Mr Selfridge: Overworked and Overwhelmed

MR_SELFRIDGE_SERIES_2_EP3_05Previously on Mr Selfridge: Mae’s husband turned abusive, Agnes and Grove struggled to keep their heads above water, and Rose tracked down Henri.

Late at night, Agnes puts together some kind of safari-themed display in fashion, complete with stuffed tiger. She looks exhausted.

The next morning, Victor arrives at the store for work, passing by signs announcing the opening of the empire exhibition the following week.

Inside, the cosmetics girls are chatting about which branch of the armed forces their loved ones plan to join when the war inevitably comes. Cavalry’s popular, because the uniforms are smart. Franco’s there just hanging around, until Victor finds him and pulls him away to do his actual job. Victor bitches a bit about this exhibition getting in the way and Kitty snits that he’s not very patriotic, but then, he is Italian, so of course he wouldn’t care. Woah. Franco pouts that she’s not the only one talking this way.

Crabb asks Harry’s secretary if a package has arrived for him. Not yet. Harry comes out of his office, having had an early meeting with a Mr Ridley, who is apparently somehow involved in the finance part of things. Harry talks about the exhibition with Crabb, and during the course of their conversation, realizes that Grove hasn’t yet shown up for work. He goes into Grove’s office and finds the place a disorganized mess. Harry’s not happy.

Mae and Loxsley are having breakfast. Mae’s maid asks Loxsley if he thinks they’re going to war, and he dickishly refuses to answer. Mae tells him the woman just wants a little reassurance and asks why he can’t give it to her. I’d say it’s because it’s reassurance he can’t actually give, but he says it’s just because it’s more amusing not to give it to her. Because he’s a jerk, everybody. Got that? Mae gets up and goes to her room.

Those two idiots on the loading dock from last week are ogling some girly pictures when Gordon comes upon them. They show the pictures to him, and then George shows up and asks what’s up. The others shove the pictures into Gordon’s hand and he stashes them in his jacket.

Agnes is running Harry through her display plans as they ride the lift to fashion. The doors open and she sees that her safari display has been replaced by a much more colourful one that Thackeray’s putting the finishing touches on. She asks what happened to her display and Thackeray says he found some awful drab set up and decided to do something about it. Harry suggests they let this display stand and put the safari in the Palm Court.

Agnes shows the plans to Victor, who tells her he can’t have the tiger or the rifle, because they’ll scare the customers away. Agnes looks like her head’s about to explode.

Harry reaches the ground floor as Grove comes in. Harry snaps at him for being late and asks what the plans are for accessories. He also welcomes back Mardle, whose brother has shuffled off the mortal coil. Agnes admits she has no idea what to do with accessories just now. Harry reminds them all that a great deal can happen in just a few days and orders Grove up to his office.

Harry gives Grove a good dressing down and tells him he’s on notice. One more strike and he’s out.

Harry arrives home and learns that Rose has gone out for the evening. The butler tells him he has a visitor, though. It’s Henri, and he’s shaved off the Beard of Bohemia. The two men settle down in the sitting room and Henri says he came by to apologise for being so rude to Rose. Harry admits that he was wrong to let Henri just leave and expresses remorse for having been a crap friend. Henri seems receptive, so Harry asks him to come back to the store, because Agnes is totally in over her head. It’s the mention of Agnes that gets Henri’s attention, and he reluctantly agrees to help out, but just for the exhibition.

Victor puts the sign out in front of his uncle’s restaurant, and then finds Italians Out has been spray painted on the front of the building.

Rose joins her family for breakfast and Harry tells her about Henri’s visit and apology to her. Harry thanks her for seeking him out and Rose sniffs that he’s changed his tune. Harry admits he was wrong and she spits that he certainly was. Their son gets up and leaves. Rose follows him out into the hall and apologises for fighting in front of him. He tells her that his dad is trying really hard, as he puts his jacket on. The pinup pictures fall out of his pocket and Rose collects them and asks where he got them. Instead of answering, he heads off to work.

Grove meets Mardle before work and she tells him she needed a man’s opinion about something, before ushering him into a rather palatial house. Apparently, this was her brother’s place, and he’s left it and its contents to her, along with a nice annual income. I’ll bet Grove’s really regretting not marrying her now. He suggests she rent out some of the bedrooms (there are six) to bring in a little extra income, and then sincerely says this couldn’t have happened to a better person.

Mae pays a rare visit to the bank and stashes some jewelry in a safe deposit box, telling the banker helping her that her husband isn’t to know about the box. He promises to keep her secret. She softens him up by remembering his name and his father and then asking if he knows what her husband’s financial situation is. After a little prying, he says that word has it Loxsley’s got serious gambling debts.

