Poldark, Episode Five: The Poldarks Strike Back
Last week’s episode: WHO CARES? ROSS AND DEMELZA WERE PERFECT IN EVERY WAY.
Okay, but seriously, everyone was actually pretty happy, aside from Francis, who never seems to be happy anymore. The mine started to do well, though we get a hint that there may be troubles on the money horizon, but Ross finally tells his wife he loves her to her face and Demelza then reveals she’s pregnant so POLDARK WENT FULL OPRAH WITH THAT HAPPY.
We suspect this can only mean there is nothing but heartbreak in the future. Still, onward and upward! Let us pretend while we can that there is nothing that can ruin all that is good and read on for our thoughts and recap for Episode Five of Poldark.
Leah: The episode begins with Ross’ men still working hard in the mine, Ross himself included, as usual. He’s so happy lately, smiling and cheerful, and then his friend Dwight shows up!
Erika: I’m pretty sure this is Ross’ only friend he’s ever made on his own. Like, I’m pretty willing to bet on it. All his buds that he’s hired to work at the mine are people he knew thanks to his father and all the richies are people he’d actively prefer not to have to bother with in spite of his obligations. The way he perks up when he sees Dwight is like watching me perk up any time a hint of a mention of Aidan Turner comes up in conversation.
“Blah, blah, Irish.”
“Blah, blah, handsome.”
“Blah, blah, heat wave.”
YOU ARE DEFINITELY TALKING ABOUT AIDAN TURNER.
It’s like watching a fangirl. ‘DWIGHT! HI, DWIGHT! DWIGHT, IT’S SOOOOOO GOOD TO SEE YOU, DWIGHT, REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES WE HAD? REMEMBER WHEN YOU PATCHED ME UP AND SAVED MY LIFE? OMG, I REMEMBER SO MUCH, DWIGHT, NOW MEET MY PERFECT WIFE BECAUSE SHE’S GREAT, TOO, DEMELZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!’
Just heart eyes everywhere for Ross Poldark right now, it’s beautiful.
Leah: Dwight is super handsome and smiley and I like his dumb face immediately, even though I’m sure he’s going to do something stupid at some point, because it seems like everyone does something dumb. Except for Demelza. She’s still perfect.
PERFECT AND PREGNANT. Oh, god, she’s going to have a little Poldark and my heart is going to melt forever.
Erika: I CAN’T TALK ABOUT IT, NOT YET! Also, for those keeping score at home, Demelza being this far into her pregnancy means that close to two years have passed since the first episode because Elizabeth’s already had sweet Jeffrey Charles. So basically, Ross and Demelza have probably been sickeningly doting over each other for months and months, which is the most disgusting thing I could think of, oh god, make it stop, they’re just too precious for this world!
Aside from that, it looks like everyone’s kind of getting along right now, or at least tolerating each other. They all show up to watch a play together and nobody gets into a fight! Well done, boys!
Leah: It’s nice for the moment to see that Ross and Francis aren’t at each other’s throats. Elizabeth, Verity and Demelza seem to be quite close as well, and given the significant period of time that’s passed since the last episode, I love to think they’ve all developed this lovely little family. It might not be perfect, but the Poldarks genuinely all seem happy. Which, again, probably means something bad is going to happen soon. I don’t trust anyone to allow smiles for long.
Erika: I mean, we can’t assume that Francis has stopped being a little shit but props to Elizabeth for pushing past it, as she’s been forced to do for ages now. Meanwhile, while they’re all watching the play, Demelza starts to get what she says are ‘aches’ but what Dwight might have told her if he’d been been paying attention is that they’re FREAKIN’ CONTRACTIONS, WOMAN, GET THEE HOME FOR A BIRTHING!
In fairness, she does bail on the play, which Verity notices because she’s Boss Poldark, but Ross is just like ????? and stays put while his queen cousin helps Demelza give birth at Nampara.
Leah: And even in her pain, Demelza is still trying to hook Verity and Blamey up again.
Erika: Which is weird because come on, Demelza, that was so 18-20 months ago. Anyway, back at the play, Dwight’s like ROSS, BRUH, think you might have a surprise waiting for you back home.
