Poldark, Episode Three: Revenge of the Scythe
To summarize last week’s episode: Verity fell in love with a sailor named Captain Blamey but was forced to break up with him because her douche brother Francis challenged him to a duel and ended up getting himself shot in the neck. Ross agreed to attend a ball and danced with Elizabeth, which pissed her douche husband Francis off, then ended up getting blamed for the whole Francis getting shot in the neck situation and to top things off, found out that Elizabeth is now pregnant. Ross also decided to go through with opening the mine and all of America ugly cried with Demelza as we watched him bathe in the ocean. She’s given an out to go back home if that’s what she wants, but Demelza tells Ross there’s nothing she’d want less because as we all know, SHE BELONGS HERE.
And that’s what you missed on Poldark.
Leah: First thing, let’s be very clear in crediting Erika with editing my rambling to make the slightest bit of sense. I spend the majority of each episode referring to most of the characters as “THAT GUY! THAT GUY WITH THE HAT!” and she takes my nonsense and fixes it so that it might make a little bit more sense to someone other than her. Then, Corinne fixes all my typos. Without them, this would be the most senseless recap in the world.
Erika: I mean, I’m not going to deny it. JK, all three of us are awesome and there’s no room for argument. NOW, LET’S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD.
Leah: The first thing about Episode Three that I get is that Cornwall is just PRETTY. Ross is pretty, too, but the scenery in Cornwall is absolutely beautiful. Filming there seems like it must have been a dream and while I can’t tell what the weather is like just by watching it, it’s absolutely stunning and it makes me want to go there.
Erika: Poldark is really just a competition show, who can stay prettiest the longest? Will it be Cornwall or Aidan Turner? I suspect we all know the answer, which is fine because Cornwall is totally more attainable than Aidan Turner is anyway.
Leah: The episode begins with what seems like most of the people who aren’t the rich folk coming out to help Ross with the opening of the mine and for all the grumpy parts of his nature, it’s a really heartening, uplifting scene. He’s the only one trying to make things better and although there’s going to be huge obstacles along the way and people have told him not to bother, he’s there anyway. He’s opening the mine and people respond to that because they know he’s doing it for them.
Erika: Seeing him like this, with so much energy, is such a change from what we saw of him in the premiere episode. He’s already been so screwed over by his own family, almost even got the hell out of town because he couldn’t see how there could possibly be anything left for him in Cornwall, but LOOK AT HIM NOW. HE’S POWERING THROUGH, HE’S FOUND HIS FOOTING, AND THE MORE DICKISH SIDE OF THE POLDARKS AT TRENWITH ARE PROBABLY JUST LIKE GOD. DAMMIT.
It’s so nice to see Ross look like he’s finally won one. He got his ass beat for taking in Demelza, his cousin hates him for being a man still worthy of his wife’s love, and the Warleggans have it out for him because Ross is trying to keep their filthy mitts off the rights to his mine. To see him standing there looking so happy and proud, it feels unusual. It probably even feels weird for Ross to be smiling that much, his cheeks must be sore as hell.
Leah: He’s really happy to be making this happen. And Demelza is even happier, if that’s at all possible. She’s so proud of him and you can really see the way their feelings for each other are changing. Demelza is definitely growing a bit of a crush.
Erika: I mentioned this in the last recap, but she is the only woman in his life we’ve seen so far who’s capable of making him smile like that. With Elizabeth, it’s always unbridled pleasure, he’s always just so happy to see her even though it causes him pain to know he can never be with her. The fact that she’s still in his life is enough for him. With Verity, it’s a fond smile, one that’s very indicative of how much he cares for her and I think it’s probably safe to say that she’s definitely his favorite cousin. AND RIGHTFULLY SO BECAUSE VERITY IS BADASS, FIGHT ME ON THIS IF YOU DARE.
It’s different with Demelza, though. There’s something shy about the way he smiles, a slight duck of his head that makes it seem like he doesn’t want to be caught looking so utterly smitten. Joke’s on you, Ross, it’s totally obvious. At this point, there are already rumors about them floating around so it’s clear enough that between this episode and the last, the two were likely seen canoodling at the cloak store in Truro and have been inseparable ever since. It’s not like Cornwall isn’t a breeding ground for gossip but at least in this case, it isn’t entirely unwarranted.
Leah: Something I love about her and the two of them together so much is that she’s so often giving him a hard time.
“My neck’s on the line, are you happy about that?”
“Oh, no, sir. What shall I do if it comes to grief?”
She LOVES to tease him and show me one person who doesn’t love to watch it.
