Mr. Selfridge Season 2: Part One: We Have to Adapt
And we're back! Amie Simon recaps the season premiere of Mr. Selfridge, season 2. As usual, this post contains spoilers.
After a rollercoaster season of ups and downs, Mr. Selfridge season one left Harry and company in shambles. With everyone’s world shaken up, how we wondered how the store would soldier on—especially with the threat or war on the horizon.
Season two opens on the 5th Anniversary of Selfridges, which is sporting some fancy new red carpet, a brand-new cosmetics department and a few new faces. There’s somewhat of a slapstick routine happening as the staff rushes to present Harry with a shiny surprise in celebration of the store’s success: a bronze bust of the Master Showman himself.
Just as Harry’s finishing his spiel about how he couldn’t do it without his staff, Agnes Towler arrives back from Paris (apparently gone two years), looking sophisticated and very, very fashionable.
Miss Kitty Hawkins is quick to approach Aggie, exclaiming that she’s now the head of the brand new Selfridges cosmetics department, proudly telling her, “Mr. Selfridge has created a whole new department for me.” But when it’s revealed that Aggie has been hired by Harry to be head of displays, Kitty’s joy falters a bit.
Rose also arrives back from the states for the Anniversary celebration, surprising and delighting Harry, who seems determined to reconcile with her. Rose isn’t keen on that idea, telling him she’ll play the dutiful wife, but she’s not ready to move back in permanently just yet … a decision perhaps influenced by her new bohemian friend, Delphine Day. Or perhaps, by the pretty blonde they see charging expensive purchases to “Mr. Selfridge’s account.” Oh, Harry. Do you never learn?
Over at Lady Mae’s, her maid announces with dismay that Lord Loxley is downstairs…with luggage. Ut-oh. Sounds like the party’s over for Mae! In fact, the party and her account at Selfridges are both over. Lord Loxley wastes no time closing out her account, snootily telling Harry he won’t get one more penny of his money, and that his wife won’t be shopping there anymore.
Ever the gentleman, Harry rolls with Loxley’s brash manner, but draws the line at his treatment of Mae! “No gentleman talks to a lady like that in my store!” You GO, Harry!
Aggie is ready to get started in her new position, but she butts heads with a new employee right away: Mr. Thackeray, the head of fashion (Miss Ravillous’s replacement), doesn’t understand why Agnes should be in charge of “all” the displays, especially his. Hmmpf. Whatever, Thackery! She will SHOW you.
Sadly, Aggie has some surprises in store—like finding out that old beau Victor has moved up to become manager of the Palm Court, given his waiting job to his handsome cousin, and runs the restaurant with a pretty young woman named Gabriella.
Miss Mardle approaches Mr. Grove for some time off, saying that her brother is dying. Grove offers some feeble sympathy, but apparently he’s too dead on his feet from family life (turns out Doris is very … fertile, and the couple now have 3 children and another on the way) to say very much. Aw, Mardle. What a bummer for you!
Harry’s son Gordon (now 15) returns from school and announces he’d like to stop going and start working at the store, which Rose is against, but Harry, of course is FOR. So much so that it seems like he’s already told Gordon to go ahead and quit—without Rose’s consent. Oops!
Aggie arrives at a party and has a few tense moments with Victor—oh these two! She had to leave to get what she wanted; he had to stay to get what he wanted. And now that they both have what they want, they can’t get it together and have each other. OH THE DRAMA.
Meanwhile, Gordon might want to rethink the leaving school thing, as Harry starts him out in the loading dock, under the supervision of Aggie’s brother George. A dismayed Rose turns to new friend Delphine, who owns a scandalous nightclub and serves Singapore slings in the middle of the day.
Delphine, as it turns out, is also a writer, and has a new book called “The Summer Cottage,” and Rose suggests to Harry that he have a reading at the store. This turns out to be Aggie’s moment to shine, and she does—building a magnificent display right in the middle of fashion, much to Thackeray’s dismay.
Thackeray proclaims it “… clearly overdone,” and claims that “the girl has no idea what she’s doing!”, but Victor comes to her defense, telling him that it’s brilliant. And it is!
