This week on Poldark, a grizzled, drunken old pirate with a hook for a hand and not too many teeth joins the cast and everyone pretends he’s irresistible to all the women of the parish. Given that said parish includes a host of handsome young men led by Aidan Turner who have a habit of taking their shirts off, it’s a little odd that Old Man Hook is singled out as the Clooney of the bunch but no matter. His real function is to make “Argh” noises and coax Ross back onto the high seas, and he accomplishes that with aplomb; we’ll come to that later.
First, though, the young men, which sounds creepy, but bear with me. Demelza’s two brothers have, in true Poldark fashion, moved into one of Ross’s cottages and got jobs down the mine, and, also in true Poldark fashion, started noising up the Warleggan Weasel, partly by accident and partly because it’s hard not to. Oopsy.
Brother Sam – I think, it took me half the episode to settle on which was which – is exceptionally tedious; given that all he ever does is preach, his principal achievement this week is getting on everyone’s nerves, including mine, Ross and George’s – who says you don’t have anything in common, huh, fellas? Brother Drake, however, more than makes up for his sibling’s shortcomings, being not only sweet himself, but sweet on Morwenna too, bless. She may hide it better but she’s just as smitten in her own way, and the pair of them are so delightful with their wildflowers and their shell bracelets and their wishing well, that both Geoffrey Charles and I are completely charmed (though possibly not in the same way the naughty Prudie is, hee) and shipping them forthwith. Which I imagine means another lovely romance doomed to end in disaster, so everybody brace yourselves.
Disaster being one of this show’s abiding themes, of course, this week we have the triple gut-punch of Doctor Dwight’s ship going missing at sea, Capt Blamey’s ship also going missing at sea, and the Warleggan Weasel becoming the new town magistrate, Ross having turned the job down for reasons which might make sense if you’re Ross, but are infuriating and short-sighted if you’re everyone else. I mean, yes, obviously it’s a tad surprising that the chief poacher’s been offered the head gamekeeper post in the first place, but if the guy who actually presided over his big show trial is willing to let bygones be bygones, couldn’t Ross? Sigh.
One problem at a time, though – there are missing sailors we need to find. At least Verity’s flying visit ends a lot more happily than I thought it might, with Capt Blamey safe and Mrs Blamey heading off to Lisbon to live happily ever after with him. “Will I ever see you again?” asks Aunt Agatha, tearfully, making me fear for Aunt Agatha and the odds of her surviving this season. “I promise you will,” says Verity, which in turn makes me fear for Verity, but get to the back of the queue, V, come on, now – it looks like our beloved Doctor Dwight might actually have been shot in the head, and if that’s true, both Caroline and I will be heartbroken. Sob.
Hothead Ross is on his way to France with Capt Hook to try and rescue his buddy, putting himself in amongst all the “riot and bloodshed,” because of course he is. And for the first time since this show began, I fear for him too – although Ross is still at the centre of things and there is still this endless, aggravating feud with the Weasel Warleggan to contend with, now that he and Demelza seem to be back on an even keel and suddenly there are all these new young men in the cast, ready to take on make-the-nation-swoon duties in his stead, this episode really feels like it could be the start of a shift towards the new generation. (Whether wee Valentine can hold out long enough to join them, mind you, given Elizabeth’s utter loathing for the poor mite, is still up in the air.) Can you have Poldark without, um, Poldark? I know I’m always criticising the big idiot, but honestly? I’d rather not find out. Come on, Ross. Make it back from France in one piece, you big lug. Please.