This week, for some odd reason, Ross Poldark decided to become a Cuban band singer who continually thwarts his flame-haired wife’s attempts to join him in show business, or fish business, or something like that. And coincidentally, George Warleggan went from Nellie Olsen to Caroline Bingley to (quite possibly) Hannibal Lecter as the plot thickened.
The Time Warp Again
It’s a funny thing, from the time last season ended to where we picked up the story at the beginning of this one, only minutes had elapsed, yet it seemed that months flew by between the end of episode 2 and the beginning of episode 3. As soon as we saw Demelza’s belly we were wondering about the time frame. Then Miss Penvenen put a fine point on it for us: Three months! Had she not been counting the days since scoundrel Dr. Dwight Enys had paid her any mind, we never would have known for sure. Sometimes having a crazy future ex-girlfriend around has it benefits, has it not?
Salt of the Earth
As we begin, Ross and Demelza happen upon a forced march to Truro Jail. The prisoners had been free trading (i.e.: importing without paying the required duty). Ross, who has got Robin Hood in his bones, sympathizes with the prisoners, and bids the cops adieu with, “Your commitment is heartwarming,” which sounds rather like when a southerner says, “bless your heart”, which is the passive/aggressive equivalent of the (more honest) New York, “f@#% you!” It seems like that will be the end of it, but then one dark night Mr. Trencrom, an importer/exporter with Vandelay Industries, comes a calling. He has run out of navigable coves to land his black market cargo and he is hoping to use Nampara Cove, on Poldark land. Trencrom insists the smugglers maintain a strict don’t ask, don’t tell policy; all the Poldarks have to do is pull the curtains and play dumb and there will be a payday in it for them. Given the parade we just witnessed, we know this is dangerous business. And it might be even more dangerous business to cross Demelza, who is not best pleased that Ross is taking this risk. After some finagling, Ross ignores Demelza’s stares and agrees to a deal; he’ll be richer by £200 (that’s £26,800 in 2016 British pounds or $32,885 American) and six casks of salt. And he does more than pull the curtains. He goes down to the beach and helps escort the goods to their destination. Isn’t this what got him in trouble and sent off to the Colonies as a Red Coat in the Revolutionary War in the first place? Sigh. He just can’t help himself, can he?
The Wheal Leisure miners and half the village people have come down with a mystery affliction. The symptoms include odd bruising and bleeding. With memories of the putrid throat still fresh, Ross fears it is another plague and calls for Dr. Enys. Dwight is diagnostically perplexed until a conversation with magical Ross makes the light bulb go off: It’s Scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C! Historical Note: It was a Scottish surgeon in the Royal Navy who first proved, in 1753, that the fatal disease could be treated with citrus fruit, but it was another 40 years before his findings were acted upon.
Right on cue, the good doctor receives a letter from Killawarren (and some good natured teasing from Ross). He has been summoned to Miss Penvenen, who has set her eyes on him and, generally speaking, whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, so she is rather peeved that he seems to be not that into her. He hasn’t returned to check on her even once since he pulled the fish bone from her own putrid throat.
An examination on-demand commences, though she appears to be posing for a selfie rather than allowing Dr. Enys to get a good look at the injury site. Either she suffers from Lockjaw or doctors had not yet developed the, “say aahhh…” technique. Dwight might have forgotten it anyway. He is a bit smitten. But then she opens her big gob and the GOP talking points spill out. She wonders, what do the simple folk do? Why do they spend their money on Vitameatavegamin instead of oranges? And while she acknowledges that, yes, it is sad that they’ll die for lack of affordable produce, hey, look on the bright side, it means shorter lines at the bank! Dwight is repulsed yet somehow, also turned on. Sigh. But he refuses payment lest he be tainted by her money and hastily leaves. She is intrigued. Does she really believe what she spouted or is she just playing the contrarian to get under his skin? And does she want to pay him only so he is beholden to her? Either way, she makes amends by anonymously sending sacks of oranges for his patients, the great unwashed.
Wedding Bell Blues
Meanwhile, clueless Unwin has had it. He has spent quite enough time, thank you very much, endlessly studying his copies of Post-Revolutionary Brides magazine and putting sticky notes on all the pertinent pages. He has waited long enough for Caroline’s hand (and purse). He presses Mr. Penvenen for an engagement agreement, but Caroline suspects he’s really only interested in her 20k a year (and possibly her dresses) and it would seem that she is correct. But wait a minute, 20k a year? This would make her as wealthy as Mr. Darcy, would it not? And this only just occurred to me: how does Caroline get to be an heiress? I thought women couldn’t inherit. Where was this info when the Titanic went down? Could Lady Mary have actually inherited the whole shebang in season 1, episode 2 of Downton Abbey? Were we all just led a merry dance (for six years) by the Grantham Crime Syndicate? This is a disturbing turn of events. I may have to re-evaluate my entire belief system.
