Mr Selfridge Finale, Part 1

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I wanted to see more, but also dreaded the end of this season of Mr Selfridge, probably my favorite new show hands down. Miss Mardle and Florian are together in bed at the start of the show. Newspapers still won’t print Harry’s side of the procurement scandal, though they do print that Mae has left Lord Loxley. Agnes waits for news from George, but there is none. Rose convinces Harry to hear Mae out, perhaps she should be forgiven for vouching for her evil husband. Here we see Rose and Harry’s marriage it all it’s glory.

Mr Groves sees Florian and Miss Mardle together and thinks it’s untoward. Kissing goodbye on the street. Really! Also, Miss Mardle, who’s way too maternal towards Florian for my tastes, gives him lunch money as he heads off to his factory job. I’d like her to find a nice widower. It’s not just that Florian’s younger, but that he’s got so little personality. He’s part ESL student, part son, part lover. You can do better, Josie. Mr Groves agrees, this relationship isn’t right for her, but he’s far less tactful. He later calls Miss Mardle to his office and scolds her for impropriety and insults her calling her an “old fool.” For the chief of staff, Groves isn’t very good with people.

Winifred Black, journalist

Winifred Black, journalist

To help the store out of its slump, Delphine proposes bringing the spirit of her nightclub to Selfridge’s. Mr Crabb is skeptical, with good cause. Henri doesn’t say either way, but offers a different proposal, which one could take as skepticism about “The Spirit of Delphine’s at Selfridge.”  Still Harry goes with it and soon Delphine’s busy giving the Palm Court an Arabian makeover. Meanwhile Henri proposes asking journalist Winifred Black Bonfils to do an article on Selfridge’s. Since she wants carte blanche and has a huge following, it’s risky, but Harry doesn’t flinch from risk. Thackeray and Delphine expect to dazzle Winifred, but neither succeed. Instead Winifred writes about Agnes, her gumption, determination and rise through the ranks at Selfridges. The story’s a hit connecting with readers who identify with a young woman getting successful through creativity, determination and pluck. Thackeray’s envy is sure to have a long shelf life. He’s not the sort to forget a slight.

Kitty convinces Frank to investigate Loxley. Finally, it dawns on Frank that perhaps Loxley used him. Indeed, Frank. Perhaps Kitty should take your job and you could sell perfume. His editor refuses to look into another side of the story, so Frank quits. Frank and Mae team up to root out the truth.

The most ominous scenes in the show were with Rose at the doctors. Anyone who’s read Wikipedia or Lindy Woodhouse’s  Shopping, Seduction  and Mr Selfridge  knows that Rose dies in 1918. I didn’t expect to get hints of this in 1914. She’s become one of my favorite characters. Harry’s not an easy man to be married to and Rose isn’t a real assertive woman, but she isn’t a doormat either. It’s a complex, fascinating and loving relationship. Rose has gotten more involved in the store and surprised us with her shooting skill, her good decision making, and her leadership when Harry was gone. I realize she wouldn’t be in Season 4, but I hope she’s alive throughout most of Season 3. At least give us that.

When Delphine learns that Rose has a congestive problem she encourages Rose to go off to the country (so she can seduce him). Rose, you need better friends, dear.

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Harry is hard on Mae, which I think he should have been. He holds her feet to the fire to get her to explain why she vouched for Loxley. She reveals that Loxley is a violent man and Harry insists she move in to his home where she’ll be safe. Ah, Harry at his best caring for friends. It reminded me of Season 1 when he hunted down Agnes’ abusive father and sent the ne’er-do-well packing.

When Winifred interviews Agnes, Henri grows more and more impressed, more and more in love. He’d never heard how her gumption got her her job at Selfridges. Later he goes to Victor to find out if there’s news about George. He then suggests to Victor to that Agnes should give up her hopes for George’s return. (Not sure why Henri’s patriotism would still compel him to sign up for the French army.) Henri’s just concerned and Victor’s threatened. Victor gets feisty, reacting all out of proportion, and almost starts a fight with Henri. Temper, temper. This is not some saloon, Victor. It’s a champaign bar and fine restaurant. Like a civilized person, Henri just brushes Victor off. Henri’s not rude or belligerent, just dignified. I’ll say I don’t think Victor’s a bad choice, but working at the restaurant is.

