Poldark s5 eps 7 & 8

*SERIES FINALE SPOILERS*

After a night spent unconscious at the bottom of a mine, Ross wakes up in surprisingly good shape and not only manages to find the exit pretty easily but also stumbles upon the French plot that Jacka and Tess are embroiled in. Well done, Capt Poldark. When I say “surprisingly good shape”, though, I may be overstating the damage done to Ross’s head, given that the majority of his decisions in both these episodes suggest a selective form of amnesia: everything he‘s supposed to have learned over the past five seasons about not being a total idiot to his wife has been knocked right out of him. “Needless to say, Demelza cannot know” is pretty much the theme of every stupid, reckless, crazy thing he does – I was so sick of his nonsense in the final episode, that I almost switched off ten minutes in and gave up forever.

I stuck it out though, so here we are. On the positive side, apart from laying the groundwork for the absolutely infuriating episode 8, episode 7 is all right. Ish. I mean, it’s Sam‘s turn to pick up the idiot ball in relation to Tess, although everybody else is almost as daft, actually letting the woman who tried to BURN IT DOWN back in the house. Geoffrey Charles and Cecily run off together but, instead of running off to the other side of the planet, they go exactly where you’d think and get caught, despite Poldark and co’s best-laid plans to get them out of the country. This results in a lengthy, brutal beating for Geoffrey Charles, and in Cecily leaving the country anyway, sailing away with Kitty Despard who, fascinating though she may be to Dr Dwight, has long since outstayed her welcome with everyone else. Poor Kitty. Just like her deceased husband, she is a character who was written to make a point or ten, but the one-dimensional writing gave her absolutely no personality beyond that, and the Despards derailed most of this final season as a result.

While Geoffrey Charles mopes (Kitty’s resounding “YES!” when he asks “If we’re not together, should you wish to live?” is hilarious), episode 7 ends with Ross warning Dr Dwight that things are about to get weird and Demelza’s going to get upset, and so they do and she does, with this lunatic launching “the greatest gamble I’ve ever undertaken.” A high bar indeed.

Episode 8 finds us five-and-a-half months into this great gamble, otherwise known as Poldark going deep undercover with Tess and the French, and making his long-suffering wife’s life a complete misery as a result. The damage he inflicts in the name of “protecting Demelza” is catastrophic, to the extent that even Dr Dwight – whose own attitude to marital fidelity has, as Caroline points out, been somewhat flexible in the past – has had enough but Ross is adamant. The charade continues, with Ross letting Demelza walk out, while he tries to reel in the French. It’s not entirely clear, however, why the need for secrecy from everyone but his wife evaporates a few minutes later: suddenly, Ross has recruited half the town to help him out, on the strict proviso that Demelza still cannot be told. “Has he learned nothing?” the poor woman asks. “No, he hasn’t!” shouts at least one outraged viewer. “Dump his ass!”

His ass suffers no more than a momentary hit to the ground, however, when Hanson tries to rob us all of our happy ending. As if. Everything works out fine despite that, of course, as Demelza instantly forgives him, unbelievably persuades Toussaint to fight a duel with him instead of just shooting him in the face, and saves his life, with an assist from George Warleggan of all people because, if Ross were dead, whom could he be angry with all the time? So the Poldark Posse stops the invasion, Ross redeems himself with the Crown, and hands-down the best scene of the season is when Aidan “New Poldark” Turner gets Robin “Old Poldark” Ellis to lock up the villains. “Your servant, sir.” “And yours, sir.” Awwww.

It’s a lovely moment, but not quite enough to make me look kindly on a finale undone by sub-par spy nonsense and Ross’s irredeemable behaviour throughout. “I should never have kept things from you,” he says to his astonishingly tolerant wife, as if this is some sort of revelation and not something he has had to learn every season since the show started. As I said years ago, he’s lucky he’s hot, because there’s no other explanation for Demelza putting up with these shenanigans again and again. And again.

