Recapping ‘Mr. Selfridge’: Series 3, Episode 2

Henri and about their feelings? Sort of? (Photo: Courtesy of (C) John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE)
Henri and about their feelings? Sort of? (Photo: Courtesy of (C) John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE)
Previously on Mr. Selfridge: Five years after the conclusion of Season 2, Rose Selfridge dies, and my heart is broken forever. Harry’s not dealing with this well, and becomes obsessed with a new project meant to help build houses for homeless veterans because the thinks it’s what his dead wife would like. Crabb, who is existing in a constant state of near emotional collapse because of Selfridge’s repeatedly poor decisions. openly challenges Harry at a board meeting over money for the project. Loxley is still alive because this show hates me and is busy swearing vengeance on Harry for causing his divorce, despite the fact tha the was an abuser. Oh, and Rosalie’s married some Russian aviator named Sergei who is a huge, inconsiderate jerk with a pushy, over dramatic mother. (If you need more, last week’s recap is right here.)

So, yeah. Business as usual at Selfridge’s, wouldn’t you say? Onward to this week’s episode. 

Additional Store Changes Abound. Boring Grace Calthorpe, whom you may remember as the girl that ran the tea counter last year, is officially given charge of the Accessories Department now that Miss Mardle’s been made Head of Fashion. [Insert your own joke about the inappropriateness of this assignment given Miss Mardle’s history of ugly outfits here.] She’s thrilled, her friends are thrilled, even George Selfridge who is still besties with her and also possibly has a crush on her is thrilled. Kitty Edwards is slightly less than thrilled, but as she already runs her own department, her attitude seems entirely motivated by jealousy that anyone else besides her is achieving any sort of recognition for anything at all. Meanwhile, Miss Mardle is safely installed in the Fashion Department, where she has live models, a new hairstyle and the constant presence of Mr. Grove, who seems to be flirting with her at the same he wants her to help his wife pick out some new outfits for her birthday. Their relationship is so weird.

Mr. Grove has let the additional women employees go, at last, and this means that Selfridge has to do a personal goodbye and thank-you for every girl they’re letting go in his office. He says it’s the least they owe them, but really it just seems very awkward. The girls are all concerned that references won’t mean anything when so many others (read: men) are already looking for work. Kitty’s sister Connie is among those laid off. 

Selfridge’s Housing Crusade Continues. Despite the fact that his veterans housing proposal was shot down by his own Board of Directors last week, Harry hasn’t given up on the project. He goes to see a banker for a personal loan to make the project happen, and is somewhat surprised when said banker seems sort of dubious about giving him the money when he has so few assets outside of his house and 51% of Selfridges.

Ultimately, the banker tells Harry that he can have his loan, but he’ll have to pay a much higher rate of interest to compensate for the fact that he doesn’t outright own much. Harry refuses to heed the warning in this, though, because it seems actually possible that despite being mega-rich, Harry has no idea how money actually works.

Flush with the success of this endeavor, Harry grabs Gordon and heads off to the auction about that piece of land he’s been so obsessed with. He suspects that the land probably won’t go for more than £14,000, and is feeling good about his prospects for buying it. Unfortunately, Selfridge doesn’t count on Vile Loxley showing up thanks to Sergei telling him about the event last week. Vile Loxley, of course, doesn’t care at all about the land or even want it, he’s just there to drive the bidding up. Which he does, by a great deal, and Harry completely falls for it, out of a combined desire to best Loxley in public and also to actually get the land he’s been so obsessed with forever. Harry insists to Gordon that Rose would have wanted to this project to go forward and ends up paying £30,000 (more than double his personal ceiling) for the land. Good job, Harry. 

Rosalie’s Husband is Still Terrible. Harry storms home after the auction to confront Sergei about the fact that Vile Loxley somehow knew about his interest in this land. Sergei sniffs that maybe he’s talked business with Loxley because he’s interested in his airplane idea. The two go back and forth for a minute  - Harry insists that Loxley’s trying to undermine his family, Sergei says he thinks his father-in-law is doing great at that by himself already, Rosalie cries and runs off and Princess Marie tries to smooth the situation over by bossing her dumb son around. Violette just thinks all this family drama is terribly entertaining. Ugh, can we get rid of Sergei now? This plot is so pointless. 

