RECAP: Poldark – Series 1 Episode 3

Taking off dresses is a complicated task full of subtext

Poldark's mine is officially back in business! Local folk are happy to have a decent source of income, Ross is cautiously optimistic and Demelza is proud of her master and genuinely happy for everyone [because she is that nice]. Many believe that after reactivating the economy, the next step for Ross should be to get married. The Reverend tries to convince him with the compelling argument that marriage is “a remedy against sin. And to avoid fornication” Well when you put it like that… But Ross just wants to focus on being business man of the year for now.

In the meantime, Demelza is turning out to be the most efficient [and sober] maid around. She basically reads Ross’s mind at this point. In addition, she’s been going through a slow makeover [that’s always a spoiler] and looking more gorgeous by the minute. This fact has a lot of the people in town talking about the nature of her relationship with Ross. There was nothing to the rumours, of course. But you can tell Ross has grown fond of her.

Meanwhile, at TRENWITH, Francis and Elizabeth welcome BABY GEOFFREY CHARLES. However, the joy of having a newborn is short-lived because UNCLE POLDARK has a heart attack [on the day of the Christening!] But the old man is not ready to go yet. He eventually recovers, but his close encounter with death makes him realize that he won’t be around forever and that Francis is nowhere near ready to take charge. Uncle Poldark thinks Francis should be more like Ross and “roll up his sleeves [read: take off his shirt] and toil alongside his men”. Francis responds to the challenge by falling into gambling and whoring [and occasionally mistreating Elizabeth].

Also in a predicament, is one of Ross’s employees: JIM CARTER [not THAT Jim Cater]. The young man got his girlfriend JINNY – the daughter of another employee – pregnant and he has been poaching to be able to provide for his family. Ross decides to help Jim & Jin. He gives them a little cottage so they can marry and have a place to raise the baby. Unfortunately, Ross’s help is not enough and young Jim is forced to continue poaching. Eventually, he gets caught and sent to prison. Ross was planning to offer him a better job as “Assistant purser” at the mine, but Jim got caught before he could do it. This makes Ross feel responsible and he tells Demelza that “sometimes he fails to see what is right in front of him” [Hmm… like the gorgeous woman living in his house who is clearly in love with him? Yeah… I think he does].

Ross does his best to keep Jim out of jail. First he tries to convince the owner of the pheasants to let him off with a warning. He fails. Then he shows up at court and speaks on Jim’s behalf. Ross asks for mercy and points out that the poor are driven by desperation in times of hunger, poverty and sickness. Unfortunately, there is “no room for mercy” in this particular court and Jim is sentenced to spend two years in jail. Even worse than it sounds because Jim has asthma [and no, health concerns won’t stop the court from sentencing him either].

Meanwhile, Demelza gets a visit from her father who claims to be a reformed man with the Lord’s light shining in his heart or something like that [yeah right]. Apparently Mr. Carne remarried and now is a “righteous” man who believes in God and a sober lifestyle [and publicly shaming his daughter, by the looks of it]. He asks orders Demelza to return home and stop living “in sin” with her master. Mr. Carne gives Demelza a day to say her goodbyes and go home. Demelza can’t even contemplate the idea of leaving Nampara [read: Ross], but she also realizes that Ross would never care for her the way she cares for him. While in turmoil, she goes into Ross’s study. She opens a chest and takes out a beautiful dress – which she found a while ago – and decides that it won’t hurt anyone to try it on [she was contemplating leaving after all].

Unfortunately for Demelza, Ross gets back home before she can take off THE DRESS [yes, the dress in an entire entity at this point]. And to make it worse, he is in a terrible mood after what happened to Jim. He catches Demelza with the dress – which the internet tells me belonged to his mother – and gets very upset. Ross tells her to “take it off or pack her bags and go back to her father”. His harshness [on top of her already delicate state] makes Demelza cry. He instantly apologises for taking out his frustrations on her. He reaches for her and then without warning kisses her. He pulls away and apologises because “he didn’t take her from her father for that”. He asks her to leave and goes into his room.

Demelza hesistates for a second but finally decides to follow him inside. Her excuse: “she can’t unfasten the dress”. Really? As the entire internet has pointed out by now: putting on a dress…. Much harder than taking it off. So Ross – gentleman that he is – assists her with the “dress removal”. That “take off the dress” scenario went from threatening to sexy really quickly. He stops long enough to check that she is OK with making all the rumours come true [she IS] and then proceeds to make love to her.

The morning after, everything seems to be going well. Ross decides to go outside for some manual labour [yes, sans shirt in case you were wondering… ] and Demelza spends the day walking around the fields hopelessly in love. And then… Elizabeth shows up to ruin everything. OK… poor Elizabeth, she was probably just looking for an excuse to get out of the house [and escape Francis’s moods]. But seriously, not the right time to visit your ex!

Elizabeth is in the middle of making some [not so] small talk with Ross when Demelza walks in. The poor girl looks utterly uncomfortable and doesn’t know if she should serve them some tea or get into a cat-fight. She doesn’t choose the latter, obviously [although it looked like Elizabeth was contemplating it for a second]. Elizabeth totally picks up on the tension and makes a somewhat passive-aggressive remark about “things that don’t last”. Ross notices how painful the situation is for Demelza, but doesn’t know how to react. Elizabeth leaves and Demelza soon follows, realizing for the first time that she put herself in a position that is going to cause her sorrow. 

Ross discovers that Demelza is gone and goes after her. He finds her and demands to know why she left. But she doesn’t need to explain, he knows the reason: After what happened, she doesn’t feel like she could be his servant anymore. He agrees. So he decides to marry her. Yep… just like that. So they take Prudie and Jud to the chapel and get married [You can’t accuse Ross of procrastinating once he decides to do something].


As I have mentioned before, I didn’t watch the 1970s show [nor have I read the books], so this is all brand new to me. In a way, I am grateful because I get to be surprised by every turn of events. I love how this story goes against some of the conventions of period drama and presents characters [both male and female] that are “ahead of their time”.

Demelza: Anything else Sir? / Ross: Yes, if you could somehow avoid the inference that I am utterly predictable.
“They disgust me, my own class” – Ross
Judge: Such remarks are not entirely outside the court’s jurisdiction/ Ross: No, only mercy enjoys that privilege.
Ross: You always had an enquiring mind / Elizabeth: Marriage discourages such a thing

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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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