Poldark on MASTERPIECE: Season 2, Episode 6 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | November 6, 2016
Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Six Sunday, November 6th at 9pm ET on PBS A fugitive points the way to riches. Ross and the free traders sail into a trap. Caroline and Dwight hatch a plan. Demelza faces house arrest. Shown: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Six Sunday, November 6th at 9pm ET on PBS A fugitive points the way to riches. Ross and the free traders sail into a trap. Caroline and Dwight hatch a plan. Demelza faces house arrest. Shown: Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark
Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

Were you, like me, watching all the life-altering missed messages in tonight’s episode and thinking, why doesn’t he just text her? This one if by land, two if by sea business left a lot to be desired, didn’t it? Then again, I suppose when you think about it, all our modern day instantaneous communication devices leave us with no fewer crossed wires, do they? (If you are not up-to-date, you can watch the full series here.)

It’s all about timing. Let’s break it down…

  1. When You Wish It Upon a Star: Elizabeth thinks Ross is just not that into her at the worst possible time:

Everywhere Demelza is willfully self reliant, Elizabeth is willfully dependent. She wishes for Ross to continue to take an interest in her and frets that now that they have no common business ventures he won’t. Yes, she’s fishing and, yes, he bites. Of course he will. But unbeknownst to them, back at his lair, George adjusts his blonde ringlets and commences to drip, drip, drip fear into Elizabeth’s ear via proxy Tankard. The scare tactics are intended to send her running to George’s sheltering (and creepy) arms. He thinks he can scare her into marrying him. Of course, when Elizabeth thinks protection, she thinks of Ross Poldark, not George Warleggan.  Alarmed at Tankard’s warnings of French imported anarchy, she sends Ross a 911 letter and that would have worked any other time, but on this day Prudie answers the door and it goes into her pocket. Adding further complications, silly boy Ross Poldark had left town without letting his other wife know, and no one is volunteering that bit of info, so Elizabeth is left thinking Ross is ignoring her. In a snit she may regret, she goes looking for support elsewhere, falling right into George’s well-laid honey trap.

But not every Poldark woman is waiting for salvation to come from outside. Aunt Agatha gets her gun because anything Tankard can do, she can do better. Maybe we’re cockeyed optimists but we are suddenly hoping there is an accidental (?) shooting with George on the receiving end, aren’t we?

  1. Fortune Cookie:  Caroline and Dwight’s stars (and wires) remain crossed:

We have no idea why Caroline has reached the age of majority but still cannot be her own master, and has to give up her inheritance if she marries Dr. Enys, but regardless, here we are. The happy couple plans to elope, in secret and against the wishes of her uncle/keeper, Mr. Penvenen, who insists she should marry wisely (which, of course is code for not that country doctor you’re galloping around with). This elopement seems to be more Caroline’s idea than Dwight’s and means they will have to skip town until Uncle Penvenen cools down. (Which Caroline estimates will be about a year.) A year? Clearly, Uncle Penvenen doesn’t have the temperament for the job. Despite that, Dwight would rather do everything properly and in the full light of day (and also not leave his patients behind to Dr. Hatchet), which leads Caroline to lament that he cares more for his patients than her. Did Horace put that into her head? But whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, so they are going ahead with it – and they have to do it before Uncle Penvenen drags her back to London by her hair. Let the packing commence.

When Dwight stops by to say goodbye to Ross, Demelza advises him to go and make a new life for himself and not look back. (She also mentions her hubby’s latest hair-brained scheme.) Caroline pays a call to Nampara too. She seems to be looking to oracle Demelza Poldark for advice about the reliability of men in general and husbands (her future one) in particular, but given her recent spotty experience with errant free trader Ross, Demelza (maybe) wasn’t as enthusiastically reassuring a voice as Caroline needed to warm her cold feet.

Tonight, tonight, won’t be just any night: Elopement night arrives but there’s a hitch on the way to their getting hitched. (Ain’t there always?) Dr. Enys tried to get out but the Cornish Rosinas kept pulling him back in. It was a series of unfortunate incidents really, and on a different type of show the exact same script could be played as a farce. First, Demelza goes to town to better hear the jungle drums (i.e.: get news about Ross’ little excursion), then upon seeing her, Rosina comes running for a potato and has a knee-lapse.  Who ya gonna call? Dishy Dwight is almost out the door and suggests they call Dr. Choake, then remembering that will mean amputation, he thinks better of it and goes to save her knee once more – which is where things get weird.  It turns out that Rosina’s intended, Nick (who everyone had suspected of being a grass), has used Dr. Enys as an alibi to stay in bed instead of going down to the beach for the free trading landing that night. Something’s fishy and it ain’t the pilchards. Dr. Enys must don his cape to investigate and save the day. But why didn’t he send a note to Caroline??????

Meanwhile back at the ranch, Caroline sits at their rendezvous spot, but anticipation is making him late and keeping her waiting in the getaway carriage. She has no idea Dwight has been detained (literally). Eventually her fears get the better of her. She gives up and goes back in the house (lest Horace catch a chill), and pens a goodbye letter to Dwight. She is off to London – and maybe to Unwin? So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, oy vey.

