Jonas waits on that bridge as a carriage pulls up. Jonas greets the passenger, Fenton, and climbs in, assuring him that Moray knows nothing about the meeting.
After hours at the store, Moray finds Denise puttering about in ladieswear, of course. She sees him and admits she can’t seem to leave and wants to be super prepared for her first day as the new Miss Audrey. She tells him they have everything they wished for. ‘Almost,’ he agrees.
Sam has summoned Lovett back to his shop, which has been broken into. Lovett’s seriously upset to see that someone’s gone and trashed his place. Sam urges him to just sell the place, like that’s proven to be so easy, and Lovett growls about the type of people that live in the world nowadays.
The next morning, Clara catches up with Denise and awkwardly reassures her that she won’t fight against her, as long as Denise basically doesn’t turn into an asshole. Sam tells Denise her uncle’s back, Susie’s now in ladieswear and delighted about it, and Myrtle’s got some kippers set aside for Denise, because she’s trying to suck up. Got all that? It’s a slightly dizzying scene.
Lovett’s lying in wait in his shop when his trespasser returns. It’s a middle-aged woman who’s apparently been squatting there. He shouts at her for having busted into his shop and she defends herself by saying it was empty. First off, lady, no it wasn’t. His stuff was clearly still there, so it’s not like it was abandoned property or anything. Second, it doesn’t matter. You still broke in and made yourself at home, which is never ok. Edmund, quite rightly, tells her to get the hell out and get back to the gutter she came from. A bit harsh perhaps, but I’m on his side here. Why couldn’t she have picked the barbershop that’s been lying empty for more than a year now?
Over breakfast, Tom complains about how tedious business is. Flora tries to interject, but her father ignores her. Catherine gently directs him to listen to his daughter, and Flora just asks for some stories of how her father was when he was a boy. He remains noncommittal and goes back to business, saying he hopes to take over the whole block, as Moray once intended to. What do you mean, take over? Didn’t Lord Glendenning already buy all the freeholds, along with The Paradise?
At the store, Denise goes to Moray and Dudley with a promotional proposal in ladieswear: throw a tea party, with the cakes and teas served by Myrtle. Oh, God, Denise, that’s a terrible idea. Not the tea party part (really, this place would probably do well with some sort of café in it, but that was something that I think didn’t really come along until Selfridge started trotting it out), but the Myrtle aspect. The woman has clearly shown that she’s not ready to be front of house. She’s coarse and seems to have no intention of curbing her tongue, and in an establishment as devoted to appearances as this one, that’s a big deal. Moray tells her the same and Dudley backs him up, reminding Denise that she’ll have to start making decisions others may not like.
Moray goes outside and steps into a carriage with Jonas, as Dudley watches and looks concerned.
Up in ladieswear, Susie is being super annoying, asking a billion questions and prefacing each one with ‘Miss Denise.’ Denise sends her and Clara off to get some flowers, and Sam reports that Myrtle’s looking for Denise. Instead of staying at her job and telling Myrtle she’ll have to wait, Denise goes right to her and admits that her proposal failed. So, Denise came up with this idea and told Myrtle all about it? How incredibly stupid of her. Because now Myrtle’s all disappointed and in a total snit and tells Denise she clearly didn’t try hard enough to sell the idea and wondering what Susie has that she doesn’t. Ok, back up here, lady. Susie has a hint of decorum, for one thing. For another, who the hell are you to slag off Denise for allegedly not trying hard enough? Stop acting like you’re somehow owed this opportunity, because you’re not. Here’s what you need to do: start showing everyone that you deserve to be put front of house. Behave yourself. Watch what you say. Clean up, and stop hitting on all the men. Everyone kept telling Denise she had to prove she was worthy of her new job, and she stepped up. Do the same, and maybe you’ll get your chance. But stop behaving like you’ve been done some terrible injustice because you’re being hidden in the kitchen, because frankly, the way you act would probably scare the customers away.
Dudley finds Tom examining the empty barbershop that used to belong to Burroughs. He wants to know what the deal is with the place and asks to speak with Moray. Dudley lies that Moray’s out visiting with some suppliers.
Clara and Susie return with the flowers and, as they approach the store, they spot Lovett’s squatter looking in the window. They make fun of her between themselves, but when the woman turns their way, Susie blanches and rushes inside. Lovett observes the little scene, and because he’s a giant softie, he goes and apologises to the woman for yelling at her and offers her something to eat. Sam notes the two of them going into Lovett’s shop.
