Recapping ‘Mr. Selfridge’: Series 3, Episode 4

Miss Mardle's hair has vastly improved this season! (Photo: ITV for Masterpiece)
Miss Mardle's hair has vastly improved this season! (Photo: ITV for Masterpiece)
Previously on Mr. Selfridge: Agnes finally tracks down Henri during his multi-day PTSD episode (yay!) but the upshot of their conversation is that they need to leave London if Henri’s going to have any chance at getting well (boo!) Kitty goes to the police to try and get the guys who almost raped her arrested, and learns that her husband is the reason they were all drunk and riled up. Victor and Violette Selfridge hook up and it’s just as unappealing as you’d expect it to be. Harry Selfridge throws himself at crusading veterans advocate Nancy Webb despite her protestations that she’s not interested, because Harry Selfridge is actually sort of gross sometimes and I don’t understand how he got an awesome woman like Rose to marry him ever. (Also, I miss Rose. Still.)

(If you need more, last week’s recap is right here.)

In short: This season is real weird. Onward! 

Harry Selfridge is Kind of a Creepy Boyfriend. Jumping right back into things from last week, our episode opens with Harry still at Nancy Webb’s flat. Given the state of her hair and dressing gown, plus the fact that Harry’s literally putting his clothes back on, it seems that these two (ick) lovebirds really took their relationship to the next level in a hurry. I mean, it’s sort of a stretch to go from “I’m not interested” to “Okay, I’m attracted to you, but we shouldn’t” to I just love it when dudes kiss me aggressively and don’t respect my choices” to “Well, sure let’s sleep together” in the space of like a couple of hours, but maybe people were better multitaskers back in the day. Anyway, yay, Harry and Nancy have hooked up and now we have to suffer through their awkward and painful romantic innuendo. Rejoice. (I hope there’s at least one fan out there that likes them together? Suffice it to say that person is not me.)

The Hunt for a New Store Deputy; or, Miss Mardle Discovers Feminism. With the departures of Henri and Agnes, Harry has to add a couple of new staff members to the Selfridges management team. He says he’ll be looking outside the store for those folks, but he wants a new Store Deputy to be one of the folks on the current leadership roster, and the lucky winner will not only have to do their current job but get extra responsibilities dumped on them. Sounds great, right?

Gordon Selfridge seems to be the going favorite to get this job because, duh, nepotism, but Harry tells him he’s going to have to apply alongside everybody else. Interesting, however, Gordon tells his father that he doesn’t really want the job – he says he’s not sure he’s ready for it, and that he’s still learning, and that’s just a big step. He says maybe in a couple years he’ll give it a go, and Harry looks all disappointed. 

Meanwhile, Connie Hawkins tells Miss Mardle that it’s obvious she should become Selfridge’s right hand person, since she’s run two departments and knows everything about the store. She’s sort of an adorable cheerleader on her behalf and says there’s no harm in at least asking about it. (New thing I’m discovering? I quite like Connie. She can stay.) Miss Mardle reacts to this idea as though Connie has just come down from the mountain with some divinely inspired tablets, and it’s sort of hilarious. You can tell she’s not really taking the suggestion seriously until she chats with Mr. Grove – who is also planning to apply -  and he basically laughs in her face. Okay, not really, Grove is way too polite for that, but he basically spends a good few minutes telling her that the new Deputy has to be smart and have backbone and be a leader of men and know about finance and oh no woman has ever been a senior manager at ANY store. He also basically takes the time to tell her that despite her own accomplishments at Selfridges they’re really not good enough for that sort of position. It’s hilarious only in the sense that you can watch Miss Mardle decide to go after this position and while Grove is talking and telling her all about how she couldn’t get it. Go, Miss Mardle. She could definitely teach these idiots a thing or two. And Grove’s so shocked at the notion of her going for this job – Grove who has ruined her life in so many ways, who judged her so harshly about the ways she was or was not “woman” enough for him – that it’s hard not to hope that she gets it, just to rub his face in it. So there. (Harry, of course, is awesome about her decision to apply, because while he is many things that are terrible, he also recognizes and respects awesome women, and says that the role will be awarded based on merit, not gender.)

