The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 8

And we’re back to the adventures of the Eliott sisters and their friends and family.


We open with Evie showing off sketches of her latest designs, and Bea and Madge bring in a suit for new client Sarah White, for the Royal Wedding (it is 1923, the year of the Duke of York’s marriage to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon)! Sarah is very impressed and commissions more original designs from the House of Eliott for the leading social events of the London Season. Sarah steps out of the couture house with an elegant box with the logo and meets her husband, a dashing looking gent in trench coat and fedora. In the seamstress room, Madge, Tilly, Bea, and Evie gossip about the clients and the excitement of sewing something to be worn around royalty! Bea stems the gossip, but the more easy-going Evie gives them a break.

Evie and Sebastian continue their illicit meetings, and lounge beside a lake, where Sebastian pressures Evie to tell Bea about their planned trip to Paris. Evie is noticeably more assured of her attractions, and gives Sebastian a smoldering look.


Sarah shows up once again for more fittings, and she speaks freely about her social obligations and personal life to Bea. Sarah’s husband is apparently a mining engineer just back from South Africa, and–according to Sarah–is straightforward and no-nonsense…like Bea.

Jack comes to examine Penelope’s new mission, and as we’ve seen in the previous episodes, Penelope remains abrasive, overworked, and impassioned about her work for the poor. Jack forces her away from the mission to have a cup of tea and a bun.


Evie beards Bea in the lion’s den with the news of the trip to Paris, and of course Bea does not approve. Evie is either terribly naive or lying to herself when she claims her weekend with Sebastian in Paris would be innocent and fun. Bea is skeptical, particularly since Evie is also juggling Hugo, but does not offer any opinion but a patented Beatrice Eliott look!

Sarah is in for yet another fitting, and her husband Captain White arrives to pick her up. Captain White looks a bit uneasy…and when he comes face to face with a shocked Beatrice, the mystery deepens.


Jack is in his studio cleaning lenses when Penelope drops in. His business as a fashionable photographer has fallen off, and Jack is frustrated and rather accepting of it because he realizes how vapid it is. Penelope of course came in for money–six pounds for plumbing–, but Jack has had to sack his secretary (Minnie Driver) for lack of extra funds. The use of his word “broke” sends Penelope into a tirade over his assets in comparison to the true poor. Penelope is right, of course, but she has a terrible delivery style that does not endear her to anyone. Jack gives her a cheque for the six pounds for “peace.”

Later, Evie consoles a weeping Bea, who reveals that Sarah’s husband is the ex-sweetheart whom her father kept from marrying. Phillip was the only man Bea has ever loved–and she was intimate with him under the expectation that they would be married. No wonder Bea is so diligent about Evie’s romantic life–she doesn’t want her to throw herself away on a man without a wedding ring. The generation gap between Bea and Evie is never more apparent than on this topic–where before the war, Bea’s relations with Phillip White were ruinous, now in the 1920s, it is a teeny more acceptable.

Hugo drops in on Jack, who cannot have any fun for lack of funds!


Sebastian and Evie are in a tearoom, where he is frustrated by Evie’s prevarication over asking Beatrice outright about the trip to Paris. Sebastian is his pushy, arrogant self again. Ugh. Evie obviously likes toying with Sebastian, but backs away from any intensity or physicality from him. It’s odd–does Evie want to be a modern woman, or does she want to play like an innocent? This must be the source of her fascination for her ardent suitors.

Bea sweeps up the sewing room and Madge opens the door at the knock to find Phillip White in evening attire. Phillip tells Bea he thought she gave up on him when she did not defy her father or answer his letters. Bea is devastated to realize her father kept Phillip’s letters back and did not send her letters to him. That said, Bea never thinking her father would destroy their correspondence goes to show that she still held a kernel of hope that he loved and cared for her. Quite sad and likely the foundation of Beatrice’s bitterness towards the late Henry Eliott. But Bea draws from her reserves of courage to recover, and encourages Phillip to discuss how he met Sarah. It is obviously painful to hear how much he loves Sarah, but she is happy that Phillip is happy. Yet, Beatrice’s bitterness towards her father has now congealed to hate, and she hates that she hates her dead father when she never had before.

Jack, who had finally agreed to meet Hugo for a drink, walks in on Bea and Phillip just as Phillip has covered Bea’s hand with his own. The usually suave Jack is stammering and surprised as he asks Bea and if she and Evie would go for a drink with he and Hugo. He beats a hasty retreat! To Bea’s shock, Phillip asks to meet her again and she reluctantly agrees. In the dingy, dark bar, Jack is sulking over Bea having a “gentleman,” and Hugo plants seeds in Jack’s mind about his romantic feelings for Bea. Hugo himself is sulking over Evie’s seeing Sebastian and not giving him any concrete answers about their dating.


Hugo’s hints worked, for Jack’s first stop in the building is at the House of Eliott, where he claims he was concerned about the safety of Bea, the single woman. Bea sees right through him, but is also taking her frustration about Phillip out on him–and on Evie, who arrives at a quarter to midnight.

When Madge comes to fetch Captain White’s cheque, Bea seems to be in a better mood, and tells Evie of Aunt Lydia’s invitation for drinks that evening. Her good mood extends to Lydia, and when she arrives at Lydia’s home, her aunt is also in a good mood–no doubt because the House of Eliott is fashionable. Lydia offers her cast-offs to the seamstresses at the House of Eliott, but Bea diverts her attention to the genuine needy: the people of Penelope’s mission. Lydia is overjoyed to have something to do–which Bea gossips about to Evie when they are at home that night.


Evie, noticeably less patient with Bea’s moods, immediately states her intentions to go to Paris with Sebastian. Bea is aghast, but Evie attacks Bea for hypocrisy–the presence of Phillip White’s cheque is evidence of her older sister entertaining a married man at night. The friction between the sisters, born from their ages and from Beatrice being both mother and sibling to Evie, always seems to come about from Evie’s romantic life. Bea orders Evie to her room, and she obeys, but their disagreement is not over.

Lydia is dressed to the nines as she walks about Penelope’s mission, prepared to do Good Deeds. The look on Lydia’s face when Penelope asks her to clean a kitchen range is priceless.


Evie dines alone with Sir Desmond because of the row between the sisters, and Sir Desmond suggests she apologize to Bea. He also lands a zinger over Evie’s possible reason for agreeing to apologize to Bea. He’s a fantastic godfather. Evie comes home, contrite and tearful, and Bea is just as upset and hurt. They both apologize for taking their jealousies and stubbornness out on one another, and Bea’s anguish over her genuine fondness for Sarah White and her regret over what-could-have-been with Phillip is palpable. In yet another fitting, Sarah fishes for something from Bea that would betray her possible liaison with Phillip and stakes her claim as his wife. Bea gives nothing away.

Bea has dinner with Sir Desmond in a private dining room, where he lays out how Evie could get to Paris without ruining her reputation. Bea–who looks dashing in a blue hat and frock that matches her eyes–has been licked!


Evie and Hugo walk in gardens where they discuss her trip and her excitement over being near the top fashion houses. Hugo, of course, is more interested in the art! He is also taken aback when he realizes Sebastian is flying her to Paris and will be there with her. Hugo declares he is not jealous and that he will drive Evie to the aerodrome himself!

The House of Eliott has completed Sarah White’s commission, and the intuitive and clever Sarah offers to order her next batch of clothing from another fashion house if her presence pains Beatrice. When I read between the lines of Sarah’s description of her marriage to Phillip, it seems she willingly turns a blind eye to his extramarital affairs.


Hmm…is his pursuit of Beatrice the result of regret and deep love, or opportunity to pick up with an old lover? Sarah gently hints to Beatrice that she would not mind Phillip having an affair with her if there were no “bad feelings”–aka scandal and embarrassment. Beatrice hints just as gently that she had no intention of having an affair, and Sarah’s relief at this response proves she isn’t as above-it-all as she attempted to portray.

It’s time for Evie’s trip to Paris, and Hugo straps all of her luggage into the back of his motorcar. Bea sees Evie off with a hug and a kiss, and Hugo drives off! After they leave, an introspective Bea rings Phillip, and they meet in a maze, where Phillip pleads his case for their continued relationship. Phillip’s love for Bea and for Sarah appears genuine, but Bea has settled her past. She closes the chapter of Phillip White with a kiss goodbye, and leaves him in the maze.


