Recapping ‘Mr. Selfridge’: Series 3, Episode 8

Harry Selfridge, probably playing Telephone with Miss Plunkett. (Photo: Courtesy of John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE)
Harry Selfridge, probably playing Telephone with Miss Plunkett. (Photo: Courtesy of John Rogers/ITV Studios for MASTERPIECE)
Previously on Mr. Selfridge: The store throws a big “Britain at Play” event to celebrate the official end of the war, and Harry gets tricked into promising his board members big investment returns after Vile Loxley worries about how much the event is costing. Victor Colleano decides to turn his lame jazz club into a lame gambling establishment because he thinks it will make more money that way. Grace Calthorpe breaks up with Gordon after she notices that they’re from two very different backgrounds, Violette realizes she wants to fight for Victor and Harry decides to propose to Nancy Webb, because Harry is an idiot. And George Towler, now officially the most awesome person on this show, convinces Grove to stop being a garbage person and take his son back.

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

of a strange thing to say, because in some ways it seems like so much has happened this season, while also…nothing at all has happened that’s really of consequence. Maybe this episode will give us all some closure. Here goes nothing!

(Warning: This is a super-sized episode, so this is a super-sized recap. Strap in.)

Time for a Giant Sale! Despite the fact that last week you might have thought that Selfridges’ “Britain at Play” thing was their big event of the year, but you’d be wrong about that, because Harry’s new plan for increased economic success seems to be to hold the biggest sale ever seen, with rotating specials in various departments, aggressive new advertising and a bunch of excess merchandise to get rid of, because he wants to make sure he can fulfill that really dumb promise he made to the board to raise their profits by 10%. How is Harry a successful businessman? I mean, I know the real Harry Selfridge was legendary, but this version seriously makes it seem like dumb luck roughly 80% of the time.

But, of course the sale’s a pretty rousing success, at least to start off with. The store’s packed, people are buying everything in sight and Team Selfridges can barely keep enough stock on the shelves. Harry and Crab are pretty hopeful that this means they’re about to make a ton of money and show Loxley and all those other irritating board member types what for. 

Meanwhile, Loxley, who has basically gone crazy since reading the news in the paper that Lady Mae is getting married again even though he hated her and beat her on the regular, vows to ruin everything Harry holds dear because who even expects logic with this storyline anymore.

All of Princess Marie’s Dreams Come True. A giant trunk arrives at the Selfridge House from Russian embassy, which happily turns out to be a bunch of Marie’s clothes with a boxful of diamonds and jewelry underneath. She starts crying from happiness and is just over the moon that she’s not regulated to living on Harry’s charity anymore and tells Sergei he can now continue his dumb airplane dream and it’s just a strangely nice moment, because even if we haven’t always known the purpose of having Princess Marie around, she’s still kind of awesome. She tells Sergei they’re in charge of their own destiny at last, and cries some more. Seriously, y’all, I am having emotions. Though raise your hand if you actually thought the maid was every going to really send her that jewelry? It’s okay, literally no one did. And where is the maid anyway? Did she get stuck in Russia?

Anyway, Marie goes to see Harry, to tell him she wants to pay back all the money she owes him, so that they can all have a fresh start. Harry, in typical Selfridge style, says he won’t hear of her and Sergei moving out, that she doesn’t have to pay back a cent, and that she’s family now, so they’ve got to all stick together. It’s weirdly sweet and I sort of wish they hadn’t waited so long to make Marie interesting and not sketchy? 

Meanwhile at the World’s Most Boring Gambling Establishment. Victor has successfully completed the transformation of Colleano’s from a jazz club to a gambling establishment, but there’s a small problem. He has about one table’s worth of customer’s. He’s pretty excited about it, but his skeevy business partner Reegan is annoyed that they’re not making any money yet. Victor insists that he’s put the word out to the right people, and now they have to be patient and wait, since it’s not like they can advertise their illicit business in the paper. Instead, Victor takes to handwriting invitations to rich people he somehow still “knows” from being the maître d' in the Palm Court Restaurant like six years prior.

I suppose it’s likely that he still remembers all their addresses or that they live in the same place now, right? Anyway, Reegan is still not impressed and tells Victor he’s got a week to turn the fortunes of the club around. 

Nancy Webb, Living Her Best Life. Nancy’s brother/fake architect scam partner comes to crash at her flat with her because he’s broke and she very obviously tries to get rid of him while equally obviously trying to keep the fact that she’s engaged to their mark a big secret. She gives him cash to go get lodgings somewhere that is not her house, just before Harry shows up to snuggle and pressure her about making an announcement concerning their engagement. He does give her an office in the Selfridge store though, so the evening’s not a complete loss for her.