Meanwhile, Back At Victor’s Awful Bar. Violette’s heading back out to Victor’s terrible jazz club to engage in some more really awkward and aggressive flirting with him. Gordon tries to tell her that her behavior is impacting her reputation and that of the whole family, but Violette’s not hearing it, she’s just all about Victor right now. Truth be told this story would maybe be more interesting if this all wasn’t so obviously about Violette acting out because Rosalie’s gotten married and her father won’t let her work in the store or whatever. Yawwwn.

On the flip side, Victor’s all pleased with everything because he thinks he’s finally thrown off the yoke of the corrupt London police department that’s been blackmailing him into paying protection money so he can serve alcohol after hours and turn a blind eye to illicit activity. Victor’s decided that people will still come to his club to dance even if they obey the law and stop serving them booze early in the evening and, after a close call with some angry customers who just want some more champagne, it turns out that he’s right. Everyone is soothed by the magic power of music and dancing, and it’s basically like Footloose is happening up in here. Generic Corrupt Cop is lurking in the shadows, watching this victory for the power of music and fun, and it’s obvious that he’s definitely going to do something to get back at Victor for this. 

Connie Makes Poor Choices. There are reporters all over the neighborhood near Selfridges, trying to get more info on the story about the shopgirl who was attacked. Most everyone blows off the press, but one particularly aggressive individual journalist tracks down Connie Hawkins in the Fashion Department and convinces her – tricks, really – to talk to him about what happened to her sister. He tells her that feelings about ex-servicemen and working women are running high at the moment and the best thing she can do to help Kitty out is to get her story out there, before other people can “muddy the waters” and make her look bad. Connie, who is clearly motivated by a desire to help, falls for this obvious lie and talks to the reporter at length. Of course this guy turns out to be a terrible liar, and, instead of doing a sympathetic piece about a woman getting assaulted, basically writes a scandalous hit piece that trashes both Kitty’s character and Selfridge’s decision to openly support women working in positions of authority. What a jerk!

Of course, Kitty finds out about it and is incredibly upset and angry with her sister, while Connie is horrified and heartbroken that she was a part of the whole thing. Harry, who has apparently decided to be awesome in every part of his life that doesn’t involve Nancy Webb, to make up for the nightmare that is him being with Nancy Webb, immediately backs Kitty up and decides to write some sternly worded letters to the editor about how what a great example she is to the rest of the staff and how proud he is of all the women he employs. Can we have this awesome version of Harry onscreen all the time? Like, in moments like this you can sort of actually see why there’s such a cult of personality around him.

The Russian Mystery is Dreadfully Uninteresting. Remember when Harry’s Awesome Mom hired the store’s Information Bureau to dig up information on Princess Marie? Well apparently, Miss Blakensop finally has completed her mission – going above and beyond to research Princess Marie’s history, creditors, outstanding debts, everything. This all basically confirms what we learned last week – that while she talks a good game, Marie and her son are super broke, and basically have been since they left Russia.

Anyway, Harry’s mom immediately heads over to confront Marie about her lies, and while the princess tries to bluff her way out of the conversation for a bit, she eventually caves and admits to everything. She explains that she and Sergei have had nothing since they escaped Russia and that she’s done her best to rely on her title as a method of obtaining credit from lendors and generosity from friends. She insists that she’s going to pay everyone back – friends and creditors – as soon as she can, which, she says, will be as soon as her maid Olga manages to get out of Russia with the jewels she’d left hidden there, though she doesn’t know when that will be. (How about never, is probably what anyone with sense is thinking here.) Marie stresses that her son loved Rosalie, and that he didn’t marry her just because she’s a Selfridge and rich. (I’m not sure anybody but Marie believes that, but okay…) 

Anyway, because Harry’s Mom is, in fact, awesome, as soon as she hears this sob story about how hard it was to flee Russia blah blah, she decides to forgive Princess Marie for all of her lies and allow her to move into the Selfridge house with everyone else. Ostensibly this has to be some kind of money saving move now that Harry’s all-in with his new building project, right? Otherwise, surely the Selfridges would be rich enough to keep footing the bill for Marie’s hotel? I mean, other than the land deal this season, we haven’t really gotten the impression that Harry or the Selfridge clan are hurting for cash?