Erika: Demelza’s father, probably. Jud and Prudie. Francis. Elizabeth. Uncle Chuck. George Warleggan. Anyone who’s remotely upper class and looks down on servants who look like they’re trying to rise above their stations.
Leah: ONE NON-FICTIONAL PERSON. Their chemistry has been perfect right from the start.
Erika: Okay, yes, and I have to say that I’m glad they had him stop calling her ‘child’ because if the aim is to get them sexy, that is just so awkward and uncomfortable. I realize that in the books, Demelza is supposed to be something like thirteen but obviously, she’s been significantly aged up for the show. WORKS FOR ME, MAN, SOME THINGS YOU JUST DON’T NEED TO SEE AND AIDAN TURNER TRYING TO ROMANCE A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD IS ONE OF THOSE THINGS. I suppose it makes sense that he’s stopped, though, she’s been with him long enough at Nampara and time moves a lot more quickly in this series than on typical television shows.
Leah: Yes, the passage of time between the episodes sometimes startles me, but it never feels forced. The transitions are done well and it’s easy to move into the time frame that’s being covered. That being said, A LOT lot of time has clearly passed because wow, Elizabeth is hugely pregnant.
Also, side note: apparently Ross is stealing workers from his uncle and cousin, so HA, the dumb jerks.
Erika: SUCK ON THAT, POLDICKS. That sounds so much worse now that I’ve typed it out than it did in my head. SAVE ME, LEAH.
Leah: I got you.
Another thing I love so much about Ross is that he’s down in the mines, too. He isn’t just the owner and operator of the mine, he’s actually down there examining things, making promises — iron ladders, for one, because wood rots — and I have a feeling his uncle isn’t spending a lot of time down in his mine.
Erika: No, Uncle Chuck definitely isn’t the type to get his hands dirty, which is confirmed later when he urges Francis to look to Ross as an example of how their own mine should be run.
“Take a lead out of your cousin’s book. Does he keep his distance? Does he watch from afar? Or does he roll up his sleeves and toil alongside his men? Which do you think will yield the better result?”
So in other words, he didn’t want to do it, but he’s more than happy to make Francis work harder to get the job done. This all goes back to Uncle Chuck asking Ross to take Francis under his wing in the last episode, and I think it’s with some regret that Chuck refuses to really treat Ross the way he deserves to be treated, if only because it means that Francis won’t get that kick in the ass when it comes to getting the mine going that he so desperately needs. There’s still a lot of bitterness about the Blamey situation, they all still BLAME-Y Ross (HA! Ha ha! Ha.) so the bad blood that already exists is just that much worse now; but nobody can deny that Ross is a great leader, except for maybe Ross, who’s never particularly wanted to be one.
Leah: Uncle Chuck basically tells Francis to go get his shit together and pay attention to the mine.
Erika: Precisely. Also, the intercutting between Francis just sitting on his horse whilst trying to greet his unimpressed workers and Ross literally in the middle of the mining action is so effective. This show does such a great job playing visuals and audio off each other because it just drives the point Uncle Chuck is making home.
Leah: Chuck compares Francis to Ross repeatedly, which I’m sure does wonders for how good Francis feels about himself and his position with Elizabeth.
Erika: Look, I know that Francis has a billion people shouting comparisons to Ross at him, he keeps being given reasons to believe that he’s barely half the man Ross is (which is SO TRUE, SORRY NOT SORRY), and once in awhile, Kyle Soller’s sad, sad, puppy dog eyes make me feel bad for him but then Francis manages to turn it back around on himself and be a complete dick to everyone in his life, and I don’t feel so bad anymore. I swear, something’s got to be coming to this guy, and I will cheer like hell when it does. I will slow clap my way out of my own damn room because Francis Poldark is a butthole who knows nothing of the world.
Leah: SPEAKING OF ASSHOLES, LOOK, WARLEGGANS COUNTING MONEY. It’s such a great contrast and such a short little scene, but I love how it further shows the differences between Ross and George. Ross is down in his mine grinning like an idiot over the prospect of finding copper and George is sitting at his fancy desk weighing his money. That tells you all you need to know about the both of them.
Erika: I feel like George is a great foil for Ross in that he is the man Ross could have become. Ross didn’t have to choose to stay in Cornwall, he could have taken his uncle’s money and the easy way out, but he didn’t. He’s a man of morals but as Aidan is fond of saying, he’s also not a “benevolent saint.” He works hard and for that, Ross definitely believes he deserves whatever profit will come his way. What he doesn’t believe in is kissing ass for a handout, which George so desperately wants him to do just to get the upper hand over someone who won’t bend over for the aristocracy.
