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Mr. Selfridge Backspin: S1E4 – The Pavlova Effect

Mr. Selfridge - Backspin - S1E4

From the moment that he touched down in London, Harry Selfridge has been tireless in his efforts to make his revolutionary vision of retail a reality, and his department store on the map. It’s a tall order for anyone to fill, and as we’ve seen over the past weeks, one that isn’t made any easier by Harry’s reckless nature and nocturnal lifestyle. So far, he’s been able to juggle the projects and personalities that his business and personal life rely upon, but it became clear in this week’s fourth episode that there may be a price to pay for splitting his focus too many ways.

The opening moments of last week’s outing juxtaposed the cosmetic rituals of the two women in his life – a fitting introduction to an episode largely about the cultivation of image and, of course, the growing prominence of women’s makeup (everything in Harry’s world revolves around the store, after all). Appropriately, this week started off with a revelation, as Miss Bunting, the mild-mannered head of ladies’ fashion, was caught shoplifting products from her department. Like the emergence of fragrances, powders and creams from Selfridge’s darkened corners, Miss Bunting’s actions were among many truths that came to light, just as Harry was gearing up for an event that could cement his reputation, for better or worse.

But as staff and the public prepared for the store’s highest profile event to date, there was still plenty of activity behind closed doors as well. Ever the knowing confidante, Lady Mae was more forward in her conversations with Rose last week, warning her not to underestimate the wiles and ambition of the gaiety girl that had become her husband’s latest infatuation. However, while Harry’s wife seems to possess the inner fortitude and patience to weather his bouts of “distraction”, it looked as though his mistress does not. As his attentions waned, Ellen became nervous to the point of hysteria, worrying that perhaps there was another other woman in Harry’s life.

Worried about losing Harry, Ellen attempted to hijack the spotlight during Anna Pavlova’s appearance.

Unfortunately for Ellen, her plan backfired, and her unexpected appearance pushed Harry further away.

Unfortunately for Frank, he had the bad fortune of being the first to let Ellen know about the next great event at Selfridge’s: the in-store appearance of prima ballerina Anna Pavolva. Unsurprisingly, the frantic “Spirit of Selfridge’s” was less than thrilled to hear that in addition to his lack of contact, Harry had enlisted the help of another (far more famous) performer to draw a crowd. Ellen realizes more than anyone, except perhaps Lady Mae, what she stands to gain – or lose – in her relationship with the enterprising American, so we might have understood her commitment to its success. But her grasping appearance at the store during Pavlova’s visit, while difficult to watch, didn’t inspire much sympathy.

While Ellen Love was making her presence at Selfridge’s impossible to ignore, one woman who actually should have been there was conspicuously absent. Unbeknownst to her inattentive husband, Rose’s friendship with the talented young artist Roderick Temple has flourished since she made the decision to return to his studio. Unlike her husband, Rose has demonstrated an ability to keep her movements hidden from her family and the public, but after an unexpected lunch with a lively group of his bohemian friends, Rose was forced to share her true identity, and that of her husband, to the lovelorn Roddy.

As upset as he may have been, the real misfortune was the presence of a certain eavesdropper to their conversation: Lady Mae’s young lover, Tony, who earlier made his dislike for Harry abundantly clear. Whether or not he uses this newfound, and potentially ruinous, information as leverage over the man who played him out of a considerable sum is something that remains to be seen.  For Harry, owing a favour or two to Lady Mae is a necessary evil, but we doubt he’d be happy to be scratching Tony’s back as well.

Though she loved Pavlova’s performance, Rose’s friendship with Roddy kept her from her tea with the dancer.

Miss Mardle and the other shopgirls were unimpressed by the arrival of the strident Miss Ravillious at Selfridge’s.

Meanwhile, a new addition to the sales floor sparked Miss Mardle’s competitive instinct, as Miss Bunting’s assertive replacement made her presence known. Thus far, women’s suffrage has only been addressed as a peripheral issue, but the arrival of Miss Ravillious, coupled with Lady Mae’s request for a meeting space for the movement, may signal that Selfridge’s could soon be dealing with the realities of the movement, rather than simply selling products to its proponents.

