Previously on Poldark: Elizabeth realised she was looking down the barrel of many lonely years of widowhood and penury, so she accepted George Warleggan’s marriage proposal. An accident at Wheal Grace (plus, not having any more money) convinced Ross to close the mine down. After reaching that decision, and hearing of Elizabeth’s engagement, he went to Trenwith and raped her.
This show’s timeline issues really reached their apotheosis tonight, and it drove me nuts. I spent a good half of this episode thinking we were watching events unfolding the day after Ross’s night at Trenwith, when, in fact, they’re happening some days, even weeks, later. Which makes more than a few things not make sense.
But anyway, Ross is doing his thing, pouting and feeling really, really sorry about the guys who were injured and died at the mine, while showing absolutely no remorse for any of his own recent, reprehensible behaviour. He’s set to close down the mine, but then, as always, a miracle happens that totally saves his ass. Two miracles, actually.
A man Ross once lent some money to is finally in the position to pay it back, which he does. And, as a sort of thank you, I guess, he also gives Ross a share in the extremely profitable business venture the man has since established. Ross has capital again! The miners convince him to re-open the mine, which he does, and they almost immediately hit a massive lode of tin. This guy has about three billion times more luck than he deserves. Actually, all of these great things just falling into his lap is getting pretty tiresome, and contrived.
So things are looking up on the professional front. The home front? Not so much. Unsurprisingly, Demelza isn’t the sort of woman to take being cheated on lying down. Well, actually, that’s exactly what she does. She first reminds everyone in the household (not that Prudie needed reminding, I’d just like to point out. Prudie is 110% Team Demelza, and it seems Judd is too) just how much she does and accomplishes there by taking to her bed for the day. Ross comes home to inedible food and stomps upstairs to, essentially, tell his wife they really just need to move past this. Here’s where the timeline confusion gets me a bit: is he telling her to get over it the day after he raped someone, or has she suddenly just decided to take to her bed several days later? Either she’s a slow burner, or Ross is an enormous asshole. You know what? I just answered my own question there.
The sight of Demelza, enthroned in her bed, calmly stirring a cup of tea, is fairly magnificent. As is her eerily calm takedown of Ross, in which she tells him that, despite his many and obvious faults, she thought he was better than most men. But now she knows that he’s not. In fact, he’s absolutely the worst sort of man there is. And she is VERY DISAPPOINTED. Not much Ross can say to that. He retreats, and soon finds out his wife has banished him to a crappy camp bed in the library (actually, is that their kid’s bed? Heh.)
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is pacing all over Trenwith, confused, stressed, wondering why her rapist didn’t have the decency to call her the following morning. Aunt Agatha basically tells her to just break things off with George and take Ross. That, coupled with Demelza’s determination that surely Ross will be leaving her and getting together with Elizabeth confuses me a bit. What do these ladies really think is going to happen here? Ross is a married man, and you didn’t just walk out of a marriage in the 18th century. Well, ok, technically you could, if you ran off somewhere far away where nobody knew you, but presumably Ross and Elizabeth would be staying put. It’s not like he could just get a quickie divorce and remarry Elizabeth. They’d be living together in sin, which is not something the neighbourhood would have tolerated. And it’s almost certainly not something someone like Elizabeth would have been willing to do, openly. There were certain social mores directing these people.
She postpones her wedding to George by a month, despite the fact he’s already sent out the invitations, ordered the clothes and, presumably, hired the caterer, because he’s having an awful lot of fun planning this shindig. Verity shows up, suddenly hugely pregnant, even though only a few weeks have passed, at most, and she wasn’t even showing last time we saw her. Verity’s got the wrong end of the stick and thinks Elizabeth’s reluctance is due to some lingering loyalty to Francis. She urges Elizabeth to let Francis go and be happy, and Elizabeth just faints with the strain of it all. Or because she’s pregnant, because fainting is something like number two on the list of ‘Signs a TV Character is Pregnant’. Right behind sudden vomiting.
So, everyone’s a bit miserable. Ross rides off to meet with the man he loaned money to, and in his absence, Demelza decides to get some revenge by going to a party being thrown by Sir Hugh, that handsy letch who bought her cow a few episodes back. The party is ostensibly in honour of George’s engagement, which is awkward, since Elizabeth has taken to her bed and isn’t even there. George is, though, along with his slimy LeFou-esque sidekick, Tankard. When Demelza comes sweeping in, hair all done up, in an extremely fancy red dress and a very au-courant fake beauty mark, most of the men in the room are all, ‘Well, he-lo!’ And George tells Tankard to go ahead and debauch Ross’s wife, because why not?
[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Unlike Demelza’s husband, McNeil understands that the word ‘No’ means NO. Good for him.[/cryout-pullquote]
Seems he doesn’t need Tankard to do the job, because Demelza’s already waaay ahead of him there. She dances with McNeil, who puts the moves on her, and then straight-up propositions her. She gives him directions to her bedroom (the red room, of course, because in case the red dress didn’t give it away, she’s after SEX, people!) After the ball, McNeil shows up, hot to trot, but as soon as he lays a hand on her Demelza realises she doesn’t want to cheat on Ross, so she tells McNeil this isn’t going to happen. McNeil’s put out, but unlike Demelza’s husband, he understands what the word ‘No’ means. Good for him.
But outside her room, Sir Hugh runs into Tankard and both of them get into an argument over who has the right to sexually assault Demelza tonight. I mean, she wore a red dress, so she’s clearly asking for it, right? This is clearly supposed to be funny, but coming right after the violent events of last week and considering they’re arguing over who gets to force himself on a lone woman, I have to say, I am not amused. Fortunately, Demelza hears them squabbling and decides she’s done with the House o’Sex here and escapes.
She goes for a walk on the beach, wrecking her dress completely. Ross finds her there first thing in the morning and she accuses him of having lied about going to Truro and going to Elizabeth instead. He insists that’s not the case and tells her about the loan being repaid. She’s so done with him right now she can’t really bring herself to care.
And Elizabeth finally gets tired of waiting for Ross to come by and…do something, so she goes ahead and marries George. And during their London honeymoon, he decides he wants to go back and live at Trenwith. I’m sure Aunt Agatha will be delighted.