed this from death by influenza pandemic to death by TB, or whatever it is she’s got. I guess they wanted to be able to kill her off before next season.

George arrives at the store, looking a little dazed. Kitty and some of the other girls on the floor joyfully greet him with hugs and chatter as Grove and Crabb make a beeline for him and shake his hand. The girls start peppering him with questions and he begins to look overwhelmed. Gordon notices and quickly spirits him away to see Harry.

Upstairs, George and Agnes sit down in Harry’s office and Harry says how happy he is that George is ok. George says that war is a nightmare, but little things keep him going—mostly home comforts, like cocoa and jam. Especially jam, because it reminded him of how he and Agnes used to help their mother make it when they were kids. Harry immediately takes inspiration from that and later tells Agnes that he wants to push this ‘comforts of home’ angle throughout the store. She robotically says she’ll get started on a window display immediately and he calls it her swan song. She agrees and tells him these have been the best five years of her life. He quietly tells her that she’s come to mean a great deal to him and she thanks him and says she’ll miss him.

Fraser, the Selfridge butler, finds Rose contemplatively running her hand under a fountain and asks if she’s ok. She lies that she is and says she needs to discuss the Thanksgiving dinner with him.

Harry goes to all the departments to get their ideas for the comforts of home promotion. English breakfast tea, talcum powder, gloves, and a warm coat are all pitched.

Rose finishes up the menu discussion with Fraser and, at the last minute, decides to make the pies herself, which surprises Mae. It sounds like Rose is getting ready to feed an army with this Thanksgiving dinner.

Agnes is at Former Uncle Gio’s, making plans for the wedding that really don’t seem to go together that well at all. Ivory silk bows, pansies on the tables and…pine needles all over the floor? Apparently she wants a wintery smell, but in that case, why the pansies? They’re a spring flower, and clearly it’s late November. Where would you even get pansies at that time of year in 1914? They’d be kind of expensive, no? George, like most men only tangentially involved in nuptials, is half checked out, which does not escape Victor’s notice. It escapes Agnes’s, though. Awesome sister you’ve got there, George. She dashes upstairs with Franco to discuss wall colours or something, leaving Victor and George alone for a bit. Franco asks what’s on his mind and George says he’s thinking of going back to the Front, and that’s quite a lot to be pondering.

Edwards meets with Mae and Harry at the Selfridge Manse and tells them that everyone he’s spoken to on the procurement committee has backed Loxley. Mae’s not surprised. Edwards says they need absolute proof that Harry didn’t recommend those manufacturers. Harry mentions the list of ‘use’ and ‘don’t use’ suppliers he gave Loxley, and Mae asks if it was in Harry’s handwriting. Harry says it was, but figures it’s long gone by now. Mae tells him not to underestimate her husband’s arrogance. Not to mention his hoarding tendencies, because why the hell would he have held onto that list until now? Especially once the newspaper stories started coming out. That’s almost as stupid as Bates clinging to that incriminating train ticket for the better part of a year. Mae offers to sneak into her old house to try and find the list.

Mardle goes to Florian’s room and tells him she’s arranged an audition for him with an orchestra in Manchester. He tells her he’s not going to join an orchestra when there’s a war on. Seriously, Mardle, that was way out of line. He’s a grown man; let him make his own decisions and arrangements. Speaking of, he asks her to stay the hell out of his room.

Agnes returns to her office and finds Henri clearing out his desk. She talks about her window display, which is all about jam making. He brings up the fact that they’re both leaving and she waxes nostalgic about all the displays they dreamed up in that office. She proposes one last nighttime walk in a London park, like they apparently used to, when they were together, though I don’t remember them doing that.

They stroll through some park I can’t identify and Agnes remembers how much she used to like waking up late at night when she was a girl and enjoying the silence of the sleeping city. They both agree that Harry will miss them, and Agnes asks Henri if he’ll miss her. Of course he will. He says he hopes all her dreams will come true and that he’ll never forget her. She returns the sentiment before walking away.

Victor is sitting up with a glass of wine, staring contemplatively into the fire. He comes to a decision and goes to Mardle’s, where he finds George still up but Agnes not home yet. George invites him in for a cup of tea and admits he doesn’t sleep well. The two men sit down together and Victor asks George if he thinks Agnes will be happy at the restaurant. George cagily answers that she says she will be, so I guess they’ll just go with that. He adds that Agnes will never let Victor down.

