Not this season, at least. Will the awfulness of Mr Selfridge make this seem better by comparison? Let’s see.
Denise sits in the middle of a park, reading a letter from Moray who is, as we see next, chilling in Paris these days. Probably riding out the scandal of his 11th hour dumping of Katherine, though skipping town and leaving Denise behind to face all the fallout is both cowardly and pretty douchy. He brags about all the amazing stuff he’s importing and whines about not being home and not having Denise with him, as a French waitress chides him for doing nothing but drinking coffee and eating nothing. He must be jittery as hell.
Denise heads back to The Paradise, where Dudley’s overseeing the unloading of a large shipment of goods. Looks like there’s a new porter in the cast, named Nathaniel, and he’s got eyes for the new girl, Susie. What happened to Pauline? Feel free to speculate at will; the show never explains her departure. Maybe she married that guy she met last season and went off to have a hundred babies or something. Since Susie is exactly like her—overly romantic, chipper, none too bright—it’s not like she’s terribly missed.
Denise accidentally drops her letter up in ladieswear and Clara hands it back with no rancour, which is nice to see. Miss Audrey busts in to awkwardly exposit that customer traffic has severely slumped in recent months. Once they’re alone, Clara asks how Moray’s doing and Denise says he’s in Paris and misses home.
The big shipment was ladies’ cape-style jackets, copied from one worn by the Princess of Wales. Dudley’s putting all his faith in this one garment to save The Paradise and pull it back into the popular sphere. Why is the store suffering? Because Moray’s not there? He’s built a pretty lousy business if it has this hard a time handling his absence.
In comes yet another new character—a cook straight out of annoying stereotype central casting, by which I mean she’s obviously lower class, evidenced by the fact that she’s coarse, dirty and sweaty looking, with stringy hair and an obnoxious attitude. I hate her already. Her name’s Mytle, and she offers to model one of the new jackets, nude. Charming.
Dudley, Sam, and Denise discuss how best to set out the capes. Denise suggests putting some by the door and creating a trail leading up to ladies’ wear, and the others think that’s totally brilliant. Well, Sam’s at least a bit mocking of how uptight everyone is about these damn capes, and when Dudley calls him out on it, Sam swears he knows this is ‘no caper.’ Heh. It’s even funnier because it doesn’t seem like anyone else around him gets the joke.
In the middle of the night, the pipe in the storage room where the capes are stored bursts spectacularly, and despite the best efforts of Nathaniel and Susie, who were having a makeout session nearby, the capes are totally ruined. Dudley’s ready to throw in the towel altogether and pouts that none of his ideas work. Clara wonders if this was some kind of sabotage and Nathaniel backs her, thinking it rather odd the pipe just over the capes should happen to burst.
Sam has to put out a notice that the capes’ great debut has been cancelled. People actually walk away from the store because of that. Meanwhile, both Dudley and Moray get letters that seem to make them quite happy.
Dudley rushes out of his office, finds Denise, and tells her Moray’s coming back. He’s just received a telegram to that effect from Lord Glendenning’s agent. So, did Glendenning kick Moray out of the country? How? I get that he’s rich and powerful, but powerful enough to chase someone away from their home and business? For a year?
Anyway, Dudley shows her the telegram, as Nathaniel listens in from nearby. Denise can’t believe it.
In the cafeteria, Sam asks Myrtle why she’s giving Nathaniel more food. It’s because he’s cute, Sam. Cuter than you, apparently. Clara tells Sam as much. Denise comes in and Myrtle asks if she’s had a chance to talk to Dudley about Myrtle getting a job out on the sales floor. Are you kidding me, Myrtle? Come on. I’m not saying that people can’t better themselves, but it doesn’t seem like this one’s even trying. Case in point: she promises she can stop swearing, and then turns around and says ‘I bloody swear it.’ Yeah, not really making your case, there. Denise distracts everyone by announcing Moray’s imminent return, which Myrtle declares something worth ‘washing one’s drawers over.’ Everyone’s excited, and Clara asks Denise how she’s feeling about it. Denise says she’s delighted. Sam goes on about what a scandal there’ll be (apologising to Denise a few times along the way, which admittedly made me laugh), but thinks Moray will put the fight back in the place.