Anyway, it all ends well enough. Morwenna gives birth to a little girl, which is nice. Caroline confides in Dr Dwight about her baby fears and they finally properly make up, which is nice too. Rosina, having now been messed about by two Carne brothers, nonetheless proposes to Sam, which is baffling. Geoffrey Charles is accepted back into army school, which I don’t care about in the slightest. George leaves Cornwall, which is good, but gets Ross to stay out of Valentine’s life forever, which isn’t. And Ross and Dr Dwight are off to spy on the French, which is a great lark for them but sucks for the wives who have to put up with their continued carry-on, this being the theme of the whole series. And that’s it. It’s been a disappointing season, but then the show has never really recaptured the heady joys of that first year, when its melodrama and Ross’s bull-headed derring-do were charming rather than utterly wearing. Credit to the gorgeous Cornish coast and the wholly committed cast, though, who were game throughout. Everyone will have their favourites but, for me, Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza was a revelation; Gabriella Wilde imbued Caroline with heart and humanity; Luke Norris’s Dr Dwight was wonderfully, unflinchingly kind and noble; and Ellise Chappell and Harry Richardson made a sweet and vulnerable Morwenna and Drake. And as for Aidan Turner, well, I’ve been a fan since Being Human but I’m delighted Poldark showed the rest of the world what a star he is. “I swear to you, my love, I shall return,” is a nice promise for him to go out on but you’ve done your shift, Aidan. Maybe let Poldark go and return as someone else instead soon, hey? I’m looking forward to it.

Poldark s4 ep 2

*SPOILERS*

“Give me hope.”

Give me strength. If I was supposed to be sad about Armitage dying, it might have been a better idea not to have him spend these entire first two episodes trying to blackmail Demelza into resuming her relationship with him on the basis that he’d die if she didn’t. And doing so quite blatantly in front of her preternaturally restrained husband, who does little more than wince and excuse himself in response. At this point then, it’s not so much a tragedy as a relief Armitage and his poems are gone, except that, as Dr Dwight points out, the big drip’s now “immortal in everyone’s memory and we poor souls will look pale in comparison.” Which I think means we’ll never be free of him, will we? Argh.

Eleanor Tomlinson plays Demelza’s grief beautifully, and it’s a smart move to link her feelings to her broader grief for Julia and “this sad, sorry, broken world” – Demelza being one of so many of us bewildered by the horrors around us these days – but it still doesn’t really move us away from the basics of this storyline which is yet another excuse to have Captain Poldark and Mrs Poldark fight a bit, make up a bit, talk a bit, and question their relationship some more. At least the talking’s calmer and more productive than it was last season and the season before, though, and it does result in Ross accidentally winning the election and becoming the local MP. On the one hand, this is great because it means weasel Warleggan isn’t the local MP any more and Ross can put those speeches he likes making to even more effective use. On the other hand, though, I also means Warleggan will be redoubling his efforts to destroy every Poldark/ Poldark-adjacent person in the vicinity, and I didn’t realise that it also means Ross and Demelza will spend most of his tenure apart so there’s your next excuse for fighting/ making up/ talking / questioning their relationship some more. Tin baths and steamy snogs are all very well as a distraction, but at some point somebody really needs to change the record.

As far as the rest of the episode is concerned, Dr Dwight and the pregnant Caroline are blissfully happy which is nice, but unlikely to last because this is Poldark. Evil Tom Harry is evil. The Carnes are unlucky in love. And lather, rinse and repeat. Caroline and Demelza’s political machinations are good fun, and the election and an adorable scene of secret brothers Valentine and Jeremy playing delightedly together (before their spoilsport mums split them up) shake things up a little, but as I said last week, we’ve seen all the rest of this before. I’m getting less and less keen on seeing it all again.

Poldark s2 ep 10

*SPOILERS*

“My arrogance, my idiocy has been spectacular.”

Better late than never, eh? Even if “late” is something of an understatement since it’s not till the final minutes of the season finale, that the handsome, brave, yet unconscionably stupid Captain Ross Poldark realises that he’s been a total prat for most of the season, Demelza’s his true love and all Elizabeth ever offered was a fantasy, rather than a future in any meaningful sense of the word. DUDE. It certainly took you long enough.

So long in fact that, before we get there, we have to sit through yet another hour’s angst.

