Recapping ‘Mr. Selfridge’: Series 3, Episode 5

Harry Selfridge, probably making poor choices. (Photo: Courtesy of John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE0
Harry Selfridge, probably making poor choices. (Photo: Courtesy of John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE0
Previously on Mr. Selfridge: Harry and Nancy Webb take their relationship from zero to sixty in the space of roughly ten seconds, which is made even more awkward by the fact that Ms. Webb is secretly a grifter. Lord Loxley, who for some reason is still on this show, has formed a new committee to “help former servicemen readjust” but mostly seems to be all about hating on women who work generally, and Harry Selfridge for supporting them. Doris confesses to Miss Mardle that Mr. Grove is not the father of her son, as she had an affair during the war. Victor and Violette get arrested in a somewhat compromising position when the police raid his club. Oh, and Selfridges needs a new store deputy and a bunch of folks apply, including Grove and Miss Mardle, but Harry ultimately just gives the job to Gordon because nepotism is awesome.

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

To say this season is not what I expected it to be would sort of be the understatement of the year.

Violette is Under House Arrest. Harry is all sorts of mad at his daughter for getting arrested in a compromising position at a suspect nightclub last week, and even though the cops have decided not to press charges against her, she’s still basically grounded for life. Violette is predictably upset about this and insists that she did nothing wrong, despite being dragged out half naked into a room full of strangers, but maybe her dad doesn’t know about that part yet. (Her dad finds out about that part though when Victor tells him about it when he stops by the club and then tells him to stay away from her, so there goes that theory.)

Selfridge decides to improve his daughter’s life by forcing her to work with Nancy Webb on the veterans’ housing project. She protests against it at first, but Harry guilts her into it by saying that it’s something Rose would have loved. And once Nancy explains that she needs some help fundraising, Violette turns the corner pretty quickly. She even ends up telling Nancy that she’s incredibly envious of her because she’s been able to carve out her own life and career on her own terms. Nancy smiles awkwardly because she is a massive fraud. 

Gordon is Way Jazzed About Being Deputy Manager. Gordon Selfridge is super excited to be the store’s new Deputy Manager which is kind of funny given how strongly against taking the position he was at first, but whatever. Grove, in particular, is not a fan of this development, since he’s been Harry’s right hand at the store for so long, and he finds it humiliating that Selfridge encouraged others to go for the job if he knew he was just going to give it to his son. (He sort of has a point here, but okay.) He's the worst sort of petty about it too, openly enjoying watching Gordon get swarmed by complaining shop girls and rolling his eyes, because as we know, Grove is sort of a terrible person. 

Meet the New Art Director. Monsieur Pierre Longchamp arrives to take over his new position as Head of Display now that Henri is gone. You may remember him as Madame Levin’s bitchy creative director from that weird fashion show Violette acted in way back in the season’s first episode, and I think we can all agree that as a replacement for Henri, even just in the dreaminess department, there is something lacking here. It's also possibly due to the fact that he's just so French, it's like the writers took every irrittating stereotype they could think of and just threw them in a proverbial blender to create this guy. He's like a caricature instead of a person. 

But, anyway, everyone’s pretty taken with him at the store – it’s the accent, I expect – especially Gordon, who basically starts swooning everytime Pierre starts talking about how awesome it is that they are young and can change the future and everything. Though admittedly, his rotating tree display was very pretty. 

Victor Tries to Reopen His Club. Victor, reeling from the fact that the cops not only shut down his club but arrested all his patrons, is tryin to get back on his feet. He decides that the only thing to do is to go back to paying the police their blackmail money and everything can just be as it was. Unfortunately, Generic Evil Cop informs Victor that she he dared to “cross him” by trying to go legit, the blackmail fee has now tripled. Victor says there’s no way that he can pay that kind of money, but GEC just laughs. Man, being an entrepreneur is the worst.