The grand Glendenning carriage pulls up outside the store, and out climb Katherine, dressed in black, a little girl, and a middle-aged man played, to my delight, by Ben Daniels. Arthur rushes off to alert Dudley, who goes to greet Katherine and learns that she’s Mrs Weston now, the girl with her is her stepdaughter, Flora, the man her husband, Tom, and she’s in mourning because her father died. Dudley shakes hands with Tom, who notes all the women around and tells Dudley he doesn’t know whether to envy him or pity him. That’s kind of a shitty thing to say in front of your wife and daughter, Tom. Tom wants to explore and asks Clara for a tour while Katherine introduces Flora to everyone, briefly pausing only when she sees Denise appear. She calls Denise over to show Flora the store and Tom notes the charged atmosphere between the two women.
Clara asks Tom where he wants to start the tour and he suggests they begin at the bottom and work up.
Dudley, meanwhile, has Katherine in Moray’s office and tells her how sorry he is about her father. He mentions that Moray’s coming back and she’s aware, because she arranged the summons. He hesitantly asks if this means she doesn’t plan on selling the place anytime soon, and here’s where I start to get confused. See, I was under the impression that Glendenning had bought the property The Paradise sits on. I don’t think it was clear whether or not he owned the building, but whether he did or not, that shouldn’t at all mean he also owns the business. He couldn’t have purchased the business without Moray and Dudley knowing about or agreeing to it, and they weren’t fully aware of the land deal until after it was done. So, Glendenning (and, now Tom and Kate), are The Paradise’s landlords, not the business’s owners, and aside from fairly basic things (saying you don’t want a restaurant in a property, for instance), a landlord doesn’t have much power over a business in one of their properties. So, it wouldn’t matter if they decided to sell the property or not. The Paradise would just have a new landlord, not a new owner. And yet, throughout the episode, everyone acts like Kate and Tom are The Paradise’s owners and are free to make all sorts of calls about the business itself, which I don’t think is right.
So, Katherine doesn’t really answer the question but promises to let the events of the previous year go. Also, apparently she’s claiming that she was the one to call off the wedding.
Tom asks about Denise, because he thinks she was afraid of his wife. Clara says that everyone’s a bit afraid of Katherine. He notes that Clara isn’t, and that while everyone else was staring at Katherine, she was staring at Denise. Clara changes the subject, asking why, if the shop is to be sold, Moray has been recalled? That seems to be news to him, but he swears the place is being sold, for sure.
Late at night, Arthur rushes to Denise’s room and wakes her so she can go out and have a happy meetup with Moray on that nearby bridge. Moray asks to marry her immediately, but Denise is more concerned with why Katherine wants him back in town. Moray thinks that Kat’s made peace with the world, now that she’s married, but Denise isn’t so sure, even though Katherine seemed pretty chill and nice in the store. Moray doesn’t care about Katherine, he just wants to be with Denise. She still won’t give him a yea or nay on the marriage question, though.
Katherine sits at her husband’s feet before the fire and he asks her why she waited so late to call off her wedding to Moray. She tries to evade the question, but he won’t have it, so she says that at the last minute, she just realised she couldn’t spend her life with a man she didn’t love. She tries to distract him with some sexy time, but he suggests, and then insists, that she go on to bed. Like a good little girl. Because Tom is a bit of a jerk with women, in case you hadn’t noticed. As she goes to leave, he asks her why she didn’t tell him she’d recalled Moray. She plays dumb and says she must have just forgotten.
Denise has brought Moray to her uncle’s for tea, and things are surprisingly congenial between them. Lovett even invites Moray to stay there. Moray doesn’t have a home of his own? Ok, whatever. Denise heads back to The Paradise, noting a large carriage parked nearby.
Inside, Nathaniel is meeting with Adrian Scarborough, who thinks Moray’s recall is some attempt to outmanoeuvre him. He tells Nathaniel he needs him to act on his behalf once again. So, I guess the cape room flood was sabotage. Nathaniel’s not looking forward to playing saboteur and tells Adrian, whose name is Fenton, that he was promised no more tasks. Fenton tells him that Moray will only prosper if they let him, and they’ll let Moray somehow dig his own grave.
