The action’s split between London and Cornwall this week, but fear not! There’s plenty of stupid to go around!
After a Christmas feast during which Ross optimistically predicts that Ned will get his job back and all will be well, the master of Nampara heads off to the Metropolis to do his MPing. When Demelza’s kids ask why she isn’t going too, she explains that someone needs to look after Cornwall.
And hoo boy, does she ever.
Drake tells Morwenna he knows she’s sneaking off to see her son, and then floats the possibility of them having the boy come to live with them. Morwenna would love that, of course, so Drake goes to Lady W to sound her out. That goes about as well as you’d expect. So, Drake kidnaps the kid. Yeah. You read that right.
He then takes John Conan to the beach so he can play with his niece and nephew. Demelza finds him there, discovers what he’s done, and tells her brother, in no uncertain terms, that he has to take the kid back. Fortunately, Drake does. And it appears that John Conan is another rich kid just left to wander the neighbourhood, because no one at the house was tasked with watching him and they only just start to notice he’s missing right before Drake returns him. That was a lot of time for a kid that age to go unaccounted for.
Drake confesses what he did to Morwenna, who clearly realises that something has to give here. She goes to John Conan and explains to him that she can’t see him anymore. While she’s talking to the boy, Lady W sees them and hurries to intervene, but Drake literally begs her on his knees to let Morwenna have this moment. Lady W steams right ahead, but stops when she hears Morwenna telling John that his grandmother is the kindest lady who will love him. I can’t believe she didn’t choke on those words. But, at least she gets her goodbye.
Later, she explains to Drake that she’d tamped down her grief over losing her child, and in the process basically locked down all her other emotions as well, making it nearly impossible for her to really be Drake’s wife. But now she’s said goodbye to John, and she feels she can move on. It’s left ambiguous whether or not they got past tender caresses to anything more concrete, but at the very least, there’s hope.
Meanwhile, Pascoe summons Demelza to the bank to show her this newfangled “paper” money the government is starting to produce, what with gold in short supply. Demelza’s uncertain, but agrees to use it to pay the miners’ wages. The miners are suspicious as well, especially once Tess shows up to pile on doubts as to the authenticity of the notes.
Tess, of course, knows the notes are totally legit; she’s just doing this to be a bitch and get back at Demelza. After she’s done cackling over that childish ploy, she hatches a scheme with some guy to start counterfeiting notes. They start pumping the fake notes into the local economy–into the hands of unwitting poor people, and somehow she tries to justify it by saying they’re getting revenge on the rich. Tess, you know why you think that?
Seriously, what sort of fool logic is that? How is putting worthless notes into the hands of poor people going to hurt the rich? It’s only hurting poor people, Tess! God, I hate her so much.
Because she’s stupid, it takes Demelza and Co all of about five minutes to trace these notes right back to her. Demelza, Sam and their crew go to the local tavern so Demelza can tell everyone that someone’s been making fools of them with fake notes, and she totally knows who it is. The crowd gets restless and Tess starts to look nervous. Demelza goes on to say she won’t name names if the person stops doing it RIGHT NOW. She adds, for good measure, that forgery’s a hanging offence.
I love Demelza.
Meanwhile, in London, Ned is doing his damndest to get his ass thrown back in prison. Honestly, I can’t even keep up with this guy anymore, because he’s just jumping from hot-button issue to hot-button issue, seemingly at random. Now he’s ranting about slavery (ok, fair, we can all get on board with that one and it totally makes sense that he’d have very personal feelings about that), but, oh, wait, now he’s on about… Catholic emancipation? Whut? And then he’s screaming over and over again about how the King is mad? Does this man have lead poisoning or something? Is he going insane? Doesn’t he want his government job back?
That’s not looking likely, by the way. Pitt, the Prime Minister who was sympathetic to Ned, is no longer Prime Minister, having up and resigned over another issue. So, now Ned no longer has any friends in power.
And he’s losing his non-powerful friends as well. Enys is fed up with this idiot and urging Ross to cut ties while he still can. Ross, being all Ross-y, refuses because that wouldn’t be noble or something. He actually pulls the, ‘Don’t forget Ned saved my life,’ bit, and Enys replies with, ‘I saved your life, asshole, Ned just got you to my operating table!’
