Recapping Mr. Selfridge: Episode 5

Previously, on Mr. Selfridge: The store gets a car for a window display and Mr. Crab wants us all to know IT IS NOT INSURED. Agnes and Victor are sort of going out but maybe not really we don’t know. Roddy brings Rose her painting and they kiss. Selfridge bribes/beats up Agnes’ father and gives her her job back. Ellen tells Rose about her affair with her husband and then tries to kill herself. Lady Mae flirts with Victor. Henri is not around enough. Selfridge and Rose finally have a huge row about their marital issues and it’s awesome. Except then Selfridge goes off on a bender and crashes Chekov’s car from the store display. Whoops.

So much going on in this week’s episode! Let’s talk about it.

Spoiler: Selfridge Didn’t Die. Really, that’s history, but still, Selfridge is alive, albeit unconscious. He’s at home surrounded by concerned family and sporadic hangers on and it’s possible this situation might be more moving if we’d seen more evidence that Selfridge wasn’t a colossal jerk at least sixty percent of the time. Anyway, of course, Rose refuses to leave his bedside even for necessary things like food or sleep and has to basically be threatened into taking a nap by her daughter. She is wracked with guilt and woe, and we’re apparently not going to get a real follow-up to all of her (very valid) comments during the Awesome Hallway Argument of last week any time soon. In some ways, even though this is obviously history and actually happened, inserting Selfridge’s accident here story-wise feels like such a cop-out, because it neatly avoids having to deal with his character flaws directly and we can go back to everyone loving Selfridge all the time. Sigh. But, on the upside, it’s actually very nice to have an episode with minimal Selfridge in it, if only because we get to see some more of the secondary characters who are often related to five minutes per episode. 

Who’s Running the Store? The staff at Selfridges is in shock about their boss’ injury and everyone attempts to figure out what to do. Mr. Crab looks about five seconds from a breakdown, but says he’s going to be in charge of the store for a bit, because Chief of Staff Mr. Grove is also going to be out of commission for a while. It turns out that his longtime invalid wife has died – an announcement at which Miss Mardle does her best not to look relieved/pleased – and that they’ll all have to reshuffle things a bit to handle him being out as well. Mr. Crab does his best to raise the spirit of the staff and everyone promises to pull together to keep the store running.

However, it turns out that Mr. Crab’s not entirely correct about Mr. Grove being out for a while, because he turns up later that morning, claiming that he’s needed to run things in the absence of Selfridge and using an awkward metaphor about being the man to captain the ship that is the store. Or something. He looks awful. Miss Mardle looks at him like he is crazy and says he probably ought to be at home what with being overcome by grief and all. Grove refuses and heads off to the offices to do whatever it is he does there. 

The Accident’s Aftermath. Mr. Edwards goes by the Selfridge house, but ends up seeing Mrs. Selfridge the elder (whose name I just learned is Lois apparently). He says there’s a story building up in the press about Selfridge’s accident, because he was out at Nameless Gambling Establishment blowing a lot of money and drinking heavily. Lois archly tells him that she wishes he hadn’t introduced her son to that club in the first place and Edwards gets all offended, saying that someone would have shown him where to gamble if he hadn’t. (LOL, no men on this show are ever responsible for their actions, apparently.) Anyway, Lois says that Selfridge hates to lose, which is probably why he was driving so fast when he left the club. No one seems to be mentioning that he had to leave the club and go liberate a motor car from the store loading bay before he could careen around drunkenly in it, but okay then. Edwards also breaks the news about Ellen’s appearance at the club and the scene she made there. Edwards says Lois should just tell the press they were renegotiating Ellen’s contract and he’ll convince her to stick to the lie. Lois now thinks he is a great friend to her son, of course.

Oh, Victor. Honey. No. Victor, who clearly needs to look at his life and look at his choices in a seriously in-depth way, is now sleeping with Lady Mae. Whether this is because he is actually interested in her in some way (unlikely) or trying to make her happy so she’ll help him open a restaurant (more likely) is unclear. Victor announces that he is running late for work and has to leave and Mae pouts and tries to get him to stay, but manages to avoid saying “What is work” in Dowager Countess fashion. It would appear that all of the flowery things Victor said to Agnes last week were not entirely true, or maybe he thinks they’re on a break after their spat when she came back to work. Who knows. But it’s gross.

