Poldark: A Gambling Man

Ross and Dr Enys in Poldark, Image: BBCPreviously on Poldark: Verity fell in love with Captain Blamey, only to have Francis screw it up because Francis just screws up everything nowadays. Ross and Demelza’s constant diet of sex had the expected outcome, and he finally realized he’s in love with her. He also struck copper. Wins all around!

A miner digs, digs, digs away at Wheal Leisure.

Up top, a young man rides towards the mine and is happily welcomed by Ross. This is Dr Enys, an old buddy of Ross’s who’s come by to study mine diseases. Cheerful work. The two men talk a bit about some riots that have been going on in London and Exeter before Ross pulls him away to meet Demelza, who’s now hugely pregnant. She recognizes Enys’s name, as he’s the one who patched up Ross’s wounds.

Everyone heads to the local Shakespeare in the Park, where they meet up with the Trenwith lot, as well as Ruth and John and Choake, who’s blathering on about how purging patients is really the way to go. Enys doesn’t agree: he prefers to go with ‘nature’s remedies’ and is also something of a do-gooder who wants to treat people even if they can’t pay. Choake, naturally, thinks he’s an idiot.

Ross asks Francis how Grambler’s doing. Not well. Running out of ore, and the price of copper is going down fast.

One of the mine workers, Mark, eyes one of the actresses while she’s getting ready, and we soon catch up with her playing Helena in All’s Well that Ends Well (one of Shakespeare’s more problematic plays, but seems apt in this case). Demelza’s looking uncomfortable, shifting around, and she tells Ross she’s going to stretch her legs. She peels off and Verity hurries after her.

Back at the house, Demelza starts breathing in and out, long and hard, clearly in labour. Verity says she hates to see her pain and Demelza pants that she hates to see Verity’s. She suggests they look into a remedy for Verity’s pain, at least: said remedy doesn’t live too far away. Verity begs her not to mention Blamey and urges her to go upstairs and lie down.

The play ends and Ross sidles up to Mark, who’s been eyeing that actress the whole time, and teasingly asks if they should expect an announcement soon. Enys tells Ross he may soon have an announcement of his own and Ross goes tearing off home, arriving just in time to hear a baby cry. Wow, that was either the fastest labour ever or the longest play ever.

Later, Ross and Demelza cuddle in bed with their baby and wonder how they managed to get anything so perfect, as you do with your newborn. Ross promises to make the world a better place for their baby, a girl, and to be a better man for her sake. ‘And for me?’ Demelza asks. He tells her that he’s already a better man because of her. Aww.

And then Ross goes to watch the sunset with his daughter, a moment that clearly exists purely as fanservice. If we’re not going to get shirtless Ross Poldark, we’re at least going to get Ross Poldark cuddling an infant in the gorgeous evening light. Let’s get those panties disintegrating, ladies.

Francis delivers the word to Elizabeth that Ross and Demelza have a daughter. She says she wishes them well. Francis looks tense.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Ross laughingly refers to his friend as a lamb going to the slaughter. Hilarious, Ross![/cryout-pullquote]

Elizabeth goes to visit and give her good wishes in person. She finds Demelza embroidering a ribbon with the baby’s name: Julia, and compliments the work. Demelza shrugs it off as just a little keepsake, nothing fancy. Elizabeth says it’s made of a mother’s love, which surpasses all else. It’s something men don’t tend to understand.

The baby is baptized and the neighbourhood gathers at Ross’s house for the afterparty. Demelza hovers in the kitchen with Verity, stressing out and saying that she wanted two christenings: ‘one for his sort, one for mine.’ Verity asks where she fits in and Demelza reassures her she belongs at both parties. Alas, Ross decided to just do the one party, so now his wife is anxious and upset. Nice work, Ross. And of course he’s invited Ruth and her husband, and she barely gets through the door before making a bitchy remark about the riffraff at the party and how Ross has lowered his standards.

