Poldark on MASTERPIECE: Season 2, Episode 4 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | October 23, 2016
Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Four Sunday, October 23rd at 9pm ET on PBS George maneuvers Poldark toward checkmate. The law hunts down free traders. Caroline chooses between Unwin and Dwight. Francis goes missing. Shown: Kyle Soller as Francis Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Four Sunday, October 23rd at 9pm ET on PBS. George maneuvers Poldark toward checkmate. The law hunts down free traders. Caroline chooses between Unwin and Dwight. Francis goes missing. Shown: Kyle Soller as FrancisCourtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE Stream full episodes HERE.

This week, Ross takes a bath. Sadly, so does Francis. Sigh.

Ted gets arrested and Francis comes to the rescue.

Village extra, and Ross’ fellow free trader, Ted, has been arrested and as everyone rushes to the courthouse for his speedy trial it’s Francis to the Bat Pole! Did you know Francis was a Magistrate/Superhero? I didn’t. Did I miss something? At Ted’s trial he performs some kind of Jedi Mind Trick on the judge, convincing him that what Ted really wants is a martyr’s death, so sending him to the gallows will only give him what he wants – and we cannot have that, can we? No, we cannot. It would be much better to go easy on him. Then he compliments Judge Halse for his great wisdom, like it was all his idea.

The sentence: A mere three years hard labor. This time. Well played Francis, well played.

A snitch in time condemns nine, and it’s none other than Nick Vigus.

There is a code among the working class people in the East End of London that says you don’t grass (tattle) to the Old Bill (cops). If that code exists here in Cornwall, someone’s been breaking it. Ted hasn’t been the only arrest. There’s a snitch amongst the free traders (smugglers) and it is making all the village people suspect one another. It turns out the culprit is Nick who, coincidentally, is one of those opportunists who took money from George to testify against Ross. He doesn’t see himself as a traitor though. (They never do.) When Ross interrupts his coworkers’ beat down and confronts him, he says, “Why shouldn’t I sell myself to the highest bidder?” Thank you, Cousin Kardashian. “And furthermore, who do you think you are, Mr. Desirable? You have no idea what it’s like to live in squalor, even if you do go slumming with a scullery maid!” Mic drop.

Captain McNeil and Nick hatch a plot and Demelza shows her hand.

As a bloodied Nick emerges from the mine, Captain McNeil just happens to be lurking nearby upon his faithful steed (isn’t he always?) and slowly follows him up the road. That doesn’t look suspicious at all. No one will ever suspect a thing. Captain McNeil then turns up at Nampara, claiming he wants to talk to Ross (when he had to know Ross was at the mine and could have just spoken to him there.) Over tea he and Demelza have a chin wag about the local nocturnal crime wave and he offers her the passive aggressive warning that he pities the smuggler’s poor wife. Given that Demelza has no game and no poker face, he kinda gets confirmation of his suspicion (and, no doubt, Nick’s intel).

MP Unwin Trevaunance cracks down on free trade.

Turns out Dim Bulb MP Unwin is the reason behind all the free trading crackdowns in the county. It looks like that other candidate he snatched the seat from never checked the hanging chads and boy has this little bit of power gone to his finely coiffed head. He is quite proud of himself. Putz.

Dr. Enys makes his rounds and all the single ladies put their hands up.

Another tale of Dr. Choakenstein. A young maid in the village has a sore knee and Dr. Choake has prescribed amputation. (Insert bug-eyed emoticon here!) Fortunately heroic Dr. Enys is around to prescribe a simple wrap and rest. Her father doesn’t see the point. Why shouldn’t she just be rid of her leg? Or maybe the menfolk just don’t like how giddy the womenfolk get when Dr. Prince Charming is about. He pays them no mind though. He is married to his work.

Rub a dub dub, Demelza puts Ross in a tub.

