Mr Selfridge: You Owe Me

mr-selfridge-ep-8-2Previously on Mr Selfridge: Harry took a trip to Berlin that was so super-secret that just about everyone was able to find out about it; the store was mired in scandal thanks to Loxsley; and Henri was locked up on charges of theft during his time in America.

Harry, the world’s worst-kept secret agent, arrives home to find the press camped out on his doorstep, shouting questions about this procurement scandal. I hate to be bitchy so early in a recap, but I find it really difficult to believe that the big story on this procurement thing would be the fact that some American store owner may have recommended the manufacturer (a fact that hasn’t even been confirmed yet). If it involves some of the biggest names in the land, as is later stated, then that would be the big story—how a bunch of aristocratic leaders let their boys march off to war in shoddy uniforms. The readers of the penny papers love a good ‘aristocrats gone bad’ story.

Harry makes it inside, where he’s happily greeted by Rose and Gordon. Harry asks what the hell is going on, so clearly he’s got some major catching up to do.

Agnes comes out of her room and Mardle tells her Victor’s come to walk her to work. She also concernedly asks how Agnes slept the night before and Agnes puts on a brave face and says she’s doing a little better. Once she goes down the stairs, Florian comes out of his room and asks Mardle what’s wrong. She’s concerned about Agnes, who’s concerned about her brother, who is missing, not necessarily dead. Florian gently says the worst is still possible, but perhaps Agnes’s feelings that George is still alive are true. He turns the conversation to his and Mardle’s attraction, and Mardle shuts him down. He tells her there’s nothing wrong with the way he feels about her before irritably heading downstairs.

Harry reads about the scandal in a newspaper, tosses it aside angrily, and goes to unpack, but the sound of his suitcase opening throws him into a flashback of his room and things being searched by German officials. Rose calls him back to the present as she asks him why he didn’t tell her he was going to Germany. He apologises and says he had his reasons. She’s pissed off at Delphine for not attempting to get in touch with Summertime like she promised, but Harry tells her not to take it out on Delphine, because this was his decision. He flashes back to Berlin again, to being told to produce his papers. He does so, hands shaking, and the head official reads them over. In the present again, he slumps into a chair and Rose embraces him tightly and tearfully tells him how much she missed him. He promises not to keep secrets from her anymore. We’ll see how long that lasts.

The store is almost completely devoid of customers, so some of the minions are gossiping. Thackeray sends them on their way. Selfridge and Gordon, meanwhile, wade through a bunch of protesters gathered outside the store. Do all these people seriously have nothing to better to do during a time of war than picket some posh store? Gordon suggests they take a back entrance but Harry won’t hear of sneaking into his own store. They go inside and Kitty wastes no time sucking up a little, while one of the minions observes that Kitty’s probably scared of being punished for dating Edwards. Harry gazes at the empty sales floor as Crabb gets off the lift and is amazed to see Harry there.

Mae gets breakfast in her very expensive looking hotel room and is told by her maid that her account’s been closed, so her money’s cut off. Mae’s not worried, because she can sell her jewelry. Jane warns her to be careful, but Mae tells her she can’t hide from her husband forever.

Harry and Crabb are meeting, Harry already looking weary about this ridiculous scandal. Harry tells Crabb that the rumours about him being in Germany are true, but now he thinks he shouldn’t have gone. Crabb supports the trip, since it was for the war effort, and tells Harry he’s proud of him. Harry thanks him, but he regrets having risked his reputation, which is largely what the store’s built on.

Delphine’s gone to visit Rose and actually has the nerve to ask if Harry’s trip to Germany was terribly exciting. Yeah, Delphine, it was all fun and games. Delphine claims Summertime wouldn’t tell her anything and then goes on to say that the scandal will blow over. Rose is still worried about Harry being a bit depressed over it, so Delphine says they need to find something to bolster him up and remind him of how super special he is. She’s got an idea and is willing to help.