Leah: Back at Nampara, Demelza breaks up a fight between Prudie and Jud, and it’s clear Prudie is only doing it to get out of work because Prudie is a jerk and Demelza is a damn saint.
Erika: I am so done with Jud and Prudie, they get me so frustrated, which I guess speaks to the effectiveness of Phil Davis and Beatie Edney’s acting.
Leah: And then it turns out Jim, the kid Ross helped out by employing him in the last episode, has been poaching pheasants.
Erika: ROSS, GET A HANDLE ON YOUR PEOPLE. FOR REAL THO.
Leah: Jim tells Ross he’s poaching because he doesn’t want his family to starve, but then Ross asks him if he wants to take care of his girlfriend, who is apparently pregnant. So Ross gives them a house. Just… out of the blue. He tries to pretend like it would be doing him a favour, but he’s just giving them a house because he’s a giant soft-hearted doofus who wants to see people happy.
Erika: “You’re doing me a favor, keeping it clean and dry.” OKAY, ROSS, YEAH, YOU PRETEND LIKE YOU’RE A SMOOTH DUDE BUT EVERYONE KNOWS YOU PROBABLY WENT HOME AND CUDDLED SEVERAL DEMELZA-MADE TEDDY BEARS. Also, Ross hilariously tells Jim to get his shit together and marry his pregnant girlfriend. Jim’s just like, “KAY!” Does this foreshadow a future event in the episode? Meh-beh. Ross got his eye on Jim now, though, that’s for sure.
We also get this very brief but very adorable scene in which Demelza makes Ross food, and he tells her to have Prudie’s recovery delayed as long as possible because HE DOESN’T WANT TO GO BACK TO EATING THE SHIT PRUDIE MAKES. BECAUSE EVERYTHING DEMELZA DOES IS SO MUCH BETTER. DEMELZA, DEMELZA, DEMELZA. Like, honestly, Ross, are you fooling anyone? That food could taste like garbage, and you’d still just be starry-eyed over the fact that Demelza made it for you. YOU ARE MORE TRANSPARENT THAN THAT CRYSTAL CLEAR WATER WE ALL WATCHED YOU BATHE IN, SIR.
Leah: OH HEY, IT’S SEAMUS. And Demelza in her cloak. She and Ross are going to Jimmy’s wedding to the girl he knocked up.
Erika: Jinny. Her name is Jinny. Yes, Jimmy and Jinny are getting married. I guess it’s better than a Julia Gulia situation but still.
Leah: This is where we really start to see things change between Ross and Demelza. He watches her dance, watches her laugh and smile, and it makes him happy, which I think is almost surprising to him. He doesn’t look as if he quite knows what to do with his happiness over watching Demelza and suddenly it looks like this crush isn’t quite so one-sided.
ROSS EVEN DANCES. After saying last episode he was glad to have been shot in Virginia so that he can’t dance. GUYS, JUST GET MARRIED, YOU’RE SO CUTE.
Erika: I love that detail so much, and I think it’s easy enough to miss. You have to remember that he did also dance with Elizabeth in the last episode, so it’s not that he can’t dance, it’s that he WON’T, at least not with someone he doesn’t think is worth it. Ross isn’t interested in dancing with any given woman just because. He’s well aware that half the women at the ball he attended only wanted to talk to him for status. Their mothers were, for lack of a better term, selling them, like Ruth Teague’s, and Ross is quick to shut that down when it comes his way. He wants his connections to matter. He wants his very tight circle to include people who like him for who he is rather than what his name means.
ALL HE NEEDS IS LOVE, OKAY, LOVE IS ALL HE NEEDS. Seeing Ross dance here at the wedding is so different than the way he’d danced at the ball. There was something a little mischievous at the ball, to be sure, but this is just JOYFUL. He’s celebrating for his friend, but he’s also happy to be among people he actually likes. He doesn’t get this at the balls because the people there are trying so hard to appear to be more than they’re often worth.
Leah: Then we cut to a really lovely scene between Elizabeth and Verity where they’re both feeling the pain of the love they can no longer be with. There is so much I love about this show, but I think one of my favourite things is that it never once pits any of the women against each other. (Except maybe Prudie and Demelza, but I have a feeling Prudie’s just sort of awful to everyone.) There could have been awkwardness between Verity and Elizabeth. Verity would have known Elizabeth when she was with Ross, she could have judged her for marrying Francis and that’s the sort of exchange we’ve all come to expect of most media, but they don’t bother going that route on this show and I love it. It’s unnecessary and instead of adding a stupid level of competition, instead we get these really beautiful scenes of women being able to connect instead.
