Recapping ‘Mr Selfridge’: Series 2, Episode 7

Harry's back! (Photo: ITV for Masterpiece)
Harry's back! (Photo: ITV for Masterpiece)

Previously on Mr. Selfridge: An entire episode in which Harry Selfridge did not appear happened! However, there was still a lot of drama to be had. Henri has been arrested, because someone turned him in to the police as a spy, but it turns out he’s also a wanted man in America To the shock of zero people, Loxley’s crime-infested military suppliers turn out to be shady, and scandal ensues when the army ends up with shoddy boots. Loxley blames Harry, who can’t defend himself because he’s on a secret mission to Germany. Miss Mardle, whose hairstyle is deeply troubling at this point, discovers that her attractive Belgian lodger has a thing for her. Mae decides she’s had enough waiting to become a statistic, SVU-style, and leaves her vile husband (but keeps her awesome ladies maid).

Well, we have a lot of stuff to deal with this week, huh? 

Harry’s Home! After an entire episode in which the titular Mr. Selfridge was absent, Harry blows back onto the scene to find a crowd of paparazzi waiting for him outside of his house, all wanting to know what’s up with the whole boot-making military scandal. Harry, who has apparently had no access to a newspaper or a telegram or any form of communication beyond smoke signals during his Super Sekrit Trip to Germany, has no idea what’s going on and is somewhat shocked when Rose and Gordon both hug him as though he’s returned from the dead.

He heads upstairs to unpack and have a few PTSD flashbacks about getting searched by German soldiers in his hotel room. Rose appears to ask her husband why he didn’t tell her about going to Germany and Harry says sorry, but he had his reasons. She informs him that Delphine told her what was up, but refused to get in touch with Bill Summertime about Harry’s whereabouts. He tells her not to blame Delphine for his decisions, because he knew what he was getting into. Isn’t it comforting that Harry’s still kind of a terrible husband a lot of the time? 

Rose reiterates that she was really worried and they hug it out, while Harry admits he probably should have told her about the whole going into enemy territory situation. He then says the two of them will decide everything together in future and not keep secrets anymore at all ever. So, we can start the betting pool on how long that will last right now.

Time to Touch Base with the Hanging Plot Threads From Last Week. Meanwhile, over at Miss Mardle’s Island of Misfit Toys, we learn that the foreboding telegram Agnes received at the end of last week’s episode said that her brother George has gone missing in action. Florien asks Miss Mardle what’s going on, and she explains that while Agnes is doing her best to be brave, she’s afraid that “missing” really means “dead.”

Florien does his best to be comforting, saying that since war is so chaotic it’s hard to get information. But, he says that if Agnes believes that George is alive, than those feelings often turn out to be true, and admits that he always sort of knew that his family was dead in Belgium. He then decides that now is a perfect time to get some romantic talk in, as awkwardly as possibly, and says that since he met Miss Mardle, he’s been better able to accept his feelings about his family. (Um, swoon, I guess?) Miss Mardle says that he really shouldn’t talk like that, but I think she means because it’s inappropriate, not because it’s nonsensical, which would be my major objection.

Florien insists that there’s nothing wrong with the way he feels for her. This argument, heck, this entire relationship, would possibly be more convincing if they didn’t insist on dressing her as though she’s someone’s grandmother. Miss Mardle looks massively uncomfortable as she watches him head downstairs, and I take a moment to wonder if there’s something nesting in the base of that hairdo. I will once again pause here to say that this storyline is so disappointing – given that we’re 2/3rds of the way through the season and all they’ve found for Miss Mardle to do is pine after a twentysomething. Plus, girl, you’ve got buckets of money now and you’re basically already an old maid. Do what you want. 

Time to Go Back to the Store! Selfridge heads to the store, where there’s a rather large protest going on, complete with signs calling him a traitor and people yelling everywhere. Selfridge refuses The whole staff is psyched to see him back – Kitty starts immediately sucking up just in case Selfridge has heard that she’s dating the guy who wrote the article trashing him, Miss Mardle gushes about how worried they all were, and Mr. Crabb basically looks like he’d like to do cartwheels of joy.

