While setting up the store, the employees discuss their plans for the evening and Clara makes fun of Sam’s dancing. Sam offers to show off how great a dancer he is and actually jumps up on one of the fabric cutting tables to start up a jig that gets every other employee in the place dancing in unison like this is a community theatre production of Brigadoon. Miss A observes from afar and, instead of shutting down this skylarking like I thought she would, sighs that young people never realize youth doesn’t last. Denise, being the arbiter of absolutely everything in the place now, declares Sam a great dancer and Clara, who’s awfully Mary Sunshine these days for someone who apparently just gave up her much-loved kid, agrees. Once Sam’s out of earshot, Pauline admits to Denise that she’s got a crush on him. She wonders how to get him to like her and Clara suggests they go out drinking so Pauline can loosen up. Pauline’s never seemed all that uptight to me, but ok.
So, out they all go, and Denise and Clara are now such besties they’re strolling around arm-in-arm. I really feel like we missed some major relationship development here. Denise tells Clara she thinks she’s brave for giving up on Grace and Clara tells her not to mention that and starts dancing around in the streets with Pauline. Thank God nobody ever drives along this street at night. And everyone, Denise especially, laughs merrily, because losing your child is hilarious! Honestly, this is like mood whiplash after the believably downer ending to the last episode. Suddenly Clara’s just fine with this and Denise is behaving like nothing happened? I’d be a little concerned if someone was acting like Clara is, because I’d figure she was either crazy or putting up a serious front that’s going to crumble any second.
Miss A, meanwhile, is not looking too good. Her hands shake as she tries to arrange her hair. Nonetheless, she gets to work and tries to sell some gifts to a regular. She manages, but looks like she’s about to pass out.
Moray’s out having a hunting afternoon with Glendenning and some other idle rich. Glendenning comments on how happy and at ease Catherine seems these days and warns Moray not to ruin this for her. Moray won’t promise not to keep pursuing her.
At the house, Catherine meets the men coming back just as she’s going out. She’s surprised to see Moray there and he says he was just observing. He asks how she likes being a patroness of a charity and wishes her well. She thanks him for his good wishes and then asks him if he’s holding back with her because of his wife. It is. She can’t fathom why he’s still so hung up on a woman dead three years and he suggests she’s lucky that Peter kept her from becoming too entwined with Moray. I agree, but mostly because I think Moray’s a terrible boyfriend and Peter’s a good man.
Back at The Paradise, Clara saves Denise from a very mild scolding and then thanks Denise for comforting her after the whole Grace thing. Denise accepts the thanks gracefully. Out on the sales floor, Moray comes in and can’t seem to remember what he came up to ladieswear for. Miss A panics, thinking she’s in trouble, but he brushes it aside and compliments Denise on another good sales month.
Catherine and Peter are broken down by the side of the road, where he’s fixing the Victorian-era equivalent of a flat tyre. Catherine seems to admire his ability to actually do something useful.
Back at The Paradise, the staff sit around in the dining room gossiping about Moray and Catherine and their apparent breakup. Clara mentions how flustered Moray seemed and Pauline asks Dudley what the deal is. He remains mum on his best bud’s love life, which is wise considering Moray’s everyone’s employer. From a distance, Miss A observes Denise, shakes her head, and mumbles ‘My little champion.’
Still on the road, Catherine is pointing to random plants so Peter can identify them. Apparently, he’s a bit of botanist as well as a philanthropist and handyman. He tells her that, when he was a kid, whenever something was broken, he pestered every adult around until they told him how to fix it. He starts pointing to plants and Catherine proves she was paying attention by identifying them himself.
At the store, Miss A asks Sam if he’s noticed Moray acting strangely. This seems like something she should really be asking Dudley or Jonas about, not an underling. Sam tells her about the Catherine situation and thinks that’s what’s bothering Moray. She comments that Denise is clearly Moray’s favorite, and then her voice gets all strange and she flutters and fusses and tells him not to tell anyone that she’s seeming a tad under the weather.
That night, she goes to see Lovett and digs into the past: years ago, when he asked her to marry him and she turned him down, she lost her voice for a while, and now it seems to be happening again, which completely freaks her out. Lovett thinks the problem is Moray, but we know the trouble’s really Denise, though she won’t come out and say it. Instead, she just gets up and hastens out of there to get some rest.
The next morning, she wakes, feels her throat, and sits up in a panic, croaking and struggling to speak.