When Victor arrives at the store (late), he asks Agnes for an update on Selfridge. She doesn’t have much information to give him, other than Crab says they’re to think positively. She says that she doesn’t want to fight with him and asks if they are still friends. This exceptionally awkward phrasing does little to clarify the issue of where exactly their relationship stands or if Victor was in fact cheating on her five minutes ago, so draw your own conclusions here. Victor says yes of course they are and Agnes super awkwardly tries to ask if he’d like to do something that night after work. We’re still unclear if this is a date date or if someone has been friend zoned or what. But it doesn’t matter because Victor says he’s busy and maybe they can get together another night or something. This is all very confusing – besides the general grossed out feeling regarding Victor’s decision to throw himself at Mae or whatever is going on, it would be nice to know if we’re supposed to hate him for being the worst 24 hours or less boyfriend in history. 

Surprise: Ellen Didn’t Die Either. Looking little the worse for wear after her overdose on unidentified drugs, Ellen is lounging artistically in bed, recuperating. When Mr. Edwards comes to visit, she’s still angry at Selfridge and upset that he hasn’t been to see her while she has been recovering, which appears to have been approximately four hours, but okay. Edwards breaks the news to her about Selfridge’s car accident, because I guess there are no newspaper delivery systems near Ellen’s flat, and she gets upset and wants to know if he’s all right and how can she go and see him. Edwards says he’s unconscious and no, she can’t visit since he’s at home surrounded by his family that she already pissed off. She then says that what happened is her fault because she wished him dead. Edwards eyerolls at that and says if she really wants to help Selfridge, she should stay out of the public eye and make sure their relationship doesn’t get in the papers. In another rapid emotional turnaround, Ellen says maybe she wants everyone to know what sort of man Selfridge is, after all. 

Mr. Grove Captains the Ship. Mr. Grove holds an emergency staff meeting to lay down the law about how things are going to run now that he’s holding temporary power at Selfridges. Henri – this week rocking a super snazzy red waistcoat – says they need a new window display since Selfridge stole and wrecked the car. Then everyone else starts jumping in with their own questions, until Miss Mardle steps in to defend Mr. Grove, saying that he needs time to process all this information because he’s doing his duty under difficult circumstances blah blah blah how has no one figured out that she’s in love with him yet? People can surely see this from space.

Miss Ravilious brings up the suffragette protest that’s happening the next day (that’s another plot point running through this episode), and Mr. Grove is not into it. He says he thinks suffragettes are ghastly and should all be locked up and that’s that. Miss Ravilious scoffs at him and says they need a strategy for dealing with the situation. Grove says they aren’t coming in their building for sure. Guy Who Runs the Restaurant Whose Name I Don’t Know pipes up that the next day is Tuesday and the leading suffragette ladies always have their lunches in the restaurant on Tuesdays, per Mr. Selfridge’s original orders and a deal he made way back when with Lady Mae. Grove really doesn’t care and insists that no suffragette is to be allowed within the store for any reason period and that their lunch will have to be canceled. Dun dun dunnnn.

Why Grove is suddenly obsessed with hating suffragettes is unclear, but it’s Victor who ultimately gets stuck having to break the news to Lady Mae about the lunch cancellation. She is deeply unhappy. Mae sweeps upstairs – complete with that weirdly awkward yet dramatic Wicked Witch of the West style theme music that seems to play whenever she walks somewhere– to confront Grove and size up the situation. 

Gordon Selfridge’s Day Out. After eavesdropping on a conversation between Rose and major investor Mr. Musker whom you probably forgot existed, young Gordon Selfridge learns that he will inherit the family’s shares in the store when/if his father dies. In response to this revelation, the boy sneaks out of the house and down to Selfridge’s to…it’s not clear. Survey his domain? Make sure things are running smoothly? Have a freakout? Buy some new trousers? Whatever, it doesn’t matter, all that is important is that Gordon shows up at the store and wanders about a bit in a lost fashion until he panics, runs away from security and manages to knock over a bunch of product. What is the point of this? Oh, wait, it’s a plot device. Give it a minute.