Trouble in Paradise, Apparently? After witnessing her new husband’s slight break with reality during the Lanvin fashion event last week, Agnes is understandably concerned. She wants to know what is going on with Henri, and why he won’t talk to her – she says that this has been going on for weeks now, her talking and him not answering her. Agnes seems somewhat over being ignored. (Sidebar: It’s really supposed to be weeks now since the last episode? This show needs to work on its concept of time.) Anyway, Agnes says that all she wants to do is help, if Henri will only tell her what’s wrong. Henri, following the example of every man on every television show basically ever, insists that he’s fine and has nothing to say. Which of course is very demonstrably untrue, but whatever.

Check Out the Trash Outside Selfridges. Many men have come back from the war to changed circumstances – lost jobs, no employment, debilitating injuries. There’s a group of them that hang out outside of Selfridges – some are beggars, some sell random items like newspapers or cigarettes. They are…not the most awesome of people, particularly the two Nameless Cigarette Sellers who are rather loudly belligerent about the state of their lot in life. These two champions are jealous of a man who’s missing a limb because more people stop to give him change, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’re also street harassers to boot. 

Connie and some of the other girls who’ve been laid off from Selfridge’s pass by these losers, who proceed to make fun of them for wanting jobs. They insist that they’re men who spent four years in France and are reduced to selling smokes on a street corner, so women like them should just shut up and stick to things they’re good at, like keeping house or having kids. Connie is infuriated by their attitude and for a second it seems like something truly awful is probably going to happen, but, at the urging of her friend, Connie settles for telling the loiterers that they’re pathetic and stomping off. The classiest one of the two oafs spits after her. Ugh, seriously, this is so gross. 

Henri and Agnes’ Troubles Escalate The situation between Henri and Agnes is not improved when Henri stays out all night on some kind of sadness bender that he doesn’t tell anyone about. He’s also ignoring Agnes’ request for input on this big display they’re meant to be putting together as part of this the store’s upcoming important beauty event. Things get so bad that Agnes actually goes to see Victor at his weird shady jazz club in the hopes that he can shed some light on her husband’s strange behavior and apparent new drinking problem. Victor – despite clearly thinking this situation is mad awkward – enlightens Agnes on the fact that War is Hell generally, and that, specifically, Henri was at Verdun, which was a particularly horrific battle where thousands of people were killed. Victor also implies that people were driven to do some especially gruesome things when the supply lines were cut off though he declines to go into specifics (you can probably fill in the blanks). Agnes is horrified.

Anyway, Henri finally resurfaces at the store, claiming that he’s been working on the window for the beauty event. She tries to get him to go home and get some rest, but he insists he can’t until he’s finished. Henri then gets sort of wild-eyed and crazy, insisting that he has to do the window himself, to prove whether or not he can be his old self again. He’s clearly about three seconds away from a psychotic break, but Agnes is all okay, that sounds like a legit good plan and leaves him to it.  

Princess Marie is Def Hiding Something. Remember last week when we had this whole thing about whether Rosalie and her new deadbeat husband were going to stay at Harry’s house or get their own place? And we found out that Princess Marie had been planning to just barge on in and live with them? Well, it turns out that she’s put herself up in a hotel and is charging the bill to Harry. And Awesome Butler Fraser (who is, apparently, still alive and still employed at the Selfridge house) is ON IT. He has discovered that the London flat Princess Marie claimed was “being renovated” has a totally different family living it, after its previous occupant suddenly up and left, leaving a pile of unpaid bills behind. He tells all this info to Harry’s Mom, who for some reason doesn’t immediately go to her son about the situation. But, still and all, just in case you were curious whether everything about Rosalie’s new in-laws was shady or not… it totally is.

