Another week, another episode to critique. Will Moray be less annoying? Will Denise find her spine? Will Katherine stop being the universe's punching bag? Let's find out.
Photography Arrives at The Paradise. Weston, who has decided to just go ahead and embrace his role as a showman in as dramatic a fashion as possible, has brought in a professional photographer to do portraits of his family, as well as the Paradise staff. (He, of course, is also using this as opportunity to make Katherine miserable by forcing her to stand in the back of their family photo up like a servant and telling Flora to stop calling her “Mama”. Jerk!)
This photographer is played by the same guy who was Curtis in Misfits (the guy with the time reversing power) and it’s very strange to see him in period dress, but good for him getting work, I guess. Anyway, Curtis from Misfits (His name here is Christian Cartwright if you want to get technical) is apparently a very daring photographer and it’s all sorts of cutting edge for Weston to have brought him in, despite the fact that it just looks like he’s basically taking Sears Portrait Studio shots of people sitting in chairs or standing by columns.
The staff is very excited about the prospect of getting their picture taken for the store gallery. Cartwright explains to the group the finer points of the photographic process but no one’s really that interested or following along. During his lecture, Cartwright uses Clara as an example of science and art coming together, claiming that she is not only beautiful but has a sadness about her that adds depth to her as a subject. Clara is flattered, sort of, but refuses to have her photo taken for the project.
Moray Looks Pretty Derelicte. Moray, who has decided to respond to Denise’s anger over his lies by letting his physical appearance deteriorate to the point where he looks homeless, keeps trying to get his girlfriend to talk to him in a variety of pathetic ways. He says that he misses her and that everything she thinks about him is wrong because he was only with Katherine for the good of The Paradise and their plan blah blah. If you have any sympathy at all for Moray, this might be moving, but as it stands for me it’s just hilarious in the best way. He looks like a wet cat. Denise isn’t having it though, insisting that when her uncle was dying and she needed her fiancée he was off with his ex and that’s something that happened. (Go, Denise!) He keeps trying to talk to her and she keeps blowing him off. Huzzah. Even Dudley thinks Moray sucks this week, and reads him the riot act for kissing Katherine and for ignoring the fact that Denise found them an investor and sold him on the idea of the two of them running the store together. (This is notable only because Moray’s pouty response about how it doesn’t matter if Weston doesn’t want to sell is THE FIRST TIME all season anyone has mentioned that little snag.)
Anyway, Denise storms outside after the staff meeting about photography and runs straight into Katherine, who, for some reason, decides to chat with her about Moray. Denise snarks that she hopes Katherine enjoyed her afternoon with him, but Katherine just wants to know why Denise looks so upset when she’s the one who one in the end. She tells her to celebrate, since it’s obvious that the only thing Moray wants is Denise, and the stupid store of course, She says that their kiss was nothing more than the bookend to an arduous story. And of course, that’s what Denise fixated on, that the two kissed and Moray didn’t tell her about it, not the bit where he clearly rejected Katherine at the end of it. Womp womp.
Denise Gets a New Challenge. Weston summons Denise to his office to set her a new challenge – he’s sure that Cartwright’s presence can be leveraged to increase sales if they just play up the general awesomeness of photography in general. He says he needs some of Denise’s brillianat ideas on the subject and just decided to come straight to her about it since it’s obvious Moray’s holding her back. (I hate Weston and all but that last bit’s not entirely inaccurate.)
A bit later, Weston and Moray also have a chat in his office, where he wastes some time talking about how splendid Denise is, but you’ve all heard this before. The one bit that’s interesting is that Weston tells him about his conversation with Fenton – which honestly I barely remember happening – and that he knows Moray’s overplayed his hand. He snarks that he wouldn’t be surprised if Denise ends up running the Paradise one day, and mentions that for the longest time all he wanted was to get rid of the store, but recent events have changed his mind. Moray looks like a defeated wet cat (seriously what is going on with his hair product in this episode. Are we meant to believe he’s so distraught about fighting with Denise that he can’t use a hairbrush? So gross.
Denise presents her latest idea to Weston – she wants to create, instead of just doing a straight photo booth for the public, having “Paradise Postcards” done, with a store-themed backdrop so that people could get souvenirs printed of their trip to the store. Denise says this would give them a longer marketing reach since the customers will then basically be putting an ad for the store on their mantles at home, plus they’ll be motivated to shop whilst they wait around the store for their postcard photo is printed. Weston loves it, and Denise decides that they can set up the portrait studio area in her uncle’s empty shop since, since she’s been left in control of it now Edmund’s gone.
