Mr Selfridge: The Return of Lady Mae

ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS MR SELFRIDGE SERIES 4 Pictured: TRYSTAN GRAVELLE as Victor, JEREMY PIVEN as Harry Selfridge and KATHERINE KELLY as Mae Rennard. This image is the copyright of ITV and is for one use only in relation to Mr Selfridge.

Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry was scammed by his girlfriend, which made him kind of bitter. Victor opened up a nightclub and romanced Harry’s obnoxious daughter, Violette, who decided the best way to rebound from that was to marry some completely random Frenchman. Oldest daughter Rosalie married Sergei, a no-good Russian émigré, Doris died, leaving Grove available for Mardle (not that he deserves her), and Agnes took Henri back to France, presumably forever.

We’ve fast-forwarded nearly a decade, to 1928, which means the ladies are flapping and the men are now rocking floppier hair and double-breasted suits. Harry’s in Biarritz, playing blackjack for really high stakes.

Now Harry’s back in London, arriving at Victor’s swanky, bigger nightclub with Frank. The press is waiting and surround him, asking Harry how much he’s lost. Slow news day, guys? Seriously, who cares how much some rich guy lost gambling? Harry and Frank put them off and go inside, where the party is a-swinging. Victor publicly welcomes Harry, then introduces the singer, Alberta Hunter, who’s there to give us some very 20’s-style blues while moodily handling a cigarette holder. Wow, a person of colour—it really must be the 1920s!

Victor goes to have a chat with Harry. A pair of drunken jerks introduced by Frank as the Whitely brothers come by to, well, just be jerks, really, and to provide us with some of the most awkward exposition I’ve seen in a long time. Apparently they, too, own a store (or did) and are running it into the ground now their father’s dead. One them actually laughs that their father had the decency to get himself killed once he was past it. Who the hell says that? Who wrote this? Harry tells the boys their father had an instinct for business they never will, and one of them goes to punch him. Victor wrestles him away, and the guy starts laughing. I think the Whiteley brothers are just insane.

Back at the Selfridge manse, we get to meet Rosalie’s daughter, Tatiana, who’s now something like nine years old. It looks like Rosalie’s dealing with her unfaithful husband and the era’s huge social upheaval by frumping herself up as much as humanly possible. Rosalie and Lois send the kid to bed and gossip about how much they wish Harry would just settle down. Rosalie asks her grandmother to say something.

Off to the store. George and Connie are married now, and apparently have some news that they need to share with Kitty ASAP. Frank and Kitty must have won the lottery or something, because they’ve moved into some massive new house that they’ve filled with all sorts of expensive stuff and Frank is being forced to pretend to care about a housewarming party. And there’s some young guy as the new head of design who’s trying to explain his artistic new displays to Crabbe.

Upstairs, Grove and Harry look at the sketches for a new clock/statue of the Queen of Time that’s being installed at the store. Crabbe comes in and calls Grove away to his office, where the other heads of department have gathered to wish him a happy birthday. Aww. He thanks them and blows out his candles. Crabbe reminds everyone it’s been 20 years since the store opened. Gosh, and none of them look like they’ve aged at all. Remarkable!

After the little party, Kitty tells her sister all about the giant new house and invites Connie and George for dinner that Saturday.

Grove gets a birthday card from Mardle, whom we learn has moved to New York and is being awesome over there.

Gordon Selfridge rolls in to see his dad. He’s in charge of managing the provincial stores and doesn’t seem too happy about it. Sounds bored to death, actually, and Crabbe notes that he seems to miss the main store quite a lot.

Frank tells Harry that Victor’s putting on an exhibition boxing match between the British champ and the American one. Frank leaves and the secretary announces that Harry has a visitor. It’s Mae! Huzzah!

She and Harry take a walk and she tells him that, unfortunately, her husband’s decided she’s getting divorced and now she needs cash, so she’ll have to sell her shares in Selfridge’s.

Grove returns home to a housekeeper stomping out and a chorus of now mostly teenaged children causing trouble. He steers the eldest, Meryl, into his study and yells at her for being such an obnoxious brat that they can’t keep any sort of help around the house. She pouts and asks if he’s really going to be in a crappy mood all evening. Well, don’t be such a horrible kid, Meryl, and maybe he’ll be in a better mood.