Afterwards, Nathaniel goes to see Susie and seems to want to confess to what he’s been up to, but he can’t. After he leaves, she delightedly tells Denise he was clearly going to confess his love to her. Denise is like, ‘whatever.’
The next morning, Moray leaves Lovett’s and goes over to The Paradise, where Dudley later finds him already at work in his office. The two men embrace and prepare to rekindle their bromance. Moray wants to address the staff and looks around the room, declaring that they’ll get it all back, sooner or later.
Out on the shop floor, Moray tells everyone they’re going to close the store for a few days while they fill up the store with all sorts of exotic stuff. He sends Sam out to start rumours throughout the city that will get everyone interested and excited about what’s going on.
Later, Katherine and her new family arrive and are surprised to find the closed sign. Tom is especially annoyed and glares at Sam until he opens the door and lets them in.
Moray’s having a moment with Denise in ladieswear, again asking for a response to his proposal. She tells him this isn’t very romantic and he promises to make it so. He takes her hands and declares his love and devotion to her, but then Clara comes in, apologises, and tells them Katherine’s there. Moray goes to take care of it.
Tom goes to meet Moray in his office, where he’s chilling with his feet on the desk. Perhaps not the best appearance to give to someone who’s considering selling your business, Moray. Tom asks about the closure and Moray explains that he wants to create a splash. Tom scolds him for not clearing it with him first, because we’re still operating under this idea that Tom’s The Paradise’s owner, instead of just its landlord, which is a totally different thing. Moray tells him about the glorious stuff he’s amassed and is having shipped. Tom whatevers to all that, explaining that he’s been a soldier his whole life and knows nothing about clothes and crap like that. Sorry, but if Tom’s been a soldier his whole life, he wouldn’t be Mr Weston. He’d at least be Lieutenant Weston, probably something even higher, if he’s made a career out of it. Unless he was in the navy and never made it past midshipman, but then he’d say he was a sailor his whole life, not a soldier. Members of the upper classes (and clearly he is one) did not just join the hoi polloi in the army, they bought commissions and were officers from the get-go. And believe me, they used their army titles even after they entered civilian life, because they were a mark of distinction. I wish this show wasn’t so lazy about its research all the time.
Moray suggests going to give his condolences to Katherine, but Tom tells him to ‘let the women be’ and tells him they have business to see to.
Katherine and Flora arrive at ladieswear and tell Miss A they want matching dresses. She asks for Denise to help them, of course, and Miss A calls her forth.
The new stuff starts arriving and Nathaniel begins uncrating it while Arthur talks about how amazing Moray is. For some reason, the crate of china pisses Nathaniel off so much he kicks the crate, and Susie asks him what his problem is. He lies that he just wants Moray to see how great he is at his job, unloading crates, and she promises Moray will most certainly be made aware.
Upstairs, Denise measures Katherine for a dress and Katherine marvels at how different her life is now from how she imagined it a year ago. She seems really happy especially to have Flora in her life, which is sweet, and she asks Denise to look after the child when she visits, in a rather downcast way that almost makes it seem like Katherine might not be long for this world. Denise agrees and Katherine takes the opportunity to apologize for getting all creepy bridezilla on her a year ago. She also continues the myth that she didn’t love Moray and gets a dig in by saying it was absurd to think she could marry a shopkeeper and be at war with a shopgirl. So, frenemies, then?
The staff is, for some reason, unpacking all the new finery out in the yard, so I guess we’re all hoping it doesn’t start to rain. Moray tells them that everyone will want to come and marvel at their not-terribly-remarkable parasols and china. Nathaniel looks sad.
At Mount Glendenning, Fenton’s meeting with Tom, who was apparently planning to sell The Paradise to Fenton and is now jacking up the price because Moray’s back. You do realise you can’t legally sell people too in the UK, right, Tom? Fenton warns Tom that he’s taking a gamble, assuming Moray’s going to drag the store back up, and he offers to take the place off Tom’s hands at the originally agreed price. Tom refuses. Katherine listens in from an adjoining room.
