As Mr Selfridge hits the second half of its final season, the latest episode is a showcase of how dramatic things can get behind the doors of the famous store.
At the heart of the story though is the struggles of one man, with Harry Selfridge falling apart as his world spirals and tragedy strikes.
“I gave up the career of a lifetime…several lifetimes for you, Frank. And what did you give me? A cheap affair!”
The aftermath of Frank’s indiscretion is fully played out in this episode with Kitty refusing to take him back. Amy Beth Hayes’ performance as Kitty is beautiful here, vulnerable and desperately sad. It’s not helped by the fact that Samuel West’s performance as Frank is played towards being unlikeable. A deliberate acting choice, probably to garner the most viewer sympathy for Kitty, but it’s a shame that it’s ended this way, with Kitty deciding to take the Elizabeth Arden job in New York after all.
“I have no choice in dying. Which makes the other choices all the more important. In the end, it’s about family.”
A major part of the episode is spent developing the relationships of the Grove family. I have always really loved Ron Cook’s Mr Crabb and his relationship with Tom Goodman-Hill’s Mr Grove. It’s a lovely, paternal performance and one that is rewarded here as Grove asks him to be his best man.
The wedding itself is a beautiful moment; hope, amongst an episode filled with tragic circumstances. Amanda Abbington and Goodman-Hill really do make a believable couple and it’s great to see the viewers investment in them pay off with a happy ending.
“There was a time your father was the company. Those days are over.”
And so to Harry, and Jeremy Piven’s performance as the store patriarch which has been nothing short of flawless.
After last week’s initial attack on the store windows speculation is rife that Harry’s personal debts are going to affect his business, and as a result, nobody will touch him to invest. It couldn’t come at a worse time as D’Ancona puts a tighter grip on Harry, demanding £75,000 for his inconvenience and outstanding debts.
This forces Harry to make a decision that could sever any reconciliation he could make with his son, Gordon (Greg Austin) in selling the provincial stores. Luckily for Harry, that relationship’s rift appears to have thawed, unlike his and Rosalie (Kara Tointon) who is heartbroken in her father’s actions as D’Ancona’s men ransack the house.
The most tragic (and somewhat unexpected) part of the episode, however, is Victor’s death at the hands of a jealous Jimmy. Trystan Gravelle puts in a touching, understated performance here, which makes his final moments all the more horrific. Especially as his romance with Mae appears to be rekindled.
As one of the original cast members, it’s a shame Victor couldn’t see it to the end of the series; however, in these last few episodes none of the fictional characters are guaranteed a safe exit.
Aired at 9pm on Friday 12 February 2016 on ITV.
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