Set in the sometimes whimsical, often chaotic, and always alluring world of the late-19 century retail renaissance, The Paradise has thus far been nothing if not a story of warring passions, unfettered ambition and, of course, inimitable style. But a year after the dramatic events the wrapped up its colourful first season, we found Denise not with the man who so vehemently declared his love for her, but alone – though still employed at the department store. If she had expected Moray’s abandonment of his wealthy bride-to-be to come at the price of an exile to France, we certainly didn’t, though even then it was clear that his decision would come with some serious consequences.
From the sounds of his letters home, Moray was at least making the most of his not-entirely-voluntary stay in Paris. But while he was getting his fill of the bold fashions and lifestyles on the continent, things weren’t going quite so smoothly in the store that he founded, and was forced to leave. In Moray’s absence, the shrewd – if considerably less daring – Mr. Dudley had taken up the reins, but struggled to fill the enormous hole that his friend had left. As the imperious Miss Audrey was quick to remind her shop girls, their order books weren’t exactly bursting with demand the way they had under Moray’s management. And, it seemed that even Denise’s ingenious selling strategies were of no help in the current climate.
On the bright side, the boiling hostility between Clara and Denise seemed to have been reduced to a simmer, though it was clear that the more experienced shop girl still envied her friend’s closeness with Moray. Unfortunately, their working relationship wouldn’t matter too much if the store couldn’t rejuvenate its sales. Dudley’s grand plan to draw well-heeled customers back to The Paradise hit a snag, however, when the 200 capes that he ordered were destroyed by a suspicious leak in the storage area. Though the crisis came just as those at the store were ready to give up, renewed hope came in the form of a telegram (as it so often does), informing them that the late Lord Glendenning’s agent had requested Moray’s return.
No one was happier to hear the news than The Paradise’s staff, although there were some new faces among their number. While the ever-chipper Pauline was no longer a part of the Paradise family (we can only hope that she finally made a match with a nice young man), there are a handful of eager recruits ready to fill the void. On the sales floor, new shop girl Susy proved more than bubbly enough to make up for the loss of Pauline, though the object of her at-work affections, Nathaniel, wasn’t all that he seemed to be. With the Fenton brothers hoping to make an offer on the store, his role at The Paradise was that of a spy in salesman’s clothing. Throw into the mix a saucy new cook named Myrtle, and the roster of employees looked as varied (and potentially troublesome) as ever.
And of course, there were new faces introduced outside of The Paradise’s walls as well. Katherine didn’t seem at all hampered by the small scandal caused by her non-wedding to Moray, and wasted no time in finding another suitor. Though just as affluent, her new husband, Tom Weston, lacked most of her original fiancé’s charms, and viewed the store that he and his wife owned as a trivial enterprise. His wife apparently believed otherwise, though, and it wasn’t long before she revealed to Dudley that it wasn’t her father who had wished to see Moray return to run the store, but she herself.
Indeed, Katherine seemed more excited than ever to return to The Paradise, and see it restored to its former glory. Just as Clara seemed to have put her romantic competitiveness behind her, the newly married Mrs. Weston also seemed keen to make amends with Denise. It wasn’t until later that she realized Moray’s return to reinvigorate the store might not be enough to keep it under her family’s control. Overhearing a conversation between Fenton and her husband, she learned that no amount of success would sway Weston in his desire to sell The Paradise, but she appeared resolved to fight him in the matter.
To do that, though, she needed Moray to succeed in his first sales event since his return. She made certain that he knew how much depended on his actions, and true to his nature, the storekeeper responded with the designs for an opening that would rival the audacity of anything he had done before. With the store teeming with new and exotic inventory, all seemed to be going according to plan, until an equally exotic scorpion emerged from one of the crates, and threatened to ruin everything.
When Weston learned that there might be a deadly insect in the store, he refused to let Moray and the others proceed with the reopening, despite The Paradise’s former owner’s insistence. It was then that he revealed that he intended to make his deal with the Fenton brothers official that day, rather than risk the store losing what little value it still had due to the scare.
Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, when the “scorpion” turned out to be a ruse on the part of Nathaniel, who had continued to work on behalf of the Fentons, who had hoped to devalue The Paradise further before purchasing it. Rather than sell to the underhanded businessmen, Weston decided to maintain ownership, and even seemed to take some pride in the venture. In the process of surveying his newly revived business, Weston also made an ally of Clara – a development that could spell trouble for Denise going forward.
In the meantime, though, Denise was more concerned about Katherine’s motive for bringing Moray back to The Paradise, fearing that she would try to sabotage them once again. Whether or not she’s right about that, she and her beau will have an uphill fight if they’re ever to regain control of the store. Luckily, they at least have each other – for now.
Our premiere broadcast of season 2 of The Paradise airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET/7 PT through April 1, 2015.
– Kate Shepherd