Mr Selfridge: Scandal!

MR_SELFRIDGE_SERIES2_EP1_49Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry was recruited by the government to go to Germany and spy for a bit, Loxsley started ordering up shoddy equipment for troops in exchange for kickbacks from the manufacturers, and Henri was arrested.

Kitty and Edwards make their way towards the store, Edwards still complaining about censorship, until she jokes a bit and gets him to stop. When they get to the front door, they find the police going in. Edwards immediately takes out his notebook. Heh.

Police are all over the store, and the heads of department are gathered in Harry’s office, speculating as to what’s going on with Henri. Few of them believe he could really be a spy, except Thackeray, of course, but Victor says they shouldn’t rush to judgment. Crabb and Grove comment on how unfortunate it is that Harry’s been called away, but in the meantime, they’ll be running things. They ask everyone to cooperate with the authorities before sending them on their way. As Crabb leaves the office, he stops by Harry’s secretary’s desk and talks about how odd this sudden disappearance of Harry’s is. She offers to ring up his favourite hotels in Paris to see if they can get some answers and he accepts.

Victor and Agnes have a quick, quiet chat while the police comb through hers and Henri’s office. She admits that there’s something odd about Henri lately, but she can’t believe he’d spy on Britain. Victor encourages her to go talk to him at the police station, promising to cover for her if anyone asks where she is. Wow, he lost his jealousy fast, didn’t he?

The police are also going through the Selfridge Manse, to young Gordon’s quiet rage. Rose is taking this in stride, figuring, sensibly, that it’s better to go along with the police than to impede them. She reassures Gordon that the family’s lawyers are already on it, trying to find out just what the deal is here.

Agnes gets to see Henri, who immediately apologises for being a bit of a mess. That didn’t seem to bother him back when he had only just shaved the Beard of Bohemia, but I guess he’s back to his old, natty self. She asks what the authorities think he’s done and he says they think he has ties to Germany, even though he insists he doesn’t. She begs to know the full story and he tells her that he’s been searching for Valerie, who left him for some other guy a year ago and moved to Berlin. And Henri followed them there, because that’s completely reasonable—chasing your ex and her new boyfriend to a different continent. Even the show can’t come up with a plausible reason for that, so I’m just putting it down to yet another messed-up relationship where love gets confused with stalking. See also: Roddy Doyle from last season. Anyway, apparently Val made her way back to London, so Henri followed them there and hired a detective to track her down, allegedly so he could just talk to her. Sure, lots of people hire detectives so they can have a chat. Jesus. He’s told all this to the police, but apparently someone from Selfridge’s has accused him of being a spy, so they think he’s cooked up this nutsy story to conceal the truth, probably because the police are reasonable people who can’t believe anyone would actually do this. Before Agnes can ask more questions, time is up and Henri’s taken away. Just before he leaves, he notes her engagement ring and she tells him about the engagement. Henri nicely says that she and Victor must both be very happy and that Victor’s a good man, and she deserves that.

At the store, Grove gets on the lift with Mardle and takes the opportunity to outrageously step out of line and tell her it’s totally inappropriate for a young man to be living with her, because young men have ‘urges they may find it difficult to control.’ So, Florian’s a potential rapist, now? As are all young men? Grove’s gonna be a lot of fun to be around when his daughters start dating. He continues that he’s only concerned for her reputation, which is an amazing thing to come out of the mouth of a man who carried on an adulterous affair with her for years, and then unceremoniously dumped her as soon as he became legally available. She tells him this is completely ridiculous and there’s nothing inappropriate at all about her arrangement with Florian.

They arrive at the office floor and Grove finds Agnes waiting for him. He takes her into his office and she quickly tells him the whole Henri saga. She’s sure Thackeray’s the accuser and Grove agrees that there’s been some tension there, though he urges her not to jump to conclusions. He promises to look into this.

Rose is on the phone with Harry’s secretary, who still hasn’t managed to track Harry down. Rose, naturally, seems very concerned, and after she hangs up the phone she goes into a chest of drawers upstairs and starts riffling through some papers. She finds the list of German manufacturers from Summertime and, for some bizarre reason, takes it to Delphine. Why would she think Delphine could help her with this? Fortunately, Delphine can, because she just so happens to know what Summertime’s handwriting looks like. She tells Rose this is from Bill, who works for the intelligence service, which has gotten in touch with Harry. This, of course, is all news to Rose, and Delphine clearly kind of relishes having caused a bit of drama here. Rose demands to know where Harry is and Delphine guesses he’s in Germany. Rose is seriously pissed off and Delphine gets a bit pretend apologetic for having spilled the beans here, adding a jab at the Selfridges’ relationship, which Rose cuts off immediately. Delphine’s look of wide-eyed innocence is a little too OTT. Rose tells her about Henri’s arrest and orders her to get in touch with Summertime so she can find out where the hell her husband is.

