Previously, on The Paradise: The Paradise adds a counter selling birds (yes, really) and of course Pauline loses one and of course that’s an actual storyline. Moray and Katherine get engaged because of course the secret to a happy relationship is a couple wherein one is disinterested and one is a masochist. Denise confesses to Miss Audrey that she’s in love with Moray because I guess she must really like close talking. She eventually confesses the same to Moray and they kiss and the music swells triumphantly only five minutes later she finds out about his engagement and that’s awkward. Creepy Mr. Jonas tricks Denise’s Uncle Edmund into punching him in the face, we hear way too much (again) about how perfect Moray’s dead wife was, and Denise quits The Paradise because she can’t face being around Moray now. But that’s okay, in a way, because now she’s going to get to try all her wackiest entrepreneurial schemes over at her uncle’s failing dress shop and surely that’s going to go well.
Let’s see what happens next, shall we?
Katherine Gets to Wedding Shopping. Katherine heads to The Paradise with several of her friends to get just a little bit of wedding shopping done which is kind of funny in light of the fact that she promised her father she was only getting a few, non-extravagant items and ends up ordering like ten engraved butter dishes. That, or I have a very warped view of what “non-extravagant” means. Anyway, Moray sees Katherine and her friends shopping and stops to ask what she’s doing, wondering particularly why she’s suddenly now she’s decided to become such a big patron of the store when she’d purchased maybe like three things there during their entire courtship. Katherine smiles and says – and, honestly, this is actually quite sweet in a way – that before, The Paradise had been all about Moray and his ambition, but now that they’re to be wed, it’s about them, and their future together, and if she can help him succeed and be happy by shopping and by bringing her rich friends along can help him do that, then that’s her goal.
Denise’s Latest Entrepreneurial Adventure Begins. Denise’s latest brilliant idea about selling neckties and other notions on the street outside her uncle’s shop is going well so far. So well, in fact, that it’s caught the eye of the man who owns the milliner’s shop next door, Mr. Chisholm, who wants to know what’s up. Denise explains that they’ve decided to start seeking custom instead of waiting for it to come to them, and rather than hate the existence of The Paradise and it’s river of pre-made goods, the Lovetts have decided to use the store as a source of reliable passing trade they can take advantage of. Spoiler alert: This is the smartest and most likeable Denise has been since the series started and suddenly I’m rather invested in her success. Wow. Denise suggests that perhaps Chisholm and the other merchants on The Only Street in Town might actually all be able to benefit from this idea, and her eyes light up in that way that happens when she has another Interesting Business Idea, which it’s obvious we shall hear about shortly.
It’s so interesting how much more immediately likeable Denise is for me out of the immediate sphere of The Paradise and Moray and the other catty girls like Clara, and I can’t exactly put my finger on why. Hmmm. Something to ponder!
A bit later, Denise suggests her next big idea to Edmund – she wants to join forces with the other merchants to create a sort of package deal. A customer could get a dress from their shop, a hat from the milliners’, shoes from the cobbler’s and so on – a complete outfit custom made just for them, at something of a deal. And the shop owners then benefit from increased trade. Denise’s idea is – for once – actually a very good one, but Edmund balks, insisting that small business owners like them value independence and self-reliance blah blah they aren’t going to want to work together. He says it’s too much change too quickly for them. Denise says that’s too bad then, because he’s already called for a meeting that afternoon. Edmund looks shocked, but Denise says she’s already thought it all out and written out his speech and everything’s going to be just fine. She’s selling the new partnership as Edmund’s idea, since change is going to be difficult enough for these men, let alone if it comes from a woman.
Behold a Meeting of the Minds. Thus, we come to the big neighborhood watch meeting about the future of small business on the One Street in Town. Sadly, Edmund is something of a dreadful salesman, and spends his entire speech fumbling through his cue cards and awkwardly pausing, doing everything but waving a “This Was Not My Idea” sign. Denise does her best to prompt him, using a somewhat hilarious and completely obvious system of hand signals and mouthed words, and it would seem the only reason the other shop keepers don’t notice is that she’s doing her best to get them all drunk. Finally, Edmund just gives up entirely and says he can’t sell what he doesn’t believe in and Denise has to own up to the whole scheme being her idea. The minute they hear that the plan came from a woman (oh, no, anything but that!) all the men stand up and head for the exit until Denise starts talking loudly about the rest of her plan. She sells it much better than her uncle, thank goodness, explaining that customers would get an incentive in the form of a discount to shop from all of them as a group. She asks whether it’s a greater risk to spend a little money and take a chance to try to impact their sales numbers or just wait for bankruptcy at the rate they’re going.
Mr. Chisholm, who spoiler alert, is a huge jerk, spends the entire time interjecting comments about how women are flighty and love to spend money, says that none of the shopkeepers are interested in becoming a miniature version of The Paradise. Denise tries to explain, but Chisholm points out that she’s not going to have any luck getting people to invest in a scheme her own uncle won’t support. They all leave, and Denise glares at Edmund before heading up stairs.