Hugo and Evie’s trip is not without trouble, with the cooling system of Hugo’s car breaking down. Now they must wait for the radiator to cool before continuing to the aerodrome. Then they get lost. Sebastian waits impatiently for Evie’s arrival, but his boss urges him to take off at the appointed time because the special guest is not the king or the Prime Minister. Sebastian must take off at the risk of losing his other flying gigs. As they roll into the aerodrome, they see Sebastian’s plane take off into the sky. Hugo apologizes, but you know he isn’t as sorry as he says he is.


The following morning, Hugo arrives with the morning paper, where he reveals that Sebastian and his aeroplane crashed. He also inadvertently reveals the hapless trip was planned and Evie orders him out. And, again, Evie throws a tantrum at Bea’s supposed interference with her life with the accusation that she put Hugo up to his deliberately breaking his car, and storms out.


I don’t know about you, but I never was sad when Sebastian died. He was annoying!

Join me Wednesday, December 18th for the recap of episode 9!

Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’m back!

Yes, it’s true. After a long hiatus, I am back to recapping The House of Eliott. Look for episode 8 this Wednesday (I promise!!). In the meantime, here’s an amateur band playing the theme song (and I’m shocked to realize there is an official soundtrack–and that it is being sold for hundreds of dollars!).

Video | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 7


The House of Eliott at last!

Jack and Tilly arrive at the premises of Bea and Evie’s flat/atelier and Jack’s studio, to see a swarm of movers and builders bringing up furniture and furnishings, fixing the brass plate announcing the House of Eliott to the front of the building, and otherwise making a nuisance. We also hear our first mention of interior decorator Hugo, who has charmed Tilly. Upstairs, Bea and Evie navigate the hustle and bustle as they contribute to it with their own suggestions and items. Hugo, a dashing looking dark-haired young man who seems a trifle temperamental and exacting, is shown going over some of the mistakes–in his mind–made by the builders. As the workers begin to stagger out of the building, we see a pert blonde striding up to the doorstep to the appreciative whistles of the men loitering outside. She’s cheeky and bold, and enters the atelier with little hesitation as Hugo approaches Bea to suggest more decor–Bea introduces her as Madge Howard, their new head seamstress. Madge introduces herself to Tilly, who is trying to sort out the beading and tassels, and takes charge of her new place of employment.


The sun is setting when more workers leave the building, and the pouring of champagne (by Madge) in a room filled with neatly-dressed ladies and gentleman signifies the transformation of the Eliott flat into a fashion house is complete! The decor is bright and white, with the tiniest hint of Art Deco. Evie and Hugo’s conversation is interrupted by a drab and slightly dour looking Penelope, whose opening salvo when Evie introduces her to Hugo, is to castigate the appalling waste of money spent on fixing the flat up. Hugo’s response is the typical “we’re giving employment to people,” which Penelope has no doubt heard time and time again, judging by her expression–she is less than impressed. Penelope is also dismissing of Evie’s desire to introduce her to Sir Desmond. Hugo decamps to find more champagne and behind him slides Aunt Lydia, who is first glimpsed by Sir Desmond. Sir Desmond greets Lydia warmly after eighteen years’ silence, but a slightly humbled Lydia mentioned that hardly anyone is speaking to her. Slightly is the key word. Lydia remains imperious and waspish with Bea, who breaks away from Jack to greet her, and with Sir Desmond, who attempts to renew their acquaintance.


The party is briefly interrupted by Penelope rushing out of the flat. Evie runs after her to find Penelope almost collapsed on the stairs, but she refuses to share the source of her troubles and walks away. Later that night, as Bea is greasing her face in the mirror, Evie is stymied about Penelope’s reaction to their success. Bea is perceptive: Penelope has nothing but causes and oppressed people to worry over, not nothing to truly care for or feel fulfilled by. They then giggle over the prospect of Lydia and Sir Desmond, with Evie noting that her godfather can take care of himself. Jack and Hugo are chatting at a bar, where Jack expresses his fatigue with photographing dowagers in comparison with the excitement of film making and actresses. Hugo, however, is flippant and callous, obviously not understanding Jack’s inability to just keep things going the way they always have gone (makes me ponder Jack’s previous flippancy–hanging around with old comrades who want to live on champagne and velvet doesn’t go with his growing seriousness).


Penelope visits a prison, where she listens to an inmate recite a soliloquy. This seems to be another one of Penelope’s “projects”. To her surprise, the inmate, Mr. Fox, reveals he was put in gaol because of Sir Desmond’s perfidy. Penelope gets Mr. Fox to share his story, and apparently, Sir Desmond stole his ideas, forcing him to resort to crime to scrabble back to the top. The source of the story–Sir Desmond–is dining in private with Lydia, an event an edgy Lydia pushes at to discover whether their privacy is the result of his embarrassment to be see with her in public. She obviously cannot give anyone an inch because if the shoe was on the other foot, she would be unmerciful and cutting. Lydia perks up when Sir Desmond asks about Arthur, but is quick to let him know she would not give Society the satisfaction of fleeing London for backwards Boston as Arthur wishes. The old Lydia emerges when Sir Desmond offers a toast to the House of Eliott–she cannot take Evie and Bea’s couture house seriously (jealous of their ability and freedom to not care about Society!).


Hugo and Evie are in an art studio, where Hugo is exclaiming over the designs of his friend Miss Farrow. Hugo presses for Evie’s opinion, but when she does so, he belittles her misunderstanding of its destination (like she knew!). Hugo cannot understand why Evie is upset with his behavior, but feels he is pushing her to embrace her status as an artist. Evie, aware of her lack of education and her status as just a dressmaker, is skeptical, but Hugo’s impassioned support of her artistic endeavors gives her pause. Jack is moving towards his quest to get into the cinema industry by arranging a studio session with Francine Bailey, a languid, kohl-eyed actress, who takes Jack’s interest in her as personal as opposed to professional, and cuts off his awkward attempts to pump her for interest in his desire to direct movies. Jack’s usual suavity is gone, but the actress sets him back on his feet by giving him permission to flirt with her.


As Bea goes over the figures for the day, Evie pokes her head into the bedroom to share that Sebastian has rung her up. Bea is horrified at the thought of Evie going out alone with him, which gets Evie’s back up about Bea’s bossiness and lack of trust. Bea relents in the face of Evie’s determined brattiness, and the following day, Evie is out on the airfield with Sebastian, who wants to take her up in the biplane. They seem to have switched from brother/sister to potential lovers rather quickly! This is the beginning of Evie’s penchant for dangerous relationships at the expense of nice, safer men. Sebastian straps her in and takes the plane off for a flight. They soar over green pastures, much to Evie’s delight, but when they come back to the airfield, Sebastian’s employer is furious. Sebastian ignores him and strolls off with a beaming Evie. Bea enters Jack’s studio as he’s retouching Francine’s portraits, and he muses over not finding Francine attractive, but Bea is less concerned with that than with the trickle of clients streaming into The House of Eliott. Jack urges Bea to advertise the couture house rather than rely on word of mouth…as an aside, he also mentioned Penelope’s gaolbird and his vague accusations against Sir Desmond. Bea has other things on her mind, but is grateful to Jack for listening.


Jack takes the photographs with Francine, who is being fitted in her Egyptian-themed costume, and is out of temper with the whole film making business now that Hollywood is calling. Jack is noticeably enthralled to be on set. The excitement ends when Francine is sacked when the producer’s wife discovers their affair! Francine is more furious about being stripped of her one-of-a-kind wardrobe, and is determined to purchase a whole new set of clothes and swan off to Hollywood. Bea pays a call on Sir Desmond in his office, where he takes command of the conversation. Bea came to discuss the business with Evie’s godfather, but his high-handedness leads her to hold her cards tighter, and her tentatively open expression shuts down as Sir Desmond gives her hinting warnings about living modestly and safely. In the workroom, the seamstresses are fascinated by Tilly’s skill with beading, and Madge expresses her belief that work of that quality should be well compensated. She also reveals her strong will–she left her last place of employment due to a clash of personality…Evie’s date with Hugo feeds her mind, and he pontificates on as they stroll through a museum filled with ancient art. In contrast, her dates with Sebastian, first in an aeroplane, and then in Madame Tussaud’s, is all about fun and carelessness–as evidenced when he suggests flying her to Paris.