Summertime pays a visit to Harry, who tells him that one of the manufacturers he met may be willing to play ball with the British government. Summertime briskly thanks him and goes to leave. Harry calls him out on failing completely to keep this trip on the down low and for not keeping Harry safe from German officials like the ones who searched his room in Berlin. He tells Summertime that he owes Harry, and Harry’s ready to collect: he wants Summertime to find out who’s really behind this procurement scandal. Summertime says he can’t help. What a dick.

Harry, flanked by Grove and Crabb, addresses the assembled staff and categorically denies having anything to do with this scandal and makes it clear that Edwards is no longer welcome at Selfridge’s. He’s prepared a letter that he plans to send to the papers in which he disavows any knowledge of the procurement issue, which he reads aloud to the staff before promising to get to the bottom of all this.

Later, Grove comes to Harry’s office with a list of 22 Selfridge’s employees who have already been KIA. Harry gets ready to write the condolence letters to the families.

Much, much later, Agnes goes to Harry’s office to ask Harry to intervene in the Henri situation. Harry’s not too interested in dealing with Henri’s problems right now, because he’s feeling a bit butthurt that Henri never told him he was being pursued by the American authorities. Agnes thinks that if they could find Valerie, they could get this all cleared up in a trice. Harry thinks he knows someone who can help out with this. Someone who owes Harry a favour.

Off to Delphine’s he goes, to grab Summertime and ask him to track down Valerie. Thank god all these people only hang out in one place. Makes it much easier to find them quickly.

The next day, Harry notes that Edwards’s paper hasn’t printed the letter. Not surprising, since it implies seriously shoddy journalism on their part. And the real HGS would have had his lawyers sending that paper all sorts of notices demanding retractions and such, threatening them with lawsuits if they didn’t comply, which would have been perfectly reasonable.

Speak of the devils, Edwards asks for a word with his slimy editor and asks if they’re not treating Harry a little badly. The editor, being slimy and all, tells him to stop complaining, because he got his story. Yes, a completely erroneous story that, once revealed to be such, will probably ruin Edwards’s career as a journalist. I’d be worried too, if I were him. Edwards asks the editor to print the letter, but the editor won’t because it’s unpatriotic. He also threatens to take away Edwards’s column if he doesn’t settle down.

The Selfridge’s employees are bored to death, with no customers to serve. Kitty’s minion tells Kitty that her father wants her to quit, because he doesn’t want her working in a place like Selfridge’s. Now I’m glad I never bothered to learn her name. Before Kitty can react, Delphine and a flood of gaudily dressed Americans come in through the doors and stand around gawking like they’ve never seen such a place before, even though department stores like this originated in America (and were brought over to Britain by…Harry Selfridge). Another annoying bit: all of these people are being played as the most ridiculous broad stereotypes of Americans you’ve ever seen in your life. They’re all Brooklyn accents (oh, dawling, look at these gloves! They’re so swell, so sawft!) and loud voices and flash. It’s kind of offensive. I’m amazed none of them start pulling out six shooters. And the most obnoxious and awful of them is a frizzy-haired woman who shrieks instead of talking. This group of winners is Mack Sennett and an enormous crew of Keystone actors, and Shrieky is Mabel Normand, a major pioneer for women in Hollywood. Allow me a moment to be enraged on the real Normand’s behalf that she’s being portrayed so poorly here.

Ok, back to the recap. Harry’s secretary comes to get him and bring him downstairs to see the show. Gordon meets his dad coming off the lift and fanboys about Mabel Normand being in the store. She’s all a-twitter about a parasol because she’s an idiot. Delphine introduces Harry to Mack, who fanboys a little himself over Harry. Harry returns the compliment by telling Mack how much he loves his films. Delphine invites Harry to a party at the club the following night, which will include a showing of some of Mabel’s films. Mack heads off and Harry thanks Delphine for arranging this.

