Mr Selfridge: Labour Relations

MR_SELFRIDGE_SERIES2_EP1_105Previously on Mr Selfridge: The store turned five and Rose came back to London, prompting Harry to try and get his act (and family) back together. Agnes returned from a two-year stint in Paris and pouted because Victor actually got on with his life without her. Mae’s jerkass husband showed up to be hateful and boring, and young Gordon started learning the business from the ground up.

Selfridge workers make their way to work, passing by some union men passing out leaflets. Victor chases a couple away from Agnes and escorts her inside. In the store, the workers gossip over whether or not Harry will go back to America if war breaks out. Crabb announces that Harry’s totally staying put and tells everyone to get to their stations.

Crabb then takes one of the union leaflets to Harry, who exposits that the store doesn’t go in for unions, instead preferring to take care of the workers properly. He warns Harry that there are rumours that he may return to the States, which Harry dismisses as being silly. He announces his intention of easing the staffers’ minds and calls for a head of departments meeting ASAP, as soon as Grove comes in. Grove finally shows and Harry snaps that he’s late before telling Crabb to fill Grove in on the situation. Once Harry’s out of the frame, Grove bitches at Crabb for not covering for him. Crabb informs him that he totally didcover for him, and not for the first time.

Harry’s secretary delivers some files to Agnes and tells her she’s needed at a head of departments meeting. Agnes arrives a few minutes late and fumbles around with her pencil, looking like an idiot. Harry wants to put on some kind of staff morale booster and immediately asks Agnes for ideas. She’s unusually tongue-tied, so Kitty steps in and suggests a tango demonstration in the store. Harry loves it. Thackeray backs her and further suggests a staff party afterwards. Harry agrees to it and decides to hold it at the Palm Court with dancers from Delphine’s. He also wants to do something grand for the customers, something ‘big and British’ and immediately thinks of an Empire exhibition. Agnes, trying to make up for her earlier screwup, bizarrely suggests they do something simple and low-key in the Palm Court. So, basically exactly the opposite of what Harry, her boss, just said he wanted to do. She lamely comes up with an idea for a photograph exhibition. Ok, I know I’ve complained in the past about this character’s ideas always being praised to the skies as absolute genius, but the way to counteract that sort of Mary Sue-ism is not to suddenly make her totally suck at her job, because that just makes no sense at all. Since when does she suggest low-key? Harry politely tells her, basically, that her idea sucks and dismisses everyone to think about it. In the lift, Thackeray compliments Kitty’s inspired thinking and takes a dig at Agnes. What’s his problem with Agnes anyway? I don’t really get his hostility. Is it just because she didn’t go to art school? Because she took over his department for the reading (which was done, I might add, at the express instructions of their employer)? Is he just a stock ‘bitchy queen’ character?

Mae’s getting ready to flee the city and head out to the country for a bit, leaving Locksley in Town.

Rose shows up at Delphine’s and interrupts her attempts to balance the books, for which Delphine is grateful. Rose brings up her offer of investing in the club and Delphine says she’s given it some thought but has concluded that business and friendship should not go together. She’s actually very right about that; it almost never works out. Rose refuses to believe that and declares she’s not giving up. Rose switches to the real point of her visit: she’s pretty sure she saw Henri at the club the other night, and—how convenient!—it turns out he left his address with Delphine, for reasons that will never be explained, because it makes no sense whatsoever. She hands over the address, then asks Rose if she could persuade Harry to hold the staff dancing demo/party at Delphine’s instead of at the Palm Court. Rose promises to do what she can.

At the store, Harry’s breaking up (quite amicably) with his mistress, the blonde we saw in the store last week. She’s barely out the door before he wisely tells his secretary to cancel ‘Miss Spender’s’ account. Heh. He adds that she should cancel all of their accounts. All? How many are there, Harry? You’re a workaholic, where do you find the time?

Downstairs, Edwards arrives at the cosmetics counter, literally hat in hand, and is greeted somewhat coolly by Kitty, who assumes he’s there for a story. He says he’s actually there to buy a gift for someone special and she hands him off to one of her minions. The minion asks about the lady’s colouring, and Edwards responds in prose so purple it would make Stephanie Meyer gag. It’s obvious he’s describing Kitty, and the flattery is enough for her to return to the counter and pull out the present she really wants: a Yardley gift box. You know, I really hated Kitty last season, but this year she’s kind of awesome.