Bea continues to disapprove of Evie’s continued rendezvous with Sebastian, and her approval of Hugo is no doubt due to her awareness that Evie has a strong physical attraction to their ex-half-brother. Evie allays Bea’s fears that she would do something rash, like marry, and turns the topic to Bea’s own love life–Bea scoffs at the thought of romance and marriage at her age (33). Evie runs down a list of potential suitors–Jack, whom Bea dismisses for his flippant nature; Piggy, for his bankruptcy and acting fantasy; and Sir Desmond for being their father’s contemporary. Bea changes the subject when Evie strikes a nerve–Bea’s former suitor Phillip White. Evie follows tack and offers encouragement that the House of Eliott will grow and be successful.


Francine is back in Jack’s studio snapping more photographs of her, and she is furious with the London dressmakers, who have refused to accommodate her desire for an entire wardrobe in three weeks. Jack mentions the House of Eliott…where Francine orders an extensive wardrobe that will require extra staff and loads of expense. Bea refuses to budge on the subject of money, and the price quoted obviously impresses Francine Bailey, who declares that she would give them a bonus if they complete the commission on time. She swans out of the atelier with a beaming Jack. Evie and Bea work into the wee hours of the night on designs for Francine’s wardrobe, and their sketches are bright and daring, which meets Francine’s approval. The workroom is buzzing with activity of the new hands hired to take Francine’s work. Francine herself is being fitted by Bea, Evie, and Madge, and her earlier approval has been replaced by a rude, demanding impatience. Madge doesn’t bite her tongue, but Bea dismisses her–money is green! (or, well, the colors of pound notes /sez the American *g*). Bea, however, does not give Madge the sack as Francine would like, and Evie smirks as she cuts open the hem stitches to let down the hem of Francine’s magenta tea gown.


Hugo arrives in evening gown and in his motorcar to take Evie out for the night, but she must turn him down because of their heavy workload. Bea reprimands Madge in the workroom, who apologizes (despite her derision over Francine being a fellow cockney who gives herself airs)–this causes Tilly a momentary discomfort, who is torn between her loyalty to Bea and Evie and her burgeoning friendship with Madge. However, the outspoken Madge lets her know there’s no harm and they have a laugh over her paraphrasing Bea’s order to cease working in half an hour to grab a gin. Penelope visits Mr. Fox in gaol again, and Mr. Fox continues on his tirade against the ruination of his life by Sir Desmond, which appeals to Penelope’s mistrust of wealthy, powerful people who, in her mind, contribute to the suffering of the poor. He stokes the fires of suspicion in Penelope over Sir Desmond’s reach and power now that Mr. Fox is coming out of gaol, and convinces her that he is terrified. She rushes over to the House of Eliott to speak with Evie, but she is much too busy to listen and Penelope storms down to Jack’s studio to share Fox’s fears. Jack is busy as well, and Penelope slams out of the building and rides her bicycle down to Sir Desmond’s office. Sir Desmond’s usual wiliness routs Penelope’s usual bombardment and bullying to share his side of the story: Fox was a lazy manager and embezzled funds from the company Sir Desmond purchased when it was near ruin. Penelope can say nothing, and storms out after a slightly smug Sir Desmond has the last word by offering to help Fox when he is released from gaol.


Francine’s earlier petulance disappears now that her wardrobe is complete, and she primps and preens as Jack takes photographs of her in a new pink robe de style. The entire staff of the House of Eliott cheer over packing the last box of Francine Bailey’s wardrobe…but Bea and Evie’s smiles turn to frowns when, in the ensuing days, they receive no payment for their work! Bea is on the telephone to get to the bottom of this, and goes to see if Jack was gypped. He wasn’t paid either, and he and the Eliott sisters drown their disappointment in champagne (Jack’s special medicine!). To their surprise, Francine’s solicitor arrives with cheques for them both, and Jack immediately sweeps Bea into his arms for a kiss!


Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 6


Bea returns home late to find Evie relaxing in front of the fire in the dim sitting room. Bea is obviously stunned by both Piggy’s proposal and the loss of his money, too stunned to laugh at the situation. Evie confesses Arthur’s unwanted proposal, much to Bea’s horror, and Bea decides to inform Aunt Lydia about his actions. Lydia is furious with Arthur, and it seems the subject of Arthur’s marriage has been a bone of contention between them for a while. It is surprising to realize that Arthur is repressing the suffering from his stint in the Great War, since he seems like a priggish solicitor who was either kept out by ill-health or by his own cowardice. In contrast, Jack–who sweeps into the Eliott flat to take the sisters and Tilly to the movies–reacts to the war by flippancy and frivolity. Bea breaks the news of their financial difficulties and Piggy’s broken promise to invest in their couture business, and her determination to find another source of income leads her to Evie’s godfather, Sir Desmond Gillespie. Sir Desmond broke off his friendship with Henry Eliott when he discovered Henry was a “habitual adulterer, a liar, a miser, and a tyrant,” in Bea’s usual blunt manner of speaking of her father.


Sir Desmond gives Bea the bad news–the House of Eliott is too small a business for his financial institution and that her business proposal is inadequate for the trust of the High Street bankers. Bea’s usual drum–that misogyny holds her back–is beat, and Sir Desmond’s realistic and truthful admittance that he would speak the same way to a man with a shoddy business proposal fails to break her habit of seeing derision and obstacles put in the way by men. Further exacerbating her old bitterness is Sir Desmond’s suggestion that Arthur’s backing would offer more security for the business than just Bea and Evie alone! He hopes they are parting as friends and asks if he can call on Evie in the capacity of her godfather. Bea agrees, turns sharply, and walks away.

Back at the flat, Evie is sewing the hem on a luscious velvet coat for Lady Finehurst, who is impressed when Evie mentions the patronage of Sybil Colefax (a very famous interior decorator). They are on the up and up! Tilly looks less than impressed by Lady Finehurst, whose compliment about the smallness of their business is a little backhanded, and I can’t help but find Tilly’s parting words a little snarky! Of course Lady Finehurst doesn’t hear this–Tilly is just a seamstress who is naturally eager to wait upon her. The patronizing tip is the finishing touch! After Evie escorts Lady F out of the flat, she and Tilly share a laugh. We then cut to Bea and Evie, who are discussing Sir Desmond’s suggestion of persuading Arthur to back them, and Bea decides to beard him out of his den by paying a call at his home.

Arthur looks starchy and pompous in his smoking jacket when Bea enters the drawing room. The words to ask for Arthur’s help seem to come from her lips as though pulled by a reel, but she manages to get out her request. Arthur is a little amused that Bea thought to approach Evie’s godfather, and pompously he turns down Bea’s request. Bea can’t resist getting a little dig in about Evie turning him down, but Arthur stands on the better foot since he has the power over Bea and Evie’s and continues to say no. Bea approaches him and delivers the coldest put down EVAR: “You’re a man of straw, Arthur, and if you didn’t irritate me so much I might even feel sorry for you.”


The sisters are trying to blow off steam by watching a motion picture Jack has set up in his studio, and reveals that it is his film! Jack notices their worry and decides to double his investment. Bea cannot accept more of money without giving him something in return, and bestows upon him the title of Director. As they are watching the movie, Sebastian is seen stalking down the street looking angry to the voice-over of Arthur’s formal letter requesting his presence to discuss his claims to the Eliott estate. Sebastian renounces his claim to the estate because he was misled by his mother, but still believes that she at least deserves a settlement to maintain her lifestyle. Arthur demands that Sebastian cease contact with Bea and Evie and lists the names of the other lovers who likely helped maintain Sebastian and his mother’s lifestyle. Sebastian is incredulous and gets up to strike Arthur when he insinuates that any one of those men on the list could be his father.


Cowardly Arthur, remembering the last time Sebastian grabbed him, hurriedly informs Sebastian that a constable is just outside waiting for the signal to come in should Sebastian grow violent. Sebastian goes to check out of the window, and there’s a chance the constable he sees was just a man on his beat. Arthur further twists the knife by threatening to go to the papers with the list should Sebastian continue to harass the Eliott family. Sebastian knows when he’s licked, but he balls up the paper and throws it in Arthur’s face before leaving. Sebastian hides in a tea room, and when he sees Arthur leaving his office for the day, follows him…to the Club 25!

Inside, Peter and Susie greet Arthur with enthusiasm, though they try to distract him from his desire to look over the books with some champagne. Susie asks Peter for a cigarette and it is on this pretext that Peter excuses himself. Susie babytalks Arthur about her carelessness with the books, and he appears satisfied with her answers. Back at the flat, Bea catches Evie sketching an original design, but is less than encouraging when their current situation does not lend to them striking out with original designs when their clientele comes to them for cheaper knock-offs of famous couturiers. Later that night, Arthur makes his way back to the club, with Sebastian still tailing him through the dark and damp London streets.