Glendenning comes into the sitting room and is surprised to see Catherine arranging flowers she picked herself, which is something he’s never seen her do before. He tells her he’s relieved to see that she’s moved on to a better man. While he liked Moray for his charm and business sense, he didn’t really like the way Moray treated his daughter. Amen to that, sir.
Audrey reports for work and is communicating entirely through gestures so nobody notices she can’t speak. Moray comes in to apologise for his flustered behavior the other day and tells her that a showman’s thinking of opening a theatre in the city and wants The Paradise to be the exclusive supplier of dresses to the ladies in the show. I know Moray’s all about making money, but considering how poorly regarded actresses were at the time, you’d think there’d be some concern that the store’s affiliation with them might put off the better class of customer they’re constantly trying to attract. But there’s no more discussion of that, because Moray suddenly realizes Miss A’s not looking too good, and then she passes out (or pretends to) and everyone rushes to help her.
She’s in her room, once again speaking and also sweating profusely from a fever. Pauline and Denise tell her the doctor’s ordered her to bed for a full week. In the doorway, Dudley tells Moray the doctor’s not entirely sure what’s wrong with Miss A. Clara inserts herself in their conversation to offer her services as head of ladieswear while Miss A recovers. She reminds them that she’s most senior there and it only makes sense. The men promise to consider it.
On their way downstairs, Moray brings up the showman, Aberhart, who may be putting in a large order over the next few days, and he really thinks Denise should handle that, because Dudley thinks she’s better at charming and persuading than Clara. Well, she can back Clara with the sales, then. If you pass over Clara in this case, Moray, you’re just sowing serious seeds of discord amongst the female employees, and that’s not something you want, believe me. Dudley clearly believes Moray has other reasons for preferring Denise, and Moray admits he likes her best—as a saleswoman. He thinks putting her in charge will be a test of Clara’s mettle, which is stupid. Or maybe it’s supposed to be a test of Denise’s mettle, it’s not entirely clear. Still stupid when you’ve got an important client coming in. That is not the time to be carrying out social experiments with the staff. Dudley goes along with it, as always, and even goes to deliver the news to the girls himself. God forbid Moray do his own dirty work.
Out in the delivery yard, Lovett catches Sam and asks him what’s up with Audrey. Sam tells him she’s got a fever and Lovett clearly gets upset.
At Mount Glendenning, the idle rich are passing an afternoon at croquet. Catherine flirts with Peter and asks him to fetch her fan for her. But then she finds it under a cushion. Not sure what that was all about. Glendenning listens in to their conversation and looks displeased. Catherine starts acting really strange, talking about going inside, and then wondering if she should go for a walk. What’s up with her? Peter doesn’t really know what to do, so Glendenning just tiredly advises him to return to his croquet game. Peter does and Catherine looks all pissy.
Dudley has gathered the girls together to tell them that Pauline’s coming back to ladieswear to lend a hand (when did she leave? Did I just completely miss that? Sorry!) and that Denise will be running things until Audrey comes back. Denise is shocked; Clara’s dismayed. He goes on to tell them that they really need to get this order from Aberhart, and they’ll be outfitting…well, showgirls, basically. This is sounding sketchier by the minute. After Dudley leaves, Pauline, of course, congratulates Denise.
But then she and Clara report the decision to Miss A. Clara bitches and moans about having to obey Denise and Pauline says Denise can’t help being awesome and talented and such a very, very special snowflake. Audrey weakly tells them both to get out.
Denise finds Moray somewhere in the store after hours and starts to tell him that she doesn’t deserve to be put in charge. He reassures her she does, in fact, deserve it, and the other girls agree. Bullshit. Even she has to know that’s not true. He agrees that some of the girls may object but she’ll have to learn to overcome that. He recalls a time when he was a mere draper’s lad, dreaming of owning the shop, and now he does. He randomly asks her if there’s gossip about him and Catherine and she says there’s talk that the two of them broke up. With her help, he steers the conversation back to the topic at hand, asks her to take command of ladieswear, and sends her off to bed.
Catherine and Peter are having an after-dinner dice game. She asks him to take her out again, even offering to try hillwalking, and he asks her if she really wants to go, or if she’s just doing it to please him. He knows she’s trying hard here, perhaps a bit too hard, and tells her to just take it easy and let things take their course naturally. Man, this man’s awesome. Cling, Catherine!