At the Loxsley home, Loxsley orders Mae to arrange a meeting between him and Harry, telling her it’ll be to their mutual advantage. He also informs her that the country house has been leased to some Dutch industrialist. Oh, please, like she couldn’t go country house hopping at friends’ places for months.

At the Selfridge Manse, Gordon, Harry, and Rose are having a merry family dinner. Afterwards, Rose and Harry head upstairs to their (separate) beds and Harry tells her how much he loves her and misses their old relationship. She tells him that’s kind of his problem. He swears there’s nobody but her now and she clearly notes the wording, giving him a little smirk and going off to bed.

Early in the morning, Crabb shows up at Grove’s to hustle him out the door and get to work on time. While Grove’s gathering himself, Crabb gets to catch up for a minute with Doris, who’s just dripping kids these days and seems a little brittle in her happiness. Like, she’s trying really hard to seem happy, but it’s coming across as a tiny bit fake. Grove makes it out the door, kisses her goodbye, fondly kisses the baby she’s holding, and then snaps at Crabb that he doesn’t need help. All evidence to the contrary.

The union guys have infiltrated the loading bay, drawing George’s attention. George, apparently, is now in charge of the shipping operations, and in his capacity as boss, he politely informs the men that they’re trespassing on private property. Union guy introduces himself as Arnold and explains, also politely, that he’s just telling the men what they can offer. George says he supports unions where they’re needed, but they’re not needed at Selfridge’s. He returns to his office, Arnold hands out a couple of leaflets, and leaves.

Harry meets Rose in the Palm Court and asks if she’s thought about what he said the night before. She only says that she thought it would be nice to have coffee together. He guesses she wants to ask him something and she pitches the idea of having the staff party at Delphine’s. He’s a little reluctant, and then Rose announces that she’s thinking of investing in Delphine’s club. He asks if that’s a wise move, but she won’t be put off. He agrees to consider holding the party at Delphine’s.

Thackeray arrives at Agnes’s office just as she’s knocking over a whole display of suitcases. He reminds her that she was supposed to meet him ten minutes ago. She apologises and promises she’ll get around to seeing him around 5. He calls her a busy, busy bee and takes off.

Rose’s next stop is at Henri’s hovel. He answers at her knock, and he’s not quite the Henri we remember. He’s working a beard and a general look right out of the chorus of La Boheme. Clearly thrown to see Rose on his doorstep, he nonetheless invites her in and asks her what she’s doing there. She explains that she saw him at Delphine’s and then politely lies that he looks well. Henri knows better. Rose guesses New York didn’t work out. Gee, you think, Rose? He shortly says it didn’t. Rose tries to find some common ground, saying she knows what it’s like to have things not work out, and he reminds her that she still has plenty of money, security, and family, so actually her life’s worked out really well. Hang on, didn’t Henri come from some crazy rich family? With a castle and everything? Isn’t that what he told Agnes last year? Rose tries to persuade Henri to get back in touch with Harry, who feels badly about how they parted and really could use a good friend just now. Henri tells her to get lost, saying he doesn’t need Harry’s help and couldn’t care less if he never sees him again. Rose obediently leaves.

Agnes finally makes her way to fashion, where Thackeray ambushes her with the addition of Harry to their quick meeting. Thackeray proposes doing the empire exhibition throughout the store, with every department showcasing the best of Britain. Harry loves it and tells Agnes to start getting to work on the displays. Agnes, who’s already overwhelmed with the work she has, has no choice but to smile and go along with it. Kind of a dick move, Thackeray.

Mae reads the paper over her breakfast in bed when her husband shows up and asks if she’s arranged his meeting with Selfridge. She lies that Harry’s traveling. Loxsley warns her not to lie to him and she asks what he’ll do if she does: blackmail her? In a really bizarre move, he dips his finger into her soft-boiled egg, smears yolk all over her face, and tells her to smooth things over with Selfridge, or he’ll get rid of her. This man truly is a boring villain.

Agnes makes her way up to the Palm Court and tells Victor she has some ideas for the exhibition. She starts talking about it and then notices he’s not really responding. He observes that she seems to have a lot on her plate, but seems to be coping. She admits she’s finding it all daunting. He says it’s the same for him, sometimes, and then excuses himself. She apologises for taking up his time and rushes out.