Crabb has to break the news that staff morale is low and sales are down as a result of these protests and articles. Selfridge then has to admit that he actually was in Germany on a secret government mission that didn’t stay so secret. Crabb looks stunned, but oddly proud that Harry’s pitched in on the war effort. Harry’s depressed that his attempt at national pride has hurt the store.

Harry decides to hold a store-wide meeting to address the issue. He faces the staff and categorically dies the truth of the boot manufacturing scandal. One of the new girls from the loading dock confronts him about it, and Selfridge is clearly quite taken aback by her vitriol. He says he’s as horrified by the situation as anyone, and openly blames Frank Edwards for shoddy journalism. He says he’s written a letter in rebuttal to all the accusations that have appeared in the press and reads it aloud. It takes the procurement committee to task for their poor choices in distributors, proclaims that he would never recommend shoddy goods, and promises that he will get to the bottom of the whole scandal. 

Ugh, Whatever Delphine. Now that Harry’s back from his trip, Delphine suddenly reappears to see the Selfridges. She asks Rose how his trip was, and whether Germany was exciting and how Harry’s handling all the scandal. She apologies for not getting more info on Harry’s whereabouts from her BFF Bill Summertime, and it’s so fantastically obvious that Rose doesn’t believe she even asked about it. (I love her!) Rose does admit that – unlike Delphine – Harry doesn’t trade in notoriety, so he’s feeling very low about his current level of notoriety. Delphine decides that the need to throw some kind of thing to make Harry feel better, and remind him about what a special snowflake he is. Of course, Delphine already has an idea about how to connect with other people in town who “make dreams come true”. She even goes off on a tangent about how Rose’s problems are her problems because that’s what friends do. Shut up, Delphine. 

The Henri Situation Continues. Agnes goes to see Selfridge late that night chat about the whole Henri-in-jail problem. Selfridge says that he doesn’t know what to make of the whole situation and is apparently pretty hurt that Henri never felt the need to tell him that the American authorities were after him. Agnes pipes up that none of its really Henri’s fault, and she just knows if she could get hold of his terminally boring French ex-girlfriend Valerie, who happens to be in London, because of course she is, then she could get the whole thing sorted out. Agnes just insists that she knows Valerie’s somehow at the heart of this whole mess and I guess it’s good to know that crazed conspiracy theorists aren’t a new phenomenon (though of course Agnes will turn out to be right in the end because this is television and the show isn’t about to let its most attractive leading man rot in jail for two more episodes). Selfridge looks interested at this news and says he knows someone who owes him a favor that might be able to track her down. (Shocker: He’s going to see Bill Summertime in like the next three seconds.)

Feel Better World: Journalism Apparently Died a Long Time Ago. Selfridge is pretty annoyed with life because Edwards’ paper hasn’t printed his letter in response to their avalanche of personal slander yet. Crabb tries to cheer him up by saying other papers have said nice things about him since his return and reported on his denials but Harry doesn’t care because the one that started the whole thing is ignoring him. Meanwhile, over at Nefarious Newspaper Central, Edwards himself is starting to have some misgivings about the story they ran, and suggests that maybe in the interests of, I don’t know, being journalists, they should give Selfridge equal time to defend himself. He nervously suggests that maybe they’ve been treating Selfridge rather poorly, and declares that the more he thinks about it the more the whole situation just seems wrong to him, because Selfridge is calling the Procurement Committee liars and whatnot when he was trying so hard to suck up to them before. 

Unsurprisingly, Edwards’ Mustache Twirling Editor, who is such a caricature I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even have a name, basically laughs in his face and says they’re not printing the letter because it’s just not patriotic. He says it doesn’t matter if there’s truth in it or not, and he can take away Edwards’ column as easily as he gave it to him and make him a big fat nothing in the world of newspaper journalism. MWAHAHAHAHA. Because he’s kinda evil, in case you didn’t get that memo. Though the fact that the narrative is seemingly expecting viewers to suddenly have sympathy for Edwards because he sort of feels bad about what he did now is just a bit ridiculous. 

