The Paradise: Song and Dance

Previously on The Paradise: Jonas returned, sick as hell but somehow still capable of saving Dudley’s somewhat undeserving ass. Miss Audrey finally married Lovett and departed, leaving Denise and Clara vying for her job.

Now that Clémence has left, we can get back to our regularly scheduled plotting: filling Miss Audrey’s job, and trying to figure out just what the hell is up with TomKat. Katherine’s still working overtime buying her new daughter’s love, today with a creepy looking doll from France and a full wardrobe from The Paradise. Tom whispers to Clara that she doesn’t seem so excited by the doll as everyone else does (because she’s not sucking up), and she tells him it takes more than a doll to make her gasp.

Over lunch, Clara talks about how spoiled Flora is, and Arthur tells the others that there’s a book going over who’s going to take over ladieswear. Talk then turns to the annual employees’ outing, which was cancelled the year before. Sam thinks they’re going to the music hall.

But, they’re not going anywhere, because Tom puts the kibosh on the idea as soon as he hears about it and realises this might actually mean the people who work for him feeling joy for a few minutes. Moray tells him this is a morale builder, but Tom couldn’t care less about morale. Katherine adds that music halls are terribly vulgar, like anyone was asking her to go. Tom turns his attention to the ladieswear vacancy and suggests they just give the job to Clara. Katherine puts in a word for Denise. Dudley, sounding nervous, says they’ve also received external applicants and suggests interviews at the end of the week. After the Westons leave, both Dudley and Moray visibly sag.

Up in ladieswear, one of the applicants, a seriously sour-faced woman, inspects the goods. Denise intervenes and the woman swishes out. Clara admits to Denise that she’d rather have a woman with a mouth like a cat’s arse than Denise as her boss. Well, she’s honest. Arthur rushes in and tells Denise he’s spotted some bird by the river, which is a lame code. She leaves to go meet Moray on that bridge. Really, if they’re meeting in broad daylight like this, why are they bothering with codes?

Anyway, they meet up and are all cute for a bit, and then Moray ruins her day by asking her not to submit an application to become head of ladieswear, because he doesn’t want her to become a pawn in this strange power play between Katherine and her husband. Denise reasonably asks if he plans to tell Clara this, and no, he does not, because he’s not in love with Clara. That’s sort of a prick answer, Moray. Denise tells him how desperate she is for this job, because it’s all she’s ever wanted. He manages to turn her head by calling her sweetheart and reminding her that in a year or so The Paradise should be theirs again. And then what? Denise just gets the job?

Flora’s playing with her doll when her dad decides now’s the time for a pop quiz. Which she fails by confusing France with America and failing to remember the year Columbus landed in America. Katherine’s looking super tense and finally intervenes and sends Flora off to bed, in a rather sweet manner. The little girl’s tone is much warmer with Kate than with her own dad, understandably. As soon as she’s through the door, Tom complains about his daughter’s ignorance. Kate tries to distract him, but he’s in a snit because she took up against him at The Paradise that day. While they argue, Flora listens in from outside the room. Tom guesses that Kate wants to punish Denise and is looking for a way to trap her, raising her as high as possible to make her fall a long one. It’s no more pure a motive than yours, Tom. You just want to promote Clara because you want to sleep with her. She fiercely tells him he’s embarrassing himself, but then backs down and apologises, saying she’s tired. He tells her he’s planning to engage a governess for his daughter. Which she already would have had anyway, in this class and time, but ok.

Myrtle’s heard about the outing cancellation from Dudley, and she’s not at all happy. The others are slightly calmer, but still disappointed. Myrtle figures Tom’s behind this and threatens to cut out his heart and serve it up. Sam turns his attentions to Denise and excitedly tells her that he’s figured out what Audrey had that Denise doesn’t: a motto. Really? Denise informs him she’s not planning to apply, which shocks both Susie and Sam. Sam jokes about the odds against Myrtle just having gone down slightly and she hustles back into the kitchen, looking a little hurt.

