Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry got back from Berlin and had to clean up all sorts of messes, including mostly clearing Henri’s name, welcoming some terrible Americans to the store, and denying he had anything to do with this stupid procurement scandal. Mae’s left Loxsley, but finds herself on the outs with the Selfridges nonetheless, as does Edwards, and Mardle finally decides to give it a go with Florian.
Mardle wakes early in the morning, in bed with Florian, and tells him he’d better skedaddle before the household wakes up. He’s got an adorable blissed-out look on his face. Go Mardle!
Over breakfast, Harry tells Rose he’s meeting with his lawyers to see what can be done about this libel situation, but in the meantime, he’s got to find a way to tempt his female customers back. To that end, he’s asked Delphine to come in and help out. He suggests Rose join them, but she demurs, telling him she has an appointment. Before she leaves, she advises him to keep things simple. Harry’s barely listening, because he’s found a piece in Town Talk that reports Mae has left her husband.
Agnes waits for the post, hoping for word of George, but there’s nothing. Mardle reassures her that there may still be word, and she mustn’t give up hope.
The bit in Town Talk has, for some reason, completely turned Rose around on the subject of Mae, and now she’s trying to convince Harry to see her. Why this would convince her that Mae really is on their side when Mae still vouched for her husband and neglected to tell him about Loxsley going after shoddy manufacturers, therefore getting Harry mixed up in this mess to begin with, is beyond me. Probably beyond the writers too, because it’s never explained or expanded upon in any reasonable way. Rose claims that Mae’s been a loyal friend to them in the past, which just proves what a short memory this woman has. Remember last season, when Mae was snide to Rose whenever she had the chance and found it necessary to blow the lid on Harry’s affair with Ellen Love? I wouldn’t really call that being a loyal friend.
On her way into work, Mardle and Florian discuss his new job, working in a factory. He wants to do it to help out the war effort, and she’s fine with that, but she tells him that if he’s going to ‘sweat and strain all day’ (and provide her with quite a bit of fantasizing material, presumably), he should at least eat a decent lunch. She pulls out her purse, and though he tries to turn her down, she insists and hands him a bit of cash. He leans in to kiss her on the cheek but she tells him not to, so close to the store. He accepts that and leaves, but when she turns, she sees Grove staring at her, 50% creepster and 50% judgment.
Kitty’s minion is being made to quit her job, but Kitty refuses to give Grove the woman’s letter of resignation. Minion’s dad thinks Harry’s a friend of the Kaiser. Kitty tells her to leave this matter with her.
Harry sits down with Crabb, Henri, and Delphine, who immediately says they need to put on some big entertainment by bringing the spirit of Delphine’s to Selfridge’s. Yes, bringing a scandalous nightclub into the Palm Court is just the way to attract wealthy Society ladies back to the store. Most of those women probably hate Delphine for running what they undoubtedly think of as a den of iniquity where their husbands get up to all sorts of nonsense. Nevertheless, Harry agrees, though Crabb sensibly seems unsure. Henri suggests bringing a journalist named Winifred Black in to write about their new promotion. Delphine thinks she’s trouble, but Harry takes the gamble and asks Henri to invite the woman to lunch.
Kitty sits in an office somewhere, finds the Town Talk piece on Mae and Loxley (not Loxsley, sorry about that), and gets on the phone.
She summons Edwards to the tearoom near the store and immediately starts to speculate that Mae’s left Loxley at this time to signal to the world that he’s no good. Edwards thinks it’s just a coincidence, but Kitty insists he look into it anyway. He shortly tells her it’s not quite that simple, but she says he owes it to Harry to do this.
Edwards goes to his editor and brings up Kitty’s points, wondering if Loxley planted this story to divert attention from himself. Hey, there’s a concept! And why the hell didn’t this occur to you before? Even if Mae hadn’t left him, why wouldn’t you have asked if Loxley was passing the buck so he wouldn’t get in trouble for war profiteering? This whole plotline is unbearably stupid. Of course, the editor doesn’t care, so Edwards resigns right then and there, standing on his principles and saying he won’t write at all, if he can’t write the truth. Way to come to that determination way too late, Edwards.
