Poldark on MASTERPIECE: Season 2, Episode 5 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | October 30, 2016
Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Five Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET on PBS Ross does Elizabeth a favor. A mysterious benefactor reciprocates. The search is on for Mark, who knows where secret riches lie. George starts plan C against Ross. Shown from left to right: Luke Norris as Dwight Enys and Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Five Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET on PBS Ross does Elizabeth a favor. A mysterious benefactor reciprocates. The search is on for Mark, who knows where secret riches lie. George starts plan C against Ross. Shown from left to right: Luke Norris as Dwight Enys and Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

The Poldark saga continues to move along at a rapid clip (If you are not up-to-date, you can watch the full series here.), but I think this week’s Poldark episode can be broken down into 5 essentials. Here they are:

  1. Money (and Love) Changes Everything: Ross Poldark is Conflicted:

Ain’t he always? Does Ross want what’s behind door #1 or door #2? He is ignoring Demelza while lavishing attention on Elizabeth as both he and Elizabeth use Jeffrey Charles (previously known as ‘Boy’) as the excuse for these frequent semi-assignations. Is he living a two family Walter Mitty half-life where, by day, he pretends this is what his life might be had Elizabeth had the faith to wait for him? Or is he just being kind to the remnant of a first love that will always be there? When Elizabeth says, “I miss Francis,” Ross responds, “I do too.” Uh-huh. Adding insult to injury (to Francis, at least), in a bit of a throwaway line we learn that the copper Francis discovered, which caused the excitement that (essentially) killed him, was just quartz (ie; fool’s copper). Sigh. Oh, Francis.

Elsewhere in the fool’s department, Ross is beyond broke and the Warleggans have called in his promissory note. The bell tolls the day after Christmas because, you know, they’re not totally heartless. To be clear, this isn’t your 21st century kind of bankruptcy where a bankrupt can walk away from his debts and run for President. No, this is 18th century bankruptcy where a bankrupt is sent to debtor’s prison. What would a Poldark episode be if it didn’t include the threat of prison? Ross Poldark is the Mr. Bates of Cornwall. Despite this, Ross hatches a cockamamie scheme to ask Pascoe to sell his remaining shares in Wheal Leisure and secretly use the money to buy Francis’ shares in the failing Wheal Grace, to anonymously funnel the money to Elizabeth (rather than, hello, use it to provide for Demelza should the worst happen). He explains that Demelza is a miner’s daughter and she’ll survive, whereas Elizabeth is a gentlewoman. Putz. I do not think Consuelo Mack would approve of this, and Pascoe doesn’t either.

  1. I Want Candy!: George is Not Conflicted:

No, George knows exactly what he wants: Revenge for every slight, real or imagined. He lives for the 3AM tweet. He also wants Elizabeth. Still thinking that Aunt Agatha is deaf, George wishes her a swift rendezvous with the coffin makers. Charming. One hopes that cagey Aunt Agatha will have the last word in the end, whenever that end is.

In the meantime, even though Elizabeth turned down his party invitation, Mommy Dearest (AKA George’s co-conspirator) prevails and Elizabeth goes to the party where Psycho Uncle Kerry makes it quite clear to her that despite what she may think, she ain’t all that, and George pays his dutiful attention to the young, prime breeding stock Uncle Kerry rounded up for George’s stud service. (Uncle Kerry may be too optimistic.) Wait, are we mistaken or is that a look of jealousy on Elizabeth’s face? And by the way, remember it was Mommy Dearest who kept Elizabeth away from Ross in the first place. When impatient Uncle Kerry asks, again, why he doesn’t just bring the hammer down on Trenwith, George replies that he can save her but he, “wants her to feel it.” And there it is, the penny dropped right there. Feel what exactly?

All this time we thought that George’s intentions toward Elizabeth were of a romantic nature. Creepy, yes, but romantic, as much as socially awkward George could manage. Now, with a subtle look, we see that maybe those motivations aren’t about romance or love, even the misguided sort, after all. Maybe they are just a way of getting back at Ross. What better way to do that than by claiming the trophy he wanted most. Is Elizabeth is nothing but another pawn in George’s game? And was it always this way or did her arm’s length hurt his pride once too often and now it’s turned into something more twisted? Am I reading too much between the lines here?

Anyway, we’ll table that for now because there was this good news: With Caroline’s anonymous money, once again George’s hopes and dreams are dashed as his ACME Promissory Note Kit backfires, causing he and Uncle Kerry to crash into the side of a Mesa as Ross and Demelza go on their way. Beep-beep. It’s that fox leading him a merry dance again. How fittin’?

2 ½. Swim With the Fishes: Doctor Enys The Miracle Worker:

When an unidentified dead body washes up on the Cornwall shore, who ya gonna call? Doctor Enys! There’s nothing he can do for this unfortunate, of course, but he masterfully takes charge. He tells village girl Rosina and her intended that he’ll handle the burial, and as she limps away, he pulls out his hacksaw to ghoulishly dismember the body instead, and we think WTF? Has he gone all Tony Soprano on us? Thankfully, no, it was something else entirely. The good doctor is a man of science and he only wanted to take this opportunity to study the cadaver and gain a better understanding of the human body – the better to offer a miracle cure for Rosina’s Namath knee, my dears. But, our superhero reminded the village people (as he tossed his cape and leapt their mud huts in a single bound), this was no miracle; t’was just basic anatomy. And speaking of basic anatomy…

  1. Keep Hope Alive!: Caroline Returns:

As promised, Caroline comes galloping back onto the scene. It is seven months later and she has reached the age of majority, but (according to her) she is no freer to follow her heart. (And after the cadaver beach incident, we are not sure we want to know exactly how Dr. Enys has been studying for her return.) Anyway, they have kept in touch by pony express, but now she’s here – and they immediately have a misunderstanding. She challenges him about moving to the city to be among his own kind and he says he doesn’t want to be a society pet, causing her to presume he thinks she’s vacuous while he’s noble, then she jumps on her horse and challenges him to a race. Yes, it’s horse racing as foreplay, little did Dwight know that he was courting Willie Shoemaker.

