Poldark s2 ep 9

*SPOILERS*

FFS, Ross. All you had to do was say “I’m sorry.”

As I’ve said before, I understand that romantic heroes should never be perfect. A little bit of edge, a few significant flaws – all of that makes them more human. But there is a fine line between making them more human and making them complete jackasses, and after watching him cross over to the wrong side of the line so many times this season, it’s insanely frustrating to see the BBC’s version of Ross Poldark double-down on the asshattery and give every indication that he has no intention of crossing back.

Dolefully wearing his Demelza–inflicted shiner with the air of a man who considers himself as much wronged as wronging (wrong again, dude), he spends most of this episode attempting to patronise her with various platitudes, each more insulting than the last. Adopting last week’s “you must see I had no choice” as his general theme, he trots out such infuriating gems as “I have never claimed to be perfect,” “your pride is wounded” and “perhaps I might have hoped for some understanding, knowing you as I do,” before the crowning glory of “I don’t blame you for your anger, but how does it serve us now?”

My God, man. Stop acting like you broke her favourite casserole dish. You cheated on your wife. Nothing short of throwing yourself at her feet and begging for forgiveness is going to even begin to cut it, but you don’t even offer up an apology?

Never mind asking for her “patience,” you’re lucky she didn’t give you her right hook. Again.

Not that Elizabeth is any better. While her paramour is moping around wondering how he can have his Cornish pasty and eat it, the widow Poldark is just as deluded, postponing her Warleggan wedding, not because she’s thought better of marrying a psychopath but because…. what? As the groom himself wonders, “What do you imagine will happen in the meantime?” Captain Poldark will move in? For heaven’s sake, woman. Get a hold of yourself. And take some responsibility for your own actions for a change. Having the effrontery to suggest that in NOT abandoning his wife and child, he’s left you with “only one possible choice” makes you almost as bad as your ex is.

Thank goodness then for Demelza, in all her wounded majesty, who lights up the episode like a firework on the fifth of November. Her trip to the Bodrugan party is ill-advised, her dalliance with the doltish Captain MacNeil – “your duty now is not to your husband, but to me”? Get over yourself, you odious little snake – unpleasant, but, like Prudie and Jud, I can’t find it in myself to blame her for either. Especially since (unlike her walking excuse of a husband) rather than breaking into a house to dishonour her marriage, she climbs out of one to avoid it.

Be it walking wearily on the beach in her sodden finery, offering sardonically to help her errant husband pack or even just standing quietly on a clifftop looking out to sea (both the clifftops and the sea get a lot of action this week, incidentally, presumably to reflect the precarious and potentially stormy moods everyone’s in), every shot of Demelza is like a painting and every expression on Eleanor Tomlinson’s face is mesmerising. For all this episode is about Ross’s behaviour and Elizabeth’s selfishness and yet another upturn in the Poldark finances (no point in getting excited, I’m sure there’ll be another catastrophe along in a minute), and for all Aidan Turner and Heida Reed are doing a great job in thankless circumstances, the main reason to watch is Demelza. She is tremendous.

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