Previously on Mr Selfridge: Mae came back from France, divorced and broke, so Harry offered her a job running the new higher-end ready-to-wear line. We met Jimmy Dillon, a douchy boxing promoter, and the Dolly sisters, who are basically Jazz-age Kardashians. Harry fell off a platform during yet another store promotion and bumped his head.
Harry comes to in a graveyard, flinches with pain, and then starts panicking when he sees his own gravestone next to Rose’s. He starts shouting that he’s alive.
Fantasy sequence, of course. He comes to for real in a hospital, being tended by some pretty nurse.
And then he’s off to his seafront country estate to recuperate with his mother, Rosalie, and Tatiana. Lois urges Harry to take a rest and get better, reminding him he’s been given a second chance.
A reporter approaches Gordon as he’s coming out of his house and asks how his dad is doing. Gordon tries to put him off, but the guy presses, asking who’s looking after the stores. Gordon evasively replies that everything’s being taken care of.
Mae is going over her needs with Grove and Crabbe, who are both a little aghast at the budget she’s worked up. She offers to cut the French designer and do the designs herself, but otherwise she wants complete control over hiring etc, as long as she stays within her established budget. They look nervous but give her the go-ahead.
After she leaves, Crabbe tells Grove he’s looking tired and they wonder when Harry will return.
Meryl’s started her job, but Connie hasn’t really had a chance to train her yet. A friend of Connie’s, Sarah, stops by, on her way to an interview for a head of the sewing machine room job and they quickly catch up.
Mae goes to the sewing room and all the women stare at her like she’s got three heads. She greets them politely, then goes to the desk and begins working on some sketches.
There’s to be a family dinner at the Selfridge estate. Even Gordon and Grace have been invited, though they tend to be persona non grata with Harry because…I don’t know, I guess because Grace worked in the store before marrying Gordon. While this was historically true (Harry refused to acknowledge her or the marriage whatsoever), this version of Harry doesn’t quite jibe with that. I mean, he once referred to Agnes as being like a daughter to him, so clearly he doesn’t look down on shopgirls in any way.
Anyhow, Lois is delighted to have the family together, although Sergei is noticeably absent. No longer absent: Violette, who comes striding up to the house in a truly horrendous wig. It’s so bad it’s actually hilarious. Rosalie gossips that her sister flew over from Paris in her own plane. Violette kisses her dad, then whips out a newspaper (where did she get that? Was there a WH Smith at the airfield?) and starts reading a wildly speculative article about how Gordon is prepared to take the reins of the business from his ailing father, who was lucky to survive the fall, apparently. Please, it was not that bad a tumble. That poor band member totally broke the fall—he’s probably in worse shape than Harry is!
Gordon stammers that he never said any of this, which should be clear from the fact that at no point in the article is he actually quoted. Still, Harry blames him for this and gets all bent out of shape at the implication he might be past it. Violette just cocks an eyebrow in a way that makes me want to punch her hard and repeatedly as Grace tries to intervene and play peacemaker. But Harry’s an asshole now and gets all pissy and gets ready to go back to work. Gordon’s sick of this and takes his wife home.
‘It’s good to keep family tradition going,’ Violette says nonsensically. What tradition? You ruining everything? Also, what the hell is the matter with this woman? Who flies all the way from Paris to England just to stir shit up and ruin a family dinner? Why is she so hateful and toxic?
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Who flies all the way from Paris to England just to stir shit up and ruin a family dinner?[/cryout-pullquote]
Harry returns to the store and is immediately stalked by that reporter.
Harry: Rest assured, I will drop dead in my office here. Go ahead and quote me on that.
A young black woman gets dressed, picks up her purse, and heads out.
Harry finds Mae, who greets him with a hug and asks how he’s doing. He informs her that the Dolly sisters will be modelling at her fashion launch. She’s not at all on board with that, but Harry insists and will not take no for an answer.
The young woman from the previous scene takes the bus to Selfridge’s, and for no reason at all just sits there for a little while, nearly missing the stop, then hurries off. She goes to the fashion department, where Meryl asks if she needs help. The woman has an interview for a machinist job. Meryl directs her to the staff entrance.
After the woman leaves, Meryl joins a customer admiring a dress and immediately tells the woman that, basically, she’s too old and too fat for that dress. Jesus, Meryl! Do you not have a single firing synapse in that empty head of yours? The woman, naturally, is offended.
Harry goes to meet with Fatcat and offers to buy five full-page ads if he’ll kill the story about Sergei. He’s got a big new launch happening and wants to make a splash.
