Recapping ‘The Paradise’: Series 2, Episode 8

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Yay, Clemence is back. (Well, I almost said that with a straight face.) (Photo: (C) Matt Squire/BBC 2013 for MASTERPIECE)
Previously, on The Paradise:  Moray and Denise are still having relationship drama ostensibly becaue Moray kissed Katherine, but there’s also the fact that he looks like a homeless person and can’t deal with Denise’s dreams of professional success. Weston’s basically started keeping Katherine a prisoner in her own home and is threatening to send her off to Europe alone and keep her away from Flora forever. Clara gets a new boyfriend when a super talented high-end photographer arrives at the store, and The Paradise sets up another uber-pointless store stunt wherein people have to wander through a haunted house in order to buy a highly anticipated final issue of a magazine serial, though it’s not clear if they can see in the dark enough to buy anything else.

Well, we’ve made it to the Season 2 finale, guys. Thanks for sticking it out with me. What sort of insanity can we expect in this, the last ever episode of The Paradise? I don’t even want to hazard a guess. 

Oh, Thank Goodness, Clemence is Back Said No One Ever. In case you’ve been struggling to get through the last few episodes of this season, don’t worry. The show’s going to make it even harder for you to survive its very last installment by bringing back virtually everything you’ve hated about the rest of the season. This is 100% truly the only explanation I can came up with for their decision to bring back the highly irritating French stereotype that goes by the name of Clemence this week. (In case you too have blocked her from your mind: She’s Moray’s lady friend from Episode 2, she is really into the concept of sisters doing it for themselves, she may or may not be a lesbian and she is obnoxious.)

Surprise, Clemence is just as obnoxious in Episode 8, sailing into the Paradise in a bright red dress and regaling shoppers with exciting stories about how Paris is just crazy over hazard dice and uses them to decide everything, even what they’re going to wear that day. She’s aiming to make them popular in England so she can sell the dice to Moray to sell in the store. Woohoo! (Who doesn't want some overpriced dice Clemence apparently bought in the port, after all.) She tells Moray that she had to get out of Paris for a while because I think she had relationship problems, but no one cares.

Anyway, Clemence is very upset to hear about the fact that Denise and Moray are having romantic problems, but she understands Denise's issues with Moray’s possessive personality. But, she’s happy to see Denise though, and all the ladies’ wear girls are happy to see Clemence and they vow to go hang out at the One Pub on Their Street ASAP.

We Have Now Officially Seen Everything: There’s a Dead Guy in the Store. Just in case you thought The Paradise couldn’t possibly get anymore ridiculous, oh, no, here’s a lower place. And that place looks a lot like a guy dropping dead in the store. Oh, yeah, that’s a thing that actually happened. Some random we’ve never seen before is sort of trailing after Clemence and staring at her creepily, but he stumbles at Sam’s fabric counter. Sam helps him sit down and is rather shocked to discover later that the guy has accidentally died while he wasn’t paying attention. He sends Arthur to fetch help and everyone is…admittedly stumped by the situation. They aren’t sure what to do when they can’t find any identification on the dead guy. They determine that he’s French and has great tailoring, but are basically at a loss once Clemence can’t identify him. Everyone’s kind of concerned that the body is going to get buried in an unmarked grave, but no one knows what to do. Weston just says find somewhere to put the body until arrangements can be made.

Ladies’ Wear Gets Scandalous. Turns out Clemence has brought something else with her from France besides dice – rouge. She says it’s all the rage in Paris right now – that only the boldest dare wear it but everyone buys it anyway in case one day they get bold enough to put it on. The girls are a bit wary of this, insisting that women who paint their faces aren’t nice ladies. Clemence, naturally, turns this into a girl power issue, calling rogue a “gauntlet thrown at the feet of polite society” and a way for women to declare themselves independent. Okay, sure whatever. She challenges Denise to sell this slightly risqué product, and says that if anyone can do it, she can.