In ladieswear, Clara asks if Denise is knocked up, and that’s why she’s not going for the job. Denise tells her she’s not, and then gets all excited, thinking about how magnificent the place could be. Clara tells her to chill, because this is just a job.

Dudley reports the staff’s disappointment to Moray, who huffs that Tom’s punishing them through Moray. Jonas corrects that Tom’s punishing Moray through the staff. I think both are kind of true. Denise interrupts and asks for a word with Moray. The other two men quickly excuse themselves, and once they’re alone, Denise whinily asks Moray to remind her again what it’ll be like when the Paradise is theirs again. She complains that Clara thinks of being head of ladieswear as just a job, but to Denise it’s life itself. I’m sorry, Denise, but you need a damn life if you think this place is all there is. Clara’s right, it’s a job. One you want to do well, naturally, but it shouldn’t essentially be your oxygen. That’s not particularly healthy. Moray tells her that being head of ladieswear would put her under a microscope, and that every failure of hers would be hugely magnified. I think he’s kind of exaggerating there. She takes offense at his implication she wouldn’t be successful. He informs her that the competition is fierce, and although she’s amazing with the ideas, being head of ladieswear requires more than just that. Denise refuses to be mollified. I don’t think calling her sweetheart’s going to help this time. She goes right to Dudley’s office and demands an application for the head of ladieswear job.

One of the men who work on the loading dock is running the book on the head of ladieswear job. Jonas takes note, then approaches the man and calls him on it. The man, Walter, hands the book over, thinking he’s about to get into trouble, and Jonas inspects it, then asks to place a 10 shilling bet on Myrtle. Arthur, listening in, looks confused. Jonas spots him and guesses he’s wondering why Jonas played said bet, since Myrtle hadn’t applied and having her name in the book was just a joke. Jonas tells him it sucks to be the butt of a joke, and he’s hoping this little bet will get back to her and make her feel better. Like she really needs a confidence boost, that one. Arthur gets the hint and scurries off.

Tom and Kate meet with Dudley and Moray, and Dudley suggests that, once everyone’s gone through the applications, they write down the name of the candidate they want to interview. They wind up with a shortlist of four, and while Dudley and Moray are considering how to break the bad news to the unsuccessful candidates, Tom dumps the rest of the applications in the trash, because he’s a jerk, you know.

Tom finds Jonas on the way out and asks why he always feels like Jonas is watching him. I have no idea, Tom, since when you came upon him just now he was in a totally different part of the store from where you were, and facing away from you. Jonas claims he wants to be Tom’s eyes and ears in the store, essentially.

Flora’s doll receives her pretty new wardrobe, but for some reason, the sight of Flora and the doll upsets Katherine so much she hurries out of ladieswear and slams straight into Dudley, who takes her to his office to calm down. Dudley gently asks what’s upsetting her and she admits that Tom thinks his kid’s an idiot and she doesn’t want her banished to the schoolroom with all lessons and no love. For heaven’s sake, Katherine, it’s not like she’s going to be stuck in the schoolroom with her governess 24/7! You’ll still be able to see her, she’s just going to be taught some basic knowledge, like any young girl her age. It’s not quite the end of the world. Are you worried about losing your constant shopping buddy? You would, at least in part, employ the governess yourself, so you could take Flora out of the schoolroom whenever you wished.

Dudley doesn’t see why lessons can’t be learned practically and suggests Katherine step in, being an accomplished woman herself. He also offers to take Flora under his wing for a bit and teach her himself. And of course this ends up being all about Moray because Dudley says that once Moray used a word Dudley didn’t understand, so he started improving himself daily because he was terrified Moray would get too far ahead of him and he’d never catch up. God, can’t Dudley do anything just for him? Can’t anybody on this show do something without it relating directly to Moray or Denise? Besides Jonas, that, is.