Bea is dressed for the evening in a sort of bizarre strapless paisley frock with matching bandanna as she escorts Sir Desmond into the drawing room. Evie soon appears in virginal white and equally innocent pearl headpiece, no doubt chosen to play up her role as Sir Desmond’s goddaughter whom he hadn’t seen since she was a tot!


Sebastian is still skulking about, this time inside of the club, where we see a still ghastly-looking and drugged-out Daphne flailing about on the dance floor to a funny dance where partners are changed every few seconds. Sebastian jumps onto the floor and grabs Daphne into a dance, where he pumps her for information about Arthur. Daphne spills the beans–Arthur is a co-owner of the club. Sebastian whisks Daphne away to the bar, where he orders a bottle of whiskey for them. Daphne offers a cigarette and further spills the beans by hinting there are stronger things to smoke, if one visited the office and asked for Peter. The scene of the Eliott sisters’ dinner with Sir Desmond is sedate and mannered in contrast. The three of them catch up on the years they missed together, and Bea looks a trifle peeved when Sir Desmond starts talking about all of the money to be made in his profession. Evie hops on Sir Desmond’s offhand remark about making money, which sparks a debate between creativity vs pragmatism. Bea challenges him about his hesitance to invest in their business, but Sir Desmond refuses to be cowed by her bitter determination and informs them that he is still searching for a way to help them.

Sebastian leaves Club 25 and finds two constables on their beat passing by and tips them off about the club. Bea and Evie have a bedside chat before turning out the light–Evie is pragmatic, seeing Sir Desmond’s side, and her optimism tempers Bea’s disappointment. The party at Club 25 ends when a detective and the two constables arrive, and the detective makes a beeline for Arthur. The following morning, Lydia discovers–via a maid–that Arthur never came home! Bea is reading a newspaper detailing all of the juicy dirt surrounding Arthur’s arrest. Bea is triumphant–this means Arthur is unfit to be Evie’s guardian or the executor of Henry Eliott’s estate! Poor pathetic Arthur arrives home disheveled and a bit shell-shocked, and Lydia is there to sink her talons into him. He lies and pretends he’d just dropped into the nightclub with friends, but the truth was outted in court, with the barrister revealing that on top of selling alcohol beyond the legal house, Club 25 sold opium, cocaine, and other illegal drugs and shipped alcohol to the United States!!


The barrister for Peter and Susie lays the blame at Arthur’s feet, but Arthur’s barrister points the finger at Peter and Susie. The judge sentences Peter to three years with hard labor; Susie is sentenced to one year; and Arthur is sentenced to 28 days in prison and fined 1000 pounds. Bea, Evie, and Lydia are shocked, but Sebastian, lurking in the back, is smug and amused by the damage he’s wreaked. To Bea’s further shock, their little atelier begins bleeding clients who are fleeing the taint of disgrace brought on by Arthur’s trial. Lady Finehurst likens gowns from the House of Eliott to Dr. Crippen’s prescriptions! Talk about hyperbole!! Bea, of course, won’t let the woman off without paying her bill. Lady F thinks to intimidate Bea over the scandal of another trial, but Bea boldly states she will take her to court for the twenty-five pounds owed to her. Since this will wreck the credit of the Finehursts at all places they patronize, Lady F can do nothing for stalk off.

Lady Haycock comes to call on Lydia, where she blames Arthur for Daphne’s cocaine addiction. Though Lady Haycock admits she failed parenting Daphne, she bows to social pressure and sadly, bluntly, informs Lydia that she will be ostracized from their social circle in spite of it being unChristian. More clients say goodbye to the Eliott sisters, either in letters of excuse or telephone calls, further imperiling the House of Eliott. Tilly offers to quit since money will be tight, but the sisters won’t hear of it. Surprisingly, Lady Finehurst turns up with her tail tucked between her legs (in a snooty way), casually commissioning another gown from the sisters. Bea cannot believe Lady Finehurst was giving in so easily, and Lady F admits to a change of heart. Bea turns down the commission because of principles, thus earning Lady Finehurst’s respect.


Arthur is let out of prison after his 28 day sentence looking rather worse for wear. His mother is there to pick him up on a motor, wearing a mourning veil (lol), though she appears just as chastened as Arthur. The notoriety of Arthur’s sentence seems to have kicked up business from an entirely different clientele, and the Queen of Belgravia rings them up to request an appointment. If she loves the Eliott sisters’ designs, her set will follow. Arthur comes to visit and reveals that Henry Eliott was a co-owner of Club 25 and that after Arthur paid the fine, Bea and Evie are owed the rest of the profits and dividends. He also reveals his setting aside a large portion of their inheritance, and all together the sisters are now three thousand pounds richer. Bea wrangles Evie’s guardianship and the appointment of Sir Desmond as executor of their estate in return for not revealing Arthur’s perfidy to the Law Society. He politely agrees and shares his plans to sail for America the following Monday to work for the one friend he made during the war, leaving Bea and Evie to ponder the sudden reversal of their fortunes.


Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 5

Gentle readers,

I humbly and most ardently beg your pardon for failing to post my recap of episode five last week! I usually wait until the week-end (Oh, I do beg your pardon as well, Dowager Countess!) to kick back and relax with my weekly episode of The House of Eliott, but time flew away–it absolutely flew from my open window and would not return when I called it back. But never fear, I have the recap this week!

Last we left off, Bea and Evie were fired by Monsieur Duroque for undermining his fashion house by taking clients on the side, Sebastian threatened Arthur over his entitled share of the late Dr. Eliott’s estate, Jack has a pretty young secretary/model, and Arthur seems to be mixed up in a very shady nightclub. This episode opens at an airfield, where Sebastian spends his time flying planes for his amusement. The owner of the airfield recieves a call, which implies that Sebastian is a rather reckless, daredevil of a pilot, which earns the owner’s ire. We then cut to Jack and Daphne in Jack’s studio, where the dissipated Daphne is modeling for him. The phone rings and Jack goes to answer it–the desk is an absolute mess: where is Mary? The phone calls are for Beatrice rather than Jack, who expresses his annoyance by the constant ringing of the telephone for the Eliott sisters. He pushes Bea to install her own telephone in their flat upstairs, but she is hesitant because of the cost, but the more optimistic Jack thinks it a good investment in their business. We also learn that despite being in demand, Bea is still hurt and humiliated by Monsieur Duroque’s public sacking and also fears that taking the concrete step of installing will doom their business to failure. Jack is, as always, supportive of her, and when the phone rings again, it is actually for him!

The telephone in maison Eliott has been installed–Flaxman(???) 1193–and Bea is excited to recieve her first call, only to find it is someone calling for a funeral home! It is Evie and Tilly having fun with the telephone, much to Bea’s chagrin. We next see Evie and Penelope taking in a motion picture, one is super dramatic and beguiles Evie. Penelope feels guilty over taking time for herself when there’s work to be done at the mission. Their conversation then turns to men, and Penelope expresses a surprisingly old-fashioned desire to wait to be asked out to supper or to the pictures by a man. Evie claims Rudolph Valentino is the only man in her life, but we know she is intrigued by Sebastian…and she reveals to Penelope that Sebastian hasn’t kept in touch for months. His absence has further intrigued her, and Penelope, for all her old-fashioned “I wait to be asked”, tells Evie to visit Sebastian. Perhaps because he’s Evie’s brother? In the atelier-section of maison Eliott, Evie and Tilly are perusing magazines as Bea is freaking out over the amount of work to be done. Some of her old bitterness over her father returns, since their lack of entertainment and parties has left her frustratingly ignorant of the clothing needs of their clientele. Evie basically tells Bea to get over it, which snaps Bea out of her old self-pitying, angry rut.

Evie uses the excuse of delivering blouses to a client to visit Sebastian at his flat, and arrives just as he’s leaving. He puts her off at first, but then takes her out in his motor–driving quite fast. They end up at the airfield in the countryside, where Sebastian shows her his real passion. He is a freelance pilot and flies two or three times a week to France. Evie has obviously lost track of time, and her absence makes Bea worry. Sebastian persuades Evie to stay for a moment longer and shows her his beloved aeroplane, which is housed in a dark hangar. He slowly reveals his upbringing and how he resented Bea and Evie when he discovered they had the father he had never known he had. Evie reveals they resented him for his education and experience. Their conversation veers dangerously close to incestuous after this, and perhaps Evie knows how wrong these feelings are, and begs to be taken home. Back at Jack’s studio, Penelope is expressing her disdain for the House of Eliott when Beatrice comes in, full of anxiety over Evie. She subsequently discovers that Penelope encouraged Evie’s pursuit of Sebastian, and her resentment over Pen’s influence rises to the surface. Bea tears through Evie’s belongings and calls Odious Arthur in her search for Sebastian’s address, but to no avail.