Of course, Denise lives for this kind of thing. She decides to create a special bedroom setting in a corner of ladies’ wear, filled with artfully suggestive items that indicate a romantic encounter, so that shoppers can envision themselves in such a world and want to try on rouge. She excitedly describes her decorative vision and Clara and Susie are both fanning themselves like this is a 50 Shades of Grey novel. 

Poor Katherine. Katherine and Weston are having breakfast when he drops the bomb on her that Clemence is back in town, and this news definitely seems to have buoyed him up after the getting shot down by Clara last week thing. This news makes Katherine look miserable, since hey, virtually everything appears to be conspiring to make her life even worse.

Later on, Katherine goes out to the river with Flora, where she spends a lot of time staring into the depths of the water looking sad. She walks slowing toward the water, basically looking for all intents and purposes like she’s about to off herself, until Jonas of all people pops out of nowhere to grab her arm and bring her back to herself. Okay, sure. Why is Jonas there? Who even knows or cares. He tells her the ground is unsafe there and helps her back into the house. Katherine thanks him for his care and the two of  them decide to have a heart to heart for some unfathomable reason. Katherine says she fears she has nothing left, and that her husband can take her child away from her at any time. Jonas says he feels similarly troubled, as though he has destroyed everything he set out to protect and hurt those he cared about most. Katherine says that at least this day, Jonas was her salvation, and Jonas says that means that there’s hope for both of them.

The kicker to all of this is – thanks to a random comment from Flora – Katherine realizes she’s pregnant. Although when this could have happened what with her husband busily hating and stalking her to the point where she barricaded herself into her bedroom alone, but whatever. This show needs no logic. 

Denise and Moray Still Have Feelings, Duh. If the opening sequence of this episode – where Moray and Denise get dressed separately and spend a lot of time mooning into their respective mirrors thinking about making out didn’t clue you in, they’re both pretty mopey about the state of their relationship, even though I think it is highly likely a lot of viewers really could care less. Moray actually brushes his hair this week, so I guess that’s something though.

Anyway, a bit later on, Moray creepily watches Denise talk to herself and put on rouge, before asking whether it might be okay to use her uncle’s shop as a Dead Guy Storage Unit until they figure out what to do with the body of the guy that dropped dead in the shop earlier. She says sure – who doesn’t mind using their property as a makeshift morgue after all – and gives him the keys to Edmund’s and urges Moray to think about how they can at least be something like normal with one another. Moray, naturally classy, says it’s difficult for him to even be around her at all if he can’t touch her. He says he’ll learn, but he hasn’t managed it yet. Denise looks after him longingly, which would be more compelling if anyone had presented any reasons why her initial objections to their relationship and the way he treats her were in any way less valid. But, of course no one does, because love. And swoony music. 

Clemence Has a Secret. Clara, Denise, Susie, Myrtle and Clemence run into each other in the street and are happily planning their ladies night when Weston trots over to yet again throw himself at a woman who has indicated zero interest in him. It’s not at all creepy to watch. Romance!

Anyway, he pulls her aside for a chat and tells her she must be so relieved to have escaped all the drama she was facing in Paris. Turns out that the guy who died in their store stopped by the Westons before coming to The Paradise that day under the mistaken assumption Clemence was still staying with them. He was a debt collector, because Clemence was in no small amount of financial trouble in France. Weston, helpfully bought all of Clemence’s debt from the Soon to Be Dead Guy (hence why he was so pleased at breakfast), and says that the two of them should discuss her future over dinner that night. He forces her to break her girls’ night date with the Paradise ladies and looks vaguely date rapey doing so. Everyone looks suspicious. 

