Recapping ‘The Paradise’: Series 2, Episode 5

Paradise2_5_1 (1).jpg

There's a new world order in Ladies' Wear (Photo: (C) Jules Heath/BBC 2013 for MASTERPIECE)
Previously, on The Paradise: Denise begins her new life as Head of Ladies’ Wear, but runs into issues when Moray doesn’t like her idea for a department Tea Party and Susie starts yelling at the daughter of the store’s current owner. Denise, being Denise, works everything out in the end, but not before she gets grumpy and jealous about Moray’s new plan to flirt with Katherine until she sells The Paradise back to him. Weston is super psyched about expanding the store, and Moray is bitter about it because it’ll just make it harder for him to buy. There are also subplots featuring Myrtle’s desire to get out of the kitchen, Susie’s heretofore unseen alcoholic mother, and Weston’s dark past as a soldier in India, but they’re super boring and no one cares.

Who even knows what to expect from this episode, am I right? 

The Paradise Expansion is Here! The conversion of Dead Rory’s Barbershop is finally complete and the long-awaited Paradise Expansion begins. Despite the original (boring) discussions about making it a jewelry counter, the old barbershop is now a Food Hall, and Tom Weston is darn excited about it. So excited that he actually stands outside it for a good two minutes talking to Myrtle of all people about how shoppers will now be met with loads of culinary delights and everyone will know he’s turned that derelict building from a mark of hesitation and failure into a total success.

Elsewhere, Jonas, Mr. Fenton and Moray are having a secret meeting on the same subject. Jonas warns that if the Food Hall is a success, then Weston will have a taste for expansion and be motivated to continue on with the project. Moray is morose, but agrees. Jonas says that Weston must be made to feel that being at the store is a humiliation for him, and brings up the flirt with Katherine plan again as a means of achieving this goal. Moray says it makes his skin crawl to think of it, but Fenton argues that whatever happens won’t matter to Katherine because she’ll always have the benefits of being a privileged class, while they’re men who’ve had to fight their way up from nothing. Jonas reminds the group that Katherine after all is responsible for Moray losing the thing the loves most in the world because her father committed the horror of buying the lease to The Paradise completely legally and what not. Anyway, Fenton says they don’t have time to waste; Moray must basically throw himself at Katherine as soon as possible. Moray looks constipated.

Denise Socializes Ladies Wear. Denise has a team meeting with the Ladies’ Wear staff – which means Clara, Susie and two girls we have literally never seen before but okay – to tell them that she wants to change the way commission works in their department. She says instead of everyone working for themselves, they should combine all their commissions into a group pot and divide it between the lot of them at the end of the week. This way, if someone has a bad week, or gets ill, or whatever, there’s a safety net. She says that if they know they’re all working for each other, they’ll earn more, because they all love what they do anyway. Clara and Susie are both initially against this idea, claiming that they pamper their regulars and thereby earn the extra money for taking care of them. But, when Denise calls for a vote, they both end up saying yes to it, for what appears to be no reason at all, so allrighty then.

Later, Denise asks Clara why she supported her, and she hems and haws about it before admitting that she’s grateful that at least Denise asked them to vote on something rather than just making it a rule on her own. Which, okay, I can kind of get behind, in theory, except any version of Clara that has been presented on this show prior to this moment would have stuck to her guns on the money issue, because she’d never be a team player on an issue that has the chance of impacting her life so personally. But, okay, whatever, everyone else is acting like a zombie version of themselves this season anyway. Denise is thrilled Clara likes her voting scheme, because she’s going to have every girl in their department propose an improvement for their team and they’ll vote on it. She encourages Clara to go first,

The Store Makes a Watch Counter. Meanwhile, Moray, Dudley and Sam decide to create a watch and clock counter for the gentlemen that come to the shop. Weston is sort of salty about this, because he’s gone ahead and built a food hall instead of the jewelry counter as first planned. Sam suggests they need one amazing, super fancy watch for customers to gawk at so they stop and stick around long enough for him to sell to them.

So, Moray decides to implement the “Flirt with Katherine” offensive by going to her and asking if the store can use her dead father’s watch as a centerpiece for their new timepiece display at the store. Katherine’s upset and says that the items is precious to her beyond belief, and says that she can’t imagine letting any passing drayman gawk at it in the hopes that he’ll buy something else at the store. Moray apologizes, and Katherine is super angry still and says that he has no consideration and should really be calling her Mrs. Weston anyway. So… that went well.

