Anyway. We’re halfway through Season 2 now, though whether that makes you sad or relieved is largely up to you. Nowhere to go but up, yeah? Onward.
Note: An astute reader informs me that Dudley mentioned his wife way back in Season 1. I literally have zero memory of this, but all I really recall about Dudley is his aggressive shipping of Moray and Katherine, so that’s probably true. Thought you all would like to know.
Denise’s First Day as Head of Ladies’ Wear. Late at night, Moray finds Denise still up and about in ladies’ wear, preparing for her first day as Head of Department. She’s anxious and excited and happy, and Moray tries his best to be supportive even though he’s obviously moping about something, which is probably the fact (again) that his store got taken away from him by completely legal means during the hiatus.
The next morning, Denise’s big day arrives. She heads downstairs in her most Miss Audey-ish dress, and Clara stops her to tell her that even though she hates her and doesn’t think got her new position fairly, she’s not going to try and make things difficult for her. Denise tells her she doesn’t intend to treat her any differently, and says she’s going to need Clara’s help to do her job, because she can’t be Miss Audrey overnight.
However, Denise has been the new Miss Audrey for all of five minutes before she goes to Moray and Dudley with an idea for afternoon tea in ladies’ wear. She says a tea party in their department would draw women in to sit and gossip, and they could get Myrtle to serve them tea and cakes, since she wants to be front of house so badly. Moray, displaying the first bit of sense we’ve seen from him in a while, says that it’s nice that Denise is kind but Myrtle must never ever be inflicted on any of The Paradise’s customers, because Myrtle is awful. Moray, laughs, and further says that cakes in ladies’ wear is not the impression that they want to give at the store at all. Denise looks sullen, but Dudley insists that his BFF Moray is right like always and that she has to become a head of department now, which means making hard decisions. Where this lecture comes from, I’m not sure, but Dudley re-stresses Densie can’t care if her coworkers will like her or not because of the decisions she makes, and trots off. Thanks for that random wisdom, boys.
Edmund’s Shop Gets Broken Into. Sam brings Denise’s Uncle Edmund back to town because the Little Dress Shop That Could got broken into while he was off enjoying being married to Audrey in their seaside cottage or whatever it was. The door’s broken and a lot of stuff destroyed and thrown about, and Edmund’s real depressed about it. He and Sam also debate Edmund selling the shop, which I thought was something that had already been decided upon since they’re not living there and there’s no one to run it, but apparently not?
Anyway, the next morning, Edmund discovers that there’s a wild-haired homeless woman is busy squatting in the Little Shop that Could, and he’s all kinds of mad about the mess she’s made there. She says the shop was empty, but he throws her out anyway.
Moray is Such a Whiner. Moray is busily whining to Dudley about how they’ve only completed Phase 1 of their plan, which was to get him back into The Paradise. They still have no idea how they’re going to get the Westons to sell the store to him, or where they’re going to get the funds to buy it. Shut up, Moray, argh. It’s your own stupid fault you lost The Paradise, so how about you live with the choice you made?! Anyway, plot point alert: After this rant, Dudley follows Moray outside and sees him hurrying into a carriage with Jonas, which pulls away immediately. Oh, no, must be secret meeting time!
Surprise: Moray heads out into the middle of woods for a secret meeting with Mr. Fenton, the dude that wanted to buy The Paradise a couple of episodes ago. Fenton says that the Westons stand in the way of them both at the moment, and therefore they should join forces. He has a complicated plan that they somehow should both become co-owners of The Paradise, for now, before they have to battle each other for sole control later, when they aren’t under the control of the Westons. Moray agrees, because he is literally the worst businessman in the world, and Fenton suggests they go see a lawyer to settle their deal. He then says that the two of them are going to have to come between the Westons in order to encourage them to sell the store, and that means Moray is going to have to use his former relationship with Katherine to drive a wedge in their relationship. Moray balks at this and backs of out of the deal – for the moment at least. Fenton mocks Moray as an unserious businessman for claiming it was beyond him to toy with Katherine’s affections, and says he’ll be waiting for him to change his mind.
Why Is Myrtle Even a Character on This Show? For some reason, Myrtle, the Absolute Worst Character Ever, has decided that Denise’s ascension to Head of Ladies’ Wear means that her dreams of actually getting to work in the store proper where customers’ are is going to come true. She stalks Denise around the store, and is very upset when she admits that Myrtle isn’t going to be getting out of the kitchen anytime soon. She is upset because she says Denise promised, but Denise insists that she only said she’d try and Moray already shot her down. Is Myrtle the least self-aware person on earth or?? News at eleven. She declares that Denise clearly didn’t try hard enough, after all Idiot Susie has a position, and what doe she have that Myrtle doesn’t? (I would attempt to answer this question here, except that would make my recaps about 2,000 words longer, which none of us need in our lives. I hate Myrtle.)
