Harry practically wraps himself in the Union Jack to prepare for “Empire Week,” a patriotic store-wide exhibition highlighting the far-flung possessions that Britain will soon be defending in World War I. It’s Agnes’s job to design displays that evoke every corner of the realm. Clearly she needs help!
As fate would have it, Henri visits Harry’s mansion looking for Rose, whom he fears he offended after she tracked him down in the last episode. Harry is delighted to see his old creative director and convinces him to return to the store to help Agnes—a winning argument, since Henri’s passion for Agnes has never faded.
With war fever spreading, Victor and Franco face growing anti-foreigner sentiment, due to their Italian heritage. Italy eventually joined World War I on Britain’s side, but such diplomatic details hardly mattered to the public. The xenophobia drives Victor closer to his bistro-owning Uncle Gio and Gabriella, the beauty that Gio intends for him to marry. An ardent kiss between Victor and Gabriella seems to seal the deal.
On another romantic front, Frank’s courtship of Kitty is back on track after a rocky start.
Meanwhile, Mr. Grove meets with Josie, who is now a well-to-do heiress since her brother’s funeral. He left her his town house in London and money to maintain it. She is determined to keep working at Selfridges but also to enjoy her new possessions. Grove retreats to his disaster of an office, regretting his bad judgment in jilting Josie.
In a move to save Grove from getting fired, Mr. Crabb has ordered him management manuals from America. Grove gets his act together in a frenzy of Yankee-inspired organizing. One thing that his new system turns up: eighty percent of the male staff at the store is eligible to join the army—an ominous statistic.
In other news, Lord Loxley has persuaded Winston Churchill to open “Empire Week.” At the time, Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty and one of the kingdom’s most influential politicians. But why did Loxley do this unsolicited favor for Harry? It soon develops that he wants Harry to give him a list of British leather manufacturers for use by the procurement committee, on which Loxley serves. Suspicious, Harry asks Lady Mae if her husband can be trusted. She vouches for him, secretly suspecting that he might be up to no good.
For one thing, Mae has learned that Loxley has been ruined by gambling debts, which explains his return to London to boost his fortunes. But she has no idea how he intends to make money. In any event, Loxley gets the list from Harry, which ranks leather merchants from the most trustworthy to the least.
On the gala opening day of “Empire Week,” the staff, dignitaries, and reporters are all eagerly anticipating Mr. Churchill’s appearance. Everyone realizes he’s a busy man, but the wait grows uncomfortably long—until news arrives that Germany has declared war on France and invaded Belgium. England will soon join the fray.