Revisiting ‘The Paradise’: Series 1, Episode 2

Moray and Katherine in "The Paradise" (Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Wall/BBC 2012 for MASTERPIECE)
Moray and Katherine in "The Paradise" (Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Wall/BBC 2012 for MASTERPIECE)

Previously, on The Paradise: Country girl Denise arrives in…some town that I don’t think they’ve named to seek fortune and a better life in the big city (or possibly a medium or small city - it’s unclear as they seem to only have this one street on the show). She gets a job at a posh department store modestly named The Paradise catches the eye of its owner, a dreamy, slightly smarmy dude named Moray who has A Big Vision for the future of the store. Moray also has some deep dark secret about his dead wife, a fairly horrible girlfriend (Katherine) and a staff bursting with the inept (Pauline), the forgettable (STILL don’t know his right-hand assistant’s name), the cruel (Clara) and the downright creepy (Jonas). How will she survive? 

Let's find out, shall we?

More Lessons on Business From Mr. Moray. In Moray’s continuing efforts to teach his staff the basic principles of business, this episode’s lesson focuses on the idea of advertising. They’re giving away flowers in the store – and calling them “Paradise Pinks” – to somehow promote the store, even though the flowers aren’t exactly branded or anything, but whatever Moray’s all about business gimmicks.  Sure, whatever, okay. 

Meet Katherine’s Boring Friend. Katherine brings her out of town BFF Jocelyn in to see The Paradise, and her friend is head over heels impressed, calling the store (yes, really) a “kind of heaven”. Sam, who appears to be possibly the only guy that works on the shop floor, immediately starts encouraging her to try on various pairs of gloves and flirts with her. Jocelyn loves everything immediately and starts ordering multiple pairs. Katherine advises that perhaps she out to check herself just a little since they’ve only just started this shopping spree, but Jocelyn has decided to go all out since she’s been stuck on holiday up there in the middle of nowhere with nothing nice. Okay then.

Moray appears out of nowhere to be charming in Jocelyn’s general direction and convince both ladies to take some Advertising Flowers. He has to pin Katherine’s on because they’re maybe engaged or whatever, and enlists Sam’s help to fasten Jocelyn’s. They’re sort of flirty with each other again.

Some time later, the two friends end up in the women’s fashion department, where Jocelyn swoons over the many temptations offered by fabulous dresses. She selects several to purchase but, because she is not a character so much as a plot point, of course she doesn’t have the means to pay for them. Miss Audrey disdainfully informs Moray of this fact, and he says she can just put her purchases on account, and the store will benefit because she’s basically their dream shopper: a woman who can’t resist buying everything she wants and will leave it to her rich husband to settle the bill. UGH SHUT UP MORAY. Nameless First Assistant basically argues that letting random customers stroll off with your product without paying isn’t really a great business practice, but Moray of course doesn’t care. Surely nothing can go wrong with this plan. 

Welcome to the Miss Paradise Pink Competition. Denise is standing around watching two ladies shop with a comically wide-eyed expression on her face when Moray creeps up on her and asks why she’s staring at those women. Denise tries to play it off, but finally admits that she’s had an idea for a “Miss Paradise Pink” competition, where the prettiest lady wearing one of their flowers wins a prize. She argues that it would pack the store with customers, because ladies will want to see who else is there and thinks that they could win, because you know, women are shallow and self-interested or whatever. (Seriously there is going to be a whole blog post in future about this show’s comically low opinion of women, I think wow. But today is not that day.) Moray is really into this idea and tells Denise how clever she is in that appallingly close-talking way he has – this is not a man who has any concept of the idea of personal space apparently. She only asks that he not tell Miss Audrey that the Miss Paradise Pink idea was hers, and he says he’ll take care of it. 

Jocelyn Clearly Needs an Intervention We’ve already gotten the feeling that something’s kind of off with Jocelyn, thanks to a few not-so-subtle hints dropped during a gathering at Katherine’s wherein the hostess is too distracted flirting with Moray to pay any attention to her friend or notice the ominous repeated mentions of railway money and how busy her husband is and blah blah. Hey folks, we’ve seen Downton Abbey. That’s how Lord Grantham lost all his money too.

This slightly shady feeling is underlined by another trip to The Paradise, during which Jocelyn keeps buying things – including the same exact hat in three colors, over Denise’s objection (which is how we know something’s really up).  Jocelyn gets defensive and says she knows what she’s doing and yes she wants to buy everything she’s looked at.  She then continues to wander around the store running up a bill, to the point that Nameless First Assistant feels the need to point out to Moray that her husband is going to be sooooo mad when he gets the bill. Moray makes a sexist joke about marriage, because of course he does. Meanwhile, Jocelyn is busy having a panic attack and has to be helped to a seat to rest by Sam, who then saves her from being stared at by breaking the heel of her shoe and pretending she twisted her ankle. Allrighty then.