Of Course the Random Crazy Woman Is Not a Random Crazy Woman. The ragged homeless woman is loitering outside The Paradise now, just as Clara and Susie are returning from a trip to get flowers. The mock the wild-haired lady for a bit or at least they do until everything goes into slow-motion and the music swells stupidly loudly and we are treated to Susie and the wild-haired woman just openly staring at each other via alternating extreme close-ups as the girls walk by. The music gets even louder, but neither of them says anything even though ti could not be any clearer that the homeless lady is Susie’s mother than if they’d hired a plane to skywrite it above our heads.
Edmund, who has watched this exchange, pops out of the Little Shop that Could to apologize to the random homeless lady for yelling at her earlier and ask her if she needs something to eat. He learns that her name is Ruby, and that she has a daughter (OH JUST GUESS WHO IT IS) that ran off on her when she was sick. Edmund commiserates that that doesn’t sound like a very good daughter, but Ruby says she only wants to let her know that she’s gotten better. She says she’s discovered her, right here in this street, and has been happy to learn that she’s got a good life for herself now. Edmund says that it doesn’t speak well of her that she’s got it well off while her mothers’ living like she is. Ruby ignores this and asks if she could have just a drop of drink to soothe her nerves. Edmund agrees, and I think we can alllll guess where this storyline’s going to go, right?
Moray and Weston Discuss the Future. When Moray returns from his secret forest meeting, Weston is waiting for him in his office, where he has been all day. Weston proceeds to quiz Moray about the situation with the expansion and the barbershop, calling it an eyesore and insisting a well-run enterprise would have continued the building by now. Weston says he wants to use the premise as a jewelry department, and explains his grand plan to become the owner of the largest department store in England by converting and renovating all the shops on our One Street of Stuff. Moray looks constipated, which is how you know he’s upset about this (that was his plan first, after all).
That night at home, Weston asks Katherine why Moray would lie about his whereabouts, and Katherine displays again that she’s smarter than all these dudes. She says of course he has something going on secret-style, because he came back only so that he could figure out a way to wrest control of the store from them in the first place. Duh. Her husband looks shocked, but Katherine explains that she already knew he was running around looking for someone to loan him money, but all of her dead father’s banking friends knew that she would be really upset if they loaned him any, so they haven’t.
Denise is Real Hung Up on This Tea Party Thing. Denise tells Moray that she’s been thinking on it all day and he’s just wrong – her motives for throwing a ladies’ wear tea party are the right ones, and not just because she needed to find something for Myrtle to do. She says their customers love to watch each other shop because they’re all jealous and competitive and she wants to feed that spirit in them. She says giving them a reason to stay will allow them to loiter and let other ladies buy more and show off, because despite the fact that Denise is all about girl power she literally has the lowest opinion of women of practically anyone on this show. She says that Myrtle will just have to take trays of cakes to the shoppers and that’s it. Moray agrees this time, and says she can do whatever she wants.
He then tells her that Weston’s intent on the Paradise Expansion happening. Denise assumes that’s a good thing, but Moray insists it’s totally not, because he already can’t come up with a scheme to raise the funds to buy the store as it is, let alone if Weston adds to it and makes it bigger and therefore more valuable. He says he thought he had time to figure this all out, but clearly that’s not the case. Moray asks her if he found, you know, a way to act on buying The Paradise, now, soon, that was kind of precarious… would that be okay? Denise says he must do whatever it is, though it’s worth noting that he doesn’t explain the whole “flirt with Katherine” bit of it at all.
Thank Goodness Susie Got a Storyline, Said No One Ever. That evening, Susie confronts homeless woman Ruby in the street, asking what she’s doing in her town. Ruby says she’s come to see her, and only wanted a chance to say she’s sorry. Susie, enraged, doesn’t believe any of this and says all she can remember about her mother is her being an inconsiderate drunk who was a terrible parent. Susie says she has a life now and her mother’s no part of it and she wants to keep it like that. She says her mother’s a liar and a drunk and she needs to leave town and never come back. She then runs away, while Jonas watches from the background because that’s what Jonas does. Honestly, who even cares about this storyline? I wrote Susie off in the season’s first episode when she was too dumb to realize whether she saw a scorpion or not, I certainly don’t care about her sob story childhood now. Sidebar: She is, however, sporting an awesome shawl.