Florian goes to the store to confront Mardle with a letter he received from the orchestra in Manchester. She says she only wants what’s best for him, but Jesus, lady, stop mothering this man! Grove asks if everything’s ok here and Mardle says it’s fine, they’re just resolving a household issue. Florian gets offended by that and accuses her of just making them both lonely again. She starts crying as he leaves, and then Grove comes over and gently asks her to come see him when she has a moment. ‘Have I done something wrong?’ she asks meekly, completely beaten down. He says no, but he thinks he has.

She joins him in his office and he asks if they can speak as friends. She rightly tells him that no friend would have spoken to her the way he did. He apologises sincerely for that and says he really does want her to be happy. She admits that Grove gave her food for thought, because Florian is a young man and might want kids or something someday, so she shouldn’t hold him back. Ouch. That barb definitely hits home with Grove. Grove can tell that Florian loves her and says that things are completely messed up now, so everyone should grab happiness where they can. Well, it was nice of him to finally start redeeming himself.

Mae steals into the Loxley home and starts pawing through her husband’s desk in the library.

Again with the Blenkinsop/Punkett nonsense. Now Blenkinsop’s stolen Harry’s appointment book, which triggers a bickerfest between the two, until Crabb intervenes and recovers the diary. He tells them to stop with this nonsense, and then Harry appears and tells Blenkinsop it might be best for her to work from his home from now on. Plunkett suggests they meet once a week to work out Harry’s diary and Blenkinsop agrees. Wow, that was pointless filler.

Loxley finds Mae going through his desk, but he thinks she was after cash. She tells him she finds him contemptible, weak, and wretched. He tells her to get on her knees if she wants the cash, but of course she’s not about to do that. She calls him a coward for letting Harry take the blame for Loxley’s war profiteering and suggests he keep an eye on the newspapers for a bit. She retrieves her purse and gloves, tells him to go to hell, and leaves.

In Harry’s office, she admits that she was totally wrong to vouch for her husband, hands over the list she found, and urges Harry to go confront the procurement committee.

He immediately sets out for their offices, bursts right into their meeting, and announces he’s there to clear his name. He accuses Loxley of being a traitor who’s been feathering his nest with kickbacks. Loxley claims that’s a lie and that he chose suppliers on Harry’s word. Harry produces the list, which apparently is definitive proof of Harry’s innocence, even though he could very easily have just written this list up at any time. It’s not really proof of anything. And considering the fact that the committee has backed Loxley this whole time, it’s fairly clear they’re closing ranks to protect their own, so it wouldn’t matter how much proof Harry had, they want him hung out to dry. Nevertheless, they all turn against Loxley.

Victor gazes at Agnes’s window, which depicts a mother making jam, with some really creepy faceless mannequins. It’s not a bad display, but it’s so specific to her own experience I kind of wonder how effective it would have been. Do most people think of jam as comfort food? Henri joins him and admires it, of course. Victor asks if Henri is in love with Agnes and Henri admits he is, before shaking Victor’s hand and urging him to take good care of her. Victor wishes him luck.

Inside, Victor goes to see Agnes in her office and tells her he can’t marry her, because he doesn’t want to take her away from the life she’s made for herself. He thinks she’d end up resenting him. So, don’t make her quit, then. Run the restaurant yourself and let her keep her job. Simple enough, right? I don’t see why this has to be so all-or-nothing. But really, what this comes down to is the fact that he knows she really should be with Henri. He urges her to go to him and be happy. And then he sadly, tearfully walks away.

Edwards whirls into the store with a handful of newspapers and starts handing them around to everyone he runs into: Kitty, Harry, Rose, their daughters, Mae. The front-page story is about Loxley being arrested and Harry’s name being cleared. Ok, first up, Harry just went to see the committee that day, so they wouldn’t have yet had time to investigate and arrest Loxley, let alone get it in the evening papers. Second, Frank gave up his column, so what did he do, just go out and buy a bunch of papers to hand out to everyone? Or are we supposed to forget that he quit his job? Also, the newspaper’s name is The Evening News, which is a stupid name. Especially since we know that the paper Edwards worked for had at least two daily editions, like many papers at the time. Was the other one called The Morning News?

To compound the stupidity, apparently there’s been time to get in touch with the boot manufacturers, who admitted Loxley told them to cut corners and made them pay out to him, and now they’re willing to testify against him. Wow, the committee managed all that with lightening speed. Oh, and the procurement committee has offered Harry a seat, and for some reason, instead of getting in touch with him themselves, they asked Edwards to be their go-between. Whatever. Mae’s delighted not to have Loxley to worry about and claims the world is now her oyster once again, which is bullshit, because now she’s the wife of a disgraced man who may very well end up having property seized since he was war profiteering. Even if she gets to keep all the cash, it’d be hypocritical of her to enjoy it after repeatedly telling Loxley how disgusting it was for him to make it off the backs of the troops. And nobody in Society would ever invite her to anything again.

