Recapping ‘Mr Selfridge’: Series 2, Episode 6

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Thackeray and Victor have a chat (Photo: ITV for Masterpiece)

Previously on Mr. Selfridge: Harry got picked by the British intelligence service to go basically spy for them in Germany and had to vanish off on a secret mission without telling anyone. Except Delphine for some reason, who has suffered a complete collapse as a character and decided to basically throw herself at Harry because he is rich. Mae reminisces about her days as a showgirl with Alfie Boe, Victor proposes to Agnes and Henri gets arrested at a charity concert because someone’s reported him to the police as a spy.

Lots of stuff going on this week - and the biggest surprise? Star Jeremy Piven actually doesn't appear in this episode at all. Yeah, really. 

Let's get right to it, shall we? 

Oh, Dear, Everyone is Freaking Out. The Selfridges staff arrives at the store the morning after the Great Charity Concert Gone Wrong from last week. Everyone’s freaking out over Henri’s arrest, and the fact that the store is now crawling with police officers, who are investigating. Mr. Crabb holds a special meeting to try and regulate the situation with the heads of department, where Thackeray’s busy smirking, Victor’s trying to be diplomatic, and Kitty’s speculating about whether Henri’ll get hanged. Grove also explains that Selfridge himself has been called away on a sudden business trip, and then he and Crabb lie about when they expect Himself to return.

Agnes is particularly upset about the Henri situation and, despite the fact that just last week she was distrusting him and insisting he was “hiding something” from everyone, now claims that there’s no way he’d ever be a spy and is convinced something’s up. Victor, displaying a great deal more calm and maturity than I would have expected in this situation, encourages her to go to the police station and try and talk to Henri. He even promises to cover for her with the store staff. Agnes agrees and rushes out. 

Henri Tells the Truth. Agnes arrives at the jail to see Henri, whose first gesture is to apologize for his lapse in general style. He’s still wearing the same clothes from last night, since the cops wouldn’t let him change anything and this is clearly an issue for him, because he’s Henri. Agnes wants to know what’s going on, and Henri is forced to explain that he does in fact have a link to Germany, it’s just not what the cops think it is. Henri says that he’s not a spy, but he did go to Germany, because he was searching for Valerie, his super boring and irritating French former girlfriend, who apparently dumped him in New York and ran off to Berlin with another man. See, Henri, we all knew this Valerie girl was bad news. Look where she’s gotten you. He also admits that he hired a detective and was paying him to look for her, apparently only in very secret meetings to look as guilty and weird as possible, but okay. (It’s not clear why Henri’s so obsessed with finding her when she appears to have happily reassigned her romantic attachment to someone else, but whatever.)

Henri further explains that someone in the store has accused him of spying, so the police don’t believe his claims of innocence. They think he’s making up the whole Valerie story to get out from under suspicion. (Is there anyone on earth that thinks it wasn’t Thackeray that called the cops? Anybody?) Henri also notices Agnes’ new engagement ring, and wishes the two of them well, because she deserves a good man. Surely that was not the perfect time to discuss that, but whatever.

Anyway, Agnes goes to Grove and tells him her suspicions that Thackeray has falsely accused Henri. She also gets extremely emotional and worked up during her rant about how Thackeray just hates Henri and is a terrible person who is jealous and evil and has to be stopped because Henri’s life is at stake blah blah blah, just in case any of you were wondering whether she still had any lingering Leclair romantic attachment after getting engaged.

In Case You Forgot Because He’s Not Been on Much This Season: Mr. Grove is the Worst. Grove catches up with Miss Mardle in the elevator and for some extremely unfathomable reason decides to give her a lecture about her new male lodger. He says that – as well he should know – young Florien is a young man, and as such, has particular urges he might find hard to control, because of course, to Grove, who seems to have made the majority of his life decisions based on who he either was sleeping with or wanted to sleep with at the time, every thing is motivated by carnal urges. He warns Miss Mardle that having Florien stay with her and make cow eyes at her wherever she might go is potentially damaging to her reputation. Miss Mardle, sadly, does not tell Grove to go throw himself off the building, but insists that there’s nothing inappropriate about her relationship with Florien. Grove, who is at this point hovering slightly under Thackeray and Delphine on the “People Who Suck on this Show” List just looks weirdly jealous and petty and it’s super gross. 