Anyway, Susie runs up to her room, crying, and Clara, who’s been watching the scene in the street, comforts her, saying that even when faced with things we cannot bear, we survive. Meanwhile, Edmund’s decided to help Ruby out by making her a dress to see her daughter in, so she’ll know her mother’s back on her feet. Oh, Edmund, you’re so dumb.
Moray Begins His Be Nice to Katherine Plan. Katherine arrives at The Paradise to shop because she’s trying to make it up to Flora that her father’s a huge jerk. Moray, who has already dispatched Jonas to tell Fenton he’s reconsidered the “flirt with Katherine” plan, decides now is the perfect time to deploy his charm in full, doing his stand super close while talking thing, making big cow eyes at her and asking if she’d like to get coffee with him. Coffee with cinnamon, actually, since that was always her favorite. Katherine looks rather surprised at Moray’s sudden decision to acknowledge her existence again like an actual person, but says sure, they can get coffee. Dudley looks confused in the background, which is sort of unintentionally hilarious.
Katherine drops Flora off in ladies’ wear with orders that she’s to have whatever she wants, and tells Denise she’s off to have coffee with her man. Denise looks stupidly jealous again for literally no reason, so this storyline’s going to just be a blast, I can already tell. Alas, Katherine’s coffee date with Moray turns into a date with Moray and her husband, which makes everything significantly more awkward. The boys discuss what a jewelry department might look like, and Moray laments how much the cost of stocking such a display might run. Moray is incredibly solicitous of Katherine, topping up her coffee, happily reminiscing about the past and constantly bringing up the cinnamon in her coffee thing. Weston seems personally affronted that Katherine actually still takes her coffee that way, because he is a jerk. Katherine looks miserable now, because Weston’s busy glaring at her, while Moray keeps sharing personal tidbits that he knows about her and her habits, which he’s aware of because he was five minutes from marrying her and all. It isn’t fun to watch, particularly when it seems easy to guess that Katherine’s going to get pointlessly punished for this later, and it’s Moray’s fault. Ugh, everyone is gross. How is it possible that Katherine Glendenning has somehow become the most sympathetic on this show?
Welcome to Susie’s Epic Meltdown. Meanwhile, Susie’s been assigned the task of giving Flora whatever she wants in ladies’ wear. Unfortunately, everything that Flora wants is something that only comes in adult sizes and her constant asking is clearly frustrating Susie, who’s been a million miles away all morning anyway, thanks to the whole situation with her mother. Flora insists that Katherine said she could have whatever she wants and what she wants is this ugly dress with feathers all over it, and finally Susie snaps and just starts yelling at her, saying that Flora’s - who is ten – is a spoiled little nothing that expects the whole world to pamper her. Clara drags her off and Denise tries to apologies but the damage is done. Flora goes into meltdown mode and starts crying and demanding Katherine.
Everyone rushes to Morays office –Katherine’s furious, Flora’s upset, Dudley looks concerned and Denise looks apprehensive. Katherine wants to know going to make it up to her daughter, and what’s going to be done about the girl who yelled at her in public. Denise tries to say that she’s going to have a very stern conversation with Susie and tell her that screaming at small children in public is wrong. Katherine literally makes the “Talk to the Hand” gesture at her and shepherds Flora out of the store. Moray tells Denise that they can’t afford to make Katherine and/or her husband angry at this point and obviously Susie was promoted in ladies’ wear before she was ready. So of course Denise has to sack Susie because being a head of department is really hard, you guys. It’s unfortunate that this situation is not terribly sympathetic, being as Susie is 1.) an idiot and 2.) really did yell at a child angrily and loudly. I mean, in what world does that sort of behavior just result in just a stern talking-to?
Being a Head of Department is Really Hard, Y’all. After Denise sacks Susie, the rest of The Paradise employees are all mad at her because she fired someone who made a fireable mistake and no one is speaking to her. These people ugh. Denise looks really upset and petulant about it, which But whatever, it’s time for Denise to get some career advice from the male store employees and learn a valuable life lesson, so let’s get on with that. Dudley explains to her that the other employees have realized that she, who used to be their friend, can now have actual influence on their lives and jobs, so people are afraid. He tells her she has to stop apologizing for doing her job. Jonas, on the other hand, says that if Denise can prove she’ll fight for the employees of the store she’ll earn their loyalty forever and suggests she figure out a way to get Susie her job back. Denise says she doesn’t know how to do that, but Jonas says that surely she can think of something.