The next day, her brother comes by to see her and thinks it’s kind of weird when she actually wants him to deliver estimates to vendors like they’re doing a real job. He tells her she’s too into this side of their plan for his liking and wonders what he’s supposed to do when people ask him for actual architect’s input when he is in no way an architect. Nancy, buoyed by love and a giant diamond, seems pretty convinced everything’s going to be just fine. 

Loxley Makes Trouble For Harry. Using the giant sale as an excuse, Vile Loxley sets his plan to kick Harry out of his own store into motion. He has a couple sneaky meetings with other board members, where he implies that Selfridge has excess stock he can’t move, ignores the wishes of his board in store decision, etc etc. He visits Crabb to tell him that the board is worried about the fact that Selfridge didn’t ask them about the sale before he did it and is spending so much money to advertise it. Harry wonders in just in time to hear the end of this and, as expected, tells Loxley off and declares that they’re running even MORE ads and cutting prices again because he’s running his store HIS way. Which is probably exactly what Loxley wanted, I thought Harry Selfridge was supposed to be smart.

Of course it’s what Loxley wanted, by the way. He goes straight back to several of the board members and tells them about how Crabb and Harry rejected his support, and how he just randomly started increasing budgets for advertising and merchandising all over without consulting anyone. The random board members are most displeased by this and decide that they have no other choice but to convene an emergency meeting and force Selfridge to be accountable to them for their decisions.

Finally, Princess Marie is Awesome! Princess Marie is out shopping or something when she sees Nancy’s architect/brother friend leaving a jewelry store, and hears the owner call him a different name than the one he’s been using round Selfridge’s. This peaks her interest, as Marie is incredibly nosy generally and also is now all about being officially part of Team Selfridge.

She immediately goes to see Nancy again, ostensibly to give her an engagement present, but also to casually mention that she saw a man who looked exactly like Nancy’s architect friend only the shop owner called him Mr. Painton and isn’t that so weird? Marie pretending to be ditzy and confused in an attempt to get information is awesome, and Nancy laughs while doing her best to diffuse the situation, insisting that their architect is named Mr. Gerard and Marie must have made a mistake. She says she’s sure that is the case and leaves. Of course she doesn’t really leave, she’s just hiding around the corner so she can sneak into Nancy’s office and steal a business card once she (utterly predictably) runs out of it in a panic something like two minutes later. Princess Marie is amazing, y’all!  

Uh Oh Nancy Webb’s in Trouble. Guess what, everything is definitively not fine for Nancy Webb because, yup, her brother (whose actual name is Gus, surprise) found the engagement ring Harry gave her. Anyway, he is of course, furious and took it to a local jeweler and sold it. This seems like an incredibly stupid plan, but given how dumb this whole “build fake homes for veterans” scheme is in the first place, we probably shouldn’t be but so surprised?

Nancy can’t believe her brother is actually this dumb, and wants to know what she’s supposed to tell Harry about the ring. Gus doesn’t care, he just wants to know why his sister has been lying to him all this time and if she’s trying to cut him out of their money. So, Nancy confesses that she actually wants to marry Harry because she loves him, and says that she intends to be Mrs. Selfridge whether he likes it or not. She says she’ll still look out for him or help him get to America if that’s what he wants to do, just anything. She says she’s not taken any money out of the Selfridge Estate account because that means they’re still clean in the eyes of the law. She says she’s going to get those houses built somehow and everything is going to be fine, even though she doesn’t have a plan or an architect or anything. So, this should go well. 

This Gordon and Grace Story is Still Happening. So, for the five people who are emotionally invested in this “love story”, Gordon Selfridge is refusing to give up on Accessories counter girl Grace, despite the fact that she dumped him last week and said their lives were too different. He basically stalks her after work, trying to make his case (again) about why they should be together and guilting her about valuing her job more than him. Grace stands firm and says that she has to make her own way in the world, and can’t just do what she likes as he can. She tells him to leave her alone, and cites his refusal to tell his father about their relationship as proof that he knows Harry would never approve.

Later, Gordon goes to the house Grace lives in to see her, because he is basically a stalker. He’s kind of shocked by her living situation (she has a roommate their flat is very small) and is as awkward as possible about it. But he says he’s been a coward and wants to fight for her now, because he loves her. Grace lasts about two seconds and says she loves him too, but she can’t be with him until he tells Harry about their relationship. He vows to do so. 