Who Else is Tired of Mrs. Moray, Ugh. Katherine, having just sat through another speech about how awesome the late Mrs. Moray was and how much her new fiancée loved her from Pauline, retreats to Moray’s office and immediately starts plotting about how to bring about a new world order. Starting with the rather massive painting of Mrs. Moray that sits on the wall. Of course, Creepy Jonas chooses this moment to walk in, and gets predictably defensive and weird about anything that relates to employer’s dead wife, as is to be expected since he’s obsessed with her for being nice to him that one time. Anyway, he reminds Katherine that the painting’s very dear to Moray and she should probably be careful with it. He says congratulations on the whole getting married soon thing, but as she’s not the new Mrs. Moray just yet, his advice stands.
Katherine does not like any of this, and tells Jonas there are a dozen men outside who’d be glad to have his job and if he wishes to stay on he should have a care about how he talks to her. Jonas smiles creepily, but looks otherwise unruffled. On her way out, Katherine stops by to chat with her number one cheerleader Dudley, and asks why a creepshow like Jonas works for The Paradise at all. Dudley says that Moray has final say over all hiring and firing. Katherine says that Jonas can’t possibly be good for business and probably scares the customers. Meanwhile, Jonas has gone straight to Moray about the painting business and tells him he’s handled it. Moray is shocked that Jonas doesn’t have any idea about what constitutes proper behavior and, annoyed, explains that sometimes things are private between people and subsequently there are things he should just leave alone. Since Jonas has oh, I don’t know, already murdered a guy for him, I’m not entirely sure why Moray’s only just now realizing that Jonas doesn’t understand about boundaries but whatever.
Edmund Comes Through in the End. Finally, as we all knew he would, Edmund comes round to Denise’s shopkeeper co-op plan, and gets all the other shops on The One Street in Town to get their act together. Everyone’s out cleaning and tidying their storefronts, even grossly sexist Mr. Chisholm. It’s a new day for business in Unnamed Town with Only Five Apparent Stores! Yeah! Edmund says that they’re all willing to give it a go, and he’s convinced them all that if anyone can rejuvenate the One Lone Street in Town, it’s Denise.
So, Denise springs into action to teach these guys about marketing. Some of her bold and brilliant plans are met with initial resistance, such as her desire to put mannequins dressed in different ensembles outside the stores, displayed next to fine umbrellas from the other shops. It’s growing pains, I guess. Moray, because Katherine mentioned her name, pops over to visit Denise while she’s painting new storefront signs, and expresses surprise that they’re all renovating. Denise tells him that it’s a hard knock life for small stores, and they’re all trying to adapt to survive. Moray figures out her ensemble/package deal plan almost instantly and seems to approve. He says that Edmund will clearly benefit from having Denise’s presence as much as The Paradise feels the loss of her, then tells her she looks pretty in green because of the paint on her face. Ugh, Moray, stoppppp.
Dudley and Jonas Have a Late Night Chat. Dudley stops by Jonas’s office – it’s unclear whether he actually means to talk to Jonas or if he was going to do some after house snooping – to find the Creepmaster drinking some straight whiskey and wallowing in his sadness. He tells Dudley that Katherine Glendening is a viper who hates him and is going to try to get him sacked, and his job is the one thing he has left in the world. Dudley says that maybe Jonas should just try to be happy for them and not a creepfest, since they’re going to get married and all. Jonas claims Katherine sees him as distasteful, and then tells a long and rambling drunken story about a job he had before as a child and how his arm got crushed in a mine accident. He then reminds us all that Mrs. Moray didn’t judge him and took him in and was awesome, generally, and says that now Katherine will try to usurp her memory by casting him back out. Um…okay. This all sounds more than a little bit psycho and it’s not surprising that Dudley looks confused. He tells Jonas he’s sorry for his troubles and runs away, whilst Jonas continues to drink.
Denise Gets a New Dress for a New Business Day Edmund has a –really gorgeous – surprise for Denise, he’s made her a gorgeous new bright blue dress for the first day of the cooperative, a new dress for the businesswoman she’s become. She looks amazing in it – it’s a really beautiful gown – and of course Moray and Dudley stare at her from The Paradise windows, noting that it’s remarkable what she’s done. The Other Shops Across the Street look awesome, all decked out with outside stalls and merchandise and decoration, and customers start stopping by almost as soon as they open.
We get a montage of all the shopkeepers doing increased business, recommending their partners and other outfit pieces that interested customers can buy along with their discount. It’s pretty cool, and it’s hard not to feel proud of Denise and more than a little triumphant at what she’s managed to accomplish. (Seriously, this show should have got her out of The Paradise episodes ago.)