Moray and Jonas are meeting with Fenton, who has a proposal: he’ll buy The Paradise, and he and Moray will be equal partners. Make sure you have that in writing, Moray. Signed by about a hundred lawyers. I’m kind of curious how Jonas found out about Fenton and his designs on the store, but I guess we can assume it’s because Jonas knows everything. Fenton suggests smoothing the way to the sale by driving a wedge between Catherine and Tom. Moray doesn’t seem to like this plan, but sees no other way. Moray, seriously, tell Denise about this ahead of time. You’ll just create needless drama otherwise. Moray can’t bring himself to do this, and Fenton urges him to reconsider.
Tom catches Clara and asks how things are in ladieswear. Clara says they’re all getting along splendidly. He tries to intimate that Denise only got the job because of her relationship with Moray, but Clara refuses to throw her under the bus. Tom starts to have one of his painful fits, and Clara gets concerned.
Susie’s distracted up in ladieswear, which Denise notices, though she says nothing.
Moray finally gets back and Dudley asks where he’s been, while telling him that Tom’s waiting for him. Moray doesn’t respond, just goes into the office. Tom asks about the barbershop, which he thinks is an eyesore and should be developed. He proposes a jewellery department and continues that he plans to buy up the entire street and keep expanding.
The squatter cleans her plate and Lovett asks how she came to this life. The woman explains that she had a daughter who ran off and left her while she was ill. She half excuses the girl by saying she was a flighty 15-year-old at the time and shouldn’t have been burdened with a sick mother. The woman says she just wants to tell the girl she’s back on her feet. Well, yes, in the sense that you’re vertical, but I don’t know that I’d call breaking into shops to have somewhere off the streets to sleep being back on one’s feet, precisely. She goes on to say that she knows where the girl is, because her daughter wrote to the woman’s sister, telling her about the job at The Paradise. Lovett can’t believe that the child would abandon her mother in that way. The woman asks for a little drink, just to soothe her soul. Uh huh.
Denise tries to sell Moray on the tea party idea again, telling him that the ladies would see each other buying things and would then buy them for themselves, because women tend to be competitive in that incredibly petty way. He agrees to the whole tea party idea. Wow, that was a lot easier than it should have been. He quietly informs her that Tom wants to expand the store, which would be bad for them, because it would make the place even more expensive to buy back. He asks her what he should do if he could find the funds to buy the place back sooner and she urges him to take the chance, if it comes his way.
Susie’s at lunch with the others, still staring off into the distance. Myrtle’s still got an attitude, but she perks right up when Denise tells her she’ll be serving tea and cakes anyway. Denise, happy to have retained a friend, goes to sit in her usual spot, instead of at the head table with the other heads of department. Sam tells her about the tramp her uncle’s taken in now and Susie looks a little disturbed.
Tom wonders what Moray’s hiding these days, because he knows Moray didn’t go see suppliers that day. Catherine tells him Moray’s lying to them because he wants to buy the place back and has been trying to scare up the funding. Flora comes in wearing Tom’s army jacket, and Tom freaks right the hell out, shouting at the kid not to ever touch his things. He stomps out and Catherine immediately embraces the frightened, crying child and reassures her that her father was just surprised. I’d never thought I’d say this, but thank God this kid has Catherine in her life. Could you imagine growing up just with Tom as a parent, with no buffer at all? Catherine promises a treat the next day, and of course Flora asks for a shopping spree at The Paradise.
Denise goes to her uncle’s for a visit, and Susie watches as the woman emerges. Susie goes over to her and asks what the heck she’s doing there. The woman—Susie’s mum, of course—says she just wanted to say she was sorry. Susie clearly thinks it’s too late for that and tells her mother how often she thinks of herself as a child, begging her mother not to leave her, while her mother was endlessly drunk. Jesus. Susie spits that she has a life now and her mother definitely isn’t part of it. Fair enough. Mum urges Susie to come into the pub with her, but Susie’s not falling for that. She throws some change on the ground, tells her to go ahead and get drunk and then never come back. She rushes back into the store as Jonas observes the whole scene. Mum bends to pick up the change and goes into the Three Crowns. I think Susie might have made the right call here.
Susie swirls back into her room and immediately throws herself on the bed, crying. Clara goes over to her, strokes her head, and tells her that there are things we think we can’t bear, but we can. Man, Clara’s become sort of amazing this season, hasn’t she? What happened in the last year to make her do this total 180?
Mum wakes the following morning in Lovett’s shop to find him at work on a new dress for her. He tells her he wants her to look pretty for her daughter, and she says it’s been many years since she had a new dress. We find out, finally, that her name’s Ruby, and Lovett gently tells her he has to go back to his wife in their cottage by the sea. He wonders what’s going to happen to her, and urges her to try and reconcile with her daughter. She conveniently whips up a cough and asks to stay just long enough to speak with her girl. This woman’s a piece of work, isn’t she? Has she said anything that’s true, yet? Lovett, naturally, agrees to let her stay.