So, Denise decides to dress up in her most horrifying plaid and grab Susie and go to see Katherine. They decide to explain to her that Susie had just been having a bad day because of the whole reappearance of her whole drunken, homeless mother issue. Denise says that she herself should have known better than to put Susie on the shop floor that day, and they only want the chance to say how sorry they are and apologize to Flora. Katherine is still furious and ready to say no until Flora, who had been eavesdropping outside the room, asks her to forgive Susie. And that’s the story of how Susie got her job back, aren’t we all happy for her. Yawwwwn.
(Oh and there was also a whole other bit where Susie ran into her mom in the bar, where she apologized for abandoning her and being the worst mom ever and they sort of made up and said they loved each other before Ruby had another drink and Susie had a meltdown about her being a drunk still. But I don’t even care enough to properly recap that bit.)
Tea Party Time! Anyway, Susie’s restored to The Paradise in time to help out at the ladies’ wear tea party event. Moray’s mildly annoyed Denise didn’t ask before she went to see Katherine, Dudley’s surprised that Moray can’t seem to manage to refer to Katherine by her married name. A ton of customers show up because, you know, women just love to jealously watch other women do whatever they’re doing, like Denise said, and Susie’s super happy and being grateful all over the place.
Meanwhile, Horrible Myrtle, who has been practicing her serving skills all episode long in a variety of horrifying small scenes, suddenly gets stage fright and bursts into tears, declaring that she can’t serve tea to these people who are so much prettier and grander than she is. Clara, Susie and Denise all try their hands at pep talking her back into the proverbial saddle, telling all sorts of outrageous lies concerning Myrtle’s attractiveness and general state of awesomeness (which I think we all know are not true). \
Weston’s Dark History Comes to Light. After watching Clara and Weston share another tender moment when Weston has another one of those weird PTSD flashback incidents, Jonas pieces together that his boss’s rival has some kind of war-related injury or issue going on. He continues his suck-up plan and, the next time he happens upon Weston watching the expansion construction at Ye Olde Former Barber Shop, he tells him all about his phantom pain and supposed war wound and how people fear him because of his disfigurement blah blah. Weston just eats all this up with a spoon, especially when Jonas starts talking about how people think they know the worst thing about him because they can see his physical injury. I think that this would have been more interesting had they not waited until the end of the fourth episode to bring any of it up, not for the least of which reason that at this point I’ve seen Weston be a terrible jerk too many times to care much about whatever sort of deep dark manpain he has hidden inside.
Anyway, after his heart to heart with Jonas, Weston goes in to tell his daughter a bedtime story, only of course its his actual story of what happened to him when he was a child, something that Flora’s been nagging him all episode to learn more about. He tells her that he was stationed in India, and there was a siege at Dehli, and lots of men died. This is a really great bedtime story, good job, Dad of the Year.
Moray and Denise Talk It Out. Later that night, Denise and Moray chat in the store. He tells her that the tea party was a great success, but Denise complains that it felt as though when she came to him with that idea he wanted to turn it down, no matter what it was. Moray huffily says that she just presented the idea better the second time around.
Denise admits that she sees it’s going to be difficult for them working together, but she wants Moray to know that when she comes to him with more brilliant ideas in future, it won’t be Denise his fiancée asking him about them, but rather the Head of Ladies’ Wear. Moray agrees with this and apologizes for how he talked to her about Katherine and Susie. Denise promises that they’ll have no secrets between them from now on, and Moray gets all extra earnest and says that he won’t let anything come between them because he just wants to shower her with love blah blah blah vomit. Which I guess would be fine if he weren’t actively busy basically lying to her about the whole Operation Flirt with Katherine Plan.
They make out for a while and I have to admit I’m kind of bored with this pairing; their relationship just isn’t that interesting to me anymore, and while they talk soooooooo much about how grand and epically in love they are it certainly doesn’t feel like it to me. Of course, immediately after this, we cut to a shot the next morning of Moray climbing into a carriage for another secret meeting with Fenton. Which I’m sure he’ll be telling Denise about next week? Ugh…
I have to admit it, this season is becoming a bit of a slog. When did Katherine and Clara suddenly become the most likeable characters? Why are our leads so annoying? Why are we wasting time on these boring subplots? Ugh. Do you have thoughts? Come tell me all about your feelings in the comments.