Anyway, the prospect of Marie living the Selfridges is kind of hilarious, and Marie promises to try and talk to her loser son about the fact that he’s being a terrible husband, and try to fix things between Rosalie and Sergei. That’s sure to go well, but perhaps it will at least be entertaining.

Doris’ Secret is Terrible and Predictable. In case you hadn’t guessed yet from the 45 hints this episode dropped before they just came about how obsessed Grove is with family and his kids and how Doris is crying all the time and getting stalked by strangers in Selfridge’s, Mrs. Grove has a big secret. And that secret is about her youngest child – apparently her son is not Mr. Grove’s.

Doris confesses this big secret in a flood of tears to Miss Mardle, who has stopped by to visit and bring baked goods by way of apology for informing Mr. Grove about the random guy that came to the store.  She sits down with Miss Mardle and pretty much starts crying as soon as the older woman tries to make small talk, and tells her that the man in the store was her childhood sweetheart from years ago, whom she’d met while he was home on leave during the war. She cries about how Mr. Grove was gone for months at a time and she’d been so scared she was never going to see him again, and all she wanted was some comfort. Miss Mardle – though she tried to comfort her when she thought her confession was just an affair – looks shocked.  Sigh. This storyline is sort of terrible, if only because it’s come literally out of nowhere after Doris hasn’t had anything to do in forever and it’s all about how she failed and is terrible, which is frustrating because it's not like Mr. Grove is an angel either. 

Vile Loxley Returns to Form. Lord Loxley has a small get together at his house, to which he invites all the guys who were on the procurement board with him last season, and whom are all aware that he was a law-breaking profiteer and general trash but who appear to mostly turn up anyway. Loxley tells them that he’s a changed man now the war is over and, as a result, he has decided to form a charitable foundation, motivated by primarily by the fact that he still hates Harry, but also because he wants a return to the values of the old days. (Yuuuck.) In his view the country has become full of foreigners and women are out working everywhere instead of taking care of their female responsibilities at home, and everything is terrible and someone really needs to fix that and teach everyone their proper places again. Ostensibly, his charity is meant to help servicemen readjust now that they’re back, but basically it just sounds like he’s defending the guys who attacked Kitty and ugh. Vile Loxley is SO VILE, you guys. I mean, I know that we all know Lady Mae sincerely and truly dodged a bullet by getting away from this loser, but wow. Did she ever.

Meanwhile, across town, Harry is getting more and more frustrated with the situation, because Kitty’s been getting hate mail at the store, awful letters calling her all kinds of names and things and threatening her. Edwards tells him about what Loxley’s been up to and his charity for former servicemen and Harry’s really just shocked that no one seems to remember Loxley’s crimes during the war, which is sort of funny since he’s a salesman and should know how gullible people can be. Edwards explains that Loxley’s just agitating, since Harry was so vocal about his support for Kitty, specifically, and for women in the workplace, generally, but Harry’s furious and says he’s done more for England than Loxley ever has. He declares he won’t be bullied by him or the newspapers and he won’t allow them to paint him as anti-soldier and he’ll use his new veterans housing project to prove it.                                                          

Gordon Decides to Apply for Store Deputy. Despite his earlier whining about not thinking he was ready to shoulder the burden of working as his father’s deputy manager, Gordon decides he’s ready to go for it after all, thanks to a (frankly, mediocre) pep talk from Miss Calthorpe that includes the two of them kissing finally. (Seriously, is anyone even invested in this Gordon/Grace relationship? IMO, they’re like human Sominex. So dull!)

