We’re three episodes in to the final season of Mr Selfridge and Harry is already starting to fall apart at the seams as his avoidance to deal with the problems in his life isolate him from his family and his colleagues. Will he continue down this destructive path?
“Pa, you’re out every night. The gossip columns are full of stories,” Violette informs her father.
“I’m fine. I don’t need my children to tell me how to behave.”
From the opening credits, it’s clear that Harry’s reckless behaviour has escalated since his mother Lois’ death, several weeks before. Often his moral compass and guiding light, without her he has returned to his playboy ways, staying out all night and damaging the Selfridge’s reputation. With only half a dozen episodes of the show remaining, and knowing how the real Harry Selfridge led his life in his final years, it gives a strong sense of foreshadowing.
Jeremy Piven is extremely good here, playing the character with a subtle under-the-surface vulnerability, but also a fiery aggravation. It is this complexity that makes the episode so watchable as he continues his downward spiral, but also makes him a more tragic anti-hero to those around him.
“The day of the salesman is dead. Now that John Lewis is dead, there’s only you. How does it feel to be a dinosaur, Harry?”
Harry begins to avoid Violette, knowing how she disapproves of his behaviour. He continues to chastise Gordon (Greg Austin) for his minimal profits in the regional stores and in his haste, sparks up a deal with Jimmy Dillon (Sacha Dhawan) to sell on the provincial stores, much to Gordon’s chagrin. This blatant disrespect towards his obviously loving son is particularly distasteful of Harry.
“You’ve been here since the beginning, haven’t you, Mrs Edwards? Your department took make-up from under the counter and put it on display. Selfridges was the first to do that this side of the Atlantic and for that, you should be applauded.”
Kitty’s meeting with Elizabeth Arden is a fun subplot, in amongst some more serious material, making for some lovely comic interplay between her and Frank (Samuel West) and Elizabeth herself. However, what starts off as a fun subplot has emotional relevance to Kitty, who sees Arden as something of an idol, until their similar values are called into question.
More sad is the fate of Mr Grove (Tim Goodman-Hill) who, after a fall at home finds out that he has a spreading tumour on his brain, lungs and liver. With his life given an expiration date, Grove seems determined to live his life with his family while he still can. Perhaps, this story is being told dramatially to show how Harry should be living his life and finding support in his family in the wake of their own tragedy.
“You love it don’t you? The roll of the dice.”
Mr Selfridge is leading us and Harry into his final days, painting Harry as the risk-taking, womanising gambler he was when the show began. The fact that he has regressed to this state shows a fragility in him that does create beautiful drama but makes us worry for his inevitable outcome already.
Aired at 9pm on Friday 22 January 2016 on ITV.
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