Revisiting ‘The Paradise’: Series 1, Episode 8

Here's hoping Denise gets better dresses in Series 2. (Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Wall/BBC 2012 for MASTERPIECE)
Here's hoping Denise gets better dresses in Series 2. (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: Katherine heads The Paradise to go wedding shopping, dragging along a bunch of her friends so she can help make the store some more money using her social influence. She causes a run on a gastly shade of fabric by tricking the intellectually challenged townsfolk into thinking a person like Katherine would ever get married in “midnight ink”. Meanwhile, across the road in our Singular Shopping Area, Denise brokers a short-lived agreement between the five other shop keeper’s to sell their wares as package deals. Katherine dislikes Moray’s obsession with his dead wife, but runs afoul of creepy Jonas when she attempts to remove the giant Mrs. Moray portrait from his office and the two are now mortal enemies. Denise and Moray take a walk and have a long heart to heart together, though unbeknownst to them, they’re spotted by Lord Glendening.

We’ve finally made it to the Series 1 finale! (Just in time to start Series 2 this weekend but whatever, that’s next week.) What does the Nameless City’s One Shopping Area have in store for us this week? Onward, and let’s find out.

Oh, No, Remember That Time Barber Rory Disappeared? Our episode opens with an incredibly atmospheric and creepy shot of a river, with a body surfacing in it, which fades out to a close-up of Jonas’s face. Just in case you forgot that time he totally probably murdered the shopkeeper next door. Dun dun duuun. Guess what storyline I think we can all assume will also be resurfacing in this episode?

Gosh, Dudley is Just So Excited About Moray and Katherine. Dudley, who is acting way way more excited about Moray’s upcoming wedding than he is, is busy filling the groom in on wedding details, including the fact that he’s planning to have the church bells rung to celebrate the great day and that Moray needs another groomsman since Katherine has four bridesmaids. Dudley ships these two so hard, y’all. It’s almost endearing, it it weren’t kind of annoying at the same time. Anyway, Moray is a bit blasé about the whole thing, and suggests young Arthur as an addition. Dudley does not approve of this because Arthur is an errand boy born in a loading bay, but Moray insists, claiming that he never wants to forget where he came from even if he is marrying a Glendening. Dudley insists that Moray’s being too hesitant about the whole thing and is going to have a great day. Moray makes a vague noise of affirmation whilst openly staring at Denise, who’s working on something outside the dress shop across the way.

Denise Debates Returning to The Paradise. Sam and Pauline pop over to play cards with Denise and try to press her into coming back to work at The Paradise, since it’s obvious that there are exactly zero customers at her uncle’s shop. Denise says it’s not that she doesn’t want to come back, and Pauline pipes up that her beds still free. Sam adds that Moray would love a defeated rival to return and ask him for a job. Denise looks awkwardly at her uncle, who’s wandering the shop aimlessly doing nothing. Pauline says Moray’s always like her, so she should just ask.

The next morning, Edmund asks Denise for a favor as she’s flitting about the shop tidying. He tells her that she has to go back to work at The Paradise, because it’s where she belongs and she isn’t allowed to challenge him on it. He says she tried to help him, and that’s enough, and he can see she loved it there. Denise looks moved, and they hug. She notably does not protest his plan. So, that evening, she puts on a new hat to go with her pretty new blue dress which unfortunately is not even remotely the same color blue wow and goes to see Miss Audrey. She tells her that her uncle’s cool with her returning to The Paradise, but Audrey points out that that’s not really what’s troubling her.

She says that Denise has to acknowledge that Moray’s about to be married, and that she has to make it clear to Moray that she knows her place, and wishes to just be employee. She says Denise shouldn’t come back if she doesn’t think she can survive that, but Audrey advises that she’s young and romantic feelings will pass. She says she should trust that her longing will leave her eventually. Denise nods. 

Lord Glendening Basically Buys The One Street Where Shops Are. Moray explains to Dudley that Lord Glendening has basically bought out the leases on all the shops on the One Street Where Stores Are in town. He explains further that this has all entailed getting a rather massive loan from Glendening as part of all this, but he’s excited because it means that they can move with confidence as concerns his long desired store expansion. Dudley says that at least the man Moray owes money to is going to be his father-in-law, so it’s not like the situation is going to be a precarious one. This line might as well come with a pop up that indicates that it’s going to turn out to be a massive lie, so fair warning.