At least the Poldark finances seem to have steadied for now – even if, as I’ve said before, past experience suggests we’d best not get too comfortable – and the mine’s making money. As our man’s business prospers (for once), however, his brain apparently continues to atrophy through lack of use; somehow surprised and aggrieved that the admittedly unusual feel of cash in his wife’s hand isn’t cheering her up any, he ignores my advice to throw himself wt her feet and decides that whining is the way forward instead. “It was one night! How long will it take for you to forgive me?” would be bad enough, but to then move on to some nonsense about it being different for boys…. Oh, ROSS. You might as well punch yourself in the face this time, and save your wife the bother.

In fairness to Demelza, mind you, she chooses a verbal assault instead of a physical one this week, but her “sauce for the goose”-style account of the Captain MacNeil debacle doesn’t really help matters, as, now filled with self-righteousness to go with the aforementioned arrogance and idiocy, Ross is still not minded to grovel, deciding instead to re-join the army and run away, because that worked so well for his love life last time.

Before signing up, though, he goes on a sort of farewell tour, popping in to say thanks to Caroline and do some fervent matchmaking for an audience by now desperate for someone, ANYONE, in this show to make a half-decent fist of a relationship. It’s lucky then that, for one so hopeless at sorting out his own romantic affairs, Ross proves surprisingly adept at fixing other people’s, bringing Caroline and Dwight back together in a scene as glorious as it is unlikely and all the sweeter for it. Awwww. It’s just a shame Dwight has already re-joined the Navy (because even the nice male characters in this show can be numpties) in a misguided bid to forget about her but at least they get to enjoy one night together before he sails off to war. “Where is your room?” asks Caroline, a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t going to mess about waiting for it any longer – cf Elizabeth Warleggan, formerly Poldark, currently doing my head in. Dwight is, at last, delighted to oblige.

As Ross is away filming his own very special episode of Friends Reunited, meanwhile, Demelza heads off on a farewell tour of her own. Her first stop is Verity’s house to deliver her baby (which means all three cousins have children now, and the cast of Poldark: The Next Generation is complete), while the second is Elizabeth’s, to deliver her unvarnished opinion of that lady’s conduct and character in a speech as beautifully, damningly delivered as it is entirely well-deserved. Huzzah!

Despite having thus vanquished her principal foe, though, it’s not long before Mistress Poldark is heading right back across enemy lines, to warn them that there’s a literal mob with torches and pitchforks outside. The odious Warleggan, who has no breeding, simply insults her, and his ungrateful wife, who has no shame, isn’t much better; after two seasons of dithering, it looks like Elizabeth has finally picked a side. Of course, it’s the wrong one; Demelza is proved right almost immediately, and it’s left to Ross and his last-minute speechifying and smouldering – just like old times! – to save the day, or, more accurately, the night, as he stops the mob from finishing the job he started earlier and setting George’s face on fire. (Is it wrong that I’m a bit disappointed?)

Since Demelza has failed to pick up on Ross’s giant hint that he didn’t come back just for crowd control, it’s both unfortunate and ridiculous, albeit par for the course this season, that, when they get home, the first thing he mentions is his ex-girlfriend’s forthcoming baby – you’re killing me here, man – while failing to notice his wife actually PACKING HER BAGS around him, but it’s worth that one last moment of lunacy in the end as he finally declares that he’s been an idiot and a jerk, and thank GOD we can end the season with a good old windswept and soulful embrace on a Cornish clifftop – it’s been so long, you guys – between two of the prettiest people on tv. Hurrah! The title card and post-credits teaser say “Poldark will return!” and so will I, because Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are tremendous, and Luke Norris and Gabriella Wilde wonderful, but if season 3 Ross could give up season 2 Ross’s habit of behaving like an unspeakable ass, that would be much appreciated.

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.

Poldark s2 ep 8

*SPOILERS*

This is not really how my weekend tv was supposed to go. First, the “evening wear” episode of Hooten and the Lady had the pair of them getting mixed up in a murder and fighting instead of flirting. And now Ross Poldark has gone mad with lust and pique, so I have to write about consent and rape culture instead of curly hair and romance. Why has all my easy viewing suddenly gone difficult? All I need now is for Mel and Sue to go nuts and burn the Bake Off tent to the ground for the madness to be complete.