Delphine’s reading causes quite a commotion as well, with frank descriptions of sexual encounters. While the men laugh their way through it, the women seem enrapt! And none more so than Rose, who looks like she finds deeper meaning in Delphine’s words: “I would be free, without a man to tie myself to.”
Lady Mae, who refused to attend Ms. Day’s reading due to its vulgarity, overhears her husband blackmailing one of his friends for money and “a place on the committee.” Hmm.
Oily reporter Frank Edwards still seems to be pursuing Kitty, but mistakes her
forwardness for … extra forwardness, and makes an awkward pass at her while on a date at Delphine’s. This is where I have to cheer for Kitty; rather than give in or let him make her feel bad, she calls him out on his mistake, and makes him pay for it later.
Rose, who’s also at Delphine’s, drunkenly proposes she become a partner in the club. “I have my own money; I don’t need Harry’s approval.” Indeed! Delphine isn’t convinced, though, and declines the offer for now. Rose then spies a disheveled Henri LeClair leaving the club, and asks Delphine the next day for a lead on where to find him.
Down in the warehouse, Gordon is learning all kinds of new things—like how Union organizers keep harassing the workers there to join. Turns out, though, that when push comes to shove, the employees at Selfridge’s don’t need a union! Harry already gives them all the things the union is fighting for. With tensions running high, the organizers start a fight, and poor Gordon gets a good shiner in the process.
Despite his store’s success, Harry can’t keep still for long, and calls all department heads to his office to brainstorm ideas. An overwhelmed and overtired Aggie gets railroaded by Thackery, who makes a suggestion designed to pile more work onto her plate. JERK.
Harry decides to wipe his plate clean in order to get Rose back, which means breaking up with the blonde (who only seems concerned about keeping all the gifts he bought her), and, uh everyone else. “Cancel Miss Spender’s account please—cancel ALL their accounts.” Dude. How many did you have lined up, Harry?
Thinking she’s doing a good deed, Rose tracks Henri down and finds him living in poverty with a sketchy beard. She tells him to reach out to Harry for help, but he refuses. Guess things didn’t go so well in New York!
An increasingly frustrated Loxley tells Mae she needs to get him a meeting with Harry ASAP, and if she doesn’t, he’ll take her name away from her, because that’s “all she has.” Grr. I really, really don’t like this guy!
Rose suggests Harry has a staff party at Delphine’s club to help her business, and even though he agrees, Harry can’t resist getting a few digs in by going to see Delphine and implying that his association with her might bring the store “ill repute.” He’s CLEARLY jealous of her friendship with Rose, and frankly, embarrassing himself.
The staff party does end up happening at Delphine’s, and everyone is jolly, except Lady Mae, who’s been forced to bring Lord Loxley with her so he can approach
Harry about a “business relationship.” Harry denies Loxley audience, though, and Mae doesn’t insist it go any further. Unfortunately, this pushes Loxley over the edge, and he ends up smacking lovely Mae when they arrive home. Noooo! Mae! Please don’t put up with that guy.
Mr. Grove, who’s been getting more and more tanked by the minute, drunkenly confesses to Mr. Crabb that he may have chosen the wrong path (i.e. Doris over Miss Mardle), and that he’s both overwhelmed with family life, and worried about what will happen to his girls if war breaks out. Crabb wisely tells him, “War brings changes; we have to adapt. You will adapt, your girls will adapt.” Preach it, Crabb!
Back at the party, Rose and Delphine leave arm in arm to go get a “treat,” but Delphine sees Harry’s sad sack face and invites him along with them. As the trio experience street vendor escargot (this was a thing in London!?!?), Delphine accidentally spills the beans about Henri LeClair and starts a(nother) fight between the two of them. Oh, man. Way to go, Delphine!
At home, as Rose tries to explain why she didn’t tell Harry right away, the Selfridges explode into anger, and Rose counters Harry’s complaints with: “You want marriage when it suits you!” Yup, sounds about right.
But what will happen in the next episode? Will Henri return? Can Harry convince Rose to stay in London? Will Aggie quit because there’s too much work for her to keep up with? And what about those two new girls we barely saw who seem to have a thing for Victor’s cousin? So many things going on! We can’t wait to find out more about them …