Francis eases up to Ross and they talk about how having kids and mines tend to change things and result in many more sleepless nights. Francis looks on Elizabeth and observes that she’s perfection and he doesn’t know what he’s done to deserve her. Wow, that kind of came out of nowhere. He leaves, and Verity joins Ross and notes that there’s a curse in the Poldark family—their hearts, once given, are not easily taken back. She adds that Elizabeth and Demelza are very different and Ross agrees, adding that each has something the other lacks. She jokingly suggests he’d like to have them both and he says perhaps he would.

He goes outside to relax with Enys, who says that Ross seems to have a rather charmed life. Ross isn’t so sure, since it could all go away at a moment’s notice.

One of the other investors comes over and tells Ross that Choake has sold his shares in the mine to George, which does not please Ross at all, but he fakes being happy as he compliments a passing George on his recent acquisition. After George goes inside, Ross asks the other guy what the lay of the land is and learns that two or three others want to sell. Why? Isn’t the mine producing now? Ross is determined to make sure none of those shares go to George.

Verity finds Demelza feeding the baby in the kitchen and nearly bursts into tears. Demelza sighs that she wishes Verity could have this too. Verity urges her not to give it another thought and rushes off to pull herself together. Prudie and Jud, over at the window, see a pair of black-clad people making their way towards the house. It’s Demelza’s father and his new wife. This should be fun.

Ross greets them outside and invites them inside. They prove to have all the manners of Ruth, and Mr Carne immediately calls the house a place of filth and abomination, urging his wife not to go any further inside. He chastises his daughter for mixing with such ‘dandified folk’ and then goes after Ruth for having a low-cut dress, scoldingly ordering her to cover up. Heh. She tells her husband to step up and defend her and he weakly orders Carne to apologise. Ross, desperately trying to keep the peace, urges everyone to chill out and apologises on Carne’s behalf. Ruth accepts, not terribly graciously, though this time I’m in support of her passive-aggressive bitchery, because Carne had that coming.

The actress shows up next, specifically to see Mark, who’s delighted to see her and runs off to take her for a walk. Ross laughingly refers to the man as a lamb going to the slaughter. Hilarious, Ross!

The Carnes finally leave and Demelza wonders why they came at all. Ross tells her that he asked them. Oh, nice, Ross, like Demelza wasn’t already uncomfortable enough! She tells him that they meant to shame and disgrace her. Enys reassures her it’ll be forgotten in a week. ‘Not by me,’ she says darkly.

The actress, Keren, chats with Mark and tells him she’ll be moving on soon, unless there’s a compelling reason for her to stay.

Apparently, she’s making demands now: she’ll stay and marry Mark if a home can be found for them within the week. Naturally, he goes to Ross, who tells Demelza and Verity, and because they’re all ‘team true love!’ they urge him to help. Ross wonders if it’s really a good idea, because some obstacles can’t be overcome and some people just shouldn’t be together. That’s an incredibly shitty thing to say to your wife as she sits there rocking your baby, Ross.

At Trenwith, Elizabeth joins Francis in looking up at Charles’s portrait, and observes that he would have loved the christening. Francis agrees, calling his father a leader of men, something he hasn’t manage to live up to.

Verity stands by the sea and looks at the sketch of the ship Blamey did for her at the party. She then returns home just in time for Francis to leave his wife and son to ‘attend to business’ in town. Verity looks really uncomfortable.

Ross gets ready to leave and try to scare up capital to buy out the nervous shareholders. As soon as he’s gone, Demelza collects Jud so they can go see Blamey.

As Ross rides along the road, he comes across a handful of dispossessed people and hands them whatever money he has in his pockets, smiling sadly at them. He reaches the inn and grabs lunch with Enys and tells him what he’s in town for. Enys brings up the riots in Launceton and all the agitation in France. Ross is sure there’s going to be more trouble, what with the price of copper endlessly falling and mines unable to pay full wages. Unfortunately, there’s not much to be done, because the prices are set by the smelters, who are basically a cabal. The only solution to that is to set up your own smelting company. A man at a nearby table perks up at the idea.

