On tap today: My recap of Season One, Episode 2 of [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]Bill Gallagher’s (Lark Rise to Candleford) stirring Masterpiece Theater drama, The Paradise, based on Émile Zola’s beloved classic novel, Au Bonheur des Dames[/inlinetweet], airing on PBS in the States October 6-November 17, 2013, produced by Simon Lewis, directed by David Drury.
* Spoiler Alert! * Spoiler Alert! * Spoiler Alert! *
This is an episode recap, folks. Don’t read further if you’re afraid I’ll give something away – because I probably will. But I will try to be a bit cryptic because I’m sure you’ll want to watch this episode for yourself.
#TheParadise Episode 2 opens with shop girl Denise finding an abandoned baby boy in ladieswear. The finding of this baby, this “foundling” as he is called, is the inciting incident that ushers in a new character, the charming philanthropist Peter Adler, as a new love interest for Lady Katherine Glendenning. The baby also unlocks the backstory of not one, not two, but three characters: young Arthur, shop girl Clara, and Miss Audrey. Even the distant, business-minded Moray is touched by the baby and receives important advice from Dudley, his trusted advisor. Before Episode 2 draws to a close, we have a tender moment between Moray, Denise and the sleeping baby.
Ever the opportunist, Moray immediately capitalizes on the finding of the baby boy through advertising and a collection for the “Foundling Fund”. Soon Peter Adler and Lady Katherine Glendenning grow closer as they escort a group of children from the “Foundling Home” through the Paradise. Before long, Denise gets an idea, which Miss Audrey quickly tries to squash, but this idea makes its way to Moray via Katherine Glendenning. This idea? A children’s wear department for the Paradise. Brilliant!
What I enjoyed most about this episode were the storylines of shop girl Clara and young Arthur. The devastating circumstances behind Clara’s situation grows more desperate and dire as the episode unfolds, which left me quite teary-eyed when the credits rolled because the episode closed with Clara sobbing in her bed.
Arthur, the young boy found as an infant in the loading docks “will always live at the Paradise” because Moray has given him lifetime employment. Arthur serves a vital role in this episode as a character within the store who is actually a foundling living and working among the characters. While Arthur provides viewers with a living example of the plight of orphaned children during this time, Clara provides viewers with a sample of what an unwed mother endured.
But the most delightfully nasty moments of the episode came during a dinner conversation in which Lady Katherine Glendenning slams Moray with polite conversation after he politely insults and degrades her as being froth and frivolous. She wisely snaps back with the suggestion that Denise gave her – that a children’s wear department would be perfect for the Paradise. Through her stealth exchange of pleasantries, she implies in front of business associates seated at the dinner table, that he is lacking in business skills for not realizing the potential goldmine a children’s department would offer. The subtext she closes with that refers to his eventually catching up with the shop girl, Denise, SCREAMS underlying tension between this love triangle that is only just beginning to develop.
I also loved an exchange between Katherine Glendenning and Peter Adler in the courtyard after dinner in which she reveals her feelings of fashion and its power to transform a woman. From this exchange, we learn she’s tried on a new dress while with Peter and she very much likes the woman she is while wearing it. A nice exchange that is clearly suited to the setting of the Paradise and the early developments of retailing and ready-made fashion.
My vote for best exchange of dialogue this episode?
An exchange between Miss Audrey and Denise held in Miss Audrey’s living quarters in which we learn a little bit more about Miss Audrey’s life and the choices that have brought her to the Paradise. This sample dialogue demonstrates just how threatened Miss Audrey is of Denise and her enterprising ideas.
Miss Audrey: [inlinetweet prefix=”#TheParadise” tweeter=”” suffix=”http://wp.me/p318Hj-xc”]”We shall be as a meadow, you and I … So. I have decided. There will be no more ideas. No more thoughts.”[/inlinetweet]
Denise: “Am I to stop thinking?”
Miss Audrey: “If you wish to remain at The Paradise.”
. . . and a few moments later . . .
