(Beware, spoilers below – scroll down if you want to skip the recap!)
In the penultimate episode of Season 3 the store gets prepared for their biggest sale yet, one that is meant to raise the store profile and help the shareholders feel more assured. Meanwhile, Nancy is hiding her engagement to Harry from her brother while the Princess gets a delivery from the Russian embassy – one which contains all her old jewels. She’s understandably overjoyed as it means she can no longer be so financially dependent on the Selfridges and she can finance Sergei’s dreams. In Colleano’s Victor and Elsa start afresh as a gambling club, but Regan’s unimpressed with the stale turnout. However, at least the store is attracting many customers during the Sale and the store is buzzing.
Sir Robert, a fellow store owner, is critical of Harry’s marketing style and warns him that his board my not be happy with the bad publicity he’s been getting of late, but when he talks to a couple of the other investors he tells them that he’ll talk to Mr Crabbe to make sure that the store is actually doing alright. However, Lord Loxley turns quite the shade of puce when he learns that Mae is getting remarried. In Miss Mardle’s she talks with George about the possibility of asking for a position in the store. Harry goes with Nancy to help seal a housing deal where she finds that Harry’s influence truly helps her get better deals, but as they drive to the store angry crowds get in their way. Since the tension calls for a new Head of Security Mr Grove offers the position to George. Victor uses his connections from his old Selfridge days in order to hopefully get more clients.
Princess Marie offers to pay back all the money to Harry but her refuses, asking her to stay with the family. In this moment of confidence he confesses to her that he’s secretly engaged to Nancy who now has a swanky new office in the building. As Marie goes to say hello to Nancy she bumps into Nancy’s disgruntled brother and she asks Nancy out for dinner with her. Loxley isn’t one for politeness though, and he storms into the store to ask for estimates at the end of every single day. He comes to blows with Harry who only chooses to antagonise Loxley further… much to the latter’s delight.
In the evening Miss Mardle celebrates George’s possible new job, but Mr Grove is having a much tougher night because Ernest’s real father comes knocking around asking to see his son without much success. Back in the store Nancy and Harry enjoy a moment of appreciation with one another, but Nancy’s desperate brother is rifling through her things for more money. What does he find? Her hidden engagement ring. In the morning Miss Mardle gets given out to by Mr Grove but when he starts attacking her for not being a mother he hits a nerve. Out and about Princess Marie sees Nancy’s brother pawning something off, but she raises questions over the identity of the man and spots Nancy’s uneasiness. With Nancy running out of the office in panic the Princess uses it as an opportunity to do a bit more snooping.
Violette is out in the evening with her French aviator when he brings her to Colleano’s club so that she can ‘move on and face her past’. An anxious Nancy paces in her office as Mr Selfridge comforts Violette over her new suitor, who she feels really quite ambiguous about. Lord Loxley takes a seat a the club with some of the other shareholders and uses his encounter with Harry to make out that he’s being an irresponsible store owner. The shareholders fall right into line and call for an emergency board meeting.
George starts back in the store on his first day, but while the store is having a good day Nancy and her brother come to blows. She reveals to him that she’s had it all planned out in order to become Harry’s wife and stay clean. Before the board meeting where Harry believes he’ll be ousted Gordon goes to see Grace and tells her he loves her. He promises to tell his father about her, and the night ends happy for the couple. Mr Grove gets his own happy ending with Billy, offering him limited visitation of ernest every other Sunday. Meanwhile Miss Mardle finally decides to sell her house and Nancy confesses to Harry that she ‘lost’ the ring – and it seems that for every happy ending there’s a cliffhanger. The board convenes to wait for Mr Selfridge but Mr Crabbe announces that he invokes his right to wait for a two week postponement. Whilst this gives Mr Selfridge time to get better figures, this only makes the shareholders more unhappy. However, the Princess has gone looking for the suspected ‘architect’ and has come across no more than some old boarded up houses…
This week’s episode packed in an awful awful lot, getting up the scene for some make or break decisions next episode. Whilst this means that we were treated to mainly plot extensions it’s a testament to the the good casting of Zoe Wanamaker and Amanda Abbingdon that they managed to basically chew the screen of any scenes they were in. It could be argued that Miss Mardle/Mrs Grove story is being dragged out more and more than needed, but the For Sale sign at the end gives hope that we might be seeing the departure of another beloved character. It seems very possible that next week we’ll be getting ready for a Season 4 without Mr Selfridge in the driving seat, but the biggest problem we’ve had all season is that Loxley isn’t portrayed as more than a two dimensional character and therefore a poor foil for Harry. The more compelling story here is how Harry is just a victim of his own tenacity and goodwill. Jeremy Piven has managed to turn her performance as Harry Selfridge into a tour de force that rightly drives the show and that’s been the biggest triumph of the season. One more dramatic episode of Mr Selfridge to go until we have to wait another year – I can’t wait.