I love Enys, too.
Let’s check in with the Warleggans and their lot. George has now fully recovered his senses (who knew that falling down the stairs could be so good for the sanity? Also, why is George still occasionally sporting his arm sling? Hasn’t it been months since that happened?) and is preparing to get in bed (metaphorically) with Hansen. Hansen is chomping at the bit for George to get in bed (non-metaphorically) with his daughter, but George sees no reason to rush. Luckily, Geoffrey Charles shows up to ask Hansen for Cecily’s hand. Hansen sends him off with a sneer, then goes and tells George all about it. George’s response is to go, ‘Ok, let’s set a date!’
So, just so we’re clear, George is now going forward with this marriage purely to spite his stepson. Which is not creepy and immature at all.
And consider: as far as I can recall, Geoffrey Charles hasn’t done anything to George to deserve George’s hostility. Pretty much all he did was exist, right? George resented him for distracting Elizabeth, which is why he was dispatched to Harrow so early. But now that Elizabeth’s gone… why does George hate him so much?
Remember too: Geoffrey Charles is a child. Seriously, he’s only in his mid-teens. George is playing some petty revenge thing with a kid. And involving another kid (because we can assume Cecily is around the same age). So we’re throwing in some child marriage as well. This is all so incredibly messed up.
And just for good measure, Hansen sets Geoffrey Charles up and makes it look like he stole from a fellow cadet, so now he’s being booted from military school. This poor kid can’t catch a break.
Hansen’s mystery partner is finally revealed as Merceron who… I don’t really remember. Is he the magistrate who didn’t vote against Ned the first time he was imprisoned? I think so? Whatever, they’ve been drawing this out for so long that I feel I should have had a better reaction than, ‘Wait, who is this guy again?’ Poorly handled, show.
Seems all is not well at the mahogany plantations. An overseer sends Hansen a letter detailing the truly horrifying conditions the slaves are living under. Of course Hansen and Merceron don’t care, but they foolishly leave the letter sitting on a desk and Cecily steals it and hands it over to Ross.
George decides it’s time for him to make his maiden speech in the house, in support of continuing slavery because now his own economic interest is all tied up in it. Hasn’t George been an MP for… years now? Seems a long time to go without having made a single speech.
As you can imagine, the speech basically goes, ‘I’m not a racist, but…’ followed by several minutes of the most toe-curlingly racist stuff you could ever imagine. But Ross has come armed with that letter, which he reads aloud, and now George whinily observes that everyone thinks he’s friends with heartless slave owners and why would they think that?
You are a friend to heartless slave owners, you melt.
In order to deflect attention from this PR disaster, Hansen and Merceron arrange to frame both Ned and Ross for treason. In Ned’s case, I don’t think that should be too hard, considering he’s sitting around a pub drunkenly calling for the king to be assassinated. Nevertheless, the world’s most inept pickpocket attempts again and again and again to slip some paper calling for Catholic emancipation into his pocket. He tries and fails so many times it starts to feel a bit more Three Stooges than prestige television.
Meanwhile, some goons head to Ross’s lodging house to plant the same document in Ross’s rooms. Fortunately, they’re spotted by Caroline and Enys, who head upstairs once the goons are gone and locate the document. They presumably destroy it right before the authorities arrive to search the place.
Authorities also arrive at the tavern to arrest Ned. So, he’s back in prison now.
Ross arrives back at his lodging house to find the place ransacked and the Enyses standing by. The document has not been found, so Caroline concentrates all her poshness into a laser beam of intimidation and forces the man in charge of the search to sign a document attesting to the fact that they conducted a thorough search and nothing was found. She also instructs the guys to put the rooms back to rights. Once they’re gone, Dwight stares at her in awe and tells her she was magnificent.
‘Yes, I was,’ she cheekily agrees. I don’t know what went down in the Carne house, but I think we can say for sure that the Enyses had a little extra fun tonight!
And that’s where we leave things: just as at the start of the season, Ned is in prison and it’s up to Ross to get him out. Demelza is ruling Cornwall, and Enys continues to be the only real adult in this crowd of men.
Next week: All of Ross’s greatest hits, compressed into a single episode! Yippee!