(NB – Mel and Sue, this is NOT a hint.)

Sigh. Not that you’d think it, given the tenor of the press coverage this morning, but this week’s episode packs in quite a lot of other news before it gets to the complicated, tiptoe-through-the-minefield, be-shouted-at-on-the-Internet bit so let’s have a quick look at all of that before we get tangled up in the hard stuff.

Kicking things off with Ross and Dwight in court over their smuggling shenanigans made me groan at first – what was I saying last week about a rinse and repeat of eps 1 and 2? – but I needn’t have worried. For once in his life, Ross manages to talk his way out of trouble instead of deeper into it, and for all Dr Enys decides he’ll just swap personalities with his pal and give insolence in the face of authority a go, the presiding magistrate clearly can’t face going down the trial route again either. So all we get’s a frown, a fine, and we’re out of the courthouse and back in business. Hurrah!

Not that poor Dwight, busy pretending that Caroline hasn’t broken his heart, is very happy about either of his escapes. “It would never have lasted and would have led to misery on both sides,” he says of their being together, which would be a very healthy way of looking at things if it weren’t clear that their not being together has led to nothing but misery on both sides as well. Still, at least there are some signs of movement on the Enys front: from being so desperately unhappy about leaving Cornwall last week, a couple of words from Verity’s impossibly enthusiastic stepson (that dude is insanely happy) this week and the good doctor’s suddenly ready to run away to sea, so perhaps the idea of running away to get married might be less of a problem next time. If there is a next time. Come on, Caroline! Do you really want Dwight to end up with Rosina Hoblin?

While Dwight hangs moodily round the mine prescribing his usual fruit and fresh air combo (at this point, I feel like I could treat scurvy), Ross and co find tin, which means two things. One, someone has to say the Poldark fortunes are changing (every time). And two, just when it seems like it’s all about to go their way, disaster strikes (EVERY time) and everything crumbles, by which I mean literally crumbles – the mine collapses, Wheal Grace claims two more lives and, once again, the Poldark fortunes are in ruins. Poor miners, poor families, poor everybody, except of course, rich Warleggan the Weasel who uses the opportunity to finally secure Elizabeth’s hand (if not her heart since, as Aunt Agatha points out, she’s already bestowed that elsewhere) in marriage because Elizabeth is as mercenary and mercurial as she is hopeless at fending for herself.

I should feel some sympathy for Elizabeth, of course, because she lost her husband and her mum’s had a stroke, but her selfish, stupid behaviour over the past few weeks, and utter lack of respect for both Ross’s marriage and Ross’s wife has made that a challenging prospect. That, of course, makes her controversial encounter with Ross this week even more of a messy one, from my perspective at least. No matter what Elizabeth did beforehand, though, what Ross does is on him, no one else. However their sex ends, it begins with him forcing himself on her, and that is Not OK. Ever. Yes, it’s set in a historical context where attitudes to consent were less evolved. Yes, she’s been trying to regain his affections for weeks. And yes, there’s a weird, disturbing undercurrent to the whole scene suggesting – dear God – that she’s almost daring him to make a move on her, but while that and her ultimate, enthusiastic capitulation might make the issues more complicated, it doesn’t erase how the sex starts. It starts with a man in a rage, determined to exert physical, sexual control over a woman who chose someone else over him. Not. OK. Ever.

In the end, though, Elizabeth is the person who has to decide if she was violated, and it looks like she’s decided she wasn’t. This does of course bring with it the risk of the show perpetuating the notion, the bedrock of many a historical romance, that controlling, domineering, violent behaviour can be masterful and attractive, but, in fairness to the BBC and Debbie Horsfield, I can’t imagine anyone watching that scene last night thinking Ross’s behaviour was masterful or attractive, or indeed anything but appalling. And just in case there is any confusion, at least the magnificent Demelza, dishing out some well-deserved summary justice, is immediately on hand to set him and anyone else tempted to excuse his behaviour straight. “You must see I had no choice?” Think again, dude. Think again.

