RECAP: Poldark – Series 1 Episode 8

No good deed goes unpunished 

Some time has passed since the last episode, but not much has changed. Francis is still bitter about Verity, Demelza is still trying to make amends and Ross is still not ready to let go. The fact that Carnmore is finally dissolved doesn’t help to get him in a forgiving mood [Side note: I still think Demelza did nothing wrong!] 

But that is last week’s struggle and Cornwall needs a tragedy of the week: an epidemic of “Putrid Throat” [they were very literal in their disease naming back then]. Quickly, the sickness spreads all over town and reaches Trenwith. Turns out that the Putrid Throat does not discriminate, so both the poor and the rich get sick. After hearing the news, Demelza decides to head over to Trenwith… because – let’s face it – Demelza is a better person than all of us [and not particularly good at forward thinking]. When she arrives she finds a moribund Elizabeth trying to take care of her dying baby. Francis and the entire staff are ill as well. I think Aunt Agatha was fine [That lady is as tough as nails]. Demelza stays there all night and takes care of baby Geoffrey Charles, Elizabeth and even Francis! [Seriously, Demelza deserves a medal]. By some miracle they all make it through.

But no good deed goes unpunished. In a tragic turn of events, Demelza falls sick when she returns to Nampara. And that’s not all, baby Julia gets ill as well. Dwight is called to the house, but there is not much he can do. Demelza goes into a feverish state. Her delusions include Ross running away with his “true love” Elizabeth, her father giving her a lecture about morality and Francis admonishing her for her reckless actions. Terrifying deliriums, but they are nothing compared to what happens in real life. Baby Julia loses the battle against the disease and dies. Ross is forced to bury his daughter alone because Demelza is still dangerously sick.

In a heart-breaking scene, we see Ross carrying the tiny coffin to the churchyard. It is as impactful as it can be. Everyone comes to the funeral, even former allies and enemies. Everyone that is… except for the Warleggans. The way Daddy Warleggan sees it, the latest turn of events is beneficial for them. If Ross is occupied burying his daughter, he won’t have time to give them any trouble. Even George is shocked by his dad’s proclamation and looks like – although unscrupulous – he still has a heart and feels some sort of sympathy for Ross. Warleggan senior, on the other hand, is just a plain sociopath [or psychopath… I reserve judgment on that one].

But Karma is a bitch and the Warleggans suffer a loss themselves. One of their vessels shipwrecks in Poldark land. Ross - who had been worried about his failure to provide for his people after the funeral - sees this as an opportunity. Apparently, it was commonly accepted back then that the remains of a shipwreck became the property of whoever is there to pick them… That doesn’t sound right to me. Sounds sort of illegal [grey area at best]. Actually… if you think about it, Ross does a lot of [justified] borderline illegal things: breaking men out of prison, aiding and abetting fugitives, stealing private property. In any case, Ross encourages the villagers to profit from the wreck.
But once again, Ross’s good intentions have consequences. The shipwreck collection quickly degenerates. Drunken villagers get violent, survivors from the wreck are attacked and many perish because no-one would help them [except for Ross]. Among the casualties, none other than card-cheater MATHEW SANSON.   

Ross returns to Nampara and finds Elizabeth tending to Demelza. Elizabeth is simultaneously guilty and grateful. Her child is alive because of Demelza but she is also the reason Julia died. She asks Ross if there is anything that she can do to help. Ross answers that she “can pray that he doesn’t lose the love of his life”. The way he says it is so sincere and Elizabeth’s reaction is poignant. She knows that he means every word and that Demelza is deserving of his love [in a way that she probably was not]. Once Demelza wakes up, Ross has the hard task of giving her the tragic news.

Back at Trenwith, the Poldarks receive a visit from GEORGE WARLEGGAN. Francis excuses himself and sends Elizabeth to face him alone, unaware that it was exactly what George wanted. In a shocking twist he declares his feelings for Elizabeth [sort of]. The creepy-romantic confession leaves Elizabeth speechless [and me feeling uncomfortable].

Once Demelza gets better, Ross takes her to a cliff overlooking the ocean for one of those profound life-changing conversations characters like to have on British drama. Basically, Demelza tries to make peace with their personal tragedy and hopes that at least it will bring the two families together again. Ross is moved by the purity of heart and agrees to make nice with Francis. And just when they are ready to move on, a group of soldiers appears out of nowhere and arrest Ross for “wrecking [is that even a thing?], inciting a riot AND murder” [George’s doing of course]. I knew all those “borderline illegal” things would catch up to him eventually!


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  1. Thank you for your awesome review. You make my day. I wonder if Demelza could have cured her baby if she had not come down with the illness. She seemed to have some herbs she used over at Trenwith that saved Geoffrey.


  2. I LOVED all of your Poldark recaps! I've had a lot of fun catching up with them! Just a couple of things - it is unlikely that Demelza 'caught' Putrid Throat (Diptheria most likely) from the residents of Trenwith overnight, then herself and her daughter Julia sick the next day. Such contagious diseases require an incubation period of several days. Remember the epidemic is raging all over the village - rich and poor alike are going down with it. Demelza and baby Julia likely got infected several days prior - but it only hit them by happenstance after Demelza returned from Trenwith. Oh - and mean Old Warleggan is George's Uncle Cary. In the first episode George mentions to Ross that they both have something in common - they are fatherless. In the books George's father Nicholas Warleggan is alive at least in the first couple of books but the producers of the show apparently chose to edit him out (along with a couple of other characters). And George's love speech or whatever that was to Elizabeth was SO BIZARRE! Weirdest declaration of - love (?) I've ever seen. No wonder Elizabeth looked astonished - and kind of scared there at the end when she glances up at him as he 'bids her good day'. He just gave her husband money to get them out of a tight financial squeeze. One has to wonder if he means to coerce Elizabeth into an affair with him??

  3. Ross returns to Nampara and finds Elizabeth tending to Demelza. Elizabeth is simultaneously guilty and grateful. Her child is alive because of Demelza but she is also the reason Julia died.

    Elizabeth is the reason that Julia died? Is that what you're saying??? Or did you mean something else?

  4. “Pray to God I don’t lose the love of my life.”

    What on earth made Debbie Horsfield allow Ross to utter those lines near the end of this episode? What was she thinking? It’s sooooo misleading! Now everyone believes that Ross is finally over Elizabeth, when anyone who has read the novels, know this is far from the truth.

    1. Maybe they are planning to deviate from the books on the show?

    2. I have read the novels, reading no. 8 now. Ross realizes he cannot live without Demelza, she is right for him. Elizabeth would never have been happy at Nampara or the lifestyle with Ross.

  5. I have read the novels, reading no. 8 now. Ross realizes he cannot live without Demelza, she is right for him. Elizabeth would never have been happy at Nampara or the lifestyle with Ross.

    I noticed that a lot of fans love to believe this. Personally, I suspect that Ross could have had a decent marriage with either Elizabeth or Demelza.

  6. Yes, "wrecking" is a thing. Apparently you have never read Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. It takes place in the exact location that Poldark does. And it is about a group of people who wreck ships on purpose, by putting out false lights, in order to steal everything aboard, including the purses of the passengers who they kill in order to rob.

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