Revisiting ‘The Paradise’: Series 1, Episode 3

Denise is the woman of the hour, apparently. (Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Wall/BBC 2012 for MASTERPIECE)
Denise is the woman of the hour, apparently. (Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Wall/BBC 2012 for MASTERPIECE)
Welcome to the next installment in our recap series that takes us back through the first season of The Paradise before Series 2 begins this Fall!

Previously, on The Paradise: The most boring episode in the world happens. The Paradise hosts a contest to name “Miss Paradise Pink” as a gimmick to get people in the store. We meet Katherine’s boring friend Jocelyn who, in the course of one episode manages to falsely accuse shop assistant Sam of assault, confess that she’s left her husband, and spend a lot of money on credit in the store. This all comes to nothing when her bill is settle, Sam is vindicated and Jocelyn is apparently sent back home to her oafish husband so I’m glad we wasted an hour on that. Anyway, Denise and Moray also stare at each other some more, and have another scene where they talk whilst standing exceptionally close together. Denise also gets to show off her business sense by figuring out exactly how the Paradise Pink competition should work.       

In short: There’s nowhere to go but up in this episode right? Let’s get to it. 

The Gang Finds a Baby in the Store. That’s not a joke. Whilst Denise is helping Miss Audrey distribute giant vases of flowers all over The Paradise because of her grand vision of the store being a meadow, she discovers a baby in one of the ladieswear salons. No, really. An actual baby, in a basket. Denise looks confused, which is understandable as the store’s not open yet and has been closed all night, and therefore no easy baby entry point can be quickly identified. Nameless First Assistant (whose name I actually think is Dudley now but am not 100% on that) and Jonas scour the store from top to bottom but find nothing, while Jonas rants about how they’re obviously vulnerable since canny women can apparently just sneak in and out of The Paradise at will.  (That sexism post really really needs to happen. What is up with these dudes and their attitudes? They’re worse than Lord Grantham!)

Jonas advises that they ought to just take the baby to the police station right away, but Moray insists he wants the child to stay at The Paradise. Not because he’s a kind person or anything – though he does at least send Arthur out to find baby food – but because the newspapers that had been charging them for advertising would give them the front pages for free once they get wind of the abandoned department store infant story. What a nice man! He says that The Paradise and its staff will look after the baby, so this is obviously going to go well. 

The Paradise Baby Becomes a Thing.  Ladies from around town who visit the store want to donate money to help the baby and meet Denise, the girl who found “The Paradise Baby”. Clara is annoyed about this because it means customers keep requesting Denise and she’s getting leapfrogged over on the Board of Commissions.

Young Arthur is getting irritable about the presence of The Paradise Baby, since the kid wasn’t even born in the store like he was. Sam tries to comfort him about it but Clara nastily tells him a rumor she heard about his dead mother who left him at the shop. She is a terrible person just FYI. Everyone feels terrible for Arthur, who looks confused and hurt. Clara flounces off like the cow she is. Sometime later, Arthur starts compiling a list of people who might know the truth about his mother and it’s only got two names on it – Moray and Nameless First Assistant, whose name, as it turns out, is Dudley. Good job it only took three episodes to sort that out. Anyway, Creepy Jonas comes across Arthur compiling said list of two and decides to give him a lesson in the power of rumor by explaining how many stories have gone around the store about how he lost his arm. He says he’s never bothered to challenge any of them, because while the story can change however people like, the truth is still the truth. 

Moray’s New Friend Sparks Katherine’s Interest. Moray enlists the help of a man named Peter Adler, who happens to run an orphanage. Katherine for some reason takes a great interest him and grills her father for info on who he is. Turns out he’s super rich and a devoted philanthropist so Katherine decides she’s going to invite him to dinner. Why is unclear, though I think we can all guess it’s going to turn out to be part of her latest scheme to make Moray jealous.

Anyway, Adler also happens to run the local orphanage and in exchange for taking in The Paradise Baby at some point in the future, Moray and company must allow all the kids from the orphanage to come visit the store for a tour and lunch. Of course, Moray is cool with this because it’s an awesome photo opp for both of them, and it’s hard to resist the cuteness of these kids. (Though you should probably notice that they only bother giving one of them a name and it’s “Grace”.) Unless you are Clara, apparently, who stomps away snarking about how dirty the kids are. However, she then ends up near tears in the hallway and spends the whole visit trying to watch the children without looking as though she’s watching them. Which of course she is not very good at.