When Sebastian and Evie return to London, he drops the other shoe: he isn’t her brother at all! His mother had lied to him until she realized there was nothing in the estate for either of them, which is probably why Sebastian stopped coming around. It turns out Arthur lied to Bea, and he comes to collect Evie from Sebastian’s flat. Evie is furious with him, but leaves with Odious Arthur, who declares he is not a villain and offers a lift on his way to his luncheon appointment. Evie makes her way home and then tells Bea the truth. Bea reveals the source of her irritation with Evie’s going out without her or her knowledge: possessing the status as the plain, older spinster sister. Nevertheless, she declares, they will have fun once all of the stress of getting their couture business off the ground. Arthur’s luncheon appointment is with Peter, who is helping to load mysterious crates into the club and declares that Arthur needn’t come around, since he is a silent partner. Later, he visits Bea and Evie in their flat bearing wrapped presents, which alerts us to the time frame of this episode: December 1920.

Maison Eliott is busy with clients, and Arthur reveals Aunt Lydia’s disappointment that they have declined the invitation to dinner because of their work. Arthur asks Bea to bring Evie to him, and he takes the opportunity to skim through the account’s ledger When Evie comes, he offers her a small box that is a special present from him to her. He asks her to open it alone, and she feels uneasy about it, and grows further uneasy when Arthur invites her to a private dinner. Tilly departs for the night and Bea and Evie laden her arms down with presents for her family as well as a bonus! To their surprise, Tilly has left presents for them. Bea wakes Evie with tea and toast and proudly boasts about her goose cooking in the oven. After Bea leaves to check on her goose, Evie opens the present Arthur gave to her and is horrified to find an engagement ring. She angrily returns it to Arthur in person at his office and to make matters even colder (for Arthur at least), just leaves it with his servant!

Suddenly, it’s New Year’s Eve, and Bea, Evie, and Tilly have joined Jack’s wild costume party in his studio. Piggy is Dracula, Penelope is Eliza Doolittle, Jack looks like Robin Hood, Evie is dressed in a mid-18th century gown, Bea in a princess costume, and Tilly as Mrs. Lovett, Sweeney Todd’s partner. Bea corners Piggy to ask about the business outlook for the stock market, but he sweeps her into a dance, proclaiming his ignorance. We then cut to Lydia’s rather staid party, full of middle-aged guests, who are gathered around a man playing a slow, rather inexpressive ragtime–quite a contrast to Jack’s raucous jazz. Arthur seems to be overcome by boredom and irritation and walks out on his mother’s party. Lydia seems a bit less boring right now, expressing her desire to cut loose for the new year and hints her openness to indulging in a light flirtation! Arthur’s destination is obviously his nightclub, where the ever present Daphne is cavorting across the dance floor with the other nightclub denizens.

Back at Jack’s party, which is exciting but not as dissipated as the nightclub, he turns off the music shortly before the clock strikes midnight to ask what was the best thing to happen in 1920. Penelope lists something serious–Einstein winning the Nobel prize–but Bea and Evie crow over being sacked and cutting their hair. Back at the nightclub, Daphne is running around the club, hanging on posts, pouring champagne over everyone. Peter pulls her down just as the band begins to play Auld Lang Syne. He and Suzie obviously want to keep Arthur from asking questions about her behavior and lead her away. At Jack’s party they are singing the song a capella, and Bea kisses Piggy, much to his surprise. But Bea walks away to fetch Evie, where she announces that she and Evie will set up business on their own with their own designs. Piggy and Jack offer to invest, and it’s a happy New Year indeed. However, Bea’s spirits are soon dampened in the following days by the banks, which refuse to issue her a loan. When she complains about this to Jack, he repeats his offer of financial backing and cuts a cheque right there. She is hesitant to approach Piggy for his offer, since he was drunk when he did so, but Jack reassures her that Piggy is wealthy enough to bankroll the entire business and not miss a pence.

Arthur comes home, and as he’s going upstairs he meets Daphne Haycock, who has come to return his lighter. She teases him about hocking it, and then finds more fun when Arthur, instead of expressing concern over Daphne’s alcoholism, is afraid she mentioned the club to his mother. It turns out she did mention the club to Lydia, who is appalled by the scandal of being connected with such a sordid business. Bea is wearing the same outfit she wore the last time she went for dinner with Piggy, and goes downstairs to answer the buzz to find Daphne, who is in search of Jack. She looks rather dreadful and Bea takes some pity on her, bringing her upstairs to the flat where Evie is sewing. Daphne gives them a back-handed compliment over their business acumen and their purpose in life, and Bea is honest with Daphne about her ability to hide her fears. Daphne reveals her own insecurities and fears, but their heart-to-heart is interrupted by the arrival of Piggy. Daphne declines the offer of a ride and goes to where she considers home to be–the club.

Over dinner, Piggy reluctantly reveals that he has lost his money on bad investments and tears up the cheque he had written out to her. Bea is disappointed but is supportive of Piggy’s dream to go on the stage; however, she cannot accept his impulsive request for her to join him. Back at the flat, Odious Arthur has paid a visit, where he puts words to his proposal of marriage. It is the most unromantic, patronizing, and overbearing proposal I’ve ever heard! Her refusal is blunt and honest, but rather cruel–though she does have to get the point across–and as Evie asks him to leave, you can see Arthur’s idiot brain trying to process the fact that she would even turn him down. But he leaves, stupid and odious, leaving Evie appalled and disgusted that he would even ask!

Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 4

Episode four opens where the last one left off, with “Sebastian Eliott” surprising Bea and Evie at their flat. Bea is standoffish, but Evie appears to want to know Sebastian, but Bea continues on with her interrogation. Sebastian reveals that his mother raised him to believe his father had been killed in the Punjab and they lived on his pension from the government. Bea scoffs, but the soft-hearted Evie is sympathetic with Sebastian’s explanation. We segue to Odious Arthur, who is having a mysterious conversation, and he agrees to meet with whomever is on the other end of the line. We jump back to the Eliott siblings, and Evie is sitting a little too close to her “brother”! Bea cuts to the point: they have little money and if he has money he should give them some. Sebastian laughs at Bea’s bluntness and asks them out for a bite to eat. Bea declines, though Evie is game, and Sebastian hands them his card before departing. Sebastian gives Evie an unbrotherly look as he leaves.

It’s dusk and Arthur is returning home from who knows where, and Lydia is anxious and upset, particularly when Arthur cancels their evening at the opera in order to keep a dinner engagement his secretary mislaid. Lydia accuses Arthur of lying because he always brags about his secretary’s efficiency, but he covers his tracks well and Lydia sweeps from the drawing room in a high dudgeon. Later that night, Bea and Evie are discussing Sebastian. Bea is creeped out by Sebastian’s looks and manners, and is suspicious of his motives. Evie’s defense is rational, and she warns Bea that she’d turn into a hedgehog if she continued to behave so prickly and wary. In the meantime, we see Arthur going to that dinner engagement–a secret nightclub in the bowels of darkest London.

It’s the next day, and apparently the date is sometime in the summer of 1920 based on Bea’s remarks about the longer days. Bea and Evie’s conversation turns to–what else–the state of their finances. They have their flat and a number of commissions, but they are worried that not only do they not have any forthcoming commissions but that the emphasis on daywear means no work for Tilly. The Eliott sisters arrive back at their flat just as Aunt Lydia rolls up in her motor. She has just learned of their defection from Mrs. Partini’s, and is furious because their behavior hurts her reputation. Jack accidentally interrupts Aunt Lydia’s tirade to notify Bea of a telephone call. Downstairs, a very young Minnie Driver is Jack’s new secretary, and based on her looks of annoyance, she does not appreciate Bea’s use of the telephone on her desk. Bea cares not–someone has given her excellent news. Aunt Lydia is still lecturing Evie when Bea returns upstairs, and Bea lays a bombshell: Georges Duroque of Mayfair wants to snap them up. Gossip in the fashion world cares more about skill than about Aunt Lydia’s reputation. Bea manages to get a good zinger in there that shoots straight to Lydia’s weakspot: Duroque’s of Mayfair is much too exclusive (and expensive) for Aunt Lydia!