Erika: I agree entirely. Our three main ladies are truly some of my favorites I’ve ever seen on television. I love that each one of these women are shown to actively want more than the lot they’ve been given, and maybe they aren’t necessarily in a position to do anything about that yet but at the same time, that’s acknowledged. Verity and Elizabeth are at the mercy of Charles and Francis, Demelza at the mercy of first her father and then in many ways to Ross.
You look at this scene between Elizabeth and Verity right now and think about the conversation they had in the last episode about how neither of them are satisfied with the life they’re leading. Verity is basically the whipping girl of the house, more of a servant than any of the servants likely are, and Elizabeth may have status but she’s not happy with it. That isn’t her being ungrateful, that’s her knowing that she could be living a very different life if only she hadn’t made the decision to stay with Francis.
Leah: AND THEN IT’S BABY TIME. Verity is right there with Elizabeth, holding her hand, coaching her through. And the men are assholes about it being all “eh, maybe she had the baby, but we did the work.” Francis sort of tries to defend her, but it’s mostly half-assed. FRANCIS, I AM NOT IMPRESSED WITH YOU, SIR.
Back at Nampara, Ross receives a letter that says the baby has been born and his good mood pretty much immediately evaporates.
Erika: Ross is fully like, “Oh, they have a son. COOL. NO, REALLY, IT’S AWESOME. I AM SO. HAPPY. FOR THEM. CAN YOU SEE HOW HAPPY I AM???????”
He throws the letter away like a child and everyone in the room is just like, “Bruh, I think you’re not so happy.”
Leah: Painful as it is, he has to go see the baby. And there’s this great shot of him from the back, showing just how alone he is in this room filled with people.
Erika: Poor Ross. His life is just one big bummer after another. Life is seriously just handing out demerits to him every chance it gets. “Oh, what? You’re happy again? Better fix that before you get used to it.”
Leah: On the bright side, I’ve never seen quite such a great “FUCK YOU” face as the one Ross wears when George and his dumb uncle say poor people ought to just STAY POOR and stop wanting to do crazy things like EAT FOOD.
Anyway, for a second when Ross meets the baby, it seems like Francis might actually want to make amends with Ross. Except apparently he and George are inseparable now so with that trash human influencing his thoughts, he immediately gets jealous again when he watches Ross sitting with Elizabeth. EVEN THOUGH HE’S THE ONE WHO INVITED ROSS TO SIT.
Erika: We find out that Elizabeth wanted Ross to be the godfather but it’s actually George. Let me say this again, GEORGE IS THIS BABY’S GODFATHER. CAN YOU EVEN FREAKIN’ IMAGINE WHAT THIS POOR CHILD’S LIFE WOULD BE LIKE IF HE WERE FORCED TO BE RAISED BY A WARLEGGAN? DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER, MASS HYSTERIA. SUCH A SHITSHOW, FRANCIS, YOU ARE THE ACTUAL DUMBEST OF DUMBASSES. To make matters worse, the fact that Ross is SMILING AT HIS BABY starts to piss Francis off.
Real quick, though, Ross meeting the baby is legitimately the cutest thing. He’s all awkward with his fists planted on his thighs, like he doesn’t know whether he’s supposed to reach out and touch or get closer or WHAT, HOW DO BABIES WORK? HOW IS BABBY FORMED?
“He’s smiling at you,” Elizabeth says, and all Ross can say is that he has no idea why. BECAUSE IT’S A BABY, YA PRECIOUS CINAMMON ROLL. But then, as per usual, Francis ruins everything.
Leah: It’s really just seeing Ross speak to Elizabeth at all that fills him with rage. His super wiener tendencies are really starting to show and I’m pretty sure this is where my forgiveness of Francis ends.
Erika: But then any possible altercation is cut short by Uncle Chuck having a heart attack while introducing JEFFREY CHARLES POLDARK LMFAO but anyway, saved by the bell, I guess.
I do have to say, Ross and George do both run to help Francis as Charles start to fall. Uncle Cary, meanwhile, just stands there looking very sinister. This is why I continue to think that George is the perfect foil, there are just so many qualities that could have turned George into a better man or Ross into a worse one, but they’re pitted against each other in this show in such a beautiful way. I DON’T KNOW, MAN, COMPLEXITY IS JUST THE SPICE OF CHARACTER-DRIVEN DRAMA LIFE.