Everyone’s Obsessed with this Ghost Story Serial. So, there’s another pointless subplot going on where the Paradise workers are all obsessed with this installment-based newspaper magazine story called “The House on the Hill” which seems to tell the story of a girl trapped in a haunted house. Sam thinks it’s all ridiculous, but the girls are super into it and can’t wait for the final episode to be published. The popularity of this story is making several of the Paradise staff worried about ghosts and haunting, and of course the ringleader of this whole supernatural business is Susie, famous for her imaginary sighting of a deadly scorpion earlier this season.
But Dudley insist that there’s likely a way that the store can capitalize on this city-wide obsession with the supernatural and with “The House on the Hill” in particular. Moray, of course, isn’t really listening, because he’s busy moping.
Moray Comes Clean. Moray finally decides that it’s time to tell Denise the truth about his secret dealings with Fenton, their “Flirt with Katherine” offensive, and his attempt to make the Westons’ marriage so intolerable that they might be motivated to sell the store. He says that the whole scenario made him realize he wasn’t the kind of person who could just play with people’s feelings like that and that his decision to go along with it was a mistake. However, he leaves out the part about kissing Katherine, which Denise jumps on immediately. Moray looks sad.
Later, Moray has drinks with Dudley, wherein he spends a lot of time whining about how Denise used to need him, despite all her attempts at independence and now he feels like she’s just forgotten all about him because she’s successful professionally. OMG, Shut Up, Moray Shut Upppp. This is such disgusting self pity that I can’t even begin to start verbalizaing all the ways I hate it. Even though I know this is not a show where such things happen, I wish Denise would just straight up dump his annoying self. He deserves it.
Anyway, Moray continues on, whining that he’s trusted the wrong people and he really needs Dudley to tell him what to do. Dudley says he has to get on with doing his job and that will remind Denise why she fell in love with him in the first place. He insists that the popular ghost story thing is a perfect opportunity and the old him would be all over it. Then Dudley peaces out, and Moray starts reading “The House on the Hill”.
Oh, Look, It’s Time for a Clara Episode. Cartwright the photographer is legit obsessed with Clara, and determined that he’s going to get a chance to photograph her because she’s so beautiful and mysterious and sad or whatever. He visits her in ladies’ wear and they banter and flirt for a bit. He insists that the exact reasons she doesn’t want her portrait done are the reasons he is desperate to take it.
He invites her on a lunch break date to...show her her true self or beauty or something, but what it basically ends up being is the two of them out together in a gorgeous bucolic setting flirting and being cute. Cartwright says a bunch of rather romantic and/or inspirational things about suffering creating beauty in the end, and they stare into a millpond for a bit. Cartwright says that Clara’s preoccupation with the pain of her past and constant worry about the future means that she’s missing out on what’s happening in the present. Clara looks thoughtful, but the two of them are oddly adorable together so I’m okay with this.
That night, Clara ends up having a drink with Tom Weston, who’s lurking creepily about the store. They have a chat about how much Weston’s discovered that he actually likes ruling the store, and how the two of them are kindred spirits who conceal their true selves. Weston flirts creepily with her, saying that she’d always be in safe hands with him, and it’s just…really gross. Yiiikes.
Katherine Has the Worst Marriage. Meanwhile, during breakfast, Tom drops the bomb on Katherine that she looks tired and it would just be great if she took a rest somewhere abroad for the autumn. Katherine says that sounds like a great idea – probably because her husband sucks – and suggests that she take Flora along with her. Weston shoots that down immediately, saying that Flora will stay with him. He insists that for everyone’s sake Katherine has to take some time away though. Katherine tries to argue for Flora’s sake, but Weston just goes on about how humiliating it was for him to listen to Fenton’s play about how Moray was going to throw himself at his wife and prey on her attraction for him. He then calls her stupid for thinking Moray ever desired her and says he’ll make the arrangements for her trip ASAP. Hey, surprise, suddenly Katherine’s the most sympathetic character on this show.
In case you wanted to have more warm feelings toward Katherine, there’s the next scene. She takes Flora to the Paradise to visit Cartwright’s portrait studio, and asks him to do a portrait of the two of them together. She explains to Flora that they’ll get two copies and they can both keep one, and the photo of them together will make sure they’re still together, just in case they’re ever apart. Flora doesn’t understand any of this because Katherine promised the two of them would always be together. Katherine looks like she’s trying not to cry, and it’s all oddly moving, especially when she clutches Flora’s hand in the shot. Even Cartwright notices the suffering in her face, later, and it’s just hard not to feel bad for her. Honestly – and I kind of can’t believe I’m saying this – but Katherine is the only character I’m hoping gets a happy ending at this point.