Katherine Arrives to Buy Her Wedding Dress. Unfortunately, it turns out that this is the same day Katherine has set to buy the fabric and everything to make her wedding dress, an activity that for some reason actually draws a crowd on the street outside The Paradise, I guess because Unnamed Town really hasn’t got a lot going for it besides That One Street Where the Stores Are. Anyway, Katherine arrives in a carriage, wearing a super super cute dress trimmed with pink and an amazingly elaborate tiny hat and gets followed into the store like she’s the Queen of England. No really, everyone in the street including the people who had just been shopping at the merchants’ association of trade shops across the way follows Katherine into The Paradise, because why buy neckties when you can watch a woman you don’t know pick out fabric for an outfit she’ll wear to an event you aren’t invited to. Denise and the rest of the other shopkeepers look on forlornly.
Turns out Katherine’s actually put an article in the newspaper about her engagement, her upcoming wedding and her plans to buy her dress at The Paradise. Moray’s a little weirded out by this entire thing, but Katherine thinks that playing at shopkeeping is pretty fun. Moray reminds her that the store isn’t a game for her, it’s business, and Katherine says that she can help him sell anything. She even dares him to pick something, so that she can prove her worth. They actually get kind of cute and bantery for a moment and it’s surprisingly adorable, which again just underscores how poorly this show has set up this love triangle, because there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be compelling from ALL sides (the way it almost is at this moment, with Denise finding her footing on her own in Edmund’s shop and Katherine coming into her own as someone who feels loved). Ugh.
Anyway, Moray rifles through several appalling kinds of fabric, including bright orange and hot pink before settling on a dark blue color. He raises his eyebrows at Katherine and she smiles at him, before declaring that it’s just perfect and what else could possibly be the color of her wedding dress besides this midnight ink? Word runs through the crowd as all the assembled people start gossiping and Katherine heads upstairs to ladies’ wear to get fitted.
Jonas is Really Weird, Okay. Jonas and Dudley run into each other in Moray’s office, as Jonas spends a lot of time loitering there for no reason. Dudley is immediately apologetic, and says he hasn’t been able to sleep for thinking about their previous conversation and the hardships that he’s had to face. Dudley is the world’s biggest sucker seriously. He says he wants to talk to Moray on Jonas’s behalf, explain how important The Paradise is to him, and get Moray to guarantee his position for the future, even if Katherine doesn’t like him. Jonas looks skeptical, then tells Dudley that he needs to learn he can’t trust anyone and how does he even know that Jonas was telling him the truth in the first place. He says everyone lies and has secrets, and that Dudley can’t possibly presume to know him, or anybody else. Jonas is a freakshow y’all.
Clara Tries to Make Trouble But Katherine Remains Triumphant. Katherine ends up getting Clara as an assistant for her dress fitting, which is a punishment in and of itself, but then the two of them start to make small talk. Clara goes on and on about what a modern man Moray is, and how friendly he was with the Paradise staff, and how he’s made a real effort to get to know everyone individually (wink wink). She also says that he takes it really hard when anyone leaves, especially someone like Denise who was a real favorite with him, you know. Clara is seriously horrible, y’all.
Katherine looks a bit shaken, but is right back on her game when Miss Audrey pops up to try and talk her out of buying a wedding dress made out of inferior fabric in a drab and inappropriate color. Like a champion herself, Katherine explains – loudly enough for the gathered ladies who’ve stalked her upstairs to hear – that the dark blue is incredibly appropriate as it’s a sign of mourning and she plans to wear it as a sign of respect for the late first Mrs. Moray. Everyone oohs and ahs in the background, as Katherine whispers to Miss Audrey that the whole thing is just a joke, and her real wedding dress is made of amazingly fine white satin and already being sewn for her as they speak. Miss Audrey looks sad and taken aback for some reason, but orders Clara to send the order to the seamstresses. She then carries out a bolt of the terrible fabric for the assembled ladies to coo over, and the other shop girls start spinning increasingly wild stories about how it’s made, and the store sells a ton of it. Of course. Point to Katherine I guess?
The Fall of the Tradesmens Union. Meanwhile, at the shopfronts across the street, the tentative union of shopkeepers is already starting to breakdown. Since all the customers (even apparently those in the middle of transactions) fled to stare wonderingly after Katherine Glendening, the gentlemen have nothing to do and start snapping at each other. Mr. Chisholm and Edmund immediately start accusing each other of trying to infringe on their respective booth spaces, while Denise looks on disapprovingly. Well, I’m glad to see that this record breaking business venture appears to have lasted what, roughly an hour? Yikes.