Miss Audrey: [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]”No more thoughts, Denise. No ideas, no questions, no what-ifs. Just willing hands and an empty mind.”[/inlinetweet]
Center Stage this Episode
Actors taking center stage this episode starting with the ladies and then moving on to the gentlemen:
Denise Lovett – played by Joanna Vanderham (What Maisie Knew, The Runaway, Dancing on the Edge) is the central female character in the series, this country girl is simple but bright, with a natural tendency toward merchandising and business. She not only finds “the Paradise baby” this episode but conjures up the idea of a children’s wear department.
Miss Audrey – played by Sarah Lancashire (Upstairs Downstairs, Lark Rise To Candleford, Five Daughters) is the snotty, easily threatened, head of ladieswear. She develops as a character this episode with advances in her backstory as well as the revelation of a love connection with Denise’s uncle, the merchant across the street.
Lady Katherine Glendenning – played by Elaine Cassidy (A Room with a View, Harper’s Island, Fingersmith) is the daughter of powerful banker, Lord Glendenning, and is in love with Moray, owner of the Paradise, until Mr. Peter Adler arrives in the storyline to show her a different side of herself – one that is kind, caring, and moved by the “foundlings” that visit the Paradise.
Clara – played by Sonya Cassidy (The Fifth Estate with Benedict Cumberbatch, The Tudors), a shop girl in ladieswear with a secret that walks into the Paradise during episode two and causes her great pain. Her snarky comments to Arthur hide the pain she feels about a little girl named Grace.
Moray – played by Emun Elliot (Game of Thrones, Lip Service), owner of The Paradise, a complex character, viewers are unsure of whether to love him or be suspicious of him. His weaknesses are exposed when holding the baby and during a conversation with Dudley about Moray’s late wife, Helene.
Arthur – played by Finn Burridge (Joe Maddison’s War, Nelson’s Navy and George Gently) was born at the Paradise in the loading bays, the whereabouts and circumstances of his birth mother is in dispute and the subject of rumors until Arthur finds his way to the truth. Arthur represents the future of the Paradise and is given trust and privilege during the daily operations of the store.
Jonas Frank – played by David Hayman (Trial And Retribution) is a bitter man with power over the shopgirls because of his ability to fire employees at will. He is a shady character, always lurking in the background or around the corner, but essential to Moray for the running of the business. He’s lost an arm, the cause of which is the subject of rumors, but this loss allows him to comfort and advise young Arthur as he seeks the truth behind the circumstances of his birth. I suspect tidbits about Jonas sprinkled throughout early episodes will build into something larger before the season closes November 17.
Thanks for joining me for my recap of Season 1 / Episode 2 of Masterpiece Theater/PBS’s “The Paradise”!
“Shopping at The Paradise” Giveaway
Don’t forget to check out our “Shopping at the Paradise” Giveaway. Click here for complete details.
Blogger Episode Listing
If you’ve read my earlier post about the fun Paradise project I’m participating in, you may remember that each blogger in the project will post their recap on Monday, after watching the Sunday night episode. In the States, the program will air on PBS @ 9/8 Central every Sunday beginning October 6 – November 17, 2013. You’ll need to do a little research to find local channel listings for your particular area and cable service provider. But if you miss an episode, here’s the recap schedule:
Episode 1: Sunday, Oct. 6th at 9 pm (2 hour season première)
First hour – Elizabeth Marx; Second hour – Martha Reynolds
Episode 2: Sunday, Oct. 13th at 9 pm: Julie Valerie (that’s this post)
Episode 3: Sunday, Oct. 20th at 9 pm: Laura Chapman
Episode 4: Sunday, Oct. 27th at 9 pm: Sara Palacios
Episode 5: Sunday, Nov. 3rd at 9 pm: Tracie Banister
Episode 6: Sunday, Nov. 10th at 9 pm: Tracey Livesay
Episode 7: Sunday, Nov. 17th at 9 pm: Lauren Clark
Check-out the book that inspired the Paradise
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]The Ladies’ Paradise (Au Bonheur des Dames) by Emile Zola on Amazon.[/inlinetweet]
I’m reading it now and it’s WONDERFUL!