Bring on Miss Paradise Pink. Miss Audrey explains to the shop girls of ladieswear that they’re going to be in charge of the whole Miss Paradise Pink competition, but then crowdsources the rules from them because obviously she is in no way creative. They decide that Moray will be choose the winning lady, that she must be present in the store to win, and that the prize will be a pink dress. Denise – obviously – has a billion extra suggestions from stipulating that the winner must have purchased an item that day to win, that she be crowned with a garland of flowers, and that the winner’s picture be both published in the newspaper and in a frame in the store. Denise goes on for so long that it’s so obvious she’s the one who came up with this idea but it’s unclear whether Miss Audrey figures that out.

So…Jocelyn is Kind of Awful. Sam is summoned to see Jocelyn at Katherine’s house, where she’s being kept indoors under the guise of being injured. She pours him a drink and they flirt for a bit and she allows him to call her by her first name. She says she wants to thank him for helping her, but instead she breaks down crying about how hard it is to be rich and privileged instead. Sam comforts her, and she tearfully confesses that she has left her husband, because she thought she would die if she remained with him. OF COURSE, Katherine and her father walk in just as all this is going on, and catches a crying Jocelyn in Sam’s arms. Jocelyn, who we have already established is hardly a role model, suddenly slaps Sam and runs away.

Sam ends up back at The Paradise where he runs into Denise and tells her everything, including the bit about how Jocelyn kissed him and then he ran away. She’s shocked and Sam is miserable. Denise advises him to tell the truth to Moray as soon as possible. Meanwhile, Lord Glendenning is telling Moray and Nameless First Assistant that he expects Sam to be fired with a quickness. Moray’s says that he’ll remove Sam from the store floor, but he wants to know why Jocelyn invited him there in the first place. Lord Glendening gets offended at the fact that he’s implying she did anything improper, but Moray says he just wants to get to the bottom of things and wants to show his staff loyalty until it’s clear they no longer deserve it. Addendum: Katherine and Her Father are Also Horrible. Sam goes to see Moray, where he admits to kissing Jocelyn but says that she kissed him first. Nameless First Assistant is skeptical of this tale, as Jocelyn is a married woman of standing, but Sam promises to swear on his own mother that he didn’t do anything wrong. He repeats the lie about her shoe breaking, and apologizes for not telling anyone he was going to see her. Moray says that Sam’s word means as much to him as any member of the gentry so he’s not going to fire him just yet. He sends him to work in the delivery area – which Sam doesn’t like and says makes him look guilty – until the matter is resolved.

Luckily, just at that moment, Lord Glendening is busy discovering a note Jocelyn had written to Sam, along with a box of cufflinks that were clearly meant as a gift. He shows them to Katherine, who looks confused, then shocked when she realizes her father’s implying her friend is unfaithful. She defends Jocelyn vigorously and makes Lord Glendenning promise to forget he ever found the note and presents.

Time for Denise and Moray’s Moment! Moray runs into Denise in a hallway and asks why she looks so forlorn. Denise says The Paradise isn’t itself without Sam behind his counter. Moray says that sometimes we just have to be glad that we survived another day. He explains that she’ll learn that you have to bend a little so that you do not break, and that with someone like Lord Glendening he can’t outright tell him that he’s wrong, even if he himself believes it. If they want him to keep coming to the store and spending money then they have to let him – and people like him – believe that they are the ones in charge of every situation, while people like them have to look for more subtle ways to solve problems.

Then Moray steps even closer – and since these two already stand uncomfortably close together when they talk, you know this has got to be real awkward – and tells Denise that they must never let people like the Glendenings know what they’re really thinking or their true opinion about them. This comes off like it’s supposed to be some grand Les Miserables style revelation about the class hierarchy and underground revolution through shopping or whatever, but instead it just comes across as kind of sketchy.

Everyone Has an Opinion About Sam. It turns out that literally everyone at The Paradise has an opinion about Sam, what kind person he is, and whether he’s likely to forcibly assault a woman. Clara and Pauline think he’s guilty, because he’s always flirting with ladies and they heard he left a girl crying once due to his wandering hands. Denise staunchly defends him and says that they’re all supposed to be friends. Clara implies that Sam and Denise might be involved, but Denise says they’re not like that.