Leah: So while Verity & Co. are tending to Uncle Chuck, Ruth Teague (who Ross rejected in the last episode, need some ice for that burn?), her mother, and Elizabeth’s mom are talking about these rumours of Ross and Demelza and how disgusting that is. They’ve all decided that Ross is basically a piece of garbage and he seems perfectly happy to have nothing to do with them in return. To be honest, I’m on board with that. The so-called scum of this series seems to be a lot happier than all these rich folks.
Erika: Ross overhears what they say, though, and he’s just SO OVER EVERYTHING. He tries so goddamn hard but everyone keeps talking shit, so he just does a nice, heavy bail.
Leah: Then Francis tries to force himself on his wife, yells at her for daring to talk to Ross and storms out of their bedroom. At which point he yells at Verity, too, and gives her a hard time about Blamey, telling her if Ross had his way, she’d be living with him in misery. When she points out she doesn’t regard marriage as being miserable, Francis snaps, “That’s because you have yet to experience it.”
Erika: I honestly don’t even know what to add to this because this whole scene with Francis and Elizabeth made me so uncomfortable. He’s such a slimy, whiny jerk, and I know it’s influenced by so many things but what really boils my blood is that he is apparently incapable of thinking for himself. Every single thought he has is brought on by something someone else has told him, he lets rumors and gossip poison his mind against what I know must be the better judgment that exists SOMEWHERE in that walnut-sized brain of his. He’s shown himself to want to be a better man, a GOOD man and a worthy one, but he just can’t find it in himself to be that person.
He needs better friends. He needs his awesome cousin to help him out but welp, guess that ship has sailed.
Leah: Oh, great, then Jim the Dumbass goes poaching again.
Erika: This episode is giving me emotional whiplash. THINGS ARE HAPPY. NO, WAIT, THINGS ARE PRETTY BAD. SHIT, EVERYTHING IS GETTING WORSE. SAY NICE THINGS AT MY FUNERAL.
Leah: Jim’s leaving a very pregnant Jinny behind, and she goes to talk to Demelza about her frustrations.
Erika: This messed me up because we cut to a field and you hear the sound of scything, and I PERKED RIGHT THE HELL UP BECAUSE I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING, WE ALL KNEW WHAT WAS COMING AND THEN…
It’s Demelza. Never have I been more stunned into silence in my entire life. Actual excerpt of a conversation while watching this happen:
“AH YES GOOD
My life is hard and also sad. Back to the actual show, though.
Leah: Demelza goes to talk to Ross about it and instead does some more snooping, because she is actually the cutest person alive. In a trunk, she finds a beautiful green dress that will be very important in the near future.
Erika: Spoiler alert.
Leah: We get another scene with Demelza and Ross being adorable in which Demelza predicts everything Ross wants before he can ask for it.
Erika: Supper. Bread. Ale. Everything.
What I love most is that he invites her to sit with him and yet again, he praises her for being so much more capable of doing in a day what Prudie can’t in a month. It’s notable, too, that every time we see Demelza eating, it’s with a telling level of eagerness. It doesn’t go unnoticed by Ross, either, and they just smile stupidly at each other like the fools in love that they totally are.
We see this in a scene soon after, as well. Demelza does the very same thing and brings him the brandy from France that he wants before he can even ask if they still have it. They’re such sassmasters to each other, too, it’s so fantastic.
“Can you somehow avoid the inference that I’m utterly predictable?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll try, sir.”
Then she does her preciously terrible curtsy and saunters away, MAY RAPTOR JESUS SMILE DOWN UPON THIS RAY OF SUNSHINE FOREVER. More to the point, we see that she’s learned him. She doesn’t just work for him, she pays attention. She’s such a smart woman, so much smarter than anyone of the upper class would ever give her credit for, and you can see in Ross’s expression that he’s thinking the same damn thing.
Leah: That she knows him so well clearly both annoys Ross and endears her to him further. The way he smiles at her is so cute, you can really tell these feelings are very unexpected and probably very new to Ross.
Erika: I mean, the last time he was this smitten, it was with Elizabeth and that was more than three years ago. Ross probably has no idea how to flirt anymore, he’s a lost little puppy who’s like, wait, does she like me? DO I LIKE HER? DO I NEED TO WRITE A NEW ‘DO YOU LIKE ME?’ NOTE?????? EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL AGAIN.
Leah: THEN JIM GETS CAUGHT POACHING, AW, JESUS CHRIST, JIM. WAY TO RUIN YOUR WHOLE LIFE.