Harry’s at Delphine’s so they can talk about the party. She confesses she’s a bit skint and the event would help her. She can’t just go to the bank and borrow cash the way he can (why not? She owns the club, right? So she could use that as collateral, couldn’t she?). Harry’s concerned about keeping tarnish off the Selfridge name. Heavens, Harry, you’re just talking about a staff party. They’re already going to be dancing the tango, which was a very scandalous dance at the time, so I think that ship has sailed. Delphine guesses he’s talking about both the store and Rose and he says Rose told him about investing in the club. Delphine offers up some advice: if he loves Rose, he should trust her. He informs her that he knows his wife better than she does, and leaves.

At the loading bay, a couple of the guys give Gordon a slightly hard time and then talk up the union. George suggests they go talk to Mr Grove about this, if they’re so interested. Not recognizing sarcasm when they hear it, these two head upstairs and are told by Grove, in no uncertain terms, that unions are not welcome at Selfridge’s. As they leave Grove’s office, one of them tells the other to gather the other men and meet in the loading bay that evening. Gordon overhears them, then goes to his father’s office and tells him some of the men think the party’s Harry’s way of buying them off so they won’t join the unions. Harry says that’s not his intention.

Loxsley’s taken to opening and reading Mae’s mail, which includes a personal invite to the party at Delphine’s from Harry. Loxsley tells Mae she’s going, and he’s going with her.

At the cosmetics counter, Kitty’s helping a couple of the girls with their makeup before the party, which is, in fact, happening at Delphine’s. Victor and Franco swing by to flirt a little.

Harry goes to the loading bay to collect Gordon, but Gordon says he’d rather stay behind and finish up the day. Harry asks if he’s getting pressure from the other guys not to go and Gordon says he can make up his own mind. Harry nods and tells him he’d like to see him there, if he can make it.

Everyone arrives at Delphine’s and Victor hassles his cousin good-naturedly for hogging the mirror.

Arnold the union man shows up at the loading bay to give a presentation, while at Delphine’s Harry welcomes everyone to the party and urges them to have some fun. Union guy gives his spiel, his speech intercut with Harry telling the partygoers that he owes everything to them, and that they are the heart and soul of the store. The tango dancers come out and start their performance just as Mae and Loxsley arrive, Crabb nurses an orange juice, and Grove starts pounding champagne like it’s about to be rationed. Victor notices some tension between Agnes and Thackeray and asks if everything’s ok. She sulkily reminds him that he didn’t seem interested in listening to her problems earlier and he says he didn’t mean to cut her off, it’s just that he doesn’t really know how to be with her because he doesn’t know where they stand. Sorry, Victor, but don’t you have another girlfriend?

Union guy keeps going on and on about whether they really believe Selfridge will look out for them and their jobs if war comes. Actually, Selfridge did preserve the jobs of all the men who went off to war. Women took over the loading docks for a while there.

Edwards finds Doris at the party and offers up the Yardley box and his apologies for making assumptions. He promises he’s going to work to make sure she sees him in a more worthy light. She accepts the gift, and then the tango guy offers to teach her the dance, so she shoves the box right back at Edwards and takes the floor. The instructor reassures her he’ll talk her through it, and that she shouldn’t worry if she stumbles at first. Oddly, she turns out to be some kind of tango prodigy (or she already knew the dance) and she proceeds to put on quite a show for her coworkers. Edwards looks like he might need a cold shower.

Arnold finishes up and the guys who invited him admit that they already have everything he’s offering—the store does, indeed, take care of its own. Really good care. Arnold gets pissy, accusing them of wasting his time and warns them that they’ll come crawling to him when Selfridge flees back to America. Gordon steps in to defend his dad and orders Arnold out. A melee breaks out.

At Delphine’s, Harry compliments the proprietress on putting on such a great party. She refers to him having been there earlier, which catches Rose’s attention. Harry explains that he just wanted to check the place out. Reasonable enough, but Rose looks affronted.

Harry’s soon waylaid by Loxsley, who condescendingly calls the whole thing a charming display. Harry pointedly and charmingly greets Mae. Loxsley tries to say that his wobbler at the store was just the result of stress and he’s willing to settle Mae’s account now. Harry shortly tells him there’s no need, so Loxsley foolishly moves on to business discussions. Harry curtly informs him that this is a party and his timing is totally inappropriate. Failing utterly to know when to quit, Loxsley tries to get Mae to bail him out, but she sides with Harry and tells her husband that this isn’t the time or place. Harry suggests Loxsley have a couple of drinks, since they’re on the house and all.