Edwards tries getting in touch with Harry, but Harry’s not interested in speaking with him.
Up in the Palm Court, Delphine’s taking over completely while Victor and Agnes look on. He asks if there’s word from George and she says there isn’t, and then gets out of there, clearly barely managing to hold it together. He seems concerned, but there’s not much he can do.
Rose is visiting the doctor, and describing symptoms that sound quite a bit like TB, which is strange, because Rose Selfridge actually died in the 1918 Flu pandemic. Why change that?
Grove has summoned Mardle to his office, like he’s the principal and she’s an errant high schooler. He takes his time finishing what he’s doing, like a dick, and then outrageously starts lecturing her about her behavior that morning, which he describes as being unbecoming of an employee of Selfridge’s. What, almost getting kissed on the cheek? Come on, that’s ridiculous. And hypocritical in the extreme, considering the things these two used to do in broad daylight together. Remember when Agnes caught them actually kissing? In clear violation of a rule that explicitly forbids employees from fraternizing (a rule which everyone’s clearly forgotten, because otherwise both Victor and Agnes would be fired by now). Digging himself even deeper into the douchebag pile, Grove informs her that this affair has gone too far, and that Florian is clearly after her for her money and obviously thinks of her as an ‘old fool.’ Wow. WOW. She waits until he’s done and, instead of braining him repeatedly with an inkwell, which I think is well deserved, she gathers her dignity admirably, tells him that her life is hers alone, and he can keep his damn nose out of it. And keep his insults to himself. That’s right, you asshole. Jesus. She leaves and gets on the lift, but is hardly able to keep from bursting into tears. Aww, Mardle, it’s ok! He’s not worth it!
Harry and Henri join Winifred for drinks. She’s a much less obnoxious American than the ones we met last week. She guesses they want an article, but tells them she doesn’t do puff pieces. Harry swears that’s not what they’re after. She offers to poke around the store and, if she finds a story that inspires her, she’ll write it.
Edwards and Mae stroll through the park and talk about how to help Harry when he won’t communicate with either one of them. Mae suggests Edwards try to get to the committee by exploiting the weakest link: Edgerton’s proclivity for young men.
Henri shows Winifred around and introduces her to Thackeray, who’s all star-struck to meet her and starts sucking up immediately once he finds out she’s writing a column about the store. She politely puts him off and continues the tour.
Rose arrives at the store and runs into Delphine coming off the lift. Delphine tells her that Harry’s just left but suggests the two of them have a little visit.
Henri, showing Winifred around the main floor, suggests she chat with Agnes.
Delphine and Rose settle down in the restaurant and Rose admits she’s been diagnosed with a touch of congestion on her chest. Clearly pretending to be concerned, Delphine asks if Harry knows. He doesn’t, and she thinks that’s good, because he’s so busy lately. She suggests Rose take a trip out to the countryside and get her strength back.
Harry and Mae meet at Mae’s hotel and he compares her leaving Loxley to a rat deserting a sinking ship. Valid. She admits she shouldn’t have vouched for him and that she should have spoken up when she first suspected what he was up to. Harry asks why she did vouch for him and she tells Harry it’s because Loxley’s violent. Didn’t he turn violent after she vouched for him? Whatever, Harry’s on board now and invites her to stay at the Selfridge Manse while this whole thing gets sorted out.
Winifred’s now meeting Agnes and admiring what appear to be a bunch of…dress designs? Huh? When did Agnes start designing dresses? Isn’t she just in charge of displays? Winifred loves them and asks Agnes how long she’s worked at the store. Agnes tells the story of how she got the job—going to Harry’s house and asking for it, essentially. Winifred seems interested in both Agnes and the fact that she’s Henri’s protégé. Henri insists that Agnes always had a natural talent, and Winifred observes that the two of them make quite a team. Yes, so much so that Agnes was actually unable to function in the job properly without Henri’s guidance and help. Let’s stop retconning her as some great talent when she so clearly wasn’t.
Suddenly nervous as to the way this is turning, Agnes asks what this article is going to be about, but Winifred isn’t sure yet. Noting Agnes’s ring, she asks about her engagement and Agnes tells her about Victor. Winifred declares Harry an employer and matchmaker, which I’m sure he’ll really appreciate, considering that rule forbidding employees from dating. She finds out about George being MIA and things get slightly awkward.
