‘Mr. Selfridge’ Recap: Season 4, Episode 2

Gambling looks pretty boring on this show, yeah? (Photo:  Courtesy of © ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

Mr. Selfridge, The Final Season Sundays, March 27 - May 22, 2016 at 10pm ET on MASTERPIECE on PBS Shown from left to right: SAMUEL WEST as Frank Edwards, JEREMY PIVEN as Harry Selfridge © ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only.

© ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE

Gambling looks pretty boring on this show, yeah? (Photo:  Courtesy of © ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE)
Gambling looks pretty boring on this show, yeah? (Photo:  Courtesy of © ITV Studios Limited 2016 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: Nine years have passed since Season 3, so we have to spend a bunch of time catching up with everyone including Harry (massive gambler, womanizer now), Grove (single parenting a pack of uncontrollable teens after Miss Mardle left him to go be awesome in New York), Kitty and Frank (crazy rich now, apparently?), Rosalie (has adorable daughter, also cheating husband), Connie and George (are married, she’s pregnant) and Gordon (married Grace, has two kids and is constantly on the outs with his father). The best update of all however is that Lady Mae is back, and now working for Harry designing some kind of luxury ready to wear line.  Harry takes a nasty fall off of some scaffolding and suddenly decides he needs to start like living in the now, or something. This translates to hooking up with the disreputable Dolly Sisters (two hot messes who  regularly get drunk and talk about their sex lives in public), ignoring his mom’s advice to take it easy, and being irritated with his son for no reason other than he doesn’t want to admit he, personally, is getting older.

There’s a lot more stuff because the season premiere was almost two hours long (!?!), and you can read the recap right here

Harry Continues to Make Poor Choices. The episode opens with Harry in bed with one of the Dolly Sisters and if I legitimately thought either of them were going to become actual fleshed out three-dimensional characters I might bother to learn their names or how to tell them apart. Alas, oh well. Anyway, Dolly #1 is trying to coerce Harry into coming to a party with her that night and he’s whining about how he has to go to a work event instead. He asks Dolly #1 to come with him as his date and offers to buy her a new outfit for the occasion, because Harry has no taste anymore.  He also looks like he’s been on a three-week bender without sleeping and it’s bad enough that Violette mentions it to him when he finally wanders home again. Harry tells her he’s not about to take lessons on decorum from his own children, because of course he does. Violette just chastises him about the fact that the gossip rags are all full of stories about him and his poor decisions, which seem to regularly involve staying out all night and womanizing. Rosalie just looks on, sadly. 

Meryl is Such a Whiny Brat. Over the course of a morning chat, we learn that Mr. Grove has heard all about his daughter’s poor employee behavior – you know, last week, when she told a potential customer that she was too old and fat for the outfit she was considering. He says it’ll do her some good to start from the bottom in the stockroom, and she’ll have to work hard if she wants to improve. Meryl, who sucks, just whines that the whole thing wasn’t her fault, and that all she was trying to do was tell the truth. Even if that truth was that her customer was overweight, I guess.

She pouts that if her dad really wanted to, he could help her out by talking to Miss Hawkins for her, because she’s his daughter and therefore deserves favoritism. Grove snorts, clearly aware that he has raised a terrible member of society, and says that if Connie thinks she belongs in the stock room for now, that’s where she should stay. Meryl pouts some more, because Meryl is awful. While arguing with his daughter about her snotty entitled nature, Grove manages to fall down his own stairs, because I guess falling off of things is a theme this season. Meryl laughs at him, because Meryl is the worst, and Grove somehow manages to bang his leg up badly enough that Crabbe forces him to see the store nurse when he gets to work. He ends up being sent home and told to rest up.  

Elizabeth Arden Comes to Selfridges. Kitty Edwards is all sorts of excited and nervous because the famous cosmetics maven Elizabeth Arden is coming to Selfridges for a talk and, ostensibly, to sell some products. Elizabeth is a bossy, pushy lady who seems very full of herself, so she’s instantly irritating. Kitty is totally starstruck, and even more so when she discovers that Elizabeth has always been a personally ambitious woman herself, who never wanted children either and unabashedly chases her own success basically all the time.

