Previously on Mr Selfridge: Ellen started getting all coked up and a bit unhinged, Agnes’s alcoholic father started getting abusive, and Rose had her artist friend, Roddy Temple, start painting her portrait.
Harry, trailed by Grove, Crabb, and Henri, steps off the elevator, and he does not look happy. He calls for Miss Bunting, head of…fabrics, I guess? Which makes her name kind of funny, to join them. She looks scared. Grove asks for Mardle to help them out and to check the hem of Bunting’s skirt. Mardle looks alarmed, but she does so and pulls out a length of silk the woman had stuffed in there, while the other workers stare. Bunting weeps and says she’s sorry, but Harry (rather regretfully, it must be said) fires her. Well, this all came out of absolutely nowhere. Poor writing, writers. Really poor. It’s so random it almost seems like she was set up (she wasn’t, but it seems like that should be the case). I also can’t help but wonder why Henri’s being involved in this. Isn’t he just the window dresser? What’s his involvement with staff disciplinary issues?
Bunting says she was going to pay for everything (if she could pay for it, then why was she stealing it? And stealing it for what? Was there some kind of black market for bits of silk in Edwardian London? It didn’t even look like that much fabric, to be honest). Harry cuts her off, reminds her that she was one of the first people he hired, and says—just as much to everyone else as to her—that you don’t steal from your work family. He views this as a betrayal and is just as enraged as he is upset. He screams that he hates this as he stalks off the floor. Bunting tries to talk around Grove, telling him she’s on her own with an invalid mother, and what’ll she do if she gets dismissed with no reference? Ask Agnes for some tips, lady. Grove gently reminds her that Harry takes stealing very personally, and that he really cares for his staff, so why didn’t she say anything to them about what trouble she was in? She tells him she was too ashamed. Well, I hope pride pays your rent, Bunting. And with that, a character we barely saw and cared nothing about is gone.
Harry stomps into his office, where Blenkinsop delivers a card from Ellen. Harry harshly tells her that Bunting’s being replaced, which surprises her, but Harry then adds, rather unnecessarily, that anyone can be replaced. Jesus, Harry, what’s poor Blenkinsop ever done to you? He dismisses her and adds Ellen’s note, unopened, to a drawer, where it joins about half a dozen others.
At her drab little flat, Agnes dishes up some dinner for herself and George. As they start to dig in, dad comes back and tries the door, but they’ve had the locks changed. He tries begging, guilting, and finally shouting, but unsurprisingly, his kids don’t open up. George looks terrified, but Agnes tries to normalise this situation by praising the mutton and the dumplings.
In a happier home, Harry’s getting ready to take his ladies out for the evening. His daughter Rosalie, wearing a very pretty white dress, comes downstairs and asks where they’re going. Apparently, it’s a surprise. Harry’s quickly distracted by the appearance of Rose, in an absolutely stunning beaded white gown. She looks so great she gets the slow-mo camera of luuuuurve as she comes down the stairs.
The secret destination is a posh home (perhaps Mae’s? Kind of hard to tell) where Anna Pavlova is doing a private performance of The Dying Swan. Rose is so transported she’s nearly weeping, which Harry notes with interest. Anna finishes and everyone starts actually throwing roses at her. People really did that? I thought it was just something from Looney Tunes. Rose thanks Harry sincerely for this wonderful surprise as she claps enthusiastically. Mae, whose idea of clapping is gently tapping two fingers against her wrist, looks over at her just a little disdainfully.
At another, very different performance, Ellen’s heading off the stage (giving the audience a little peek of her legs as she goes). She spots Edwards waiting for her in the wings and greets him happily.
Post-Pavlova, the Selfridges are discussing the performance and how great the prima ballerina was. Mae comes over and tells Rosalie she looks beautiful. Rosalie thanks her, and then skips off to talk to her father. Mae sighs that young, untainted people are so charming. But then, she figures, Rosalie will always be untainted, because she has her mother to look out for her. That seems like a really bizarre thing to say to someone. ‘Aren’t they lovely before they become sluts? Oh, but I guess yours won’t be.’ Harry joins them and says he’s never seen Rose so enchanted. She tells him the performance was a moment of perfect beauty and she wishes everyone could enjoy this—according to her, every woman should have a Pavlova Moment. Harry clearly files that away as Mme Pavlova is announced and sweeps in. Everyone applauds, and Mae corrects Rosalie’s technique to the two-finger-wrist. Rose, clapping hard, tells Mae that Americans like to show their enthusiasm, freely. Wow, Rose, that was bitchy. Why the Mae hate? Is it because she told you about Ellen’s apartment?