But back to Caroline: maybe she is redeemable after all. When Dwight goes to thank her, they might have kissed right then and there were it not for ever present George who suggested he’d be better suited to Horace who, wait, is there a problem with Horace? Caroline clutches her pearls and runs to Horace’s side. And just like that Caroline is on the next coach back to London, bidding Dwight a fond farewell as George seems peeved about the oranges she left behind for some reason. (Does he also want to keep the numbers down?) While she says she needs to return to civilization, the timing seems odd to me. So is that it? Is that the last we’ll hear of her (aside from a few postcards from Florida)? It remains to be seen.
Your Mine and Ours
Ross encounters George along the bridle path and happens to mention the recent spike in crime, AKA the assault by proxy on Jud, and offers him some neighborly advice: that it would be a mistake to think intimidation will continue to be one-sided. George asks if that’s a threat. George is a little slow on the uptake. George has taken to wearing diapers whenever he goes out, lest he encounter Ross in a dark alley, even though there are no dark alleys anywhere (aside from in his heart which is three sizes too small). A bit of unsolicited advice George: If you want to act the tough guy, maybe lose the shoe bows. Just a thought.
The Empire Strikes Back
What does bitter George do (aside from continuing to practice his ballroom boxing skills and polishing his pistol)? At the quarterly shareholders meeting, Ross asks to once again divert quarterly profits to reach the copper load at the Travorgie mine. But thanks to George buying out shareholders share by share, and Tankard sowing seeds of doubt among the remaining shareholders, he has enough votes to stop progress in its tracks. Then, no longer content to torture Ross secondhand, George pulls off his Tankard mask and shows up at the next Wheal Leisure board meeting. No more pretense. That’s all she wrote. It was all too easy. Foxy Ross led him a merry dance but George got him in the end. Or did he? Ross hatches a plan: He asks his broker to sell half his shares in Wheal Leisure for a top price. He gets £600 for his shares (that’s £80,400 in 2016 British pounds or $98,654 American), with that money he plans to reopen the abandoned Wheal Grace mine (which, like his finances, is currently under water) and try to reach the Travorgie motherload from there. But he needs help and he knows where to get it from, or so he thinks.
Can’t Touch This
Back at Trenwith, Francis has taken to using a divining rod to try and find copper in his yard. He is rescued from this futility when Ross turns up with a proposition: a partnership in Wheal Grace. Ross says he has money from his new (shall we say) escort service and the shares of Wheal Leisure he dumped, and Francis has those thirty pieces of silver he got from George, so why don’t they pool their resources by joining forces from now on? Maybe they’ll strike lucky. Or maybe not, but at least they’ll take their destinies back into their own hands. One caveat: Francis wants son Jeffrey Charles’ name (so he does know his name) on the deed so George cannot touch it. Why do we have a feeling he’ll figure out a way to do that anyway?
Ross is convinced that there’s copper in them thar hills under Wheal Grace. But even if they do strike it rich again, would George ever let them off the hook and sell Francis his estate back? Somehow I don’t think George would allow it to be quite that easy. And outside the room where it happened, Elizabeth overhears the Poldark Cousins plan – will she spill the beans to George? Wait, George already knows. Did he hear it from Elizabeth? I hope Ross doesn’t tell Elizabeth (or Francis) about his new nighttime sideline, in case things go pear-shaped and either one of them decide to sell Ross out (yet again).
George hears about the Poldarks’ new happy venture and says bah humbug to that. He encounters Ross in the Red Lion pub and tells him it was Francis who sold him out and destroyed his copper smelting business. Ross has had enough. A fight ensues in which George gives more than I’d have expected the little guy had in him. And who woulda thunk it? He fights dirty. He attempts to (literally!) gouge Ross’ eyes out! Thankfully Ross prevailed and bested him in the end, leaving him on the floor licking his wounds. George Warleggan, fashion victim, beaten back into his place over a distasteful neck cloth. Joan Rivers would be proud.