Back with Harry and Mae, she says her husband was having an affair, and she was cool with that, but apparently the mistress wasn’t content to be the other woman for long. Well, she’ll be in your position soon enough, Mae, in every way possible. Harry remembers how much Mae helped him when he first came to London and offers to help her out in this matter, so she won’t have to sell the shares.

Harry’s little daytrip made him miss his meeting with Gordon, which apparently doesn’t concern him much. When he returns to the office he finds a new board member, Mr Keen, waiting to meet him. Keen seems fairly pleasant, but because Harry’s an idiot now, he just fobs the man off on Crabbe. Yes, Harry, that seems like an excellent idea, to put absolutely no effort at all into befriending the newest board member. Because you’ve never had a problem with your board turning on you in the past, right?

Gordon returns to the gorgeous home he now shares with his wife, Grace, and their two blonde moppets. He greets everyone affectionately, gives the kids a couple of little presents, and tells his wife his father’s kind of a dick.

Grace: Please don’t be a dick father to our kids?

Harry sets Mae up in Violette’s flat in London. She thanks him for the roof over her head and bewails the fact that she has to start over again, ‘at her age.’ He tries to cheer her up by inviting her to the store for a shopping spree, followed by a night out.

The next morning, Grove’s trying to get all the kids out the door when Meryl gets a letter offering her a teaching job at a girls’ school. Grove proudly congratulates her, then affectionately sends the others off. Meryl finishes reading the letter, notes that the job doesn’t start until September and she might find something else in the meantime. He tries to convince her she’ll love teaching, which is nice and respectable.

Connie’s in charge of fashion now, I guess. She shows Mae around and Mae sneers at the ready-to-wear they have to offer, alongside the couture. A lightbulb goes off over Mae’s head and she immediately goes to Harry and urges him to start stocking luxury ready-to-wear, like they have in Paris, for middle-class ladies. Harry loves the idea and asks her to help him get it all set up. She demurs and he begs her to think about it.

Frank meets with a newspaper magnate who’s only lacking a monocle to turn into the human version of the Monopoly guy. The man’s got a name, but since he’s clearly only here to be a hateful, boring paper villain, we’re just going to call him Fatcat McDouche. He hates women’s rights, of course, and thinks very little of women themselves, preferring to ignore them or to boss them around. Frank pitches VIP press access to the unveiling of the Queen of Time in return for free advertising for the store. FMcD is more interested in printing gossip about Harry’s family. Apparently Sergei’s stepping out.

Crabbe and Grove go fishing together and talk about the end of Grove’s relationship with Mardle.

Grove: Turns out taking on five children was a bit much for her. Especially since my eldest is a complete asshole. So we broke up and she started dating some guy named John Watson.

A pair of blonde floozies, the Dolly sisters, arrive at Colleano’s that evening. Harry’s there too, with Mae, who gets a charming greeting from Victor before he and Frank engage in more awkward exposition, chatting about the Dolly sisters arriving with some promoter named Jimmy Dillon. It’s the night of the big fight, by the way. Jimmy’s running the bets on it.

The Dolly sisters come over to say hi to Harry and tell him how rich they are. One of them seems to be extraordinarily simpleminded and mostly just repeats the last word her sister said, which is strange. Harry’s also introduced to Jimmy, who recognizes Mae.

Grove reads The Wind in the Willows to the youngest sprog—the one that isn’t really his—and tucks the boy in. It’s all quite cute.

The fight is ready to begin. Harry’s cheering for the American champion, while Frank’s pulling for Britain. It’s all in good fun, until one of the Dolly idiots puts £500 on ‘the negro’ and Harry matches her. Jimmy’s delighted, though Harry notes that, if the American fighter does, in fact, win, Jimmy will be cleaned out. Seems the other bets are fairly small. The fight begins.

Connie and George admire Kitty’s new house and say it’s too bad Frank couldn’t join them for dinner. Kitty chatters a little too much in an effort to cover up how much that clearly bothers her.

Everyone’s enjoying the fight. During a break, the Dollys flirt with Harry and tell him they want to get into the movies. He offers to introduce them to some producers and one of them practically starts giving him a handjob right there. Mae is unimpressed.

After dinner, Connie and George make their big announcement: Connie’s pregnant! Kitty’s face, awesomely, says ‘you are so not bringing that sticky, squalling little messbag here!’ but she manages to congratulate her sister and make all the right noises.

