If I were a member of the 18th century landed gentry, or even just a member of their local police force, I imagine Ross Poldark would get right on my, er, wig.
This week’s episode begins with him treating some weary lawmen (and a slightly bored audience? No?) to his favourite lecture on the desperation of the poor and the institutional unfairness of the legal and taxation systems. Again. The man has a point, of course, and I do like my romatic heroes to have a social conscience, but even I, sitting comfortably on my sofa, want him to give it a rest, never mind the lawmen who have “I’ve been working a double-shift,””I’m not getting home before midnight, am I?” and “tell it to someone who can actually do something about it” written very clearly across their long-suffering faces. “I couldn’t resist,” chuckles Ross when questioned by the long-suffering (this season, anyway) Demelza. “Try” says at least one recapper, rolling her eyes, “since we’ve heard it all before and it never does you any good.”
But then Poldark wouldn’t be Poldark this year without Ross a) giving somebody a lecture, b) throwing a bunch of money he can’t afford at a crazy-ambitious mining venture and c) being obnoxious to his wife. With a) already taken care of, then, b) this week has our man selling more shares to the Weasel Warleggan, a man now so obsessed with getting all up in Captain Poldark’s business, one might be forgiven for thinking he too has a thing for Aidan Turner’s bouncy curls. George. Dude. Do you really have nothing to do beyond sparring lessons and stalking? Because – spoiler alert! – I just don’t think he’s that into you. Even if he is into using your money to go into partnership with the still (disconcertingly) cheerful Francis and re-opening Wheal Grace.
Since I’m always getting my Wheals confused, I’m not entirely sure why Wheal Grace was closed in the first place, but hey ho; it seems our hero has high hopes of finding both copper and freedom in there, but we shall have to wait and see if the Poldark partnership, the Poldark marriages, Francis, and Ross himself (now the big idiot has decided to spice up his life with a touch of smuggling) all survive long enough for the scheme to bear fruit.
To keep everyone going in the meantime, however, fruit of a different kind is being supplied by the mercurial Lady Caroline who is now so smitten with Dr Enys that she’s lost her damn mind. The letters demanding he follow up on her close encounter with a fishbone (oh, girlfriend) are both desperate and guaranteed to have the opposite effect – Caroline, hon, if you’ve already forgotten how to play hard to get, try taking some lessons from the object of your affection – even if the ostensibly chaste scene where he finally pops in and examines her (perfectly fine, obviously) throat is surprisingly erotic enough to be worth it. I mean, it certainly unsettles him.
The way to this particular doctor’s heart turns out to be through his patients’ stomachs, however and, while Lady Caroline has all the startling, noxious callousness of the idle rich, she has none of their stupidity, correctly divining (maybe she borrowed Francis’s stick!) that a nice big crate of oranges for the scurvy-ridden villagers will bring the good doctor both back to her side and under her thumb. “You’re very impertinent,” she says, meaning “My God, you’re tremendous.””I like you very much too,” he replies, having finally learned to speak Minx, before Warleggan, that imbecile Unwin and life separate the clearly besotted pair. Just for now, though, I should think – after all, the delicate Horace is bound to need a check-up at some point, isn’t he?
All this romance in the air brings us back to c) however, and Ross being a jerk to Demelza. After his appalling behaviour last week, this ep kicks things off a bit more promisingly with them taking a nice walk on a cliff (yes again, but I don’t think they had the option of dinner and a movie in those days) but since the walk ends abruptly with him heading one way and her trudging wearily back the other, this new-found harmony doesn’t last very long. Unless you count the yelling and arguing that ensues over his smuggling and her fishing alone as nothing more than spirited debate. (Prudie and Ginny certainly don’t.)
“You think you can do as you please, while I always do as you bid me!” – Demelza has a fair point, and we all know it’s going to mean her going back out on that boat and getting into deep trouble, the only question being whether she’ll allow her heel of a husband to rescue her or not. “Where would you be if I hadn’t come along?” he shouts over the waves. “Where would you be if I hadn’t come along?” she shouts right back, and for all it’s another argument, she suddenly turns it into a pretty adorable one, as far as arguments go, the only heat in it becoming the passionate, fun kind rather than the truly angry variety. Ross striding through the water in his wet shirt suggesting they “examine my failings at a more convenient time” is something of a bonus, of course, and since it all ends with a new Poldark baby, all sides of the family – welcome back, Blameys! – reconciled and toasts all round, Demelza and I have no trouble forgiving her hotheaded husband at all. This time. With Elizabeth giving him the eye and Warleggan giving me the creeps, the Poldark marriage is hardly
off the clifftops out of the woods yet. But after last week’s misery, at least this ep, even if it did cram six months into a breakneck sixty minutes, gave us something to smile about. “To the Poldarks and Wheal Grace!” indeed.