The Store Gets Some Surprise Guests. In the wake of the scandalous military supply reports, the Selfridges shop floor is pretty empty. The Accessories counter girls are yawning behind Miss Mardle’s back, Kitty is imperiously swanning around Cosmetics instructing Random Counter Girl Whose Name I’ve Given Up on Learning (Brown Hair Edition) in the specifics of product display, down to the inch, while Random Shop Girl complains about her xenophobic father. Luckily, it’s time for Delphine’s Campaign to Reassure Harry He’s a Special Snowflake to kick off.

So, Delphine shows up with a crowd of American movie actresses, most notably Mabel Normand, and lets them all loose in the store to shop in the hopes of brightening up the store with a bit of Hollywood glamour. Of course, because these movie stars are American, they’re incredibly obnoxious about it, literally screeching in the most obnoxious pseudo-New York accents about the wonders of buying a lot of products in one go and posing for paparazzi photos with various items. Since this is how this show generally treats the concept of “Americans” no one should be too surprised, but nevertheless it grates. Delphine introduces Harry to the head of Keystone Film Studios Mack Sennett and he’s suitably impressed, because you know Americans love Hollywood, right? Harry gushes to Delphine about how the random appearance of American film stars is exactly what everyone at the store needed and Delphine looks rather smug and gets all touchy feely with him. 

This is Five Minutes Away From Being a Lifetime Movie. Mae, who has just sold all her jewelry for money so that she and Pimble can eat thanks to the fact that Loxley cut off her bank account, receives a surprise visit from her vile husband at her hotel. Mae tells him that he’s wasted a trip, because she has nothing to say to him and wants a divorce. (Yay, Mae – though I expect the odds of her getting beaten or stabbed have gone up considerably?) Anyway, Vile Loxley says that she shouldn’t be so hasty and surely they can come to some sort of arrangement that doesn’t involve scandal, because that’s what abusive husbands always say. He says that if Mae comes back, he’ll leave her alone, and let her have the house in London, since he expects to peace out back to the country soon anyway. Mae makes a snide comment about him hiding off with his dirty money, but Loxley says that she’ll have to stop saying things like that, because it is in both of their interests for her to keep her mouth shut. He urges her to come back so he can probably stab her in her sleep they can forget the whole thing ever happened. Mae looks dubious and His Vileness starts laying it on really thick, claiming that she’s always been the woman for him and he knew it from the minute he saw her. He even takes her hand and kisses it, while I start dry heaving at my keyboard. So gross! Mae says she’s glad he’s being so reasonable, but she needs some time to think about all this. Loxley agrees, but reminds her that he can’t keep the gossips away forever if she takes too long.

Thankfully, despite a moment of panic where I believed otherwise here, Mae has not lost her mind completely. Pimble rushes up to find out what’s going on and Mae says she has to destroy Loxley, before he gets the chance to destroy her first. Yessss! Maybe we can have Season 1 Mae back now! 

Agnes at the American Embassy Agnes, because she’s just 100% committed to this Leclair situation, decides to go see Henri at the American Embassy and tell him that Selfridge hasn’t given up on him. She’s doing this despite the fact that she already wrote him a letter containing that information, and, unprompted, protests to Miss Mardle that there’s nothing inappropriate about her obsession with helping Henri. Sure. Okay.

Meanwhile, Henri is busy explaining to the embassy folks that he didn’t embezzle money from whatever knock-off Edwardian version of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce he worked for in New York. They want to know why he fled the country before they could even talk to him if that’s the case. Henri says he panicked because he thought they were coming to arrest him. They point out that maneuever looks a lot like he ran away because he was guilty and they promise to drag him back to New York and lock him up for a long time. This storyline would probably be more interesting if we had any reasonable expectation that Henri was actually guilty or actually going to go to jail or something. The ending of the this plot is so obvious that they might as well skywrite it in the air above us. Surely there was some better way of getting Agnes to realize that she’s still into Henri because that’s the only thing this entire storyline is going to do. 

