We start with a nice CGI shot of late-18th century London (complete with lens flare! So we’ll think it’s really real!) and Ross heading into Parliament for his first session. What follows is a fairly lengthy montage of the next eight or so months, with Ross passionately advocating for the end of slavery and the rights of his fellow man, while Demelza deals with the apple harvest, Christmas alone, and trying to set her brother Drake up with someone who isn’t married to Rev Whitworth. The two of them narrate their montage with letters between London and Nampara.
While in London, Ross takes some time to catch up with his now-teenaged nephew, Geoffrey Charles, at one of the pleasure gardens. The kid’s nice.
Ross picks up a pair of prostitutes and brings them back to his rooms. But when they suggest they, uh, get things moving, Ross seems confused, which is all kinds of stupid. Come on, Ross, you were in the army! Also, you’re a not-unworldly person who exists on earth! Did you think these two ladies were just wandering around Vauxhall hoping some nice gentleman would invite them over for a cup of coffee and a chat about Love Island?
Ross finally heads home, after almost a year, and his reunion with Demelza is seriously the most sexless, awkward thing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s like two cousins who haven’t seen or been in touch for years running into each other at a family wedding. ‘Oh, hey, you! How’re you doing? What’s…happening in your world? You still working at that place? Dating that person whose name I totally can’t remember?’
Apparently the reason for said awkwardness is because Ross went away and stayed away because he convinced himself that Demelza was still in love with Armitage and would pine over him doubletime now he’s dead. Jesus, for all the time these two spend talking about their relationship, they really don’t seem to have a good grasp on each other or on their relationship, do they?
There’s a lot more talking about their relationship this episode, but first Ross has to head down to the beach for his obligatory shirtless scene, only to be beaten to the punch by Enys. Dwight’s out for an early celebratory swim, because he’s a dad now! He and Caroline have a daughter, Sarah, and they’re both delighted, though Caroline does her Caroline thing and keeps talking about how much she hates kids and referring to this offspring in rather demeaning terms. She doesn’t mean it, though. And Horace knows it.
Ross leaves off the Shirtless Swim and heads instead to the mine, where he’s informed that the lode they’ve been mining is pretty well tapped out. They thought they’d get another four years out of it, so this is bad. Ross suggests an alternative which is shot down by the others, who dismiss him as basically just some London gentleman now. This, also, seems a bit stupid. Yes, he’s been gone for some months, but I don’t recall them shrugging off his suggestions so easily after he came back from war, and he was gone for years then. And it didn’t seem like he’d had that much control over the mine before that, so… I’m not sure what’s happening here. But it does get Ross’s back up a little. This is not the homecoming he’d expected.
But guess who else is home? Verity! Hurrah! How was Portugal, girl? She notes the coolness between Nampara and Trenwith but doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with that, so just remains a neutral party. But she and Elizabeth do talk a bit about how damaging it is when outside forces (like mothers) start to interfere with their children’s lives.
Perfect cue for us to bring Whitworth’s mother, Lady Whitworth, onto the scene. She comes flying in just to be a bitch to Morwenna, declare her intention to hire a governess for the now two-year-old offspring of this ill-fated couple, and probably kick a puppy or two. She seems like the type. Morwenna foolishly tries to appeal to her husband for backup, but he’s not having it because he’s not going to go against mamma. Also, he’s a bit distracted by his sister-in-law, who’s managed to find at least one stocking that’s not full of holes and is using it to entice him into becoming her sugar daddy or whatever.
Whitworth’s also busy once again trying to squeeze profitable livings out of people. He tries Ross first, which is the third bafflingly stupid thing I can reel off. Has he met Ross? Ross, of course, shoots him down and says there’s no damn way he’s going to deprive a hardworking man with six kids his living just because Whitworth’s greedy, and no, he doesn’t care that Whitworth might maybe be able to get Ross an intro to the Prince of Wales.
So, naturally, the Repulsive Reverend turns to George, who will always be some sort of ally. Seems Whitworth, while attending to the deathbed of some local, learned an interesting tidbit: Said local speculated unsuccessfully, but instead of risking his own money, he used money that had been entrusted to him by certain clients. Unfortunately, all those investments were backed by Pascoe’s bank, so it looks like that’s going to be in serious trouble now.
George appreciates this bit of news, but we’re not sure exactly how he’s planning to use it just yet. Right now, he’s plotting his return to Parliament. He’s not interested in risking another election, so he takes the advice of some self-made creep with the improbable name of Monk Adderley. Though, in this story, that name is almost pedestrian. Monk recommends George just buy himself a borough (presumably a rotten one) which should enable him to sail smoothly back into the House of Commons.
George throws a big party (to which Ross is not, of course, invited) and calls in everyone who might have a borough for sale. While Monk slavers all over Elizabeth and Geoffrey Charles gets an early start on his drinking problem, George finds himself a borough that has not one but two seats he could, theoretically, control. Ooooh, the power! George is a happy man.
Ross is a little sulky about being shut out of the local parties. He doesn’t care much about the to-do at Trenwith, but apparently there’s some annual fishing thing all the locals do down at the beach and he hasn’t received his engraved invite. Demelza reminds him that people tend to just show up to that, and tells him to go in the tone of a rather fed-up mother dealing with a whiny kid who can’t make up his mind whether or not to see if the kids running around outside want to play with him or not.
Ross goes, arriving just in time to see Tholly getting the absolute crap kicked out of him by some crew of guys we’ve probably never met before. Apparently the widow Tholly’s been fooling around with isn’t a widow after all. Drake and Sam are all for running to get help, but Ross Ross-es, declares there’s no time for that, rips off his jacket, and takes care of this mob of about 10 guys all by himself. Ross always wins.
Afterwards, high on his success, he treats everyone to drinks, and then goes to Trenwith to catch Elizabeth in the gardens and ask after their son. Then he goes home, talks to Demelza some more, is reassured for about the tenth time that the thing with Hugh is well in the past, and gives her some earrings. And then they have sex, because we women sure do like our shiny things. Ross is a happy man.
You know who’s not a happy man? Enys. And you know why? Because apparently his newborn daughter is dying. Or going blind, or something terrible, it’s not quite clear. While getting ready for the Trenwith party, he looks down at her, giggling and gurgling in her cradle, and his face goes very Doctor Serious. At this point, I start cursing and hurling things at the television, because I EXPLICITLY SAID LAST WEEK THAT CAROLINE AND THE BABY WERE NOT TO DIE! What’s with Winston Graham and killing off firstborn daughters anyway? First Julia, now this? Yes, yes, I know the child/infant mortality rates were much higher at this time than they are now, but still! This feels like, if you’ll pardon the expression, overkill.
So, yeah, Dwight’s pretty deeply depressed. I don’t know what the hell he could have possibly noticed just by looking at the baby, who seems fine, but then, I’m no expert and Enys is kind of a magical doctor, especially for the time. We’ll just have to see what happens, unfortunately.
Sorry to end on a downer note, there, but seriously, the episode basically ended with him cuddling his cooing baby in the moonlight and that’s what my hugely pregnant self got to go to bed with, so… there was really no helping that. Let’s hope for happier things next week, shall we?