Seriously, Moray is A Terrible Boyfriend. Weston calls Denise in his office to congratulate her on what he’s heard of her new, democratic methods in running ladies’ wear. He says he plans to call a meeting of all the heads of department so that she can explain her ideas and the reasons behind them to everybody else on the team, because she’s just so impressive.  Denise is pretty psyched about this, and she goes straight to Moray to tell him all about it. He is decidedly not psyched about this for some reason, and instead acts weirdly offended and jealous that Denise is getting this opportunity to present her ideas to everyone in the store. He says he sure hopes that those senior members of staff don’t think she’s putting herself above them or anything, but it’ll be a great day for her at least. Dudley jumps to her defense, saying that that of course everyone will be nice to Denise about it because they know she only wants what’s best for the store. Moray also seems annoyed to learn that Denise accepted Weston’s speech idea without talking to him first, and basically Moray needs to get dumped sometime extremely soon.

Katherine Changes Her Mind. Katherine, after mooning over her dad’s watch for a bit whilst dramatic emotional music plays in the background, decides to give in to Moray’s request, because this show wouldn’t be possible if someone wasn’t being an idiot for no reason in every episode.

Anyway, Katherine heads down to The Paradise and entrusts Moray with her dad’s watch, saying that now she understands he only meant to honor her dead father with it, because she’s apparently mindwiped herself free of the memory of how Moray hated him, but whatever. It’s her turn to have the idiocy disease this week. Sam is suitably impressed with his new centerpiece and Katherine goes on for a bit longer about how important it is to her and how much it means to her emotionally, so when it inevitably gets lost we, the viewers, will understand what a trauma that is for her. She also asks Moray to not mention to her husband that her father had always planned to give it to the man she married, because she had never mentioned that to him. Which is how we know that Moray will definitely be telling him about that before the episode’s over. Oh, and she says it’s cool if he calls her Katherine again, because her brain has completed its final melting process.

Denise’s Presentation Has Unexpected Consequences. Denise assembles her ladies’ wear team to address the other heads of department about the rise of democracy in their department and their new shared tip jar. Everyone talks about how great it is and how it helps them all pull together as a real team to achieve success for each other as well as themselves, blah blah I hope someone’s taking notes for the new Paradise HR manual.

Weston adds that ladies’ wear is a perfect example that they can’t just rest on their laurels if they want to keep succeeding. He singles out Denise for being exceptionally awesome, and Moray looks weirdly jealous again. Later that night, Denise is overwhelmed by how kind and nice everyone was about her presentation – full of congratulations and questions. She wants to know what Moray thought of the whole thing, and says his opinion is all she cares about. Moray hems and haws that he likes seeing Denise light up the Paradise with her brilliance, but insists that they can’t forget things aren’t supposed to be like this. They shouldn’t be working to gain favor with Weston or any of the other employees, the Paradise should be theirs, Moray is meant to be the one in control, etc. etc. He says that she must be willing to do anything to help him get The Paradise back and then once he’s in full control of things again she will be his leading lady. Okay, I officially can’t stand Moray now, just FYI. When did he become such a selfish jerk? Ugh. Whatever.

So, This Watch Plot is Going to Be a Thing. Sam has drinks with Edmund who is for some unknown reason still in town and goes on at length about the magical centerpiece watch that used to belong to Katherine’s dad. He’s obsessed with it, and has snuck it out to carry around with him. He just pulls it out in the middle of the bar and goes on about how magical and special and lifechanging it is. Yes, this is an actual plot.

The plot is about to get stupider when Sam suddenly decides to convince everyone that the watch has special powers and can hypnotize people. He decides to test this out on Susie, possibly because she’s already proven herself to be the most suggestible person on the planet with her whole “though I saw a made-up scorpion” incident. During their hypnosis sesh, Sam tells Susie that she not only wants to buy him a drink, she thinks he’s handsome and amazing and someone she could fall for. Of course, this hypnosis deal totally works on Susie and she starts stalking Sam around the store and aggressively flirting with him. Good job, dude.

There is more to this story, I think, but it’s so dull: Susie wants to go out with Sam, Katherine spends way to long reminiscing about all the times her dad used to use the watch to either lie to her or hypnotize her depending on your perspective, and Sam’s convinced the watch is bewitched with magical powers. I hate this show sometimes.