Things continue to spiral for Victor when some random guy we’ve never seen before named Michael Reegan shows up to mock the state of Victor’s business and let him know that he is well aware of how he’s struggling to pay the cops blackmail money. He offers to help, but only if Victor will allow him to include some gambling tables. Victor gives in, and another surely bad idea begins. 

Kitty’s Ordeal is Not Over. Kitty’s back at work and doing her best to shake off the effects of her attack by bullying all the other shop girls. Unfortunately when she’s out walking home, she bumps into Charlie, the man who attacked her out on the street. She, naturally, starts screaming and runs away, straight into George Towler. She actually starts screaming at him out of fear, and he has to basically talk her down from a panic attack.

It turns out that Vile Loxley, has had Charlie the Would Be Rapist released on bail, as part of his weird new help the servicemen charity, which is apparently fine with letting would be sexual predators prowl the streets of London so long as they’re veterans, I guess. What a great organization, y’all! Kitty’s understandably upset and declares that she’s going to have to go see Loxley herself and tell him about what those men he had released are capable of. Frank says she can’t possibly do that, and says he’ll go instead. (Oh and then Kitty and George Towler have a nice moment when she walks him out of her house, and they’re so sweet together and I just don’t understand why Kitty married that jerk Edwards instead. Ugh.)           

Harry Brings the New Girlfriend to Dinner. Harry invites Nancy to dinner with his family, because apparently he’s looking to hit all the major relationship milestones within a week of sleeping with this woman. She’s worried things are going too quickly, but ultimately says yes because that seems to be how that relationship works, I guess. Plus, she’s got to do something to continue to keep suspicion off her true motives for her relationship with Harry, since there’s been another building delay with the veterans project. Womp womp. She wants to get out of London so she can “stop looking over her shoulder” whatever that means, but I would expect that means we should all start preparing for some sob story from her background to surface at some point.

The dinner is predictably awkward – Princess Marie openly asks about Nancy’s sexual relationship with Harry and then tries to blame the awkwardness on her English not being that great, Violette throws a tantrum, and Rosalie and Sergei have a fight. It’s actually sort of fun to watch, which sort of feels rare this season, so we can definitely have more of this, please. 

Miss Mardle Meddles. Billy, the father of Doris’s son, is basically stalking the Grove residence by loitering outside every morning. Doris is upset and doesn’t know what to do, so she turns to Miss Mardle for advice, which I guess would be a great choice since she’s actually an expert at covering up affairs and having unconventional relationships. Anyway, Doris insists that they have to figure out what to do about Billy, because if Grove ever finds out it will mean the end of their relationship, for sure. Miss Mardle says that they have to give Billy what he wants, but they just have to do it in secret. This sounds like a bad plan already. 

Gordon Makes Poor Choices. Gordon’s professional crush on Pierre Longchamp takes an unfortunate turn when he decides to sign off on letting him a new display window – based on a concept he doesn’t understand beyond the fact that it somehow involves scandalous French fashion ideas and items that are not currently available in the store. Three guesses what sort of things these are going to turn out to be? Longchamp swears this new display will bring every woman in London to the store, and Gordon just goes along with it because he is young and dumb and incapable of seeing that he’s clearly getting manipulated. (Oh, and of course Grove lets this happen, because since he’s still bitter about losing the Deputy Manager job, he doesn’t tell Gordon what he’s letting the new Head of Display order. Yikes.)

Anyway, of course it turns out that Gordon’s managed to approve the order of a great number of French ladies undergarments, which all go up in a Selfridges display window. A crowd’s already gathering outside before the displays even finished and there’s some debate about how racy and inappropriate they are. Selfridge is shocked, Gordon’s trying to apologize, Crabb looks like he’s literally going to faint, and Grove is having the time of his life, because he knew how badly this was all going to go. Grove sucks, have I mentioned? Of course everything works out okay in the end, because droves of women show up to the store to buy these fancy new underthings and nobody can argue with money, even if the papers complain it’s trashy. 