Harry’s Mom decides to take the investigation into her own hands and enlists the help of Selfridges newly formed Information Bureau, which seems to be a strange sort of 1920s human version of Siri. Basically, you take your query to the handy Information Desk at the store and they have some unfortunate employee assigned to tracking down the answer to whatever your question concerns. It’s more personalized stalking, basically. Or can be, I assume some people must use it for something mundane like sourcing dress patterns. Anyway, Harry’s Mom wants the Information Bureau to dig up all kinds of dirt on Princess Marie – when she left Russia, where she’s lived in England, who her creditors are, virtually everything about her. Dun dun dunnnn…

Selfridge Meets with Nancy Webb Again. Now that Harry’s spent like double what he intended on buying land for her Wounded Heroes Housing Project, he sets up another meeting with the crusading Nancy Webb. She’s psyched about this news and has a long list of next steps for him – arguing that he needs architects and engineers and a bunch of other stuff. Instead of bothering with any of that mess, Harry just suggests he hire Nancy on as a manager herself and let her deal with all of it. She says yes straight away and Harry jumps up to attend to important business activities, like taking her downstairs to meet his daughters and Princess Marie, who are at the store for Kitty’s big cosmetics event. They all, weirdly enough, hit it off and, yeah, I think we can all see that Miss Webb is going to be Harry’s new love interest this season, for sure

Well, That Was Awkward. Agnes arrives at the store to find Kitty waiting with a request that she add some – quite frankly very unattractive – cosmetic boxes to the window display that Henri spent the whole night slaving away over. (Henri, for the record, is currently at home sleeping off his 36 hour PTSD episode and is not present for this request.) Agnes says sure, she’ll take care of it, thinking – as anyone would – that she’s doing her husband a favor by helping him out with this request.

Unfortunately – or, predictably, rather – Henri is not anyone in this instance. He arrives just as Agnes has climbed into the window display to start hanging up Kitty’s stupid boxes, and he’s furious that his wife is messing with his design. She tries to explain that Kitty asked her to do this and since he wasn’t here she said she’d take care of it. This leads to Henri yelling at her for not waking him up when she left for work and Agnes insisting that it was obvious he needed the rest. Basically, this all leads to Henri accusing Agnes of ruining his design, and Agnes insisting she was only trying to help him and Henri yelling that he doesn’t want her help anyway, thanks ever so much. Agnes starts crying, and at this point, a crowd has started to gather outside the window display, because the Leclairs are for all intents and purposes basically having their domestic in the middle of Oxford Street. Yikes. (I’ve been this couple before – okay minus the war-driven PTSD and the department store display window, but still. It’s not fun.)

Anyway, Agnes pulls her head up and declares that Henri needs to tell her what he does want then, because she can’t go on like this with him shutting her out all the time and acting like a stranger. She tells him she went to see Victor to try and find out about Verdun and what happened to Henri during the war and says he’s told her more than her own husband has about what he went through. Henri gets very dramatic about how he’s so sorry he’s such a disappointment and starts yelling again – loudly enough this time that he attracts the attention of Mr. Crabb, who climbs into the window to see what’s up. Agnes says she knows Henri has nightmares and cries out in his sleep and has been through awful things, and she just wants to help. Henri screams at her that she doesn’t know anything, and then starts kicking over pieces of the display window. The noise starts attracting the attention of customers in the store, Harry himself comes running over, and Crabb suddenly realizes that a rather large crowd has gathered outside the window to watch these proceedings and springs into action to close the curtains around the whole mess. Henri runs off, and Agnes is left crying in the wreckage of the store display, yet still assuring Crab and several random shopgirls that she’ll clean the mess up, since it was her fault. Oh, Agnes. 

Henri and Henry’s Bromance Needs Some Work. Following his Selfridges display window breakdown, Henri basically just runs off into the street. Harry, finally realizing that his BFF is having some issues, chases after him and the two of them end up literally running through a nearby park until Henri collapses by a tree. (It’s very Jane Austen, in a way. I kid because I love, y’all.)

Harry tries to comfort Henri, who is clearly having some sort of PTSD flashback – he starts talking in French and shaking and seeing a dead man when he looks at Selfridge. He babbles that all his men are dead, that he let them die, that they begged him for water and that he couldn’t help any of them. He’s clutching his head and sobbing, but then jumps up and runs away again – and Harry just stands there shouting after him. So, Harry still has some lessons to learn about what being a real BFF is all about, I think. Points for effort, but wow, way to whiff the follow through.