Denise is Back at The Paradise! Denise stops by The Paradise to see Dudley and Miss Audrey and really to ask for her job back. Dudley looks pleased, and says she’ll be restored immediately to ladies’ wear, and that he and Moray had discussed it in the past already. Denise beams at him, and I get sort of depressed because I loved the Denise that was running the show at Edmund’s shop and it was so refreshing to have her outside of The Paradise and it made me like her more. Ah,well, I suppose it couldn’t last forever. Maybe the brief time away will revitalize Denise as a character within the world of the store? A girl can dream, yeah?

Anyway, Dudley runs straight to Moray to tell him that Denise has returned to the flock. Moray looks concerned and Dudley asks if that’s okay, since they discussed it already. Moray finally says yes it’s fine, and tries to suggest she should start next week. Dudley tells him that is too bad because she’s starting that day. Womp womp. So Moray has to give a speech to the entire staff – which now includes Denise who has changed clothes in record time – about how he wishes he could invite them all to his wedding but someone has to keep the store open so oh well. Denise stares at him, stony-faced, and it’s kind of hilarious. Moray says the staff will be represented by Dudley and Miss Audrey and Arthur, and he’s going to throw them a party after the store closes on Saturday and stuff. Denise remains stony faced, so this is seriously not going to be awkward at all. 

Denise Gets a Strange Note. Denise, Pauline and Clara are all happy roommates together once again and discussing boys and relationships and how Pauline just really wants some who isn’t completely decrepit and/or offensive to ask her out. Arthur shows up with an note for Denise, who reads it and then claims it’s from her uncle and she has to go see him right away. Clara does not believe this at all, as it’s clearly a lie, but Denise just sweeps from the room.

Of course the note’s from Moray, who’s asked Denise to meet him out on a random picturesque bridge we’ve never seen before in the middle of nowhere. He says he’s glad she came, that he thought they needed to talk someplace away from the store. Denise says that if he didn’t want her back at The Paradise, he could just say so, but Moray confesses that he cannot marry Katherine. Denise looks shocked and stares. Moray says that once he saw Denise’s face that day…that she must be able to tell how he feels every time he looks at her. He says he’s tried to deny it but he can’t stop and they end up kissing for a long while as the music swells. Denise looks over the moon happy, as Moray says that he’s decided he has to face everyone and tell them the truth, no matter how much of a mess it will make. Moray goes on for a bit about how easy things are between the two of them and that he doesn’t think he can throw that away. Denise just looks so thrilled and happy and it’s sort of cute, except Moray is kind of being a jerk here and it’s hard for me to support this. Moray promises that he will tell Katherine and ride out the scandal and the two of them will be happy, and Katherine will see it’s for the best (which surely seems like something her character would do, yeah?)

Back to That Dead Body From Before. So, the dead body from the opening scene is finally fished out of the river, and everyone at The Paradise is gossiping about how it’s been half devoured by fishes and no one knows who it is. Pauline says that sometimes it happens, that drunk people fall in the river and die, but Jonas is lurking in the background eavesdropping the whole time. Because of course that dead body is Mr. Burroughs (aka Barber Rory) who vanished several episodes back and who it’s highly likely that Jonas just straight up murdered because of his insane need to give Moray whatever he wants.

Jonas goes straight to Young Arthur, who’d seen Barber Rory get into Jonas’s carriage on the night he disappeared, to reassure him that Burroughs was a drunk who probably just fell in the river while he was completely wasted and was of course no way murdered in the carriage of anyone in The Paradise’s employ. Arthur looks anxious, because Jonas is straight up terrifying, and Jonas tells him that he mustn’t say anything to anyone about what he might or might not have seen regarding this whole event because there are just too many people out there waiting to misunderstand things and cause scandal in order to bring Moray down. Arthur looks terrified.