Girl Scout Demelza is clean in thought, word, and deed. She gives Ross a very desirable sponge bath that was also a bit of a negotiation (which everything is between these two). They are off to a ball and she tells her beloved that if he really wants to give her a gift it would be to have eyes only for her. She says it lightly and with a smile but we know the fear that hides beneath. She also mentions his ‘other wife’ Grace (as in Wheal Grace), but we know the other woman she is really talking about. The subtext is always Elizabeth. Does Ross get that? Might he enjoy being desired by two women? We’re about to find out.

A Happy Un-engagement for Caroline and Unwin.

Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano, Caroline (with Unwin in tow) returns to her uncle (and keeper) Mr. Penvenen, who thinks he is hosting an engagement party for the happy couple but it turns out Unwin hasn’t actually closed the deal yet. Uncle tells him he’d better and quick. Unfortunately, Caroline can barely tolerate Unwin’s presence even amongst company, and after one too many he stomps out, this time for good. Thereby breaking off their non-engagement and leaving Caroline free to pursue a more suitable father for Horace (and she knows just who).

Elizabeth drops a bomb on Ross as the world’s most awkward dinner party continues.

Since Mr. Penvenen invites the riff raff to the disengagement party, Ross (and Demelza) are there and he is seated next to Elizabeth who maybe had a few too many and decides it’s true confession time. She lays it all out right there at the dining table. Surrounded by all those people. Elizabeth coyly admits it was a mistake marrying Francis. And no, Ross, it wasn’t because she thought you were dead. It was because she thought she loved Francis better but realized too late that she was wrong, saying, “a piece of my heart will always belong to you and yours to me.” Ross looks a bit horrified. Is he horrified by her feelings or because she had the temerity to say it out loud? The only thing we know for sure is whenever these two get within whispering distance of each other it’s trouble. Demelza can only glare at them from the other end of the table, and the intimate convo does not go unnoticed by Francis or George. Forget about a triangle; this is a quintangle.
Was it the wine or was it the fear of George’s ‘offer’ that scared Elizabeth into her confession? When questioned later by Demelza, Ross (of course) said the conversation held nothing of consequence. What would he say? Um, do-over!

In other party news, it seems that Ross and George haven’t clapped eyes since that little disagreement in the Red Lion Pub. But the thing that really struck a nerve with George was when Ross said, “Must you be envious even of that?” That set him off in a way that turned tragic pretty quickly. All in all, it turns out that Lord and Lady Grantham aren’t the only ones who can host notoriously disastrous dinner parties. Huzzah!

Dwight & Caroline Sitting in a Tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

“Do you ride for pleasure?” Caroline asked Dr. Enys that before. Too bad he never said yes when she first asked because it seems that question was her attempt at a come-on line. It was her opening gambit to get him to meet her alone in the woods to celebrate her jilting.

When she finally gets him there, they are alone for the first time and it’s cards on the table. He says he can’t stop thinking about her, and doesn’t appreciate her teasing him. He explains that he spent all his time studying and doesn’t understand women. She apologizes for her discourtesy and clarifies that she spent her life learning to be an heiress and doesn’t know men.  It seems we’ve all been reading her wrong. She’s just a poor little rich girl who’s in love with a poor country doctor, but doesn’t know how to speak to him, or anyone, except her dog Horace. These two shy kids could really use a copy of Courting for Dummies. But then they KISS! That solves everything.

Caroline must go before the clock strikes midnight. Her uncle wants her locked away till marriage, but she’ll be back in December to wade ashore, when she’s come of age and can be the mistress of her own domain. But a lot can happen between now and December to toss roadblocks into the path of true love. Does Aunt Agatha have a card for this? We shall see.

Aunt Agatha has a heartsickness of her own and George Warleggan plays himself.

It seems Aunt Agatha isn’t feeling at all well, but she doesn’t want the doctor. Instead she sends for nurse Verity who is welcomed home by all – including Francis. Dr. Enys diagnoses her with loneliness and says Verity and attention are the cure. When George turns up, Aunt Agatha feigns deafness as he relays to her an extended death wish, before kissing her hand and leaving. Big mistake. One thinks that Aunt Agatha will have more to say about that in future. Go granny, go granny, go granny, go!