Watch Out Selfridges, George Towler is Back! Miss Mardle helps George Towler get a job at Selfridges again. He’s hired on as the new Head of Security, because he’s honest and knows the store inside and out. Yay, George! The best thing about this season is that the show has somehow remembered that George exists and is actually giving him stuff to do. It is awesome. Harry and Mr. Crabb are psyched to have him back, as is anyone with sense. Connie Hawkins is particularly excited, so much so that she accidentally knocks over a cosmetics display upon meeting him again in the store. Which is so dumb, as a storytelling tactic, but I also think they’re adorable so I kind of don’t care.

Watching all this, Kitty tells George that she should just go ahead and ask Connie out, because Kitty is the stand in for all of us at this point, and he smiles and tells her that he can handle his love life on his own. 

Miss Mardle Drops the Mic. Billy the Babydaddy visits the Grove house again in an attempt to see young Ernest. Mr. Grove tells him he’s not welcome , refuses to allow him see the child, and gets angry at Miss Mardle all over again for meddling when Billy tells him that she allowed him to visit when Ernest was staying with her. And of course he immediately takes his feelings out on Josie by dragging her to his office to yell at her about it. But Miss Mardle, who has been reborn this season as the Most Awesome Person on the Show is not about to stand for this sort of treatment from anybody.

She tells Grove off and it is amazing. First, she tells him that he’s not right all the time, no matter how much he acts like it. Then she calls him a hypocrite for being so angry that Doris that slept with Billy, when he himself spent years having an affair with her when his first wife was still alive. Grove, because he is a garbage person as we have previously established, then tries to accuse Miss Mardle of always stalking his life and interfering, whether at work or in his private life. Oh and he also says there’s no way she could understand how he feels about the Ernest situation because she doesn’t have kids. Josie looks like she wants to light him on fire and even Grove realizes that last bit might have been a step too far. He tries to apologize, but she insists that while she’s not a mother, she’s still a person and deserves to be treated like one. Then she storms out. It’s incredible.

And as a result of this tirade, Grove decides that maybe he needs to let Billy see Ernest sometime. Because Miss Mardle gets stuff done. 

Loxley Tries to Oust Harry. The “emergency board meeting” is a poor cover for the fact that Loxley and his random board member friends want to hold a no confidence vote about Harry, in order to oust him. However, Harry’s way more familiar with all the store’s bylaws than Vile Loxley is and goes through all the motions of staging a board meeting only to invoke some random clause that gives him a two week reprieve. To do…what, is not entirely clear. I guess make more money to impress the board? Loxley is so mad.

Two weeks later, Crabb is busy crunching more numbers about how the store did, and learns that the sale has boosted profits by 6.5% over the last week. So it’s not as great as they’d hoped, but still an improvement, and Crabb has prepared some forecast numbers about how that percentage should increase even more by the end of the quarter. Luckily, Loxley is an idiot and completely overplays his hand, getting all crazy weird and ranty about Lady Mae (seriously he calls her a whore at one point) and absolutely proves Selfridge’s claim that his motivation isn’t the good of the store of the investors but because he’s weirdly obsessed with him and jealous.

The other board members are shocked, having apparently never met with Vile Loxley or read a newspaper article prior to this moment and vote to keep Harry on as Chairman by 7-2. Ha ha, Loxley. He storms out angrily, and it’s awesome. Can this be the last we see of him ever, please?

The Nancy Situation Escalates.  Nancy Webb, determined to keep up the ruse with Harry, informs him that she’s just ooops lost the engagement ring he gave her, so it’s lucky that Harry is megarich and can just be all oh it’s cool we’ll get you another one, amirite? Seriously how does Harry get dressed without assistance, I ask you.

But, you have to give Nancy credit, she is determined to marry Harry Selfridge. She comes up with the lie to cover the absence of the ring, she stays up half the night reading books on architectural planning so she can try and cover up the fact that her brother the supposed project architect doesn’t actually know anything about how to design or build buildings. 

Literally the Worst Kept Secret in the World. So despite the fact that Harry’s engagement to Nancy Webb is supposed to be this big secret, he’s doing a terrible job of keeping that information, you know, quiet. Not only did Harry tell Princess Marie –which really helped kick off the whole thing where she’s now digging in to Mr. Gerard’s past – he also tells his entire family about it one night over drinks.

Then he turns around and tells Edwards about it as well, who tells Kitty, who tells basically the entire Selfridges’ staff.  It’s basically like watching a really awkward game of telephone. The staff even throws a big congratulations party in the middle of the store. These people do not understand what “secret” means. Harry doesn’t care much, because he wants to tell the world anyway, but Nancy is freaking out. 