Moray’s "Dump Katherine" Plan Hits a Roadblock. Moray heads over to the Glendenings with the purpose of dumping his fiancée, only to find that Katherine has already left to visit The Paradise and spend more of her money propping up and promoting the business establishment of a man who’s about to break her heart. Moray instead runs into Lord G, who’s awfully chipper and rather rambling on about various wedding related things like the promises within vows and hymns and blah blah. In the midst of all this, he drops the bomb that he’s bought the freehold for The Only Street Where Stores Are in Town, a bombshell bit of news which utterly shocks Moray, if his hilarious fishface expression in response is any indication. Moray stutters that he thought Glendening was going to give him a loan so that he could acquire all these leases himself, but Lord G is nonplussed, saying that he thought better of his original plan. He says that Moray’s going to marry his daughter in a few days and then they’ll all be one big happy family so what does it matter who owns what in this situation. It’s an incredibly smart move by Lord G, as he subtly implies that should Moray fail to make Katherine happy, well. There could be consequences since Glendening’s name is actually on the deed. 

Meanwhile, in Ladies’ Wear. Back at The Paradise, Clara, Pauline and Denise are busy covering ladies’ wear in flouncy veils, bouquets and other wedding apparel. They chat g about boys for a minute as Clara and Pauline lament the fact that they always want boys who don’t want them back. The three of them take turns trying on wedding veils and waxing rhapsodic about how heavenly they feel and extolling the virtues of a shapeless square of lace. Of course, Denise goes last in the veil tryouts and of course she’s still wearing one and beaming when Katherine strides into the room. She takes one look at Denise and walks right back out again, and I must admit I’m fuzzy on why Katherine decided she hated Denise after praising her cleverness and if this is still meant to be her holding a grudge over the whole midnight ink fabric incident, then, wow, Katherine is kind of scary actually.

Katherine immediately goes outside and waits for Moray, then demands that he tell her about Denise. She’s angry and confused about why he would take Denise back into the store after she stood against him and all that. Moray decides this is the perfect segue to ask Katherine to release him from his promise of marriage, because he has exactly ZERO people skills for someone whose job it is to know about people wow. Anyway, Katherine says she simply can’t listen to any of this, and insists that Moray loves her and that they belong together. She says that she will not give him up for a shopgirl and she wants her wedding and that’s that. Moray insists that Denise isn’t a passing fancy for him, but Katherine is adamant. She says she’s waited for him and loved him and will not let him go. (Whilst I am not entirely sure why Katherine even wants Moray because let’s be real he hardly seems A+ husband material, she’s not entirely wrong here, and while the show does seem to be attempting to paint Katherine as unreasonable, she does have a point in that she did stick it out with Moray when no one else would, only to be cast aside once she’s no longer convenient or whatever. She shouldn’t end up with him, and her behavior is a bit appalling, but, for me, she’s not entirely unsympathetic in this instance. Katherine says that it’s Moray’s turn to accept things for once, and he needs to accept that they are bound together now, and will marry as planned. She dramatically climbs into her carriage, only for Moray to equally declare that it is done and no wedding can happen. Dun dunnnnn.

The Dead Guy Plot Resurfaces Again. Jonas, displaying the excellent people skills that make him so popular amongst The Paradise staff, decides that now is a great time to tell Moray about the dead guy who washed up in the river that used to be their partner. Moray looks annoyed and wants to know what people are saying. Jonas reassures him that nothing of this scandal will come to his door, so it’s cool.

Meanwhile, Arthur is moping outside when Dudley appears out of nowhere to pump him for information about Dead Barber Rory. He says that if Arthur knows anything about Burroughs or about Jonas’s involvement then he’s putting The Paradise itself at risk and he wouldn’t want that would he!?!? Arthur says that he’s keeping quiet for Moray’s sake, but Dudley encourages him to spill everything. Which of course Arthur does – he tells Dudley everything about seeing Burroughs get into Jonas’s carriage, and they take the story to Moray, including the part where Jonas asked him to keep the whole ordeal a secret.

Moray reassures Arthur that coming clean was the right thing to do, and then after he leaves Moray has to confess to Dudley that he knew about what Jonas did, and that he kept quiet out of loyalty, to protect him. He explains that Burroughs was intent on spreading tales about the death of the late Mrs. Moray. Dudley is furious and says that Moray can’t risk bringing down the whole store over protecting one man, one man that they don’t even know who he is or why he came there. Man, Dudley hates Jonas and it is hilarious. Moray says that Jonas came to them because he needed somewhere to belong. Dudley says that all that matters is what they do now and that every day they let Jonas stay he is a danger to them all, and that if they don’t get rid of him now they’ll never be free of him. Dudley volunteers to be the man to sack him, because Dudley hates Jonas and it’s hilarious.         