Leah: This is all while a little side story is beginning here with Mark, one of the miners, and Karen, the cute female lead of the play they’ve just watched. They’re looking at each other and making eyes and even Ross sees it because as we soon come to learn, Mark is anything but subtle when it comes to his feelings.
Erika: I like that Ross fully advocates a marriage announcement for Mark and Karen. He is seriously the king advertiser for quick marriages. WAIT, right, BABY POLDARK IS COMING WHICH KIND OF TRUMPS ALL OF THIS, so Ross books it the hell out of there. RUN, SEAMUS, SHOW ROSS THE MEANING OF HASTE!
Leah: LOOK AT THOSE CURLS! They bounce all slow motion when he hears the baby crying upstairs and he runs to join Demelza and their new daughter.
Erika: That hair toss is the most beautiful thing I ever seen. That is true art.
Leah: Here come the tears again, though, because it’s genuinely the sweetest thing in the world when he talks about how he wants to make the world a better place for their daughter and how he’ll be a better man for her.
Ross isn’t perfect. He has his flaws but the one thing that can be said for him is that he tries. He spends every single day TRYING. He works so hard at the mine, he wants to help people, he wants to change how things work in Cornwall, and he tries because it’s all he knows how to do. So when he says he’ll make the world a better place for their daughter, it’s impossible not to believe it. He’ll do it, there’s no doubt.
Erika: He’s already become a better man for Demelza, as he also says in this scene, and Ross has always possessed a moral compass that so many others in his class don’t have but I think he’s right. Demelza has definitely influenced him to act in a way he might not have otherwise, and it’s impossible to say whether he would have fought against Jim’s sentencing or worked as hard as he had on the mine without her but once he married her, Ross knew that he couldn’t let her down.
Now, he has two perfect ladies in his life to care for, and this short scene with them in bed with the baby is such a far cry from what we saw of Elizabeth giving birth while Francis and Uncle Chuck toasted over all the hard work men do when it comes to bringing children into the world. Idiots.
It’s noteworthy, too, that Francis says something similar of Elizabeth in this episode while he’s giving Margaret, the lady of the night, jewelry that he can’t afford to give. He tells her that Elizabeth tries to make him a better man but that it’s not possible because he’s not one. On the one hand, I’d like to applaud him simply for not being so blind that he can’t see that about himself; but on the other, I’d like to smack him around because I think that as far as Francis is concerned, being a ‘better man’ for Elizabeth means being Ross Poldark.
As Elizabeth says to Ross later, she’s ‘beyond wishing’ at this point in her life. She doesn’t need Francis to be Ross; she just needs him to be a man willing to try.
Leah: Speaking of Elizabeth, ever the classiest lady to exist, she comes to visit Demelza at Nampara. She has no ulterior motives, no intentions but to spend time with the new mother and let her know she’s not alone. HOW LOVELY IS SHE? She’s just there for Demelza in every single way she possibly can be.
Erika: It’s a cute little scene between them but what I love even more about it is that Elizabeth is basically like, “Fuck men, women are the best.” WHERE IS THE LIE????
Erika: Later, there’s a little party being held at Nampara after little Julia Grace’s christening, and Demelza is fretting over Ross not agreeing to two christenings for the baby like she wanted. We saw in the last episode that Ross doesn’t think that Demelza needs to feel at all inferior to any of the douchenozzles that make up his class but it’s clear that she’s still very anxious over it. Can we really blame her, though? Ruth walks in just at that moment to say that Ross has been ‘obliged to lower his standards of late’ and that she can’t believe he lets ‘riff-raff’ into his house, and Verity looks like she’s about thisclose to stepping around the corner to knock that girl out cold. I’d actually very much like to see something like that happen.
Leah: Then Verity catches Ross looking at Demelza and Elizabeth and says perhaps he would like them both because Francis has just said how lucky he is to have Elizabeth as his wife. So Ross is like, yeah, you know, I’d definitely like a threesome with Demelza and Elizabeth, and I sort of want to kick him in the head. I love him, but ROSS PLEASE. STOP WITH YOUR NONSENSE.