Erika: TAKE ME AWAY FROM THIS PLACE, MY MIND CANNOT TAKE ANYMORE OF THIS GODDAMN WHIPLASH!
Leah: Ross tries to talk to the owner of the pheasants in order to get Jim off with a severe warning, but he turns out to be too late. Jim has already be sent off to trial and Ross gets drunk and tells Demelza how disgusting he finds his own class.
Erika: Fair, though. Here’s another trait of Ross’s, though, letting himself taking the blame for anything. He didn’t offer Jim the new job of assistant purser at the mine soon enough so Jim got his ass thrown in jail. ROSS, COME ON. He even tries to compare himself to his class, to say that maybe he’s just as disgusting as the rest of them, and Demelza is quick to shut that down. She tells him that he sees them, really sees them, “folk with hurts and feelings, same as they,” but Ross insists that sometimes he barely sees what’s right in front of him.
Mm, Ross. Mm. That sound you hear is a billion fans ripping their hair out over their OTP.
Leah: The next morning, Ross rides to the courthouse AND THIS IS WHERE WE GET THE FORMER ROSS POLDARK! Robin Ellis, who played Ross originally in the series in the 70s, fills the role of the judge who’s responsible for assigning Jim his punishment. I love the interviews with Aidan where he talks about how nervous he was to perform against Ellis, how worried he was of doing Ross justice. But when Jim is sentenced to two years in prison (the lenient sentence), he loses his temper completely and the way he tells off the court is a brilliant performance.
Erika: This is like watching James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart in X-Men: Days of Future Past, I just get very giddy at seeing the whole old school-new school actors play off each other. There was just a lot of energy and tension between them in this scene, and I think it just played perfectly. MORE ROBIN ELLIS, PLEASE, EXCEPT MAYBE NOT WITH HIM THREATENING TO PUT ROSS IN JAIL THEN ACTUALLY PUTTING WHO ROSS IS TRYING TO SAVE IN JAIL. Okay, thanks.
It’s a tough blow, though, Jim’s sentence. Ross continues to blame himself, though it’s kind of hard when the only ‘evidence’ he could produce was testimony of character. “Jim’s a good kid with a wife and a baby and, y’know, a bad cough” just didn’t cut it when the case is pretty cut and dry. Jim did the thing, he’s being punished for the thing. Whether or not the punishment fits the crime is the better question, and Ross clearly doesn’t think it does.
Leah: Then Ross catches Francis getting cozy with the prostitute, so Francis continues to plummet into wiener-dom.
Erika: GODDAMN IT, FRANCIS.
Leah: Also, Demelza’s father comes back again, without wanting to fight this time, but to tell her she’s coming home with him. He tells her the rumours are flying, that he doesn’t want his daughter to be involved in any talk of sin between her and Ross, and that he’ll give her a day and then come back to get her. This is devastating to Demelza.
Erika: And to me, if I’m being honest.
Leah: She goes through the house after Prudie tells her Ross won’t be back tonight, returning to the things she loves, and in a highly risky move, she puts on the green dress as she says goodbye to the house itself. It’s all an extension of Ross, though, as she says she can’t leave him. Then he returns unexpectedly and she’s still wearing the dress. In an impressively ballsy move, she actually tries to get away with serving him in the dress without him seeing and it almost works.
Erika: Ross is just out of it enough from having lost at the courthouse that he doesn’t notice most of the things around him, he’s too busy brooding and being handsome in the firelight.
Leah: Just as she’s about to sneak away, he turns, and for a second Ross turns into the people he claims he’s so disgusted by. He tells her her place isn’t dressing up in fine clothes, but he immediately turns around when she starts to cry and apologizes because he is SO IN LOVE WITH HER ALREADY. OH GOD.
Erika: No, but seriously, I have watched this scene so many times now for REASONS and the emotions that play out on Aidan’s face in this scene are just a wonder to behold. First and foremost, he’s angry, and it’s not even really at Demelza, it’s at the fact that he couldn’t get Jim off the hook even though HIS word is supposed to have helped. Everything he has accomplished up until now has been because he never gave up, and he was so sure that he could save Jim just by showing up. He’s angry because he’s realizing that some things can’t be helped, no matter how badly he wants it to, and I think that Leah is right that he briefly turns into the very sort of person who disgusts him.
