Previously on Poldark: Ross Poldark returned to Cornwall after fighting for the British in America and received the worst homecoming ever: his girlfriend, Elizabeth, was set to marry his cousin, Francis; his father was dead; his home mortgaged and in a serious state of disrepair; and his mine was just sitting there. But Ross is kind of great and, instead of just sulking about all of that, he got the mine going again, gave everyone around him jobs, and fell in love with and married Demelza, who’s really great. But Ross has his weaknesses too, and one of them is being impolitic. He upset the new-money Warleggans one time too many, and so when he led a group of starving people to the beach to pick clean a shipwreck, the Warleggans basically framed him for inciting a riot, scavenging, and murder.
Ross is marched off to face the magistrates, who are not at all amused by his attitude and announce he’ll be standing trial on all charges, even the murder charge, which even Warleggan Sr thinks is completely absurd.
Ross goes and takes his frustration at the whole situation out on the walls of his mine, while the ladies actually try to do something about the matter. Elizabeth appeals to George Warleggan, making it clear she’d be suuuuuper grateful if he dropped this vendetta. She even arranges a surprise meeting between George and Ross at Trenwith, which goes outstandingly poorly, pissing off Ross, George, and Francis.
Demelza (who is still, understandably, having a very rough time of it over Julia’s death) goes to a local landowner, Penvenen, to try and make inroads with him in an incredibly roundabout way. I’m not really sure what sort of long game she’s playing here, to be honest. Penvenen has a spoiled and rather silly niece, Caroline, who has an ugly pug she dotes on and a fiance, Trevaunance, who’s running for election at Bodmin, the very site of Ross’s upcoming trial. In fact, the trial and the election will be happening at the same time! What a coincidence!
Caroline makes eyes at Ross, but when her dog falls ill she calls for Dwight, who arrives at her fancy hotel room and informs her he is not, in fact, a vet and won’t be bothering with this case. But she appeals to him as a fellow dog owner, so he treats the animal and I’m sure the two of them will end up entangled now, because Dwight totally has a thing for other men’s wives.
The stage is set for the trial to go ahead. Ross goes off to Bodmin, after telling Demelza to stay put at home. (Which just proves Ross doesn’t know his wife at all. I laughed my head off when he mentioned he’d order her to stay home and then said, ‘Right, Ross. You do that and see how it works out.) Naturally, she barely waits until he’s over the horizon before she jumps into a stagecoach with Verity (!!) and rushes after him. Francis, too, heads that way, to support his cousin. Elizabeth remains at home, conflicted. George goes so he can smile evilly and watch all his plans come to fruition, aided by some incendiary pamphlets he’s had made up and widely distributed, detailing just how much of a murdery murderer that awful Ross Poldark is. Good luck getting an impartial jury now, Ross.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]George Warleggan is insane. No balanced person would put this much effort into having someone hanged just because they embarrassed you.[/cryout-pullquote]
By the way, George Warleggan is insane. Seriously. No balanced person would put this much money and effort into having another person hanged just because that person embarrassed you by not being your friend at school and then revealing your cousin to be a cheat at cards. This is nuts. He even lurks around the hall where the voting’s taking place and Penvenen’s cooling his heels just so he can prevent Demelza from getting in and talking to Penvenen.
Poor Demelza is forced to go back to the room at the inn she’s sharing with Verity, unable to help her husband. But then! She has another plan!
Francis arrives in Bodmin, sees the pamphlets, and confronts George, accusing him of having distributed them. George smirks and reminds Francis that he should be careful about upsetting the guy who owns the roof over his head, but Francis is just so clearly done at this point. He sneers that George can buy all the fancy clothes, houses, and titles he wants, but honestly, he’ll still just be a grubby little social climber, and everyone who matters knows it and laughs at him. George tries not to let it show how much that bothers him. He fails utterly.
Then Francis kind of ruins any goodwill he built up there by going to Verity’s and Demelza’s room so he can help himself to their port and try to make Verity feel terrible about herself. But he fails, because Verity’s actually super happy with Captain Blamey.
Off Francis goes to Dwight’s room (Dwight having earlier offered to share it with him, since the town’s so full of people Francis was having trouble finding accommodation). Dwight’s still out, and he’s about to really regret having offered Francis shelter, because Francis sits down to write his wife a letter, then loads up a pistol, puts it to his head, and pulls the trigger.
Ross, meanwhile, receives a visitor in jail: George. George has come to offer to drop all the charges and get rid of the witnesses against Ross (which may include Judd, but does not include Prudie, because she was all, ‘Who is this Ross Poldark of whom you speak?’ when the lawyers tried to get her to turn against him) if Ross will just shake his hand and be his friend. Ross just barely manages not to spit in George’s face, which is exactly how George predicted this would go. He laughingly says he only did this so he can go to Elizabeth and honestly say he offered his hand in friendship, and was denied. Douche. He leaves Ross.
The trial will go ahead.