Henri goes up to the Palm Court and pulls Victor aside to ask about George and express concerns that Agnes thinks he’s still alive. Victor thinks that’s just her way of dealing with it, and really, what’s the use of trying to convince her otherwise when it’s uncertain either way? Why prematurely depress her? Henri clearly thinks this is the wrong course of action, and Victor takes the opportunity to tell Henri he’s been there for her and is offering her more than Henri ever has: home and family. Well, good for you, Victor.
Harry summons his secretary, Plunkett, to his office and informs her that his daughters will be arriving from the States shortly, warning her that his daughters can be ‘a bit of a handful’. Read: spoiled brats. She doesn’t really seem to know what to do with that information, and he asks if she’s ok with that, adding that his previous secretary, Blenkinsop, was great with them. She stiffly says she’s sure she can cope. Clearly unconvinced, Harry brings Blenkinsop back to act as his social secretary while Plunkett manages all the store issues. Plunkett doesn’t seem at all pleased with this arrangement.
Rose has Mae to tea and says she was sure something was wrong weeks ago, because Mae just wasn’t herself. Bullshit, Rose. Mae tells Rose it’s fine and seems genuinely grateful to have a refuge. Rose tells her she’s planning on going away for a few weeks once her daughters are settled. Mae’s spidey senses start going off, and they only kick into higher gear once Delphine’s name is dropped into the conversation. She gently asks if this is a good idea, but Rose thinks it is.
Harry admires Delphine’s work up in the Palm Court, which is being transformed into some sort of Middle-Eastern fantasyland. She butters him up and tells him he really needs a female vision looking over the whole store permanently, not just for a few days. Of course, she means herself, and Harry knows it.
Agnes, coming down the stairs, sees a man in uniform walking towards the exit. Ahh, the ‘I thought you were my missing brother’ cliché. Of course, the man isn’t George, because why the hell would George come to the store and not seek out his sister? She falls to pieces in her office, with Victor trying to comfort her. She sobs that she doesn’t know what she’ll do if George is gone. Victor tells her they’ll face whatever comes together, and cutely offers to cook her up some comfort food. She says she has to finish her window, so he agrees, but tells her if she isn’t back at Mardle’s in two hours, he’ll find her and drag her home. He says that much more nicely than it looks here.
Edwards tracks down Edgerton and asks him about Loxley’s blackmail. Edgerton denies it but asks Edwards what he wants. Edwards wants the evidence he needs to bring Loxley down.
Edwards reports to Kitty and tells her what he knows and that he needs her help.
Winifred surprises Agnes, finishing up her window display, and tells her that the story’s been written. She just needs one detail: Agnes’s wedding date. Agnes says they haven’t set one yet. Winifred’s surprised that Agnes would give up the job at Selfridge’s, but Agnes says Victor’s offering her a home and stability, which is worth quite a lot. She does ask whether Winifred thinks it’s wrong to choose family over a career, but Winifred says it doesn’t matter what she thinks. She informs Agnes that the story she filed is all about her: the shopgirl who shines like the stars. First, I thought she didn’t write puff pieces. That’s the very definition of a puff piece. Second, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Agnes is easily the blandest character on this show, and she sucked at her job until a man came and showed her how to do it. Let’s stop giving her way more credit than she’s due, because it’s just frustrating.
Delphine is putting the finishing touches on the Palm Court when she’s joined by Mae for a showdown I have high hopes for. Delphine, all wide-eyed innocence, claims she was just helping Harry out and also giving Rose some advice, as a friend. Mae correctly calls her out on trying to get Rose out of town so Delphine could steal her husband. Delphine claims that’s ridiculous, but Mae knows this type inside and out. Delphine fights back with insults, telling Mae she’s nothing without Loxley’s money and tells her that Harry’s not going to stand by her when Loxley starts dragging her name through the mud. Mae seems unconcerned and tells Delphine to get out of town, or Mae will tell Rose just what she’s up to. But will Rose believe her? Hard to say, she bends with the wind.