The Eliott sisters visit Duroque’s atelier, where he boasts about his seamstresses and his work (15 stitches to the seam, not 10. Some people are satisfied with 10). As he shows the sisters a model on a mannequin, he immediately rips the sleeves off with a firm “No!”. He takes them into his office where an illustrator shows Duroque his work–Duroque rips the sketches he does not like in half and sends the illustrator off to do better. Bea and Evie are a little apprehensive by his OTT personality, and Evie is taken aback by the knowledge that Georges Duroque does not design his own work. Duroque reminds me a bit of Karl Lagerfeld, don’t you think? His explanation that he designed in the early days to establish his style, and Bea and Evie are reassured of his skill. Now Duroque called them, but in the office he acts as though he’s doing them a favor! Evie wants to design, and Bea wants to touch all aspects of the business. Duroque is dismissive of Mrs. Partini, who is his former protege, and he doesn’t think much of her status as a “dressmaker”. Their answers seem to satisfy Monsieur Duroque, and he instructs them to arrive at 7 am and that their earnings will be six shillings a week. The topic of their salary was the bone of contention between Bea and Mrs. Partini, and she doesn’t plan to start off with Duroque at such low pay. Monsieur Duroque claims that all apprentices earn six shillings a week, but Bea counters this with the typical salary earned at Maison Worth. Monsieur Duroque and Bea commence a negotiation on their salary, and they finally settle on eight shillings a week. Monsieur Duroque suddenly realizes what he’s taken on, but don’t forget–he called them!

Minnie Driver–Mary–is a dreadful secretary. Penelope arrives at Jack’s studio and when she asks Mary if her brother is in, Mary only opens the door and declares, obviously bored: “He’s in”. Penelope is horrified by Mary’s lack of couth, but Jack’s flippant response is a return to his pre-Bea ways. Penelope needles him over his hiring Mary since he refused to hire Evie on the grounds that she was too young and pretty, and though he feels a moment’s pang of conscience, he escapes his sister’s scolding by turning the photography light onto her face. In the park, Lydia is walking with Lady Haycock, a frenemy, who talks over her and is keen to gossip about Bea and Evie vs Mrs. Partini. Lydia also asks if Lady Haycock shops at Monsieur Duroque, and the woman insults Monsieur Duroque even as she claims she only shops there because she needs clothes. It’s obvious this woman is of a higher social scale than Lydia, and it’s amusing and sad to see Lydia so anxious for her approval. Jack uses Mary as a model, and Bea enters the studio with a new piece of Eliott couture, and it’s implied that Jack photographs all of Bea and Evie’s designs. Mary, the petulant Cockney secretary is roped into modeling Bea’s embroidered coat, and after a few moments of whining about getting paid for modeling, she wraps herself up in the luxurious coat, much to Bea’s amusement. In Duroque’s studio, Evie is pinning and draping a blouse on a mannequin. Bea interrupts Duroque, and his reaction to Bea’s query is rather similar to Mrs. Partini’s!! He tramps into the atelier where he finds Evie pleating a blouse rather than draping it to his approval. He rips the stitching apart and demands she begin again.

Sebastian calls on Arthur to question his mother’s missing cheque, and Arthur explains that the annuity was to be paid only during Dr. Henry Eliott’s lifetime. Sebastian demands to see the document stating such, and realizes that Arthur is telling the truth. Sebastian then attempts to regain his poise by demanding a third of Henry Eliott’s estate, but quickly looses his cool when Arthur scoffs at the thought of Sebastian claiming a third of the Eliott estate when his father didn’t even publicly claim him as his son. He demands to see the will, but Arthur–as always–finds his assurance when he’s in the right and has the law to back him up, and doesn’t hide his smirk over being able to call Sebastian a bastard born of a woman of low morals. Sebastian lunges across the desk to grab Arthur’s lapels, and threatens that there will be another showdown. Sebastian’s charm only exists when he wants to get his own way.

Lydia is having tea in the garden with Bea, Evie, and Arthur, where she’s traveling down the well-worn path of flailing and fluttering over Henry’s premature death and bankruptcy, and the Eliott sisters’ poverty. You can tell that Bea only just refrains from rolling her eyes as she and Eve gravely express their sadness over their situation. She also shatters Lydia’s “peaceful idyll” by mentioning “Sebastian Eliott”. Lydia is confused, but Arthur dismisses her questioning by claiming Sebastian is a typical vulture hoping to claw something from a dead man’s estate. Bea further brings the lulz by deliberately repeating the word “bastard”…”by-blow”…”Love child”. LOL!!! Aunt Lydia is horrified and furious, and Evie is scandalized. After the Eliott sisters leave, Lydia rips into Arthur for not telling her about Sebastian (her fury seems to be more about being left out of the loop than the existence of a bastard!). Arthur liberally embellishes his meeting with Sebastian, omitting that the man was two seconds away from shaking him like a rag doll!

Back at Monsieur Duroque’s, Diana Spencer, a client, is examining a gown Evie has brought into the salon. Diana is disappointed by the garment, and begins to describe a gown her sister-in-law purchased from Madame Vionnet in Paris. Evie puts her foot in her mouth by excitedly explaining Vionnet’s method of cutting gowns on the bias, only just saving her neck by giving credit to Monsieur Duroque. He lays into her in the atelier, and it seems this is not the first time Evie has offered her opinion to clients! As an aside, one thing I find interesting about the House of Eliott during its first season is that Bea and Evie are unabashedly arrogant about their talents. Though I cheer them on, I still see everyone else’s side in that they do feel they know and can do more than people who’ve been in the business for decades. Yet, the script neither condemns their arrogance, and I can’t help but think how their sublime assurance would come across to the characters and the audience if this was about the Eliott brothers.

Arthur is having another mysterious phone call and makes another appointment for 9 o’clock. We finally see what’s behind door 25–a nightclub where Daphne Haycock is tunelessly serenading the patrons to Irving Berlin’s “You’d Be Surprised”. Arthur smokes worriedly as Susie Hofman, a mannish looking flapper extolls Daphne’s virtues. Susie brings Arthur to a table where she introduces him to Peter Lo Cheng. Daphne interrupts and is obviously a regular. The dismissal with which the woman and Peter Lo Cheng treat her is surprising, and the fact that she accepts it is worrying. Susie has brought Mr. Lo Cheng to buy into the nightclub as a third partner. He has business all over the world in shipping and agriculture–shorthand for opium!!

Bea and Evie receive a letter from Sebastian asking them out to dinner. Bea tells Evie to rip it up, but you know Evie doesn’t. They hurry to work, where the client who complained about the gown twirls in the mirror in her new bias-cut gown. Diana commiserates with Evie over getting chewed out by Monsieur Duroque, and then bluntly asks if Evie would be willing to create an entire winter wardrobe on the side. Jack, Piggy, Bea, and Evie are strolling through the woods, where they discuss the offer. Jack and Piggy are supportive of their taking on clients on the side, and based on Diana Spencer’s presence in the Eliott sisters’ flat, they take the commission. They design a daring outfit of trousers for the woman, and she is thrilled. Back at Monsieur Duroque, the fashion house is in a tizzy over the showing of Duroque’s new collection. Evie is upset to learn that most of the collection had been scrapped. Tilly is in the Eliott sisters’ flat sewing when Penelope comes to pay a call. Tilly confesses her frustration over the extravagant prices paid for clothing, but her real grievance is with her status as an employee and friend to the Eliott sisters and how to know when she’s being treated as a friend and when she’s being treated as an employee. And as another aside–the writers never shy away from class, even when it shows our heroines in a not so great light!

Back at Monsieur Duroque, it seems that he has filched Evie’s designs, but for the new collection. She is furious to see that Monsieur Duroque has not only taken her designs, but began making his gowns on the bias. Bea confronts him about his theft, but Monsieur Duroque claims Evie does not design for the house and that her skill has been nurtured by his establishment. Bea further risks his fury by demanding credit and payment for Evie’s designs. Penelope and Jack gift Tilly with their mother’s portable sewing machine, and Penelope gives a gentle hint that Tilly should make sure Bea and Evie respect her property. Lydia and her frenemy are discussing Bea and Evie once again, and Lydia is once again set on the wrong foot by bragging about Bea and Evie’s success at Monsieur Duroque, only for Lady Haycock to give her the correct gossip over the state of affairs at Duroque’s (via Daphne). Lydia tries to get a hit in by pointing out Daphne’s propensity for nightclubs, but Lady Haycock shrugs it off and gets another blow in by implying that everyone is beginning to flock to the Eliott sisters and Lydia is still patronizing an outmoded dressmaker! Gotta love how society women insult one another and keep one step ahead of their frenemies.