Erika: So many opportunities for Verity to punch people in the throat at this party, so little time in the episode. I love her reaction to Ross’ moment of idiocy, though: she just glares at him for a second before rolling her eyes and walking away. QUEEN V, I’M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!
Leah: We find out while the gents are talking outside that George has bought a bunch of shares of Ross’ mine and that’s definitely troubling. He’s such a scheming little creep that I’m sure he’s plotting something awful and so is Ross, it seems. He tells his friend they’ll have to find a way to buy out the other shareholders who are looking to sell, because he definitely doesn’t want to see any more of it in George’s hands. No one trusts those Warleggans and THAT’S FOR THE BEST.
Erika: Well, Ross says to George that he must have bought shares in Wheal Leisure because he sees the value in it, and that’s absolutely true! George can’t even deny it, and the reason the Warleggans have such an interest in Ross’ mine is because they know he wants nothing to do with them. By taking steps to buy out the mine, they ensure less competition, and it’s not like the Warleggans have thought twice in the past couple generations about stepping on others to get their way.
Where’s Verity? We need her tiny but effective fists.
Leah: Then Demelza’s crappy dad shows up for the christening. He’s immediately rude, of course, saying mean things about the people who are there for the christening. He’s not even happy to meet his granddaughter. He is pretty rude to Ruth, though, which is great. Because she’s the worst.
Erika: I dig that Ruth bitches Mr. Carne out for what he says about her dressing indecently, but she brings it back around to diss Ross and, in turn, Demelza. So I just hate her again. Ninety percent of the people at this christening are terrible people.
Leah: After everyone leaves, we see that obviously Verity stayed to make sure Demelza is okay after her dad leaves. More and more attention in this episode is being drawn to Verity and how sad she is to be alone.
Erika: Everyone around Verity is getting married and having kids, and she had that opportunity cruelly stolen away from her. This scene gives us an interesting development, actually, in how Ross and Demelza view love, and it makes everything so clear about the way both of them have approached their relationship up until this point.
Leah: Demelza is a big believer in the idea that love should conquer all, but Ross’ stance is firm. He say that ‘some obstacles are not meant to be overcome for the peace of all those involved.’
Erika: I don’t think he’s necessarily wrong.
What they’re supposed to be addressing is how besotted Mark is with Karen, the actress, and Ross has already told him that he should catch her while he can, even though it’s clear that he sees there could definitely be issues there. Karen is the kind of woman who doesn’t want to live a difficult life, she wants glamour and riches and status. She is an actress, after all.
But it isn’t difficult to read between the lines of this dialogue between Ross and Demelza.
On the surface, it’s about how Mark and Karen should marry out of the supposed love between them or shouldn’t because Karen wants things out of Mark that he’ll never be able to give her. Verity’s thoughts are in line with Demelza’s for her own situation because in spite of the tension it caused in her family, she’d wanted so badly to be with Blamey that she went behind her father and brother’s backs to see him.
Demelza, of course, believes in love conquering all because being married to Ross hasn’t quite been easy; but she loves him, he loves her, they love their baby and for her, that’s what matters the most. She’ll bear what others have to say about her because she considers her life with Ross and Julia to be a good one that makes her happy.
For Ross, though, it’s a complicated matter. When he says some obstacles aren’t meant to be overcome, it’s clear that he’s thinking of Elizabeth. There’s no sense in denying that if love truly conquered all, he would have left with Elizabeth already. He’d be with this first woman he loved, and he likely never would have met Demelza; but Ross and Elizabeth both felt an obligation to their families that they couldn’t betray, though arguably, only one of them has come out better for the choices they’ve made.
Leah: God, and Elizabeth is trying SO HARD with Francis, but it’s just not happening. He’s so angry all the time.
Erika: I think Francis is at this point where he believes nothing is worth his effort anymore. He can put on a fairly convincing facade in public but behind closed doors, he’s nothing but cruel and cold and heartless to his entire family. As much as I dislike him for the way he treats those who only wish to care for him, I have to admit that sometimes I feel a bit sorry for how pathetic he’s turned out to be. He’s just the biggest failure in every possible way.
Leah: So eventually, Ross goes into town to try and raise capital to buy out his own shareholders and Demelza SNEAKS AWAY to visit Captain Blamey.
