Francis inspects the mine in season 2 episode 5 of Poldark

Poldark: Sink or Swim

Previously on Poldark: Frances totally turned his life around, and he and Ross went into business together, opening up an old mine. George continued to be a total cartoon villain, Demelza worried about her marriage and gave birth to a son, and Enys and Caroline flirted all over the place.

All right, let’s stock some tissues and do this.

A year has passed, so the Poldark sprog is a toddler now and Wheal Grace is fixed up and ready for business. Things are looking up! Which means it’s time for things to get depressing.

But first! Caroline comes home from London, ostensibly to announce her engagement to that doofus MP. Except at the very dinner to announce said engagement, she gives him the heave-ho. During the meal, Ross sits next to Elizabeth, who tells him she’s happy with Frances, but still totally in love with Ross and always will be, to some extent. I find it extremely hard to believe she’d be saying any of this out in public, in front of all their friends and their spouses, but ok, whatever. Ross doesn’t seem to quite know what to do with this information.

Enys, meanwhile, doesn’t know what to do with Caroline. Nor does she know what to do with him. They meet up in the woods and admit that their upbringings and educations did not provide them with any foundation to comprehend functional romantic relationships. They don’t know how to date, basically, so they’re both stumbling around awkwardly. They kiss, which is a good start, and then Caroline tells Enys she has to go away for a while, but she’ll be back in December, when she comes of age and can do whatever the heck she wants. Since the timeline on this show is so confusing, I have no idea if December is nine months away or something more like next week, but I’m guessing it won’t matter to Enys. Yay for love!

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Things are looking up! Which means it’s time for things to get depressing.[/cryout-pullquote]

And Verity has officially been welcomed back into the family! She comes to stay at Trenwith to care for Aunt Agatha, who’s been poorly. Unfortunately, it seems that what really ails auntie is the lack of Verity, and Verity can’t stay forever, so there’s a bit of an issue there. Auntie also gets into it with George who, thinking she’s deaf, says all sorts of nasty things to her that she can totally hear, so now she’s vowing revenge on him. I really, really hope she gets it.

Things are not good, however, for Ross. First off, a member of that smuggling ring that’s been using his cove gets himself arrested while landing at another cove. The landing place was so incredibly unlikely that everyone figures there had to be an informant, and they lay the blame on one guy. Ross gets into it with said guy, who really stupidly insults Demelza and Ross’s marriage to her, so he walks off with a bloody nose and no more job at the mine. He’s followed by McNeil, who’s apparently on the smugglers’ case.

It’s a bleak outlook for the man who’s been arrested, but fortunately Francis is a magistrate, and he uses some fairly cunning manipulation on the magistrate in charge to get the man sentenced to three months’ hard labour instead of death. Go, Francis!

No time to celebrate, though. Turns out that £10,000 promissory note that Ross oh-so-stupidly took out has come to the attention of George’s uncle, Carey, who buys it for his obnoxious, spoiled nephew so George can use Ross as a new plaything. I don’t really understand why Carey, a smart businessman, is not only indulging this expensive, embarrassing nonsense, but actively encouraging it. It just seems…odd. It’s just turning the neighbourhood against the Warleggans, and costing them a ton of money at the same time. Why is he acting like he has a dog in this race? Did Ross shun him at school as well?

George takes news of this acquisition to Trenwith, to dangle it in front of Elizabeth and to tell her he’ll totally forgive the debt if only Ross and Francis will be his friends again. Suuuuure. It’s uncertain whether Elizabeth really takes him at his word or if she realises he’s hoping to be waaay more than ‘friends’ with her in return. She mentions the matter to Francis, suggesting he bury the hatchet with George. Francis pastes on a totally pleasant smile, goes to the Warleggans’, and basically tells George to go F himself and to never set foot anywhere in his family’s direction again. Carey’s all for calling in the family’s debts and turning them out of Trenwith immediately, but George doesn’t want to hurt Elizabeth. Stalemate.

Francis is super pumped about the new mine, which is now drained and ready for some surveying work. The day he and Ross plan to head down, he stops by Elizabeth’s room to say goodbye to his son and to promise to read him a bedtime story that night. At that point, giant neon lights begin flashing: ‘Francis is going to die today’ all over the place. Anytime someone promises their cute kid something in a TV show or movie, something terrible happens to prevent it.

Off to the mine he goes, but he and Ross have barely started work before Ross is summoned to Pascoe’s so he can be told he’s now George’s bitch, financially speaking. Francis continues to press on, and finds evidence of copper at the mine. He’s so excited he goes to Ross’s to show him, but Ross isn’t back yet. No matter, this gives Francis a chance to come clean with Demelza about having told George all about the Cairnmore shareholders. Being Demelza, she reassures him that all the incredibly nice things he’s done totally cancel that out, and then some. Then, the two of them have the most adorable, touching scene where she admits she thinks her husband loves Elizabeth more, and he tells her how amazing and wonderful she is and how lucky they all are to have her. Kyle Soller acts the HELL out of this scene, and this is about when I started crying.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]At this point, giant neon lights begin flashing: ‘Francis is going to die today’ all over the place[/cryout-pullquote]

He hurries back to the mine and continues looking around. Just as he finds what appears to be some vein of copper, he slips and slides into some sort of underground well. Turns out, despite the fact he grew up right on the coast, Francis never learned to swim. He manages to find a nail driven into the rock and clings to it.

Ross returns home with the bad news about the promissory note. But that’s quickly forgotten when everyone starts to realise that Francis is missing. They hurry to the mine, but by the time they find him, it’s too late. Cold and exhaustion conspired to make him lose his grip and drown. Ross pulls him out of the water, weeping.

There is a funeral. George is there, which is a nice touch and suggests he did have some feeling for the man who was his friend. Elizabeth ugly cries all over Ross’s shoulder. I ugly cry all over my sofa. Demelza weeps and also looks on sadly as her husband embraces his first girlfriend. Dems, I love you, but this is not the time for jealousy. I’m not saying you don’t have good reason, but let the woman just be comforted at her husband’s funeral. She’s clearly super broken up about this.

Farewell, Francis. You were kind of a whiny pain for a while there, but man, did you ever pull it back. You deserve this:


slow-clap1 standing-ovation

That’s right: double slow claps AND the standing ovation. Miss you already, Francis!

2 thoughts on “Poldark: Sink or Swim

  1. Yes, it was rather stupid of Debbie Horsfield to allow Elizabeth confess her continuing feelings for Ross out in the open like that . . . considering that she had done so in a more private location in the novel.

    Ross had insulted the Warleggans’ cousin Matthew Sanson, after the latter was killed by the shipwreck of the Queen Charlotte near the end of Season One. This happened after George had offered genuine sympathy over the death of Julia Poldark. Apparently, George had not forgotten the insult. And I don’t really blame him, for Ross was ridiculously rude and insulting.

    1. Ross was seriously grieving at that time, and Matthew Sanson was a despicable person who cheated Ross’s cousin out of his livelihood. Ross gets a pass here, I’m afraid.

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