Sam gets a visit from Denise’s uncle while he’s outside unloading a cart. Uncle Whoever invites Sam over for a drink and a game of cards after his shift, and says that Denise will be there too, and gets all wink wink nudge nudge about how he’d probably like that because he’s seen how they look at each other. Uncle Whoever is a big shipper of them, apparently. Sam fills him in on the Jocelyn situation and says the best thing for him might be to be far way. Creepy Jonas appears out of nowhere and informs Sam that Moray’s taking a big risk defending him, so if he’s ever happened to commit some sort of unwanted sexual assault before, now would be the time to speak up about it. Sam can’t believe the implication and denies it outright.

Some time later, Sam is hanging out with Denise at her uncle’s shop, listening to him fret about possibly losing his job. He says that yes, he charmed and complimented Jocelyn on purpose, yes, but that’s his job because she’s a customer. He confesses that he lied about her shoe breaking, and says that he only did it because he knew it would make her buy more from him later on. He also tells her about Jocelyn’s “leaving her husband” confession and Denise urges him to tell all this info to Moray. She doesn’t understand why Sam’s so willing to protect this woman he doesn’t even know.

This Jocelyn Drama is Seriously Neverending: Miss Audrey is fretting about what to do about Jocelyn’s bill, since she’s run up a massive debt on account buying things. She says no customer has ever done this before and she wants to know if they’re meant to send her a bill. Namesless First Assistant is concerned that calling in her account might seem insensitive given that she’s accused one of their employees of assault. But if they don’t send it, it might look as though they accept her version of events. Miss Audrey tells the men that one of her girls witnessed Jocelyn in an unstable condition already – she can’t name names on who that was – and declares that Sam is one of them, after all.

Anyway, after a bunch more back and forth – during which Pauline criers and apologies for spreading stories about Sam because he was mean to her – Moray informs Lord Glendening that he won’t be firing Sam. He says The Paradise is his store, and he believes Glendening is wrong about Jocelyn. Glendening says that he has known Jocelyn since before she could walk and if Moray thinks she’s somehow responsible he better get about proving it because he’s dragging her name through the mud every day.

Sam, in a display of incredible idiocy, goes to see Jocelyn at the Glendening’s house. He tells her that he thought she liked him, and that he’d believed in her to tell the truth. Jocelyn’s upset and says Sam has to leave, even threatens to say that he tried to attack her here. Sam begs her to admit what happened between them and to come clean about her husband. Jocelyn says that it’s not possible, that he’s just a shop boy and can’t tell her what to do. She threatens to start screaming and alert the entire house. Sam looks defeated. In short: Jocelyn sucks.

Katherine Finds Out the Truth. Denise tells Nameless First Assistant everything she knows from Sam about Jocelyn and her husband and their marital problems. Moray goes straight to Katherine with this information, who doesn’t believe him at first, and laments that the two of them are on opposite sides of this issue. She says she can’t bear to have a divide like this between them, and tells him about the note to Sam that she and her father found earlier.

Moray sends Katherine to question her friend about the note and the cufflinks. Jocelyn says they were just a thank you present, nothing more. Katherine asks what her husband would think of such a gift and Jocelyn kind of loses it, spitting out that Teddy wouldn’t care what she did, because all he cares about is his guns and horses and railways. She complains that he doesn’t even know she exists and all she wants to do is dance and go to parties and be kissed and buy pretty clothes and there isn’t anything wrong with that, is there? Katherine looks shocked and apologizes for being distracted when her friend needed her. Jocelyn cries that she married the wrong man and is doomed to a life of loneliness. Katherine says that her friend must tell her father and Moray the truth. Jocelyn insists that she can’t possibly do that ever, and that Katherine has to stand by her because they’re BFFs.

Meanwhile, Back at The Paradise: For some reason, the duo then decide that now is the perfect time for Jocelyn to answer The Paradise’s invitation to try on the hats she’s ordered. Okay. The two go to the store arm in arm, and Jocelyn ends up sitting with – who else – Denise to try on hats. She quizzes Denise about the life of a shop assistant and whether she is happy. She then starts crying about how she’s going to miss The Paradise now that she’s going home soon, and says it must be nice to work surrounded by beautiful things. She says she knows what Denise must think of her and asks if she can arrange a private meeting with Moray.

Anway, for no reason that is ever explained onscreen, Jocelyn apparently suddenly decides to tell Moray the truth of what happened in a closed-door office meeting. How we got to this from Jocelyn’s earlier panic and ranting, I have no idea, but apparently the show doesn’t seem to feel the need to show us the actual culmination of this plot they’ve spent an hour dragging us through, whatever. Lord Glendening decides to settle Jocelyn’s massive shopping bill, Sam is restored to his counter, and all is right with the world again.  Oh, and Moray names some totally random woman we don’t know Miss Paradise Pink and he and Denise stare at each other while he gives her a garland of flowers.

Wow. Most boring episode ever or MOST boring episode ever? Yikes. Share some thoughts 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 Twitter at @LacyMB