Erika: She doesn’t even wait until Ross and Seamus are off the property, she’s just like YO JUD, LET’S BEAT IT.
Leah: I’m immediately certain this is a dangerous idea, not because I think there’s anything wrong with Blamey and I do think Verity deserves to be happy, but something bad is bound to happen. THAT’S JUST HOW IT WORKS.
When Demelza introduces herself to him, she uses her married name for the first time, and it’s wonderful because she knows it’ll carry some weight with him. Blamey is not very convincing insisting he never thinks of Verity, though. He says he’s ‘married to his ship’ and that Demelza’s was a wasted journey but METHINKS HE DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH.
Erika: Oh, he doth protest the actual most. WE ALL KNOW YOU’RE LYING, BLAMEY, JUST GIVE IT UP. Even though I’m still not convinced this is Demelza’s best plan ever, it already involves lying to her husband who is generally pretty open with her about what’s going on with him. She’s doing her bestie a solid, that’s all well and good, but AT WHAT COST? Hopefully not one that will fuck everything up because that would devastate me and thus, that’s probably exactly what will happen.
Leah: While this is going on, Ross is giving away genius ideas for a smelting company and a way to fix the mines.
Erika: Ross is smart as hell, he knows this guy is listening and he wants to raise money for the mines so he needs to make sure that possible buyers understand the potential in Wheal Leisure. He mentions, too, as he saunters out of the pub with Dwight, that he’d hate to see the Warleggans take over all the mines and the man who’s been eavesdropping looks like he’s just fallen in love with Ross Poldark.
I also need to mention real quick that there’s a quick scene that shows Ross riding to town, and he freakin’ STOPS TO GIVE MONEY TO THE POOR FOLK ON THE ROAD. This guy, who’s worried about the fate of his mine and who could lose everything thanks to the Warleggans, is still trying to help everyone else because he’s still the one with the fortunate life. It’s such a brief but excellent display of his character, and I’m just very emotional about it right now so maybe it’s best that we just carry on.
Leah: Well, we find out Mark is, indeed, going to marry Karen the Actress and Ross indicates some skepticism, but he sets about helping Mark get his house ready so they can wed.
Erika: Which they then do, because this is Poldark and that means one second of screen time stands for about eighty-four years.
Leah: Demelza comments from the back of the wedding procession that other people don’t like Karen, and Ross thinks that’s because she’s an outsider. Demelza points out that she’s an outsider, too, and he teases her about how people make allowances for her because they like him.
Erika: THEY ARE JUST SO MEANT FOR EACH OTHER, THIS SASS QUEEN AND KING. Ross knows damn well that people with half a brain absolutely adore Demelza because she’s sunshine and rainbows and everything that is wonderful all in one lovely lady, and I love so much that they can poke fun at each other like this. It says so much about their relationship and how free they are with each other, as opposed to Elizabeth often being so tight-lipped around Francis because she never knows what will set him off.
In fact, I’m starting to think that the only happy marriage in this whole show is Ross and Demelza’s.
Leah: Agreed, because Karen already doesn’t seem to like the house Mark has set up for her and immediately starts hitting on Dwight after about three whole seconds of being married. It’s as awkward as it sounds.
Erika: Ross thinks so, too, apparently, because that’s the same forced smile I put on when I’m at work, and I know what he’s thinking:
‘I don’t want to be here but I have to be here and oh, girl, no you did not just ask Dwight to dance with you when your husband is right there and Dwight, no you did not just agree to do it, why am I friends with anyone at all, what’s the point, where’s Demelza because now I just want to go home and cuddle with my wife and baby.’
At least, I’m pretty sure that’s how his thought process is working right now.
Leah: I absolutely love this scene that follows with Ross and Demelza. He involves her in talk of the business, he seeks her opinion, and he shows his trust in her.
Erika: Although, that kind of just makes it worse that Demelza is going behind his back with getting Blamey back with Verity.
Leah: It’s even worse when contrasted with the next scene where Francis gives Elizabeth a hard time for wanting to be involved in the business. Ross and Demelza have such a beautiful connection, they talk to each other, they make the best of what they have, but Francis just won’t let Elizabeth in. She tries so hard to involve herself and he won’t have it.
