Sorry, I don’t know what’s come over me. Maybe it’s the bewildering number of period plot points crammed into this week’s fast, fun, flirt-fest of an episode. Or maybe it’s the nude bathing scene. Either way, this week’s Poldark (the show) gallops along almost as quickly as Poldark (the man), with Aidan Turner’s regular rides across the clifftops serving as the equivalent of a commercial break on any other channel: having one every few minutes saves us any awkward scene changes and gives us some ideas about where to spend our holidays.
Between beautifully-shot gallops, then, the story unfolds at breakneck pace. After the Warleggan-induced closure of a nearby mine and the suicide of its embattled owner, champion of the common man Ross isn’t content with taking on one of the mine workers – Jim? – as another member of his “waifs and strays” collection, and decides to re-open the family mine too, if he can get the start-up cash to do it. While Ross’s head’s on business, however, his heart (and, er, other parts – y’know, eyes and such) are still inexplicably fixed on the stupendously annoying Elizabeth (GIRL. PICK A MAN AND STICK WITH HIM), who continues to encourage her ex’s attentions to the extent that Cousin Verity has to call him out on it at the dance: just as well she does, too, or all that smouldering might’ve singed the curtains.
Cousin Verity, meanwhile, whom I’d previously thought was sweet on Ross herself (I mean, who isn’t?), surprises me and her entire family by falling in love at first sight with a pleasant sea captain with a thoroughly unpleasant Past. Knowing a little bit about forbidden love himself, Ross lets them use his house to “talk” – well ok, they genuinely do just talk – which gives the already jealous and angry Francis the perfect excuse to fight somebody, even if it’s somebody other than the tall, gorgeous fellow with the magnificent hair he’s been wanting to fight all episode.
As Prudie puts it: “Gentlefolks is strange.”
A few seconds (“1, 2, 4, 7” – heh) of ridiculously speedy duel later and Francis has a hole in his neck, Cousin Verity’s romance is over and Ross is further estranged from his uncle, his cousin and his perfidious ex, prompting him to seek solace in the arms of the local, er, solace service-provider. Who happens to be providing the same service to the odious George Warleggan. Ew.
Of course, this, er, solace is just a temporary measure to keep our hero busy for a night or two since young Demelza’s too busy being Cinderella to catch her handsome Prince quite yet. Jud and Prudie play the Ugly Stepsisters to this particular flame-haired Cinders; while they cackle and prod, she’s never without something to scrub, be it a pan, a hearth or a piece of clothing, but, miraculously, as her ragged blouse gets dirtier, her hair gets cleaner and cleaner…. Must be something in the Cornish air.
Housework doesn’t stop her from working out exactly what Elizabeth’s up to, though: the look Cindermelza gives her when she turns up at Nampara is so magnificent, it makes me laugh out loud.
As does Ross’s repeated, deft and hilarious snubs of the tenacious Miss Teague and her match-making Mama who think to snare our man by offering him, amongst other things, the opportunity to see what “a woman’s touch can do for a home.” Oh, ladies, please. Can’t you see there’s a queue?