Aiden Turner as Ross Poldark in Season 2 episode 8 of Poldark

Poldark: Look Up, and You’ll See Rock Bottom!

Previously on Poldark: Ross nearly got caught running around with the smuggling ring and was only saved by Enys’s intervention, which cost Enys Caroline. Elizabeth realised life is pretty chilly without a man, and when Ross wasn’t available to be at her beck and call, she immediately turned to George.

It’s another week, which means it’s time for things to get infinitely worse for everyone, including the viewer. Actually, that’s not entirely true–things are great for Verity, who seems to exist solely to prove that getting the hell out of this town is the best damn thing anyone can do for themselves. She comes back for a visit, accompanied by her crazy adorable stepson, who charms the heck out of everyone and possibly recruits Enys into the armed forces as a battle surgeon. Enys, drooping enormously after having been thoroughly dumped by Caroline (who returned all his letters and told him not to contact her again) actually seems to be considering it. Also: Verity’s pregnant! Hooray!

But things are bleak, bleak, bleak for everyone else. Elizabeth’s got random people exploiting an ancient law to dig up her front yard in search of tin. She does not have the wherewithal to tell them to get lost, so she summons George to do it for her. He does, because he’s hoping to make himself so indispensable to her she marries him. He’s helped enormously in this endeavour by the sudden collapse of Elizabeth’s mother’s health. Enys soberly tells Elizabeth her mother is likely to need constant nursing care, and Elizabeth actually looks befuddled.

Elizabeth: But who on earth is going to provide such care? Who could possibly be around to care for my mother?

Dwight: …

Elizabeth: [blinks at him for a while] Oooh. Yeah, I guess I’ll have to do it.

But in swings George, kicking the prospectors out of her garden, promising to cover the expenses of a nurse and, finally, proposing marriage. He makes a life with him actually sound appealing (for one in her position): he’s got a huge house and can give her clothes and jewellery and trips to London and Bath! Basically, all the things she’s been taught to expect and rely on in life. And, most importantly, a massive inheritance for her son, Geoffrey Charles, who basically has nothing thanks to Francis’s mismanagement. It is, in no way, a mystery why a woman in her position pretty much jumps at the chance here. Elizabeth is not built to survive on her own. She lacks coping skills and isn’t terribly adaptive. She knows how to be a decorative, accomplished lady, like most women of her class. And, let’s face it, the life of a penniless, genteel widow in the 18th century was not a great one. George is offering her security and a solid future for her son. So yes, of course, she accepts.

Meanwhile, Ross is put on trial for being part of a smuggling ring. He’s been positively identified by the customs official he knocked out last week. But Ross learned a thing or two from George, and he produces some false witnesses who swear he was in Truro that night. The magistrate has to let him go. Said magistrate then takes his ire out on Enys for lighting the bonfire, fining him £50.

So, tin’s been found at Wheal Grace. Apparently tin is basically worthless, so Ross doesn’t exactly turn cartwheels in his excitement. But he does agree to let the miners go ahead and dig some of it out, because why not? Nothing more to lose at this point. Except, of course there is, because then the mine partially collapses, killing and injuring several of the men. Naturally, amongst the dead is one man who just became a father the day before. We must compound the tragedy, you know. Ross gets (understandably!) upset and decides to close down Wheal Grace, which, honestly, seems pretty cursed.

Demelza hears gossip of Elizabeth’s engagement from McNeil, who I think she should just run away with already. McNeil accidentally gets her worked up by mentioning he thinks Elizabeth’s circumstances will soon change, and poor Demelza thinks that means Ross is ready to run off with his ex. She’s slightly relieved to hear that’s not the case but keeps word of the engagement from her husband, figuring he’ll hear it eventually, but not from her.

Unfortunately, he hears about it the day of the mine collapse and, already worked up, he decides to ride over to Trenwith in the middle of the night. Demelza tries to stop him, knowing exactly what’s going to happen here, but Ross will not be stopped because Ross is a goddamn monster. The Aiden Turner fans can try and spin this character all they want, but he is. No amount of generosity to his neighbours makes up for how horrifically he treats his wife and child (does he even know that kid’s name? He’s never mentioned or, really, interacted with him on screen, which is disturbing) or for what he does next.