Denise delightedly tells Sam that she made the shortlist. So did Clara, of course. She asks about this catchphrase business, and Sam claims that all the heads of department have one. Audrey’s was allegedly ‘Things can’t happen overnight,’ which is news to me, because I can’t remember her saying that once. If she did have a catchphrase, it was ‘X is a sin.’ Anyway, Sam’s got some lame suggestions for Denise, but she likes the one that goes: ‘we have a saying in Peebles…’ While they’re chatting, Myrtle comes in and starts adjusting her breasts, for whatever reason, and then they’re joined by Arthur, who helpfully tells them all about Jonas’s bet, which surprises Myrtle.

Dudley’s got Flora identifying the various languages on crates in the loading bay. She’s good with languages, apparently. He also gets her to figure out that there’s a looming war in Japan, which may result in a shortage of Japanese goods. Inside, Sam measures out some fabric and shows off his impressive mental math skills. Flora does decently well too. Later, Dudley shows her around, pointing to various objects and having her tell him the name in French. At one point, they pass Denise and Flora asks Dudley what ‘noxious’ means. He says it’s another word for harmful. She wonders why her parents would be applying that word to Denise and muses that her mother watches Denise all the time not because she’s obsessed, but because Denise is just that pretty.

Dudley takes the story to Moray, freaking out a little bit that Katherine clearly means Denise ill. He tells Moray that he’s worried about Denise, especially after all she went through over the past year, with all the gossip and speculation surrounding her while Moray was chilling with Clémence in Paris. About time somebody commented on that. Dudley urges Moray to try and persuade Denise to withdraw from the race. Moray doubts she’ll listen to him.

That evening, the Westons relax in the parlour. Katherine picks up a newspaper and chats a little about the news. At the mention of Japan, Flora comments on the impending war in Japan, which surprises her dad. Katherine’s pleased, but Tom goes from amused to pissed off when he hears this information comes from The Paradise. Full snobbery ahead, he won’t hear of his daughter being comfortable in some shop. They send Flora out and Tom spits that he won’t have his daughter smelling of that shop like some merchant’s kid. Now he’s considering sending Flora away to school. Katherine refuses to allow that, which only makes her husband angrier. He threatens her, she yells at him back, and he shouts at her to get out.

Arthur arrives in the girls’ room with a note for Denise. She takes off and Clara complains that she really thought she might have a chance at the job, but if Denise and Moray are so close, she’s sunk. Arthur says Moray would never just promote Denise because he likes her. Oh, Arthur, you sweet little innocent, you.

Tom drinks alone and eyes Flora’s doll, sitting in judgment on a nearby sofa.

Denise meets Moray in ladieswear and he tells her flat out that Katherine means her harm and wants her to be head of ladieswear in order to more easily bring her down. He doesn’t want to see her so vulnerable and urges her to withdraw. She starts to cry and reminds him that he was building the place up when he was her age. ‘Yes, but you are not me,’ he responds, a bit callously. She’s taken aback and guesses he means she’s not his equal. He only says that she’s different. Moray, stop talking. Seriously, stop talking now, you’re just digging your grave deeper. He claims he was more prepared for that because he’d gone out in the world and secured financial backing. She points out that a woman has a hard time getting financial backing for anything at all, and that it’s not that she’s different from him, but that the world sees her as different and treats her accordingly. Fair point. It’s nice to see her actually getting mad about something. She leaves him and goes downstairs, where Jonas is waiting. She immediately unloads on him, saying that Moray doesn’t see that the limits imposed on her are not imposed by herself, but by the world. She backs off, but he urges her to keep going. She just tearfully says she wishes she could show him what she was really capable of.

The next morning, Katherine wakes and goes into the sitting room, where she finds Flora’s doll with the eyes burned out of it. Well, that’s super creepy.

She hustles to The Paradise to order another doll, claiming there was something wrong with the original. Dudley immediately offers to arrange for a replacement and asks if there’s something bothering her, because she’s clearly teetering on the edge here. Katherine only thanks him for helping out with Flora the day before.