Edwards joins Ellen in her dressing room and she, seeming a bit wired, pours him a drink and thanks him for coming. He tries to make conversation, but she just wants to know what’s up with Harry, who never calls, never writes. He tells her Harry’s his own man, but she starts acting pretty crazed as she says he’s her man and has given her so many lovely things, including her ever so posh flat. Edwards is taking all this in with a great ‘oh, shit’ faced mixed with just a bit of ‘what the hell?’ and fair enough, because it seems like Ellen went from 0 to coked out pretty fast. It might have been nice, story-wise, to see her use amp up, but I guess that would have required some sort of actual writing consistency and narrative development. She insists that a man giving a girl an apartment isn’t just generosity, that’s a man putting down roots. Now Edwards is full on ‘oh, shit’ as he stammers that she can’t possibly be thinking that Harry means to marry her. Oh, but she does. After all, Mae was a gayety girl in her day. ‘Oh, my dear girl,’ Edwards says, pityingly.
Mardle sits in her bed, looking sad and lonely, presumably waiting for Grove. She glances at the pillow beside her, then cuddles up against it, smelling it as she turns out the light.
The next morning, the Selfridge spawn are at breakfast, squabbling as kids do. Rose comes down and the youngest asks excitedly what Pavlova was like. Rose says she was amazing, and then Harry comes in and announces that Anna’s going to be making an appearance at the store, so all the kids will get to meet her, and Rose will get to have tea with her. They all applaud excitedly.
Mardle sits at her dressing table and examines her face, feeling for wrinkles.
George and Agnes head to work, unaware they’re being stalked by their father.
Ok, show, we need to have a talk, all right? Now, I’ve swallowed my disappointment and made my peace with what you are—pure and unadulterated fluff. You are the supermarket marshmallow of the drama world. I can accept that. I’m not going to come to you for interesting characters or thought-provoking plots, because you don’t really have much of either. You know what you do have? Costume porn. And set porn. I’m basically coming to you for gorgeous frocks and bonnets (well, except for that atrocity Rose wore a couple of episodes back). So these dreary plotlines with Agnes and her dad and Mardle and Grove? Stop. Seriously, just stop. They add nothing, I don’t care about them at all, they drag the pacing down to an absolute crawl, and they draw away from what you’re really supposed to be about: Mr Selfridge! Go back to what you’re good at: feathers and silk. Stop trying to be interesting drama. You’re not.
All right, I’m done. Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.
A rather fierce looking woman cycles through the streets and eventually lands at Selfridge’s, where everyone’s getting ready for the day. She makes her way to accessories and briskly requests some collars from the Catty Bitches. Doris goes to fetch them, but Kitty makes trouble, telling the woman they’re not open yet. ‘Clearly I’m not a client,’ the woman says impatiently. This might have been a good time for her to tell her who she was, but that would ruin the ‘suspense’. Kitty digs in her heels and says the woman needs to ask Mardle for the collars and she says she will, just as soon as Kitty sends her over, but in the meantime, she needs those collars for the first floor mannequins. Doris produces them and the woman removes the pins holding them in the box and holds them in midair, clearly expecting one of the girls to take and dispose of them. Kitty stares at her like she doesn’t have a clue what this woman wants, because Kitty’s an idiot. She finally gets it, and as the woman sashays off, Kitty hisses incredulously that the woman’s skirts are around her ankles, like Kitty herself wasn’t hiking up her skirt to dance on the shop floor just last week. Character consistency is hard.
Victor strolls through the store and doesn’t even give Agnes a second look, for some reason, though she stares longingly at him. He heads to the loading dock, where he lights a cigarette and notes to George that the van George is loading (one of the VIP ones) doesn’t have the store’s livery on the side. He starts asking about the van and whether George is the one who always loads it. He also asks George what he’s getting out of this deal and George is like, um, a paycheque? What else should I be getting?