Mae counts up the money she got from selling the jewelry and whines a bit about having to sell it all. But there’s worse news: Loxsley’s waiting for her downstairs. Down she goes, where she immediately tells him she wants a divorce. He suggests they come to some kind of arrangement: he’ll go back to the countryside and she can have the London house and they’ll just live separately, as they used to. But he does want her to keep her mouth shut about who authorized those boots for the troops. She asks for some time to think. Once he’s gone, she tells Jane that she needs to destroy this man once and for all.

Over breakfast at the Mardle Home for Adorable Musical Refugees, Florian tells her he’s applying for war work, so he can make himself useful. She’s disappointed that none of this work will involve the violin, but he shortly tells her that he can make decisions about his employment by himself. Ouch. Agnes cluelessly comments that he seemed like he was cheering up, but now he’s all low. She asks if something’s happened and Mardle claims not to know. Agnes gets ready to go deliver a letter to Henri, reassuring him that Harry’s still working on his behalf. She defensively and preemptively says there’s nothing inappropriate about it, and Mardle quickly agrees, saying that Agnes is friends and colleagues with Henri, so it make sense she’d be concerned and want to help him.

Henri’s being held at the American embassy, and now he’s ushered into a room where someone from the NY DA’s office is waiting for him. DA exposits awkwardly that a considerable sum of money was embezzled from J Walter Thompson while Henri was working there. Presumably, he was working there with hundreds of other people, considering JWT is one of the largest advertising firms in the world and had a significant presence even in the early 20th century. So why do they think Henri was behind the theft? Because he left the country shortly after it happened, before he could be questioned. What an idiot. Henri claims he panicked, because he thought the authorities were coming to arrest him. DA’s determined he’s guilty, though, and says he’s going to take Henri back to America and lock him up for a long time. So much for innocent until proven guilty, eh?

Over breakfast at the Selfridge Manse, Gordon enthuses about Mabel and Harry sighs that he’s going to have to get the lawyers on this libel thing, though the damage is already done. The butler announces Mae and Harry reluctantly goes to speak with her, making it clear he wants her gone ASAP. She apologises for what’s happened and says that they can work together to expose Loxsley as being behind this scandal. Harry asks why she would do that and she admits that she and her husband aren’t getting along and it would be helpful to her to see him disgraced. Harry accuses her of always using a situation for her own gain, which is pretty much what everybody on this show does. She desperately protests that she wants to help him, because he has little pull in Society, and Harry tells her to get lost. She seems shocked.

Agnes arrives at the embassy and hands the letter to one of the guards, who gives it to Henri. He reads it while total 1980s-era daytime TV music plays in the background.

Gordon and Harry go to Delphine’s for the party. We see some of a Mabel short, which is terrible. This actress can’t fake-act any better than she can actually act. Nevertheless, everyone applauds.

In a quieter room, Florian sits reading, and Mardle asks to join him. She sits beside him and admits that he’s been right, and she has been running away from her feelings for him. She admits that she was in a relationship some years ago, and the man hurt her terribly and left her feeling like she didn’t really deserve to be loved. Florian can’t believe anyone would make her feel that way, because he thinks she totally deserves to be loved. Mardle leans in and they kiss.

Mabel’s hitting on young Gordon, asking if he wants to be a movie star, because she can make that happen, being a director and all. Her voice is driving me nuts. I think it’s a testament to how horrible she is that I watched this while I was in labour and turned to my husband at this point and asked if I was completely out of it, or if this woman was one of the worst actresses to ever appear in a professional production. And believe me, I wasn’t all that with it at that point, having not slept for three days and being in mind-boggling amounts of pain roughly every three minutes. But somehow, her suck managed to cut right through all of that. Mabel introduces Gordon to the Tom Collins.

Meanwhile, Mack’s trying to get Harry to become an investor in his studio. Delphine seconds it, while Harry demurs. He’s then called away by the arrival of Summertime, who gives him Valerie’s address and says he’s put some men on her to make sure she doesn’t disappear, which she has a habit of doing.

Gordon gets to work the next day, totally hung over, and no wonder, because those drinks were being served in HUGE glasses. Miss C notices and offers him a cup of tea, which he gratefully accepts. She thinks it’s awesome he got to hang out with Mabel Normand, but he doesn’t think it was that great, because Mabel was too OTT for him, and better onscreen than off. Not really, Gordon.

