As The Paradise’s second season entered into the home stretch, it looked as though Tom Weston had grown tired of the battle of wills that had consumed his marriage and was ready for a change. But as we’ve seen so many times before over the past few weeks, things are rarely as they seem at the Weston house. Perhaps it made sense that the event that shed light on the flimsiness of his commitment to a peaceful marriage was a family portrait. As she and Flora joined Tom for the sitting with a photographer, it became exceedingly clear to Katherine that the tender words she’d shared with her husband only days before didn’t bode as well as she’d thought.
His cold reminder that Katherine was not truly Flora’s mother sent a sharp message, and though it likely flew over the young girl’s head, Katherine was startled to be so literally cast to the outskirts of their family. As it happened, she wasn’t the only one feeling the sting of exile. Back at The Paradise, Denise’s attitude towards Moray, and his secretive visits to Katherine, hadn’t softened at all, and the store’s manager was looking the worse for it. His apologies apparently fell on deaf ears, as Denise refused to believe that he had been so duplicitous in an effort to further their joint interests.
If Moray didn’t appear miserable enough after falling out with his fiancée, Tom’s announcement to the staff – that they would all be able to have their photographs taken and displayed in the store’s gallery – only dampened his mood further. And, just when he likely believed the Westons couldn’t make his life any more difficult, a brief encounter with Katherine revealed to Denise the extent of their meeting a few days before. Now aware that the two of them had kissed (albeit, without much enthusiasm on Moray’s part), it seemed even less likely that Denise would soon run back to the man she loved.
A meeting with Tom only cemented that impression, as The Paradise’s owner voiced a thought that Denise had likely already entertained: that Moray had been holding her back in her career. Arming her with a new assignment, Tom set wheels in motion that he hoped would bring about his rival’s destruction once and for all. After his meeting with Fenton last week, Tom was happy to let Moray know that he intended to squeeze him out of the store, saying that the other man’s gamble to regain power had cost him everything.
While Denise was thinking up ways to harness the newfound popularity of photography, the staff’s interest in the supernatural sparked some inspiration in Dudley. He suggested to the downcast Moray that the public’s interest in ghosts and otherworldly beings was something that could be capitalized on, and before long, the wheels were turning in Moray’s head as well. First, however, he realized that he’d need Denise on his side if he wanted any hope of success, and decided to tell her the truth about the plan he’d hatched with Fenton. When he neglected to mention the kiss, though, Denise found it difficult to forgive his dishonesty.
Once again, it was Clara who was on hand later to offer some sage, and selfless advice, showing that her hardened demeanour in the past masked a much kinder nature. She told Denise that to leave Moray now would only torment her in the future, and that after all she had been through, it made no sense to let Katherine ruin her relationship now. In the meantime, Moray struggled to put Dudley’s plan into action with his mind so preoccupied with his bleak romantic situation. To help, Dudley brought Denise back to the store to witness the planning of the promotion, hoping to both boost sales, and bring his two friends back together.
With the final instalment of a popular serial horror story about to be released, Moray and Dudley enlisted Susy’s help in setting up an event to herald its launch at the store. Trying to put their personal issues aside, Denise and Moray set about making the preparations for a chilling evening to match the tone of the terrifying, but wildly popular, series. It wasn’t long before the excitement of creating an experience for their customers distracted the two of them from their own troubles, and their shared inspiration soon drew them back together.
Sadly, as Denise and Moray seemed to be on the verge of reconciliation, the chasm between Tom and Katherine Weston was only growing. When she learned that Tom didn’t intend to have her present at the store’s event that night – and indeed, and he planned to send her on an extended vacation soon after – Katherine worried about what her absence would mean for Flora. Though her main concern was for her daughter, Katherine was also missing out on a thrilling evening back at The Paradise, as the store was transformed into a house of mystery and terror.
With Moray and Denise back on sound footing, it looked as though the pair of them were finally in a position to take back the store that they both cherished. After an event that exceeded even their expectations, and proved again the power of their creative partnership, Denise was ready to forgive Moray. It wasn’t to be, however, as Moray slipped yet again, and Denise made it clear that she refused to stay with a man who seemed to think that she was a possession that could be owned. With the season finale of The Paradise on the horizon, the two people that once made up its central relationship are still very much at odds. With so much in her favour, will Denise finally leave Moray behind to chart her own course in the world?
– Kate Shepherd