Heh. Hi-fives to Aunt Agatha for telling it like it is, as both Poldark boys spend the week behaving like blockheads. Fair enough, Ross has truth, decency and amazing hair on his side, so we’ll forgive him but… huh, I was about to say I don’t know how it is that nobody has actually tried to kill the infinitely less charming Francis by now, and then I remembered that somebody has. More of that somebody later.
But first, just to make sure we fully appreciate the extent of everybody’s reversal of fortunes, it’s the recently-impoverished Francis’s turn to give scything a go this week – apparently it’s only a shirtless activity when Aidan Turner does it – while Elizabeth floats about disapprovingly with a basket (of… Easter eggs? The debris of all her youthful hopes and dreams? A picnic for Yogi and Boo Boo?) and a mildly irritated expression. No doubt she’s thinking buying a lawn mower and doing it herself might be easier and less whiny.
Pauper-turned-company-CEO, Ross, meanwhile, kisses his smiling wife and takes his stylish leather manbag to an odd sort of auction where no one makes any bids because everything’s been sold before it starts. How this works is never explained, but since Ross’s new company seems to be the Auction Wars/ Bargain Hunt winner and he gets to put on his special smoulder-with-a-secret face in the process, I can’t imagine anyone cares.
The smoulder-with-a-secret is soon replaced by the frown-of-renown, though, as news reaches Capt Poldark of Jim dying in Bodmin jail. Not a man to flounder in the face of a fever, off our hero gallops (HORSE!) to enlist his buddy’s help to break the poor boy out. Jim’s not the only one in danger, mind you, with Ross also temporarily if inadvertently saving Dr Enys from Keren, a woman so keen to, er, get her hands on his tricorn, that she throws herself off a ladder to get near it.
Her commitment can’t be faulted, I suppose, but I did wonder why she didn’t just pretend to have a cold and save herself from actual injury. Nobody’s handsome enough to bet your neck on, girlfriend.
Talking of necks, meanwhile, Ross’s seems to be made of the finest brass; he blags his way in to the jail and his pal out of it, but it’s all for naught as poor Jim succumbs, either to the deadly fever or to the anaesthetic-free (off-screen, thank God) amputation, and Jinny and her suspiciously young child (he should be a lot older if those tally marks are anything to go by) are left bawling and bereft.
To avoid infection himself, of course, our hero is forced to take off his own shirt (again) and burn it on the beach at sunrise, sadness bursting from every sinew. The slightly dazed Dr Enys, however, presumably just puts his shirt in his wheelie bin, since he has to be back home in time for Keren to offer her secretarial “services” to him. There’s more than just one brass neck in the village, it would seem.
While Ross and the Doctor have been off playing Prison Break, Verity has been trying and failing to keep her liaison with Captain Blamey a secret. “Perhaps we should not be seen there together,” says she of the upcoming Warleggan Ball. Yes, Verity, because no one with eyes or ears will have noticed the pair of you walking along the sea front together, squawking earnestly about your forbidden passion. Sigh. Love may be blind, but it doesn’t have to be thick as the sea wall too, does it?
Or maybe it does if you’re a Poldark, since super-brain Verity compounds her stupidity this week by persuading a drunken, furious Ross to go to the Warleggan Ball regardless, because annoying the neighbours is totally going to keep them from taking action against him over the Poldark Prisoner Liberation Programme.
Sigh. At least Demelza – brighter than all the other Poldarks put together and, as a result, her husband’s point of contact for all county gossip – gets to look fantastic at her first ball. As she glides beatifically down the staircase, surrounded by a surfeit of health-and-safety-defying candles, I worry about the risk of either her new dress or her impressive hairdo catching fire, but – phew! – the only thing she catches is the eye of the ridiculous Sir Hugh.
After an impressively action-packed first half of the episode, though, the Ball seems to last longer than the Hundred Years War, with almost as many casualties. There are plenty of good lines and a lot of enjoyment to be had out of it, but there’s also a lot of shouting at the tv because everyone’s behaving like a numbskull. Francis and Capt Blamey make fools of themselves just to give everyone some in-between-drinking-and-gambling entertainment. Half the county behaves like the young Mrs Poldark has taken off her glasses and changed costume in a phone box (have they really never seen Demelza before or is the posh frock the Cornish equivalent of Superman’s big red underpants?). And Demelza’s incurably stubborn, powder keg of a husband makes the biggest spectacle of himself of all – ranting, drinking, gambling, taking a quick break to have a domestic in the middle of the dance floor, then ranting, drinking and gambling some more.
Thankfully, there’s a plan behind it all, but betting the new necklace you only just bought your adoring wife is a low, low thing for a loving husband to do, Ross Poldark, no matter how smart you think you’re being. And as for that heart-stopping moment when it looks like he’s betting the
farm mine – are you trying to kill us all, man? You may be “made of harder mettle” but I’m not, so instead of giving Demelza or me any more scares like that, give her another new necklace, and me a second season. Oh wait – you already did!