Caroline is a bit noncommittal on the subject of marriage though, but in her position, wouldn’t you be? She’s an heiress who only just got her independence. Now, she can bring home the bacon and have the servants fry it up in the pan, however because of the laws of the day, as soon as she marries all control of her fortune (and life) goes to her husband.

Uncle Mr. Penvenen, who was happy to have her wed to Unwin, is not best pleased about her playing doctor with Enys and issues an ultimatum: he demands Enys leave her and her 6K a year alone. In a previous episode 20k a year was the amount quoted as her estate income. Have her fortunes taken a steep tumble or did her uncle just want to underplay her fortune to make her less of an enticement? Whichever way it was it doesn’t work. Dr. Enys is only emboldened.  Horace does not like this interference either. Not one bit – and he wants his say. Quite frankly, Horace and Verity are the only two who make any sense in this place. Fortunately, Caroline is listening to Horace (rather than her uncle) and continuing to gallop away with Dr. Enys at every opportunity.

Not only that, she anonymously buys Ross’ debt (£1400, or about one quarter of what her uncle just said her annual income is), offering him both a lower interest rate and the ability to ruin George’s best laid plans. But who told her about it? Dwight or Demelza? And even though Ross doesn’t know, does Dr. Enys?  Oh well, we won’t worry about that now. We’ll just giggle at the very idea that, given George’s self-defense hobby, it’s deliciously ironic that his Ross Poldark Revenge Fantasy comes crashing down on, of all days…Boxing Day! DOH!

  1. Hide and Seek: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures (and Big Risks):

Ross seeks the assistance of Mr. Trencrom in issuing a Copper Alert for the elusive Mark Daniels, the man who left behind a cryptic message about there still being money in that darn Wheal Grace mine before he ran off to who knows where. And that is the point: Where? Daniels might be his last hope for finding anything of value in that mine, which is about to close if he doesn’t. In exchange for his private investigative work, Trencrom wants something from Ross in return: More free trade importing assistance. This has always been a dangerous game, and it is getting only more so as desperate times make neighbors turn informers on a dime. Their trusted band is getting smaller. Even so, Ross agrees to not just land the ships, but store the goods – double trouble – by digging out the floor under his parlor and turning Nampara into a black market warehouse. But who should stop by uninvited as digging commences? Charlie, the guy everyone suspects as the mole of the month.

With his promissory note in safer hands, Ross no longer needs those desperate measures, but is it too late? Has he already sealed his fate by setting in motion a dangerous plan that he now cannot stop? Has weaselly Charlie already turned him in to Captain McNeil? Of course, patterns being what they are, something will put our anti-hero in danger next week; is this it? Or is there something else, something more Warleggan-shaped lurking out there in the dark?

  1. He Loves Me; He Loves Me Not: Demelza Has Faith, Hope (and Verity):

Demelza ain’t just plucking daisies. No, she is made of hearty miner’s daughter stock, as Ross reminds us. Ross completely disregards her concerns about Elizabeth and her pleas to stay away from the free traders. She begs him to do a Go Fund Me page to raise the funds to satisfy the looming balloon payment on his promissory note, to no avail. His Poldark Pride will not allow it. His Poldark Pride will also not allow it to be pointed out that there is nothing but his Poldark Pride standing in the way of his getting out from under George’s manicured thumb.

For her part, Demelza has taken up couponing and is now hoarding vittles behind the wood paneling in her kitchen. When confessor/therapist Verity asks about her concerns with respect to the time Ross spends with Elizabeth, Demelza answers, “Having a husband is a little bit like going to church; either you believe in something or you don’t.” Clearly, Demelza is like a Cubs fan; she believes.

In this patriarchy in which they are forced to live, Verity and Demelza, and all women, (even Elizabeth, who must know that the only thing she has to take to market is her pretty self) are virtually powerless. All they do have is a tiny slice of something that they cannot stand in. It is a delicate and small kind of power that they have to wield softly and from behind the scenes.  That look Verity gave Elizabeth as she rouged her cheeks for Ross’ impending arrival at Trenwith spoke volumes. Like Aunt Agatha, she knows all – though she does shock her great aunt with talk of her eagerness to get back to her hubby. Go Verity! But before she goes she implores Elizabeth to allow Ross and Demelza to have their own private Christmas without her jumping out of the figgy pudding. She listens, which ends up leaving her at the mercy of George and Mommy Dearest.

Back at Nampara, after ignoring Demelza through Christmas dinner, and their jaunt to Pascoe and the Warleggan’s, and some words of wisdom from Prudie (of all people), and actually listening to Demelza herself (for once), Ross gains an understanding of her fears and presents her with some lingerie – letting her know that, (hello!), yes, he does want her. Or, at least, he wants her right now (not that I’m cynical).

OK, so that was 5 1/2 essentials. But what do you think? Join in the discussion below and let us know!

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.