[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Demelza, put up a fight! This is Verity we’re talking about, the one person who’s been super nice to you from day one and to whom you can actually do a good turn![/cryout-pullquote]

Demelza is shown into Blamey’s rooms and asked to wait. She cools her heels for a bit, until Blamey finally comes in. She introduces herself and he asks if Verity sent her. She admits that Verity did not, that nobody knows she’s there. He tells her that, after being dumped, he pretty much just threw himself into his work and he never thinks of Verity now. He asks her to leave and Demelza does. Demelza, put up a fight! This is Verity we’re talking about, the one person who’s been super nice to you from day one and to whom you can actually do a good turn!

Ross goes to see his banker, who informs him he’ll have to mortgage his house if he wants to buy out the shareholders. It’s not a course of action he recommends, with a wife and baby to support.

Ross returns home, where he finds Demelza snuggling the baby by the fire. He kisses his wife and tells her it was a frustrating day. Jud comes in and tells Ross that Mark’s been asking for him.

Ross goes to find Mark at the cottage he’s managed to scare up for him—yet another tumbledown place. Mark and some of the other miners are hard at work making the place liveable. Ross comments on the swift progress and reminds Mark that he barely knows this woman. Mark doesn’t care. Ross hopes she deserves him, and removes his coat and gets ready to help out.

Mark and Keren get married. On their way to the cottage, Demelza notes that the others don’t like her. Ross reminds her that Keren’s an outsider. The cottage comes into view and Keren looks horrified, asking if that’s it. Oh, yeah, this is going to be a successful marriage. Ross’s and Demelza’s faces say the same.

During the party, Ross tells Enys that he’s found a place for him to stay more permanently. Keren comes over and starts getting pretty flirty with Enys before pulling him away for a dance. Enys is replaced by Mark, who admits that Keren’s not a cheap date, so might he be able to get extra work at the mine? Ross says he’d love to offer it, but it all depends how the next day’s auction goes.

That night, Ross and Demelza sit down over a glass of wine and he tells her that everything hinges on how the auction goes the next day. He wonders if she’s regretting marrying herself to a destitute rogue and she reminds him that she didn’t exactly grow up in a palace. He laughs about how women are so different—almost like they’re human!—and some demand so much while others are content with so little. Ugh, Ross. I mean, that moment was pretty period-appropriate and all (heck, people are still amazed to discover that women are thinking, feeling creatures just like men even nowadays) but still. Ick.

The next morning, Francis eats his breakfast with an enormous amount of attitude while Elizabeth entertains their toddler and tells him that they must hope for a good price. Francis sharply says they won’t get it, and unless the price of copper suddenly and miraculously goes sky high, he’ll have to start pawning the family jewels. But hey, maybe someone will make a nice offer on mama! Jesus, Francis, not in front of the kid.

The mine owners gather at the inn for the auction, which goes about as well as they all expected, if not worse. Afterwards, Francis tells Ross he’s secured him an invitation to ‘the ultimate house party’, which sounds rather anachronistic. The man who was listening in on Ross the other day pulls them aside for a word. He and some of the others want to run with this idea of forming their own smelting company. Francis warns them this’ll cause lots of trouble with the smelting companies that already exist, which all tend to frown on competition. And the Warleggans are behind those companies. They know the risks, but they’re willing to go forward. They’ll need to keep it secret for the time being, though. Ross agrees that they can’t go on as they are, and he’d rather fail fighting than die slowly. Francis says his finances are a bit tied up just now, so unfortunately he can’t join, but he genuinely wishes them all well. He wonders who the leader will be and one of the other men says they’ve already agreed on that. Three guesses who they want?

If you guessed Ross, you’ve been paying attention! Yes, Ross shall be the leader, in part because he doesn’t bank with the Warleggans. See, the general fear is that the Warleggans will call in the debts of anyone involved in this venture, because they back the smelters. Ross banks with Pascoe, so he’s safe from the Warleggans. For now.

Demelza takes the baby out to meet Ross on his way home and is surprised by Blamey, who’s come to apologise for being short with her the other day. Demelza gets anxious, telling him she can’t be seen with him, but Blamey begs her for a word. He asks if he has a chance with Verity, if he can see her. Demelza has no idea and tells him she has to go, because her husband will come home soon. He asks if she’ll tell Verity that she’s seen him and Demelza refuses, for now, but promises to send him word when the time is right. He kisses her hand and thanks her, then hastens away.