The man in question arrives at Selfridge’s and goes right to Harry’s office, rudely walking right in. He tells Harry that Winston Churchill wants to open the exhibition, and Loxsley’s willing to arrange the whole thing. Harry warily and suspiciously tells him that’s very nice of him. Loxsley tells him to think nothing of it, and then asks for a list of good leather factories to give to the military procurement committee. They need to start ordering up boots, apparently. Harry agrees to get him the info, still looking bewildered.

Henri, still clean shaven but looking miles away from his former nattily dressed self, arrives at the store and goes to greet Mardle, who’s overjoyed to see him. He’s sweet with her, and then asks where Agnes is.

Crabb goes to see Grove, who’s just sitting hopelessly in his office instead of, oh, I don’t know, trying to pull himself together and save his job. Crabb hands over some managerial brochures he ordered from America and suggests Grove give them a look. Aww, Crabb’s a sweetie. Grove can’t believe someone’s actually giving him a helping hand.

Agnes is trying to pitch another, simpler plan for the exhibition to Victor, but he’s still being a dick about it. He hisses at her that some people have real problems, and I’d argue that trying to just do your job and having people thwart and undermine you left and right is a real problem, Victor. Agnes stomps off and Victor looks like he feels a little guilty, Franco tells him not to take it out on her and urges Victor to go apologise.

As she’s leaving the restaurant, Agnes spots Henri getting on a lift. She rushes down the stairs and catches up with him on the ground floor. They hug happily, like old friends, but Victor, looking down from an upper floor, pouts. Yes, Victor, amazingly there are consequences to treating someone like shit.

Henri and Agnes catch up at a café. We don’t learn any more about what the heck happened in New York, beyond the fact that neither the job nor the relationship worked out. She admits that she’s floundering over this exhibition and he tells her Harry’s asked him to come back for a little bit. He quickly adds that he won’t if she doesn’t want his help, but she definitely does.

Rose tries to have a conversation about sex with her son, without actually saying the word, because it is 1914 after all. Gordon turns it around into a discussion of the state of his parents’ marriage and says that ever since she and Harry stopped sharing a bedroom they’ve both been miserable, and maybe she should have just stayed in America if she’s going to be like this. He asks her if she still loves his dad and she admits she does, so things seem pretty cut and dried to him.

Uncle Gio wails about the impending war to Franco and Victor, warning them that nobody will want to eat at the restaurant, and they’ll probably form a lynch mob. Gabriella, bringing in the breakfast, rushes out in tears and Victor follows her to calm her down. She’s afraid that she’ll be in danger and asks Victor if he’ll look out for her if there’s a war. He promises to do so, and she kisses him. He kisses her back, and she’s all happy because she wasn’t sure he liked her like that. She hugs him and he gets an, ‘oh, crap, what have I done?’ look on his face.

Mae pays a visit to Harry and asks if he can send one of the Selfridge locksmiths to her house that night, while her husband’s out at the Lords. Harry promises to arrange it, and then hesitantly asks how it is having her husband home. She smiles and says it’s no big deal. Again, hesitantly, he asks if there are financial problems and Mae lies that there aren’t. Harry asks if he can trust Loxsley and she swears he can. That’s gonna bite her in the ass, isn’t it?

Edwards strolls over to the cosmetics counter and politely asks Kitty for a date, because he wants to make up for being a dick at their first one. She only offers him a maybe, which he jumps at, asking her to meet him at Green Park tube station for the bank holiday. He leaves, and Kitty, astonished, spots Henri walking through the store with Agnes, outlining his ideas for the exhibition, which include a huge statue of Brittania, big flags, and having the band play British music. Did Agnes seriously not think of having the band play British music? She really isn’t ready for this job, is she? Mardle asks what the plans are for accessories. They’re getting the statue, which will make them the focal point of the whole floor. Naturally, she’s pleased.

Off to the side, Thackeray asks Victor who Henri is. Victor explains and Thackeray sniffs that the man looks rather shabby, before adding that he can’t just swan back into the store and expect his job back. Victor shrugs that it looks like he already has.

Loxsley tries to get into Mae’s room but finds the door locked. From the other side, Mae tells him she’s been vouching for him all over town, but if he comes near her again, she’ll tell everyone he’s a bankrupt. She must really be willing to stick it to him if she’s willing to commit social suicide herself, because if he goes down, she’s going with him.