Rose Does Some Sleuthing. Meanwhile, back at the Selfridge house, Rose is getting increasingly worried when no one can track Harry down in Paris. She starts going through all of Harry’s papers in an attempt to find out what’s going on. Because her husband is kind of terrible at being a spy, he’s left the list of various people he’s supposed to get information from on the top of a pile of papers in a random desk drawer. For some reason, Rose decides to take this document and go see Delphine Day, who tells her that it’s in Bill Summertime’s handwriting; therefore Harry’s probably working for the intelligence service in Germany. Rose looks shocked and disbelieving; Delphine shrugs and responds that she’d just assumed Harry would have confided in his wife about something major like that, because Delphine has inexplicably morphed into the Worst Friend Ever now. She mentions that she really wasn’t aware their relationship had deteriorated that much.

Rose, because she is still possessed of her shiny, Season 2 spine, basically tells Delphine to shut up, and that this conversation has nothing to do with her marriage. She orders Delphine to figure out how she can get in touch with Harry and tells her to talk to Bill Summertime and find out where he is. Rose rocks. 

Loxley’s Criminal Activity Catches Up with Him. Lord Edgington, of the famous and apparently much sought after Parliamentary Procurement Committee comes to see Vile Loxley in a rage. He says he’s been getting a lot of crap from other various government agencies because the boots Loxley’s ordered for the military are terribly bad quality – they’re all falling apart and leaking and generally not doing the basic job of footwear. And, worse, the story is about to leak to the papers. Loxley immediately turns on his Personal Self Protection Automatic Deflection Device and starts to blame Harry Selfridge of all people. He says any goods he ordered were on the strict advice and instruction of Selfridge, and if they are sucky quality then how is that really his fault. Edgington just barks at him to fix the problem and stomps out.

Mae, who was in the room for this whole wonderful display, taunts her husband about sending their brave young men off to war in shoddy material. Loxley calmly blames Selfridge again, but Mae say she’s already figured out that the reason they’ve got money again is because her husband’s basically using his government post as a way to get kickbacks from his shady vendors and make a profit from war. Loxley sneers at her that if she felt that way she might have wanted to mention her concerns to Harry before she vouched for him or before she started spending their newfound illicit cash all over town with abandon. Therefore, if her version of the story gets out, it’s going to look like she was in on it too. 

Agnes Has a Variety of Emotional Incidents Throughout the Store. Agnes returns to the store floor after visiting Henri, and appears to be in somewhat of a downward spiral emotionally. She catches Kitty discussing how Edwards has told her that spies are everywhere in their midst and the country’s crawling with scret agents blah blah blah paranoia and lashes out at her, basically calling her a worthless piece of trash who ruins everyone’s lives. She also accuses her of informing on Henri and goes off on a rant about how he helped make the store and none of them deserve him. Just in case you missed the memo about how Agnes has some unresolved emotional attachment there. Agnes stomps off and goes straight to Victor, where she laments how no one believes Henri and insists over and over about how they have to do something to help. Victor, who has definitely had some kind of personality transplant in the past week, or just feels really secure in himself now that he’s finally put a ring on it, once again displays a surprising level of maturity by saying that being in love with a woman is no crime in his book and offering to help Agnes prove that Thackeray is the guy who turned Henri in. 

Meanwhile, Back at Crime Spree Central. Loxley calls up Edwards to spin his story about Selfridge destroying the army through the recommendation of shoddy merchandise suppliers. His Vileness goes on quite a tear about how bad this is for morale, and how he acquired completely crappy supplies for their brave boys at the front by following Selfridge’s explicit instructions and recommendations. Loxley brazenly lies that he’s tried to talk to Harry about it and get his side, but hasn’t been able to get in touch with him lately. He says that the story is about to break and encourages Edwards to be the one to tell the story about Bootgate and get his investigative journalism on. Edwards says that he can’t publish anything without corroboration and says he has to talk to Harry about it. Loxley makes noises of agreement but says the story will get out no matter what he does so he shouldn’t wait too long. To the shock of no one, Mae’s also eavesdropping on this whole thing. 