Katherine has Moray over for tea, and it’s clearly the first time they’re meeting since their breakup. Awkward. He offers condolences for her father, who apparently died while they were abroad, which kind of explains why Dudley knew nothing of the death. She bluntly tells Moray that he’s been brought back to restore an asset her family owns and tells him it’s audacious of him to close the store. He tells her about his new shipment and she thinks he’s also going to try and play on his own notoriety. She warns him that his sale has to be a success, or her husband’s going to lose faith in him entirely, and sell the store.
Myrtle drapes herself all over Nathaniel in a rather gross way at lunch and tells him there’s special bacon just for him. I’ll bet there is. Miss A looks like she can hardly stand to keep her food down. Myrtle goes on to rag on Katherine as well and says that all she gets in the cafeteria is gossip, but if she was up top, she’d get to see everything herself. And considering how indiscreet you seem to be, that’s just another reason to keep you below. Miss A pipes up that Myrtle shouldn’t be surprised to be kept out of sight when she doesn’t seem to be able to conduct herself with any sort of gentility. Myrtle gets back at her by calling her a dried up stick, which is shitty. Miss A gets up and rushes out, mortified, and is followed by Denise, while Myrtle goes in the back to cry. Oh, spare me, Myrtle. Sorry, but Miss A’s right about this. This is a store with a high-class clientele, and you’re really just not the type of person they want out on the floor. And you’re not even trying to be that person, so save the tears, you’ll get no sympathy from me.
Denise reassures Audrey that Myrtle will apologise, but as we know, that particular jibe really cut Audrey to the quick and she reminds Denise that she loves her work and couldn’t marry because they she’d have had to quit her job.
That night, Audrey goes over to Edmund’s and plays cards with him a bit. She suggests one more hand, but he tells her it’s late and she should get back. He busies himself cleaning up, and she gets up and wraps herself around him tenderly, telling him she won’t break if he touches her. He seems confused and turns to face her. She asks him to marry her.
Flora and Katherine are playing a game in the library when Katherine overhears some manly grunting in an adjoining room. I thought for a minute there she was going to catch her husband having at it with a maid or something, which would have been pretty outrageous with his wife and child in the next room, but he’s actually doubled up in pain. Katherine hurries over to him and tells him that if he tells her when it hurts she’ll comfort him, if that’s what he wants. Weeping, he says it is, and when he turns to embrace her, we see he has some really wicked scars across his back. I’m shocked to see this particular character acting so vulnerable, and willing to be vulnerable in front of Katherine.
At The Paradise, Denise peeks out the dorm room window and sees Nate talking to Fenton. She calls Susie over to ask about it, but by the time Susie joins her, they’re both gone. Denise insists that she saw Nate arguing with someone and asks if there’s anything troubling Nate. Susie mentions him kicking the crates. Denise says it looked like Nate had tears in his eyes just now, as if he were desperate. Does she have Superman’s vision or something? How could she possibly see that, from an upper floor, at night, with only gaslight for illumination. Susie tells Denise to chill out, because she’s scaring her, and Denise backs off.
Clara leaves the local pub, the Three Crowns, and returns home to find Myrtle sulking and drunk in the kitchen. Clara comments that Myrtle wasn’t at the pub that night, as she pours herself another drink. She notes that Nate’s skulking about nearby and jokes that Susie will start to get suspicious. Myrtle drunkenly offers him lemon cake.
The staff unpack and place items throughout the shop the next day, but are interrupted by Susie screaming bloody murder. She tells Moray and Dudley (and Myrtle, who’s there for some unknown reason) that she saw a scorpion. Moray looks like his head’s going to explode, because if the thing’s in the store and someone gets stung, that’d be really bad. So now, everyone’s on scorpion hunting duty.
Tom, of course, arrives for his daily visit and Nathaniel fills him in on the scorpion sighting. Denise sees them talking, then runs to Susie and asks her if Nate was with her when she saw the scorpion. Susie says he was, and thank God, or she might have died. Denise suggests that Susie didn’t really see the thing at all, but just thought she did because Nate said it was there, and Susie reasonably gets defensive, because nobody wants to be called crazy. She insists she saw the thing.
