With the first season of Mr. Selfridge fast coming to a close, its titular protagonist hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down – not that he had much of a choice this week. Never one to let a promotional opportunity slip through his fingers, Harry played host to yet another high profile guest as esteemed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton arrived to visit the store and deliver a lecture on his travels. Young Gordon Selfridge was as excited as anyone to meet the famous adventurer, and while preparing the store with his father, began to demonstrate a promising talent for sales.
But while the Selfridges’ only son was showing every indication of following in his father’s enterprising footsteps, the women in Harry’s life were far more taxing on his nerves. At the house, Rosalie was delighted to receive a bouquet of flowers from Roderick, who seemed intent on making his presence felt in the Selfridge home even from afar. Rose and Lois were considerably less thrilled by his advances but, like any 17-year-old, Rosalie was more than a little resentful of what she saw as their overbearing instincts. Her displeasure was nothing compared to her father’s, though, when Rose was forced to tell Harry about the situation, and deal with his understandable fury at the young artists’ nerve.
Things came to head before Shackleton’s lecture at the store, when Roddy decided it might be a good chance to make an appearance and strike up yet another conversation with the smitten Rosalie. Finally fed up with the situation, Harry took the opportunity to confront Roderick once and for all, and didn’t mince words in his verbal dressing-down. He wasn’t afraid to invoke the threat of his social standing against the younger man, and it seemed as though Harry may have finally prevailed over his less advantaged rival. However, Roderick’s unshakable belief in Rose’s love for him was enough to put Harry on edge, but it was far from the only thing weighing heavily on his mind.
At the store, he had plenty of other issues to worry about, including a mysterious shortage of staff to start the week. In a tragic turn, Harry and Mr. Grove soon discovered that the subway delays that had made the staff late were the result of a body found on the track – that of their former employee, Miss Bunting. Dismayed by her suicide, and riddled with guilt over his unwillingness to listen to her reasons for stealing, Harry insisted on paying for her funeral. As the staff learned of the news, Doris was hit particularly hard, and in a moment of kindness, Mr. Grove attempted to comfort her by taking her to tea after work.
Meanwhile, Misses Ravilious and Mardle butted heads when forced to briefly work together in the same department. However, it soon became clear that the two of them have more in common than they might have thought, and they ended the episode on a more understanding note. With Miss Mardle taking up her colleague’s invitation to attend a suffragette’s meeting, we couldn’t help but wonder if the female solidarity mentioned by Miss Ravilious might lend her support as she continues to deal with the increasingly distracted Mr. Grove.
Behind the scenes, Agnes and Henri continued their (somewhat) covert affair, unbeknownst to Victor and the rest of their coworkers. However, when Miss Ravilious walked in on them sharing a private moment, the revelation prompted the senior saleswoman to remind Agnes of the impact it could have on her career. It was a warning that Agnes seemed to take seriously and, as if on cue, Valerie Maurel made a return to the store, once against trying to convince Henri to pursue a career in New York with her. Although he seemed hesitant, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him take her up on her offer.
As it turns out, that might not be such a bad thing for Agnes. When it finally became clear that Lady Mae didn’t seriously intend to help Victor find a backer for his restaurant, he broke it off with the demanding socialite and refocused on his friendship with Agnes. When Lady Mae did an about face and offered to find him the money for his venture, a resolute Victor told her he wasn’t interested, and gave the distinct impression that he sees more of a future with Agnes than he does with any potential business partner.
As Shackleton wrapped up his lecture at the store, Harry was inspired by his guest’s words about leadership. In an effort to clear the air and restore morale, he gathered the heads of the store’s departments to share with them Miss Bunting’s final letter, which spoke fondly of her time working with them. He impressed upon them his commitment to taking care of his staff, and his determination to never let a similar scenario unfold at the store.
Unfortunately, Harry wasn’t quite as revolved on the home front. Still shaken by his encounter with Roddy earlier on, he approached Rose on the subject, but when she was unable to provide a straight answer regarding her feelings for the artist, it looked as though Harry might make an unchecked return to some of his less honourable ways. As we approach next week’s season finale, we’re hoping that he’s able to avoid damaging their relationship even further, but it seems that Harry’s love of change doesn’t extend to his own behaviours – an outlook that may yet cost him more than he bargained for.
– Kate Shepherd