RECAP: Poldark – Series 1 Episode 2

Show Ross the money

In classic British-drama fashion, the episode starts with a tragedy: The suicide of a mine owner. LORD BASSET decided to take his own life after THE WARLEGGANS recalled his loans and drove him to bankruptcy. You could argue that the Warleggans killed him by proxy, but they don’t seem too preoccupied about it [George briefly wonders if they are evil, but he gets over it].  

Lord Basset’s death leaves a number of miners unemployed, so Ross decides to single-handedly reactivate Cornwall’s economy by reopening his own mine: WHEAL LEISURE. UNCLE POLDARK is surprisingly on board with the idea and asks Ross to include FRANCIS in the project, so he can learn to be a man or something along those lines.

Meanwhile, DEMELZA struggles to fit in at NAMPARA [Ross’s Estate]. Not being lazy [or drunk] means she doesn’t have much in common with the other servants (Jud and Prudie). At one point, Demelza sneaks into Ross’s study and gets caught going through his books and harpsichord. JUD scolds her for “not knowing her place”, especially since she can’t even read. Instead of going down, she tells Jud that “she can try”. Point Demelza. To make it even better she tells Ross about it. He sides with her and proclaims that “her place” is “wherever he decides it is”.

But Ross has problems much more complicated than finding investors, keeping servants’ peace and creating jobs: Matters of the heart, to be precise. He is still in love with ELIZABETH [who is still married to cousin Francis] and it is plain to everyone [except to Francis who is too busy pitying himself].And, as any Jane Austen fan knows, there is no better way to bring out all social tensions than with A BALL. By now, you should probably know that Ross is not the type of guy who likes balls [not being fond of gossip and snobbery would do that to you]. Nevertheless, he decides to attend when his cousin VERITY asks him to take her as a favour. Plus, some networking is never a bad idea when you are starting a new business.

Unmarried at the OUTRAGEOUS age of TWENTY FIVE [!](*) and considered a “plain girl”, Verity was probably never the most popular girl in town [but then again, Elizabeth probably was and she married Francis …] So, imagine her surprise when a “gentleman”, CAPTAIN BLAMEY, takes notice of her at the ball. Also popular with the opposite sex is Ross [shocker]. Even with a questionable inheritance and tarnished reputation, there are still plenty of girls who would willingly take Ross just for his family name [and other… hmm attributes]. But Ross is not interested in Corwall’s most eligible bachelorettes. He’d rather spend time with his cousin’s wife. Elizabeth doesn’t seem to mind his attention and soon the gossip about their potential “affair” starts.

But enough about that. Let’s talk about the real “core of the episode”. DEMELZA is out in the fields when she sees Ross arrive home after a night of gentleman indiscretions [because that’s how men usually deal with their romantic drama]. He then proceeds to shed off all of his clothes and get into the water to have what everyone is calling: THE DARCY MOMENT. Except it was much better, because he wasn’t wearing a shirt [or pants for that matter]. Demelza doesn’t suffer from the ailments of polite society, so she keeps her front row seat to the show [can’t say I blame her].

DAYS LATER, Ross gets a visit from a flustered Elizabeth. She tells him that they “can’t continue like that” and urges Ross to have a conversation with Francis and Uncle Poldark. Ross heads over to his uncle’s house ready to profess his love for Elizabeth and claim her back [assuming that’s what she wanted too]. However, when he arrives, he realizes that Elizabeth’s visit and plea had NOTHING to do with their almost-but-not-quite-illicit relationship. The entire family was in distress because they discovered that Verity had been secretly dating CAPTAIN BLAMEY. And that’s not all… turns out Blamey is a disgraced gentleman who [allegedly] beat his wife to death. Who would have thought that Verity would end up being the black sheep of that family?

Uncle Poldark, Francis [and even Elizabeth] are ready to lock Verity in a high tower and throw away the key. However, Ross decides to listen to her side of the story. Verity tells Ross that she knew about the late Mrs. Blamey and she is convinced that her death was an accident. [I am not so sure about that... Blamey did have a ‘wife beater’ air about him]. In any case, Ross has to be the “cool cousin” and arranges a secret rendezvous between Verity and the Cap. Unfortunately, Francis and Uncle Poldark learn about this plan and show up before Verity can “tarnish the family name” [Seriously, does anyone care about the poor girl’s happiness?]. Francis picks the wrong moment to “act like a man” and challenges Blamey to a duel. The duel ends tragically but without casualties. Francis is hurt and Blamey [with a less serious injury] is asked to leave.

Soon after, Elizabeth arrives and is relieved to find Francis alive [thanks to Ross’s combat medicine knowledge and Demelza’s improvised nurse skills]. Elizabeth tells Ross that she needs Francis more than ever because she is with child. *pause for dramatic collective gasp* Ross is completely disheartened when he hears Elizabeth’s confession. He realizes that he had “built a castle out of winks and smiles”, but Elizabeth would never end her relationship with Francis to run away with him [she wouldn’t have the courage to go against society’s rules]. News of the child are just what Ross needed to realize that it is truly over.

So Ross briefly mourns the end of a life-long love story and then decides to put  all of his energy to better use: resurrecting his mine. Earlier, Ross had rejected the Warleggan’ deal with the devil offer to finance his new endeavour [last mine they financed ended in suicide after all] and recruits the help of a better and nicer banker: MR PASCOE. He gets a meeting with several investors and after a heartfelt Jerry-Mcguire-type speech he collects enough start-up cash to get the mine going. [I think he had them at “Hello… overheads will be low”]

Determined to make WHEAL LEISURE a reality, goes spends the day with his miners; because, unlike his uncle, Ross actually believes “all men are created equal”. At the reopening “celebration”, he tells Demelza that she is free to go back to her family, if she feels that’s where she belongs.  Demelza, who Ross has already recognized “knows her own mind”, refuses his offer and without hesitation tells him that she belongs there [with him]. And he is pleased to hear that, he even smiles [sort of].


"Gentlefolk is strange" - Prudie

Ruth Teague: Captain Poldark, was I engaged to you for this next dance?
Ross: Not that I recall

"What am I? a circus attraction?" - Demelza

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The TV Empress is a Media Management graduate, screenwriter in the making (and financial engineer in the meantime). She has serious plans to take over global television. You can follow the TVEmpress on twitter @TVRepublik

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  1. I loved episode 2, I am totally hooked now

  2. I thought that scene at the ball was hilarious too!


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