The American fighter loses. Dolly Idiot 1 looks downcast, realizing she’s just lost quite a lot of money. Harry offers to cover the loss, but Jimmy tells her not to sweat it, because apparently her giant bet made other people bet big, for some reason. The Dollys drape themselves all over Harry and Jimmy, while Mae gets a look on her face that says she can’t believe she’s actually wasting her time with these fratboys.

As she gets ready to leave, Jimmy oozes up to her to be all gross and entitled and offensive. Harry tries to chase him off and Mae tells the boys to chill out because she can speak for herself, thanks. Fatcat rolls on by to be offensive too, because this has now become a jerk-off. Mae gets sick of it all and leaves.

Meryl goes to her father and tells him she wants to get a job at Selfridge’s. He refuses permission. She pouts and whimpers that her mother would have let her. Oh, heavens, another obnoxious daughter character.

Harry gets home and finds his mother waiting up for him. She’s clearly concerned about his gambling and suggests he hook up with Mae. He just laughs and escorts her upstairs.

Mae arrives at the store and thanks him for the job offer, but declines.

Mae: Turns out, putting my entire life in the hands of feckless rich men has worked out really poorly in the past, so I don’t think it’s in my best interest to stay that particular course. I’ll be selling my shares and getting out of your flat.

Frank shows up to randomly gossip about Jimmy, who’s allegedly the son of a maharajah and some rich British woman and was raised by his mother at her country estate. Oh, please, no way would anyone at that time credit a story like that. For an Englishwoman to have an affair with an Indian man, even a royal one, at all would have been shocking and would ensure her social exile forever. If she had a child she’d basically just have to leave the country. No way would a woman of high social status keep that kid—she’d go away somewhere quiet, where nobody knew her, and have it and adopt it out somewhere.

On another note: is Frank’s sole purpose on this show now to provide incredibly awkward exposition? Because that seems like kind of a waste.

Whatever, Jimmy, despite having rich parents, is a self-made man. Mae listens to all this, then excuses herself. Harry begs her to reconsider the job offer.

Grove brings his family to the store on the day of the unveiling of the clock. Harry chats a little with Meryl, remembering when she was born, all of 19 years ago. As the rest of the family head to the toy department, Meryl takes the opportunity to hit Harry up for a job.

Harry: You know, my own daughter asked me for a job here, and I refused her. That was totally a mistake! Sure, you can work here. As long as your dad says it’s ok. Is fashion cool with you?

She goes downstairs and meets her father, who knows exactly what she was doing. And he’s ultimately ok with it because this show doesn’t much like tension.

Fatcat meets Harry up in the restaurant and tells him Sergei has been having an affair with a countess who’s now feeling all spurned woman and is ready to talk. Yeah, right. No countess would risk her reputation like that.

Rosalie arrives and Harry introduces her to Fatcat, then leaves them alone because, again, Harry is stupid now. He also apparently doesn’t care at all about his daughter’s feelings, because what, exactly, is keeping Fatcat from saying, ‘hey, would you care to make a statement about your husband’s recent affair?’ Fortunately, the man does not. Rosalie makes pleasant small talk with him during which she reveals that she’ll be heading to Paris to join her husband soon.

Downstairs, Connie catches Grove and tells him—right on the shop floor, which would be a no-no at that time—that she’s knocked up but wants to work for as long as she can, giving them plenty of time to find a new head of fashion. He sincerely congratulates her and she seems touched.

Gordon meets with Keen, because he has some brains, and immediately tells Keen that he has nothing to do with the board. Keen doesn’t care—he knows that Gordon is, after all, a Selfridge which means he’ll be important at some point.

Mae comes to the clock unveiling, meeting with Harry in his office beforehand. She’s worried about taking the job, since she and Harry are friends but have never worked together before. She’s also worried about Harry’s taste in women and evening entertainment. He promises he won’t let her down.

A few people and reporters have gathered for the unveiling. Harry climbs onto a platform over the store’s entrance to give a speech and reveal the clock. As he backs away to give the photographers a clear view, he falls off the platform, taking out some poor member of the band below.

2 thoughts on “Mr Selfridge: The Return of Lady Mae

    1. Glad you enjoyed reading! As for how much of it is true, having read the book it’s based on, I can tell you: not much. Most of the characters are completely made up (including Mae) and other than Harry getting entangled with the Dolly sisters, opening a store called ‘Selfridges’ and eventually going broke, the rest of it is just drama.

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