Moray Mopes and Plots. Meanwile, Moray is all kinds of tortured that Weston is dumping praise on Denise left and right. Jonas says that Moray just needs to make Weston think that Katherine’s chasing after her ex, so that he’ll come running to his new BFF Jonas and…complain about it? I’m deeply unclear what the end game of this plan is, or why making Weston mad at his wife and Moray is going to make him more likely to sell the store to someone he hates. This is like watching the underpants gnomes from South Park assemble a business plan.

Anyway, Jonas pretends to be mad at Moray so he and Weston can bond, because Jonas suddenly looking to become BFFs with his long-suffering boss’s mortal enemy is a totally realistic thing that might happen that anyone could certainly believe. Weston says that he knows Moray is busy scheming trying to get the store back and Jonas sucks up some more by bringing up Weston’s military past and praising him as a dedicated soldier. Weston asks Jonas to keep an eye on Moray for him and it’s honestly a wonder how any of these people manage to dress themselves on a daily basis on this show, they’re so dumb.

Meanwhile, Katherine Has Really Drawn the Short Stick in Intelligence This Week. Katherine, after waffling for a bit on what dress to wear, goes to The Paradise to see Moray and talk about her dead father’s watch nostalgically and at length for the third time. She even uses it to construct a weird, drawn out metaphor for their previous relationship, and explains that her father actually did want Moray to have the watch, and that’s why she’s never told Weston about the fact that it was supposed to pass to her husband per her dad’s will, because she couldn’t bear to give it to him. (Absolutely no one cares about this, but please, let’s go over this watch, and her dead dad, and inheritance law again.)  It’s definitely Katherine’s turn to get sacrificed on the altar of “someone on this show must behave in such a way that you wonder if they’re too stupid to live” this week, as her solution to everything is just to ask Moray nicely not to tell her husband about her dead father’s true wishes or the lie she’s perpetrating against him about this super important and meaningful piece of jewelry that has never been seen or mentioned before this week. Sure. That’ll work. Oh, and Weston comes outside just in time to see Katherine and Moray looking cozy together, if were worried that this storyline might go anywhere original. Sigh.

Oh, and then there’s a weird moment where Katherine goes to see Clara, to ask about how Denise is doing and imply that Moray’s back to chasing after her and say that as women who’ve both been wronged by him surely someone should tell his current girlfriend what sort of man he is blah blah. Wouldn’t it be almost cool if Katherine totally knew what was up and was busy playing everyone here?

Denise Gets Another Reward. Weston, who seems to genuinely like Denise and genuinely like that promoting her position within the store annoys Moray, decides that she should have one on ones with each department to see what they’re working on and bestow some of her brilliant ideas and efficiencies upon them. Denise looks excited, as she always is when someone tells her she did a good job, but her face falls when she notices Moray lurking behind Weston with a petulant look on his face, because he is the least supportive boyfriend in the universe. She backtracks quickly, saying that she couldn’t possibly start on this project unless all the other heads of the departments say it’s okay. Moray mumbles something about how this is something senior management should probably discuss together anyway, because he’s the worst and least supportive boyfriend ever. But Weston brushes all this off and says Denise can start off her store-wide improvement projects in the kitchens, because Myrtle won’t object since she loves Denise, and goodness knows Myrtle generally can do with some improving.

If I were less annoyed by this episode – and this season in general – I might take the time to try and break down why it bothers me so much that a significant chunk of this episode’s plot (and really the plot of Season 2, as a whole) so openly revolves around men openly using women as pawns in a game to ensure their own advancement. Literally, that’s the only thing either of them try, using women. That’s their entire game plan, the both of them. Moray and Weston are both deliberately targeting the significant others of their hated rivals in an attempt to weaken or sabotage their enemies, and they’re operating under the assumption that both the women in these instances have  no agency of their own in the situation. It’s actually pretty gross when you really start thinking about it. And then there’s the fact all that Moray professes his love for Denise, he’s threatened by the possibility of her success without him, and seems to only be able to wish her well professionally when her success is either tied to or directly because of his own. When did this show become so problematic from a gender issues perspective? Ugh.