That makes him even angrier but at himself. You can see the actual flicker of realization of how obtuse he’s being, it’s written all over his face. He regrets yelling at her and the apology doesn’t do much in the moment because what he’s said has stung but even so, Ross is urgent about trying to make sure Demelza doesn’t walk away from this believing that he thinks of her as LESS. Writing this right now, I am just in awe of the subtleties of Aidan’s performance in every episode, of every single one of these actors’s performances, because they all make me FEEL THINGS, ALL THE THINGS, I DIDN’T ASK FOR THIS.
To make matters worse, OTP BECOMES REAL AND THEY SHARE THEIR FIRST KISS. It’s all passion and it’s not exactly one-sided, but it’s clear that Demelza is shocked by the fact that Ross made the first move. I don’t know that she ever would have but considering what a doofy wounded flower Ross was after Elizabeth, I can see how it’d be hard to imagine him being the one to act first.
Of course, he DOES pull away and have a little freakout, telling her to go to bed like that’s something they can just casually brush under the rug. He’s feeling guilty again, though, this idiot, because he “didn’t take [her] from [her] father for this,” but Demelza doesn’t care. Still, he walks away and Demelza is pressed as hell. I FEEL YOU, DEE, I AM FRUSTRATED JUST WATCHING.
Leah: Well, instead of going to bed, she goes right to his room. She claims it’s to get his help to undo the dress, but COME ON, GIRL, you got yourself into the dress. You don’t really need his help.
Erika: I need help. So much of it.
Leah: This is my favourite exchange in the whole series.
“You know what people say of us.”
“If we behave like this, it will be true.”
“Then let it be true.”
From the start it’s Demelza who has the courage to do things Ross might not. She has the bravery to encourage him, to take what she wants when he’s too scared.
Erika: It’s what makes their relationship work so beautifully. In the flashbacks they show of Ross with Elizabeth, we see them smiling and laughing, dancing near the cliffs. There’s a sense of freedom in what their relationship was, and it’s a freedom that couldn’t exist if they were to be together now. I think they’re both very well aware of that, they could never get back what they had those years ago, but Ross CAN have that with Demelza.
She’s below his class but does that matter to him? Over the months they’ve spent together, they’ve come to understand each other in ways that Ross isn’t willing to understand anyone else. She wouldn’t have gone into that room if she hadn’t known the outcome would turn out in her favor because she knows him. Demelza can sense what he wants even before he knows he wants it, that’s been a running point throughout this entire episode and that is exactly why this resistance on his part is so important. Demelza is the one who knows with certainty that this is something she wants to pursue while Ross has just been shown that he can try with all his might to do something only to have it blow up in his face.
They both already know they’re subjects of gossip but frankly, they both also know that there’s truth to it. I know that in a lot of ways, at least within the world of the show, this relationship is nothing short of scandalous but I think that for Demelza and Ross, it was simply inevitable. This isn’t Ross taking advantage of a woman who works for him, this is Ross and Demelza making a decision to take this step TOGETHER. Whether Ross realizes it or not, they’ve been making decisions like that for a long time now. It’s an interesting contrast, in fact, to something Elizabeth notes, that Francis basically doesn’t tell her anything about the mines because it’s not a lady’s place to know about them. Ross shares so much with Demelza because he values her advice and her opinion, this alone should tell us so much about this relationship.
Leah: Andddddd here’s the scything scene everyone has talked about a million times over. I have nothing to add. A+, Aidan, will stare at again. Especially in slow motion as we pan over to Demelza enjoying the same view. She thinks she’s going to have to leave, though, so it’s all a little sad.
Erika: I mean, there’s nothing that can be said about the scything scene that hasn’t already been said. It’s about 10 seconds of sweaty, shirtless Aidan goodness so ENJOY, AMERICA. Nobody talks about how gorgeous these shots of Demelza lying in the grass with her dog and looking up at the sky are, though, and that’s a damn shame. What’s also kind of nice about this scene that probably gets overlooked is Jud admitting that Ross did Jim a solid by speaking for him at the courthouse. He thinks Jim would have gotten a much harsher punishment otherwise, and I think it’s probably the only tolerable thing Jud has said or done so far aside from helping to defend Nampara from Demelza’s dad and his cronies in the first episode.
Of course, the fact that there IS actual substance to this scene doesn’t mean we’re above depriving you of the chance to see a man do some solid scything work again.
Leah: Rounding out the episode is a scene where Elizabeth comes to visit and Demelza bursts into the room. And Ross, even in the face of Elizabeth, can’t stop the small smile he wears when Demelza is in the room. It’s also terribly sad, because Ross is the only one who’s remotely in good spirits in the scene. Demelza is preparing herself to be taken away by her father and Elizabeth can see that the man she loves has moved on.