Violette, the Selfridge Daughter You Forgot About, is Awesome. Surprise! Middle Selfridge daughter Violette – largely forgotten amidst Rosalie’s preening, Beatrice’s inept secret-keeping and Gordon’s tantrums – is actually possibly the most fabulous member of the Selfridge family. She takes the sides of the suffragettes against her sister, informs her mother that she thinks it’s unfair and lame that her father gets to go out and have fun all the time while Rose is stuck in the house, and sneaks out dressed in women’s rights paraphernalia to support the cause of getting women the vote. Spinoff for Violette now, please?

Thunderdome: Lady Mae Versus Mr. Grove: While Mae is terrifying Mr. Crab and Miss Blakensop in the office foyer looking for him, Grove and Miss Mardle are having a superquick heart to heart about the state of his life now that he’sbeen  a widower for like 36 hours. Miss Mardle suggests again that it’s a bit early for Grove to be back at the store, but he says his house is too quiet now and he can’t stand being there alone. Miss Mardle says he doesn’t have to be there alone, not anymore and not ever, and is basically doing everything but waving a sign that says marry me now and, eh, this whole relationship is just kind of uncomfortable. She leans over his desk and dramatically whispers that she’d give all of this up for him and Grove is saved from having to actually answer her by the arrival of Mae. (Seriously, Miss Mardle. Look at your life. Look at your choices. You can surely do better than this.)

Mae tells Grove that he mustn’t cancel the ladies’ lunch the next day. She says it will aggravate many people if he does. Grove says he thinks allowing those women into the store will cause aggravation, actually. Mae gives him a Look of Death and says that she’s one of “those women” you know. Grove looks taken aback, but gathers his wits, pulls out his Misogyny Handbook and mansplains to Mae that he believes the fairer sex just aren’t equipped to handle the rough world of politics. Mae calls that a load of crap, basically, and suddenly asks Miss Mardle – who is still in the room – what she thinks of the situation. She artfully dodges having to agree with anybody by saying that violent methods are never the answer to anything. Grove reiterates that he’s not letting the suffragettes in and Mae says she can’t be held responsible if some militants get angry about that and swans out.  Grove – ever the charmer – calls her insufferable behind her back and Miss Mardle reminds him that Mae’s a valued client. Mr. Crab, who is playing the voice of reason today, says that Mae might have a point. He says that Mr. Selfridge would use the march to the store’s advantage, if he were here and asks Grove to reconsider. Grove says his mind is made up and kicks everyone out of his office.

Ellen Love: Showgirl No More? Edwards goes to see Ellen at the Gaiety. She looks sick and tired, which is kind of hilarious given that she looked fine before, and Edwards says she ought to take the day off. Ellen says she kind of doesn’t have a choice now that she’s a woman on her own supporting herself again and the money has to come from somewhere. Edwards tells her she ought to give up the stage and be a serious actress instead. Ellen looks uncertain, but Edwards tells her she’s got real talent. He says he’d be willing to introduce her to some of his playwright friends, as long as Ellen promises to never talk to the papers about her relationship with Harry. She says she’ll think about it. (Honestly why is Ellen even still on this show?)

After her performance, Ellen has a long and weird monologue with her own reflection about how she won’t miss all those men in the dark who want a piece of her, so, yeah, it would appear she’s going to go try her hand at “real” acting. Given her attempts at “real” singing, that should be pretty entertaining. 

Henri and Agnes are Really Bad at Metaphors. Henri and Agnes are assigned the task of walking Gordon back to the Selfridge house, because Henri knows the family and Agnes spent five minutes playing with toys with Gordon. Sure, show, it’s called plot contrivance. But, whatever. They drop Gordon off with Rose, who is relieved that he’s okay and they express their best wishes for Selfridge’s speedy recovery. They then take the scenic route back to the store and have a heart to heart on the way.

