Previously, on The Paradise: Moray’s obnoxiously French lady friend Clemence arrives at The Paradise to sell fireworks, drive the men crazy and teach the shopgirls about girl power. Flush with the glow of feminism, Miss Audrey debates whether to give up her job to marry Edmund, while Denise gets jealous of Clemence’s friendship with Moray. Until she finds out that their new French friend generally prefers the ladies, or at least she does until we need a super boring subplot that involves Tom Weston stalking her, Katherine Weston trying to sanction an affair between the two of them in her home, and Clemence suddenly becoming obsessed with Dudley because he’s super nice, I guess. And, to top it all off, Jonas – who totally killed a guy that one time – returns just in time to save the apparently married Dudley from drunkenly cheating on his wife with Clemence, and that’s enough of a good turn from the store to overlook the whole murder thing and take him back. Yikes, what an episode.
Nowhere to go but up, yeah? Onward.
The Hunt for the New Miss Audrey is On. Now that Miss Audrey has gone off to experience the joys of marriage and unemployment, everyone’s obsessed with who’s going to end up taking her place. Apparently the Paradise staff in the loading bays are taking bets on the situation, and so far, Denise and Clara seem to have top odds. Neither of them seem to want to admit they’re actually applying, but if anyone thinks they aren’t I have a pretty cool bridge to sell you.
Moray, Dudley, Katherine and Tom debate the issue, and lines are very clearly drawn. Weston wants to know why the process must take so long when they can just promote someone internally. Dudley ever a stickler for procedure says that since they’ve advertised the position, they have to do things properly. Katherine says she thinks Denise is the obvious choice, while her husband suggests Clara for the position. Katherine does not like this idea, not for the least of which reason that she’s seen that Tom’s wandering eye frequently wanders past Clara, and she snarks at him in a rather fantastic fashion, insisting that they can’t promote everyone that he likes to look at. Burrrrrn.
It’s Time for Staff Outing Day. Apparently last year while Moray was away on his inexplicable and unenforceable exile to France, The Paradise staff had to miss their annual Workers Outing, which appears to be a group field trip somewhere fun for them. Oh, no! As you might expect, Myrtle is ON IT, making trashy references to how they’re due double the fun this time around. And it turns out, Moray does feel bad for making his employees missed out on their day of enforced togetherness, so he has rather grand plans to take them to see the new limited Music Hall event. Dudley’s concerned that the show’s known for being a bit on the risqué side, but Moray rightly points out that they all work with Myrtle, so there’s little that could possibly shock them now. Now, honestly, how does Myrtle have a job when even the bossman knows she’s useless and inappropriate?
Unfortunately, Tom and Katherine aren’t huge fans of this plan. Katherine thinks the Music Hall is terribly vulgar and Weston insists that with the store doing so poorly finically it’s a waste of money. Moray tries to speechify them into submission with a long speech about how they’re all investing in the talent of The People of The Paradise, but neither of the Weston’s care. In fact, Tom uses it as an opportunity for another awkward reminder that Moray is just an employee same as anyone else now, so he can stop acting like he’s got any real say-so in how the store is run.
Clara and Denise’s New Friendship is Pretty Worthless, Surprise. Clara and Denise watch a woman come in to ladies’ wear, case the joint and dash out, as apparently this is what people do when they’re preparing to apply for a job in their department. So awkward. Clara and Denise watch her go, and Denise sends some other nameless shopgirl who isn’t Pauline off to find out whether the woman gets an application.
Out of nowhere Clara glares at Denise and says no, she’s not going to shake hands and hope that at least one of them gets the promotion over some mean-looking sour-faced outsider. Because she’d rather see an awful person get picked for Miss Audrey’s old position than have to face the fact that Denise had been chosen over her. Again. Denise looks stricken, but Clara says that if she thinks she’d behave any differently when it came to it, then Denise doesn’t know herself at all.
Moray and Denise Have a Rendezvous, But It’s Really About Business. After Arthur comes to fetch Denise for a secret meeting with Moray using the world’s most obvious code phrase, the two lovebirds meet up on their special bridge to chat. The music gets all swoony and they make cow eyes at each other for a minute to remind viewers that they’re actually supposed to be a couple that we want to see together. (Not that the show itself is doing a great job of reminding us why at the moment.) Anyway, before we get down to business we have to suffer through Denise’s saccharine speech about how her idea of heaven would be on a bridge like this with him blah blah blah here’s your airsick bag.