The gentlemen have a meeting after the close of the business day and discuss what went down. Mr. Chisholm is busily complaining, but Edmund says that he can’t possibly expect to have made his initial investment back in one day. Denise – who learned about the midnight ink madness at The Paradise thanks to a visit from Pauline – suggests that their group order a bunch of it, and capitalize on the craze. Chisholm says that The Paradise would order more of it, but Denise argues that she knows midnight ink was made by a manufacturer that has since gone out of business, so if they can snag the remaining stock, they can have it exclusively and undercut The Paradise on the very material Katherine’s getting married in. Edmund thinks that this is a bit of an underhanded tactic, but Chisholm’s surprisingly into it, and says that he has some savings that he would be willing to loan the group if they give him a huge cut of the profit. The fact that Chisholm like this idea should probably be your red flag that it’s awful.
The Midnight Ink Idea Actually Works Out But the Tradesmen Still Lose. Katherine rolls up to The Paradise in her carriage to find that the Tradesmens row of stalls across the street is hawking midnight ink cloth. She’s furious at the crowd of people surrounding Denise’s stall and stomps in to tell Moray. She can’t believe the cheek of Denise’s behavior and insists that they have to stop her, but Moray is nonplussed. He says that Denise and company have beaten Katherine at her own game and she has to realize that she can’t have everything her own way all the time. Katherine flounces off, and clearly thinks that Moray is crazy while Denise and Miss Audrey exchange knowing glances from opposite sides of the street.
The stalls continue to sell midnight ink and a bunch of other items at a brisk pace while The Paradise is virtually free of customers in ladies’ wear. Which would probably be worthy of comment if any of us in any way still thought this show represented the life of custom in an actual real town that had more than six stores on one singular street. Team Tradesmen have another meeting in which they do shots in celebration before Edmund and Chisholm argue about who knows more about business. Denise suggests they discuss how best to invest their new profit windfall, but Chisholm reminds everyone that half the cash is his thanks to their earlier agreement. He also says that if Edmund doesn’t thank him and acknowledge his awesomeness, he’s going to take his money and go home. Edmund refuses, because they’re all children, and Chisholm takes his money and goes. His departure means that everyone else takes their money as well, and the group disintegrates.
Moray and Denise Hang Out Because Reasons. Moray, because he apparently doesn’t have anything else to do, comes over to chat up Denise while she’s cleaning up outside. He notes that she’s sold out of the horrible cloth too, and she says that her new trading group has broken up on what is apparently like Day Three of its existence. Moray starts helping her clean up, and compliments her for doing so well in sales that day.
For some reason, this makes Denise decide to take a walk with him, and the pair is suddenly strolling through a bucolic meadow as she recounts her difficulties with the other shopkeepers. Moray provides advice, and says that what matters is learning from our mistakes and grasping at opportunities. Denise stares at him for a long time, which Moray takes as an invitation to start talking about his dead wife who loved him so much, who he claims he did not love enough in return because he was busy focusing on expanding the store. He laments not going on trips with her or starting a family, and says that now he’ll never know if his wife fell in an accident or jumped on purpose because of the horrible things he said to her one time. Moray says that he needs Denise to know that she’s his inspiration and they stare at each other for a bit longer before walking on. Of course, Lord Glendening is out for a ride at precisely this point and passing through exactly this location just in time to see the two of them standing very close together. Dun dun dunnnn.
Later, Lord G is sitting at table with Katherine, listening to her complain about Moray’s behavior about her attempt to help the store and what happened with Denise and the cloth. He perks up when she starts talking about Denise and looks a weird combination of suspicious and alarmed. Katherine doesn’t understand why he took the side of some random girl over his future wife, and her father mentions that Moray has displayed some weird leniency to the shops across the way. Katherine’s confused, but Lord G says all lovers have quarrels and they should just plan a trip for the two of them after the wedding so they can concentrate on each other. He suggests Italy or Greece, and Katherine perks up a bit. I don’t know why I almost feel bad for her because truly Katherine is kind of horrible and yet I do, I don’t get it at all.
Katherine Tries Again. Katherine goes to see Moray and says that she’s tired of all this fuss around their wedding and planning and what not, so she thinks they ought to just refocus on their relationship. She suggests moving the wedding date forward, after all, there’s no real reason for them not to. She says she can’t bear to wait, and tells him about Lord G’s extended honeymoon idea. Moray looks terrified and says nothing as Katherine goes on about them having a perfect start to their perfect marriage and he still says nothing, and seriously Moray is the worst in this whole bunch.
A bit later, Moray finds Denise admiring the shop windows of The Paradise outside the store. They banter about the classic “Miss Audrey” touches to the window – Moray tries to apologize for something or other, but Denise insists it’s not necessary. She says she’d like the two of them to remain friends and that her one great hope is to make her mark on the world as he has. Denise seems calm and composed, even in the face of yet another reference to “his little champion.” They look at each other sadly, and it sort of feels like an ending somehow, but also there’s still an episode left in this season, so probably not, but still.
An interesting, and very strange episode, really. Anyone have any thoughts on it?