Previously on Poldark: Ross returned home, only to find his girlfriend now engaged to his cousin, his father dead, and his home a wasteland. He responded by trying to make something of his land and taking a young girl named Demelza under his wing.
A local mine is closed down: the workers arrive to find soldiers guarding it and a notice of closing posted. The mine’s owner dresses himself and blows his brains out while the workers, for some reason, decide to fight with the men turning them away from the mine. It doesn’t go well for the workers. While all this is going on, Jud tells Ross that mining’s a terrible game and did Ross’s father in before his time.
Demelza washes herself at the outdoor pump, cursing the cold. One of the mine workers arrives and tells Ross about the closure.
George goes to his uncle, worried that they’ll be blamed for the owner’s death. Cary doubts it. Not like they put the pistol in the man’s hand, after all, they just called in all his loans. George worries that this will reflect poorly on them, but Cary reminds him they’re in the business of making money, not friends. A woman who’s clearly a prostitute comes to the door of the library and asks if George is done with her. He briskly tells her he isn’t, and furthermore, she’s to call him ‘sir.’ She agrees and goes back upstairs. George muses that the old families lack backbone.
The miner tells Ross that only Rambler, his uncle’s mine, is still open in the area, and he’s not taking any more workers, so this kid’s SOL. He asks if Ross needs a farmhand. Of course, Ross takes him on, to Prudie’s annoyance. Not that he cares how she feels.
Inside, Ross fingers the £10 notes his uncle sent, flashes back on his time with Elizabeth, toys with her ring, and wonders what the hell to do.
He rides to his uncle’s and hands the notes back to him. Charles calls him as stubborn as his father but doesn’t seem too upset. They talk about the closed mine and Charles tells him about the proprietor’s death. Ross asks if Rambler has loans with the Warleggans as well and Charles says that everyone has loans with them. Ross invites Verity to visit soon, but Charles insists she has too much to do about the house to go visiting hither and yon.
From her bedroom window, Elizabeth watches Ross leave. She goes and sits at the dressing table and Francis comes in, observing she looks tired. She agrees and suggests she rest a little while. He begins kissing her neck and asks if he may join her.
Demelza does some laundry while Prudie and Jud just stand there. Prudie then adds to the laundry pile, just to be a bitch.
Some of the locals catch up with Ross and half jokingly ask if he might be willing to take them on as farmhands as well. He asks if they’re not already employed by his uncle. They are, but at such low wages they may as well be volunteering. He can’t promise them anything.
He goes to his mine and heads below, exploring the tunnels, looking for signs of copper. When he comes back up, he finds Francis there, hoping to extend a hand in friendship. Ross tells him he plans to reopen his mine, in part to give work to the now unemployed local miners. Francis admits he doesn’t know much about business, because his father won’t let him have any part in it. That seems smart, considering Francis will one day inherit and have to run a mine, Charles. Ross proposes they reopen the mine together, sharing the risk and the reward.
Verity finds Elizabeth gathering eggs from the henhouse and urges her not to do that, because there are other things she can do, like pay visits and go to balls. She hands over an invitation that’s just arrived and Elizabeth asks if Verity plans to go. Since Verity is totally over the hill already at 25, she will not.
Ross goes to town and sits down with his banker friend, asking what he’d need to reopen a mind. Capital, expertise, and backing, none of which he has. Well, this is a promising start. He asks Banker if he can help find Ross some investors. Doubtful, but he’ll see what he can do.
Ross goes to the tavern, where the same woman who was with George earlier approaches him. He tells her he doesn’t have the time or money for her company. She sits down and reads his palm, seeing prosperity and a sweetheart who was pledged to another but may love him still. I see she knows the local gossip.
Verity catches up with Ross while he’s out for a ride and accompanies him home, where she admires the work that’s been done. Ross introduces Demelza, who awkwardly curtsies and dashes inside. He tells Verity the girl’s still somewhat feral. He helps Verity dismount and she says she has a favour to ask.
Ross looks at his own invitation to the ball and fingers Elizabeth’s ring.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, has apparently decided not to go to the ball. Francis begs her to reconsider, since he likes showing her off.
Ross leaves for the dance, and Demelza notes that he didn’t seem too happy about it. Prudie shrugs that rich people are strange.
Ross has only gone so he can escort Verity. She thanks him for doing her this favour. They walk into the room and Verity warns him that he’ll be a target of some of the local girls, considering his fine name. Indeed, several young ladies check him out.