Anyway, after Katherine gets possessed by a pod person and is uncommonly kind to the child, we learn that Grace is a “wanted” child. This means that she wasn’t abandoned and has someone who pays for her bed and board, probably in the hopes that in better times they’ll be able to be reunited. This also means that she can’t be adopted by anyone else. Katherine sighs approvingly and says everyone should know that they are wanted. In a fit of generosity, Katherine then decides to buy clothes and shoes for 40 of Adler’s children.

Denise and Miss Audrey Have Girl Talk. Miss Audrey invites Denise to her private parlor for a nightcap and some girl talk. They sit and chat about wine for a minute before Miss Audrey observes that the two of them are really quite alike – she could tell from the way Denise held The Paradise Baby earlier that she really didn’t want children. Denise hesitantly agrees, saying there’s too much else to do in her life first. Miss Audrey warns her that the “too much else” can go on for far too long, and then you find yourself an old spinster before you know it. She says she received several offers of marriage in her youth, but turned them all down because she loved working. She then switches subjects and tells Denise that she’s not to be taking any more of her wild and crazy schemes to Moray, if she wants to keep working at The Paradise.  Miss Audrey admits that her own way of thinking is much smaller and insular than Denise’s are, and she can’t have her threatening her own position. She says she doesn’t want to lose Denise, but she also doesn’t want to lose the life she has in The Paradise, so probably Denise should just stop thinking the end. Alllrighty then.

Honestly, Miss Aubrey is so interesting and sad, in spite of her being rather a terrible person. There need to be more scenes like this, IMO. 

The Baby Makes the Store a Lot of Money. Tons of ladies from all over town wander in to visit The Paradise Baby, and they all seem to want to buy things, whilst donating to the “Foundling Fund” canisters that have popped up on every counter.

Katherine and Adler are busy up in ladies’ wear trying to decide what sorts of fabric to get for her clothing donation, especially as she says she’d just like the kids to look like children, not like foundlings. Clara is pushing hard for velvet, because Clara is crazy, until Denise steps in and changes their minds by explaining that the fancy wool is warmer, more serviceable and costs less. The two shoppers wander off to make decisions about undergarments and Clara stomps off in a fury at Denise for costing her money in commission by suggesting the cheaper fabric.

Despite their obvious spat, Miss Audrey assigns Denise and Clara to stay after hours and help Adler with the fittings for all the orphans’ new outfits. Clara immediately declares that she can’t participate because she’s having women’s problems or something, but Miss Audrey says she can kiss her commission goodbye if she ditches it. Clara looks upset.

Denise Has Another Idea. Despite the fact that she’s been explicitly forbidden from thinking by Miss Audrey, it would appear that nothing can stop Denise from coming up with entrepreneurial schemes. Miss Audrey notices that she’s wearing the sort of eureka expression she gets when she has a grand idea and tells her to stop with whatever she’s plotting. Instead, Denise drops her idea on Katherine whilst she’s checking out, opining on how nice it would be if Moray opened a children’s department in The Paradise, especially since so many of their customers are mothers. She sets this up in such a way that Katherine can immediately claim the idea as her own, which of course she does as during dinner that night, and even manages to do so in a way that makes herself look brilliant and caring at the same time.  (Katherine is actually being exceptionally awesome and non-annoying in this episode, so apparently anything is possible.) But she does offhandedly mention that one of his shopgirls was the one who originally gave her the idea, so there goes Denise’s no-thinking promise.

Katherine and Adler Are Actually a Way Better Couple, Surprise. Adler, having forgotten his hat at dinner, returns to the Glendenings to find Katherine in the garden. They discuss the fact that Moray seems to see her as a flighty, shallow person, and then use the metaphor of fashion to have a rather deep talk about the feelings she experienced after her mother died. Katherine says that every since she has used clothes to declare who she is, and to transform herself. It’s actually…rather fantastic, and displays a significant emotional depth and self-awareness I’m not sure I would have ever guessed Kathereine to possess prior to this point. It’s enough to make you like her. Yeah, it must be Opposite Day.

Anyway, Adler then flirts a bit with Katherine, asking who she’s been when she’s been with him the past few days then. She says she thinks she’s been someone she’d like to be more of, in future. Adler smiles and says he’s glad to be of use in some way besides making Moray jealous. She looks down, and Adler asks her to just tell him if her affections are already engaged elsewhere and he’s wasting his time. Of course then scene ends there, but it’s enough to make me insanely wish that Katherine – who has a surprising depth to her at the moment – would jettison Moray and take up with this noble go-gooder who makes her likeable. But, of course, I think we can all assume that is never going to happen.