Oh Look Another Ridiculous Store Stunt. Dudley forces Denise to come to a meeting with Moray about their plans to do a store stunt surrounding the release of the super popular haunted house serial. Denise attempts to protest, but Dudley basically threatens her job because she’s so invested in getting the two of them back together. Anyway, Moray has managed to make a deal with the publishers of “The House on the Hill” and the store will host the launch of the story’s final installment. He tells Denise that they have to come up with bigger ideas to surprise the fans of the series and she slowly gets into it because apparently Denise can’t say no to coming up with marketing ideas for anything.
In the grand and slightly ridiculous way that this show does – the Paradise goes all out in creating a whole new world for their big “House on the Hill” party, bringing in fog machines and reorganizing the whole store to create a haunted house effect. It’s all pretty cool, but how in the world does selling a magazines and tchotchkes during an event like this make up for the expense of putting it on? I guess I’m probably not supposed to think of things like this, but rather be dazzled by the events, but I do. Even Selfridge’s doesn’t do stuff on this scale (at least not according to their show, LOL) and they’re a big London department store, not…wherever in the North we are.
To the surprise of no one though, the event is a huge success, resulting in long lines outside the store and excited patrons (though other than the magazine I’m unclear how anyone was going to manage to buy anything in the fog and dark but whatever). Denise and Moray even seem to patch things up, and end up holding hands as the satisfied customers stream by.
Clara Makes a Choice. Clara has another heart to heart with the photographer where she admits that a man broke her heart and ruined her life, that she had a daughter with a married man and gave her up. (Please someone tell me that the math does not work for Clara’s daughter to be Moray’s, right? Right?) She says she tells herself it’ll get better every day, but she doesn’t really believe it. Cartwright tells her she needs to be kinder to herself. Yeah, okay, they’re cute.
Anyway, after flirting with her all season, Weston finally tells Clara that his carriage will be waiting for her outside. So, you know, in case you were thinking about liking him or believing his whole starting over think with his wife from the last episode. Surprise! Clara, however makes an unexpected choice. She gets all dolled up – seriously she looks really beautiful – and goes to see Cartwright the photographer downstairs. She says she’d like to accept his offer of having her portrait done, and sits for him. They banter a bit before Clara ends up kissing him. Cartwright says that the most beautiful thing about her, is that Clara has no idea how beautiful she really is. They kiss some more, and it’s all surprisingly adorable. Again, who knew that Clara would suddenly become a favorite after everything that happened last year? That’s how far this season has sunk, in honesty. But, these two are pretty cute and as we’ve only one episode to go this season I rather hope Cartwright sticks around.
Denise and Moray Have Another Setback. Denise and Moray are strolling through the haunted house-themed Paradise, talking about how happy they are with the event and how it exceeded the magazine publishers’ wildest dreams. Denise says that the two of them still make a formidable team. Moray apologies again for the whole Katherine situation and asks Denise if she can ever forgive him. Denise says of course she can, because I guess over some portion of this episode we, the audience, weren’t privy to, she worked out all of her issues about Moray lying and her insecurities about Katherine. Sure. I don’t even care. They kiss, and it seems like all is right with the world. Moray again says that he only kissed Katherine because he was desperate to secure their future and thought the Fenton plan was the only way. Denise wants to know why he just didn’t tell her about it all in the first place, and Moray insists that it was just because he wanted to protect her. Denise insists she’s not the kind of girl that needs protection.
Moray, displaying his great relationship skills, says that Denise can’t fault a guy for trying to save her from the dark, dangerous worlds of men and business. He calls her his most prized possession, even over The Paradise, a comment at which she openly balks at, probably because that’s just a really gross thing to say, let along a way to actually view one’s fiancee. Denise then slaps him, which actually got me to pay attention to this scene again, because it is awesome (not to mention a really good slap). She declares that Moray is never going to get it – no matter how much he loves her, that doesn’t mean he owns her. She says she refuses to live her life in a box marked “My Little Champion” and storms off. Moray looks befuddled and I’m surprisingly happy – that’s really the first bit of actual spirit Denise has shown all season! It sure took them long enough.
Well, that’s that. Weirdly, that was one of the least annoying episodes this season, though I’m not sure I can put my finger on exactly why. Would love to hear your thoughts on it.
Oh – and there’s only one more episode in Season 2 to go folks! What would you like to see in the season finale? What would make Season 2 work for you?