Francis and the Warleggans play a game of cards. Cary complains about the miners making a fuss and even George points out that you couldn’t exactly expect them to throw a parade. Francis talks about America, and how people think they’re all equal there, which Cary says is ridiculous, since ‘distinctions of rank’ must be maintained. ‘Especially when they’re so dearly bought,’ Francis zings. Man, these Warleggans almost make it too easy sometimes, don’t they?
Demelza scrubs the floor while Prudie and Jud drink.
George jokingly (kind of) asks if Ross isn’t dancing because none of the young ladies will have him, what with the stench of peasant association clinging to him. Ross just laughs it off, because he couldn’t care less what George thinks of him.
Verity sits off to the side and is noticed by a naval captain, who asks for an introduction. Verity awkwardly flirts with the man, who asks if she’s a fan of ships and such. She claims she is. A young lady named Miss Teague approaches Ross and tries to flirt with him, with far less success.
With Jud and Prudie otherwise occupied, Demelza takes the chance to explore Ross’s rooms, checking out his books and running her fingers over the piano. The sound of Jud singing loudly startles her, and she goes to the desk, where she finds a plan of the mine and a chunk of copper.
Ross is pulled aside at the ball by one Horace Treneglos, who says he heard Ross was sniffing around his mine recently. Ross’s banker friend, Pascoe, is there and asks the third member of their party if it wouldn’t take a brave man to open a mine now. The man, Henshawe, agrees. Ross recognizes Henshawe as a mine manager, and a good one at that. Ross drops hints that he’s going to mine for copper and asks Pascoe if he knows of anyone willing to take a new venture. Pascoe plays along and says he’ll keep it in mind.
Captain Blamey is keeping Verity entertained by drawing diagrams of ships and explaining what the various parts are. He suddenly looks up at her and asks when he might see her again. Woah, Captain! That was basically the ‘do you want a cup of coffee’ of its day. Verity blushes.
Jud catches Demelza coming out of Ross’s room and tells her there’s nothing in there for the likes of them, unless she has ideas above her station. She insists she doesn’t. He growls at her to go home, because she doesn’t belong there.
Blamey is pressing his suit, apologising for seeming forward, but telling Verity he really wants to get to know her better. She wants that as well. Aww.
Ross sees this from a distance and gives them space. Miss Teague comes over to him and tries to trick him by asking if she was supposed to dance with him next, she just can’t remember. Ross tells her no and moves on. Harsh, man. He goes into the ballroom and eyes Elizabeth, who’s chatting with Francis off to the side, while Miss Teague reports in to her mother. Ross goes over to his cousin and Elizabeth and Francis offers Elizabeth up for a dance. She gives Ross her hand and he escorts her onto the floor. Off to the side, George observes to Francis that Ross is very attentive to Elizabeth. Francis is pretty much like, ‘yeah, whatever, it’s no big deal,’ and asks who the man talking to Verity is. George says it’s Captain Blamey, not a bad catch, at Verity’s age. Francis says their father couldn’t spare her and George fuels the fire by saying that Elizabeth would miss her, but would probably find other ways of distracting herself. Francis looks at his wife dancing with Ross and suddenly seems alarmed.
When the dance ends, Verity comes over and introduces Blamey to Elizabeth and Ross, who greet him politely before moving away. Blamey asks Verity if she’s interested in him and she says that she is. He asks to speak with her father, which is really moving things ahead quickly. He explains that he doesn’t want to go forward without her father’s blessing. Verity panics a bit and escapes, going to Ross and sending Elizabeth back to Francis. Verity warns Ross that people like to gossip and he shouldn’t be paying quite so much attention to Elizabeth in such a public place. He leaves, and Blamey takes his place, telling Verity that there’s something she should really know.
On his way out, George taunts him with Miss Teague’s flirtation. Ross goes to the tavern and starts drinking. The prostitute asks if she can be of service and he takes her hand and heads upstairs.
Demelza cuddles her dog beside the fire.
Elizabeth looks down into the dining room, where Francis is sitting, deep in thought.
Ross wakes the next morning, probably with a sore head and a lot of regret. The prostitute wakes and notes that he doesn’t say much, but maybe he doesn’t pay her for her conversation. Honey, nobody pays you for your conversation.