2.5. You must remember this: This is the same sort of thing that happened in Last Tango in Halifax, decades before we joined the story of Alan and Celia: As teens they’d had a date planned, but at the last minute Celia was detained (by her parents suddenly moving away) and couldn’t make it. She had no way to let him know, so she wrote a letter to Alan (with the explanation and new address) and gave it to her friend to deliver. However that ‘friend’ never did and so Alan thought Celia had stood him up. Heartbroken, he ended up marrying and having a highly dysfunctional daughter and unfulfilling life with the ‘friend’ instead (With friends like these!), only to find out about the ruse years later. He spent 50 years pining away for Celia who had likewise been pining for him – – which is the long way around to asking, will that happen to Caroline and Dwight? Is her uncle taking her back to London to steer her towards (what he thinks of as) more marriageable material (like bridezilla Unwin)? And in her heartbroken state, will she go through with that loveless arranged marriage, destined to spend her life bursting into tears every time she sees an orange?

Despite her hasty decision to send the Dear Dwight letter, I think there’s one fundamental thing we can apply here: Love. Like Alan and Celia (and Ross and Elizabeth), Caroline and Dwight will not stop pining for each other. On that you can rely. Now the question is, how much time will go by before they come face-to-face once more? And what damage will be done (and need to be undone) in the meantime? Of course, even if the worst does happen and Caroline marries Unwin, the marriage could be annulled as long as it’s not been consummated – and giving what we’ve observed of Unwin, one doubts it would be.

  1. Bonfire of the Vanities: What a long strange trip the Wheal Grace dig has been:

One supposes everyone has heard the quote from Winston Churchill, ‘You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing after they have tried everything else.’ What you may not know is, he was actually talking about Ross Poldark. With everyone thinking the free trade informer was lying low, and with Ross desperate, Ross takes a gamble: He sets sail for France on a three-hour tour to meet up with the elusive sage of Wheal Grace, the newly rediscovered Mark Daniels, to find out where is all that dam copper.

In the end it turned out that Mark Daniels was cray-cray. The goose that sent them on the wild copper chase is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, and laid only a quartz egg. Unknowingly following the ravings of a loon cost all the Poldark money, Francis’ death, Ross to risk death by hanging with Trencrom’s crew, and (Hello!) caused Dwight to miss his date with destiny. In the end it was all for naught. It was always destined to be so. Yeah, thanks for nothin’, bud. This causes Ross to have an epiphany: He decides to go straight from now on, extolling the virtues of a quiet life farming with his wife and child. He says if he ever decides to go looking for his heart’s desire again, he won’t look any farther than his own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, he never really lost it anyway, or something like that. Then he bought Demelza some new red shoes to go with her stockings. But did he learn his lesson too late?

  1. Ship of Fools: The Red Coats are riding in the hood:

Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Dr. Enys the revered. As the free trade ship is about to land cargo in Nampara Cove (just as Nick had informed them), Nampara is crawling with Red Coats. A trooper guards Demelza on Captain McNeil’s orders because he thinks she’s not as innocent as she looks. He also seems to say to Demelza that he can make it all go away for her ‘favor.’ (And we know what that means…we think). Am I the only one who heard it that way?

Ross and his importing colleagues have no idea they are walking into an ambush that will mean certain death by hanging (unless they’re shot first). At the same time, up on the cliffs, Dwight starts a brushfire to warn them and, just like when Lassie would bark and Timmy knew exactly what she meant, Ross understood and gave the command to re-launch. But instead of trying to escape by boat with the crew, Ross tries to run home, battling Red Coats as he goes. He gets there just in the nick of time. Meanwhile, Dwight is jumped and taken into custody as well. This week’s episode did have one bit of good timing: Trencrom’s men had emptied out the storage room under the Poldark library (and under duress) just in time for the Red Coats to find it empty. Phew! But where’s Ross?

Turns out Ross Poldark has something in common with David Copperfield, and luckily the crew from This Old Estate thought ahead and put in that trap door! Norm Abram (and David) would be proud. Ross was hiding inside a false wall, and when the coast is clear and he comes climbing out, there it is again; it’s the siren call of Demelza’s singing that brings him out of the shadows and into her embrace. Sigh. Lovely. Though I have to say I couldn’t help but think, Wait, he was in there at least a day — how did he use the bathroom? Does this mean there’s no romance in my soul, or is it just a bit tarnished? And by the way, in case you savvy New Yorkers were wondering about that studio apartment under the Poldark library, it’s already rented.

  1. Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow: Jud is back!

Verity has gone but Jud has returned. A good conspiracy theorist could probably make something of that ‘coincidence’. Yes, after over a year on the Cornish wrestling circuit, Jud returns with a new clean-cut haircut and nary a word about where he’s been all this time – unless an explanation was on offer while Prudie was screaming at him. When Prudie winds up and gets going she may as well be speaking in tongues. I don’t have the slightest idea what she’s saying. I just have to hope it wasn’t important to the plot. On top of that, apparently Jud has gone all Goodfellas on us. While he wasn’t such a tough guy when George’s proxy muscle was roughing him up over his trial testimony, he is plenty tough when interrogating little girls (AKA Nick’s daughters) – but the scriptwriters gave the girls no lines so he didn’t get anywhere.

In the end, turncoat Nick becomes the latest body found on the beach. And the moral of that story is: If you’re going to sing like a canary and double cross your mates, don’t use the town doctor as your alibi when your fiancée has a janky knee.

What do you think Poldarkians?

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If you are on Twitter you can follow THIRTEEN at @THIRTEENWNET and me at @E20Launderette. On Instagram, find THIRTEEN at @THIRTEENWNET and me at @GothamTomato.

Stream full episodes of Poldark on MASTERPIECE HERE.