What exactly is this business with Rowella?
On the one hand, we have a genuinely disturbing story of domestic abuse, with rape, violence and general horror visited on the poor, meek Morwenna; this week alone, she contemplates throwing herself off the same cliffs that everyone else gallops over, almost dies in childbirth, and is denied the choice even to nurse her own child. On the other, we have her younger sister playing minx and quite deliberately dangling herself in front of the vile Osborne as a sassy alternative, with the show bizarrely playing it for laughs as she does so. Since it’s virtually impossible to believe Rowella actually wants the appalling Reverend, are we to assume she is instead offering up her own body as a sacrifice to save her sister? Or is she just looking to spice up her life? Since both these options are not only profoundly unfunny, but deeply depressing, the only way to redeem this aspect of the story at this point would be for Rowella to beat Osborne’s brains out before he gets past her bodice. At least that would truly end Morwenna’s pain.
Mortification and discomfiture are something of a theme this week, though. Preacher Sam proposes to Tholly’s daughter in the most Preacher Sam-like manner, only for her to turn him down (entirely correctly) because no one wants to be told you just want their soul to save. The indeliby decent, discreet Doctor Dwight has to endure a series of exceptionally awkward and aggressive conversations about wives and sex lives with the two worst men in the county. And we all have to endure that shameless pup Hugh Armitage’s persistent, pathetic pursuit of Demelza, who has just enough sense to turn him down but not quite enough to properly send him packing. Top tip, Demelza: if you don’t want everyone, including the suitor in question, to think a chap other than your husband is in with a chance, maybe not sing him a love song at a dinner party in front of half the local aristocracy. Including your husband. And while I’m dishing out the advice, top tip for said husband: when you’re kissing your ex goodbye, don’t do it in front of an OPEN DOOR. FFS.
Of course, Ross’s scene with Elizabeth is meant to be a significant heartfelt turning point in their relationship. But since I don’t quite know what Ross was suggesting with the whole ‘give him another child’ pep talk – dude, firstly, there can’t be another child if George refuses to be in the same county as her, and secondly having a different man’s child is what got her in the fix she’s already in – and I spent the entire scene worrying that Tom Harry would pop up from behind a pew, the whole exchange had me more baffled than satisfied, only for that bafflement to turn to annoyance when I saw Prudie and the open door, relief when he “told” Demelza what had happened, and back to annoyance when it turned out he hadn’t. FFS again. At least your wife levelled with you, Captain Ross. If you can tell Lord Falmouth, of all people, how you feel about things, can you not do the same for her?