She goes right to the store, where she lies a lot to reassure Grove, who tells her that people are starting to see conspiracies all over the place.

Lord Edgerton, of the procurement committee, bursts into the Loxsleys’ drawing room with one of the shoddy boots Loxsley ordered and demands some answers. Loxsley immediately throws Harry under the bus, claiming he was the one who recommended this particular manufacturer. Edgerton tells Loxsley this will be on his head, so he’d better fix it, fast. Once he leaves, Mae comments that this is a new low, even for her husband. He once again tries to blame Harry, and her look of ‘are you effing kidding me?’ is truly priceless. I really love Katherine Kelly in this role. She flat out calls him a liar and an opportunist and a war profiteer who’s now trying to blame the whole thing on someone else. Why is she surprised by this? She had her maid spying on Loxsley when he was meeting with the boot manufacturers, so she knew for sure what he was up to. She didn’t think this was going to bite them in the ass later? Loxsley reminds her that she’s been happily throwing his ill-gotten gains around and vouching for him all over town, so she’s mixed up in this too. Not really. At the time, she could have just played the ‘I’m a helpless, idiot wife, what do I know?’ card. Hell, plenty of women still do that today.

Crabb’s going through the mail when Harry’s secretary comes into his office with a black-edged letter, a sure sign of a death. He reads it, looks sad, and heads downstairs to hand it over to Gordon. Apparently someone named Dave Fletcher’s been killed. The music suggests I should be really upset about this, but I have no idea who the heck this Dave is. Presumably one of the loading bay guys, but since they were all kind of interchangeable jerkasses, I can’t really summon up any emotion here. They weren’t characters we were made to care about, is what I’m saying. Gordon’s pretty torn up about it and Crabb is quite sweet, sitting down and talking to him. He gently brings up the fact that, normally, Harry would write a letter of condolence to the family. As Harry’s currently who-knows-where, Gordon immediately offers to do it that very day. I have to rather commend the young actor playing Gordon—he’s doing a pretty good job in this role, and this is a good scene for him. He’s clearly upset, but knows he can’t just fall to pieces, especially in front of a staff member. You can see him stepping up, reminding himself that he’s a Selfridge and there are things that need to be done and a way to do them. Well done, young man.

Kitty’s Minion is reading Edwards’s column with one of the lift girls, and dear God, no wonder he’s upset about censorship, because the dreck she’s reading aloud is truly awful. If that’s all I were allowed to write I think I’d be tempted to pack it all in for the duration. Basically, it’s just some gossipy bit about him taking a walk in the park with ‘Miss K’ and how lovely it was. Is the newspaper now his diary? Kitty comes upon them and Minion asks if she’s really Miss K. Kitty has no idea what she’s talking about, but she seems pleased when she sees the column, and then sends the girls back to work.

With Henri gone, Thackeray can finally do his own displays, so we’re back to French fabrics and such. He shows it off to Grove, who brings up Henri’s arrest and reminds Thackeray that Henri could be shot over this. Thackeray looks a little nervous but says he’s sure justice will be served. Nice job taking care of the situation there, Grove.

Gordon’s trying to write that letter when he’s interrupted by Miss C, who teasingly asks if he’s writing letters to his sweetheart. He tells her what’s really up and she immediately bursts into tears. He helps her to a chair and she apologises, saying she knows he and Gordon were close.

Kitty’s talking to her minion about how there are spies in their midst, and then she notices that Agnes is nearby and shuts up. ‘Oh, don’t stop on my account,’ Agnes tells her. Mardle tries to intervene, but Agnes really needs to vent her spleen on someone, and Kitty’s as good a target as any. She calls her pathetic and says Henri helped make this place what it is and they all owe their jobs to him (not quite, Agnes) before stomping off, Mardle close behind.

She goes right to Victor and tells him everything Henri told her, adding that she’s sure Thackeray’s behind the accusation. Victor offers to see if he can help Grove out.

Loxsley has gotten Edwards on the phone so he can claim that Harry recommended the boot manufacturer he used. Oh, come on, this is just stupid. No way would he call a journalist who’s a known longtime friend of Harry’s. It’s not like it’s a secret, either. He’d get someone who either didn’t like Harry or who owed him no loyalty. Mae listens in to the conversation. Soon enough, Edwards is at the house for an interview and a look at these boots. To his credit, he seems somewhat skeptical, since it’s completely out of character for Harry to have any business with lousy manufacturers. He warns Loxsley that he can’t publish this story without corroboration. They have to be extra careful, because Harry’s got a team of lawyers, and he’s not afraid to use them. Loxsley says he totally understands, but warns Edwards that the story will break soon, either written by him or someone else.

