Mr Selfridge s3 ep 8

The quest to fill the gap left by Gregory Fitoussi continues this week with the show throwing not un but deux well-dressed Frenchmen at the problem.

The dapper Vicomte de Sibour is Sergei’s new friend and business partner, a pilot with an inexplicable fascination with Violette; she rebuffs him at first but, by the end of the episode, seems more intrigued than averse to the idea of taking a ride in his flying machine (that’s not a euphemism. Ok, it is a euphemism) and why not? He’s got an aeroplane, a nice suit and he (sort of) fits in with her rule of only dating people she shares an initial with.

Vicomte de Sibour is visiting the store as part of one of those big Selfridge promotions Mr S loves, so of course we need some sort of display to drum up interest. S (Club) Junior tries to enlist our other Gallic friend, Monsieur Longchamp, to set this up in Fashion, a slightly strange idea which causes said Monsieur to wonder aloud – and not unreasonably so – what on earth Fashion has to do with Aeroplanes. We don’t hear from Monsieur Longchamp again.

Which is fine, because the episode is more than busy dealing with everyone else’s problems. Having saddled Miss Mardle – or, more accurately, the endlessly patient George Towler – with Ernest, Mr Grove spends the bulk of the episode refusing to get over himself despite the best efforts of the frankly wonderful Mr Crabb (and Mrs Crabb – off screen, but still awesome) to gently help him out of his sulks. It takes a surprisingly moving talking-to from George to jar Mr G out of it, but not before Connie becomes the second Hawkins sister to notice Mr Towler’s charms. He’s come a long way since season 1.

While George turns out to be some sort of Baby Whisperer, however, three weeks with Ernest is enough to make Miss Mardle reflect, with some sadness, that raising children is not amongst her talents. Thank goodness for Kitty, then, who points out, kindly, sweetly and firmly, that all the young girls who’ve worked under Miss M at Selfridges might have something to say about that – Josie might not be great at looking after children, but she’s fantastic at looking after adults. Bless.

With half the cast thus preoccupied with baby issues, it’s left to the other half to worry about love lives and/or profit margins. Victor – to my complete lack of interest – decides to get over Violette and rein in Regan’s buddies by re-launching Colleano’s as a private gambling club. I’m sure that’ll go swimmingly. Mr S, unsettled by Loxley’s scrutiny and unsure how he’s going to fulfil last week’s ridiculous promise to the shareholders, interprets Miss Webb’s “let’s take a break” as “let’s take a psychotic break” and proposes to her. And S (Club) Junior is finally caught making out with an underling – ok, it’s Miss Calthorpe – in the store room. Mr Crabb (the best thing about this show now) gently and sensibly points out the numerous reasons why this is not really on, only to be roundly ignored by S (Club) Junior because S (Club) Junior’s an idiot. Miss Calthorpe, however, is not – looks like that romance might not make it to the end of this season, let alone the next one.

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