The young woman goes in for her interview with Grove and Mae, so we get a name at last: Matilda. She’s working at a ladies’ tailors, but for some reason she can’t supply character references, which is fishy. Grove’s ready to dismiss her, but Mae admires the dress Matilda’s wearing, which she made herself, and hires her on the spot.
Connie gets a complaint from Meryl’s customer, of course, apologises and pulls Meryl aside. Meryl pouts that the dress wouldn’t have suited the woman. Who cares, Meryl? It’s totally not your place to decide what a customer wears—if she likes the dress and wants it, you ring her up with a smile and send her on her way! How can you not know that? Only a complete moron needs training to tell them that.
Meryl goes on to sulkily blame Connie for not having given her enough training, and Connie points out that she shouldn’t have to train an actual adult in basic common sense. Meryl is banished to the stock room until Connie has time to work with her.
Crabb complains to the new head of display, Lyons, about the twee little butterflies he’s put around the stationary section, because they block customers’ movement. Lyons points out that people could just move about three inches to the left and get around it, and Crabb gets so upset he actually takes this complaint to Harry. Oh, come on, people! Does nobody have any sense here? Lyons tells Harry and Crabb that, if people have to stop for a second to avoid his butterflies, they might look and buy something. Harry’s like, yes, excellent point! Butterflies stay! He also mentions he’s setting up a new department downstairs, next to cosmetics.
Plunkett and Blenkinsopp corner Kitty and start gushing about Connie’s impending motherhood. Blenkinsopp then goes full asshole and pointedly comments that Kitty’s and Connie’s parents have had quite a wait for a grandchild. Oh my God, lady! What a horrible thing to say! You don’t know Kitty’s situation—maybe she decided not to have kids, maybe she wasn’t able to, but at any rate, it’s none of your business and that was terrible. Kitty shrugs that she never wanted kids. The two women are aghast at the notion that a woman would feel fulfilled without a baby. Blenkinsopp is especially shocked. It depresses me how little has changed between the 1920s and now. People still get shit from family, friends, and even strangers for choosing not to have kids. It’s absurd.
Kitty gets rightfully defensive and tells these two nosy bitches to mind their own business, because they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Harry is proposing a technology department on the ground floor, even though they already have some sort of similar department upstairs. But Harry wants to expand this and sell things that…don’t exist. Like the ‘televisor.’ So, are they going to sell prototypes? Just display them? I’m confused by this, and clearly so are Crabbe and Grove. Harry says they’ll take orders for these almost completely theoretical appliances. Who is going to order something that has no purpose yet and is not being manufactured? That’s like going to a department store now and placing an order for a replicator. Yeah, maybe those will exist someday, but they don’t now and there’s no guarantee they will anytime soon, so why would you plunk down money on them? And how much would you even charge for it? This is so wacky it’s stupid.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Who is going to order something that has no purpose yet and is not being manufactured? That’s like going to a department store now and placing an order for a replicator.[/cryout-pullquote]
Plunkett arrives to get all excited about washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Crabb points out that they have an actual product that exists and sells—tea—which will be displaced by this nonsense. Harry doesn’t care. I think he may have had a few strokes after that fall.
But it’s Harry, so this is happening. Kitty is not delighted by all this disruption (which would not be happening during business hours) and asks Lyons if the workmen can do this at night. Apparently not, because Harry wants all this done ASAP. Of course he does.
Mae talks over some of the designs with the machinists and Sarah, wondering how they can make only three sizes work for lots of women. Matilda, when prompted, suggests they cut some panels on the bias, which would make the dresses fall more softly (for some bizarre reason, the other girls snort when she says this, as if she just said something dirty). Matilda ignores the girls and says the shape will be more forgiving and flattering. Sarah, the head of the workroom, says it’ll take longer, but Mae doesn’t care. She compliments Matilda and sends them off to their work.
Crabb expresses some concern over Harry’s sudden insanity to Grove. Grove just sighs that he needs some time off, then goes to Harry’s office to ask for it. But before he can get the words out, Harry rubs his head and flops into his chair, saying he’s feeling a little lightheaded. Grove leaves off his request and departs.
Harry returns home and finds his mother waiting up for him, despite the late hour. She tells him he should really spend more time with his family, and also apologise for being such an asshole to Gordon. He promises to talk to his son when things are calmer. She goes to sit next to him and urges him to do so, because someday he’s going to have to leave the store permanently, and he’s going to need Gordon, when that happens.