Harry brings Rose some coffee in bed and sits down for a serious talk. With war looming, he thinks it might be best for her to go back to the States, where she’ll be safe. She refuses to run off, like a coward, and Harry says he just wants to protect her. She apologises for being so uptight lately and he says he just needs to keep trying to win back her trust. She says she wants to help him out during this hard time and he kisses her hand and promises not to let her down. And then he offers to spend the day with her, because it’s the bank holiday, so he actually has a day off.

Kitty and Edwards are having a nice picnic in the park, talking about how they got started in their jobs. For the record, he swept the floors in some newsroom and her father had a stall at Borough Market. He observes that they’re not so different and she teases that she’s on the way up and he’s just hanging on by his fingertips. He doesn’t deny it. These two are rather unexpectedly charming together.

At the store, Grove gets started on some new filing system. I’ll bet he’s just happy to have an excuse to get out of the House of 10,000 Infants.

Also working overtime are Agnes and Henri. Everything’s all set for the exhibition to open the next day. To thank him for all his help, Agnes gives Henri a gift: a nice shirt. He says he can’t accept it and she reminds him that he used to give her presents all the time. Yeah, ‘presents.’

Harry arrives at the store the next day and takes in the lovely window displays. Oh, yeah, Henri’s back all right. And the safari setup’s back, to Thackeray’s dismay. Heh. Henri’s back in his old shirt and bow tie uniform, looking much better. Harry admires the setup and tells them they’ve done a marvelous job.

On his way to his office, he asks Crabb if Grove’s late again, but he’s not, he’s in his office, just waiting for Harry’s visit. The office is now perfectly organized and Grove explains the new filing system he has for each member of staff, keeping records of their past employment, present job, and other pertinent info. Harry’s pleased. Grove continues that, upon examining the staffers’ ages, he realized that 80% of the male staff are eligible to join the army. And that number would go up quickly after the first couple of years, when the army loosened up its requirements in desperation after the staggering battle losses.

Downstairs, everyone gathers, ready for Churchill’s arrival. Rose gives Edwards a quote before going to greet Harry and welcome Henri back. Mae and Loxsley are there as well and Harry hands over the list of manufacturers, which includes good ones, ok ones, and the bottom of the barrel. Loxsley thanks him.

The press is there in full force, waiting for Churchill, who seems to be running late. The staffers are all lined up, Loxsley’s uncertain, and then Harry’s secretary comes off the lift and has a word in his ear. He takes a moment, then announces that Churchill won’t be coming after all, because Germany just declared war on France and invaded Belgium. Damn Germans screwing up his plans! Harry turns to Rose and they share a tentative, but supportive smile.

At the end of the day, Harry and Henri admire one of the window displays and wonder if the empire will withstand this latest test. They go to Delphine’s for a drink, where they’re welcomed by the proprietress herself. Harry brings up Rose’s proposed investment and Delphine says she couldn’t take Rose’s money. Harry says she’s not what he expected and asks if they can start over again, as friends. She says that’s a lovely idea. Harry joins Henri and offers him the creative director job back. Henri turns it down, telling Harry that it wouldn’t be good for either of them if he stayed. Hmmm. Delphine gets a message and announces that England’s at war. The ecstatic crowd rips off Upstairs Downstairs and breaks into a rousing round of Rule Britannia.

2 thoughts on “Mr Selfridge: Overworked and Overwhelmed

  1. dare I say it but series 2 seems to be much worse than series 1. Series 1 had its problems- mr selfridge himself was miscast, I couldn’t care less about his marriage with rose or that actress and it didn’t at all live up to the book it was based on. Yet, the supporting cast, in my opinion, made up for it and it was quite interesting to see some of the retail innovations that selfridge thought of in the early 20th century.

    Series 2, is bad, just BAD. Again, don’t care about selfridge or his wife. The story lines of the supporting cast are now dull (perhaps more boring than selfridge himself)- kitty and her relationship with edwards, victor and his italian family, henri’s ‘secret’, the rivalry between agnes and thackeray etc. Also, I agree with you that Loxsley is just a ‘paper bad’ character- there is no character depth at all and he’s made lady mae (the only potentially interesting character) boring as her storylines are now tied to him. Its all just not enough to even bother to be interested in now.

    In addition, the other new characters seem to be just paper statues- what is the point of thackeray and victor’s cousin franco. Delphine, however is the worst- was she even in the book because she just doesn’t seem to fit into the show.

  2. Also, I was a bit apprehensive about the jump five years to the onset of ww1 but hoped that it could boost the show and possibly set up some great story lines. However, so far the manner in which they have covered the build up to the war has been embarrassing- poorly written in my opinion.

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