Gordon Tells His Dad About His Love Life. In the wake of his father’s wedding announcement, Gordon keeps trying to grab five minutes to tell his dad that he’s in love with a shopgirl. He keeps failing to do so for half the episode, until he corners Harry with twenty minutes to go in the season to drop this bombshell on him. Harry’s all oh no Gordon stop, but his son is determined, informing his father that Grace makes him feel the way Rose made Harry feel and she’s his friend and an amazing person and blah blah.

Harry says that Gordon can’t date Grace because he’s her employer and she is part of the staff and as a leader he has to keep himself separate from everyone else. Gordon argues that since his dad made him work in virtually every department in the story over the past five years, he’s never been apart from them and people still do what he tells them. Selfridge the Elder is adamant though, if Gordon wants to keep his position in the store, he’s got to break things off with Grace. 

Princess Marie is Basically Nancy Drew. Marie remains convinced that something big is not right with the Selfridge Estates architect. She investigated the address on the business card she stole, and the building was bored up. None of her inquiries resulted in anyone having ever even heard of him. Sergei tells her she should just leave well enough alone now they’re all getting along, but you can tell that’s def not happening.

So Princess Marie goes to visit the Royal Institute of British Architects, because that is an official thing, and decides to investigate “Thomas Gerard”. Whatever she finds there sends her straight to Selfridges to see Harry, but he’s left for the day, because he has to go sleep with Nancy. (Ugh.) Miss Plunkett tells Marie she should probably just come back in the morning and Her Royal Awesomeness is real worked up about it. Look out, world.

She stakes out his office the next morning, and is waiting when Harry arrives. Marie presents him with a printout of all of “Thomas Gerard’s” accomplishments. She says that according to her new BFF at the Architecture Institute, Gerard trained 20 years ago and has done dozens of impressive jobs which is all well and good except that there’s no way Nancy’s friend can be this person because he’s way too young.  Marie also confesses that she alerted Nancy to her suspicions, but she guesses Harry’s fiancée just didn’t do anything about it. Harry defends her, saying Nancy’s real busy, and Marie says she just hopes she did the right thing, telling him about all this. Girl, you don’t even know, this is the most awesome that Marie’s been all season where has this been??

Miss Mardle is So Over It. The Awesome Life and Times of Miss Josie Mardle continue, as she strides right into Grove’s office and tells him she’s handing in her notice. She says it’s because she finds it impossible to work with him, because he is bossy, inconsiderate trash that treats her like dirt. She says she’s not putting it up with it anymore, because she doesn’t need to. Go, girl! Grove grovels a bit and asks her to reconsider but Miss Mardle’s not having it, and says he needs to let Harry know.

Grove passes off Miss Mardle’s resignation to Mr. Crabb, who immediately cuts through all of the crap and says that the reason she’s leaving is obviously his fault. He says that Grove is a disaster and has treated Miss Mardle like crap for months. Everyone is yelling at Mr. Grove this week and it is the Best Thing Ever. He tells Grove he needs to get his act together before he loses his greatest friend.

The Greatest Day: George Asks Out Connie! George Towler, new Head of Security, tries to bust some lady shoplifters and gets nailed in the nose with a handbag for his trouble. Luckily, this all happens in front of Victor, Elsa and Connie Hawkins, who are all very impressed. Victor, who is a great friend even if he is a terrible boyfriend, tells George he should bring Connie by the club and have a night out on him. Victor is a good bro, y’all.

But, sadly, Connie says Victor’s joint’s not really her kind of scene, but all his put right when George asks her what her sort of place actually is then and offers to take her there instead. He even does this adorable move where he brushes her hair out of her face! Hurrah, we have achieved an actual date, and it is as adorable as we’d hoped! The only thing that’s awful about this is that there’s no way there’s enough time left in this episode for this date to happen this season. They better come back to this relationship in Season 4, and not in that way where they skip all the good stuff either. 

Mr. Grove Apologizes, Remains a Garbage Person. Grove decides to go see Miss Mardle and say he’s sorry for being the literal worst person on earth for the better part of this season. Miss Mardle doesn’t care, and tells him that she’s selling her house and leaving London, because she is just next level over everything. He apologizes for taking his Doris anger out on her and says she shouldn’t throw everything away just because she’s mad at him. Miss Mardle says she’s just tired of putting up with him treating her like dirt and taking advantage of her. She says he’s petty and selfish and a terrible friend, and that he should get out of her house, thanks very much.

Grove, however, decides that he can’t respect Josie’s feelings, declarations or request to vacate her property, and declares that he’s not leaving until they part as friends. Guys, I hate Mr. Grove so much, I can’t even. GET OUT. He plops himself down in a chair in her foyer and says he’s not going anywhere. Miss Mardle tells him to suit himself but he’ll have a long night of nothing and then marches upstairs.  Yaaay! 

