Everyone’s back in Cornwall, which should be good (it certainly makes Ross and Demelza happy) but, well, there are tensions. Of course.
Ned is chomping at the bit to do something to uncover this conspiracy against him, especially once he learns of Bannantine’s death. For now, he has to content himself with getting in Hansen’s face every now and again and putting his munitions knowledge to use at Ross’s mine.
Speaking of the mine, the locals are getting a bit agitated. There aren’t enough jobs. There are never enough jobs. Not enough jobs that pay decently, that is. Ross pays well–better than he can afford, really, which is why everyone wants to work for him. One man, Jacka (Rosina’s dad–remember Rosina?) approaches Ross and asks him to employ Jacka’s son, who looks to be about ten, max. Ross pleasantly reminds him that they don’t send children down into the mine, because of course Ross is too GOOD for child labour. The man gets snippy and drags the kid off to the Warleggan mine, Wheal Plenty.
This gets Demelza to thinking that maybe the local kids would benefit from some basic education. She and Ross float the idea to the miners, offering to give all young employees a paid hour during the day to learn how to read and write. Everyone’s basically like, ‘Why’d they want to do that?’ I don’t know why they’re objecting, really, the kids still get paid!
So, that doesn’t go over well, but some of the children start seeking it out themselves. Turns out Morwenna’s method of pairing cake and picture books is a surefire winner with kids who don’t necessarily get regular meals. Morwenna now has a project.
And so does Tess, though her project seems to be: try to get someone connected with Demelza to sleep with me. She tries hitting on Drake, if you can believe it, and he tells her in no uncertain terms to get lost. I mean, really, girl. At least, maybe, start with the unmarried one? I guess Sam’ll be her next stop. Run, Sam!
I still hate her.
Enys is now permanently wearing his long-suffering face. Now that he’s famous for having gotten that would-be assassin off the executioner’s hook, he’s being offered a post as head doctor at a prestigious hospital in Cornwall. He doesn’t want to take it, of course, because his patients need him. Caroline gently urges him to consider it carefully, at least.
George is… not well. At all. He’s progressed to the point where he hallucinates that Carey is Ross, taunting him, and nearly shoots his own uncle. Carey has him restricted to his room while telling Hansen and anyone else who asks that George is away up north.
Hansen’s getting fed up with being jerked around, and Carey doesn’t really want to lose this deal, so he brings in a doctor to help with George. Either this is the same doctor who treated Hugh last season, or it’s someone who studied with him, because he, too, is a big proponent of leeches, cupping, and sundry horrible remedies. Including George being tied to the bed. At this point, even Carey’s like, ‘Isn’t this a bit inhumane?’ But he still goes along with it.
Kitty has been subjected to some really horrible treatment in the town, so Caroline’s solution is to throw a party and invite all the local rich folk to see…how well behaved Kitty is? How nice she is? I dunno, when you spell it out, the party idea seems a bit racist too, no?
Well, Caroline’s intentions are good, but the party is a disaster. First, she apparently invites everybody, with no consideration for their views or past behaviour towards other guests. So, as Ned and Kitty walk in, one guy is holding forth on some absolutely, painfully racist views. Welcome to your party, Kitty.
Oh, and Caroline invited Lady Whitworth as well. You remember her, right? The absolute monster who birthed Reverend Whitworth? And Morwenna and Drake are amongst the guests as well! Happy times!
Honestly, this feels so off. To not give Morwenna at least a head’s up that her mother-in-law is on the guest list seems uncharacteristically thoughtless and cruel of Caroline.
But Morwenna handles it like a champ, viewing this as an opportunity to ask Lady W how her young son is doing. Lady W tries to fob her off, but Drake has his wife’s back and asks Lady W to claw into her shrivelled, black heart and remember what it’s like to be a mother who misses her child. And, astonishingly, Lady W gives Morwenna a semi-decent rundown of how the kid’s doing (fairly well, though his health is a bit delicate).
Oh, Hansen’s a guest as well. Of course he is! And now we get to learn that Kitty was sold away from his plantation at the insistence of her own mother, who knew that Kitty, at the age of 12, would be right on course to be raped by her master. Like we really needed more reasons to hate this guy.
The party’s sliding into hellish territory, but fear not, there’s a disaster to distract everyone! A collapse at Wheal Plenty, with many miners trapped, including children. Including Jacka’s son. And things are not looking good for any of them.