Tilly is sewing with her new machine as Bea and Evie peruse a fashion magazine. Bea no longer feels guilty over taking clients on the side, and Evie sneers at Madame Lanvin’s designs. Bea is all dressed up in a bias-cut frock and rolled toque to go out with Piggy. Piggy offers Tilly a lift home, and they leave Evie to have a night at home alone. Of course Sebastian is skulking about! Evie is clearing the sewing things away and hears strange sounds coming from the hall. Jack is stepping out of his studio and explains the sounds as belonging to Mary and her boyfriend, to whom Jack kindly lends the use of his flat. Evie declines his suggestion to accompany him out, and her rush back inside seems to imply that she’s feeling rather lonely for romantic companionship. Jack is stepping out just as Sebastian is on his way up, and he cons his way inside. Evie is peeking out of the window and there is a knock on the door–her reaction is rather confusing: was she expecting him, or did she see him downstairs and was fighting her desire to see him? Either way, it’s just weird! Especially since right now she thinks he’s her brother.

Arthur, Susie, and Peter sign a contract heralding their new partnership and I have deep forebodings about this! Bea is in the office when Lady Haycock expresses dismay over her dressmaker’s bill–a tactic she bragged about to Lydia–and Monsieur Duroque promptly amends the amount. What are the chances that he deliberately overcharges her, knowing she’ll demand money off? Lady Haycock is happy with this new sum and launches into her desire for clothes for Scotland. As Monsieur Duroque begins to describe his autumn collection Evie and Diana Spencer are entering the salon and Lady Haycock demands an outfit like hers. Trouble is, that is Evie’s design! Evie and Diana attempt to remain silent, but Lady Haycock spills the beans, forcing Diana to admit that it is Evie’s design. The cat’s out the bag, and Monsieur Duroque fires them on the spot, declaring that no other London fashion house will hire them either!

Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

The House of Eliott: Series 1, Episode 3

Evie is all a flutter for her first meeting with Aunt Lydia’s dressmaker, Madame Partini. Beatrice manages to calm her down and convince her to eat a slice of toast, and the relieved Evie does so with a smile. Bea sees her sister off to her first day of work like the partners they are soon to become, and Evie walks to Mrs. Partini’s dress shop, where a French accented young woman opens the door to let her in. Meanwhile, Henry Eliott’s longtime mistress, Mrs. , shows up, and you know nothing good is to come of her visit! Mrs. glances around the drawing room, noticing its fineness and luxurious appointment–“very nice”. Evie is being grilled by Mrs. Partini, who dismisses her home sewing skills with Bea, and further Evie by demanding she be frank over expecting payment and to expect nothing. Beatrice enters the drawing room, where Mrs. Pierce is admiring a small statuette, and Bea’s greeting reveals that she assumes Mrs. Pierce is a prospective home buyer. Mrs. Pierce seems a trifle gleeful to lay the bombshell on Bea.

The scene zips back to Evie at Mrs. Partini, who takes her into the sewing room and puts a broom in her hand. Evie doesn’t sweep to Mrs. Partini’s approval, and the woman snaps at her and shows her the proper way to sweep the floor. Back to Bea–she is furious and disgusted to see the physical manifestation of her father’s affair. Mrs. Pierce plays her cards: there must be something Henry left for her, and she tries to guilt Bea into giving her something by implying Bea and Evie are poor and she is not. When that tactic doesn’t work, Mrs. Pierce pulls out the “son” card and sweeps from the house. Evie seems to have graduated from sweeping the floor to sorting buttons, and her fellow button-sorter is a nice blonde girl who obviously commiserate with Mrs. Partini’s rudeness. Bea strides to Jack’s studio in a bit of a funk, but is cheered up by Piggy’s phone call. He invites her out for supper–and probably dancing–that evening, but she declines, citing family business. It’s nice to see Beatrice taking Piggy’s interest seriously–too often in films, TV, and books, once the love interest is hinted at or shown, the soon-to-be-losing suitor is suddenly treated like a nuisance. Beatrice’s fondness for Piggy is realistic and pleasing to watch.

As she is cleaning up Jack’s studio, he rushes in with a photograph of Queen Victoria wearing antler’s ears–“we are not amused”. Beatrice is baffled; it is in the style of Dada, surrealism, modern art, and she doesn’t hesitate to declare herself too stupid to understand modern art. Jack puts the photograph away and notices the extent of Bea’s help, and once again mentions how indispensable he is beginning to find her. Evie seems to be running some errands for Mrs. Partini, and seems to be doing quite well at it. Jack is taking a photograph of a doughty General, and Bea brings in a tray of tea and cakes, but the blustery man declines something stronger, fearing his wife’s complaint. As the general is taking his tea, he collars Bea to ask her if she can make a jacket for his wife out of a bolt of silk he got from China just before the revolution. As an aside, he mentions that until Bea, his wife hadn’t anything new since the coronation! How kind of him to pretend not to notice his wife’s shabbiness. The General steps back on the podium for more photographs after the tea. Beatrice is tidying up Jack’s appointments, and as always, he groans over his line of clients. He suggests something more congenial, like walking down to the Lamb & Flag, and invites Bea, but she has luncheon with Odious Arthur. Jack mocks Arthur’s stodgy personality, and asks Bea if she wouldn’t rather be Bohemian with him. But alas, it isn’t to be, and Bea marches from his office–Jack gives her an interesting look as she walks out.

Bea lunches with Arthur at some stodgy place, where Bea demands he tell her the truth about Mrs. Pierce. In this conversation, Bea is disgusted that Arthur has been able to do whatever he wants (because he is a man), but Arthur stresses that it is because of that that he has always tried to behave responsible. Bea cannot even get the word “half-brother” out of her mouth, but is determined to find out of Mrs. Pierce and her son have a claim on the estate. Arthur switches the subject to the house–they must sell as soon as possible because they cannot make the mortgage payments. Arthur pushes the conversation back to Evie, and his–of course–disapproves of her working. Bea gets snippy with him about her lack of any other skill or prospects and the fact that in this time of vast unemployment, Evie is fortunate to have a job. Arthur believes the unemployment figures exaggerated. Odious Arthur must bring every conversation about Evie onto the topic of her looks and how ~tempting~ they are and how they will lead her astray. EYE ROLL.

Bea comes home to find Evie and Molly in the kitchen preparing for dinner. Molly scampers away to fetch their supper of cold mutton just as Bea lays into Evie for going to see Mrs. Pierce. Molly returns with the food, but Bea is too furious to eat and stomps upstairs. Arthur is loosening his tie in a dark, smoky pub, where he has an odd conversation with a number of men before he scoots away. Later that night, Evie creeps into Bea’s bedroom to apologize. Bea at first turns her back on her sister, but Evie hesitantly discusses the work she’d done on the jacket until Bea is more receptive to her apology. The sisters make up–they’d both tried to protect one another. Arthur and Aunt Lydia are at the theatre, where Lydia sneers at everyone through her opera glasses, tearing their fashion sense apart. Pretty funny to do when Lydia looks like a cockatoo! Lydia is pleased that Evie is doing well at Mrs. Partini’s, but is adamant that Evie must marry before she becomes too good at her job. Lydia and Arthur begin to discuss the girls’ finances, but declines Arthur’s suggestion that Bea and Evie live with them. She also tells Arthur to only give the sisters one hundred pounds instead of the about five hundred the sale of the house will yield. Keep them on a tight leash until they cease to bear the Eliott name, “which in Beatrice’s case, may be forever”–says Aunt Lydia!