Poldark s2 ep 7

*SPOILERS*

imageTrouble at t’mine once again this week as the cash is running out and along with it any hope of finding the much anticipated cache of copper. What’s a Poldark to do?

“If I were you”, counsels Zacky Martin(?), “I’d not throw good money after bad,” which is entirely sensible and practical advice. Obviously, Captain Poldark ignores it, since throwing good money after bad is basically his entire business plan but, before he has time to burn the last lump of coal, news arrives of the now near-mythical Mark Daniel himself! Why not ask him where the pot of gold copper at the end of the rainbow bottom of the mine is? He’ll know, right? I mean, what else has he had to think about?

Ignoring Demelza’s advice as usual then, off we sail with Trencrom and co, only to find a very bearded Mark so wrapped up in guilt and pain that, never mind detailed mine workings, he can’t even be trusted with directions to the house next door. Oops.

Still, the journey isn’t entirely wasted since it at least serves as something of an awakening for our handsome but hotheaded hero: “To pin everything on the ramblings of a man crazed with grief and rage – what was I thinking?” he wonders. I don’t know Ross, maybe you weren’t thinking at all?.

It’s been a long time coming, but Ross’s contemplative mood/ actual use of his brain doesn’t end there, either. “These last few years, often I have known failure” he muses. “Tell us something that isn’t bloody obvious,” at least one exasperated blogger replies. “I didn’t just gamble with money, I gambled with the happiness and security of my workers.” He adds. “And…?” the blogger prods hopefully. “And most especially that of my wife and child!” he remembers. Hallelujah! Since it’s something that we’ve all been yelling for weeks now, I should be delighted, but since it’s Ross Poldark, whose lurches from attentive husband to asshat and back again are both frequent and bewildering, I’m sure he’ll have forgotten again by next week.

While the much-in-demand Captain is away learning this week’s life lessons, however, cousin-in-law/pen pal Elizabeth’s wondering why he’s not responding to her letters. “It’s unlike him to be so remiss” she pouts. “I wonder what could have detained him (from dropping everything to dash immediately to my side. I mean, I’ve snapped my fingers, haven’t I?)”

I may be paraphrasing.

The redoubtable, hilarious Aunt Agatha, not wasting her time waiting on any man, proposes a different solution. “The male of the species,” she declares, “Inadequate at best. Better to rely on one’s own resources.” Which is fair enough when one’s own resources include a sharp tongue and a large pistol, but since Elizabeth lacks both the pluck and personality of her great aunt, she decides not to bother with taking care of her own business and heads off to Nampara to simper at Ross in person instead. Only to find Ross’s wife and her now steadfastly loyal servant instead. “I expect he was too busy to reply” says Elizabeth, the note of entitlement in her voice unmistakeable. “Yes, I expect he was” replies Demelza, the “Get your horse off my land and your mitts off my man,” being implied.

Remember when Elizabeth and Demelza were friends? They don’t.

imageDr Enys is doing enough remembering of everything for everyone, though. His affair with and the death of Keren Daniel – which I thought he and the writers had totally forgotten about since – is suddenly back on his mind, as is everything and everyone else. He and Caroline are in love, she wants to elope, but he’s uneasy: “You may find the reality less romantic than you imagine,” he cautions. Or, in other words, sometimes love just ain’t enough.

The date is set and the trunks are packed, though, so all Dr Enys has do is to survive the episode, heal Rosina Hoblin-Again, unmask the informer, save Ross and co from arrest, try not to be killed by repeated blows to the head and body, and meet his lady at their love shack in time. Phew! Alas it’s the last of these that proves too difficult, thought; poor Dwight has such a busy (and genuinely exciting, compelling) week sorting and saving everyone else that I thought he would be dead before the episode’s end. After all, this show has previous for killing off a significant character just when they’ve reached their best. (Which means I’m now terrified Aunt Agatha won’t make it to the end of the season.)