But, of course, because this show hates me, Grove is 100% rewarded for this jerk move, and Miss Mardle forgives him after he tells her how she’s his soul mate and so important to him, which we all obviously know after years of watching him treat her like complete trash and pick literally every other person in the world over her. They make out, and I guess now Grove is getting everything and too bad about Miss Mardle not really liking kids or feeling particularly maternal because he has a lot of them for her to raise. This show is so darn frustrating ugh.

Harry Discovers the Truth. Thanks to Marie’s awesome sleuthing, Harry uses his next meeting with Nancy and “Mr. Gerard” to trap Gus into basically confessing that he’s not who he says he is by using ACTUAL ARCHITECTURE FACTS, which of course Gus has no idea about. Well, played, Harry. He brings the cops in and has Fake Mr. Gerard arrested (hahahaha!), and Gus immediately starts shouting in an Evil Villain sort of way that he wasn’t working alone bwahahaaha. Harry loses points however for immediately believing a sobbing Nancy when she tells him that she had no idea that this random guy wasn’t who he said he was. Sure, okay.

Even when George Towler informs Harry that they think this guy has been pulling off cons with his sister for ages, he still refuses to believe the truth. And, because of this fact, he gives Nancy Webb time to run to the bank, clean out the Selfridge Estate bank account, and dash off with a satchel full of cash. Harry arrives at her flat, apparently wanting to discuss the situation, to find it empty and completely cleaned out. He even drives out to the field where they’re meant to be starting construction on the Selfridge Estate, only to find it empty and barren of anything that looks like an actual building project. Welp, I bet he believes Marie now….

The Selfridges Literally Make the Worst Choices. Season 3 is winding down and the Selfridges are celebrating by having a virtual competition to see who can make the worst decision possible. Except for Rosalie, who has apparently already made her worst choice by marrying Sergei and therefore is sitting this round of poor decisions out.

First, Violette shows up at Victor’s club to confess her feelings and tell him that loves him and wants to fight for their relationship. She kisses him, but Victor remains unimpressed, insisting that they’re too different and that his world is one that she can’t ever belong to. Violette then grovels a bunch about how she’s totally willing to completely change herself for a man if he’ll just give her a chance and it’s pretty gross. But, at least Victor holds firm and tells her that it’s just not happening. Hurrah! Violette then decides that she’s so depressed and worthless that she’s just going to run off to Paris and wait for that random aviator friend of Sergei’s to propose to her.

Gordon goes to see Grace to tell her that he told his father about their relationship and how he was not a big fan of this news. Grace is ready to be sad and accepting about their breakup, but Gordon says no, that he’s going to quit Selfridges behind to be with her. He says he’s so sick of living in his father’s shadow, which is basically news to everyone since he has never ever mentioned this before, and he needs to make Harry understand he’s his own person or some business. They kiss and the romantic music swells. Ugh.

Harry discovers Nancy waiting for him at the store, because she is literally terrible at getting away with crimes. She confesses to everything, but says that despite her intent to run with the cash, she couldn’t because she can’t bear the thought of leaving him. (Vomit.) She says that Harry’s changed her and she’s broken all her own rules because she loves him. Oh, and she mentions that her actual name is Emily.  She tells him a whole long story about how she and her brother became grifters and how much she hated it and oh isn’t it just all very sad. She tries to argue that they can still build their Selfridge Estates together now and, in what is a very bizarre argument for true love, insists that Harry can’t be alone and needs a wife so he might as well be with her because they’re in love and so what if she lied about literally everything? This logic, as you might expect, does not go over very well. Harry declares that he was an idiot to think he ever could replace Rose, calls her a cheat and a liar and throws her out of the store. He says he won’t call the police but he never wants to see her again. Nancy cries and cries, but Harry’s not having it. The music is so insanely dramatic. Nancy flounces off with a dire pronouncement that Harry Selfridge is “vulnerable to women” and always will be, and he’s lucky it was her this time. Um…okay? Hello Season 4 plot, I guess?

And, finally, the season ends with Harry, furious and upset and angry, going to Victor’s gambling establishment to waste huge sums of money at the card table. You know it’s a bad idea because Harry is disheveled and drunk looking, and also because a weird 80s rock style version of the Mr. Selfridge theme song starts up in the background. I cannot stress enough how epically amazing this background music is. It’s legendary. Please let this be the actual theme music for the show next year. Cards are dealt. The music gets louder. The season ends.

Well…that was Season 3 of Mr. Selfridge, y’all. What did you think? Let’s talk it out in 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 Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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