George will stop at nothing to destroy Ross.

George is back from London and wants to start a bank. One supposes it is because what better way to keep the vulgars at heel. But Cokehead Uncle Kerry is back and he’s got more interesting news: Ross’ £1000 promissory note (the one with the 40% interest) is up for sale. Naturally, George’s first impulse is to use it to use it to manipulate.

George goes to Elizabeth to drop lots of hints about saving Ross, knowing, of course that is the bait she’ll snap. He tells her he wants to hold favor in her eyes. He sees the favor in which those eyes hold Ross and that is what makes him envious.  And now we see George’s motivation laid bare: He wants to destroy Ross, because Elizabeth favors him.

Elizabeth attempts to comply, but instead of giving Francis all the info, she speaks riddles. She doesn’t say that Ross is tied to the railroad tracks with Snidely Whiplash at the helm of a speeding train that’s barreling towards him. No, she just says, be a good boy and play nice with Little Georgie. Instead of achieving the intended result, Francis (probably thinking George requested this) goes off half-cocked and tells George in no uncertain terms that they are not friends and vows he’ll never again set foot in his house, and dares him to turn them out. Ho boy!

George won’t punish Elizabeth for Francis’ folly. Instead, once more George attacks by proxy; instead of tossing Francis and Elizabeth out of Trenwith, he calls in Ross’ loan. Ross has till December to come up with £1400 (in 2016 money that’s £151,000 or $181,000 USD), or they will lose everything and Ross will end up in debtors prison.

Francis counsels Demelza before his untimely demise.

“One bad thing doesn’t outweigh the many good. It’s the balance that counts.” One supposes that is what Francis must tell himself to be happy with Elizabeth, knowing deep down she will always love Ross. Once that tortured him, but since his failed suicide attempt and the new lease on life it brought him, it seems he is accepting of what he’s got and sees in Demelza the same thoughts and fears that once drove him to the edge of despair. In a group therapy session, Francis confesses to his part in Carmor-gate, and Demelza says she knows Ross and Elizabeth are still in love and asks him how can she compete with the perfection that is Elizabeth? He counsels her on having more self-esteem and understanding her true value.

So in his final days Francis ran the table. Life doesn’t always work this way. We don’t always get reconciliation before death, sudden or otherwise. One cannot decide if all this makes Francis shocking death more tragic or more comforting. Francis, we hardly knew ye.

One could argue that Francis unwittingly set in motion the events that led to his own death. Had he not chosen that moment to goad George, George might not have called in the loan yet. Then Ross wouldn’t have had to ride off to Truro to see his financial advisor, and would have been right there with Francis when he fell. Ross could have saved him, like he did all those years ago. But instead, after falling into an underground well and hanging on for hours, he succumbed to exhaustion and slipped into his watery grave just moments before the search party was about to find him.

Eureka! There is copper in them thar hills (and mine).

Francis found it, but at what cost? We all know that whenever you’re watching a drama and a character looks at a clock, it’s never a harbinger of good fortune. So when the horse drives up outside and Elizabeth goes to the door, she already knows it won’t be good news. At the funeral, Ross’ embrace with sobbing Elizabeth is a little too tight and little too long. Are some of Demelza’s tears reserved for herself? Does she fear that she just lost her husband as well?

Happy Holidays?

Seems like a lot is going to happen in December. Caroline will be back and free (at last), and a Warleggan anvil might fall out of the sky and hit Ross on the head – unless desperation to avoid that anvil pushes him to take one too many risks in the meantime.

What do you think?

Here’s what we missed over that year that got lost in the Bermuda Triangle: What transpired between Elizabeth and George after he made that indecent proposal? Did he just let it drop for a whole year? And how is it that in such a small town, Ross had not run into George since that day in the Red Lion until the Penvenen party? Has George spent the year tip-toeing around from bush to bush, hiding? And what has Dwight done for fruit all that time Caroline was away? Did she sign him up for one of those mail order fruit subscription plans? Do you have any questions (or answers)? Join in the discussion below in the comments section.

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.