Thankfully, though, the good doctor lives to heal another knee, and I’m delighted – he’s a thoroughly decent, kind, likeable character, and his friendships with both Ross and Demelza are lovely. It’s just a shame that he had to miss his own elopement to do it. Still, much as I liked his love story, and sad that I am it’s over, if the alternative was Ross getting caught (again) and being tried (again) and a rinse and repeat of episodes 1 and 2, then sorry Dwight, I know it hurts now, but I’m glad you picked your Cornish pals over Caroline. Chin up.

Poldark s2 ep 5

*SPOILERS*

Courtesy of the tv critic who tweeted days before the episode was shown that this week’s Poldark would feature “tin bath and tragedy,” I had already guessed that this would be the week that a certain member of the main cast died, so let me start by saying thanks a bunch for spoiling that for me.

imageTweet or no tweet, though, I would have guessed while watching anyway, since everything was going so swimmingly (sorry) for Francis that there was no way the poor man was going to make it to the end. In the same way that a star burns brightest before it’s snuffed out forever, Francis (and the superb Kyle Soller) had an almost feverishly good week.

As a magistrate, he proved far more adept than his hotheaded cousin at manipulating the legal system, saving a man’s life and earning even Ross’s admiration in the process. As a man of pride, he vanquished the Warleggan Weasel with a speech so exquisitely cutting, I could see George bleed. As a mineowner, he finally reached the promised copper. And as a married man, he managed to get his wife to admit him to her bedchamber again – has it really taken a year? –  even if she was thinking of the other Poldark the whole time (don’t think you’re getting a free pass on that one, by the way, Elizabeth, I’ll get to you later).

Three and-a-half out of four is pretty astonishing, given how ignominious a failure on all fronts poor Francis was in season 1, but tv law means that, of course, this incredible uptick in both his fortunes and popularity could only be temporary: death stalked poor Francis right from the opening flashback this week, just waiting for us to forgive him and like him, maybe even love him a little (if we hadn’t already succumbed, that wonderful scene with Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza would have sealed the deal) before snatching him away. Sigh. A few episodes ago, he was ready to shoot himself in the head and I wouldn’t have missed him, but now I’m wishing death had taken his appallingly self-centred wife, instead.

Yes, Elizabeth spent the week sniffing round her brother-in-law once again – after his carry-on at Christmas, it seemed to be her turn once again to lead the chase, with quite the dinner party come-on. “Did I think I loved Francis better? How soon I realised my mistake!”was clear enough to unsettle Ross, but just to make doubly sure – and no doubt give the unknown gentlemen sitting on her other side some terrific gossip to take away with him – she threw “Cannot a woman love two men? Cannot a man love two women?” into the mix as well, presumably because “How’s about it, big boy?” might have been a bit uncouth for Sunday night period drama.

To his credit – for once – Ross seemed more shocked than anything else, and very sensibly spent the night with his delightful wife instead of his brazen sister-in-law. In fact, before Francis’s demise, it was actually quite a sweet week for the Nampara Poldarks, all things considered. I mean, there was the obligatory spat over the smuggling and that soldier with the comedy Scottish accent (I live in Scotland, guys. That’s not how we talk.) but baby Jeremy was fat and safe, and, instead of Ross’s callousness and cruelty of the past few weeks, there was a lot of charming, giggly sparring; a joyously smiley, splashy, shirtless (I’m trying to pretend I don’t care, but I’m not even convincing myself) bath scene and a general feeling that things might actually be on the up.

However, tv law clearly had to intervene here too: just as Ross and Demelza were at their happiest again….. whoosh! Francis was dead, Elizabeth was back in Ross’s arms (innocently for now, but Demelza and the audience know it won’t be innocent for long) and the apparently unstoppable Warleggan Weasel had them all in his crosshairs once again, because he can’t resist Ross any more than Elizabeth or Demelza can, he just has a decidedly less agreeable way of showing it.

imageUnlike the lovely Dr Enys, bless him, who is as agreeable as the Cornish coastline is long. Having charmed everyone around him (including a girl with a leg problem who’s name is, I kid you not, Miss Hoblin – is it wrong that I laughed?) and cured Aunt Agatha’s hypochondria and the entire village of everything else, there’s still a big old hole in the good Doctor’s heart which only the feisty Miss Penvenen can fill. He’s adorable, she’s hat-over-hunting-boots for him too, and they finally tell each other that this week, which means that no matter what Ross and Elizabeth and the eminently punchable George Warleggan are all about to get up to, at least somebody in the show might have a chance at long-term happiness, even if the rest of the season is about to take a very grim turn.