Outside, Jonas catches Tom and takes him to the Three Crowns. Tom’s totally hung over and doesn’t remember much from the night before. He gets a bit of hair of the dog in him and Jonas tells him that the staff is blindly loyal to Moray, and any action against him only increases their loyalty. They only need to have an excuse to transfer that loyalty. Jonas suggests reinstating the staff outing. Tom’s reluctant to reverse his original position, but Jonas has another way.

Time for the ladieswear interviews. Cat’s Arse is first and is a bit of a bitch. The next woman is completely opinionless, Clara a bit wishy washy, and Denise, of course, is confident. During her interview, Tom asks, hypothetically, what she would do if the staff outing to a music hall were cancelled. She replies that she’d try and bring the music hall to them. She even trots out that stupid ‘We have a saying in Peebles’ statement.

After the interviews, Jonas calls Denise back for a word with Tom. He wants her to create that night at the music hall for real. Jonas, you clever man. Denise is totally on board, even though it’s an almost impossibly short timescale (he wants it that night). He leaves and Jonas tells her this is an opportunity to prove herself. She cautiously notes that he and Tom seem close, and Jonas reassures her that he serves The Paradise, and she needs to seriously kick some ass that night. She checks him out, and then asks when he last danced reel (he’s Scottish, like her). He says it’s been too long, but she presses him to perform with her.

Denise flies around the store, trying to find out everyone’s hidden talent. Dudley watches, smiling. She asks Sam to be the MC. Moray notes that, every time he tries to influence events the exact opposite happens. This time, he tried to reign Denise in, only to have her fly ever higher. Yeah, how about that, Moray? Maybe stop trying. Dudley admits he might have just done the same for Flora and Moray gets serious and observes that Tom’s not the type of guy who’d love a child for herself, he’d only love the reflected glory she could bring him. Well, that’s depressing.

Myrtle comes upon Jonas and subtly brings up the bet. He tells her he was on the road for a while, and found no kindness there, but a great deal at The Paradise, and he just wanted to pay it back and let her know that he sees more of her than just her vulgar exterior. As a thanks, she offers him a plum duff currently warming in the stove and playfully asks if he’ll be wearing a kilt that night.

Dudley catches up with Denise and asks if she could find space in the programme for an extra act.

That evening, the Westons arrive as the staff take their seats in the great hall for the show. I thought Katherine thought this sort of thing vulgar? Dudley borrows Flora and takes her backstage, where Susie’s singing scales and others are tuning instruments. Sam’s getting ready behind a screen and sounds like he’s in labour.

The show gets underway, and when the curtain’s raised, we see Sam dressed as Myrtle. Heh. Everyone laughs (except for Myrtle) and he gets the crowd warmed up before introducing Arthur and his magic show. Then there’s a strong man act, with a scantily dressed Clara assisting. Susie sings popular ditties that make Myrtle cry, Denise and Jonas perform their reel, Katherine looking sour as hell. The final act, touted as the highlight of the show, is the Infant Prodigy, none other than Flora, who comes out and answers questions from the audience. Planted, of course, so Flora gets them all right, but then Tom tries to cruelly throw a wrench in the proceedings by asking when Columbus discovered America. Trick question, Tom. He didn’t, there were already other people there. Apparently Dudley’s lessons included history, though, because unlike before, she’s able to correctly answer. Ha! Take that, Tom! Douchebag.

That concludes the evening. That, and the news that Denise is the new head of ladieswear. She accepts her applause and goes backstage, where Moray meets her and tells her she’s dazzled everyone. She kisses him and says she hates being apart from him. The others call her back on stage, and she returns and gets reeled again. Katherine half playfully warns Moray that Denise may someday outshine him, and says she doubts even he could pull off what she did that day. Of course he couldn’t, because Denise is magical.