But we don’t have time for romance – it’s back to business! Moray really wanted to meet to advise Denise not to submit an application for Miss Audrey’s old job. He says there’s trouble brewing between the Westons and both Denise and Clara will be used as pawns for the couple to work out their marital issues. Denise wants to know whether Moray’s going to tell Clara not to apply as well and he says he doesn’t love Clara, and is only concerned that the two of them should be careful, and devote all their energies to reclaiming The Paradise from its barbaric and somehow totally legal sale to someone else. Denise looks concerned and anxious – she says that she can’t quiet the hunger that has awoken in her since Miss Audrey left. She has a true passion for this job – that she’s positively burning to take over ladies’ wear. She says she can’t stomach the thought of standing aside and not even trying for what she wants to badly.
Can we just take a second to side-eye whoever wrote the dialogue for that scene? Who in the world talks like that? Let alone a young girl from the countryside as we’ve been repeatedly reminded? Yikes.
Anyway Moray says he understands wanting things, because he wants her more than anything and it won’t be so bad waiting when in a year or less the two of them could have The Paradise back again, not just ladies’ wear but all of it. I’m not sure how this benefits Denise at the moment, since they’re not married, nor do I get why it’s apparently okay for Moray to campaign for his dream over the expense of hers. But, whatever, I guess. Moray starts calling Denise romantic pet names and they make out for a while and apparently that makes everything okay again since Denise stops protesting. Where is your girl power now, show? Where?
Welcome to Weston Family Fun Night. The Westons are having a family night in – Flora is having a grand old time with the fancy new doll (complete with miniature wardrobe) that Katherine bought her. But, because Tom cannot let anyone have nice things for more than five minutes, takes this opportunity to berate his young daughter about her lack of knowledge regarding topics such as grammar and geography. Katherine steps in to shield Flora from this rude parenting and sends her to bed.
Tom tells Katherine that the girl is ignorant, but she argues that it’s late and Flora was tired. What’s really going on here is, of course, that Tom’s angry about what Katherine said during their argument over ladies’ wear at The Paradise. Katherine is quite rightly angry right back and points out that part of their deal was that he’d stop hounding Moray and stop flaunting his indiscretions all over the world in front of her. Weston spits back that she’s not exactly great about hiding how she’s got eyes for only one person – Katherine starts going on about how Moray means nothing to her, but Weston says that it’s clear the person she’s actually obsessed with is Denise. He says she obviously wants to punish the girl because Moray chose her, and she knows that the hire she pushes Denise, the further she’ll have to fall. He then drops the bomb that he’s tired of his daughter being ignorant, so he’s going to engage a governess to live in their attic and usher in a new indulgence-free era. Surely this is going to go well. I’m sure Flora will learn a lot, right?
Oh, and Flora, of course, is sitting out in the hallway listening to all this, looking sad.
Oh, Dear, Myrtle is Displeased. Dudley, because he gets stuck with all the worst jobs, has to break it to the staff – and Myrtle particularly that their big group outing is probably not going to happen because Weston doesn’t think it’s appropriate in the current climate. Myrtle – using the charmingly colorful language we all adore – lets Dudley know how unhappy she is about this turn of events. She says that she gets to savor a treat like the Music Hall exactly one day out of the year and starts ranting about how she knows that Moray would have taken them all if only that miserable Weston hadn’t forbade him. She swears vengeance, which I think is supposed to be funny, but instead is just irritating and feels like a waste of time.
Everyone Is Suspicious About Denise Not Applying For The Opening. Sam and idiotic Susie are both eager to help Denise with her application for Miss Audrey’s old job, so she has to drop the news on them that she’s decided not to apply. Susie, who is loud, reacts to this in a loud fashion, and suddenly everyone seems to know the truth, including Clara, whose entire body perks up.
Later that day, Denise is mopily staring at fans in ladies’ wear while Clara attempts to figure out what angle Denise is trying to play. She finally says there’s only one thing she can think of – and asks Denise if Moray’s gotten her into some kind of trouble, because she’s got to make him do the right thing and stand by her if there’s a baby on the way. She even offers to help her talk to Moray about her condition, because apparently we can’t expect a consistent characterization of Clara across an entire scene, let alone an episode. Anyway, Denise is quick to deny the whole pregnancy scenario, and just says that things are complicated right now.
Clara promises that she won’t change anything, if she should be the person who gets the job, which kicks Denise off into one of her patented “I’m such a creative business woman look at all my ideas” rants, where she goes on and on to Clara about how there’s so much more they could do in the department and that The Paradise could become a kind of store no one’s ever been to before, not even a shop but a fantasy. Clara looks like Denise has gone crazy and reminds her that all The Paradise is, is just work. A job. Denise looks like she’s about to start handing out spiritual tracts about the store outside, so I don’t think she really believes that.