Moray grabs Jonas and tells him he may need to talk to Fenton again. Jonas agrees to set it up or pass along a message. Moray tells him to go ahead and reach out.
Myrtle’s getting fitted for a nice new uniform and swearing she’ll show Moray and Dudley what she’s made of. Susie shortly tells her to watch her mouth, or she’ll shame them all. Denise goes to speak with her, but Clara quietly urges her to give Susie a little space.
Catherine and Flora arrive at the store, and Moray immediately starts pouring on the compliments and invites Catherine to join him for a bit of coffee. She agrees, but goes to drop Flora off in ladieswear first. Catherine tells Denise she wants Flora totally spoiled and Denise agrees and calls Susie to tend to her. Flora wants one dress, but Susie tells her, a little shortly, that it’s not a dress for children, but a grownup.
Moray’s got both Catherine and Tom in his office, where he’s pouring cinnamon coffee, which apparently is a favourite of Catherine’s that he introduced her to. Tom seems a bit miffed by the reminder of their past relationship. Moray also goes on about his plans for the jewellery department, which sounds particularly extravagant. Tom doesn’t really seem to be in the mood to keep discussing business and says Moray’s plans sound garish. He suggests making the new extension a food hall and asks Moray to take a walk over there with him.
Flora’s still flittering around ladieswear, asking for things that aren’t quite age appropriate, and finally Susie completely snaps and starts screaming at her, calling her a spoiled, horrible kid, which is, of course, a complete overreaction. Flora begins to tear up, and Denise sends Susie away, a little too late. Look, I know Susie’s under a bit of stress, but that still seemed wildly out of character. Absurdly so. It’s not like Flora was being that annoying. Denise tries to apologise to Flora, but the kid just wants Catherine.
Denise takes Flora down to Moray’s office, where Catherine tends to the child while Denise tries to apologise and explain. Catherine interrupts, asking Dudley to take Flora outside for some air. Once they’re alone, she demands to know what Denise plans to do about this situation. Denise lamely offers to strongly reprimand Susie, but Catherine’s in full-on terrifying mama bear mode, and she makes it clear that that’s not good enough.
Dudley sees the ladies to their carriage while Moray, who’s clearly been filled in, tells Denise she has to fire Susie. She’s reluctant to do so, but he tells her that this is part of being in charge, and that sometimes you have to do some hard things.
Denise goes to see Susie and tells her, as gently as she can, that she has to collect her things and leave immediately. Susie, who must have anticipated this, nods and walks out. A little later, Jonas lets her through the back gate and suggests she stay close by, because things can change quickly in this place. He also gives her the name of a place to stay. Aww, that was really sweet of him.
Back in the store, everyone’s gossiping, and Denise can clearly feel their eyes boring into the back of her head. In the dining room, Myrtle shows Sam how she’s been practicing complicated things, like offering Assam tea and cakes. Denise comes in and the room gets very quiet, so she turns and flees. Dudley catches up to her and reassures her that everyone knows that Susie brought this on herself, but they all need to prove that they’re cronies. She thanks him for his support, but she thinks she should have done more, because she knew there was something wrong with Susie. He regretfully tells her that this part of the job doesn’t get any easier.
Jonas catches up with Clara and tells her he heard she was having a private moment with Tom. He asks what the man wanted with her and threatens to tell Moray about it, which is what gets her talking. She says Tom has these sudden, nasty pains, and that she saw him have some kind of PTSD episode during the fireworks, apparently because of the noise.
At home, Catherine drinks some coffee (presumably with cinnamon), surreptitiously smelling it, but not surreptitiously enough, because Tom’s watching her. She sadly puts the cup down.
Dudley approaches Moray and asks him what he’s up to these days. Before Moray can answer, Arthur calls him away.
Denise runs into Jonas in the store, and when he calls her ‘Miss Denise,’ she asks him to just call her Denise. He says the title is a mark of honour and that she’s earned it and should be proud of it. He offers her some advice: find a way to get Susie’s job back and she’ll prove that she’s a staunch ally of the other workers there.