Comic relief ensues when Harry rehires his old secretary to handle his family’s social calendar. This does not sit well with Miss Plunkett, his new secretary. They squabble over the appointment diary and territory.

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When Agnes sees a soldier in uniform, she mistakes him for George and gets upset. Luckily, she has Victor to console her. The scene’s pretty good, but it’s one that made me think “In this era, wouldn’t some people mention God as a source of comfort?” Victor only offers family, which really isn’t as powerful. It also reminds me that most likely Victor and Henri are Catholic, while Agnes would be Protestant. That would be a big issue in 1914. A missed opportunity dramatically.

Soon though, George does return and Agnes is thrilled. He doesn’t complain much and is very loyal even to the bad hospital he stayed in. He was shot in the shoulder and needs time to recuperate. He’ll have to go back to the front when he’s well. Till then he can enjoy the pleasures of home at Miss Mardle’s. His upbeat, energetic presence, even as an injured soldier make Florian’s bland personality stand out more. Yes, Florian’s whole family died, but even so I think when he’s not playing the violin, he’s dull.

Another great scene is when Mae confronts Delphine about plotting to steal Harry from Rose. The women trade barbs about disgraced divorcées and musical hall trollops in a manner worthy of Violent Crowley, the dowager on Downton Abbey. Bravo.

Frank hounds Lord Edgerton to get him to confess that Loxley ‘s blackmailing him. It’s a failure. I’d expect a good reporter would know better. Kitty sure would. People get blackmailed because they’re ashamed, they certainly aren’t going to want the publicity of a news story that tells all the city of their embarrassing situation.

Winifred has a heart to heart with Agnes asking her how she’ll be able to give up her career, mentioning how two of her marriages failed. While I see Agnes loyal and able to find the positive in any life, working in the restaurant would not be Selfridge’s. She’s one of the few women of the era who had an interesting job. I like how committed Agnes is to Victor and her marriage. It’s not a bad choice, though I’ve favored Henri and the store for her.

Later Loxley barges in on breakfast at the Selfridge’s. It’s a great scene where Loxley’s fuming demanding Mae return and Harry stands up to him and shows him out. Rose too gets into the mix saying Mae’s their guest and will stay as long as she likes. So there! Mae also tips Harry off about Delphine’s intentions towards him. Well done, Mae.

Mr Groves announces the birth of his son during a department head meeting. Poor, Miss Mardle hides her sorrow. It made me think though. After all those Tuesday night rendezvous’s, did Miss Mardle ever get pregnant? Valerie who was with Henri for years never got pregnant, it seems. Nor did Agnes or Mae. TV birth control in the early 1900s worked so well. Later Mr Groves does the right thing and retracts what he said to Miss Mardle. He apologizes and tells her she does deserve love. How true! But isn’t there someone other than Florian, who’s so anemic?

Victor suggests that he and Agnes get married before George returns to the front. It catches Agnes off guard. She doesn’t seem ready for actual marriage. As an idea, marrying Victor sounded grand, but actually leaving Selfridge’s? That’s another story.

The Spirit of Delphine promotion is the first flop if I remember correctly. Not one person comes to the Palm Court so it actually hurt business.  Another great scene followed when Harry rebuffs Delphine’s suggestion that they’d be good together. He states that what motivates him is Rose, that every counter, every brick of the store serves to show his honor and love for Rose. Bravo! Delphine walks out, fuming. Next when Harry gets home he gives Rose a beautiful kiss just ‘cuz he loves her. This episode (#9 in the UK, midway through 7 in the US) ends with the family reunited. Harry’s mother and girls are back–in time for Thanksgiving.