Henri goes missing that night – he appears to just be walking the earth around various homeless soldier camps, in truth – and Selfridge calls a meeting with Grove and Crabb about it. Grove says she’s seen some similar behavior in men from his former regiment – that sometimes men just can’t figure out how to fit their memories and feelings into regular everday life again. Harry says he can’t give up on Henri, he’s his closest friend even though he only just realized he was having terrible problems. He insists that if he has to, he’ll make up some position that keeps Henri right by his side at all times so that he himself can look out for him. (It really is very sweet, actually, even if Harry’s personal myopia is such that he literally hasn’t noticed his BFF falling apart on the daily. Go, Harry.)  

So Violette and Victor Are Going to Be a Thing? For no reason at all, Violette, the younger Selfridge daughter whom the show seems to be struggling to determine what to do with, arrives at Victor’s jazz nightclub. Again. She’s all by herself and seems to have come specifically to see Victor. They banter for a minute, hitting all the cliché lines (“You don’t know what kind of girl I am!”) that signal to those of us who have watched TV before at all ever that they’re definitely going to be a thing. They end up smiling at each other flirtatiously and wandering over to the bar to get drinks and chat. This actually sort of makes sense in a way as the show clearly has had no idea what to do with Violette now she’s all aged up and her sister’s already got the “worthless husband” storyline locked down. Plus, they haven’t know what to do with Victor in ages – and now that his love triangle with Agnes seems pretty firmly done now she’s married to Henri, he needs a new love interest anyway. This is at least slightly more interesting than him sleeping with his bar manager, which is quite frankly where I expected they’d leave him all season. 

The Edwardses Make Strides. Kitty’s beauty event is a raging success, thanks to her ability to impress well-off ladies with such wonders as the existence of lip color that comes in a tube. Selfridge is suitably impressed, as sales in the cosmetic department have gone up thirty percent. He tells Kitty to have a think about what her department needs to succeed and he’ll get it for her. Kitty, being Kitty, takes this opportunity to ask whether she can’t given her recently fired sister Connie another job. Harry snorts something about the store not being staffed via nepotism and Kitty somehow manages to not only make a cheeky comment about Selfridge employing his own son and not get fired for it, but ultimately to get rewarded for being cheeky and told that Connie can have her job in Fashion back. 

Meanwhile, Kitty’s lame husband Mr. Edwards is interviewing the aggressive homeless veterans who hang out across the street from the store for his new book. He plies them with booze and gets them drunk, so they'll talk about how hard it’s been to come home from the war, now that they have no jobs and no place to live. He also gets them all riled up about women – their general existence, the fact that they took some of the jobs the men used to do while they were at war and weren’t eager to give them back once the men returned, and just basically how inferior they are to men, generally. The most disgusting one insists that someone really ought to do something about that, those uppity women, he means, and there’s an ominous pause which clearly signals nothing good.  

Wow, The Last Three Minutes of This Episode Are Dramatic. As per usual, this show does its best to pack as much drama as possible into the last few minutes of the episode.

Harry and Nancy Webb get increasingly friendly. He’s already mooned over her looking at Rose’s old housing designs and now they’re on a first name basis.

Henri finally returns home from his breakdown-fueled wanderings, just in time to overhear Agnes crying to Miss Mardle about him on the couch. She miserably wonders whether the fact that they love each other isn’t enough – she says that whatever happened to Henri in the war has changed him and she doesn’t know who he is anymore. She even admits that his behavior scares her now. Henri, loitering in the hallway and looking like Don Draper on his absolute worst day, also starts to cry, but doesn’t reveal his presence. Dun dunnnn.

The down and out vets across the street from Selfridges continue to be garbage people – loitering on the corner, drinking openly and generally harassing anyone of the opposite gender who happens to wander by. They happen to ask Kitty for money as she’s heading home, and call her a vulgar name when she refuses to give them anything. The drunken ringleader – the same guy who was so awful with Edwards earlier – goes on a rant about how he knows all about working girls, blah blah insert gross sexism here. Kitty tries to argue back for some reason about how she’s a Head of Department and sells cosmetics so it’s not like she stole a job from some man. The men then just get angrier that she hasn’t given them anything, and, as the ominous feeling grows, Kitty gets attacked. She screams and tries to fight back, but basically this guy tries to rape her in the middle of a public street. Thankfully, Selfridge and Nancy Webb show up and break things up before things can get even worse, yelling for a policeman all the while.

And that’s how the episode ends. Uplifting show this week, huh? What do you guys think? (And, more importantly, does anyone know if Lady Mae is ever coming back?) 

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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