Satisfied he’s done good, Edwards strolls over to Kitty and asks if they can put all this behind them and start again. She agrees to consider it, over dinner that night.

Mardle returns home just in time to stop Florian from leaving. She asks him to stay and admits she’s been fighting her feelings for him for stupid reasons. He readily agrees and they embrace. Yay!

Harry’s jubilant as he and Rose get ready for their Thanksgiving dinner. Rose decides that this is as good a time as any to tell him she’s tragically on her way out. Harry can barely absorb this, which is true to history. The death of Rose Selfridge was what set Harry on his severe downward spiral which would see him lose his store and end his days in tragic poverty.

Agnes finds Henri just walking around that same park from the night before and tells him she’s not marrying Victor. Henri says he loves her and they kiss. Like George, he promises to come back to her.

Harry’s babbling about finding the best doctors in the world, but Rose is resigned to her fate. She asks only that they have the best Thanksgiving ever, and then destroy the kids’ lives the following morning with her news. Harry agrees and she thanks him. They kiss sweetly and he takes her hand and accompanies her downstairs.

At the table, the family members take turns saying what they’re thankful for. Again, Mae is there, but Henri is not. Rose gives thanks for all the years of happiness she’s enjoyed with her husband and family. Harry gives thanks for his family and friends and Rose. And for this moment in time, which he promises to cherish forever. Well, that was quite sweet.

That’s it for series two of Mr Selfridge (which will be back for a third series next year). Let’s talk about what was good, shall we? Jeremy Piven’s performance was vastly improved over last year. Harry is no longer an arm-flapping cartoon but a more balanced, thoughtful man, which nicely fit the more somber mood of the series, as the war got underway and men began dying. Also fitting that somber mood was a distinct lack of slapsticky nonsense in the second half of the series, which was a relief, because sometimes it was a bit difficult to figure out what kind of tone this show was going for. I also have to admit that I enjoyed the Kitty/Edwards relationship, which was playful and a bit sexy (actually, the evolution of Kitty’s whole character was fairly well done, and believable!). And it was great seeing Mardle happy at last.

Now for the bad. Loxley. Dear God, what a crap character. A paper villain, that’s all. Delphine—total disappointment. Her big play for Harry was extremely sloppy and rushed, and then her character was just gone. Lame. The procurement scandal: just ridiculous, and I think I’ve discussed that enough. Henri’s whole subplot: tiresome. Did any of us really care about Henri’s cloak-and-dagger nonsense and accusations of theft? Honestly? Was there ever a moment’s doubt that he’d be proven innocent? Of course not, just like there was never a moment’s doubt that Harry’s name would be cleared and Loxley would get his comeuppance. And that’s a serious issue with this show: it completely lacks tension.

And finally: Agnes. Can we please get rid of this character already? She’s the worst on the show, easily. She’s bland as hell (and so is the actress playing her) and everyone’s persistent claims that she’s some kind of wunderkind and trailblazing woman are coming across as increasingly batty the more she proves she’s nothing of the kind. She’s uninspired, coming up with ideas so banal it’s a wonder she isn’t laughed out of the store for them, dull, and weak. She couldn’t even stand up for herself against Thackeray, for heaven’s sake. There’s nothing special about this woman at all, and it makes little sense that someone like Henri, who was devoted to Valarie, a woman who really did seem strong and forward thinking, would be so head-over-heels for Agnes, who’s as bland as flour. Seriously, show, get rid of her and focus on the more interesting characters. Which is all of them (except maybe the two warring secretaries. That was just stupid and pointless.)

What did you think, readers? Was this series better than the last one, or another disappointment?

3 thoughts on “Mr Selfridge: If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free

  1. Finished this one last night too, on PBS. Just three things:

    1) Agree that Harry was vastly improved from last season. Being with Rose helps his character.

    2) Agnes is the WORST. I was so amazed to see that Aisling Loftus is like that in real life and that Agnes isn’t a characterization but probably just the actress being herself. The Victor/Agnes/Henri triangle was so tiresome.

    3) Mardle is the best. I’m so happy for her character. I don’t know why she listened to Grove at all.

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