And finally, Agnes and George continued to be haunted by the persistent presence of their father, who refused to let the fact that they had changed their locks dissuade him on his quest to either earn their respect, or ruin their prospects. After successfully avoiding him for days, Pavlova’s visit to the store distracted Agnes long enough for the drunken Reginald to make a scene on the sales floor – one that she now fears will cost her the job she’s grown to love. Despite Victor’s encouragement, Agnes worried that telling Harry the truth about her situation would do nothing to help, but in a week full of disclosures (voluntary and otherwise), she certainly wouldn’t be the first one to come clean. And, if there’s anything to be learned from others this week, it’s that it is far better to do so on your own terms.

 – Kate Shepherd

 Watch the next episode of Mr. Selfridge on Wednesday night at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Watch a sneak preview of the next episode now below!

Worried about losing Harry, Ellen attempted to hijack the spotlight during Anna Pavlova’s appearance.[/caption]

Unfortunately for Ellen, her plan backfired, and her unexpected appearance pushed Harry further away.

Unfortunately for Frank, he had the bad fortune of being the first to let Ellen know about the next great event at Selfridge’s: the in-store appearance of prima ballerina Anna Pavolva. Unsurprisingly, the frantic “Spirit of Selfridge’s” was less than thrilled to hear that in addition to his lack of contact, Harry had enlisted the help of another (far more famous) performer to draw a crowd. Ellen realizes more than anyone, except perhaps Lady Mae, what she stands to gain – or lose – in her relationship with the enterprising American, so we might have understood her commitment to its success. But her grasping appearance at the store during Pavlova’s visit, while difficult to watch, didn’t inspire much sympathy.

While Ellen Love was making her presence at Selfridge’s impossible to ignore, one woman who actually should have been there was conspicuously absent. Unbeknownst to her inattentive husband, Rose’s friendship with the talented young artist Roderick Temple has flourished since she made the decision to return to his studio. Unlike her husband, Rose has demonstrated an ability to keep her movements hidden from her family and the public, but after an unexpected lunch with a lively group of his bohemian friends, Rose was forced to share her true identity, and that of her husband, to the lovelorn Roddy.

As upset as he may have been, the real misfortune was the presence of a certain eavesdropper to their conversation: Lady Mae’s young lover, Tony, who earlier made his dislike for Harry abundantly clear. Whether or not he uses this newfound, and potentially ruinous, information as leverage over the man who played him out of a considerable sum is something that remains to be seen.  For Harry, owing a favour or two to Lady Mae is a necessary evil, but we doubt he’d be happy to be scratching Tony’s back as well.

Though she loved Pavlova’s performance, Rose’s friendship with Roddy kept her from her tea with the dancer.

Miss Mardle and the other shopgirls were unimpressed by the arrival of the strident Miss Ravillious at Selfridge’s.

Meanwhile, a new addition to the sales floor sparked Miss Mardle’s competitive instinct, as Miss Bunting’s assertive replacement made her presence known. Thus far, women’s suffrage has only been addressed as a peripheral issue, but the arrival of Miss Ravillious, coupled with Lady Mae’s request for a meeting space for the movement, may signal that Selfridge’s could soon be dealing with the realities of the movement, rather than simply selling products to its proponents.

And finally, Agnes and George continued to be haunted by the persistent presence of their father, who refused to let the fact that they had changed their locks dissuade him on his quest to either earn their respect, or ruin their prospects. After successfully avoiding him for days, Pavlova’s visit to the store distracted Agnes long enough for the drunken Reginald to make a scene on the sales floor – one that she now fears will cost her the job she’s grown to love. Despite Victor’s encouragement, Agnes worried that telling Harry the truth about her situation would do nothing to help, but in a week full of disclosures (voluntary and otherwise), she certainly wouldn’t be the first one to come clean. And, if there’s anything to be learned from others this week, it’s that it is far better to do so on your own terms.

 – Kate Shepherd

 Watch the next episode of Mr. Selfridge on Wednesday night at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Watch a sneak preview of the next episode now below!

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