Erika: He just knows that he’s failing. Francis can’t provide for his own goddamn family because he’s in too deep with gambling and paying Margaret’s nightly fee and trying to pretend like he isn’t this guy who could have been something but has ended up as close to nothing. Uncle Chuck and so many other people were up in arms about Ross marrying his kitchen maid and muddying the Poldark name but if anyone is running his own smear campaign, it’s Francis. There’s not a single person close to him who doesn’t see it.
Leah: Back in town, the eavesdropper from earlier takes Ross and Francis aside to propose a smelting company run by the owners of the mines themselves.
Erika: Where’d he get that idea?
Leah: It’s a bad thing that he’s pitching this, though, mostly because Francis is definitely in George’s pocket, and they don’t want any of this repeated to the Warleggans. IT’S ALWAYS A POOR CHOICE TO INCLUDE FRANCIS IN ANYTHING. Ross says yes, of course, but Francis says he’s too poor to join them.
Erika: Too poor because he’s busy pouring his money into things that will only lead to his downfall. I am so looking forward to seeing that happen, I can’t even lie about it. Although, it’d be a lot easier to despise Francis 100% of the time instead of just 98% of the time if Kyle Soller didn’t have those big, blue, puppy-dog eyes. HOW DARE YOU, SIR.
The best part about this scene, though, is that at the end of it, Francis is like, “Hey, Ross, you’re SOOOOO BORING now that you’re a dad!” And Ross is like, “HA! Sorry, bruh, my wife and baby are way more awesome than you and also, so is my mine.” And Francis goes, “Yeah, fo sho, but guess what, dude, I got you this invite to the HOUSE PARTY OF THE YEAR!”
Seriously, though, Francis calls it ‘the ultimate house party’ and can you imagine what that must mean? DJ TURNERTABLES IN THE HOUSE!
Apparently, though, it’s supposed to be super boring. At least, that’s what Ross tells Demelza when he shuts down her dreams and tells her he doesn’t think she should come. I don’t even think he’s doing it to be a dick, though, because when the party is going on later, it really does look like the dullest thing in the universe. The most exciting thing that happens is Francis losing HIS GODDAMN MINE BECAUSE HE USED IT AS A BET IN A GAME OF CARDS. Also, Margaret offers her services to Ross if he ever gets bored of his domestic situation, which Ross kind of just laughs at, and Dwight very politely shuts George up before wandering away to do literally nothing, because even doing nothing is better than holding up a conversation with a Warleggan.
Leah: While Ross and Francis are gone, Demelza and Blamey have planned an ‘accidental’ meeting between him and Verity, but it doesn’t go very well. Verity is obviously quite upset and basically runs away and as Demelza and Blamey try to catch up with her, a group of miners start a riot, causing chaos throughout Truro.
Erika: Hilariously, in the midst of all this, Blamey is like, “YO, VERITY, LISTEN, I’M STILL SUPER INTO YOU!” Verity’s just like, “ARE YOU FOR REAL BECAUSE THE LAST TIME YOU SAID THAT, YOU SHOT MY BROTHER IN THE NECK AND RAN AWAY WITH YOUR SHIP.” Blamey’s like, “I MADE A HUGE MISTAKE, THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN BECAUSE I LOVE YOU 5EVA!”
Apparently, that’s good enough for Verity, and they escape the riot with Demelza fully unharmed, just in time to catch up with Ross on the way back home. They cover up what they were doing in town by saying they were shopping and ironically, Ross tells her that he’s sorry they had a ‘wasted journey,’ calling back to what Blamey had said to Demelza earlier in the episode. Look, I just feel really uncomfortable with all the lying that’s going on here, if only because nothing good can come of it. Eventually, Ross is bound to find out and that will spark a fight, and I DO NOT WANT MY OTP TO FIGHT, OKAY? I’M VERY FRAGILE.
Leah: Well, while Demelza is talking about how Verity deserves to be content, Ross says that she should make the most of it because poor Verity gets to go home after her happy reunion to discover that Francis has lost the mine. DOES ANYONE ACTUALLY LIKE THIS IDIOT? Even George has to be faking it. I just want to wring his goddamn neck.