Anyway, the crux of her argument appears to be the fact that he’ll inherit the store one day when Harry’s gone, which goes straight against Selfridge the elder’s speech about the store rewarding hard work, but whatever. Because of course, once Gordon tells his father he’s planning to apply to be deputy, Harry just gives him the job outright, especially after Gordon invokes the Ghost of Rose and tells his father how happy seeing him in this job at Harry’s side would have made her. Wow. Low blow, kid And this should be fun to explain to Miss Mardle, at any rate. Yikes.

Okay, the Hawkins Sisters Are Kind of Adorable. The police haul Frank Edwards back in to tell him they won’t be charging him and/or throwing him in jail for selling alcohol illegally to reprobates who turned around and attacked a woman. Woo, justice!

The Hawkins sisters make up after Connie apologizes for the millionth time for talking to that reporter. Kitty tells her that they’re Hawkins girls and made of strong stuff, and she needs her sister to help her through this. They cry, and hug it out, and it’s very sweet. Edwards comes in and says he’s book deal has been cancelled by the publishers because they’ve found out about his involvement in Kitty’s attack, and how he got those soldiers drunk. He’s frustrated and angry about it, but Kitty just coolly reminds him that it’s just a book, and that’s the worst that happened to him. So clearly she’s still angry at him, and I am very supportive of that. 

Something Weird is Happening with the Building Project. Harry rushes to Nancy’s after he finds out what Loxley’s up to. He tells her he wants to have a press conference right away to tell the world about the Selfridge Estates Housing Project and he wants her right up there next to him in front of god and country and all that. Nancy is really, really not into this –protesting that they don’t have any funding, they don’t have a bank account even, she’s not one for the limelight, blah blah. She finally says yes because Harry won’t shut up about it, but she’s clearly very unhappy and nervous about it. But, it turns out okay in the end, mostly. Nancy gets Mr. Gerard, her architect, to whip up a building model, Harry does a Patented Pep Talk about the project and how amazing Nancy’s vision is, and the reporters just eat it all up.

However – in a twist that is probably not going to surprise many people – it turns out that all is not what it seems. Mr. Gerard the architect shows up at Nancy’s flat late one night to compliment her on her performance at the press conference. He also finds out that she’s sleeping with Harry, and tells her that wasn’t part of the plan. The plan, apparently, being some elaborate set-up to swindle Selfridge out of the money meant for the veterans estates, because of course the two are actually grifters who have some sort of long con set up. Of course they are. I feel rather smug about this actually, as I’ve thought for a while that Nancy Webb was just trying to be hard to be Rose reincarnated, since its obvious that’s what Harry is sort of into right now. So, this seems like it will end well.

Victor’s Club Gets Busted; Does Anyone Care? Another night, another trip to Colleano’s jazz club. Yawn. Anyway, Violette shows up as the bar is closing to throw herself at Victor again, except this time she wants to take things to the next level with him, as it were, and get physical. Victor, who has lost all power of reason and judgment this season, follows her off to his office to apparently do just that, because c’mon, y’all, who could think of a more romantic location than Victor’s desk, amirite?

Anyway, while Victor and Violette are having their tremendously awkward hookup scene – which, quite frankly, all other issues aside, we’re probably all glad is interrupted – the bar outside is busy stopping drink sales and cleaning up empty glasses, in accordance with the law that they can’t serve past 9:30. And, of course, the cops show up just then – led by Generic Corrupt Cop - looking to bust the club for illegally serving. They’re not particularly bothered by the fact that the bar actually isn’t serving at all and start arresting people anyway, even going so far as to drag a shirtless Victor and half-dressed Violette back out onto the dance floor. Generic Corrupt Cop even literally forces a random woman to down a shot while Victor and the patrons are basically being wrestled to the ground, so that he and his cop friends can claim they witness booze being consumed. It’s sort of creepily aggressive and the kind of stereotypically terrible police behavior that’s so awful it’s almost funny.  (I mean, wouldn’t a roomful of people claiming that they all saw an officer force a woman to drink alcohol in order to frame a businessman he hates carry some weight here? No?) Anyway, Generic Corrupt Cop sneers at Victor, and it’s all clearly just so much payback for his attempt to stop paying the cops protection money. At least the fallout from Violette getting arrested should be fun.

Thoughts on this week, folks? 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