Harry reads Winifred’s piece and doesn’t seem too bowled over, probably because it’s utterly stupid. Here’s a sample line: ‘With her combination of gritty determination and cool elegance, Agnes Towler is Selfridge’s new rising star.’ Do I really need to dissect all the things that are wrong with that one sentence? He thought Delphine’s promotion would be the bigger story, but Winifred sees this as more of a human interest thing: come work at Selfridge’s and have you life changed! Women will love it!
Florian joins Mardle (looking distracted) and Agnes in the sitting room that evening and immediately asks Mardle if something’s wrong. She lies that she has a headache and quickly leaves to go to bed. Poor Florian is, as always, confused. As Agnes starts heading for bed herself, someone knocks on the door. She steels herself for the worst, opens it, and there’s George, arm in a sling. Yes, the ‘missing relative suddenly shows up cliché’. We should start turning these things into a drinking game. Might make the show more bearable.
At breakfast the next day, George is regaling everyone with the story of how close he came to death, as he stuffs his face with bacon and eggs. They discuss Agnes’s engagement, and when Agnes says she fell in love, Mardle looks briefly depressed. Oh, Mardle, don’t let Grove get to you! He’s a bitter man who knows he screwed up and made a choice that’s made him miserable, so he’s trying to bring you down to make up for it. Don’t let him!
Meanwhile, the Selfridges admire Winifred’s article, until their peaceful breakfast is interrupted by Loxley rudely barging into their home to collect his wife. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t exactly leap up to go with him. Loxley reveals that Edgerton blabbed about Edwards coming to see him, so I guess Edgerton is throwing in his lot with his blackmailer, for whatever reason. Not that it really matters. Loxley orders Harry to step aside, apparently forgetting that he’s in Harry’s home, but Harry, as we know, is not cowed by assholes and tells Loxley he’d be happy to smash him into next week. Defeated, for now, Loxley stomps out, threatening to ruin Mae’s name forever.
Kitty’s Minion and Miss C show Kitty Winifred’s article, and instead of being jealous, as I expected, Kitty’s excited and rushes off to show it to someone.
In the store, Thackeray reads the article and looks enraged.
Back at the Selfridge Manse, Mae thanks Harry for intervening but tells him that they really need to bring Loxley down once and for all, and the best way to do that is to unite with Edwards. Harry promises to reach out to him. Mae then brings up another delicate subject: Delphine. She warns him not to trust her, because she wants to bring down the Selfridge marriage.
Thackeray bitches about the article lacking a single mention of fashion, as the camera pulls back to reveal he’s gathered in Harry’s office with all the heads of department, including Agnes. Classy as always, Thackeray. Harry comes in and leads a round of applause for Agnes, who blushes. There’s more news too: Grove finally has a son. Mardle, being a class act all around, managed to look pleased for him. The men shake his hand and Harry hands out cigars as Mardle’s face falls a bit, she no doubt thinking of everything she gave up for this jerk, only to be screwed over in the end.
Later, Grove has the audacity to go to her counter, where she immediately congratulates him personally and asks him to pass on her best wishes to Doris. She then turns and walks away. Attagirl.
Victor’s reading this totally-not-a-puff-piece bit of nonsense that Winifred’s dreamed up and is all pleased for his fiancée. He tells her she deserves all the kudos and then suggests they have the wedding soon, before George heads back to the front. Agnes barely manages to hide her dismay at the thought.
Harry heads up to the Palm Court for Delphine’s big promotion, only to find it completely empty. Yeah, I could have told you that would happen. Harry’s clearly disappointed. Later, she goes to see him in his office and pleads with him for more time to make this idea work. He thinks they need a new strategy and decides to go with Rose’s idea of keeping it simple. Delphine says he doesn’t need a new strategy, he needs Delphine, because they understand each other and he knows they belong together. He gently tells her he has no feelings for her, and that he loves his wife and does everything in his life for her. Delphine looks kind of pissed off. He dismisses her, and makes it clear they won’t be meeting up again. We’ll just see about that,
Harry returns home to a nice surprise: Ma Selfridge and the girls have arrived. The whole Selfridge family, together again! This house is getting a bit crowded, with the girls, Henri, and Mae all staying there now.