Anyway, Agnes gets a letter to Henri via the guard outside the embassy and we’re treated to a long scene of Henri reading with exceptionally dramatic music playing in the background. The camera not at all dramatically focuses on the “Yours, Agnes” signature and the music gets really loud and there’s some JJ Abrams-style lens flare thrown in for good measure, in case you didn’t catch that Henri’s like busy realizing the depth of his regard for her or whatever right then. Ugggggh.  However, the American Embassy is crazy posh though, and Henri looks exceptionally dishy draped all over its various posh furnishings, so I guess this storyline has a few positive beats.

Mae Visits the Selfridges. Mae shows up at the Selfridge house while the family’s having breakfast and getting excited about the party at Delphine’s later with all those American Hollywood stars. Well, except for Rose, who says she’s not feeling great and will probably skip it, because we can’t experience the particular joys of this Delphine throwing herself at Harry plot if she’s actually present, can we? Ugh.

Anyway, Mae says she knows that Harry’s angry, but she had no choice to vouch for her husband over the manufacturing issue, even if I’m not entirely sure why that’s true anymore, but okay, let’s go with it. Harry is awesomely snotty here, refusing to properly greet Mae, let her finish a sentence, or even look at her. Mae, for her part, insists that if the two of them join forces they might be able to prove that Vile Loxley’s the one behind Bootgate. Selfridge doesn’t understand why she’d want to do that, and Mae admits that she and her husband are having some problems and it’d help her to see him disgraced. Harry looks disgusted and says that she always just uses any situation for her own gain. He says that he and Rose thought she was their friend. Mae insists that she is their friend and claims that he needs her because the Procurement Committee has a lot of rich and titled people on it and they won’t listen to him because he’s just a shopkeeper. This is a truly terrible and poorly thought out argument and, shockingly enough, Harry kicks Mae out of his house.

Time to Party with the Hollywood Types.  Harry and Gordon head off to Delphine’s Hollywood party at her club. It’s packed with people, including Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties, and features a selection of Mabel’s truly horrendous looking silent comedies on loop. (Seriously, these folks must be really desperate for comedy; I don’t think I have ever seen a crowd laugh as uproariously at anything in the history of film. Sheesh.)  Delphine watches Harry from across the room like a psychopath.

Mabel, Actress with the Atrocious New York Accent, takes a shine to Gordon, and starts flirting with him via the tried and true American way of getting him drunk with Tom Collinses. Mack Sennett is busy trying to get Mr. Selfridge to come to California and invest in his film studio. And Delphine is busy piling on the flattery about how Harry is London’s dreammaker and the city will come to love him again eventually. So, Harry’s an idiot, just in case y’all didn’t know?

Luckily, Harry gets pulled away from this festival of flattery by the arrival of Bill Summertime, who’s there to tell him that he located Henri’s irritating French ex-girlfriend Valerie, and if he wants to question her, he better go do it now. 

Florien and Miss Mardle Have a Relationship Talk. Meanwhile, back at the After School Special waiting to happen, Miss Mardle decides to have a relationship talk with Florien. She admits that she has been running away from her feelings for him, because a while ago she was in a relationship with a gentleman who hurt her and didn’t work out – which is possibly the biggest piece of revisionist history ever composed in all of time, since “a while” translates to five years, “a gentleman” means “a married guy I dated for the better part of a decade” and “hurt her” equates to “married someone else the minute he got the chance”. So, you can see how close that story is to reality. (Seriously, show, we’re really meant to expect that she’s never been interested in anyone in five years? Really?)

Anyway, Miss Mardle explains that this unnamed gentleman from a while ago hurt her and made her feel like she didn’t deserve to be loved and she never wants to feel like that again. Florien, with all the drama of youth, aggressively wants to know who this guy was, who was so very wrong and insists that, of all people, Miss Mardle deserves to be loved. Which I guess he knows because she was nice to him? Ugh, whatever this storyline. Anyway, the two of them make out after that, because of course they do. 