Demelza meets Ross, who notes that she seems excited about something. She produces an invitation to a party George is throwing and talks about how excited she is to go and make up for the christening and show all the gentlefolk that she can be a lady too. Ross dismissively says it’s boys only and will just be gaming and business talk, and she should be glad to be spared all of that. Man, he’s got a blind spot a mile and a half wide with this woman, doesn’t he? It’s hard to tell, sometimes, if he’s being deliberately obtuse with her or is actually just being an asshole. She just told you how excited she was to go to this party, Ross, and you totally brushed her off! Kind of a dick move.

Demelza goes home and immediately writes a letter to Blamey. Heh. Screw you, Ross. Your wife needs a new project.

Demelza prepares to go out on the day of the party, telling Ross she and Verity are going to choose new cloaks in town.

Francis gives Margaret, the prostitute, an expensive-looking necklace and they talk about how he doesn’t feel appreciated or like he can measure up to his father.

Ross accompanies Demelza to Trenwith, and while she fetches Verity, he has a word with Elizabeth, who says she’s bowing out of the shopping trip, considering how little income they have coming in. And what little they have her husband seems intent on spending on Margaret and the gambling tables. Ross stumblingly says he wishes there was something he could do, but she briskly says they’re beyond wishing now. The ladies reappear and Ross leaves with them.

The trio rides down the road and runs into even more impoverished people tramping along. They skirt them, on their well-fed horses, Verity looking nervous and embarrassed. Once they’ve passed, she asks Demelza if she wasn’t afraid of the look in those people’s eyes. Demelza calmly responds that she’s seen that look before, when her former home ran out of corn. Empty bellies make for such looks.

Ross goes to the Warleggan home, where Enys greets him and marvels at how these people have built up so much wealth in just a couple of generations, and maintained it while people like Ross and Francis are facing ruin. Ross says that they have different ways of doing business. Margaret is there, and Ross asks her who the man playing cards with Francis (and winning) is. He’s Matthew Samson, a corn merchant with fingers in lots of pies, apparently.

Demelza pretends to puzzle over some cloth in the draper’s shop, stalling Verity so Blamey can meet them there. He comes in behind them and Verity looks like she’s seen a ghost.

George asks Enys what he prescribes for boredom. Enys replies, nicely enough, that it’s not something he runs into often, in his patients. You know, because they work for a living, George.

Margaret sits down next to Ross and observes that Francis will soon be ruined. They talk about marriage and she asks if all men regret their choice eventually. He says he regrets nothing, but she says he will someday, and when that happens, he knows where to find her.

Blamey asks Verity if she would join him for cordial or coffee and Demelza tries to accept, but Verity quickly says that’s not a good idea, and rushes out of the shop. Demelza gives him a pitying look before following her.

Francis loses the hand and Ross asks what the stakes were. Rubbing his face with his hands, Francis says that Ross will know soon enough. Oh, God, did he just gamble away the mine? A servant comes along and has a word in Samson’s ear. Samson excuses himself.

Demelza follows Verity down the street and asks if it would have been so bad to hear the poor man out? Verity says he can’t say anything to change her mind. Further discussion is put on hold as a large crowd of very angry miners comes charging down the street, armed with shovels and pickaxes. The riots have come!

At the Warleggans’, George tells Ross that he takes no pleasure in beggaring a friend. Ross accuses him of leaving it to a third party, then downs the rest of his drink and says goodbye.

Blamey has caught up with the ladies and taken them off to the side of the street, where he’s still pressing Verity to hear what he has to say. Look, Blamey, I’m on your side here, but now is not the time! Verity freaks out and rushes off and Blamey runs after her, leaving Demelza behind to watch as people attack one of Samson’s carts, carrying away sacks of grain. Samson appears and throws a fit, shouting at these people to pay 15 shillings for each sack, but there’s not much he can do. Blamey, meanwhile, is still pressuring Verity, who cries and says she can’t bear the parting and the heartache again. He promises he’ll never part from her again. Demelza finally makes it over to them and tells them they really need to move, because this is getting ugly. Blamey wises up and gets them out of there.