The two loading bay idiots ask Gordon why he was at the meeting at all. Gordon says he just wanted to hear what the man had to say. The more idiotic of the pair takes umbrage at that and snits that there’s an ‘us vs them’ thing at work here, before stomping out. His buddy’s a bit more generous and tells Gordon he’s all right.

The party’s winding down, and Delphine and Rose are heading out for a little field trip. At the last moment, Delphine urges Harry to join them and Rose seconds that, so off they go.

Inside, some of the staffers are still dancing and having a grand old time.

Out in the park, Delphine’s introducing Harry and Rose to the notion of street food.

Crabb finds Grove on one of the sofas and asks if he’s ok. Grove announces that he’s drunk and then asks Crabb if he ever wonders what other paths his life could have taken. Before Crabb can answer, Grove goes on to say that Doris is sweet and all, but man, is she a baby machine. She’s going to punch out another, which’ll bring the total to four. Grove admits his life is chaos and that he can’t remember the last time he had a good night’s sleep. Hey, welcome to parenthood, man. Even when it is quiet, he lies awake worrying about what’ll happen to his daughters if war comes. Crabb seriously tells him that they’ll adapt, as they’ll all have to, and support their young men (the camera ominously focuses on George while he’s saying this, so I guess his days are numbered). Grove says that Crabb’s a decent guy.

Back in the park, I’m guessing Delphine got them curry or something, and neither Harry nor Rose seem quite able to handle it. Delphine asks Rose if she ever tracked down her mysterious Frenchman and Rose blanches, then tells Harry she found Henri. Harry gets serious very quickly, because she had the temerity not to tell him she’d tracked down Henri. He goes into a pout and leaves, coolly telling Rose he’ll see her at home. Rose rounds on Delphine and asks why she brought that up, like Delphine was supposed to know she shouldn’t mention it. Seeming earnest, Delphine apologises and says she didn’t mean to cause any trouble.

Back at the Selfridge Manse, Harry sees Gordon come in and Gordon admits he went to a trade union meeting that night. Harry sees a bruise on the kid’s cheek and asks if he’s ok. Gordon says he’s fine, he just wanted to see what it was all about. Harry supports his desire to look at different sides of every story.

At the Loxsley home, Mae pours her husband a drink, then foolishly taunts him for being made to look a fool by a lowly shopkeeper. He takes his drink, then slaps her hard enough to send her reeling to the floor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that any domestic violence is justified at all, but it does seem rather foolish of her to rattle the bear’s cage like that. She knows he’s a bully, and she’s a survivor. She should have better instincts than that. And oh of course he’s now physically abusive, like we needed another reason to dislike him. Seriously, he’s a paper bad guy—nothing nuanced or interesting about him at all. Unless he starts developing into something soon (doubtful) I’m going to seriously question why he’s on the show at all. What’s his purpose? We don’t actually need some single bad guy to draw our ire. It would have been more interesting if he’d shown up and found a way to work with Mae to achieve his goals, so we could see the two of them wheeling and dealing (probably in some questionable ways) together, which would have made their whole relationship make more sense. Instead, we get some boring jerk who doesn’t at all fit or make sense with what we’ve previously known of Mae’s husband, and that’s just odd. And dull.

Rose makes it home and apologises to Harry for not telling him about Henri. He merely asks for the man’s address so he can go see him in the morning. Rose doesn’t think that’s a good idea, because Henri’s not in a very good place right now. Harry irritably says she should have at least talked to him about this, and she counters that he doesn’t involve her in every part of his life, throwing his secret visit to Delphine’s back in his face. He erroneously recalls that they used to share everything with each other (uh, no, Harry. You didn’t.) and that’s what marriage is supposed to be about (not really…) and Rose scoffs that he just wants marriage when he suits him. He protests that he’s trying to make this right and she shouts that she’s not the one who messed this up, so he can just live with the consequences.

2 thoughts on “Mr Selfridge: Labour Relations

  1. I’m enjoying your write ups. I am just now viewing season 2 online, and I am reading your recaps along with each episode. I’m enjoying the story overall, though it’s not in the same league as a Downton Abbey. I’ve noticed that you alternate between spellings on “Loxley” and “Locksley.” Are you just trying to see if we’re paying attention? 🙂

    1. You caught me! I started spelling it one way and later noticed in the credits it was spelled the other way (*hangs head in shame).

      Glad you’re enjoying the recaps!

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