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A Bittersweet Finale For Mr Selfridge – Series 2 Review

A Bittersweet Finale For Mr Selfridge – Series 2 Review

What do you give the man who has everything? Well, if you’re the writers of ITV’s Mr Selfridge, you give him a whole load of grief, betrayal and burden, with a dash of tragedy to top it off. It might not bode well for the extrovert Harry Selfridge, but it sure makes for excellent viewing.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with everyone’s favourite department store drama, the series finale was full of tension, romance and a bittersweet sense of sadness as it brought to a close the ten-episode arc. Sunday night saw the end of series two and the occasion was marked by a revelation that had been creeping up on us for a couple of weeks, yet the inevitability of it still made for heart-breaking viewing.

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Harry emerged triumphant as he finally managed to squash the vile little shrew that was Lord Loxley, successfully exonerating himself and clearing the Selfridge name, only to be dealt his biggest blow yet. Who could stop the tear that fell when his sweet and softly spoken wife, Rose, told him that she was dying? We knew it was coming and yet it hurt all the same.

Whilst the writers packed a lot into the series finale, it all came down to that moment when Rose revealed her illness to her stunned husband, whose silent grief said more than any amount of words could. It was a pivotal moment in the series and a significant moment for Harry because of what the couple have overcome in the past. Much of season two was spent in the company of Harry and Rose as they tried to rebuild their marriage, which had succumbed to Harry’s playboy ways. It was an opportunity for the writers to restore our faith in the gregarious businessman and they grabbed it with both hands, showing us why we’d originally fallen in love with the big-hearted storeowner.

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Harry started series two looking quite lost, following Rose’s departure for America at the end of series one. He realised that without Rose – his backbone – the store didn’t mean as much to him. So when Rose returned, both to our and Harry’s delight, he knew there was going to be a lot of making up to do. And boy, did Rose make him work for it. Always one for a challenge, Harry didn’t give up on his marriage, and it eventually paid off. With Harry and Rose’s love restored, the conclusion to Rose’s story was all the more poignant. Jeremy Piven and Frances O’Connor perfectly portrayed a real sense of unity between their characters, and at the end they were finally at the place they’d always wanted to be. The camera focusing on Rose in the final shot was genuinely moving, a tribute to her character’s kind smile and loving manner.

Of course Mr Selfridge was never just about the Selfridge family, with plenty of other characters being given a chance to live out their very different stories. The writers have always been skilled at giving each individual character time to shine and series two saw everyone struggle and rise up against the traumas of World War 1.

Romance was in the air for unassuming Agnes Towler, whose engagement to Victor was called off – by none other than Victor – because her heart wasn’t wholly in it. On the sage advice of her ex-fiancé, Agnes ran in to the arms of handsome and humble Frenchman Henri Leclair and they kissed under the stars. Their old-fashioned and simple romance was matched only by Miss Mardle’s somewhat unconventional relationship with a young Belgian evacuee. Of all people, Miss Mardle deserved some happiness this series and thankfully she received it.

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Taking a leaf out of her pal Harry’s book, Lady Mae escaped from Lord Loxley’s tyrannical and violent grasp by helping to expose his dishonest war dealings. Having Mae ultimately be the one to bring her husband down was what viewers had been waiting for and seeing her tell Loxley exactly what she thought of his despicable ways was simply a pleasure to watch. Katherine Kelly really stepped up this series, showing us Mae’s more vulnerable side. She may start the next series completely broke but the world is once again her oyster and, with Harry Selfridge as a chum, poverty isn’t likely to last long. Watch out wealthy men of London!

With Rose’s fate pretty much sealed (and Frances O’Connor’s confirmed exit from the show a rather large hint at her character’s demise), we have to assume that series three will see Harry Selfridge as a widower. Taking place in 1919, producers have already mentioned that the third series will begin with Harry’s life starting to unravel – oh dear. At least he’ll have sweet and doting Mr Crabb to keep him on the straight and narrow – or at the very least keep everything together whilst Harry falls apart. We’ll have to wait until next year to find out what happens and already I’m wishing the months away.

★★★★

View Comment (1)
  • I am very happy to see someone mention the end of Lord Loxley’s deceitful ways. I live in the USA and I have not found anyone online commenting on the great scene when Jeremy Piven walks into the oh-so-secret Procurement Committee’s meeting and let’s them all have it — I was cheering when Selfridge was done. It was played out beautifully too. Thank you.

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