Ross rushes to Trenwith to ask Carey what’s to be done. Carey informs him that, having discussed the matter with the mine manager, he’s concluded that a rescue would be hopeless and prohibitively expensive. He’s decided not only to leave the miners to their fate, but to close the whole mine and throw everyone else out of work. Yikes! I mean, to be fair to him, he does seem to regret that this is the decision that has to be made, but still!
Ross gathers his usual guys, plus Ned, to formulate a cunning plan. They’re going to blast their way into the mine through a nearby cave, hoping all the while that no one notices what they’re doing, because obviously this is not his mine and they’re totally trespassing. And we know how crazy the Warleggans can be about trespassing.
The music suggests we should be all anxious about this, but let’s face it, we’re not, right? Because we know Ross will come through in the end, because he always does. We do get one fantastic Enys moment, when Ned lets off the explosives and everyone dives for cover and Dwight gets this amazing look on his face, like, ‘Here we go again.’ Oh, Enys. Maybe consider that new job.
The only moment of, ‘well, maybe something will happen here’, is when the rescuers encounter a deep gorge they have to cross in order to get to the trapped miners. While everyone discusses the best way to do this without getting killed, Ned just up and tries to jump across. He doesn’t quite make it and winds up barely hanging on to the wall, so then Ross has to jump across and save him.
After that, they manage to rig something up and start rescuing people. There is a bit of time pressure, because the roof could cave in any second, which makes me wonder why they bother bringing out corpses before all the survivors are retrieved, but whatever. Not all the miners make it, but Jacka’s son does, and since he’s the only one we kind of recognise, it feels like all is right with the world.
Except to Enys, who tells Demelza that, while he’s glad things turned out well, Ned was super reckless and probably isn’t the best influence on Ross.
Geoffrey Charles and Cecily take a post-mine-disaster walk and flirt and come across little Valentine, who has apparently just been left to run feral. Seriously, this kid is basically under no supervision at all, which makes no sense. I realise, of course, that George isn’t really in a position to parent, and Carey probably doesn’t think much about the kids, but we do know for a fact that they employ a nanny. So, why isn’t she watching Valentine at all? Ursula isn’t even mobile yet, so it’s not like she can use having to run after two kids as an excuse for being distracted. This is her job. How has she not noticed that one of the kids she’s paid to take care of has wandered off?
Instead of, you know, taking Valentine home, Cecily and G-C take him to Ross and Demelza. They welcome him, and introduce him to their kids, and he has a grand time at their house, staying until well into the night.
Over at Trenwith, a maid unties George’s hand for some reason (so he can feed himself, I think?) and he ends up escaping. He runs to Trenwith and sees his son there, with everyone else, enjoying a lovely, cosy, happy evening. This glimpse of a contented family life is too much for him, and he heads for a nearby cliff and almost throws himself off. He’s yanked back at the last second by Enys, who had spotted him at the window at Nampara. Enys gently offers to see George home.
At Trenwith, Enys learns about George’s treatments and begs Carey to dismiss the horrible doctor, who is likely only making George worse.
Shortly after, Ross, G-C, and Cecily bring Valentine home, interrupting Carey’s drinks with Hansen. Ross is all, ‘Hey, maybe someone should be watching this kid? Instead of letting him just wander around the village unattended? WTH?’
Carey tries to sell the ‘George is up north’ lie, but Valentine, as kids will do, totally busts that and says that George is right upstairs. Carey tries to rescue the situation by offering Hansen the use of the Warleggan townhouse in Truro for the duration of his stay. But Hansen, having just seen his daughter roll in with G-C, which he is not pleased about, says they’ll be leaving soon, but thanks anyway.
Ross then pulls a pretty ballsy move by saying that, since George seems so generous, surely he won’t mind funding G-C’s first year at military academy? Caught off-guard, Carey doesn’t really have a response. So, I guess that’ll be G-C taken care of, for one year, at least. Carey coughs up the money, insisting that G-C consider it a loan.
Before they leave, Valentine runs out to hug his brother and ask if he’ll visit again. G-C promises to do so. George watches the two brothers from his bedroom window. Aww, man, I kind of want to hug George! And little Valentine!
Back at Nampara, Ross helps Demelza take a bath (it’s less sexy and more sweet and tender), and they discuss Ned. Seems they’re both on the same page regarding Ned’s unpredictable and impetuous nature, but Ross knows that any attempt on his part to rein Ned in is likely to fail. So, we’ll just see how that goes.