Harry is finally giving the new lady a name—Irene—as he introduces her to the rest of the senior staff as the new head of fashion. Mardle claps for her about as enthusiastically as Lady Mae might. Irene busts in on Harry and tells everyone that, shockingly, she thinks someday soon ladies will be able to buy off the rack, just like men. A couple of people at the table literally grasp their cravats at the very idea, but Harry loves it. He chimes in and tells them that Anna Pavlova’s going to be on their floor; he even takes Rose’s line about every woman having a Pavlova moment. They’re all excited, and on that note, he adjourns the meeting.
On their way out, Mardle rather nicely asks Irene if the shorter skirt is the coming fashion. Irene explains that she’s a champion of the Rational Dress Movement. Mardle has no idea what she’s talking about, so Irene explains that she doesn’t think clothes should be so restrictive. She doesn’t even wear a corset, preferring instead to rely on vigorous exercise to keep her figure trim. Mardle tightens right up and scolds her for taking something from her department without permission. Irene basically dismisses her and walks off.
Edwards goes to see Ellen at her apartment, where she wastes no time asking if Harry is going to be seeing her that day. Edwards stupidly says Harry’s going to be busy that day. Ellen flies off the handle and thinks it’s another woman, so Frank explains that he’s got Anna Pavlova coming into the store that day. Oh, Frank. Come on, you know this woman’s jealous and unstable. And on drugs, since she offered you a bump right in the middle of this conversation. Don’t tell her what’s really going on, lie. You’re a newspaperman, for heaven’s sake, use your imagination! Ellen looks like she’s been slapped, so Edwards tries to tell her that it’s nothing, but Ellen’s freaking out because, as the Spirit of Selfridges, she thinks she should be there. Edwards, right now, you’re a crap friend. Learn to keep your mouth shut.
Rose is at Turner’s studio, posing for her portrait. She asks him how much longer this’ll be, saying she’s about to drop off. She gets playful, wearing a lock of her hair as a moustache, so he leaves off for the day. While he cleans up, he tells her it’s great how she’s so comfortable in her own skin. She puts it down to being American but he says that’s not it. There’s a loaded moment, and then she asks to see the portrait. He won’t let her, because he’s an artiste, and you know what they’re like when you try to see what they’re working on. She tells him she was hoping to buy it as a gift for her husband, and the mood noticeably lessens. Turner recovers by asking her to come to ‘the club’ to meet some other cool people.
Harry tours the shop floor, pointing out where things need to be moved, and tells Irene they need to find a way to push some sales while Pavlova’s there. Crabb’s cool with that. Harry says he’s open to sales suggestions and tells Fashion and Accessories they’ll be working very closely together. Irene and Mardle glare at each other, and then Irene takes off, giving Mardle a chance to tell Kitty and the other girls never to give Irene anything from accessories without her express permission. She also tells them to put their thinking caps on and come up with a good idea before Irene beats them to it.
Too late. Irene’s pulled some black cape-style coats and added some white lace to the collar to copy a coat Pavlova wears a lot. It’ll be simple enough to churn out a bunch of them, Irene tells Harry. He thinks it’s brilliant, and so does Crabb. Harry tells her to have his wife’s initials sewn into the cape so he can give it to her. Aww.
Mardle goes to Grove’s office to excitedly tell him she got the tickets he wanted for some show at Drury Lane. Are these two actually trying to get fired? They’re meeting up to discuss personal plans at the store, knowing full well that if anyone ever finds out about this affair they’ll be fired. And they’re also going out to public places together? The theatre? You two are idiots. Anyway, Grove can’t go because his invalid wife’s nurse needs the night off. Mardle’s disappointed and channels her disappointment into a snippy request that he tell Irene not to pinch from other departments. He unwisely takes this opportunity to tell her that Irene will be coming to look for white braiding for those capes she’s retrimming. She’s seriously pissed off to hear this.