Elizabeth shows her son a butterfly that’s gotten into the house. As she opens the window to free it, she sees Francis riding home, looking seriously dejected.

Demelza and Verity ride home with Ross, Demelza putting on a real airhead show, chattering about how she just couldn’t decide between the blue and red cloth. Ross asks if they saw anything of the riots and Demelza’s like, ‘Riots? What riots? Shopping!’ before asking Verity if she can spare the time to go back to town the following week. Of course she can.

That evening, Ross tells Demelza they haven’t seen the last of the unrest. He also notes that Verity seemed rather cheerful on the way home, and she should make the most of it, because her life’s about to change. And not for the better.

Shit. Francis actually did wager the mine away. What. An. Idiot. Verity wanders into the sitting room and this is the news she gets. She looks a bit sick. Not as sick as Francis, though.

Ross has told Demelza, who asks what this means. Well, it means Francis has no income, so Verity and Elizabeth will face a sharp decline in the standard of living. And the workers in the mine will face terrible hardship. Man, that just sucks. Demelza sighs that she used to envy Elizabeth. On the upside, Blamey’s timing couldn’t be better. I’ll bet Francis will jump at the chance to unload a dependent.

Francis has to go and close down the mine, and Elizabeth has elected to go with him. He tells her, as they leave the house, that there’s no need for her to go. She’s determined, though. He admits that what he did was unforgiveable, but his love for her will always…something. He just kind of peters out there. I have to be honest, I feel like this character’s been written and played really inconsistently. He started out as this really sweet, earnest guy, and then swiftly became incredibly embittered and mean because…his dad didn’t love him enough? But that wasn’t a new thing, was it? Charles always discounted Francis’s abilities, so why should it only start bothering Francis now? And why does he keep going back and forth on Elizabeth, praising her at Christmas and at the christening, but then being such a complete asshole to her the very same day? I don’t really get it.

He, Elizabeth, and Verity go to he mine, where Francis gives a speech, telling everyone that Grambler is going to be shut down. Noting that it’s noon, he goes and rings the bell four times, writes ‘resurgam’ in chalk on a nearby post, and walks away. Ross and Demelza have come for the show, along with most of the other miners with speaking parts. Ross and Demelza exchange a look as Elizabeth passes them, and Demelza gives him the teensiest nod, so he goes after her, asking what he can do. He insists that Francis never intended this for her. She knows, and she knows that they’ll be ok, they’ll just retrench and make economies, but she’s not going to waste her pity on Francis just now. There are others who deserve that pity more. She moves away, and Demelza rejoins Ross. They watch as Keren, on Mark’s arm, shoots Enys a flirtatious look. Demelza and Ross kind of laugh about that, then Ross gets serious and says that the world is rough now, more uncertain. She asks what ‘resurgam’ means. ‘I shall rise again.’ ‘Shall we?’ she asks. He replies that he hopes so.



3 thoughts on “Poldark: A Gambling Man

  1. He leaves, and Verity joins Ross and notes that there’s a curse in the Poldark family—their hearts, once given, are not easily taken back. She adds that Elizabeth and Demelza are very different and Ross agrees, adding that each has something the other lacks. She jokingly suggests he’d like to have them both and he says perhaps he would.

    FORESHADOW!!!!!

    He started out as this really sweet, earnest guy, and then swiftly became incredibly embittered and mean because…his dad didn’t love him enough?

    Francis’ attitude began back in Episode 2, when George Warleggan pointed out the possibility that Elizabeth and Ross might still have feelings for one another during their dance at the assembly ball. Francis admires Elizabeth a lot . . . probably loves her. But thanks to George’s hint, his own lack of self-worth and his father’s constant comparison between him and Ross; Francis felt that he was unworthy of her. And his insecurity has led him to lash out at her every now and then.

  2. “Is that it ?” Keren says when she sees the cottage that’s to be her home. Mark is a common miner, so what did she expect ? The Palace of Versailles ?

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