Poldark: Three’s a Crowd

Everyone seems to be finding their marriages a bit…crowded these days.

George has apparently been freezing Elizabeth out ever since Aunt Agatha died, and she’s all, ‘WTF did I do, George? And why are you refusing to have anything to do with our kid now?’ The man’s so desperate for answers he goes to Enys to ask if, in his professional opinion, Valentine was an eight-month baby. Enys, seeming very confused, replies that he really can’t say one way or the other.

He’s got more important things to deal with now. Morwenna’s sexual abuse, for instance. Whitworth has taken to creepily spying on her sister, Rowella (really? What’s up with these crazy names?) as she undresses for bed. It gets him so turned on he has to go and throw himself on his poor wife, who finally tells Enys what’s going on. The good doctor, bless him, orders Whitworth to stay the hell off his wife for at least the remainder of her pregnancy, or risk crushing her and the baby.

As it turns out, Morwenna goes into labour early, and things start to go south very quickly. Whitworth continues to be as disgusting as humanly possible, actually praying out loud for her to die so he can find someone else. Rowella overhears this as she comes to tell him he has a son. Awesome, another Whitworth man in the world.

Naturally, Whitworth only holds off from raping his wife for about a day after she gives birth, then goes right back to it. I don’t think you even have to have had a baby to start cringing in horror at that.

 

Unsurprisingly, her health is not doing well. During one visit, Elizabeth notes her cousin’s poor colouring and insists Whitworth send for Enys, or she will. He pouts, but obeys. Enys is aghast at the news Whitworth has ‘resumed marital relations’. His face is a study in very, very carefully controlled rage. You just know he wants to knock this man clear over the edge of a cliff. He once again insists Whitworth stay clear, and Whitworth again reluctantly agrees.

That evening, though, Whitworth swings by Rowella’s room and finds her reading Homer. She’s been giving him some serious bedroom eyes all episode, which is utterly bizarre to me. Things just keep getting stranger when she sits him down in a chair, sits on his lap, and rips open her own bodice.

What. The. Hell?

I do not understand what’s happening here. Just last week she was asking Morwenna how she could have married this gross man. And she overheard him praying for her sister to die. What’s happening here?

I…can’t. But there is one bright spot in Morwenna’s life (hey, something has to keep her from literally going over the cliff’s edge): Geoffrey Charles is back for a visit, and through him she’s able to re-establish contact with Drake. Aww! He gifts her with a medal showing a mother and child, which she cherishes as much as that bracelet he gave her.

George wins his election, to his own smug satisfaction and to the rage of Lord Falmouth. Falmouth then leans on Ross to join his side in the hope of, I suppose, ousting George or, in some way, keeping him from accomplishing anything. I’ll confess, I found the political aspects of this episode a little hard to follow. What I do know is that it’s as ironic as it is horrifying that George is presenting himself as some sort of agent of positive change (and Sir Francis is buying it, which is stupid) at the same time he’s cutting wages at his mines back so heavily the miners are willing to walk 12 miles one way in the hope that Ross might give them work. George and Whitworth deserve each other. Oh, and Whitworth, by the way, is looking to George to help him secure some lucrative parish where he’ll basically get to just rake in cash without having to do any work. All of this is what happens when only rich white men vote and make policy.

George heads off to London alone, leaving a bewildered Elizabeth back at Trenwith. She summons her son home from Harrow for a visit, and then pays a visit of her own, to Aunt Agatha’s grave. There, she finds Ross, and the two of them have an actual talk, for the first time in years. During said talk, they determine the following: 1) Valentine is almost certainly not George’s child, 2) George knows it, and 3) He knows it because Aunt Agatha told him the night she died. Ross urges Elizabeth to force George to speak his suspicions out loud, so she can straight-up deny them. As a plan B, she can have another kid and win him back that way. Maybe fudge the dates a bit so this one is also an ‘eight-month baby’ and George will see the kid looks just as Valentine did and his suspicions will be laid to rest. Everyone wins!

It seems the two of them have reached a good place. They seem to feel the sort of warm love that old friends share. Ross kisses her, but it’s more of a brotherly, affectionate kiss than the embrace of a lover. Not that Prudie, looking on from afar, could really tell the difference.

Prudie does not run home to tell Demelza what she saw (which is surprising, considering how hard she seems to be lobbying Demelza to have an affair with Armitage.) Instead, we get Ross giving a big speech to his wife about how he once loved Elizabeth, and he still does love her, but not in that way. He loves Demelza, because she makes him better. How nice! This is just what Demelza needs to hear right now! Shame that whole thing was a dream sequence and, instead, Ross just coldly tells his wife he’s decided on a granite headstone for his dead aunt. Jesus, Ross, you make Don Draper seem warm and open.

Demelza’s just about at her wit’s end, and Armitage is pressing his suit hard. He’s not even trying to be subtle anymore. At a dinner at his uncle’s, while Ross talks politics with Falmouth, Armitage confesses his feelings to Demelza, who seems to be considering it, but gracefully escapes. She then sings a beautiful song that essentially boils down to, ‘I really like you, but I just…can’t.’

Ross comes in and hears, and seems quite moved both by the singing and her eyelock with Armitage. Later, at home, the two of them talk. She wearily admits that sometimes she wishes she could be two people: one who’s a wife and mother and living the life she has, which she does love and doesn’t regret, and another Demelza who’s free of all of that. I don’t think she’s unique in this. I think just about everyone feels this way at some point or another, especially when you’ve acquired a lot of things that tie you to one particular place or set of people. I mean, don’t we all occasionally fantasize about being completely free of all responsibilities, living a different life? Please tell me someone else thinks this!

Anyway, Ross talks about the way she was looking at Armitage, and how it made him realise she used to look at him that way, but she hasn’t for some time. Sounding tired, she reassures him that she will again, someday. Oh, Demelza, stop selling yourself short. Make Ross work for it! Honestly, how many times can this pattern repeat, of him completely forgetting how amazing she is, dismissing her, ignoring her, and then suddenly realising it, acting remorseful for a little while, and starting all over again? What a wearisome cycle. Let the girl have her poetry!

Speaking of anguished love, Sam Carne has decided that Emma, Tholly’s daughter, is going to be his new project. He’s going to marry her and bring her to Jesus! Slightly backwards way of doing things, Sam! He proposes, but she turns him down, because girl’s happy in her freedom. She’s basically Demelza’s fantasy life, only IRL.

Only one more episode to go! Can you believe it?



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