Catching up: Mr Selfridge Season 2, 7

Harry returns, the press descends

Harry returns, the press descends

Harry’s back!

May 4th Americans saw Harry Selfridge return to chaos at home. Loxley has framed him for a scandal with the military procurement committee so it looks like he profited by getting the Brits shoddy boots for their soldiers. Not a word of truth in that, but no one will believe him and only The Times prints his side of the story. On top of that, Henri LeClair is being held at the American Embassy since he’s suspected of embezzlement.

Harry bravely enters his store through the front past the vultures or journalists await. He’s determined to face things head on. The store’s dead. Few customers want to shop in a store with this black cloud hanging over it and raving protesters outside accosting all who enter.

Till now I hadn’t realized how many fresh flowers there were in the store. How lovely! I grow more nostalgic each week.

Lady Mae is at a posh hotel with her maid, who informs her that her bank draft was refused and the hotel wants its money. Mae plans to sell the jewels she stored in the safe deposit box. Married to Lord Loxley, she should have store more and loads of cash for years in banks all over the city if possible.

Snake in the grass, Delphine, who I think is worse that Mr Thackeray, visits Rose to get the scoop on Harry’s return and to offer to cheer Harry up with “stardust,” i.e. a dash of Hollywood. Rose handles her perfectly. She’s friendly, but skeptical in a way that’s not rude, but sincerely shows that Delphine’s help with Harry isn’t needed. Rose isn’t going to stop Delphine’s plan, which shows confidence in Harry and in herself.

With friends like these, Rose . . .

With friends like these, Rose . . .

Harry debriefs Bill Summertime apprising him of how met with a German manufacturer who’ll help the Brits and mentioning how the Germans questioned him for hours and ransacked his room. Bill offers little appreciation and no help whatsoever with the problem with the boot scandal.

Harry does speak to his staff assuring them that Frank wrote a pack of lies and that he’d get to the bottom of this. Neither Frank nor Rose have had great luck with friends in London.


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A distraught Agnes later speaks to Harry pleading that he into Henri’s case. While he’s got plenty of other problems he does agree to find Valerie who Agnes and well most viewers feel is at the heart of his problem. Harry implies he’s not big on Henri because his friend didn’t tell him the N.Y. police were after him. Well, Henri did try to say no to working at Selfridge’s and to living with the family. Harry insisted and is quite persuasive. I can understand reluctance to share one’s shame even with friends.

Harry proceeds to Delphine’s because Summertime’s secretary said he’d be there. Why would a secretary offer such information? Fortunately, Summertime does agree to help find Valerie. Only The Times printed Harry’s letter clearing himself. The others live off scandal and don’t care about an upstart American merchant.

Mabel Normand, silent film star director

Mabel Normand, silent film star director

At the paper, Frank finally raises the issue of whether Harry’s being treated properly with his editor, who doesn’t give a hoot. Let Harry and the store suffer for all he cares. “In war truth isn’t everything” is his philosophy. I doubt the editor cares much about truth in times of peace. Another scoundrel.

Delphine surprises the staff and Harry with a visit from a slew of American shop-o-holics in the form of film star Mabel Normand, producer Mack Sennett and their retinue. Spirits are raised as they buy five of those and six of these.

In the meantime, Jane announces to Mae, whose counting the proceeds of her jewelry sale, that Lord Loxley’s downstairs. Run, Mae, run. Sometimes it’s better to choose flight over fight. Loxley’s toxic. You wouldn’t know what nuclear waste is like, but that’s what runs through Loxley’s veins. Poor Jane is the most timid Brit we’ve seen on Public TV. She’d be eaten alive by O’Brien or Thomas at Downton. Loxley wants to buy Mae’s silence. Come home and there’ll be no gossip. Mae vows to destroy him, but how?

Florian informs Miss Mardle (I love that last name it’s so prim in a way that makes me smile) that he’s going to find a job. She prefers he dedicate himself to music and it’s not a bad idea, but working at a factory wouldn’t be terrible given that there’s a war as he points out. While I’m not in complete agreement with Mr Groves, I don’t see this as a viable relationship. It’s more genuine than Lady Mae’s dalliances but Florian is more of a protege than Agnes ever was to Henri. He’s part boarder, part son, part ESL student. Miss Mardle could do better.

Agnes is off to the U.S. Embassy with a letter for Henri. When she explains the early errand to Miss Mardle she gets quite tongue tied while assuring that there’s nothing inappropriate in Victor’s fiancée writing to Henri. Of course, this mean there is. Freud’s work would have been circulated by now. Cut to the embassy where a NY ADA is waiting to charge Henri and extradite him. How did this Mr Regan get to London so fast? I suppose a few weeks have elapsed, but it seems like days. Regan’s as slick and officious as you’d expect. Here I wondered why Henri wouldn’t have a French consulate officer present or a lawyer. Rose would have helped with that.

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Hoping to get forgiven and to team up against Loxley, Mae visits Harry. He’s too the point. He wants nothing more to do with her. There really is no reason to trust her at this point. She still is acting out of self interest as Harry clearly sees.

Rose stayed home from Delphine’s since she’s feeling poorly, which worries me. I’ve read her Wikipedia entry. (Spoiler there.) Sennett tries to convince Harry to team up with him in Hollywood. It’s nice that Gordon’s old enough to go to a party at Delphine’s with Harry. It keeps him out of trouble when there’s a bevy of bathing beauties at hand.

Miss Mardle explains why she’s ended things with Florian. Then explanation doesn’t work as she’s soon kissing Florian.

Mabel introduces Gordon to Tom Collins and he has a few too many. Watch out Gordon. You don’t want to get hooked. Your father has his devils and you don’t want to find your own. Bill Summertime crashes the party with news of Valerie. Grace Calthorpe brings Gordon some soothing tea post-Tom Collins. Grace and Gordon make a good couple.

Agnes stays true to Victor, but

Agnes stays true to Victor, but

In the end Henri is freed. Evidently, Valerie’s husband embezzled the money. Valerie groveled and whined pathetically to ingratiate herself back into Henri’s affection. Where is the assertive woman we saw in season 1? She’s become a woman who’ll marry whoever’s richest and will let a former lover face criminal charges. Henri could have come down a lot harder on her. I suppose he realizes his blind love for her made him partly to blame. Back at the store there’s a lovely scene between Agnes and Henri. He lets her know he sees her full worth now, suggesting he’d welcome a relationship, but Agnes stays true to Victor. Yet I always detect that it’s hard for Agnes to completely close the door to an opportunity with Henri. She’s attracted to him and hasn’t addressed that or how he left her for Valerie. She’s very much the good sport and very self-sufficient, but it would be good for her to hold people accountable and to make sure she’s committed heart and soul to Victor, not just do what society expects. I wish she had a female friend to talk to. Miss Mardle’s older, more of a mentor than a peer. I wish Agnes had a girl friend, like Grace Calthorpe. She’d be good.

The story ended on a good note, with the family round the table planning a reunion with the Selfridge girls and Lois, Harry’s mother. A “good night, John boy,” ending isn’t bad. We don’t always need to be left hanging off a cliff. We did get another scene though with Harry and Rose going to bed and Harry musing that Delphine would be great to help out around the store. Yes, she would jump at the chance. Bad idea, Harry.  So the real end did leave us with a tinge of foreboding.

Related

 Mr Selfridge Phil’s Picks
Jeremy Piven, NY Times interview

Some Mabel Normand films

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