I’m Going to Make You An Offer You Can’t Refuse
Aunt Agatha ponders George’s motives in not bringing the hammer down and tossing them out of Trenwith. She doesn’t say it out loud, but she clearly knows it’s because of his (ahem) affection for Elizabeth. She suggests that Elizabeth keep him sweet. But does she understand exactly what that means? We think she does, and she has no problem pimping her out. Proper side saddle Elizabeth goes sauntering by George’s house to draw him out then plays hard to get, but is quickly in over her head. George decides to step up his game. He tells her that as bad as things are they could always get worse – and then proceeds to explain just how much worse he intends on making them. Talk about a (not so) veiled threat.
She asks George what he wants and he goes all Roger Ailes on her: He wants to rekindle their former ‘intimacy’, followed by a gradual increase in said intimacy (if you know what I mean) to safeguard Trenwith. One supposes this is as direct as someone pretending to be a gentleman can say it in corseted society. Elizabeth politely says, “Oops, I just remembered I have to be somewhere” (anywhere!) and exits looking shell shocked. Elizabeth is in quite a pickle. Who can she confide in about this? No one, really. Will she do what George wants to save whatever it is she wants to save? Would there even be anything worth saving after what she must do? One cannot help but think that this is yet another trap orchestrated by George that will not end well.
Why Can’t We Be Friends?
Sweet Verity is happily married but there is one fly in the ointment: Francis’ refusal to repair their rift and accept Captain Blamey as her husband. Francis will tip his hat from a distance. That is all and she is heartbroken. But she’s got other pilchards to fry this week. Namely, meeting her step-children, James and Esther, Captain Blamey’s adult children, who so far have declined to meet their new step-mum. But now, guess who’s coming to dinner? Esther is a tough nut who almost makes poor Verity run screaming into the night. She is just about to give up hope when James arrives and is all sweetness and light in the places where Esther is snotty and judgmental – and he calls her out on it on Verity’s behalf.
Now, all that’s left is for the rift with Francis, and here, once again magical Ross is able to broker a peace treaty between the brothers-in-law. Francis, possibly realizing that he has a lot to be forgiven for himself, and is grateful Ross has been willing to forgive and wipe out the past, finally comes around. It’s over. Someone nominate Ross Poldark for a Nobel Prize.
Last week we wondered what happened to Ross and Demelza. As episode 1 ended, they were all lovely-dovey. Then all of a sudden in episode 2, he was ignoring her and tempted by Elizabeth. This week it was made clear (if it wasn’t before) as they went around the moon and back in one week, this is one seriously mercurial relationship. It seems they love the drama.
Demelza the pilchard whisperer continues to go fishing in Nampara Cove, against Ross’ wishes. Ross continues to take risks against Demelza’s wishes. So there. On her way back from one expedition, with a basket of fish, Demelza encounters Elizabeth who inquires as to whether Ross would be pleased at this. The thought bubble over Demelza’s head says Elizabeth should mind her own damn business — but she just curtsies and keeps going, like a lady, dammit. With the cupboards bare, heavily pregnant Demelza pushes her luck one too many times, but the fact is they need the fish. (And they’re tasty too!) Alone in the boat again, naturally, Demelza goes into labor and is stranded in the rolling surf. It is left to swashbuckling (and angry) Poldark to wade into the torrent and carry her back to shore, and home, as they hurl insults at each other the whole way. Since there was no 911, I’m guessing they sent one of those mailmen for Dr. Enys. Those postal carriers in Cornwall find their intended recipients in the darndest places. Oh, and it’s a boy!
Twinkle, Twinkle, Doggie Star
As Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (and Blamey and Verity) toast their soggy new Wheal Grace venture, we see that Elizabeth still has bashfully giddy eyes for Ross. Demelza sees it too, but does Ross? Maybe he does and likes the way it feeds his ego, even if he’s not interested in taking her up on it…this week. No, Ross Poldark is back to being head over heels in love with his Dog Star, Demelza. He tells her she is the brightest guide in his navigational sky, and he is right. Truth be told, it is only when cloudy judgment crosses that sky, blocking his view of Demelza’s star, that he loses his way. Ain’t love grand?
The Name Game
By the way, what will Ross & Demelza name their bambino, the newest Poldark? Obviously they can’t name him ‘Boy’ as that’s what Francis’ son is called. My money’s on Little Ricky.
What do you think?
As the plot thickens, will the position Elizabeth finds herself in cause her to make compromises she regrets? Will the Poldarks strike gold or copper, or just strike out? Will the renewed familial bonds hold? How did George hear about Ross and Francis’ new venture so quickly? I never watch ahead of the episode I’m recapping so I have no idea. I’m just guessing. What are your guesses? Join the conversation in the comments section below, or on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #PoldarkPBS.