Are you ready for a dive into 18th century elections? Admittedly, I wasn’t. Maybe it’s the head cold or the four-year-old stomping around just over my head, but I found some of the finer points of the political maneuvering a little hard to follow. But I got the gist of it, and I know a lot of people will be happy to hear that Armitage has kicked it, so there’s that.
Local elections are looming, and George is in a snit when he finds out Hugh is being put forward by his uncle, Falmouth, as a contender. Unfortunately, Hugh’s health has him currently confined to bed, and Enys declares there’s no way he’ll be up and about and ready to charm the electorate anytime soon. So, Falmouth does the sensible thing and fires Enys and brings in the rather medieval Dr Choake. Choake’s remedies of leeches, cupping, and vomiting fail to produce any improvement, shockingly, so he thinks the next step is trepanning. Nothing a good hole to the head won’t cure, right?
Enys, meanwhile, goes on his merry way and goads Caroline into telling Ross and Demelza about her pregnancy. Caroline does not seem delighted about this impending arrival, calling it a ‘little brat’, saying she doesn’t want it, and declaring her hate for babies. Maybe she’s just being Caroline. Remember when she pretended to be all shallow back when she and Enys first met, mostly for laughs? I can’t tell if that’s what’s going on here, but she decides to distract herself by getting Demelza to help her broker a truce between Sir Francis and Falmouth, so they can agree to back a new contender for the local electoral seat. The ladies are successful, and Ross, of course, is asked to stand for election.
Ross talks things over with Demelza, and since they both figure he won’t win anyway, they go with it. Both report to Falmouth, where Ross lays out his terms: essentially, he won’t be Falmouth’s puppet. Falmouth’s fine with that, and with Ross’s determination to do anything he can to help the poor. So, Ross agrees to stand for the election.
But first, he and George need to have something of a pissing match. You know, to warm up for the electoral pissing match that’s to follow. Seems that Ross’s brother-in-law, the pious Sam, and George’s repulsive henchman, Tom Harry, have agreed to a wrestling match. On Sam’s side, the stakes are high: if he wins, then the girl he’s got a crush on, Tholly’s daughter, Emma, will come to church.
Once the two gentlemen get word of this impending contest, they agree to a bet, each putting a sum on his own man. But any money won will go to the local hospital, so really, either way, you could say that Ross wins. Ross always wins.
The wrestling match is far more brutal than it needs to be, and of course both contenders channel their champions: Sam fights with honour, having been coached by Ross the previous day (the timeline of this episode is, I think, kind of messed up, because I seem to recall Hugh’s uncle saying the election was tomorrow and that was at least a day or two ago, in show time). Tom Harry swiftly defaults to cheating, nearly gouging Sam’s eyes out, and why wasn’t that some kind of forfeit? Ultimately, Tom wins by telling Sam he’s slept with Emma, which literally takes the fight out of the young man. Tom’s all smug, but then Elizabeth gives her husband a LOOK, and he finally fires the guy, just like he promised several months ago.
Sam is sad, but then Emma goes to him and tells him that she was totally lying when she said she’d slept around. Emma then goes to Demelza and admits she may have feelings for Sam. Strong ones, and Demelza tells her she’d better be sure of that, because she’s going to have to take Sam AND his religion, because they come as a package deal. Is Emma ready for that? Well, she’s not sure, so she decides she’s going to go away for a year and think it over and see how she feels.
Falmouth, meanwhile, is rightfully alarmed by Choake’s interest in turning his nephew’s skull into Swiss cheese, so he dismisses Choake and reinstates Enys. Dwight does what he can, but ultimately decides the only thing left is to call in Demelza. Ross, to his credit, does not attempt to stand in her way, and even seems to genuinely want the guy to get better. That’s probably because he’s never been subjected to Armitage’s poetry, which he is STILL WRITING. Jesus, Hugh, give it up! You suck!
While Demelza attends to the sick young man, Ross heads off to the election. As, of course, do Elizabeth, George, and Carey. Carey knows they have a certain number of voters in the bag, because they have debts with the Warleggan bank which will be called in if they don’t fall in line. Elizabeth notes that a few who remain on the fence are old friends of her family and promises to work on them.
Election time! It goes without saying that the entire electorate consists of a handful of rich white men. And they all have to publicly announce whom they’ve voted for, which is the stupidest process on earth. I mean, that couldn’t possibly contribute to blackmail, bribery or outright coercion of the type Carey was mentioning earlier, right?
Carey introduces George and makes him sound so great Ross comments he’s almost ready to vote for him. Ross is introduced… less enthusiastically. Votes are cast, and it comes down to the wire, but ultimately Ross wins. Ross always wins. Those men who Elizabeth was going to work on all went Ross’s way, and I thought it was going to end up being a case of her having secretly persuaded them to vote against her husband, but it doesn’t appear (for now, at least) that this is the case.
Ross, somewhat shell-shocked, turns to Falmouth and wonders if they should celebrate. Falmouth would, but he’s received word that Hugh died just two hours ago. With Demelza by his side. That casts something of a damper on things.
Ross returns home and hears from Prudie that Demelza is still away. Prudie begs him not to go fetch her, to just give Demelza some time to grieve on her own. Which she does, at Caroline’s fireside.
When Demelza finally does return, she and Ross have another talk, where she admits that she did have feelings for Hugh, and his death has affected her. Not as much as Julia’s death, of course, but in a similar manner. Ross accepts this. And he tells her that he won the election, which they both realise will mean major changes in their lives. Immediately, it means that the family have to see Ross off on the coach to London for what will undoubtedly be a rather long and difficult separation.
Brief moments of levity (if you can call anything involving Whitworth that) came courtesy of the Vile Vicar. He’s back to visiting prostitutes so he can suck on their toes, telling one of them that he hates having to visit a ‘common drab’ but has to, because his wife won’t perform her conjugal duties. ‘She don’t know what she’s missing,’ the woman responds, in the most bored tone a human being has ever mustered. It was that, more than Whitworth, that made me laugh.
Afterwards, Whitworth runs into his sister-in-law, whom he’s somehow not managed to see for these several (weeks? Months? How long has it been?), despite the fact they both live in the same town and he’s the local clergyman, which means he’d see most people at least once a week. He seems surprised to notice she’s not pregnant, and she cheerfully admits that she was mistaken on that front. He blusters and accuses her of being a con artist, and she acts all offended and says it was her youthful ignorance of such matters that produced the confusion. She goes on her way, casting him a flirtatious look over her shoulder. Judging from the previews for next week, looks like the bored prostitute won’t have to put up with him for much longer.
And that wraps us up for this week. Before we go, I have a request to make: I love getting comments and hearing what people thought of the episodes, but I really must ask that the comments be restricted just to what’s happening on the show. This blog is not a book/show comparison, so this isn’t the place for extensive comments about the changes that have been made in the adaptation. I understand that fans of the book are annoyed by some of the changes–believe me, I get it! I, too, get irritated when things get changed, seemingly for no reason, between a book I loved and its onscreen adaptation. But as I’ve not read the books and can’t really weigh in on that matter, I think those are best discussed elsewhere.