Ruby, wearing her new dress, orders up a gin in the Three Crowns and is surprised to see Susie there. Susie emptily says she wishes she could be as surprised to see her mother. Ruby sits down with her and says she doesn’t blame Susie for hating her for giving her away. Wow. I really hope she gave her to her sister, at least, and not just some random. Still, telling Lovett that her child abandoned her when really it was completely the other way around is pretty appalling. Ruby goes on to say that she couldn’t imagine Susie having a decent life with someone like her and Susie admits that’s probably true. Ruby says the only gift she could give Susie was to free her from her own mother. Susie starts to cry and takes her mother’s hands and tells her she loves her. Careful, Susie. People like your mother are master manipulators. Ruby says she’s proud of Susie for working in such a grand place, and Susie admits she got sacked. Like a good mum, Ruby immediately declares herself Team Susie, but then immediately polishes off her gin and leaves to get another one. It’s at this point I started to wonder if this woman just showed up to hit her daughter up for money, and clearly the same thought pops into Susie’s mind. Her face hardens as she watches her mother and realizes their relationship will always be the same: mum getting drunk and ruining things. Susie rushes out.
She bursts back into the kitchen of The Paradise, where Myrtle’s still practicing saying ‘Darjeeling.’ Susie admits she was totally on autopilot. Myrtle urges her to leave, but Denise, who was conveniently lurking nearby, comes in and tells Susie she’s going to try and get her job back, but she needs a little help from Susie. She tells the girl to meet her the following morning.
The plan apparently consists of going to eat serious humble pie at Mount Glendenning. Even Denise looks terrified. They’re joined by Catherine in the sitting room (she does not invite them to sit), while Flora listens in at an open window. Denise explains that Susie was under a great deal of stress and it was Denise’s fault for not pulling her off the floor. They tell a slightly sanitized version of Susie’s history with her mother (which, nonetheless, includes the horrifying detail that Susie was seven years old when her mother ditched her). Catherine seems unforgiving, but Susie says she really just wants to say how sorry she is, as Flora comes in. Flora, the little sweetie, asks Catherine to forgive Susie, so she gets her job back just in time to help set up the tea party.
Back at the store, Moray tells Denise she really should have run this plan past him, and Denise tells him it was a win-win, because even if Susie hadn’t gotten her job back, they still would have shown Catherine deference and contrition. Ladies start pouring in, so Moray gets out of the way. In the back, Myrtle picks up a tea tray, but starts shaking and says she can’t do this. Clara reminds her (nicely) that it’s only serving tea. Myrtle starts to panic, saying she’s not good enough to serve tea to these ladies. Clara reassures her she’s beautiful, but Myrtle says she isn’t, she’s a rag next to them. Well, not to be harsh, but that’s why you’re in the servant role, Myrtle. The ladies aren’t expecting to be served by a social equal. Myrtle weeps and apologises to Denise, who sends Susie out with the tea tray instead. I still have no patience for Myrtle, that whole thing was a little silly.
Tom’s out front, staring at the barbershop again. Jonas joins him and they commiserate about their old war wounds. Jonas tells Tom he feels phantom pain in his missing arm but he considers this disfigurement a gift, because when he sees people flinch at the sight of him, he knows whom he can trust. He tells Tom he admires him for wanting to restore the barbershop. Tom asks what Jonas thinks he should do with the place and Jonas suggests a food hall. Tom seems pleased to have found an ally.
That night, he goes to see his daughter, who’s in bed, and actually acts like a loving father for a change. He’s brought a book with him and starts to read to her about the siege at Delhi. This is clearly not a storybook but his personal history, his way of telling his daughter a little of what happened to her. Which is laudable, but likely to give her nightmares tonight. Well, baby steps.
Back at the store, Clara and Susie stand at the gates and Clara quietly tells Susie that Ruby can’t forgive herself for what she did to her daughter. Susie says that what she did is unforgiveable and Clara says that nothing is unforgiveable, but Susie will be filled with hatred and bitterness for the rest of her life if she doesn’t let this go and bury the hatchet. She sends Susie off and looks sad and thoughtful. Yes, I can imagine this particular storyline must be hitting her especially hard.
Susie hesitantly approaches her mother and almost immediately begins to cry and say she’ll love her forever. Ruby cries too and says she only asks for one kiss on the cheek. Susie obliges as Clara watches and tries not to burst into tears herself. Susie quietly tells her mother that, if she ever manages to get sober, Susie will be there. She returns to Clara, who wraps an arm around her shoulders and they walk off together.
Inside, Moray tells Denise the tea party was a great success. She admits that it felt like, whatever idea she had, he was determined to shoot down. She knows how hard it’s going to be for them to work together in this way, but she really needs him to see her as head of ladieswear during working hours. He agrees and apologises for how he’s been lately, but she’s both forgiving and understanding. They agree not to have any more secrets between them. Let’s see how long that lasts. He kisses her and says he wants to shower her with love and treasure her, because that’s his job.
The next day, wearing his determined face, he meets with Fenton on the bridge of assignations.