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Mr. Selfridge S2 Recap: It’s always been all for Rose

NOTE: Our Tea Times blogger Amie Simon crystallizes what went down in the Masterpiece Classic: Mr. Selfridge Season 2 finale. (This recap is loaded with spoilers, as all good recaps should be! ICYMI, or want to see it again, watch online before 6/17/2014. Video U.S. only.

I can’t believe another season of Mr. Selfridge is already over! This show has completely sucked me in, and I’m so excited it’s been renewed for a third season. Let’s talk about the major themes of season two (and the surprises that were revealed), and think about what might be in store for the Master Showman, his family, friends and staff.

The return of Henri Leclair
Ah, our handsome Henri! I was so happy to have him back, even if the first couple of episodes found him looking a little too scruffy and full of despair. After settling back into Selfridges, the mystery of where Henri had been—and what he’d been doing—for five years culminated in an arrest, thanks to the despicable Mr. Thackeray.

Although Henri was proven innocent of the charges of being a spy thrown at him by Thackeray, London investigators found he was wanted for the theft of a large sum of money from a store in New York! Luckily, it was finally revealed that the woman Henri loved [Valerie] had run off with another man, who had craftily blamed Henri for the theft to avoid getting caught.

All class, Henri forgave Valerie for both her betrayals, and then when she asked for a second chance he said it was too late; he had fallen in love with someone else … our dear, beloved Agnes!

Miss Towler’s rise to fame
Thackeray may have tried to sabotage Agnes from the get-go (she seems to have come back from Paris more mature, but still pretty naïve), but she showed him in the end! Aggie created some beautiful Selfridge’s displays this season—most were even completed without Leclair’s help. She earned praise from Mr. Selfridge, guests, and staff, and took pride in her career—a career that she was prepared to give up for Victor, just to become part of a “real” family.

Her story even won over tough-as-nails American journalist Winifred Bonfils Black (historical figure spotting!), who wrote a lovely feature on Agnes Towler: The Star of Selfridges! I thought Thackeray was going to throw a full-on tantrum in the middle of fashion once he read it, but he just eye-rolled his way through the article instead. TAKE THAT, YOU JERK. Aggie forever!

Lady Loxley’s courage
The evolution of Lady Mae’s character this season was a treat to watch! She went from powerful, bitchy socialite to a woman who had traded her carefree youth and happiness for a title, as we found out why she preferred for Lord Loxley to stay in the country: because he’s a smug, abusive jerk.

“Lord” Loxley tried his best to keep Mae in line with physical and emotional punishment, and it worked for a time; she even sided with him when he tried to ruin Harry’s (and Selfridges’) reputation. Once Lady Mae realized that money and title can go only go so far, and that true friends are infinitely more valuable, she broke free of Loxley and joined forces with Harry to take her soon-to-be ex down. Aww.

Miss Mardle finds happiness … finally
This season the dejected Miss Mardle blossomed after becoming a wealthy heiress, opening her home to Agnes Towler, AND taking in a handsome, young Belgian referee named Florian. Having a young man in the house with two unmarried women was scandal enough, but then he developed feelings for her! SURPRISE!

Initially, Mardle was resistant to Florian’s advances due to his (much younger) age, but she gave in, though she insisted they keep it secret. Then stupid Mr. Grove had to ruin EVERYTHING by suggesting Florian was only trying to swindle her out of her money! Unnngh. If Grove hadn’t changed his mind and told her she deserved to be happy and that she should go for it, I would have to hate that guy forever.

You know who I don’t hate though? Florian! He’s adorable and kind to Miss Mardle, and I love the way he affectionately calls her “Josie.” Let’s hope the rest of the world can deal with their relationship, because I can’t take if she fake-rejects him a THIRD time.

The duel for Aggie’s heart
After much tension, Agnes Towler had a dramatic romantic reunion with Victor Colleano and agreed to marry him, which meant giving up her fabulous dream job.

At first, it seemed like her heart was really in it too—until Henri was in trouble, and Aggie started to look like she was going to perish on the spot if anything serious happened to him. Still, she denied her feelings until the end, when Victor valiantly gave her up rather than see her give up her dreams, and gave her his blessing to go after Henri!

A tearful kissing session followed between Agnes and her Frenchman, especially because Henri was leaving to enroll in the French Army the next day. I certainly didn’t have any tissues left after Aggie made him promise to come back to her. If anything happens to Henri, I’m not gonna be happy!

Delphine Day’s real agenda
Nothing surprised me more this season than finding out that Lady Mae’s distrust of Delphine Day was proven true! Initially introduced as a friend, confidante, and supporter of Rose’s newfound independence, Delphine realized Harry’s influence and power were more attractive to her. She promptly set about distancing herself from Rose and sidling up to Harry, studying him and offering him everything he was craving: a way to help the war effort by introducing him to her shady friend, and a way to save Selfridges by inviting a bunch of American starlets to shop at the store.

She took it a little too far however, when she suggested an ailing Rose take a trip to the country to convalesce so Delphine could spend more time with Harry ALONE. Lady Mae promptly called her on her game, and warned Harry to watch out. A desperate Delphine then threw herself at Harry, who informed her that he loved his wife too much to fall for her charms, and then tossed her out of his store—and their lives—forever. Whoa.

Rose, Rose, and more Rose
As Harry said, “it’s all for Rose, every brick”–and so it rings true. Rose was skeptical about reuniting with Harry and coming back to Selfridges, but once she did, she got her groove back and seemed genuinely happy. Even Harry’s lie about going to Paris to cover up his spy activity was forgiven, and Rose was just grateful he was okay.

Watching her find herself this season was genuinely delightful, so the news that hit in the last two episodes about her fatal illness was a real punch to the gut. That last Thanksgiving episode was especially rough. Rose! No! Don’t leave us, please.

Harry Selfridge, businessman, family man … and spy?
Throughout the season, Harry rallied around everyone else, behaved himself, stayed true to Rose, defended Lady Mae, and won a battle of wits against Lord Loxley when he and his store’s reputation were threatened. But what about that trip to Germany? Was Harry truly acting as a spy? And if so, what really happened? His brief flashbacks revealed a possibly frightening story that’s bound to resurface later.

The War and its toll on Selfridges
Several of Selfridges’ young men went off to war and didn’t come back. There were piles of condolence letters, a tearful episode with Gordon visiting a friend’s family, and even a period of time in which George Towler was missing in action. Thankfully, George was returned to Agnes with only a minor arm injury—but as soon as it heals up, he’ll have to head back to the front. The war’s effects are weighing heavily on everyone in the store for sure, and not just in Agnes’ amazing “comforts of home” window displays.

The future
Season three looks like it’s set up for one main question: is Rose’s illness indeed fatal? And what will Harry do without her if it is? Also, now that Harry’s daughters and mother are back in London, will they become a bigger part of the story again? And what about young Gordon? It looked like he might be starting a romance with Grace from cosmetics … but isn’t he almost of an age to get called off to war? And will Henri make it back from the war? Will George, assuming he gets shipped off again? So many things to think about until the premiere!