Thackeray overhears Victor and Franco having a bit of a tiff in the restaurant, which I hope is mysteriously devoid of customers, not that that’s ever stopped anyone in this place from acting ridiculously (see: Agnes screaming at Kitty just a couple of scenes ago). Franco stomps out, and Victor follows at a slightly more sedate pace, apologizing to Thackeray and says Franco wants to call himself a pacifist, which is so very unpatriotic. But Victor’s a total patriot, yessiree, and he thinks it’s great that someone locked up Henri. He wishes he could shake the hand of the man who turned Henri in. Being a complete moron, Thackeray holds out his hand. This is some terrible writing. Nobody would be that dumb.

Edwards arrives at the store and tells Kitty he wants to see Harry and thinks it’s strange he’s just disappeared. She whispers that he seems to have vanished.

Back at his office, Edwards’s slimy-seeming editor swings by and says he heard Edwards has a juicy story about Selfridge. Edwards says it’s nothing but rumours and the whole thing seems strange. The editor tells him about Harry having boarded a train that was not, in fact, bound for Paris but which apparently took him to a train through Holland, bound for Germany. Specifically, Berlin. Allegedly he got all this from a source in the porter’s lodge, but there are a lot of problems with this little bit of dialogue. First of all, there is no such thing as a train bound for Paris in England. England is an island. The best you could hope for is a train bound for the coast, where you can catch ferries to any number of destinations. Second, which porter’s lodge? Because there would be several between London and Holland, and I’m guessing they don’t have sources in all of them, looking out for Harry Selfridge and ready to send back info on his movements to some editor at a moment’s notice. Presumably, the source would be in England, so he could possibly provide the editor with the info that Harry had boarded a boat to Holland, but beyond that he’d know nothing. We know Harry was travelling light, because he left immediately from the concert, so it’s not as if he’s shipping trunks ahead that might give an indication of his final destination. This is just dumb and lazy. Editor tells Frank to write the story, or he’ll find someone who will. One last problem: no reasonable editor would open up his paper to a massive libel suit like this. Harry was well known to be very protective of his image, and ready to sue anyone who could tarnish it. He’d done it before this. But maybe Edwards is working for the Daily Mail or some other paper that just prints whatever the hell it wants.

Gordon’s still not having any luck with the letter, even though Miss C is trying to help. She wonders if Gordon’s struggling because he’s trying to be his dad instead of being himself.

Edwards meets up with Kitty at the tea cart opposite the store and asks her if she trusts him. She seems a little thrown but replies that she trusts him as much as any other man. He continues, asking if she thinks he should try to tell the truth and she asks him if something’s wrong. He admits there is.

Victor goes right to Grove with what Thackeray told him, and Thackeray is summoned to Harry’s office, where both Grove and Rose are waiting for him. Thackeray doesn’t deny having made the accusations against Henri, saying he had some suspicions, which he took to Grove and had ignored, so he went to a higher authority. Honestly, you can’t fully blame the guy for that. Henri was acting really strangely. Thackeray was definitely nosy and inserting himself into a situation he didn’t belong in, but in the slightly hysterical atmosphere of the early war days, a lot of people were prone to suspicion and anxiety. Grove says Henri explained all his actions and Grove believes those explanations. Thackeray goes on to say that Henri was putting the store in danger. Rose snaps that this is her husband’s store, not Thackeray’s, and it operates on certain principles, including respect for your co-workers. She tells him he was wrong and Thackeray quietly asks if he’s being fired. Grove says he would be, if it were up to Grove, but this is really Harry’s decision. He insists that Thackeray accompany Grove to the police station to retract his accusation. I don’t really see what good that’s going to do, honestly. It’s not like Thackeray just made things up—Henri was still acting strangely enough for the police to deem this worthy of an investigation. Just because Thackeray turns up and says he no longer thinks Henri is up to no good does not mean the police are just going to drop an espionage investigation.

Before the men can leave, Crabb bursts in, waving the newspaper and gasping about terrible, scandalous news. There, on the front page, is the story of Harry being involved in this procurement scandal. Wow, they got that out fast.

Kitty picks up a copy of the paper from a newsboy and reads the article, mouth agape, then races for a streetcar.