Demelza, picking flowers near the coast, sees Ross, far below, get off his horse, strip, and go for a swim. She ducks down in the tall grass to watch. I don’t blame her.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”] That must have been an interesting conversation. ‘Hi, I’m Andrew Blamey. This is a mizzenmast. Let me tell you how I was wrongfully convicted of beating a woman to death.’[/cryout-pullquote]Back home, she brings him some lunch and goes to answer a knock at the door. It’s Charles, who sees the mine plans and tells Ross that’s foolish, but he salutes his initiative. He asks Ross to bring Francis along to the investors’ meeting the next day to help teach him to stand on his own two feet and Ross agrees, as long as Francis practices discretion and doesn’t go blabbing to George.
Ross goes to leave the next day and observes that Demelza looks weary. He asks if Prudie and Jud are working her too hard and she says they aren’t, and by the way, she totally doesn’t have ideas above her station, no matter what they say! Ross tells her to fetch her cloak and she informs him she doesn’t have one.
He takes her into town with him and sends her off to buy some fish while he meets with the investors. He sees Verity going into one of the buildings and calls out to her, but she doesn’t seem to hear him. He has better luck when he runs into Elizabeth coming out of a draper’s shop. He helps her carry her purchases and they walk down the street, making small talk about the assembly while George looks on from nearby. Elizabeth asks Ross about Miss Teague, whom he claims not to remember, and suggests he pursue her.
Demelza sees Verity coming out of the building with Captain Blamey.
Ross finds Francis at the tavern and Francis says he’s in no mood to speculate, because he needs something he can depend on. Ross sees George lurking nearby and leaves, going to the investors’ meeting alone. Fortunately, Pascoe has totally come through and drummed up a fair bit of support. Henshawe quietly asks Ross if Francis is coming and is a little nervous when he hears he isn’t, because he would have lent a certain gravity to the proceedings. Ross gets the meeting started.
George and Francis play cards and George says that Ross seems to divide opinion: some people think he’s great, whereas others detect a certain entitlement to whatever takes his fancy. George asks what Ross’s latest venture is. Francis manages to keep his mouth shut.
The investors have already started asking why they should bother with this and Ross explains that the venture is small, so overheads would be low, and with the other mine out of commission, supply will fall and prices should rise accordingly. Ross will do a fair bit of the managerial work himself, with Henshawe overseeing the actual mining works. Pascoe’s bank will honour a loan of £300 to get the whole thing started. Everyone’s surprised he’s not going with the Warleggans’ bank. Ross tells them that the Warleggans just bleed places dry and then shut them down. No good for anyone. He manages to convince them. They all pay up £50 each to get things going.
George keeps playing Francis, offering him a sum to cover recent gambling debts. As a friend, of course.
Ross, packing up at the end of the meeting, sees George and Francis walking down the street together, all chummy. He goes outside and meets Demelza, who proudly shows off the fish she managed to get. Some of the investors eye her and seem amused. She asks them if she’s a circus attraction and they move in the other direction. Ross says she’s a poorly dressed one and goes and buys her a new dress and cloak, which she’s adorably, childishly proud of.
Elizabeth overhears Charles and Francis railing against Blamey and vowing to bust up this relationship.
Ross and Demelza return home and soon receive Elizabeth as a guest. Prudie and Jud are MIA, so Demelza lets her in and goes to fetch Ross. Ross is pleased to see Elizabeth, but she’s not come for a pleasure visit. She tells Ross he needs to speak with Francis and Charles, but she doesn’t tell him what he’s supposed to speak with them about. He thinks they need reassurance he doesn’t intend to take off with his cousin’s wife, and he gets on his horse and rides over to do just that. But as soon as he walks into the sitting room, he learns that the problem is Verity. She’s formed an attachment to Blamey, who asked Charles for permission to court her, but the man’s got a dark past. According to Francis, he’s a drunk who beat his wife to death. Woah. Ross sceptically asks if that’s been confirmed and Francis says Verity told them all about it. Elizabeth adds that Verity’s also forgiven Blamey. That’s one hell of a thing to forgive your boyfriend for. Francis says they need to close ranks and protect her and Charles adds that she’s not to leave the house until she agrees never to see Blamey again.
Ross, somewhat thrown by all this, agrees and goes to leave. Verity catches up with him and breathlessly says that nothing he’s heard is true. Blamey’s wife tried to strike him, and he pushed her away and she fell and died accidentally. How did it go from that to he beat her to death? That’s quite a leap, which makes it seem like he might have had something of a history of violence against the woman. He told her everything at the ball, which must have made for some great conversation. ‘Hi, I’m Andrew Blamey. This is a mizzenmast. Let me tell you how I was wrongfully convicted of beating a woman to death.’ Anyway, he lost his rank and went to prison and now he’s in love with Verity, who loves him back. Ross agrees to help.