Glendenning approaches the room just in time to overhear Peter ask her if she thinks of Moray often. Catherine admits she does and Peter offers to back off until she can resolve her feelings. She seems conflicted. Her father turns away and wanders off, disappointed.
Denise lies awake in bed, looking nervous.
At breakfast, Glendenning’s in a foul mood, complaining about the toast. Catherine glares at him and he complains about being ignored and disobeyed. She stomps out to escape his sour mood.
The girls head down for work and Denise is now wearing a dark purple gown, just as Miss A does. Sam pokes fun at her a bit, not realizing that this is not the time. He backs off immediately when she asks him to and he sincerely tells her he’s glad she’s gotten her chance to prove herself. Denise smiles and heads off and Clara glares after her.
Glendenning and his friends are out hunting again, but he’s too distracted to really do well. He takes a low shot and accidentally hits a beater. Well done, Glendenning.
Back home, Catherine comforts him, telling him it was an accident and the man’s going to be fine. Glendenning can’t just let it go, because he could have killed the man. He lays this at Moray’s door, somehow, and says her love for him is like a curse on the house. Catherine promises she doesn’t love him, and she’ll prove that she’s all for Peter these days.
In ladieswear, Denise is trying to assert herself, but the other ladies won’t snap to the way they do for Miss A. Denise overlooks this and starts to discuss plans for Aberhart’s arrival. As she speaks, she weaves a spell so powerful the other girls gradually drop what they’re doing and come wandering over to be enthralled. And her big idea? Black lace and red silk. What an original slutwear combo!
Clara drops off the order for the fabrics and Denise wisely follows up and checks it. Judging by the look on her face, it’s not correct.
Catherine gives Peter a beautifully illustrated botany book and tells him she was hoping he might teach her what he knows. With no segue whatsoever, he starts talking about her relationship with Moray and tells her that, if she and Moray really loved each other they’d be together, but they’re not. Peter, on the other hand, is sure he can make her happy. Not if your conversations don’t make sense, Peter. That was soooo awkward. In fact, a lot of the conversations in this episode are like that. It’s like they’re so desperate to keep bringing up the Catherine/Moray situation (which is rather boring, honestly) that they’re just shoehorning it in all over the place, even where it makes no sense whatsoever. He asks her if Moray ever really made her happy to be herself and tells her he intends to stick around in the hopes their feelings for each other will grow.
Miss A’s in bed still, looking awful. Lovett comes in, having snuck into the building, and tells her she looks terrible. What a charmer. He asks what the doctor said and she squeals it’s some sort of pox and she’s told him never to return. Lovett smiles fondly and gives her some Turkish delight (and by that I mean the sweet, not a visit from Kemal Pamouk). She tells him he can’t stay, as he pulls up a chair, but he settles in. He asks her what’s really wrong and she says the mirror keeps showing her getting older, and in her business, it’s dangerous to get old. He doesn’t seem to get it, so she asks him to leave. Once he’s gone, she digs into the Turkish delight.
Aberhart’s arrived for his visit and Denise shows him the red silk and lace. She sells him hard and he likes the idea, of course. Clara pouts in the background. Later, Denise tells her she’s not the new girl anymore, and she won’t let Clara undermine her. But she didn’t ask for this promotion and hasn’t set out to hurt or harm Clara, so she needs to get over it. Clara won’t back down and asks if Denise went running to Moray with her triumph. She warns her that Moray won’t care, because at the end of the day, she’s just a shopgirl.
Later, Sam chats with Denise and lays out his own plans for promotion as the store expands. This whole conversation is his strangely roundabout way of telling her he wants to date her, but she tells him she’s not interested in a boyfriend right now because she’s busy being the only person in this store who ever has a good idea. Plus, I’m sure it’s occurred to her that, with Clara already on the warpath, it’s probably best not to have Pauline, her other roommate, hating her as well. She says she doesn’t necessarily want to be single forever, but she does want to establish herself in the world. Sam takes this all in good humour.
Denise heads into her uncle’s shop and notices he seems upset. He tells her he’s just figure out what’s bothering Miss A. Wow, it took him this long to put all of that together? Even with Miss A having a little freakout about everyone loving Denise just last episode?