In the office, Grove declares this whole story a tissue of lies, because they know these manufacturers suck and would never, ever have recommended them. Actually, if Edwards needed some sort of corroboration and couldn’t get in touch with Harry, why didn’t he talk to some of the other high-up people at the store? Obviously they could have told him, well, just what Grove’s saying, which is pretty much what Harry would have said too. Lousy journalism there. The paper cites ‘high-profile sources’, which is quite the exaggeration. As far as we’ve seen, there was one source, and it was one who would be highly motivated to cover his ass by telling lies. Speak of the devil, the article goes on to quote Loxsley as being shocked and surprised by this turn of events, and Rose seems surprised to hear that, though why she’d think Loxsley was any friend of theirs I don’t know. Finally, the article states that Harry is travelling through Germany, Crabb says they need to issue an immediate denial and demand a retraction, but Rose practically screams at them to do nothing until Harry returns. Rose, don’t be foolish. You guys can issue a statement about the manufacturers and skirt the whole Germany thing, if that’s what you’re so worried about. She claims that a denial could just add fuel to the fire. Right. Much better to let the fire burn out of control on its own.

Miss C has come up with a solution to the letter problem: she takes Gordon to Dave’s family’s house so he can share his condolences in person. Gordon’s not sure he can do this, but she urges him to just speak from the heart, so he goes and knocks on the door while she waits for him across the street.

Mardle hovers in the doorway of her sitting room while Florian plays his violin. He sets the instrument aside and she nervously tells him they need to clear the air about something. In a very roundabout way, she asks him if he has the hots for her, and he immediately tells her he totally does. She seems surprised, since she’s a bit older than him and this is coming a bit out of left field, but because there is a sort of adorable aspect to these two, I’ll go with it. He kisses her, and she kisses him back for a moment, but then breaks away and rushes out of the room, flustered.

Kitty and her righteous indignation burst into Edwards’s office and demand to know what the hell this article’s all about. He ridiculously claims that the evidence is strong. Thank God you never became a lawyer, Edwards, because I don’t think ‘strong evidence’ means what you think it means. She rails against him, wondering where his loyalty is, and then calls him a fool before whirling out. To his credit, he does seem really ashamed of himself. As he should, since this is at least the second time he’s screwed Harry over in the course of their friendship.

Rose reads the article at home and looks devastated.

Mae’s reclining in bed when her maid, Jane, comes in, having been summoned. Mae comments that the two of them have come a long way from their days at the Gaiety—apparently Jane used to be her dresser, back in her showgirl days. Mae recalls that she had a lovely voice. ‘Like an angel,’ Jane agrees. ‘And I could dance too,’ Mae adds. ‘After a fashion,’ says Jane. HA! Mae goes on about how the Gaiety girls would be jealous of those who married well, and that Jane was always really forthright with her. Wish we could have seen a little bit of that, because all we’ve ever seen of this maid is a meek little mouse of a woman. Mae finally gets to her point: she’s leaving Loxsley, and quickly, but Jane can stay behind if she wants to. Stay behind for what? She’ll just get fired. Jane offers to go with Mae, and Mae tells her that they’ll only take what they came with. So, what, 10-year-old dresses and hats?

Thackeray and Grove arrive at the police station, but before they go in, Thackeray says he’s not sure he can face Henri, if he really is innocent. Grove tells him he’s going to do it, and that Grove will make sure Harry knows that Thackeray did his best to repair this damage.

Mae and Jane steal out of the house, carrying a couple of suitcases, and Mae goes right to the Selfridge Manse to warn Rose that Loxsley means to cause trouble for Harry. Seriously? Where have you been, Mae? You overheard your husband on the phone with Edwards hours ago, and you’re just now getting around to giving Rose the head’s up? You suck. Rose shows her the newspaper and tells her to get the hell out and never contact Rose or Harry again. Mae apologises sincerely and promises to try and make this right, but Rose won’t hear it. Mae slowly turns and leaves. Rose bursts into tears.

Agnes meets up with Victor as they’re leaving the store for the evening and thanks him for what he did to unmask Thackeray earlier. She tells him that Henri is being released and Victor says he’s glad, and that he hopes Henri finds Val, because everyone deserves to have a little happiness. Except he’s trying to track down a woman who dumped him in the creepiest way possible, so I’m actually hoping he doesn’t find her. Agnes thanks Victor for having been so understanding about this whole thing and he tells her he loves her and kisses her.

Grove leaves the police station, alone.

Jane and Mae are walking down some street, and it seems Jane’s starting to regret her decision. She tells Mae it’s not too late for them to go back, but Mae’s determined.

The bell rings at the Selfridge Manse. It’s Grove, and he’s come to tell Rose and Gordon that the police are refusing to release Henri, because he’s wanted for theft in the States. Great.

Victor and Agnes arrive back at Mardle’s, only to be greeted by the lady of the house herself, who holds out a telegram to Agnes. Agnes immediately guesses what that means and bursts into tears. Ok, that death I care about.

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