Why Don’t You Come On Over, Valerie? Selfridge drags Valerie over to the American Embassy to clear Henri’s name, I guess because Valerie didn’t have anything else to do or wasn’t about to flee the country or anything. Whatever, anything that makes this boring storyline end. Anyway, Valerie – who is sporting a hairdo that looks like small woodland creatures are nesting in it, how is this someone who works in fashion how? – tells the Americans a long and boring story about how her boyfriend at the time who was also Henri’s boss in New York was actually the one who embezzled all the money. She claims he framed Henri for the crime because he was jealous that Valerie had once been his lover. She offers to provide copies of their personal bank accounts to prove her claim and apologizes to Henri for letting him get arrested for another’s crime.

Selfridge offers to vouch for Henri while the Americans are investigating and make sure he doesn’t leave the country, and, viola, he’s allowed to go free. Selfridge and Henri have a moment where they reaffirm their epic bromance  and vow to bring the story back to its former glory. Valerie, who is still hanging around despite the fact that she was apparently minutes away from fleeing the country, tells Henri that she’d like to try to make it work between them, since she regrets picking the illegal embezzler as a boyfriend before. (PS: Her outfit is also terrible. How does this woman even have a job?) Henri shoots her down immediately and she asks if he’s fallen in love with someone else. He smiles and says yes and I totally, absolutely bet you can’t guess who it is. He says it’s taken this whole experience to make him realize his feelings, so I guess whatever Agnes said in that letter must have been real awesome.

Yay, Henri’s Back! Harry calls a special meeting of the various Heads of Department so he can surprise them all with the revelation that Henri’s out of all his various jails and is back in the store for keeps! (Or at least until he goes off to fight for the French once his legal charges clear up.) Selfridge does a Patented Selfridge Pep Talk about how sometimes when times are darkest, you just need one thing to go right to know that life can get better and Henri getting out of jail is that thing. Which, basically, tells you how low everyone’s standards have to be at this point, but okay. Thackeray looks particularly awkward during all this.

After the management team meeting, Henri stops by to see Agnes and thank her for the Letter of Revelation she sent him at the embassy. Henri says it gave him hope during a dark time and he’s grateful. Agnes, awkwardly, tries to say that she just wanted him to know Selfridge was on his side, but Henri chooses this moment to go off on a weird tangent about how he’s always viewed her as this ingénue/protégé type and  but she’s always seen more than he has. He starts to launch into the big romantic speech about how he’s only just realized his feelings for her, but Agnes cuts him right off, insisting that as a friend she’s glad he’s not in prison or whatever, but she’s engaged to Victor now and they shouldn’t make more of the situation than there is. She says Victor’s always been the right man for her. Victor himself, of course, shows up right at that moment, and surprisingly doesn’t get angry because he’s doing this new mature and zen attitude now. Agnes shows off her ring and Henri looks awkward. 

Selfridge Recalibrates for the Future. Selfridge, after having officially refused Mack Sennett’s offer to go into the movie business with him, tells Rose that he’s been thinking about how to handle the situation with the store. He says sometimes the simplest solution is what’s staring you right in the face – that he needs to remind the public what Selfridge’s is all about: forgetting about your problems, escape, dreams, etc. etc. 

Harry then takes some time to wax rhapsodic about how awesome Delphine is, because she too shares this concept about the stotre’s image. He goes on for a bit about how fantastic Delphine is, and how they just see eye to eye on everything, and how she’s precisely the person to help him get the store back on track. He even thanks Rose for bringing her into their lives in the first place. Rose is clearly pretty anxious about her husband’s sudden regard for her (former) friend, but says nothing and stares ominously into the darkness as the two of them go to bed.

Dun dun dunnnnn - only one episode to go this season? What will happen? How terrible will Delphine be? Will Miss Mardle get a better storyline, ever? Won't anyone just man up and kill Loxley? Stay tuned. 

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 Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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