Because of Francis’ idiocy, everything is going to change at Trenwith, everything they have is falling apart because Francis can’t figure anything out. He can’t figure out how not to be a GODDAMN IDIOT.
Erika: Ross basically spells out exactly what the closing of the mine means: that side of the Poldarks will suffer a decline in their standards of living, the Warleggans will have gained something in the sense that they’ve managed to get rid of another rival, and the mine workers are pretty much just screwed. Demelza is thrown by all of this, admitting that she used to envy Elizabeth and when Ross asks why, she gives him the most pointed of looks and asks him why he envied Francis.
There’s little to envy now, not because of what this means for Trenwith Poldarks, but because it serves to show Ross and Demelza how truly fortunate they are to have each other.
The opposite is true of Elizabeth and Francis, of course, and for a split second, that sense of sympathy I have buried deep within me for Francis rears its ugly head. The morning of the mine closing, Francis tries to tell her that he’s sorry, that he knows what he did was unforgivable but he still loves her and always will. Elizabeth only studies him for a moment and walks away. That sympathy I have goes with her because in spite of how sad he looks or how genuine he might think he is, all the awful things he’s said and done in the past episodes entirely undermine him now. He’s been sleeping with another woman, gambling his family inheritance away, treating his wife like complete garbage due to the jealousy he has of his cousin, and he’s right about only one thing: all of it is unforgivable. UGH, FRANCIS IS THE WORST.
Erika: This little nod Demelza gives him to signal that he should go comfort Elizabeth is just such a wonderful detail. Ross waits for her to give her permission and how important is that off the heels of Demelza saying she envied Elizabeth for the hold she’d had on Ross? It’s like a final sign of letting go, after little hints here and there throughout the episode that he’s still not quite over Elizabeth, and I love that this show never seems to miss a beat. The smallest actions can imply the biggest of things, and that one nod from Demelza is all Ross needs to know that he’s still allowed to try to be a friend.
Leah: He tries to assure Elizabeth that this life is never what Francis wanted for her, but she is DONE and no one can blame her. She refuses to feel sorry for her husband, and I’m so afraid Francis will hate her for it, but it’s what he deserves. If they have to pull themselves up again, then he needs to be stronger than this, he needs to stop crying that everyone is being too hard on him because that’s what Elizabeth has already chosen to do.
Erika: She’s not looking for handouts, she’s not willing to give up because things are going to become difficult, and she’s not looking to Ross to save her. Elizabeth is such a strong woman, and she’s ready to face what’s coming because honestly, could it be much worse than what Francis has done to her already?
Leah: This episode is not nearly as happy as the one before. There are still these lovely moments between Ross and Demelza that have basically come to define their relationship on the show, but things are changing. Their future is uncertain. Francis, Elizabeth and Verity have a long, hard road ahead of them, but Ross is still optimistic.
Erika: Ross the Optimist. It sounds so strange but then again, I think that’s partly Demelza’s doing and now, their daughter. She teases him when she asks now whether he envies Dwight for being so young and handsome and free, a man with a job lacking uncertainties and groups of women chasing after him, but Ross says that he wouldn’t change places with his friend.
“My life is more precious for being less certain and richer for being poorer.”
It’s such a beautiful exchange, made even more so when Demelza asks what the word Francis had written on the entrance of the mine says: resurgam. ‘I shall rise again.’
“Shall we?” she asks, and Ross can only tell her that he hopes so.
The episode ends with him taking her hand, and we’re left to imagine that with each other and the small family they’ve built together, they could do nothing but rise again, no matter what they face, because some obstacles are meant to be overcome.
Only three episodes of Poldark left! We fear it shall be over all too soon but if you’re already on the precipice of withdrawals, don’t forget that you can get your copy of the full UK-length version of the show on DVD and BluRay at Amazon. Erika watched from the DVDs for this review for the first time, and she has never known a pain greater than that of Ross Poldark’s face in HD viewing quality.
Poldark airs on Masterpiece PBS tonight at 9ET.
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- Next Poldark, Episode 6: The Battle of the Two Poldarks