Episode 1 of season 2, and we start as we mean to go on, with Capt Poldark pulling his head out of the sand just long enough to stick his tongue out at the powers that be. Oh yes, our hero, in trouble once again, decides the way forward is to alternate between pretending it isn’t happening, and being as rude as he can to anyone who can make it worse/better. I do love Ross, bless him, and he’s an incredibly handsome man, but he’s not a particularly smart one, is he?
Does he really think giving the examining magistrate a sassy lecture on poverty and the tyranny of the rich will do anything but get him committed for trial? Or that sniping at George Warleggan some more is going to help anyone at all? Not that I can blame him for snubbing the Warleggan weasel; what with George filing trumped-up charges, bribing the prosecution and starting his own Poldark Papers tabloid, I wouldn’t be surprised if the man’s next move is to commission the family tailor to fit our beloved Capt for a noose.
While everyone else might be sensible of the danger RP’s brass neck is in, though, it takes our man more than half the episode to start taking it seriously himself. To minimise any risk of us falling out of love with him in the meantime, however, he heads moodily off to Wheal Leisure for a spot of sweaty, shirtless mining, because Poldark’s glistening chest is always going to attract more viewers and headlines than a serious discussion of class warfare or copper yields in 18th century Cornwall. Which lets me off the hook, I think. I do write a lot about misogyny and objectification of women on tv, so I’ve been feeling a bit guilty about objectifying Aidan Turner, and fretting about my double standards and such, but since the programme-makers clearly know exactly what they’re doing – Shirtless mining? I mean, I’m not exactly complaining, but mining? – and why they’re doing it, I really don’t think I or the rest of the audience should be the ones bearing the guilt.
Anyway, that last paragraph was in danger of getting a bit prickly and Francis-ish, so enough with the sexual politics and back to the ep.
As Ross slowly comes round to the idea that pretending it isn’t happening doesn’t mean it won’t, his friends and loved ones are already on the case, chipping in to help/ make things worse/ stand on beautiful Cornish clifftops staring moodily out to sea, as and when the scene requires. The well-meaning Dr Enys (whose hair is looking better than Ross’s this week, how did that happen?) keeps offering to testify on his behalf, but as to what, he’s not entirely sure. Since Dr Enys wasn’t actually there, knows nothing about it and has his own skeleton (literally; RIP Keren) in the closet/graveyard to contend with, though, it’s probably as well he gets distracted by new character Caroline and her pug instead, although prescribing opiates to a dog seems… ill-advised? I mean, I’m not a vet, but, then again, neither is Dr Enys.
Elizabeth, for her part, tries to help in typical “Hi, I’m Elizabeth, everybody fancies me” fashion, by attempting to manipulate the feelings of all three men in her life, with her husband firmly at the bottom of that list. Her “Goodnight, Francis” is so cold, I think I saw snow.
Demelza, meanwhile, a character worth more everybody else put together (with the possible exception of Aunt Agatha, the living personification of side-eye) swallows her grief for poor baby Julia as best she can, buoys herself up with one last night of hot, sweet Poldark passion (more Turner torso, see above) and does all the politicking her husband refuses to, charming local VIP Uncle Bergerac – BERGERAC, you guys! – to such an extent that, if somebody can just get George out the way for five minutes, she might just pull it off.
But it’s Francis who surprises everybody (even if, as usual, he actually just makes things worse) by rediscovering both his spine and his conscience, only to ruin it all by shouting at surprise guest Verity – presumably she’s heard that Bodmin is lovely at this time of year – and *SPOILER!* shooting himself in the head. Or does he? It’s certainly meant to look that way but unless we see a body and a gaping head wound, I won’t be convinced. Especially since he’s so reasonable and so contrite and so sad for most of the episode, it makes me feel quite bad for him, and feeling bad for Francis is a new and unwelcome situation I’d rather not be in for very long. Is he really dead? Possibly. Will Ross really hang? Not at all likely. Will he be tried with or without a shirt on? Now that’s the real question.