Frank Meets with Loxley. Edwards goes to see Loxley and tell him that whatever game he’s playing with Harry, he needs to leave Kitty out of it. Loxley sniffs and says that the prospect of a big showy trial like this is a good opportunity to get the word out about how war heroes are being persecuted nowadays. Edwards tries to convince Loxley that Charlie and his friend are trash who’ve attacked women before, but, as expected His Vileness really doesn’t care – he doesn’t even know what they men are even accused of doing to Kitty - and says he’ll look forward to seeing everyone in court.

Frank, in another display of his great worth as a husband, immediately goes home and tells Kitty she ought to think about dropping the charges against Charlie and company, otherwise her name’s going to be dragged through he mud in every paper. He says he just doesn’t want to see her get hurt and thinks they should try to just put the whole thing behind them. Kitty, drawing on the deep wells of awesomeness they’ve apparently decided to give her this season, just shakes her head and says no. She insists there’s no way these men are just walking away from what they did with no consequences.

Harry Also Makes Poor Choices. Crabb is horrified when he receives a letter informing him that Harry Selfridge has decided to sell 5% of his shares in the store. He confronts his boss about this issue, and Harry is nonplussed, explaining that he didn’t make the decision lightly, but it was the only way he could quickly raise the money he and Nancy need to start construction on the Selfridge Estates. Crabb, still horrified, asks if Harry’s aware that selling this stock means that he will lose his majority position, but Selfridge, being a complete narcissist, insists that whatever the Selfridge family will still control the store.  Crabb ends up in a guilt spiral over the fact that he spoke out to the board against Harry’s original plan of just borrowing from Selfridges originally and now he’s gutted that the store will no longer be his. Harry’s all whatever, I know what I’m doing, so this is obviously all going to go terribly, terribly wrong.

Kitty Does Something Brave. Roughly five minutes later, Kitty goes to see George Towler (yessss!) at Victor’s bar, and she says maybe there is something he can do to help her after all. She hands him a note and says that he absolutely can’t tell Frank about it.

So Kitty’s plan is to get George to take her to one of the soup kitchens that are frequented by former soldiers now down on their luck so that she can confront Charlie’s friend Silas  about what a piece of human garbage he is. She informs Silas that she’s not the first woman Charlie’s attacked or tried to hurt, and she can prove it. She says he’ll keep on hurting girls until something’s done to stop him – so he’s got to stop lying to help him cover it up. She asks him if he has a sister and what he’d do if this happened to her. That seems to get through to Silas for a minute – until Charlie shows up. He accuses Kitty of threatening his friend and George –awesome, fantastic George – steps in front of Kitty and tells the whole room of people that Charlie is trash who tried to bash a girl’s face in once and then rape another one.

After a moment of tension where it looks like the whole room is going to fight – George ushers Kitty off, with a reminder to Silas to do the right thing. Their plan is super effective, as Silas does end up withdrawing his support of Charlie’s claim to innocence, and the piece of trash has to change his plea to guilty! Hurrah! Kitty and George are a perfect and unstoppable team!

Seriously this Ending. What on Earth. Miss Mardle’s great plan to fix her friend’s paternity problem is to set up a meeting between Doris and Billy, so he can get the chance to meet his son and the two of them can talk out the situation between them. Doris reminds him that she’s happy in her marriage and gives him a picture of their son to keep. But Billy says “see you soon” when he leaves, so it’s unclear if this is meant to be a regular secret meeting thing they’re doing now or what, but it also sort of doesn’t matter because Doris gets run over by a truck.

No, I’m not making that up. I guess Billy forgot his wallet or something because she has to chase after him – where exactly is the baby during all this!? – and Doris gets run over and dies in the street and Miss Mardle has to take the baby back to the Groves house with the police and tell her ex that his wife is dead. This show, you guys.  What is even happening?

SO…..can’t wait to hear the thoughts in the comments after that. Get to it! 

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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