Verity and Blamey use Ross’s home to meet and chat. Blamey thanks him for his assistance and promises he’ll have no cause to regret it. Ross believes him and goes outside to give them some privacy and get some work done. Unfortunately, Miss Teague and her mother have chosen just this day to pay an unsolicited visit. Ross takes them for a walk and Mrs Teague sells her daughter hard, telling him her daughter’s an accomplished rider and maker of succulent syllabubs. They ask if Verity is still meeting ‘that blackguard’. Ross stumbles over his answer, but luckily Demelza stomps past and they start talking about her instead, referring to her as the young person Ross has adopted. He insists he’s adopted no one, that the girl knows her own mind. Ross calls the visit to an end and totally turns down their invitation to tea. Yowch.
Blamey and Verity are having a little chat about his two children (son and daughter). Ross lurks in another room and asks Demelza if she’s heard from her family and she says she hasn’t and doesn’t expect to, since none of them care about her.
Ross is on his way out to the mine when he meets Francis and Charles. He tells them the investors’ meeting went well and he hopes to still persuade Francis to join him. They’re not there to talk business: they’ve heard about Verity meeting Blamey and gallop up to the house to catch the two in the act of…talking.
[cryout-pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Ross tells them there’ll be no thrashings in his house. Seriously, they probably only just managed to get the blood out from last week. [/cryout-pullquote]Francis accuses Blamey of sneaking behind their backs to steal his sister. Verity says she has the right to choose her own life. Francis roughly throws her aside and offers Blamey a thrashing. Ross tells them there’ll be no thrashings in his house. Seriously, they probably only just managed to get the blood out from last week. Francis continues to insult Blamey and finally shoves him, so Blamey answers with a cuff and now it’s on. Francis challenges him to a duel and Blamey readily agrees. Francis orders Ross to get him a pistol and Ross tells him to get it himself, because he seriously does not have time for this nonsense. Francis gets a pair of pistols and he and Blamey head outside, Verity begging them both to stop. Charles adds his pleas to hers, urging Francis to fight this out with fists, because it’s not worth the risk to use actual guns. Ross urges Francis to reconsider, but Francis only calls on Jud to act as referee. They begin marching out their ten paces while Verity freaks out and Demelza and the others gather to watch the show. The men level their guns, fire, and are both hit, Francis worse. Looks like Blamey took it in the hand but Francis is bleeding from the neck and unconscious. Ross carries him upstairs to the bed and calls Prudie for water and help. She can’t offer assistance, because blood makes her faint, so Demelza shoves in, because blood doesn’t bother her.
Verity, meanwhile, regretfully tells Blamey that nearly killing her brother will just make holidays waaaay too awkward, so they’ll have to break up. Aww, that’s too bad. They seemed rather sweet together. He understands and sadly rides away. You should have aimed off to the side and purposely missed, Blamey. As he departs, Verity begins to sob.
Elizabeth is summoned to Ross’s and runs upstairs, where she sees Francis lying on the bed and thinks he’s dead. She shouts at Ross for letting him die and Ross points out that her husband is, in fact, still alive. He leaves the two together and goes downstairs. Francis is removed so he can convalesce at home and Charles tells Ross that he’s a disgrace to the name of Poldark. Man, Charles is a dick. Ross just saved his son’s life. And might I point out, it wasn’t Ross challenging people to duels (which, I believe, were illegal in Britain at the time). Charles goes on to ungratefully tell Ross he offers no thanks and feels no gratitude and totally blames Ross for all this. Ross stoically says he understands. Elizabeth steps in and says she doesn’t blame him and she’s grateful for all he’s done. She really needs Francis alive and well, you see, because he’s going to be a father and single motherhood really doesn’t appeal to her. Ross takes that like the gut-punch it is as the rest of his family leaves.
Later, he sits and broods at the table and asks Demelza if he has ‘half-wit’ branded across his forehead. She says no. He thinks he should, because he keeps building castles out of winks and smiles, but no more! He tells her to fetch the others, because they need to get their mine going.
Out at the mine, Demelza serves up some food. Ross tells her she’s done good work that day and figures her family must be missing her. He asks if she wants to return to them and she immediately panics. Ross, you’ve met her dad. Would you want to return to him? She says she belongs right here, thanks, and takes a seat beside him to eat her dinner.