She’s basically Kitty’s new definition of life goals, and I’m just hoping she’s a one-off episode guest star. (She’s very annoying.) 

How are These People Ever Successful at Business? Harry, Gordon and Grace head to a party being thrown by Jimmy Dillon – something about the London stock market and the fact that he’s investing a bunch of money for rich people. I think? Maybe? They arrive and things get awkward because Mae’s there, all snuggled up with Dillon, and Harry’s kind of shocked since he didn’t know they were dating in the first place.  Or whatever we’re calling what they’re doing. Then Dolly #1 shows up and everything is even MORE awkward because everyone hates her but Harry and she’s just busy looking for the free bar.

It turns out that Dillon is doing some sort of backhanded trust investing for the assembled rich folks, using a theater that he owns as…I’m not sure, some sort of high end money laundering service, maybe? I don’t know. The point is, Dillon’s pretty psyched about his plans to make even MORE money by doing some sort of “splitting shares” maneuver, which is barely legal, but that, you know should be fine. (Translation: It’s totally illegal and they’ve just somehow managed not to get caught yet.)

Harry thinks it’s brilliant, but Gordon and Grace are taken aback by the shady nature of the whole thing. In fact, Harry thinks they should set up one of Dillon’s trust schemes at Selfridges, through the provincial stores that Gordon manages. His son is totally taken aback by this, and even Dillon cautions that this trick has never been attempted on the scale that Harry’s suggesting. However, he and Harry decide to go for it, over Gordon’s objections – which include the possibility of losing the stores and costing hundreds of people their jobs - so definitely can’t wait to see what kind of epic fail this turns out to be. 

They Have to Give Rosalie a Storyline Somehow, I Guess. Rosalie wanders into a random church to light a candle for her recently deceased grandmother and runs into Lord Jerkface from last week, whose name is actually Wynnstay, apparently. He’s there watching a children’s choir perform, and seems very affected by the whole thing and it’s all just super random. Rosalie sits with him, despite the fact that they aren’t exactly friends and after the kids are done singing, a child wanders over to give him a thank-you painting. Because it turns out that Lord Wynnstay is actually a patron of the orphanage here at St. Random of Wherever’s, and he’s kind of embarrassed about it. He explains to Rosalie that his son died in the war and he’s never really gotten over it, so he makes himself feel better by giving orphans a better life. (Okay, fine, maybe he’s not complete garbage.)

Rosalie promises not to spread it around that Lord Wynnstay is apparently an actual human being with feelings, but only if he’ll let her do something for the children herself, like host a charity event at the store. Lord Wynnstay looks uncomfortable, probably because he’s been actively plotting to basically ruin this woman’s life behind her back, but Rosalie just looks very earnest. 

Harry Keeps on Disappointing His Kids. Later, back at the Selfridge house, Rosalie, Violette and Gordon are going through a box of old family photos that belonged to their grandmother. Harry walks in and gets salty that the kids are going through his mom’s things, despite the fact that he’s been actively ignoring all the post-funeral activities he’s supposed to be taking care of. He says he’ll deal with it all when he’s good and ready, but he’s got to go out. Rosalie and Violette both plead with him to stay in and help them deal with this stuff, but Harry says no. 

He has lots of important stuff to do you see, like head to the card table with Frank, Jimmy and the Dollys to gamble away a bunch of money. He not only loses badly, he even gives Dolly #1 some extra cash to play with when she runs out of her own.  How is this man even good at running a business? A random man who looks like a Vegas pit boss even comes up and tells Harry that he’s kind of concerns that he keeps losing so much money in his establishment. Harry snorts and says obviously he’s good for it, but the Ominous Pit Boss says something extremely ominous like I’ll know you’re good for it when you’ve paid me mwahahahaha. Is this supposed to be sympathetic at all? Because it’s really, really not. 

Surprise, Elizabeth Arden is Crazy. Frank gets home from his night out with Harry just in time to answer a superlate phone call from Elizabeth Arden. She’s looking for Kitty, and she wants her to come to her hotel room in the middle of the night.  

