“Papa’s been gone a long while, hasn’t he? Where can he be?”
“Creeping moodily around rural revolutionary France” is the answer to that question, as Captains Poldark and Hook, neither of whom is blessed with the power of stealth, hang about les rues françaises as conspicuously as humanly possible, waiting for news of Doctor Dwight. Or for apprehension and execution by La Republique – whichever comes first.
Keeping a low profile proves somewhat challenging for Ross, who spends much of the episode visibly tamping down his have-a-go-heroic impulses as throats are slit, women are manhandled and other unsportsmanlike behaviour is rampant all around him, but this is the new, improved Ross 2.0, and he has priorities; “I’ve a wife, a child, and another on the way. I’ll be keeping my head down and my mouth shut.” Not quite shut enough, mind you – this trip involves a lot of standing on street corners speaking English and looking shifty – but it’s more the serial brooding that tips off La Republique – or more specifically, la femme at le Pub – that l’homme anglais who’s not-so-surreptitiously smouldering right there in the middle of la salle might be on more than just a cheese and wine run.
Thankfully, a quick bribe later and our man’s deported as opposed to transported directly to Doctor Dwight’s side in French prison. (Dwight’s not dead – Hurrah! But he’s in prison – Boo!) Un petit thing like the threat of imminent, intimate introduction to la guillotine isn’t going to stop our hero, though, oh non. “Tell my wife I’ve been delayed,” he drawls, handing Capt Hook his stupid triangle hat and diving off into the Channel, before procuring a green beanie and returning to le SAME PUB and le SAME TABLE to get caught by la SAME FEMME. Dude, FFS!
No more Captain Sensible this time, though. Having procured the information he came for at last, our homme can finally go full Captain Hothead and embark on what I was going to call Aidan Turner’s audition for James Bond till I saw Digital Spy had already got there first. Dammit. Anyway, let’s just say Ross makes up for all that earlier standing around clenching his fists by joyfully unfurling his action hero flag and taking out a troop of French soldiers entirely single-handedly – although it’s more like single-headedly, it being a lot less of a faff to head-butt people when you’re wearing a beanie than it is with the stupid triangle hat – and dashing triumphantly back to Cornwall with news of Doctor Dwight’s (temporary, I would have thought, unless someone gets him out of le prison tout de suite) survival.
While her husband plays action man across the sea, meanwhile, the very pregnant and increasingly fed up Demelza does every other thing that needs doing because she is a proto-feminist powerhouse and everyone else is no good to man nor horse. “Fiend for prayer”(Hee) Sam continues to smile beatifically while constantly, interminably sermonising but, since he can’t sort sermonising space for himself, Demelza has to do that as well. Twice. Drake continues to moon after Morwenna and it’s adorable, but, dude, your sister, who has provided you with a home, a church and all manner besides, is UBER-pregnant and still running a working farm essentially by herself, as well as running after you and your jobless brother – could the pair of you not do some scything or something for her, FFS? As for Prudie, well yes, she’s funny and supportive, and throws dough around with great enthusiasm, but she could stand to do a bit more of the heavy lifting, too, thanks very much.
Happily, Demelza recognises both her own worth and everybody else’s lack thereof, so when her handsome idiot of a husband eventually comes back and presumes to try and second-guess what she did while he was off playing soldiers, he’s made to realise his mistake very, very quickly, and peace (also temporary, I’m sure) reigns once again in the Poldark house reigns once as they – horizontally, and very enthusiastically – make it up to one another.
While Ross and Demelza work their way back to marital bliss, however, life at Trenwith is a tad less passionate. Elizabeth, being both awful and deluded, continues to blame Ross and Demelza (FFS girl, Ross I understand, but how is it DEMELZA’s fault you slept with her husband?) for the whole Valentine being, um, “much darker” than Geoffrey Charles situation. So, in a state of high dudgeon, off she trots with her appalling husband to Truro, only to remember that a) her husband is the worst person alive and b) her leaving Trenwith is the best thing that ever happened to everyone except her, with c) Aunt Agatha, Morwenna and Geoffrey Charles (now the proud owner of his own stupid triangle hat) now entirely free to swing from the chandeliers if they so wish, never mind associate with every Carne and Captain Hothead within a 100 mile radius. Hurrah! My brain says I should feel sorry for Elizabeth, since the existential horror of marriage to Judge Dread (no, I don’t mean Dredd) is such that it requires both ye olde anti-depressants and booze, but that would require humanity of Demelza-size proportions and I’m just not that awesome. Which is a shame for me on a number of levels, only one of which is really pertinent to this post: this season is much better than the previous one, this episode was a good one and I enjoyed it, but if the show hadn’t made Elizabeth and George such terrible, wretched people and I didn’t spend all their increasingly lengthy and annoying screen time wondering why they haven’t died already, I might have enjoyed it (and every other episode) even more.