You Guys, Victor’s Actually Got a Plan. Victor has a very public argument with Franco, about nothing at all really, but it ends with Franco stomping away in a huff dramatically-on-purpose. Thackeray, who believes in eavesdropping like he’s a Downton Abbey housemaid, has been busily loitering in the aisle listening and asks Victor if everything’s okay. Victor goes on a rant that would be obviously identifiable as a complete lie to anyone who’s ever actually had a conversation with him before, on a variety of topics:  how Franco’s decided to become a pacifist and how much that sucks and how they may have Italian names but they should be loyal to England all the time. He mentions how happy he is that someone turned “that Frog” Leclair in to the authorities because he sucks. He says he’d like to know who turned him in so he could shake his hand, because that person’s done the whole store a favor. Thackeray says he could do just that, and offers his hand to Victor. He says he only did what he thought was right for his country and his store, and it’s incredibly hard to believe that Victor actually made a plan, executed it and saw success in about six point six minutes, but that appears to be what has happened. Of course, none of us are likely surprised that Thackeray’s the one that accused Henri, because he is terrible, but you’d think he wouldn’t be quite so willing to brag about it to anyone who maybe seemed like a nationalist for five minutes. Ugh. 

Edwards Does Some Shady Journalism. Edwards goes to the store to try and see Selfridge, apparently not content to believe anyone’s word that he’s not actually there. After he gets shot down by Selfridge’s secretary, he goes to Kitty to complain, and she basically fills him in on everything: that no one knows where Harry is, that he’s supposed to be in Paris but apparently isn’t at any of the hotels, that he seems to have vanished into thin air. Edwards looks concerned.

Back at his newspaper office, Edwards get a visit from his editor, who basically looks like a caricature of every sketchy carnival barker you’ve ever seen in your life. Of course, this guy’s a massive jerk. He tells Edwards that all the other papers are scooping them and they need a big story to publish. He says he’s heard rumblings about Selfridge purposefully working to destroy the footwear of the British Army and wants to run it immediately. Edwards says he refuses to run anything without giving Selfridge right of reply, and he can’t talk to him because he’s out of the country. Creepy Editor drops the bomb that he’s heard from a source that Selfridge just got on a train the night before heading to Berlin, so obviously, he’s a massive traitor. He then tells Edwards to write the story, because it’s going in the evening paper, and if he won’t do it, Creepy Editor will find someone who will. 

It’s a Veritable Explosion of Drama. Victor immediately tells Grove that Thackeray’s the one that turned in Henri. The Worst Head of Fashion in the World gets dragged immediately in front of Grove and Rose Selfridge, who tears into him for violating the principles her husband’s store was founded on. (Rose is awesome.) Thackeray isn’t the least bit sorry for what he did, and says that Henri was acting suspiciously and that Grove ignored his concerns about it. Rose says that whatever his motivation, the fact that he did what he did was wrong. Thackeray asks if he’s being fired. Grove says that he would if he could, but the final decision is Harry’s. In the meantime, though, he insists that Thackeray accompany him to the police station to retract his statement and free Henri.

Before Thackeray can respond to that, Mr. Crabb bursts into the room, waving a newspaper and looking like he’s having a heart attack. The story about Bootgate has run, and accuses Selfridge of both providing crap materials to the army and also of running about Germany at the present time. Crabb and Grove want to issue an immediate and strident denial, but Rose stops them, literally shrieking about how they can’t do anything until Harry gets back, claiming that any kind of response could simply fuel the fire of scandal, especially with Selfridge still gone. Now, y’all know I love Frances O’Connor and think she doesn’t get nearly enough credit for being the emotional center that holds the show together, but oh goodness, she plays this scene really badly if you ask me (or at least had a terrible director). Rose is shrill and shrieking and so clearly unlike herself that one basically has to believe that Crabb and Grove had suffered instantaneous lobotomies to even believe for an instance that she’s not either  a.) lying b.) hiding something massive or c.) experiencing a brain aneurysm.

Crabb finally clues in that something’s not quite okay here and asks Rose if she’s all right and whether she’d like him to open a window since she looks like she’s about to pass out. Rose says she’s fine, but insists that a dignified silence can be there only reply until Selfridge returns and can answer all questions himself. Dun dunnnn. 