For some insane reason, Kitty agrees to this, gets dressed (including a hat!) and rushes over there immediately.  She discovers Elizabeth in a full-on Blanche Dubois nightgown, all drunk and dramatic and flouncing around, insisting that she’s fine, really. She decides that now is actually the perfect time to show Kitty some photos of her husband with his 22 year-old mistress that she paid a private investigator to take, because why not. Elizabeth drinks some more and cries all over her and tells Kitty that she won’t go quietly in a divorce if that’s what her jerk husband was thinking.  Then, Elizabeth starts freaking out about needing “her pills” and after she takes a bunch of clearly suspect drugs, she begs Kitty to stay with her until she falls asleep. There is not enough overtime in the world for this.

Kitty heads home where Frank’s waiting up, and she explains that, despite all her fame and success, Elizabeth Arden is just lonely and sad, with a cheating husband. Frank hugs Kitty and says she’ll always have him, which is either super sweet or a sure sign that he’s about to die, I don’t know. When Elizabeth Arden comes in to the store the next day, she just says good morning to Kitty and they act like nothing at all out of the ordinary happened. Um…. (Also are they both just wearing the same outfits as the day before? Are we stuck in Groundhog Day?)

Stock Party at Selfridges! Harry’s throwing a big to-do at the store for the launch of the new Selfridges’ stock plan/trust thing. This still makes no sense, but I guess we’re just going to roll with it.  The entire concept of this party seems…kind of weird? Like, why would you throw a special event, with press, to highlight your new venture that’s barely toeing the line of being legal? Who can say. 

Anyway, Gordon, who is still trying to save Harry from himself, tells his father that he’s done some investigating into Jimmy Dillon, and he has had some massive failures in business himself in the past. Harry shrugs and says he knows, but doesn’t care. Gordon again reiterates that all the provincial stores they’re risking look to him to lead them, but Harry just tells his son to shut up, get on the stage and read his prepared remarks, because he needs his support in this venture. (Why? I don’t understand any of this.) Gordon grumbles some more, but ultimately does what his father wants and gives a passable version of his speech extolling the virtues of this scheme and encouraging everyone to “put a piece of Selfridges’ in their pocket”.  He exchanges eye-rolls with Grace after the speech, but Harry just looks proud. 

The Dollys are a Hot Mess. After Gordon’s speech, there’s a big reception with champagne and canapés (which everyone is really stupidly excited about for some reason) for the press and the weirdly large crowd of people who decided to attend this trust launch. The obnoxious Dolly sisters are there, and of course they’re drinking and being obnoxious. One of them (Jenny, whom I have realized is generally the drunker, less cynical sister) decides that now is the perfect time to introducer herself to Harry’s daughter Violette. Violette, for her part, clearly hates this drunken hussy’s guts to pieces, and it’s kind of awesome. She says she has no interest in getting to know the Dolly girl at all, and that’s when Jenny gets drunkenly belligerent, insisting that Violette has no right to judge her and flailing around so much that she throws her drink in Crabbe’s face. 

The other Dolly appears to corral her drunken sister, only Jenny doesn’t want to leave. They argue, there’s some broken glassware, and general staring from the general public, as Violette just looks horrified as all this goes down in front of her. Harry shows up to ask what’s wrong, and his daughter just gives him a death glare and asks what her grandmother would think of the people he’s choosing to associate with these days.

Jenny, meanwhile, has run off to the cosmetics area of the store to sulk, and when Harry comes to find her, she complains about how terrible her life is. She says there’s something wrong with her, because she’s always trying to destroy her own happiness and no one likes her and even Harry prefers her sister. She asks what would have happened if he’d met her first, but before he can answer, the other Dolly shows up, ignores her sister’s obvious upset and makes out with Harry aggressively.  Yuck. This storyline may be historically accurate, but man it is also gross. Sheesh. 

Grove Gets Some Terrible News. We spend half the episode watching as Mr. Grove, busy convalescing from his home-based stair fall, actually manages to be an active and involved parent. He plays with his kids, they dance around the house together, he buys a family car so they can go for drives. This should all be a giant red flag that something is probably about to go very, very wrong, which of course it does almost immediately thereafter.