Can Someone Just Kill Tom Weston, Thanks. Back at the Weston house, Tom drops the bomb on Katherine that he’s going out to dinner that night. Katherine says that’s a shame since they’ve not dined together in ages. Weston gets all kinds of snappy, saying that back in the day when they first married she’d send the servants away and really take care of him. He says he loved her then, until they came back to Nameless Town and he learned all about her feelings for Moray and watched how she mooned all over him and destroyed their dreams. He says that her behavior in trying to resurrect their marriage is disgusting, and he’s found someone else to comfort him. He tells her that he doesn’t need her anymore and storms off. He’s even such a winner that he said all this in front of his daughter, so the only thing I can see that might be useful about Katherine’s newfound friendship with Jonas is maybe he’ll kill him for her. That could be awesome.

The Girls Cook Up Some Makeup. In another plot twist of ridiculous proportions, Denise and Clara discover that Myrtle knows how to make makeup, thanks to her mother’s wisdom or something. No, really. They head down to the kitchens to try and whip up some rogue creams that are still soft and appealing but just a bit less scary red. Of course they’re successful on the first try even though Myrtle has no idea what the measurements are, because Denise is magic.

In the midst of all this Clemence appears to apologize about her cancelling on their girls night and to invite them all to celebrate her “last night of freedom” the next day. She admits she wasn’t honest about her debt situation and as a result she now has to become Tom Weston’s mistress or face prison. She says that they all have to go out and at least get drunk with her on the last night where she can still be her own person. Because, hey, human slavery is a plot point we haven't done yet! 

Denise Confronts Weston. So, that’s how the gang ends up at the One Bar the next night and Clemence ends up utterly wasted. Jonas is helpfully following them all in the background as the girls take Clemence upstairs and put her to bed. Denise suddenly decides that they can’t let this horrible fate come to pass on their friend. So, she decides the best thing to do is discuss the problem with Jonas, who offers to come with her to face off with Weston. Denise says no, because obviously the “have Jonas kill him” plan has not occurred to her yet, insisting that Weston would think it a threat if she took a man with her to plead for Clemence’s freedom. (Duh, Denise, that is the point.)

But, luckily, Jonas learned about Weston’s shameful war injury earlier this season, and tells Denise about it, including his involvement with the massacre and siege at Delhi and the sword cuts on his back that indicate that he tried to run away and probably got attacked by his own men. He says Weston is tormented and hates himself, and that’s the leverage Denise needs to succeed. Denise kisses Jonas on the cheek and leaves.

Denise goes to see Weston in Clemence’s place and says that her friend is indisposed. She says Clemence accepts his awful deal, but she really wishes that he would just reconsider. She drops a lot of vague phrases like escaping horrible feelings and dark pasts and how some things can’t be bought. She says that Weston’s a good businessman and he must know that a woman’s life for a few debts is a rough bargain indeed. In response, Weston starts having one of his weird PTSD fits, which literally have never made any sense at all this entire season, and Denise makes the mistake of mentioning India directly. She says he can’t keep punishing himself for one momentary lapse when he was afraid. This is the wrong thing to say, as Weston gets real mad then. He yells that Denise can’t tell him what will be or presume to know him. He tells her to get Clemence ready and tell her that he’s coming for her ASAP. 

 Jonas to the Rescue! After Denise rushes off, Jonas steps forebodingly out of the bushes to talk to Weston. For a moment I was legitimately excited that Jonas might just save us all from this and kill Weston directly, but he doesn’t. He instead just tells Weston that he should just go home to his family and give up on all of this. Weston puts two and two together and deduces that Denise learned about the dumb India story from Jonas, who figured it out because he pretended to be his friend.

Jonas shrugs and says he serves The Paradise. Weston furiously shouts that HE IS The Paradise, but Jonas calmly contradicts him and says he cannot allow him to avenge himself on those who are. Weston’s totally done with this and whacks Jonas to the ground with his walking stick. Jonas STILL does not kill him after this which is the biggest disappointment ever ugh. 