The next day Dudley goes to see Jonas and and gleefully sacks him after informing him that he knows everything because Arthur fessed up. Jonas says that he spent a long time  on the road looking for someplace to belong and the apparently saintlike Mrs. Moray gave him that and Dudley’s not going to be the one to take it away from him. Dudley insists that Jonas is finished and his expression is, yet again, hilarious. Jonas says he’s not going to believe any of this until he hears it from Moray himself, but Dudley just says he needs to get out soon, and he needs to go quietly. 

Edmund Finds Out About Denise and Moray. Clara, who’s wandering home depressed and drunk, passes Edmund on the street outside his shop one night and drops the bombshell that Denise is in love with Moray. Edmund is shocked and upset, and disbelieving. Or, he is until Audrey comes to visit him and he accuses her of knowing the truth about Denise’s feelings, and letting her go back to work for Moray anyway. Audrey argues that nothing can come of the situation since Moray’s to be married but Edmund feels betrayed by everyone.

He next confronts Denise, gets her to admit her feelings for Moray and begs her to tell him that nothing has happened between them. He also seems to feel super betrayed again, for reasons I can’t quite fathom other than the fact that Moray also owns a store that sells dresses. Denise says she can’t deny it, but she hasn’t done anything to hurt him on purpose. She then goes on a long screed about how Edmund has been her family and all she has, but what she feels for John is just undeniably amazing and epic. Then they hug because reasons I guess.

Katherine vs. Denise, Round One. Lord G finds Katherine in her room looking thunderous, and she tells him that she caught Denise wearing a wedding veil as if to mock her, and says that she knows the shopgirl is angling to take Moray away from her. Her father quite rationally points out that Denise wouldn’t threaten her so if she really believed that Moray loved her. Katherine shakes her head and says that she knows Moray loves her, she has seen it and she knows they have a future together. Her father asks if she’s talked to her betrothed, but Katherine darkly says that she knows what she has to do now and vows to dig any trace of Denise from Moray’s heart.

Katherine goes to The Paradise and summons Denise to her carriage with a note. Katherine still looks terrifyingly angry (though her wine-colored dress is 100% gorgeous!) but Denise seems oddly calm. She starts off with an attempt at an apology – for what exactly, we never find out – until Katherine interrupts and rudely says she shouldn’t speak to her as though they are equals, declaring that she won’t let Denise take Moray away from her. Denise demurs and says that Katherine should probably speak to John about the whole thing. Katherine says that she can see how her clever girl ways and her ideas for the store could have betwitched Moray, but Denise says she can’t make any man love her.

Katherine shrugs and tells Denise that the Glendening family now owns the freehold to every shop on the street, including Edmund’s shop and The Paradise itself. She says that means that her family is now going to be the ones who decide who stays and who loses everything they have. She says Moray has built his store from nothing and asks how Denise would feel if she were the one to take it all away from him. Denise says she wouldn’t be responsible for any of that, but Katherine states that yes, she would, by insisting on having Moray for herself. She says Denise can tell herself she’s the victim in this situation, but the truth of it will torment her, and that though Moray will be brave and try not to blame her, Denise will still have to watch him wither away without his beloved store, all the while knowing that she could have prevented it by giving him up. Wow, Katherine does not play.

Denise wants to know why Katherine wants to marry a man who’s told her that he doesn’t love her. She replies that she taught Moray to love her once when he was resistant and she can do it again for sure. Denise leaves the carriage, looking shell shocked, and again I’m faced with this weird conflicted feeling about this whole exchange.

Clearly the show means us to view Katherine as a villain here, someone who’s standing between Denise and happiness and trying to take away the thing that Moray loves most. I get that, and can acknowledge that Katherine’s behavior is selfish and pretty cruel. But I also feel that the show doesn’t necessarily give equal weight to the fact that Katherine isn’t really a Cruella de Ville style monster, that her feelings for Moray seem legitimate enough in their own way. Also, Denise, well, she is the other woman in this instance a bit, even though Moray is equally guilty. It’s such a messy situation in truth, and I think the drama would be better served by showing how messy it is? I don’t know if that makes sense.

