It’s here! The end is in sight! The Paradise’ glass doors swung shut on our screens for what I presume (read: hope given the exhaustion of all possible plotlines) to be one last time in episode eight of the department store drama.
The return of French rabble rouser and all round libertine Clemence (Branka Katic) was the main driving force behind the plot, as she turned up with controversial products rouge and dice to be sold at The Paradise. However it transpires that she is deeply in debt, leading to sneaky villain Tom Weston (Ben Daniels), in one of his more oddly Gothic moves, offering to buy all of her debts from her in return for her becoming his mistress. And that’s putting it delicately for Sunday night audiences. Meanwhile, the estranged Denise (Joanna Vanderham) and Moray (Emun Elliott) continue to pine miserably for each other, not appearing any closer to a resolution in their relationship. Things do not appear any closer to being resolved for Katherine (Elaine Cassidy) and Tom Weston either, as even a surprise pregnancy does little to mend their broken marriage. Denise gets involved with Clemence’s plight, and Moray resolves to use the dice to win back both his shop and his friend’s freedom. Hearing the passion and strength which has been missing from his character all series, Denise softens towards him, cooking up a plan which would allow them both their professional freedom, whilst being together again after all. After the wounds on his back are proven to be the marks of cowardice, Weston returns to his wife a broken, humiliated man, and is all the better for it. Denise and Moray are allowed a quick snog as the credits roll, and suddenly that’s it! It’s all over.
Sad as I am that I will no longer be able to visit the department store’s well decorated halls for a bit of well-earned escapism any longer, I’m actually rather pleased it has come to an end. It had begun to wane a little, despite its attempts at darker storylines. It also successfully resolved the career versus marriage theme which had been hanging over the show for weeks, with bright spark Denise managing to find a way to satisfy both sides of her life. I always liked her. Clemence’s re-appearance felt a little too plot device like for me, however without her I’m not entirely sure how everything would have been resolved, so I suppose I must let that one go. The theme of possession has been an interesting one throughout, with Moray’s feelings of ownership towards free spirit Denise causing all manner of problems in their engagement, with this wrapped up nicely in this final episode with him fighting for Clemence’s right not to become a possession, not to mention the question of who owns what bits of The Paradise cropping up at every turn. All this, of course, was played out in an environment entirely centered on buying and selling.
I’ve always thought The Paradise might be cleverer than it gave itself credit for. It’s been one of the better period dramas in recent years, totally un-overshadowed by ITV’s annoyingly similar Mr Selfridge. Will the latter be able to live up to the gauntlet thrown down by its predecessor’s recent finale?
Only time, and the ringing of the cash registers, will tell.