Poldark s2 ep 3

“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.

Poldark s1 ep 8

image“There is much in this world that is monstrous.”

Well, yes. And very, very high on that list is that, after all that death and disaster, Francis is still alive.

Sigh.

Because Ross and Demelza don’t have enough problems already, what with Carnmore collapsing and George Warleggan chasing after Ross like a lovesick puppy, – dude, he doesn’t like you. Get over it – the dreaded putrid throat descends upon the county this week, taking out half the village and giving Dr Enys even more reason to look pained than he already has.

For a grimly satisfying few minutes, however, it looks like the putrid throat might not be the worst thing in the world if it does us all a favour and carries off Francis too, but no; Demelza’s selflessness takes her to Trenwith to save everybody – Francis, Elizabeth, Little Lord Fauntleroy, everybody – except the redoubtable Aunt Agatha, who doesn’t need saving because she’s made of iron rather than flesh and blood. (Maybe Carnmore should try and see what price she’d fetch at auction.)

Sadly, though, while Demelza’s heroics ensure everyone at Trenwith survives, everyone at Nampara isn’t as lucky and she and Ross have to pay a terrible price for her kindness: poor baby Julia! Poor Demelza! Poor me!

Sob!

As an ashen-faced Ross carries that tiny, tragic coffin and the villagers and FRANCIS (oh yeah, now he wants to help) stand with him in silent solidarity, even George Warleggan has the grace to look mildly sorry about it. But, thanks to the sinking of the Queen Charlotte – I’m not proud of myself but I cheered at the sight of it going down – this temporary attack of human feeling doesn’t trouble him too long, and he and his cursed uncle are soon plotting revenge upon Capt Poldark again, because, really, these two need to get a hobby. Or another bugbear. And leave Ross alone.

While our man ensures equitable distribution of the Warleggan ship’s loot and saves a group of somewhat ungrateful survivors, however, every member of the by-now frantic viewing audience is desperately hoping Demelza, lost in putrid throat fever-dreams, won’t follow her daughter. And at least one of them is also hissing audibly at Elizabeth when she turns up to help, which is entirely unfair, but so is just about everything that happens in this episode so Mrs FRANCIS Poldark will just have to wear it. At least her presence means she gets to hear Ross tell Demelza tenderly (and swoonsomely) that Elizabeth will never take him from the love of his life – Awwwww – which seems to succeed where depressed Dr Enys has failed and break the fever. Hurrah! And of course. I mean, if you had Ross Poldark calling you “my love” and begging you to come back to him, you’d get up from your sickbed quick-smart too, wouldn’t you?

Our hero does try to delay telling his poor wife about Julia as long as he can, but it’s no good. The scene where he finally breaks the news is unbearably sad, with the residents of Casa Cregg joining those of Nampara in quiet sobs. And things don’t get any easier for any of us. Ross taking Demelza up onto the cliffs (one last HORSE! for old times’ sake) to say goodbye to their daughter is a beautiful, heartbreaking moment, interrupted by the army turning up to arrest him on Warleggan-brought charges because this couple just CANNOT CATCH A BREAK. Dear GOD.

And that, after eight weeks of us swooning and sighing with a little bit of affectionate smirking thrown in, is apparently where we leave things. What an ending! What a season! Aidan Turner has been gorgeous and fantastic. Eleanor Tomlinson has been lovely and amazing. Cornwall’s scenery has been stunning. And that horse has almost – almost, but even he can’t quite compete with the irresistible Capt Poldark and his awesome lady wife – stolen the show. Will Ross get out of jail? Will someone (please) punch George Warleggan in the face? And will anyone remember that there’s supposed to be copper in the old, deserted Poldark mine and GO AND GET IT? We’ll find out next year when “Poldark will return.” I don’t know about you guys, but I. Can’t. WAIT.