Agnes sees Victor cruising across the shop floor and calls him over. Reluctantly, he obeys and, without meeting her eye, tells her she should really ask George about the vans he loads. What’s the deal with these vans? Are we going to find out the store’s running heroin or something? There had better be a big payoff for this. I thought they were just deliveries going to posh people who didn’t want their friends to know they were doing something as unfashionable as buying from a department store. She asks what he’s talking about and he tells her to just make sure he knows what he’s doing. Henri calls over to her, asking her opinion on something, and Victor looks like he wants to say more to her, but when Henri comes over, he dashes off. Mardle comes back down in a snit and Henri pleasantly asks her permission to move Agnes to fashion for the day. ‘By all means, move all of accessories over to fashion. It’s the way things are going, as far as I can see,’ she responds childishly. As he and Agnes walk off, Kitty whines that he always picks her and not them, and why is that? Maybe because you’re stupid and unpleasant, Kitty. Just a thought.
Mae’s in for lunch, and Victor delivers her chicken to the table with a flourish. She pouts at how dull chicken is and he offers to add some flavour. ‘Something original,’ she tells him. He leaves as Harry comes in and greets her. She tells him he’s pulled off quite a coup, getting Pavlova in a shop. He tells her that Rose is having tea with the ballerina later and asks if she wants to join. She agrees, saying that Rose’s company seems to be growing on her.
Rose, meanwhile, is hanging out with artsy types straight out of central casting. For the record, Turner hates the Pre-Raphaelites, Rosetti in particular. Since he claimed to be a Romantic type of painter when he first met Rose, and the Pre-Raphaelites were basically romanticism in painting form, that makes no sense at all. Rosetti in particular was the leader of the romantic art imbued with spiritualism idea, so either Turner doesn’t understand the PRs at all, or the writers don’t. Or he’s just being contrary because other people like them. He’s basically the Edwardian version of a hipster, so I bet he loves Picasso or something. The cubist stuff, certainly, because nobody else gets it. One of the women asks if Rose’s husband is a patron of the arts as well and Rose says he is, kind of. She tries to excuse herself, saying that she’s running quite late, but artsy types know no bourgeois schedules! They also know no bourgeois manners and make her stay to talk to them. Rose, having no spine, does so, though this Pavlova thing was a big deal to her, so this also doesn’t make much sense at all. If it was just another one of Harry’s publicity stunts, then I’d understand her willingness to stay, but he did this, in part, for her and she was really excited about it, so I don’t know what’s going on.
Victor goes to deliver Mae’s plate, but he’s stopped by his boss, who asks what he’s playing at. Victor says he’s just satisfying the lady. He puts her plate down and tells her he’s added gentlemen’s relish with chopped olives and capers. She takes a bite and tells him he has an inspired touch. She takes one more bite and tells him she’s taking tea with Rose in a couple of hours, so she’ll have to save her appetite for his culinary endeavours for another time. As he helps her out of her chair, she comments that the pleasure is in anticipation, right? ‘I can’t say, Lady Locksley. I like to eat when I’m hungry,’ he tells her. Oh, Victor. You don’t know what you’re doing. She’s going to chew you up and spit you right back out again.
Pavlova arrives at the store and is greeted by Harry, while in her flat, Ellen rips through her wardrobe, trying to find something to wear.
Agnes’s drunken dad stumbles onto an omnibus, tossing his bottle of whatever to the side of the road.
At the store, Harry’s showering Pavlova with very, very expensive gifts. She wonders to her chaperone how they’ll ever manage to get all this swag home, but Harry’s got that figured out too, as he ushers in a crew of men carrying brand-new suitcases. It’s like the Price is Right in his office right now. He offers to show her around the store.
They head downstairs and are met by the press and the adoring public. Everyone applauds and talks about how lovely Pavlova is. Doris nearly hyperventilates as she gasps that Pavlova’s the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen. Chill, Doris.
The family Selfridge, sans Rose, prepares to leave and head to the store. Harry’s mother wonders where her daughter-in-law is.
Rose and the artistes are finally leaving the place where they were having lunch. One of them tells Rose she simply must come with them to wherever it is they’re going, but Rose once again tells them she simply can’t. Turner tells them they’re going to have to manhandle ‘Mrs Buckingham’ to get her there, and then tells her that they’re going to go see Pavlova in the flesh. She goes white as a sheet and protests. He sends the others ahead and asks what’s wrong, as some guy pauses on the stairs overhead and listens in. Rose reluctantly tells Turner her real name.
