As the doors to Selfridges close until the show returns next year, the final instalment of Mr Selfridge’s second series had a lot of boxes to tick, tying up loose plot threads but keeping us wanting more.
Sherlock star Amanda Abbington as Miss Mardle has been stellar this series, and it’s lovely to see her character arc receive its best possible outcome. As a viewer, I felt it was such a shame that social convention was getting in the way of her happiness. It was satisfying that it was Mr Grove (Tim Goodman-Hill) who was the one to make her realise she could be happy with someone, even if it wasn’t him. It’s a real growth moment for all concerned and credit must also go to Oliver Farnworth as Florian, who shares a winning chemistry with Abbington that makes their on-screen coupling so believable.
The love triangle of Victor/Agnes/Henri reaches the best possible outcome too, and it’s great that they all find a resolution without anyone being painted in an overly unsympathetic or negative light. Victor (Trystan Gravelle) is clearly heartbroken, but is noble enough to sacrifice his relationship with Agnes to allow her to have the life she wants.
Gravelle deserves much praise for this performance. Henri declaring his love just as he has signed up to fight will lead to various exciting paths for all concerned next year. The trio all work well, but Aisling Loftus’ Agnes is phenomenal, approaching her character with emotion and pathos.
Lighter plot points are touched on too. Frank Edwards (Samuel West) has been redeemed and welcomed back into the fold at Selfridges. His growing relationship with Kitty (Amy Beth Hayes) has been a highlight storyline and it’s lovely that we see renewed hope for them as a couple. Lady Mae (Katherine Kelly) also gets a superb scene in with the odious Loxley. I loved her little speech condemning him. Softly spoken yet firm, Kelly has gorgeous delivery and it was a moment I’d waited all series for.
At the heart of the show though are the Selfridges themselves. Both Jeremy Piven as Harry and Frances O’Connor as Rose have commanded, bringing the couple organically from segregated, to healed and whole.
These positive developments are what make the reveal of Rose’s disease all the more tragic. O’Connor is both brilliant and heartbreaking and evokes such sympathy with a few words. Piven is also given stand-out moments, such as the dynamic scene when Harry goes up against the Procurement Committee to clear his name, but also in his reaction to Rose’s news, showing the depth and gravitas the performance needed.
Strong ensemble casting, relatable storytelling and strong period detail have been the cornerstones of this show’s success, but Series 2 really kicked things up a notch, particularly against the backdrop of War. While many stories have now been wrapped up and a sense of positive finality is evident throughout, enough is left to lead the way for future developments that will no doubt form the backbone of Series 3.
If it’s as well-crafted as this year’s run of episodes, I cannot wait to see what happens when Selfridges reopens in 2015.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 23 March 2014 on ITV.
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