Petition to Get Miss Mardle A Better Hairstyle. Miss Mardle is watching Florien play the violin, looking suitably impressed by his general existence and sporting her standard overly curled work hairdo that makes her look like a slightly more posh Edwardian version of Matron Mama Morton from Chicago. A few people have commented on her look the past couple of weeks and I have to agree: it’s awful. Her hairstyle makes her look old and dowdy, and is in zero way attractive – and that’s before we even get started on her poor fashion choices. Girl, seriously, it’s time to switch it up. 

Sadly, changing Miss Mardle’s hairstyle would actually be more of an interesting storyline than most of what they’ve done with her character this season. As viewers, we’re all sort of fond of this character, if only because she was treated so poorly by Grove last year, but in all honesty, the show seems to have no idea what to do with her now that storyline’s ended (and don’t get me started on poor Doris who’s appeared in all of one scene this year, whilst Grove still gets to be a relatively important - or at least *visible* character - even if he doesn’t really do anything either). So, of course, the best they can do for her is to give her a much younger boy to flirt with who also happens to be her houseguest. Sigh. Anyway, Miss Mardle decides, for some insane reason, to broach the topic of Grove’s accusations with Florien and, in the most awkward and cringe-worthy way possible, asks whether he’s been harboring some kind of romantic attraction toward her that might be improper if they want to continue their domestic arrangement. The young man admits that he has fallen in love with Miss Mardle, who looks incredibly flustered at his answer. She protests that she’s just so much older than he is, and highlights the cultural differences (???) between England and Belgium as another stumbling block. Florien just grabs her and kisses her and it’s really not as swoon-worthy as the music playing in the background seems to want me to think it is. Miss Mardle seems pretty into it, but then flees the room in a rushed sort of horror. Why does she make the world’s worst relationship choices? Why?

Mae Decides to Not Wait to Become a Statistic. Mae, who is laying in bed in a depressive stupor, decides to reminisce about the good old says on stage with her Pimble, the Awesome Ladies Maid, who apparently used to be Jane, the Awesome Dresser, back when the two of them were in showbiz. They chat about how far the two of them have come, and how Mae was one of the few people that got away from the stage and married money. Anyway, she finally gets around to the point, which is that she’s decided to leave Vile Loxley, because he is vile. Pimble, because she is awesome, agrees that she’s going with Mae, no matter what she decides to do, and Mae tells her to go pack.

Mae’s next stop is to see Rose Selfridge – I’d totally expected her to ask for a place to stay, but no, she wants to warn her about Vile Loxley’s nefarious intentions towards Harry. Apparently, Mae hasn’t seen the paper that day yet – because she seems rather shocked by the news story after Rose literally throws it at her. Amazing! Rose accuses Mae of knowing what Loxley was planning when she recommended him to the family, and she laments that she ever trusted her to begin with. She orders Mae never to call on her or Harry again. Mae looks incredibly pained, but solemnly says that she understands, and leaves without arguing further. Rose breaks down in tears and ends up sobbing on an ottoman, but whether that’s about Harry or Mae or just her life being kind of crap generally at the moment, is unclear. 

Apparently This Episode Saved All the Drama for the Very End. Kitty sees the Selfridge article in the paper and rushes to confront Edwards. Her boyfriend insists that there was strong evidence and he just wanted to report the truth, but Kitty lays into him about not understanding things like character and loyalty and just generally being very furious that Edwards would do something like this to a man that has treated him so well after all these years. She calls him a fool and storms out.

Grove takes Thackeray to recant his statement to the police, who then has a moment of panic about having to face Henri after falsely accusing him of spying. Grove’s not very swayed by this and tells him he’s going to do it anyway, though he’ll at least tell Selfridge that Thackeray tried to make it right in the end.

Grove shows up at the Selfridge house to see Rose and Gordon. He has to break the news to them that despite Thackeray’s retraction, Henri’s still in jail. Turns out that while they were investigating, the police actually managed to call someone in America and ask about him. Henri, it would seem, is actually wanted for theft in New York, and is a wanted fugitive because he disappeared without answering the charges there. No mention is made of what he stole, but it’s implied that whatever it is, it must be serious.

Victor walks Agnes home to Miss Mardle’s only to find an ominous telegram waiting for her. The dramatic camera angle focuses super heavily on George’s picture and, as Agnes starts to cry, we’re obviously meant to assume it’s bad news about him from the front.

But is it? Guess we won’t find out until next week.