Crabb has called a staff meeting and tells the heads of departments that, although the American spending spree has helped sales figures, they’re not out of the woods yet, and they need to keep their heads up and stick together. Thackeray stupidly bitches about Harry being gone all the time, even for this meeting, and you’d think that someone who’s job may still be in jeopardy would be keeping his head down. But no, he’s still got a bee in his bonnet about Henri, and now there’s a bit in Town Talk about Henri facing charges in America. He hands it right to Agnes and Kitty foolishly says that Edwards says there isn’t a word of truth in that column. Everyone seems surprised to hear that she was carrying on with Edwards, not that they were in any way doing it on the sly, and Grove snidely says she should have considered Edwards’s character before becoming his girlfriend. Mardle steps in and tells him to leave Kitty’s personal life out of this so they can band together and move forward, as Crabb just said.

As everyone leaves, Agnes wonders to Victor if it’s true about Henri being extradited. He advises her to just let this guy go and she fakely says she will.

Henri is shown into a boardroom at the embassy, where Harry’s waiting with Valerie. Henri’s amazed. They all sit down with the DA and some other guy so Valerie can tell them what really happened: she left Henri to be with someone higher up in the company. She married the man, and he turned out to be the embezzler. She’s brought proof in the form of their bank account statements, which show the exact amounts of the embezzlement being deposited. The guy stole money and deposited it in his personal bank accounts? Which he shared with his wife? What a total moron. And how incompetent were the people investigating this case that they didn’t notice that? Did they look into anyone besides Henri? And if not, why not? Valarie tells Henri she’s really sorry, and Harry personally vouches for Henri. The other guy—the ambassador, apparently, who would definitely have better things to do than to deal with this tiny and rather inconsequential matter, especially during wartime—agrees to see about getting the extradition order rescinded. In the meantime, Henri can go free.

On the way out, Henri apologises for keeping all this from Harry. He says he came to London to find Valerie to try and use her to track the real thief, but then he got distracted by getting to go work for Selfridge’s again. Harry readily forgives him, and Henri promises to help him bring Selfridge’s back from the brink. Harry notices Valarie waiting and makes himself scarce. She comes over and asks Henri if there’s any chance of them getting back together. Geez, lady. He says no, but not because she’s turned out to be a faithless woman, but because he’s in love with someone else.

The heads of department are brought back into Harry’s office for yet another meeting. While they’re waiting, Kitty takes the opportunity to thank Mardle for supporting her earlier. Kitty’s decided, as a result, to try and be a better person. ‘Oh, well, that’ll be interesting,’ Mardle responds. Heh. Harry and Henri steam in, to everyone but Thackeray’s joy. Henri thanks Harry for saving him and promises not to forget this.

A little later, he also thanks Agnes for sticking by him. She claims it was no big deal but he thinks it is and goes on to say that he always treated her as his protégé (yeah, when he wasn’t sleeping with her) but she’s clearly so much more. Agnes tries to ignore all this, but when he starts in with the ‘I was so wrong!’ speech, she cuts him off and reminds him that she’s marrying Victor. Who shows up right at that moment, because it’s not like he’s got a restaurant to run in this place or anything. Henri congratulates them and makes himself scarce.

That night, the family and Henri have a celebratory dinner at the Selfridge Manse. Rose suggests bringing the girls and her mother-in-law back to London so they can all be together, which everyone agrees to. Harry’s called away to meet with Mack, who’s getting ready to return to the States and wants to know if Harry’s thought any more about the partnership offer. He has, and he turns it down. Mack takes that in good stride and the men part on good terms, wishing each other luck.

As they get ready for bed, Harry tells Rose he needs to find a way to help people remember what Selfridge’s is all about: escapism. He thinks Delphine can help him out with that, and he thanks Rose for bringing her into their lives. Rose doesn’t look too sure that this was a good idea.

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