Evie and Penelope take a stroll where they discuss Evie’s work and the unsuitability of one of Evie’s coworkers. Penelope suggests Bea for the position, and fie on Jack! In the house, Penelope walks into the gloomy parlour and suggests they use the room for their dressmaking business. Back at Jack’s studio, Jack is taking photos of Piggy, who is dressed as a gypsy violinist. After Jack ends the shoot, the charming Piggy tries to wheedle a date out of Bea, and Jack (jealous!! How interesting), sings “I’m getting tired of playing second fiddle”. Jack tries to downplay his reaction as an attempt to keep things professional in his studio, but we and Piggy know what’s what. Bea is charmed by Piggy’s flirting, and Jack once again attempts to cover his tracks by gravely telling Bea that Piggy is a good man. Mrs. Partini and Evie are in the office trying to make sense of the disastrous Lettie’s bookkeeping, and Evie suggests Bea’s talents at keeping books and figures. Mrs. Partini is exasperated and takes up Evie’s suggestion.

At the Eliott home, Evie is fitting a muslin on a reluctant Penelope, who says she only came over to make sure she and Bea weren’t exploiting Tilly, but you can tell that she enjoys the female companionship. I can only imagine that Penelope’s determination to defy feminine stereotypes no doubt led her to shun the company of women (or rather, ladies of her same class), and the Eliott sisters her are first taste of intelligent, amusing, and forceful ladies who don’t have to wear trousers or run around fighting for the vote to defy feminine stereotypes. And they are dressmakers–one of the most feminine of professions! Funnily enough, Tilly is coming out of her shell, much to Penelope’s surprise, and Tilly mentions that she finds Highate a different country. Penelope turns the conversation to Mrs. Partini’s offer of employment, but Bea is adamant that she should remain with Jack out of gratitude for her first job. Penelope is disgusted by the idea of gratitude getting in the way of progress!

The following day or so, Jack and Bea are working outside with a client who insisted upon being photographed on her horse in Hyde Park. Bea mutters an aside about the lady and Jack is thrilled and surprised that Beatrice Eliott has told a joke. Bea’s comeback quip is even funnier–working with him requires her to acquire a sense of humor. Jack begins to convince Bea that Mrs. Partini’s offer is one of a lifetime and he believes her talent, her gift, shouldn’t be wasted in his studio. As he attempts to set up the shot of his client, a motorcar horn blares offscreen, and upsets Lady Serena’s horse, which rears up and canters away. The culprit of this disturbance is Daphne Haycock, who ambles over in a smart yellow toque and sable coat. Beatrice is very disapproving of Daphne–Evie probably told her about finding Daphne with Jack–and it’s interesting that when Daphne invites them both to the theatre, Jack’s refusal includes Bea. Daphne is stunned by the rejection, but swans away after declaring she will see him at Ciro’s after the play. Bea fills the silence with Piggy’s opinion about the play, but Jack turns the conversation to what matters: Bea needs to see Mrs. Partini. The dressmaker herself walks around her sewing room, where she examines Evie’s sewing at the machine and grudgingly approves of her skill.

A mailman walks away from the Eliott house and we see that the house has been sold. Bea is back in Arthur’s office, where he has to choke out his lie over the proceeds of the sale. A now assertive and experienced Beatrice demands to see her father’s ledger to tally up the accounts and doubts, but Odious Arthur has doctored them a bit. He springs up when his secretary enters with tea, grateful for the distraction. Well, even though Arthur is pompous and odious, he still feels uneasy about lying to Beatrice (or is he just afraid of Bea blowing up at him again?). Arthur offers Bea and Evie residence in his home–defying Aunt Lydia!–but Bea declines this, determined to find her own lodgings. Bea and Evie are window shopping on Bond Street as they discuss their new circumstances: homeless and only in possession of a hundred pounds. It turns out that Jack is going to fix them up with a flat above his studio and Bea will work at Mrs. Partini’s. They examine the flat, which is quite spacious and airy–TV poverty, of course! Because I can imagine that if London is expensive now, it was definitely expensive in 1920! Bea and Evie begin to make glorious plans for setting up their dressmaking business and launching the life of Bright Young Things they’d been denied when they discovered their father died and left them in debt. Jack arrives with his favorite accompaniment: champagne!

The first inklings of conflict that may arise between Mrs. Partini and the Eliott sisters is almost immediate, as a client raves over Bea and Evie’s dressmaking/designing skills and hopes they are being well paid for their employment. Class consciousness rears its ugly head, and the kid gloves+privilege with which ladies of their acquaintance hope Bea and Evie are given seems rather similar to a circumstance in which the Eliott sisters find themselves later on in the show! Mrs. Partini is rather sour at the woman’s remarks, rightly presuming that not only would the Eliott sisters poach her clients, but that there’s a chance they may take over the business. Evie is is working in the sewing room and Bea is in the office sorting out the orders, paperwork, etc. She’s excited about the strides she’s made for Mrs. Partini, and the dressmaker, no doubt annoyed by Lady Saxby’s hints, reacts sharply to Bea’s very English and very upper class colloquialism. Bea senses that Mrs. Partini is rather distant, but continues to press her point–and based on Mrs. Partini’s continued shortness with Bea, this is a constant refrain of Beatrice. Mrs. Partini accepts Bea’s suggestion on how to save money, and this seems to lift her spirits.

Bea and Evie are taking the best furniture with them, and give Molly whatever she wants that’s left over. The moving lorry takes their belongings to their new flat. Molly comforts a grieving Evie, who demands she come and see her at Darston. Bea comes out, locks the door, gives Molly a hug and kiss, and three women depart the house for the final time (Molly and Evie give it one last look as Bea marches resolutely on). Tilly arrives for work at the Eliott sisters’ new flat up three or four flights of stairs. The door has been left open, and Tilly peeks into a few rooms before Evie pops up in her oldest clothes: she has been painting. Downstairs, Jack cannot make heads or tails of his papers, and neither can Piggy, who suggests they go upstairs and find Beatrice. Tilly is chilled at the white walls–according to Evie it’s the latest mode–but it reminds Tilly of a hospital. Jack and Piggy knock on the door, but Evie is horrified at the thought of guests seeing her in paint-spattered clothing, and sends Tilly to see who it is. She gives Piggy and Jack the third degree, and Jack is rather amused by her charm. He winks at her after she protests that Evie and Bea are too busy to have dinner with the men, and Tilly can only laugh. Evie is annoyed that all of her work keeps her from accepting that treat, and Tilly’s solution is for Evie to cut her hair! Bea walks in just as Tilly delivers the final snip, and is rather taken aback. She declines Tilly’s offer of a haircut with the excuse that she preferred a hairdresser; Tilly would too, if she could afford it!

Bea and Evie browse the secondhand market, where Evie convinces Bea to purchase a daring frock for a night on the town with Piggy. At work, Mrs. Partini bursts into the workroom with a gown and practically flings it at Evie, claiming her sewing was shoddy. Evie defends her work by claiming the dress would only come apart if it were violently torn. This gets Mrs. Partini’s back up–Evie is besmirching the name of the client and Mrs. Partini, whose clientele would never be violent. Evie’s attempt to explain further backfire on her, as Mrs. Partini is growing very sensitive to the fact that she employs ladies in her dressmaking establishment, ladies who socialize with her clientele and/or know their habits, thus blurring the line between shopkeeper and customer. That night, we discover that Bea has cut her hair! She, Evie, and Tilly are having supper in the drawing room, and Bea remakes the frock she purchased from the market. Bea has decided to approach Mrs. Partini about a pay rise, or perhaps an increased role in the business, because Mrs. Partini has profited from their business acumen and sewing expertise. Walking before you crawl, Bea, tsk tsk. Tilly ends the small argument by her honest opinion that no one would pay the Eliott sisters what they’re worth.

As Bea and Piggy fly kites in the park, Jack attempts to cheer up Evie and disabuse her of her crush, but Evie’s crush disappeared the moment she saw him with Daphne in his studio. Bea’s confrontation of Mrs. Partini does not go well (did anyone not expect this), and she assumes that the increase in clientele and profits mean Evie and Bea deserve a raise. Mrs. Partini’s refusal to do so leads Bea to offer her and Evie’s resignation, and Mrs. Partini hands their wages to Bea and kicks her out of the office. Mrs. Partini changes her tune a bit as Bea slowly gathers her things, and claims they can begin again, but the prideful Bea will not accept anything less than the raise she feels she and Evie deserves, and she goes to fetch Evie from the workroom. Bea and Evie discuss this new development in the park, where Bea expresses her doubt over her hasty decision. Evie encourages her, and they count what they do have: a hundred pounds and commissions from their acquaintances. They go off to see a Chaplin matinĂ©e, but when they come back to the flat, a bombshell awaits them in the form of their half-brother, who calls himself Sebastian Eliott!

Posted in Series 1 | Tagged , , | 2 Comments