Harry is presenting his new department on the same day as Mae’s fashion show. The gathered crowd cheers the technology department, which looks terrible and cheap and not at all like it fits in with all the perfumes and things around it. Display fail, Lyons. Harry announces a special radio broadcast that afternoon and everyone applauds.
Mae comes downstairs and tells Harry and Lyons the Dolly sisters haven’t showed up yet and are now quite late. She’s cheered when a bouquet arrives for her, even though it’s from Jimmy Dillon.
The Dollys finally show, making a lot of noise, carrying champagne bottles and flutes, clearly drunk. They rub up all over each other while they pose for the press, make a few suggestive remarks, and then stumble up to Harry’s office. Plunkett does not approve of these two. Harry welcomes them and sends them to the fashion show with Crabbe.
In the lift, they make some more obnoxiously suggestive remarks and generally act gross, which makes Crabbe uncomfortable.
They make it to the show, and holy crap, are they not modelling the cheapest, ugliest outfits you could possibly begin to imagine. I can’t even describe how bad they are. They dance and pose while Mae describes the clothes, unfortunately mentioning how easy they are to put on and take off. Dolly 1 asks how easy they really are to take off, then pulls her sister behind some partitions so they can trade outfits while Mae desperately tries to do some damage control. It’s partially successful, but several ladies get up and leave, and many of those who remain look pretty disgusted. The Dollys swap clothes, then come running out while the press applauds.
The machinists gossip about how Meryl only got her job because she’s Grove’s daughter, which is definitely true. One of them nastily says that the job should go to someone who deserves it, though that doesn’t seem to be a priority. She eyes Matilda as she says that. WTF, lady? Has she not proven her competence, both in design and sewing? What a nonsensical thing to say.
Sarah offers to take everyone out for tea that evening, but then looks at Matilda and gets a sour expression on her face.
Up in the Palm Court, the radio broadcast is underway. Harry introduces the singer from Colleano’s last week: Alberta Hunter. She begins singing some moody jazz while people listen downstairs.
Sarah sends Matilda to the stockroom for some beads. The other girls glare at her as she leaves. She finds Meryl in there and they chat about Mae (Meryl likes her dresses). Matilda thanks Meryl for directing her towards the beads. Matilda then returns to the workroom and finds everyone gone. How fast did they clear out of there? She was only in the stockroom for about a minute, at most. That’s not enough time to get things all cleaned up, grab your stuff, and leave.
Plunkett goes to find Kitty and apologises for being completely and totally out of line about the whole baby thing. She goes into a whole story about losing a fiancé in the Boer War and how sad she was never to have kids. Kitty sincerely tells her she’s sorry and thanks her.
Gordon meets with his dad, who apologises for blaming him for the article. He blames the fall but Gordon thinks this is just evidence that his dad doesn’t trust him. He says he’s tried to follow in Harry’s footsteps and Harry says he can’t, because Gordon’s his own man. He reassures his son that he does trust him, then leaves to meet with Dillon.
Harry and Dillon meet at the Palm Court and Dillon immediately assumes they’re not meeting at Harry’s club because of racism. Harry says he knows what it’s like to be an outsider and to have to fight for everything. Dillon laughs and launches into a story about being brought to Selfridge’s when he was six, to get a toy. He thought the place was a palace and a prince lived there. He then thought Harry must be the prince, to own something so magnificent. Harry asks what toy he got and learns it was a train, one of their bestsellers. Apparently they’re friends now.
At their new mansion, Kitty brings up the subject of kids with Frank, who looks alarmed and asks if she wants a baby. She does not and counters by asking if he does. He does not. Kitty likes her work and her life as it is, which he thinks is fine, commenting that she’s ambitious, and that’s great. It is! Live your life as you want to, Kitty!
Mae goes to Harry’s office to scold him for dumping the Dolly morons on her, because now all the news stories are about them and not the fashion launch, which was actually the event they were supposed to be promoting. Mae makes him promise not to pull a stunt like this again.
As she leaves, she passes a Dolly going in. Dolly 2 invites Harry to a wild party later. They make out as Harry apparently decides to live in the now.
That evening, Mae goes to Dillon’s. Mae, come on. Why are you interested in this guy? Is it just because he’s good looking? He’s an asshole. He was so unbelievably disgusting towards you in the last episode. I thought you had more self-respect than this.
I guess I gave her more credit than she deserves, because she goes ahead and seduces the guy, who continues to act like a dick towards her.
Harry returns home really late and finds his mother asleep by the fire in the sitting room. Except we’ve all seen these kinds of scenes before and know, before Harry does, that she’s really dead. As he realises it, he bursts into tears and it’s all rather sad.