He rides over to Trenwith, kicks in the door, and steams right into Elizabeth’s bedroom, despite her telling him quite firmly that they’ll talk downstairs. But he’s a MAN, you see, and he gets to do what he wants. He and Elizabeth yell at each other, she repeatedly telling him to get out, while he makes her engagement all about him, whining about how Elizabeth is outrageously marrying his mortal enemy and accusing her of marrying George for his money. Well, she is, Ross, but you can’t blame her for that. As she points out, her prospects are very few, and the future looks grim for her. Ross, clearly here to assert his dominance over this woman, proceeds to rape her.

Yes, that’s right: Ross rapes Elizabeth. The show tries to make it seem ok, because she seems to get into it, and is fairly chill the next morning, but that makes it all the more appalling. Because it just drives through the classic rape culture messages: when a woman says ‘no’, she really means ‘yes’. When a woman’s pushing you away and telling you to get lost and leave her alone, what she really means is, ‘try harder!’

Screw this show, its writers, its producers, and everyone else involved in making it. This show can go right to hell. And so can the books this came from.

The next morning, Ross returns home to find Demelza doing laundry at daybreak, having spent a sleepless night comforting the child Ross cares nothing about. Ross disgustingly tries to excuse his behaviour, telling Demelza that he ‘had to do it.’

635347412552170157waitwhatgif Excuse me while I vomit.

You HAD to do that, Ross? You HAD to go kick Elizabeth’s front door in like some marauding psychopath? Bully your way into her bedroom, bully her, and then force yourself on her? No, Ross. You did not have to do any of that.

Demelza apparently agrees with me, because she channels her obvious, seething rage (and, seriously, Elinor Thompson is AMAZING in this scene) into a backhand so hard it actually knocks Ross flat on his back. Now, I am not a proponent of domestic abuse, but in this case:

standing-ovation

Because Ross deserved that. Screw him. I only wish she’d stomped his nuts a few times while he was down there.

Ugh. I feel like I need a shower now.



9 thoughts on “Poldark: Look Up, and You’ll See Rock Bottom!

  1. The 1975 series played it differently. It originally adhered to the novel by conveying the scene as outright rape on Ross’ part. However, the producers of the 1975 series added a scene that made Ross look heroic in the audience’s eyes – namely the burning of Trenwith in which he and Demelza had to save Elizabeth and George. Worse, the screenwriter gave Elizabeth a line that led Ross to regard her beneath contempt.

    Yes, that is what the 1975 series did. They made a rapist look heroic and his victim look like a bitch at the end of the 1975 series. I’m surprised that no one had complained. I guess they didn’t, considering that the series conitnued on some two years later.

    By the way, I suggest that you stick with the series. There will be some long term consequences from this episode.

  2. In the novel and the first series, Ross does not kick down the door but sneaks to Trenwith. Also, in a “spoiler” prior to the series airing the comment was that unlike previous versions, Ross does not “rape” Elizabeth but is consensual ….really?

  3. Have pondered on this a lot. If it was rape Ross would have been ‘one and done’ and not spent the night and Lizzy (she keeps leading Ross on so the bitch has earned the slimy nickname in our household) would have still had her clothes on. Obviously a scene played to fit both sides of the rape/not rape equation. However, Rossy-boy did earn the wallop Demelza welcomed him home with.

  4. Look at Elizabeth’s face when she hears Ross breaking in downstairs. She’s not frightened – she was expecting him. She knows how hot-headed and impulsive he is, and she deliberately sent him that letter at night, instead of waiting until the next day. I don’t believe she was actually planning to marry George at that point; it was a ploy to make Ross declare himself . When she says “What do you offer ?” she’s expecting him to say he will somehow rid himself of Demelza and marry her. She probably wasn’t expecting him to force himself on her, but play with fire and you get burned, Lizzie. It was only when she realized that Ross was never going to leave his wife that she decided to marry George after all.

    1. As far as I remember, Aunt Agatha was very clear on this too. She even said it was a shame for “his scullery maid”. And I think that was before.

  5. Instead of calling George to get rid of those people digging up her lawn, Elizabeth should have sicced Aunt Agatha on them. One look at her brandishing that pistol and they’d be running fort heir lives. She wouldn’t have hesitated to shoot.

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