Pavlova shows off one of the capes Irene has pulled together, while she does a bit of an impromptu ballet on the shop floor. The capes start flying off the mannequins. Agnes is handing out ribbon rosebuds, Victor is pouring champagne, and Harry’s motioning for everyone to sell, sell, sell! It’s all quite the success.
…Which means it all has to go to hell right about now. Drunken Dad stumbles off the omnibus and towards the store, just as the Selfridge kids arrive. Harry asks where Rose is and his mother says she thought she was already there. He covers up his confusion and worry as he steers them all over to introduce them to Pavlova. Off to the side, Grove observes to Mardle that it’s all going as perfectly as Harry said it would. She—just totally throwing caution to the wind now—asks him if he’ll come see her some night this week. Jesus, lady, did you not see one of your coworkers fired and left in dire straits just a few days ago? Why aren’t you being more careful? And what was the point of that, if not to make some of these people more cautious about letting their messy personal lives overlap with work? Maybe Grove’s the only one who got that memo, because he refuses to commit. She asks him if this is really about the nurses, or about her? He tells her it’s totally the nurses.
Turner, of course, has gone the pouting route and has the audacity to be affronted by Rose’s grave sin of giving him a false last name. She takes the blame, telling him she should have just told him the truth. ‘Yes, you should have,’ he snits. Jesus, Turner, where do you get off? She didn’t owe you anything. It’s not like she withheld important information, like her marital status. She just gave a different name, and really, what’s the big deal about that? She tries to explain that everyone knows the Selfridge name and she just wanted something that was her own. Naturally, he makes this all about him and his widdle hurt feelings, sulking that his father’s right; that he is an idiot. Yes, Turner, he is right. You’re also a child. Rose tells him he’s totally not, he’s so kind and talented! She finishes up with the death blow: please tell me we can be friends. He gets offended and flies off the handle, sneering that he supposes he’s no match for the great Mr Selfridge and that Rose knew he was falling in love with her. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Roddy, grow up! You knew she was a married woman, and she made it very clear she wasn’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship of any kind with you. Remember what happened after you kissed her? She kept actively mentioning her husband, which is not generally what a woman interested in an affair does. What did you expect here, you big baby? He goes for the low blow by asking Rose if this is revenge for Ellen Love. Damn, Roddy. Rose, take your dignity, sock this asshole in the balls, and leave. You can do better. Hang out with Irene for a bit, that could be interesting. She tells him that she’s in love with Harry and turns to leave. Roddy deflates and asks her to forgive him. She admits that she was tempted by him, but this is a no go. She leaves, and the eavesdropper—is that Mae’s lover Tony?—is still eavesdropping.
Harry’s family gets a picture with Pavlova as Ellen comes swanning in through the doors. The cameras quickly turn on her, and Edwards hurries over, asking her if this is really a good idea. She pushes him away and makes her way over to Harry and Pavlova. She greets Harry coolly and Edwards, hilariously, grabs a glass of champagne and downs it in one gulp as he watches all this go down. Ellen turns to Pavlova and introduces herself as the Spirit of Selfridges. Pavlova doesn’t know her, but her chaperone whispers something in her ear and she asks Ellen if she’s a dancer as well. Ellen says she is and Harry quickly adds that she’s more of a contemporary dancer. Meanwhile, Kitty and Doris are scanning the floor with opera glasses, for some bizarre reason. Kitty spots Drunken Dad just wandering about and calls Doris’s attention to him. Pavlova’s quite gracious with Ellen, and one of the Selfridge kids tells her that Ellen sings as well. Harry tries to get rid of Ellen, but Ellen refuses to leave, saying she has to have a picture with Anna, as she shoves her purse at one of the Selfridge spawn. Edwards, meanwhile, has moved onto another glass of champagne. He comes over and quietly apologises to Harry for Ellen.
Pictures are snapped as Agnes comes flying out and tries to take control of her dad, who’s messing about with the cane display. Harry declares that beauty and elegance are what the store’s all about, and right on cue, Drunken Dad stumbles into a display case, shattering it. Kitty screams, the music gets all wacky, and Harry tells Victor to get the drunk out of his store. He doesn’t go quietly, screaming at Agnes and calling her a bitch. Nice. Agnes looks like she wants to burst into tears and have the floor open up and swallow her. She runs off, Edwards gets Ellen out of there, and Harry sends his mother up to the restaurant with the kids.