Denise is Going to Apply to Ladies’ Wear, Can We Get On With It. Denise goes to see Moray in the middle of the work day to whine at him and ask him to tell her sweet nothings again and explain why she has to stand aside when she really wants the ladies’ wear position. She says that Clara would only ever see Head of Ladies Wear as a job, whereas she, she sees it as a chance to grow and breath and live, just because she’s Denise and a special snowflake, I guess. Moray kisses her a bunch of times to shut her up, and tells her it will be worth it in the end, though after spending all of last week learning about girl power I’m not sure how or why Denise hasn’t pointed out that it’s really Moray who will benefit the most from getting The Paradise back, not her. He says that they have to set aside lesser considerations, after all Ladies’ Wear is only one department and Katherine will surely pounce on any failure she may make.
Denise takes this opportunity to get huffy over Moray’s inference that she’s would fail as head of the department, but he says everyone does sometime, and there’ll be someone watching her every day. She’s too well known – and too connected with him – for that not to be potentially damaging to both of them. Denise doesn’t pay attention of this and just gets more angry because she thinks Moray doesn’t believe in her. This manufactured drama is incredibly tiresome when I think we all know that Denise will end up running ladies’ wear by the end of this episode so it’s unclear why we have to suffer through it. Oh, wait, we have to give Denise and Moray another reason to be at odds, right. Anyway, Denise stomps off in a cloud of righteous fury and goes straight to Dudley to tell him she wants to apply.
Katherine and Dudley, Suddenly BFFs. Katherine is, for some inexplicable reason, suddenly overcome when she finds her step-daughter Flora playing on the floor in ladies’ wear with Clara and having her doll fit for a matching dress. She runs from the room and straight into Dudley, who helps her sit down in his office with a glass of water. They have a heart to heart about parenting – surprise, after learning Dudley was married last week, you may be shocked to learn he has two kids this week – and Katherine confesses that Tom thinks Flora ignorant. She says that could even be true, but she doesn’t want her banished from her side to a life with tutors and a schoolroom and no love. Dudley offers to let Flora tag along with him in the store, because the business of running The Paradise is also an education. Katherine looks relieved, and this whole sequence is just very strange. I’m not sure when they became so close – though Dudley did always cheerlead aggressively for her relationship with Moray and she’s been kinder to him than most anyone else. But, that said, it’s still sort of oddly, especially when everyone else is pretty horrible too and suspicious of Katherine, including her own husband. So, of course it can’t last.
Anyway, Dudley takes Flora – still wearing her adorable new dress – along on his rounds of the store and has her identify items and where they come from. Sam and Susie teach her about math using items around the shop (and yes, thankfully, Sam’s the one doing the instruction, given Susie’s general idiocy). It’s actually very adorable until Flora asks Dudley about what a particular word means and reveals that her parents have been fighting about Denise, and why Katherine watches her all the time. Womp womp, so much for the whole BFF thing. Dudley goes straight to Moray and tells him that Katherine’s got it out for Denise, and he therefore doesn’t get why she’s championing her for the ladies’ wear job. Moray looks worried, and Dudley encourages him to try and persuade Denise to drop out of ladies’ wear job hunt.
The Westons are the Worst Family. That night, Flora shows off her new knowledge about brewing wars in Japan and trade routes to her father, who is duly impressed. He is less impressed, however, when he finds out that Flora learned all of this from hanging out with Dudley at The Paradise and goes into a whole strop about how his daughter is not going to grow up in a shop as though she were the spawn of a merchant blah blah classism blah. He threatens to send Flora away to school. Katherine flares up at this and declares she won’t allow her step daughter to be sent away. This just makes her awful husband angrier and he says she doesn’t get to dictate terms to him and he doesn’t care if she’s a woman or not he’ll make her remember she married a shoulder. I don’t know if this is a direct domestic abuse threat or not but it sure sounds like one to me… Katherine doesn’t care though and nastily mentions the mysterious scares on his back, which makes him throw her out of the room. Why did Katherine marry this guy? I mean, honestly.
The next morning, Katherine wakes alone to find Flora’s new doll stabbed through with a fireplace poker in their sitting room. So, that’s not incredibly creepy or anything. I’m suddenly having Mr. Selfridge flashbacks, as I’m once again actively hoping for a lead character to commit murder in order to free herself from her vile husband.