Erika: This scene made me nervous at first because it toes a fine line between keeping Elizabeth and Demelza civil with each other or turning them into enemies over Ross. I saw someone expressing dismay that Elizabeth had come over again, actually, and all I could think was, well, wouldn’t you? There’s one person in your town who’s only ever loved you for who you are without all the shades of what you’re expected to be, and you wouldn’t find any possible excuse you could to go see him if you had the chance?
She’s there under the guise of telling him she’s sorry about Jim, even suggests that he should have gone to George for help with it, but Ross balks at that. Ross understands less and less why Elizabeth calls on him but as a viewer, consider that we’re watching a woman with a husband who tries to take advantage of her and then cheats on her when he can’t trying to reach out to who she hopes is a friend.
Elizabeth doesn’t deserve any hate for being at Nampara, it’s not like she shows up to seduce Ross. When Demelza does walk into the room, it’s with a certain liberty and freedom that makes Elizabeth balk a bit and it’s in that moment that it clicks with her that something more is going on between Ross and Demelza. Honestly, I think Elizabeth takes one look at Ross and sees the tension for what it is because she knows what Ross looks like when he deeply cares for someone–even if he’s trying to hide it because if word got back to Trenwith, Ross knows what else would be said about Demelza. It’s easy to interpret this as embarrassment on Ross’s part but in the context of what we’ve seen so far, I think it’s more plausible that Ross just doesn’t want Demelza to get hurt in any way. He wants to see her happy and make her smile the way she does for him so when Demelza walks in and offers to get Elizabeth something, Ross immediately cuts in.
“Prudie served us.”
DID SHE ROSS? I THINK NOT.
At any hint of Demelza trying to doing anything servant-like for Elizabeth, Ross looks so uncomfortable. It’s Aidan’s acting that I take as cue and context for how Ross feels in this scene. He isn’t afraid that someone will find out he’s slept with his servant; he just knows that after the night they shared, there’s no way he could ever go back to treating Demelza as one again.
What we see in Elizabeth, ultimately, is a sad sort of acceptance and wow, can we give a standing ovation to Heida and Eleanor for the way they played this out? Like I said, I was afraid that we’d be treated with what we see all too often, that generic hatred between two very smart and very decent females over one man. Demelza offers Elizabeth flowers, and you can take what Elizabeth says as a veiled insult if that’s what you wish:
“They’re fading already. Cornflowers are like that.”
What I think is that she’s beginning to believe herself to be the cornflower. Where Demelza looks to be a bit wild and rebellious, Elizabeth is perfect in a way she doesn’t want to be. She’s fading, she’s withering away under her husband’s hold, and that’s what gets her to her feet and out the door. Demelza misinterprets all of this, of course, while Ross is ever the oblivious one but what I think is most important to take away from this is that these two women don’t hate each other. Maybe there’s some envy there for what the other thinks they can’t have but Ross doesn’t inspire competitive feelings in them. Elizabeth leaves and so does Demelza, they both do what they think they have to in order to give Ross AND themselves their peace.
Leah: Demelza leaves willingly, packing her things and heading down the path, but Ross chases her down and asks her why she’s going. She tells him she thought she wouldn’t be able to be his servant any longer after what happened (the banging, to be clear) and Ross agrees.
SO VERY ABRUPTLY, THEY GET MARRIED.
Erika: IT’S SO ROSS POLDARK, THOUGH. THE PROPOSAL IS THE MOST AWKWARD, HE IS THE MOST AWKWARD.
“I engaged you for two years, what do you mean by running away?”
Translation: Y U GO????????
“Haven’t you been well treated? Aren’t you grown used to the house? And your tasks? And my moods? Do you not give me what I want before I even ask?
Translation: Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? NO, BUT DO YOU LOVE ME?
“You thought you would no longer be my servant. You’re right. You can no longer be my servant.”
Translation: Let’s get hitched, ‘kay? Because I am a baby child, and I don’t know how else to ask you not to leave.
Leah: Ross just knows he’s got to lock this shit down. He doesn’t want to be thought dead and lose another awesome lady to a cousin.
Verity is still looking to get married, after all.
If you think everything that happened in this episode escalated quickly, hold onto your butts. There’s still five more to go before you go into hibernation to prepare yourself for Series Two. Join us next week for another round of fun and anguish.
Poldark airs tonight, July 5, 2015, on Masterpiece PBS at 9ET.
Photo Credit: Tumblr, BBC