Moray finds Clara on the floor and she tells him Tom summoned all the heads of department to his office. She also warns him to beware Tom. She’s gotten rather nice in the past year, hasn’t she?
Moray gets to his office, where Tom’s sitting at his desk, ready to announce that the reopening has been cancelled on account of poisonous imports. Moray says that they could still find it and open that day. Dudley gets a little panicky, reminding Tom that they already have customers lining up, and Moray chimes in that a store is built on confidence and they can’t go ruining that. Tom insists that he owns The Paradise and he intends to sell it to the Fenton brothers before the end of the day.
Denise goes right to Nate and asks him what’s up, but he gets upset and grabs her arms, ordering her to leave him alone. Sam and Susie both take note, as does Myrtle, and Denise accuses him of making up the scorpion story. Myrtle insists the man’s lying and Denise tells him that the reason the store’s closed is because of what Susie saw, so if anyone gets into trouble here, it’s his girlfriend. Susie still insists she saw the thing, but Nate suddenly buckles and admits he made the whole thing up, just as Moray and Dudley turn up. Moray yells at him for trying to ruin them and Nate tries to defend himself, saying they kept saying he only had to do one more job. He tells Susie he didn’t mean to involve her. Dudley fires him and Moray announces that they’ll be opening in 15 minutes.
There’s a huge crowd outside, because this is one seriously boring city, and people flood into the store as soon as the doors open. It’s just like when Moray had that big sale last season, isn’t it? Everyone sells like crazy. Myrtle hangs around on the floor, which would totally have never been allowed in a million years. She insists that one day she’ll be out on the floor. On this show, I’m sure she will, though that’s completely crazy.
Fenton shows up and congratulates Tom on his success. Fenton, one good day does not a great success make. But on this show it does. Tom tells Fenton he’s not selling after all. Why not? Because of the underhand methods Fenton was using to try and drum down the price? Just jack it up again.
Nate’s on his way out, but Susie chases him down and asks him to write to her. He tells her this isn’t the worst thing he’s ever done—apparently the boy’s got a past. She doesn’t care. She kisses him and hurries back inside.
Flora and Katherine show up in their coordinating dresses and Katherine congratulates Moray on his great success. He hopes this means they won’t be sold and she says she never would have allowed it. She notes that he’s clearly glad to be back and, looking pointedly at Denise, says she can’t really blame him. Moray tells her she’s his employer (no she isn’t!) and he will serve her as best he can. She’s sure of it, and dismisses him.
Tom watches Clara clear up in ladieswear, smiling in a rather satisfied/creepy way. He tells her he’s taken a fancy to the place and tries to bait her by saying Moray is quite a man. She doesn’t take the bait, so he asks straight out if Glendenning took Moray’s store away from him and banished him to the continent. Clara claims ignorance. He asks about the wedding and who called it off. Clara tells him his wife’s superrich and hot, so why the hell would Moray call it off? Tom decides that he and Clara are going to get along quite well and he urges her to come to him if she needs anything.
Dudley parades into the Three Crowns and announces that Moray is buying all the employees a drink that night. Myrtle and Sam (who’s already at least ¾ in the bag, if not more) are delighted, of course, and Sam gets so jubilant someone warns him to tone it down, for Susie’s sake. Susie’s sitting all sad and alone, with her little glass of wine. Sam decides that all she needs is to find someone else, which is pretty insensitive just now. Clara brings up Kate and Tom but Sam says they’ll be fine, since they’re pretty well matched, as far as temperament goes. Clara hits Dudley up for free drinks all night (greedy!) and Denise gets up and leaves.
She goes to snuggle on a sofa with Moray, who whispers that the day was great, but he kept longing for everyone to leave so he could be alone with her. She asks him if he thinks Katherine’s really happy. He thinks she’s content, in her own way. Denise thinks it’s mostly a front and thinks they should hold off on any kind of marriage until they get The Paradise back. Interesting to see her trying to walk a fine line between Audrey’s two choices: marriage and career. Knowing Denise, she’ll find a way to have both.