Denise and Moray Fight Some More. Arthur shows up with another letter summoning Denise to meet Moray. Clara mopes that if the two of them are on speaking terms again she has no chance at all of winning the ladies’ wear job. She’s right, of course, and for a second you almost feel sorry for her. Anyway, Moray has Denise meet him in ladies’ wear to tell him that she was right to fear Katherine and that she means her harm. He argues that if she’s made head of laides’ wear she will be an exposed visible target and he won’t be able to protect her. Denise isn’t hearing any of this because she’s still mad that Moray thinks she’s not talented or going to instantly be a mega-success at the job. He begs her to withdraw her name, but Denise just gets more upset and says that when Moray was her age he was already busily building The Paradise. Moray points out that she’s not him, and she gets even more upset. She insists this means that Moray doesn’t consider her an equal. He tries to explain that when he built The Paradise he had to go out to banks and sketchy dudes with money and wrestle financial backing from them through sheer will. He says he doesn’t see that in her, and Denise gets all girl power about it, insisting that a bank wouldn’t take her seriously no matter what she did because she’s a woman. She says she isn’t different from Moray at all, but rather it’s the world treats her as though she is. Moray ignores all of this and just insists that he doesn’t want her to become another version of what he is. She says they disagree on that, and stomps off.
Time for Interviews! Moray, Weston and Katherine officially begin the interviews for the Head of Ladies’ Wear gig. They go through issues with all the candidates – about building trust with customers and what they’d change in the department. One candidate seems to have no ability to think for herself. One is openly disdainful of the store’s current state. Clara doubles down on sucking up, proclaiming how great things were under Miss Audrey. Denise displays faith in her own ideas, and trots out her new “personal motto”, the noxious “We have a saying in Peebles,” a country maxim meant to give her personal opinions some sort of added cultural weight.
After her interview, Weston pulls Denise aside to quiz her some more about her idea for a homemade musical to cheer up the staff after their aborted Music Hall outing. It’s clear he’s picking her brain for ideas on how to get the staff to like him more, as per his earlier conversation with Jonas. Denise goes into great detail about her vision, and Weston officially commissions her to throw said event, that night. Jonas, who is present, tells Denise that this is her chance to show off what she can do, and tells her she must conjure something wonderful for them, and for the sake of the store.
Denise Gets Her Time to Shine. Denise immediately starts going through the store talking to staff and finding out what their talents are to sign them up for The Paradise Music Hall Extravaganza. I’m a bit unclear how throwing an event in the place of work you see everyday, complete with performances you have to participate in, is in any way the same as going to an actual entertainment venue to relax whilst professional entertainers do their thing for you, but I’ve pretty much given up on understanding this show this season already. Of course, Denise is really into the preparation aspect, running around taking notes and cajoling her coworkers into the lineup.
The hastily thrown together Paradise Music Hall takes place that evening, and there seem to be rather a lot of people in attendance who don’t work at the store at all, so don’t feel bad if you’re confused as to how something that was meant as a treat for the staff seems to have morphed into another store promotion. I don’t even know. Denise, despite having no budget to work with, has managed to construct an elaborate stage complete with curtains and a rather detailed frame. Sam dresses in drag (as Myrtle?) to host events, Arthur does magic, Susie sings, Jonas and Denise dance a reel together. There’s even a weird bit where they trot Flora out to answer trivia questions from the audience. This all actually happens, I’m not even making it up.
The event is a rousing success, because of course it is. Clara sadly says that it’s obvious that Denise will get the ladies wear job, but she warns her that she’s going to lose her man Moray over it. Moray takes Denise aside to congratulate her on her great event, and she confesses that she just wanted to prove to him that she could do it and says that she can’t bear it when the two of them are apart. They make out for a minute back stage, but Denise has to go back on stage to take another bow with the rest of the performers. Moray looks on with pride from the wings. Tom, Katherine and Flora come up next to him, and Weston says that he’s pretty sure they found their new head of ladies wear today. (Did anyone literally for one second at all ever think Denise wasn’t getting this job?? Yawn.) Katherine advises Moray to take care Denise doesn’t outshine him. She grins, and says she doesn’t even think that he could have achieved what Denise has done that day. Moray suddenly looks anxious and for a brief second, I feel a glimmer of hope for this season because at least that would be interesting – a natural conflict, which we saw a glimpse of earlier, that rises from Moray being okay with Denise’s success, but just to a point.
Here’s hoping for more of that, and less of vile Tom Weston, ASAP.