Anyway, Denise heads to the kitchen to…do something that seems a bit like creating a Mr. Selfridge style display window for Myrtle’s baking projects. (Which, honestly, does anyone at all think that Myrtle is somehow capable of making fancy, superposh cakes that the wealthy will fall all over themselves to try? I mean, really?). She puts forth the idea of creating a “Myrtle Cake” that will… be large and fantastically decorated and meant to be put on display in some sort of avant garde esque case that illustrates the creation of food from beginning to end and is going to involve live chickens maybe? Oh, Denise, you are no Henri from Mr. Selfridge honey. Don’t give up your day job for design. Why Denise wants to make this idea happen, or why Weston – or anyone for that matter – thinks she’s got a background in anything that makes her a design expert is unclear, but we’re going with it because Moray and Denise have to be in conflict about something otherwise the show will end, right? (Oh and somewhere in here Clara tries to warn Denise that something’s going on with Moray and Katherine, but instead of being the painfully direct straight shooter we’ve known Clara to be for the entirety of this show’s existence, she hems and haws and instead doesn’t really tell her anything. Because of course.

More Relationship Drama Ensues. In a completely unsuspicious and totally normal move, Weston decides to invite Moray and Denise to dinner at his and Katherine’s house. Like a big ol double date with servants or something. Because I guess everyone just decided to stop pretending not to know that Denise and Moray are dating? When did they that happen? Wasn’t the whole point of the “let’s not get married yet” conundrum that they had to keep their relationship basically on the DL so that Katherine wouldn’t go insane about the two of them being together? How does Weston even know they’re a thing? Why can’t this show manage to maintain consistency with its own storylines? This was only like four episodes ago. Sheesh.

Anyway, Denise and Moray go to dinner with the Westons, because that seems like a great idea. To the surprise of absolutely no one, it’s mad awkward. And that’s before their host decides to spend quite a long time going on about how brilliant and perfect Denise is and how remarkable her special snowflake-ness is considering that she’s from some podunk town he’s never heard of somewhere. Denise is beaming, Moray looks uncomfortable and Katherine looks like she just wants to get durnk. Weston has decided that, as a reward for being so perfect generally, he wants to send Denise to Paris, so she can do some reconnaissance on all the latest fashions there and see how Parisian stores are run. Denise looks so happy at this news and declares that she’s totally ready for this sort of responsibility blah blah blah. Moray looks ill, because he is the worst. Katherine looks weirdly jealous, because there is literally no other character on this show with a less consistent characterization.

After dinner, Moray’s first priority is harshing Denise’s buzz and reminding her that no matter what she might think or want for her own life, her first priority should be helping him with his plan to get The Paradise back from the woman whose family bought it totally legally because she happens to have more money than he does. He says that it’s obvious Weston is just sucking up to Denise because he wants to lull her into a state of satisfaction with her professional career so she’ll stop fighting to help Moray reclaim the store and just accept the status quo. (Seriously, Moray, they’re called choices. You made one at the end of last season. No one took anything from you. Shut. Up.) Instead of telling her boyfriend to drop dead, Denise says she’ll fake sick or come up with some reason to tell Weston why she can’t go. Moray launches into another long, totally self-serving speech about how everything he’s doing, he’s doing for them so they can be together. Though given that their bosses just invited them to dinner at their home as a couple, I’m sort of confused as to how they’re being prevented from being together now, but whatever.

Anyway, the next day Moray is still so upset about Weston’s “Send Denise to Paris” offer that he tells Jonas to rat out Katherine’s Big Dumb Watch Secret to her husband in retaliation for this horrifying…opportunity for professional advancement given to his girlfriend. Allrighty then. Maturity in action folks. Jonas drops this bombshell on Weston during another one of their bro bonding sessions and his new BFF is furious, as expected. He storms out of the store – past Denise who’s trying to tell him she can’t go to Paris ostensibly because her boyfriend doesn’t like it. Turns out he’s taken the Magical Katherine’s Dad Watch out of the display and is now wearing it around town and using it like it’s rightfully his, often and repeatedly in front of his wife. Katherine doesn’t say anything, probably because she’s afraid her husband’s going to kill her and she knows that Moray’s ratted out her big stupid secret about her dad’s plans for the item. Can we have an episode or at least a scene that addresses why these two are even married? He seems borderline abusive and it’s not like anyone could have forced Katherine – a rich, grieving heiress – into a relationship with him. This makes no sense.

Meanwhile, Denise hides in the pantry and reads brochures about Paris fashion with a longing look on her face. Which means she’s totally going to go on this trip despite Moray’s objections, a twist which I simultaneously support and also don’t care about, because these made up obstacles and personality changes for these characters have made me uninterested in whether Moray approves of Denise or not. Go, girl, I say.

Why is this show so frustrating? What has happened to Denise and Moray to make them so hard to root for? Why has Katherine apparently had a lobotomy? Ugh, come talk this out with me in the comments, I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.