Time to Find Out Clara’s Big Secret. Because this show does not do subtlety at all, you may have already guessed some aspect of Clara’s big secret from the scene at the very beginning of this episode where Creepy Jonas is growling at her about bastards and abandoned children.  Or from her repeated strange behavior anytime any person mentioned the word “child”. Or the fact that Denise catches Clara playing dress up with the little “wanted girl” named Grace and getting all weepy over it.  SUBTLETY.

Anyway, Clara is rampaging around the girls’ bedroom looking for something looking slightly psychotic, when she out of the blue decides to attack Denise in her sleep (AGAIN), calling her a thief and shaking her roughly. She makes the baby start crying with her racket and Pauline throws a vase of water over her, instead of oh I don’t know, kicking her out or having her arrested because she keeps attacking people in their sleep. Whatever.  It turns out that Clara’s robbed one of the “Foundling Fund” jars from downstairs – Pauline is shocked, but Clara says the money’s still going to a child, so what difference does it make which child it goes to?? Denise finally catches up with the rest of reality and guesses that the little girl Grace is Clara’s daughter. Which, of course she is.

Clara says she pays bed and board for her daughter, that that’s the only reason she can’t be adopted is if she’s paid for. She then starts crying, going on about how her comission’s gone down since Denise arrived and started being awesome at everything, only now she’s lost the money she stole from the charity jar, so she doesn’t know what she’s going to do about paying for Grace’s upkeep.

Denise Gets the Spotlight Again. Only Not How You Think. Denise is sent to meet with Moray – there are apparently plans afoot for a big public presentation in which The Paradise Baby and all the money collected for his upkeep are to be turned over to Adler and his orphanage. Dense heads up to Moray’s office accordingly but what he really wants to talk about is her idea for a children’s department.

Surprise – instead of being all excited about her businesswoman’s mind, Moray is – for some unknown and completely bizarre reason – actually really angry. He accuses Denise of going behind his back and manipulating him, and of using his connections to embarrass him – which, okay, let’s just skip this bit because NONE of these accusations make any sense when she was willing to give him her obviously lucrative business idea for free and ask for nothing in return. SHUT UP, MORAY.

Moray gets right up into Denise’s personal space again because we haven’t experienced any monstrous close-talking during this episode and says that he gave her freedom and encouragement and indulged her (to come up with ideas to make him money I guess) and that no matter how clever she is, he’s not a man to be played with. Um, whatever, I guess. Luckily, Katherine shows up right at this moment and the ridiculous and pointless argument gets broken up. Denise looks terrified and devastated, and I look really confused and irritated because this makes no sense at all.

Katherine Makes An Intriguing Decision. Because this is obviously a plot point that has nothing to do with any rational choice a character might make,  Katherine has decided to come down to The Paradise to tell Moray that Adler has asked permission to court her. She says she told him that such attention would not be unwelcome. Moray does not look upset or even remotely interested in these proceedings, and Katherine says that she thought he ought to hear it from her. Moray snarks that she couldn’t allow anyone else that pleasure after all. Katherine gets angry and calls Moray impossible, saying that he makes her feel like something tainted for trying to be honest. She says it’s not any wonder she’s choosing Adler over him and storms out of the store as dramatic music swells. Moray watches her go. This is such an interesting twist – Katherine apart from Moray is much more interesting and layered and likeable. Of course there’s no way it can last because this show seems bound and determined to paint Moray as some sort of mega irresistible guy, and because it’s convenient to have a slightly bitchy, slightly aggressive foil like Katherine around for him. I wish that I thought for a second we could see Katherine become the person she wants to be, instead of the horror that she is around Moray, but I don’t think that will ever happen.

Anyway, Moray goes upstairs to his office to complain to his ever loyal assistant whose name may or may not be Dudley about how he’d been right that Adler had a thing for Katherine. Possibly Dudley asks what Moray plans to do about it, and he says he’s going to do nothing but wish them well. It’s so obvious Moray doesn’t care at all about Katherine, as a person, only as a symbol and a conduit to her father. Possibly Dudley gives him a peptalk, about how he’s not actually being disloyal to his dead wife to fight for a life of comfort and companionship with a (rich) woman who any man would be proud to call his (rich) wife. Whatever, I can’t stand either of them right now. Possibly Dudley actually says some vague Hallmark-esque line about how maybe his wife’s gone but Moray’s still here and has to go on blah blah blah. He encourages Moray to be happy and to go after what makes him happy.