Jonas Quits Out of Loyalty or Something. Jonas goes to see Moray about the whole dead body found in a river situation, and Moray is all sorts of anxious about it. He says that Jonas could ruin him if he so chose, because Moray was complicit in what happened to Barber Rory. Jonas is offended that Moray would think that he could ever do that to him, and Moray basically says Jonas is basically his stalker so why doesn’t he just say what he wants and be done with it. Jonas says that he has seen that there have been whispers and scandal about him and he says that if he leaves then the scandal goes with him and Moray’s reputation is saved. He says it’s all his fault because he acted without Moray’s permission, and only thought he was helping. Ummm, okay? We then flash back to Jonas on the bridge of doooom, where he throws his journal of secret keeping into the river for some metaphorical reason I guess who even knows any more. All I know is that Jonas’s obsession with Moray is really creepy and the quicker we don’t have to deal with that any more the better.

Denise and Moray Discuss the Future. Denise and Moray have an awkward conversation about Katherine, wherein she tells him that at one point he must have felt some sort of affection toward her, since he asked her to marry him and all. Moray says that was all before he’d met Denise and so I guess that makes it okay I don’t even know. Denise says that marrying Katherine would give him a better kind of life, but Moray insists that the life he wants is here with her in The Paradise.

Denise wants to know what if there were no Paradise and asks him to tell her about the Glendenings. Moray hems and haws for a minute, but finally explains about his many debts and the deal he’d originally made with Lord G about the freeholds for all the stores in the One Street in Town. Moray insists that if they took it all away from him he would just start again somewhere else, and the store would manage without him. Denise says that she can’t take that away from him, or from the people who work and live at the store.

Moray insists that he can’t marry Katherine, but Denise says that he can, launching into a really awkward and fairly nonsensical speech about how she’s seen that Moray’s willing to sacrifice everything to be with her, so maybe that means he shouldn’t have to, and that he’ll always see his eyes looking at her, and that the two of them will just always know. Um, what? This literally makes no sense. Why does Moray not have to sacrifice anything? What will they know? That they’re in love? That they sacrificed being together because of capitalism? Is this Denise’s roundabout way of offering to be his mistress? I don’t even know. I think this moment was meant to be heartrending and romantic, but I just boggled at how awkwardly written it was.

The Wedding Day Arrives. The bells are ringing in the One Street in Town Where There Are Stores. Arthur is outside dressed in his adorable new suit and someone has brushed his hair for once. Moray is in his office looking like death.

Meanwhile, Miss Audrey stops by to see Edmund, in her pretty new yellow dress, and tells him that she’s never been to a wedding before because they scare her. She says that love scares her, really, and she wants to know why Edmund wanted a woman who was so afraid of love. They stare at each other for a bit before Audrey asks him to forgive him. Which of course he does because this entire sequence has literally come out of nowhere and they kiss because they were together years ago and surely neither of them have changed or grown at all in that time so it’s fine. Whatever, show.

Katherine is getting dressed in her wedding gown, which is gorgeous, while Denise fingers veils in the shop because everyone has been obsessed with veils this episode. She takes out a locket which I guess she has had made to commemorate her eternal love with Moray or whatever.

Shots of Moray sprinting through the store are interspersed with Katherine heading to the church, because I guess Moray didn’t have to be at the wedding at any particular time or anything like that. Moray continues looking for Denise, until he finds her outside and kisses her as the music swells and they smile and touch noses. And that’s how the episode ends, so I guess he’s decided not to marry Katherine after all, though he’s embarrassingly literally left her at the altar, since he’s obviously not going to show up, which seem seems a bit cruel and an awkward moment to leave the season ending on. Which, I recognize I’m probably the only person who cares about Katherine, but seriously who does that to someone?!

On to Season 2, wherein I suppose/hope we at least get to see Katherine’s reaction, and the fallout from Moray’s decision to end a relationship in the most public and embarrassing way possible.

What about how? Did you enjoy Season 1 of The Paradise? Are you looking forward to Series 2? (We’ll be recapping that as well so stick around!)

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