Moray goes into his office and finds Clara there, waiting for him. She brings up his wife and remembers how sadly he spoke of her that night they were together. Wow, talk about a mood killer. She rather desperately tells him she can soothe his pain, even though she knows he’ll never love her. She tells him she lost her child, just as he lost his wife (well, not exactly the same way), and that gives them a certain bond. She starts to kiss his face, and he begins to respond, and that, of course, is when Denise shows up and knocks on the door. When she receives no answer, she almost opens it unbidden, but then she turns and walks away. Moray, realizing what a narrow escape he just had, tells Clara she has to go before she’s found out and he’s forced to fire her. After she leaves, he looks guiltily up at his wife’s portrait.
Audrey’s still not doing well. Dudley tells her to stay in bed as long as it takes, as ladieswear is in good hands. That’s soooo not what she wants to hear, of course, but there’s nothing she can say.
Dudley and Moray leave Miss A’s and, on their way downstairs, Dudley tells Moray that he’s not been himself lately. He thinks it’s because of Peter and Catherine, but Moray says that’s not it at all, that he is, in fact, relieved about that whole affair. Dudley doesn’t believe him.
Denise reports to Moray’s office and this time her knock is actually answered. She comes in and tells Moray that the following day is Miss A’s birthday. She also mentions that Miss A’s health has suffered in the past due to stress and anxiety, and she wonders if this latest ailment is because of all the favour Moray’s been showing Denise. Moray doesn’t believe it, of course, because he’s completely out of it and a rather insensitive clod, but Denise persists and he starts to come around and agrees to talk this over with Miss A in the morning.
Mount Glendenning. Catherine comes into the drawing room to find Dudley waiting for her. She tells him that, if he’s come to beg on Moray’s behalf, he’s wasting his time, because the guy’s still hung up on his wife. Dudley tries to twist that into being a good thing, because it shows just how devoted Moray can be. Maybe, but honestly, I’m not buying this ‘still in love with his wife’ bit. Oh, I think Moray still has residual feelings for his late wife, don’t get be wrong, but I don’t think that’s why he’s so reluctant to make it official with Catherine. I think he’s just using that as an excuse. Though that could be because I don’t feel like he likes Catherine at all and the two of them have lousy chemistry. Dudley tells her Moray’s pining for her, he just can’t admit it. Nonsense. Why would he think that? He urges her to go speak to Moray but she briskly tells him she can’t, because she’s made a promise. Dudley bids her farewell.
Catherine paces in the garden, deep in thought, watched by her concerned father. A maid comes in and replaces the wildflowers with a giant hothouse bouquet.
Moray goes to visit Miss Audrey and apologises for stressing her out so much. She protests that he had nothing to do with her illness but he admits to having taken her for granted. She says it’s no big deal, even though it is. He takes a seat and tells her he needs her, because ladieswear needs a firm, experienced hand controlling it. You can tell this is all music to her ears and she’s lapping up every word like a kitten at a cream bowl. He tells her he’s shutting down ladieswear until she’s better and she says he’ll do no such thing: she’ll be back at her post first thing in the morning. He asks if she can present herself that evening, as there’s something that needs her attention.
Catherine goes to her father and tells him that, although she likes Peter, she doesn’t love him as she does Moray. Glendenning isn’t at all happy to hear this. She naively thinks that, if she just goes to see Moray and tell him how she feels, he’ll buckle. Why the hell does she think that? Because Dudley thinks so? What does he know? My God, Catherine, think of all the awful things Moray was saying to you just in the last episode—that you’re useless and stupid and kind of a bitch. Why do you think throwing yourself at him will change all that? Her father tightly says he knows he can’t change her mind. They both hear Peter come through the front door, and Catherine, like a child, says she can’t face him and asks her father to break up with Peter on her behalf. Jesus, what a coward. Her father angrily says he’ll do no such thing and that she needs to face who she is and what she does to people who care for her. I love her father right now. He leaves and Peter comes in, and all he has to do is take one look at her face. He knows. She apologises and tells him she only really ever loved Moray and she can’t help it. Poor Peter. He deserves better. Can we have a crossover so he can hook up with Edith Crawley?
Moray’s escorting Miss A downstairs, where the main floor’s been all decked out for her birthday party. The staff wish her a happy birthday and applaud her. Moray offers her some champagne, she and Denise exchange looks, Denise and Moray exchange looks, and a bunch of random employees make up a string quartet. Miss A wanders over to Denise, who gives her good wishes personally, and Miss A uses the opportunity to bitchily tell Denise she’s back in full control and Denise will return to her proper place and bring all ideas to Audrey directly, not Moray. Moray comes over and invites Audrey to dance. And we’re back to the dancing.