Victor is dragging DD through the loading docks, presumably so we can now get George involved. Agnes follows them, begging her father to just leave. He sneers that she’s lost her job, so now she’s no better than him. Well, since you lost your job because of your own incompetence and she lost her job because of the uncontrollable actions of someone else, I’d say she kind of is, DD. Agnes angrily asks, now that he’s done his damage, what more he could possibly want. He pouts and says he wants respect. DD? You’re doing it wrong. Agnes, bless her, gets right in his face and tells him she’ll never respect him, and that she hates him. He lifts his hand to take a swing at her, but Victor gets there first, felling the man with a well-placed punch. He stumbles off, winded. Victor tells her he thought she didn’t want him coming around her place because she didn’t like him. He asks if she’s ok and she tells him she’s not, because Bunting got sacked for far less. Agnes, she did not. The woman was stealing, which was entirely her own fault. This is not in any way your fault. Victor urges her to go talk to Harry, but she doubts he’ll understand what it’s like to have a father like that. I think you’ll find he understands a lot more about deadbeat dads than you think, Agnes. Victor very seriously tells her he’ll look after her, and she looks up at him in surprise. That helps her pull herself together, though, and she tells him he has his own family to look after, though she thanks him. She starts to walk back upstairs, as one of the unmarked vans pulls up. George goes to load it, but Victor sharply tells him to walk his sister upstairs. Sure—why shouldn’t both of them get fired?
Harry’s trying to resurrect the situation upstairs, presenting Anna with one more gift in front of the press: her very own window. Ellen, who I guess wasn’t ushered out of the store by Edwards after all, would probably look enraged if she wasn’t so drugged up.
She recovers enough to completely fall to pieces while Harry half drags her towards the door. She can’t believe she’s giving Pavlova a window when she, the very Sprit of Selfridge’s, was denied one. Harry abruptly tells her that her contract with Selfridge’s is over, because she’s too reckless and she’s crossed the line. She can keep the apartment and all the presents, though. He tells her he’s sorry, asks Edwards to take her home, and gets out of there. Weeping, Ellen leaves.
Harry rejoins Pavlova, who’s chatting with Henri, and tells Henri he has an idea for the window and he wants it to be the talk of London. He also wonders, again, where Rose is.
Rose is at home, just sitting around. The family, accompanied by Harry, carrying a big box, arrives and excitedly tell her all about meeting Pavlova. Harry opens the box with a flourish and gives her the Pavlova cape he had made for her. Rose lies that she wasn’t feeling well and sends the kids off to get ready for dinner. Harry, looking genuinely concerned, asks her if he should be worried, because he figures she must have been feeling really crappy to miss tea with Pavlova. She avoids his eyes and tells him she appreciates his arranging that for her, but she’s sorry she didn’t make it. She goes to move past him and he catches her hand. She looks back at him, rather fiercely, and he lets her go.
Agnes sits on her bed, thinking.
Mardle’s also in bed, and she’s delighted when the door opens and Grove comes in. He gives her some rose and violet creams from a shop she loves and she smiles, almost tearfully. He feeds her a chocolate and tells her he’s arranged to stay the night. So, she’s happy.
The Pavlova window features her swan costume on a ballerina mannequin. Pavlova loves it.
Harry’s gambling again, dead eyed. Edwards tries to talk him out of a bet, but Harry doesn’t listen.
Ellen walks up to the window and looks at it sadly.
Wow, that was a bad episode. Even by this show’s standards. The firing of Miss Bunting at the beginning not only seemed random, it was also rather pointless. If it was just a way to introduce a new character (and do we really need one?) in Irene, then it was just sloppy and poorly done. The side stories with Agnes and Mardle are grim and boring and add nothing; the whole thing with Rose and Turner was stupid and childish. People didn’t seem to act like real people would in most of these situations, and to top it all off, I feel a bit cheated of my costume porn. Smarten up, Show, or you and I are gonna have words again.