On a routine trip to the doctor, Grove is diagnosed with cancer, and it’s really bad: Tumors on his brain, lungs and liver. There’s nothing they can do, and Grove has an extremely limited amount of time to live. He nearly faints in the hallway, and Crabbe has to be called to come and help him home. (Crabbe offering to try and drive Grove’s new car without killing them is adorable.) Grove tells him the truth about his condition, including how bad his prognosis is. Struggling to take all this news in  Crabbe promises his BFF that whatever happens he won’t have to go through any of this alone. 

Kitty Gets a Job Offer. Kitty has lunch with Elizabeth Arden and the two discuss her career, taking especial care to not mention Elizabeth’s midnight drink-and-drugs breakdown at all. Kitty’s gone about as far as she can at Selfridges; she’s already in charge of the store’s most successful department.  So Elizabeth offers her a job – she wants Kitty to run all of her department store concessions, and in return she’ll get a doubled salary and a nice apartment in New York. Which, of course means she’d have to move to America, but suddenly that doesn’t seem like any kind of impetus to Kitty, who is laughing and grinning. Elizabeth says that a modern woman like Kitty belongs in NYC, where a modern woman can choose to be in business without becoming a pariah. (I don’t think this is strictly historically accurate, but whatever.) Kitty says she’ll have to discuss it with her husband before she decides anything. 

When she brings up the issue to Frank though, he’s less enthused than you might have expected, given his previous effusive praise for his wife’s ambition.  He basically dismisses it out of hand. Kitty tries to sell the job offer as an opportunity for Frank too, arguing that she could support both of them while he works on his own writing, instead of just “running round” doing publicity for Harry. Frank gets all offended that his wife doesn’t respect his glorified paparazzi job, and says that she’d be advancing her career at the expense of his own. He pouts that he didn’t know that his own wife thought so little of what he does. (Which, to be fair, isn’t like, that amazing?) Not sure if it’s supposed to read this way – particularly when both Edwardses are pointlessly insulting each other during this conversation – but on some level, it does seem as though Frank is only supportive of Kitty and her career ambitions when it doesn’t cost him anything personally. Deeds not words, my friend. 

Harry is Also a Hot Mess.  Jimmy Dillon takes Harry, Gordon and the Dolly girls to watch the stock trading on his Selfridge trust begin. Harry and his son about how much Harry loves the highs of gambling, and how the pain of the lows of loss makes him feel like a person. (Ugh, whatever.) Of course the trading is massively successful, and the Selfridges make buckets of money. They break out the champagne to celebrate, and Harry’s so excited he gets his Dolly sisters mixed up and kisses the wrong one. His actual Dolly girlfriend is SO not happy about this, and who can blame her, since Harry’s the kind of garbage person who can’t even keep the women he’s sleeping with straight? Gross.

Afterward, Harry invites Gordon to his office to discuss their future plans for the trust and all the money it’s made them. Gordon says he’s totally over the way his father just does whatever he wants, and while he’ll show up to sign on the dotted line when Harry needs him to, he wants to be left out of things entirely in future because his father only cares if he wins, not what he’s risking in the process.

Gordon also tells Harry that Violette has peaced out back to France, and he’s in danger of losing everyone he that cares about him because of his reckless and selfish ways. Gordon is so over everything and it is kind of amazing. Harry looks vaguely crushed – like he hasn’t heard some variation of this statement fifteen times in this episode alone – and somehow this motivates him to go visit his mother’s grave, finally. He gets there to find that there’s a headstone and inscription, ostensibly because his kids gave up on him ever finding time to do anything about either of those post-funeral activities he promised to take care of. This makes Harry start ugly crying again, which is I guess how we’re doomed to end every episode this season, and it’s just as hard to watch Jeremy Piven’s cryface as it was last week. 

Welp, I guess that episode was kind of a downer? Predictions on where we go from here? Thoughts? General snark about how Piven really cannot cry at all? Hit the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB

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