Meanwhile, Back at The Paradise. Denise and Clara give Clemence her luggage and a pile of savings and try to convince her to get out of the country before Weston can basically turn her into a sex slave. Moray, of course, walks by just as they’re discussing this, so that’s how he finds out. He is of course, shocked, because the entire story is too stupid to be believed. He says that of course Weston can’t do something like this because he can’t own another person, Clemence is not his possession. Then he looks like he just had a massive realization and yes, dear viewers, we’re meant to realize that now, just now, has John Moray understood why Denise has been mad at him about her desires for her career and to be her own person, but only when he’s directly confronted by a woman who is literally being sold into sex slavery. I’m not even making this up. It actually makes me want to punch him in the face even more than before.

Anyway, Weston, who’s taken literally forever to come back from the bridge, arrives at precisely this moment. They all stare at each other ominously. Moray offers to find the money to cover Clemence’s debts within 24 hours, but Weston says they aren’t for sale. Moray offers to play hazard (aka that dumb dice game) for them instead, and says that if he wins, he gets Clemence’s debts back, but if he loses he’ll leave The Paradise and even the country forever. Denise makes an upset sound, but Moray gives his word. So, of course, they play, and there’s slow-mo and increasingly dramatic loud music, and of course Moray wins in the end even after Weston rolls a ten. Duh. 

A Ridiculous Season Deserves a Ridiculous Ending I Guess. Weston’s so mad about losing Clemence’s debt in a dice game that he offers to play Moray for The Paradise, department by department, with his exile in the balance. Denise begs him not to because he’d have to win every single throw, but he says that since no longer has The Paradise or her to begin with, he’s got nothing left to lose. This is utterly stupid, but we have to go through it for what feels like a million years as they throw section by section (and only get through two rooms!). This is not even touching on the issue that it’s not exactly possible to own separate departments of a singular business enterprise, but I’m just going with it, because if the show doesn’t care, I’m not going to either.

Meanwhile, Flora has a bad dream and wakes Katherine up in the middle of the night. She’s afraid her father will send her step-mother away and she’ll be alone. Katherine promises Flora that she can be brave for her and they go to see Weston at The Paradise. They arrive as the dice game is heating up and Denise takes Katherine straight there so she can try to stop it. Katherine promises her husband that she’s over Moray and can be his comfort again. She says they have to figure things out between them, for Flora and the baby she’s about to have. They have to find kindness between them again. So she asks him to come home and talk and Weston says yes because I don’t even know why since he pretty much seemed to hate his wife to the ground earlier but whatever. This is literally the worst possible ending for Katherine and I hate it, just saying,

So, the dice game ends and it would seem that the Westons are still running The Paradise since they only gambled on two rooms, so whatever. Moray wanders around until he runs into Denise, and she tells him how nervous she was that he would lose and she’d lose him. She says she would have followed him wherever he went, especially after he said all that stuff about recognizing women as their own people. (What a catch!) Moray says Denise is more than his equal and that he’s realized she won’t be happy in his shadow. He says that she needs to find her own Paradise – she must build something that is hers and hers alone, and that’s the only way she’ll ever be happy with him.

Luckily, Denise has a brilliant idea that solves this problem of both proximity and being able to build her own business. She writes a letter to Mr. Ballentine, that old guy who was going to invest in The Paradise before. He agrees to back her in a new venture – her own beauty emporium across the street in her uncle’s old dress shop. I guess she’s just planning to steal all of Myrtle’s family recipes and sell them as creams and powders, and that’s how she plans to build her own version of The Paradise. She tells Moray that this means she’ll still be right near him, and once she’s made her name for herself, she’ll be able to come to him and ask him to be her husband. So, I guess this is sort of a happy ending in a way? Kind of? If we ignore that Denise might fail, that smart business would suggest The Paradise sell something similar to keep trade out of her new shop, that Myrtle might object to Denise getting rich of f of her ideas and recipes, but whatever. I don’t even care. Are they back together? Maybe? Maybe they plan to be in the future? I don’t even know.  

I’m just exhausted by this season. And it’s more of an ending than I was expecting I guess. (I mean…I can certainly see why it didn’t get renewed.)

What do you think folks? How does this work as an ending for you? Do you think that Denise will be successful? Will Katherine end up murdering her terrible husband?