Time for a Heart to Heart with the Baby. Miss Audrey dumps The Paradise Baby off with Moray. I guess this is because only one person can be tasked with holding the baby for any given six hour period, since Moray is still holding the baby well into the middle of the night – though he’s relocated to the main staircase because reasons. Denise appears, because of course she does, and says something about how she thought she’d heard a noise, it, you know, being the middle of the night and all.

Moray starts going on randomly about how the baby will only sleep if he holds him, and Denise comes to sit down on the steps with him. Moray wants to know why, of all people, Denise decided to use Katherine as a go-between when he gave her free rein to come straight to him with her thoughts. Denise basically scuffs her foot and blames Miss Audrey and the fact that she has to work with her every day. Moray seems rather petulantly offended by the fact that she didn’t come straight to him, but says that he understands. He says he knows that Denise is being pulled in different directions by several loyalties, but he also knows that she’s clever and resourceful and Denise and can always find a way (brb, I have to throw up a little where is this even coming from?). He says that he can understand why his anger felt unfair to her after she worked so hard to get her idea in front of him.

Moray then changes the subject to say that he wishes he had half her creativity to apply to his own predicament. Denise decides to apply some country wisdom, and tells Moray that her uncle always said the only thing that mattered was if you could look yourself in the eye in the mirror everyday and know you’d been true to yourself. (Um, well, sure that seems to have served you real well here Denise? Ugh, whatever.) The two stare down a the sleeping baby in Moray’s arms together for a long moment, and then Moray stares up at Denise for a while while the music swells in the background because I guess that’s romantic. Denise starts to head upstairs to bed, but he stops her to help pick a name for the baby. They decide to call him Arthur.

Denise to the Rescue Again. Denise has a revelation during the whole baby naming process, and goes to see the other young Arthur, and tells him that he needs to return the money he stole from Clara (which Clara…also stole, but apparently that’s neither here nor there).  Apparently Denise rightly guessed that he stole from her because of the nasty things she said about his mother earlier. Arthur says he can’t give it back because he doesn’t have it anymore, he put it back in the Foundling tin for the orphans. This leads to Denise going and taking it out of the tin herself and giving it back to Clara. Why, I have no idea, as Denise is not really given a perspective on this issue other than just being a General Good and Awesome Person, which is sort of her default state.

The next day, the ceremony to give Arthur, the Paradise Baby, over to Adler and his orphans occurs. Moray announces his intention to open a children’s department and credits the idea to Katherine. Clara stares at Grace the little girl, who looks adorable in her new pink cloak, and smiles. Arthur presents Adler with a book of advice the store has assembled for young Arthur when he gets older. It’s a sweet gesture – particularly the bit where he reveals Pauline has written ten pages for it, and cried all over them. Awww, Pauline.

Clara’s Choice. Katherine, who is standing with Adler, remarks that this whole situation is a bit heartbreaking to watch. Adler says that no, young Arthur will have a great life, there have already been several inquiries about him from couples looking to adopt. He says that if she wants to feel bad, she should pity children like Grace – kids that they could have easily found loving homes for, but are forbidden from adopting because their parents refuse to allow it and exist in the fantasy that one day they’ll come back and get them. He says children like her generally end up denied everything because someone somewhere can’t look the truth of their situation in the face.

Of course, for some reason, Adler seems to think it’s totally okay to say all of this with Clara standing five feet away – not to mention the actual child herself, who is basically right in front of them while he’s talking. Of course, Clara runs from the room in tears, so hopefully everyone has figured out by now that that’s actually her kid? Yikes.

Later that evening, Clara goes out and gets roaring drunk. She comes home a complete mess with her dress and hair everywhere and of course it’s Denise who shoves her in their room and helps her get undressed. It turns out that Clara spent all the money Denise stole back from her, so now she can’t pay the foundling home for Grace’s upkeep and someone will adopt her. It’s actually a much more noble gesture than you’d think Clara’d be capable of making. She ends up sobbing in bed, with Denise curled up behind her and hugging her, so hopefully the pointless rivalry between these two can finally be over now. Poor Clara.

Well, that’s this week. So much better than the Jocelyn mess! (Though really there was nowhere to go but up there.) Thoughts on Moray, Miss Audrey, Clara, Denise or Katherine this week? Hit up the comments and let’s dish. 

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