Henri tells Agnes that she’s really good with kids and should maybe consider getting married and having some babies. Man, French dudes really know how to woo a lady, huh? Agnes says she has too much to do to become just a wife someplace. Henri then asks if she’s seeing anyone and Agnes answers awkwardly that yes, she is, sort of, but he “tells her what’s what” a bit too often. Considering this assessment seems to be based on one conversation that happened one time, Agnes is being a bit harsh towards Victor, but okay. Whatever. It’s okay. We all think Henri is dishy too. Agnes asks what happened to the French girl from earlier this season and Henri says she’s in New York now. He says there is someone he’s interested in, but she’s kind of an innocent and he thinks making a move on her will scare her away. Agnes says that’s probably not true. They stare at each other for a minute, because literally the zombies on The Walking Dead are smart enough to figure out that they’re talking about each other at this point. Agnes asks what he’s going to do and Henri wants to know what she thinks he should do and seriously this is ridiculous. Agnes says maybe he should wait for this girl and he says he’s pretty good at waiting. Then they look everywhere but at each other for a while.

Here’s the thing – Henri is dishy and Agnes is sweet and with Victor suddenly becoming a pod person, I’m not at all averse to a Henri/Agnes romance developing. But must everything be so heavy handed? 

Mr. Crab Saves the Day and Does the Patented Pep Talk. Mr. Crab, who is awesome, convenes a Sekrit Management Meeting in an elevator to talk about the suffragette problem and Mr. Grove. He enlists Miss Mardle’s help to make sure Grove gets out of the store – she offers to walk him home – and has everyone else stay after hours to build a suffragette-friendly display to show their support for the cause and keep Selfridges from having all their windows broken with rocks.

The minute Mr. Grove leaves, Mr. Crab gathers everyone to deliver the necessary Selfridges Patented Pep Talk about what they have to do. He says that the suffragettes are about progress, which is what Selfridges is about too. He says emancipated women are the future, like automobiles and airplanes, and that it would be a disaster for the store to perceived as against the movement. That all of this coming from Mr. Crab, who had a problem with the existence of lipstick a couple episodes ago, is both hilarious and awesome. But, he talks about how great it will be to work all night on this Sekrit Suffragette Project and then everyone applauds.

Meanwhile, on the longest walk home in history, Grove and Miss Mardle finally reach his house. Given that the montage depicting the work going on at the store implied that some significant amount of time has passed while they build window displays, they must have been only taking one step every two minutes. Anyway, Grove tells Miss Mardle goodnight and says he’d invite her up, but he can’t because it feels weird. He says he knows that his wife is dead, but somehow he still feels like he should respect her. I’m assuming that he must mean a different sort of respect than cheating on her for like a decade, but whatever. Miss Mardle says that it’s okay, and that he cared for his sick wife for twelve years, so he mustn’t feel guilty. She says it’s his time now and that he deserves it. I don’t even know what we’re supposed to make of this, other than Miss Mardle seriously has no life or interest outside of Mr. Grove and that’s deeply sad. Then she has to walk home by herself while Grove bursts into tears alone inside. 

Selfridge Wakes Up. After a false alarm in which Selfridge regains consciousness long enough to yell at everyone sitting around his sickbed (Jeremy Piven does a bit of ridiculous overacting at this point), the man himself finally wakes up. There are hugs all around and everyone’s relieved when he remembers who he is. Of course he immediately goes to the store because that is the obvious first thing you do when you’ve been unconscious for two days. The doctor says he shouldn’t go, but Rose says to let him because it’s some sort of forgiveness gesture, though you’d think someone would at least put a bandage on the bloody head wound he’s still sporting. Selfridge heads off, having decided to walk there, because plot contrivance, and of course he runs into the Suffragette Parade outside. He tells a random suffragette that he’s a big supporter of women and she grins at him.

The gigantic crowd of suffragettes – it’s actually enough to make you wonder how women haven’t got the vote already with this many supporters – reaches Selfridges and one of the Leading Suffragette Ladies climbs up on…something…and starts making a speech about how the store sucks and kicked their luncheon party out. Violence is threatened, but luckily Mr. Crab has been eavesdropping and chooses that moment to drop all the window curtains, revealing their pro-suffragette promotional display. All the suffragettes are happy and cheer the store. Selfridge, who arrives just in time to see the windows and then helpfully passes out in the street, is revived by his daughter Violette, who has snuck out of the out in full suffragette garb to participate in the march. She tells everyone who her father is and everyone cheers some more, because okay. Kind of sad we didn’t get a Patented Ending Montage this week, but oh well. 

Thoughts on this week’s episode? It was rather nice to see so many secondary characters get more screentime whilst Selfridge was unconscious, so whose storyline has interested you the most?