Previously on Poldark: Ross was arrested for inciting a riot and leading a pillaging party down to the beach (but, really, he was arrested because George Warleggan is the most vindictive, petty little cuss that ever drew breath). He was sent to Bodmin for his trial, and everyone else headed that way as well, because along with this super exciting trial, there’s an election going on. Francis went to support his cousin, and wound up giving George a piece of his mind before, possibly, shooting himself in the head.
First things first: Francis is not dead. He would be, but the gun misfired. Poor guy can’t even manage his own suicide. Dwight returns to his room at the inn to find Francis all maudlin, trying to decide if he should give this another go. Dwight reaaaaaally uneasily goes to bed, because now on top of being his best friend’s only defense witness, he’s got a suicidal roommate. Worst out-of-town weekend ever.
Demelza’s still scrambling. She goes to Penvenen and asks him to intervene with the judge in the trial. Penvenen is horrified and gently tells her that attempting to do so would only turn the judge even more against Ross. Demelza asks him a few questions that enable her to identify which of the men in the room is the judge, and then she goes and tries to have a nice chat with him. It seems to be going well, until George spots them.
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]On top of being his best friend’s only defense witness, Dwight’s also got a suicidal roommate. Worst out-of-town weekend ever.[/cryout-pullquote]
George: Well, hello, judge! I see you’re having a cosy chat with the wife of the accused! That’s, the wife of Ross Poldark, the rabble-rouser, whom you must make an example of, because otherwise we’ll all fall into insanity, just like France, and the tumbrils will come for you first!
The judge gets annoyed, and Demelza returns to her room to cry and tell Verity she’s pretty sure she just made things worse. Which is extra unfortunate, because she’s pregnant again (but…how would she know that? The baby was only conceived a few days ago!)
Ross takes one last meeting with his lawyer, who’s so frustrated by his client I’m amazed he hasn’t just quit the case. He gives Ross a will to sign, not that Ross has very much to his name (it’s all going to Demelza, of course) and hands over a statement for Ross to read in court. Ross refuses to read it, because his neck is worth far less to him than his pride, and he won’t be seen to grovel. Ross frustrates the hell out of me, sometimes. I mean, the scene is basically: ‘I’m just putting the noose around my own neck, mmmkay? Hey! Look how destitute I’ll leave my wife!’
And, while all this is happening, the election is happening too. It seems there are two seats up for grabs, and while one candidate is a clear winner, there’s a tie for second place between Trevaunance and someone else. George urges Trevaunance to climb onto the chair to be carried through the crowd before the other guy can get to it, thereby basically declaring himself the winner. Trevaunance does so, and some people in the crowd are not at all happy about that. They begin pelting him with manure, to Caroline’s delight (why is she marrying this guy? She clearly hates him and has been spending the whole evening flirting with Dwight, who engages for a bit, but once she pushes a little further into ‘I really like you’ territory he shuts it down.).
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Ross really frustrates me. This whole scene is basically: ‘I’m just putting the noose around my own neck, mmmkay? Hey! Look how destitute I’ll leave my wife!'[/cryout-pullquote]
The leader of the tamest riot in history is arrested and brought to court just before Ross is, the following morning. Judge Hardass immediately sentences him to death for inciting a riot. They weren’t messing around in 18th century Cornwall.
Now, it’s Ross’s turn, and the trial does not seem to be going well. Witness after witness, paid off by George, gets into the dock to claim that Ross was basically drowning people as they swam to shore. Apparently there’s no cross-examination in a trial like this, because Ross’s lawyer just sits there. At one point, the prosecution gets Jud into the dock and points to a sworn statement he made, claiming that Ross started the riot. But Jud’s had second thoughts (and, let’s face it, Prudie would kill him) and recants completely, claiming Ross told him they needed to help and that the statement was a mistake, attributable to his bad hearing.
The prosecution clearly thinks the clincher will be the captain of the ship that foundered, and indeed, when he gives his evidence (describing the chaos on the beach) it seems pretty damning. And again, Ross’s lawyer just sits there like a bump on a log, so Ross does the guy’s job for him and questions the witness. The questioning reveals that Ross helped protect the captain and his men and that he gave them shelter in his home and accompanied them there, which does sort of separate him from the violence on the beach. But he didn’t stay with the captain the whole time, so he could, theoretically, have returned to the beach and attacked the excise man who showed up.
It’s the defense’s turn! They call Dwight, who appears to be the only witness speaking in Ross’s favour. Really? None of the locals who were present could step forward and say that Ross in no way incited a riot? Ok. Dwight claims that Ross, sleep-deprived, grieving the death of his daughter, and stressed over Demelza’s illness, suffered a sort of nervous breakdown and may have done some things he shouldn’t have. Wow, Dwight, that should be really helpful.
It’s not. So now it’s down to Ross, who gets into the dock and starts reading that statement, but then stops, of course, because he’s Ross and can’t help Ross-ing. He launches into an impassioned spiel about how it’s been the norm in Cornwall since time immemorial for the poor to have their pick of whatever washes up on the beach, and sometimes that’s all that stands between their children and dying of cold and starvation. The jury all start nodding, but it seems like Ross kind of loses them when he declares he wouldn’t do anything different, if he had to do it again.
The judge gets ready to send the jury off to deliberate, reminding them very firmly that, essentially, they only have to kinda sorta think maybe Ross had something to do with the riot for them to find him guilty. Off they go. Demelza weeps, figuring her husband’s as good as dead. Ross thinks so too, but he’s enough of a gentleman to offer his congratulations to the prosecution for presenting a good case. Wow, that’s really generous, Ross! (And no, I’m not being sarcastic at all there.)
The jury returns and, inexplicably, offers up a not guilty verdict. I don’t get how they could have rendered that verdict, given the witness statements that were offered, but maybe it’s explained better in the book. Ross is free! Hurrah!
Outside the courtroom, Francis spots Elizabeth, who came, allegedly, because she was concerned about her husband. (that’s totally not why she’s there. She’s there for Ross, as we all know). Francis is suspicious of that for a bit, but then seems kind of touched and perhaps these two are moving towards some sort of accord. Verity, too, tries to use this as an excuse to broker peace between herself and her family. But while Francis is 100% ready to have her back in his life, he still refuses to accept Blamey.
Ross and Demelza ride to the beach, where the locals have gathered. They’re all very happy he’s not going to be hanged. Then he and Demelza go home and she hesitantly brings up the idea of having another baby. He nicely, but cluelessly, tells her now is probably not the best time. Shoulda thought of that earlier, Ross.
Caroline, apparently, has had it with her fiance and is now going to go after Dwight. Just thought I’d throw that in there.
Oh, and Ross is totally going to hire back Jud and Prudie.
Can you feel my joy?
And George? Well, George is predictably livid that all his completely illegal, crazy, underhand methods have come to nought. Ross lives! What now? Well, now he’s going to go after Ross’s mine, figuring that once he controls Wheal Leisure, he’ll control Ross as well. I pause the show for about ten minutes to laugh at the very idea of George being able to control Ross. Even the oily guy George employed to pay off all those witnesses doubts that’s possible, and also points out that Ross certainly knows what George did to try and poison the judge and jury, which means George has just creates a super-enemy out of someone who already hated him. Stupid George’s face goes:
And he goes to bed that night with a loaded pistol in his nightstand. Good luck, George! I hope Ross finds ways to make your life miserable before finding a way to end it!