“You should go to bed, Ross. Demelza will be thinking you’ve gone astray.”
Hmm. Demelza won’t be the only one.
You guys, nobody likes a goody-two-shoes, and I’m all for a few flaws in my romantic heroes but, at this point in the season, Captain Ross Poldark is really beginning to try my patience.
The combination of stubbornness and stupidity that almost got him hanged last week can be excused, I suppose, on the grounds that a) he’s handsome and b) it paid off in the end – not that the way the trial played out on tv made any sort of sense – but good looks and a smouldering expression only get you so far and, after this week’s episode, Ross’s behaviour towards the unstintingly loyal, consistently magnificent Demelza is in serious danger of leaving flawed hero-ville and crossing right over into jerkish cad-town. Which might be fair enough for lots of tv shows, but this is Sunday night period drama not The Sopranos, for goodness’ sake – an unapologetic anti-hero is hardly what I signed up for.
Of course, this is a difficult time for our leading man; the constant threat of bankruptcy isn’t going to do much for anyone’s spirits, let alone a proud Poldark who recently lost his baby daughter, and I could forgive a lot of a fellow just trying to do his best for his wife and family. Except that, even when trying to be responsible, this particular fellow also insists on being ridiculous. Ploughing all your money back into the mine is all well and good, Captain Martyr, but you’ll have no mine left to plough it into if you don’t start taking a wage soon. Especially since there’s now no settle, no chickens, no cow and no brooch left to sell. “It was a gift!” you say? Yes, and now it’s gone. As is everything else, without any sort of complaint from your ever-supportive, also recently-bereaved wife, I might add. Bear that in mind next time you’re flirting with your ex over a bottle of house party gin.
Not that grief and financial problems explain everything, either. “Overworked, overstressed husband neglects loving wife” is a staple of any sort of drama, but Ross’s attitude towards Demelza during Captain McNeill’s visit comes across less as benign neglect and more as completely unmerited contempt. At this point, it’s not really Demelza who’s in danger of straying – nonsense about cow-doctoring and handsy neighbours notwithstanding – and even if she were, essentially leaving her to it suggests either that long-established hothead Captain Poldark doesn’t actually care what his wife gets up to (come on, now) or the programme-makers want to even up the score a little given his sudden and intense renewal of interest in Elizabeth. If he’s going to make some extra-marital moves, is the plan to spread the blame a bit by muddying up Demelza’s behaviour on that front too?
Whatever the reason for it, though, the programme-makers obviously want to have our hero and heroine at odds and, while that too is a staple of any sort of drama, this latest estrangement seems both slightly forced and something of a backward step since, by the end of last season, Ross had grown to adore Demelza, and in Poldark time, the end of last season really wasn’t that long ago. Although it’s beginning to feel like millenia, given how much everything has changed. My beloved Ross is getting on my nerves? The asshat formerly known as Francis is now the nicest Poldark in the pack? What kind of wormhole have I fallen into?
Thank goodness then for the delightful Dr Enys (Luke Norris) and Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) whose sparky, flirty romance adds some much-needed light and joy to what is otherwise – somewhat ironically, given all the parties going on – a fairly gloomy episode. Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are always fantastic, and I still have all the time in the world for Poldark, but with Warleggan on the warpath, Francis’s sanity hanging on a shoogly peg, and everyone’s marital woes seemingly about to take centre-stage again, I’m not looking forward to next week’s instalment quite as much as I might otherwise have been.