It's Snarkin' on Poldark time, aka the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. Let us return once more to the 1790s, the hats, the hair, and the brooding manfully on the cliffs of Cornwall, as the reboot of the Winston Graham classic series comes back to PBS.
Unfortunately, the BBC's inability to pick a consistent part of the year to broadcast the series means that it's been almost a year since we last left Ross, Demelza, George, Elizabeth and all their mining/banking woes last season. With that in mind, let's review where everyone is, and how we got here.
Ross Poldark: When I can't ride a horse, Talbot, you can order me a hearse.
In the beginning.... there was Ross and Francis Poldark. One dark and from the poorer side of the family, living in a semi hovel, one fair and far better off, living in the family home of Trenwith. Elizabeth was in love (from her mother's POV, anyway) with the wrong one. Luckily, that wrong one (Ross) disappeared in the American war for a while, and Elizabeth agreed to marry Francis instead, and had a son, named Geoffrey Charles.
When Ross came back, he was heartbroken, but he proceeded to marry Demelza, a girl who he found, made his servant, and then fell into bed with. They had a daughter, Julia, but she died of fever before Season 1 ended. Despite all this, Ross persisted in carrying a flame for Elizabeth.... And Elizabeth for him, for that matter. Francis turned out to be terrible with money, while Ross was aggressive enough to make some once in a while (before losing it all again.)
So in an ironic turn of events, by the beginning of Season 2, Ross was making decent money, while Francis lost everything to evil George Warleggan, who really really needs to grow a mustache expressly for twirling purposes.
George, by the way, is Ross' declared enemy, mostly for reasons time forgot, but that supposedly stretch back to their school days. It's a fundamental difference both in world view, and in class. Ross, for all that he is cash poor, is upper class, and has all the privileges and benefits befitting such a thing, which he throws away and sneers at willy nilly, while also taking advantage of it whenever he needs. Warleggan is a climber -- he started out merely middle class, and has worked his way up via the new banking system to be "New Monied," but does not have the respect of his now-social peers.
Meanwhile in seriously secondary characters, Francis' little sister Verity rebelled against her family and married a sea captain named Blamey, even though he was a widower they didn't approve of. Meanwhile Ross' two BFFs, Doctor Enys and Captain McNeil ened up with their own share of problems. Enys found himself in a love triangle he didn't want to be involved in, which resulted in the woman in question being killed, while McNeil kept trying to break open the smuggling ring that Ross was trying to help cover up. Servants Jud and Prudie were loud and drunk, got fired, and rehired. Aunt Agatha shuffled her tarot cards.
Ross Poldark: [to Elizabeth] If the truth were known, there never was a premature birth in Cornwall... especially in Cornwall.
Season 1 ended with Ross being arrested as part of that aforementioned smuggling ring and for a murder that wasn't (the sea captain in question drowned.) The Warleggans were behind this, naturally, but the murder charge was really a step too far, and part of the reason the case sank in the Season 2 premiere. (The rest of it being Ross' own orating skills.)
Season 2 also saw Ross and Francis bury the hatchet of Elizabeth-and-money-related resentment and get into business together in order to help turn things around. Verity got to have a baby. Enys met an heiress named Caroline, who happily threw over her Warleggan-associated fiancee for him. (I mean, his name was Unwin. I'd have dumped him for that alone.) Demelza gave birth to a boy named Jeremy. Jud dies, but actually he was just knocked out really hard, and woke up in the middle of his own funeral, much to Prudie's annoyance. It looked like we were all going to live happily ever after... and then Francis drowned in a mining cave-in.
No really, Francis screwed everything up with that one. Because with him gone, Elizabeth started leaning on Ross hard as "the man in her life." Ross, of course, was all too happy to play husband to Demelza and psuedo-husband to Elizabeth, because patriarchy. (Jazzhands!) This included giving Elizabeth serious sums of money that his own family needed. (You can imagine how well that went over with Demelza.)
But the situation was untenable. Elizabeth realized she needed a better source of support, she agrees to marry George (who is wooing her mostly to take her from Ross.) When Ross finds out, he rides to Trenwith and proceeds to rape Elizabeth to mark her as his own. It was pretty ugly. (So ugly, it was edited for American broadcast in such a way that implied the encounter might have been consensual. Here's the scene as boradcast by the BBC. You be the judge.)
But not as ugly as Elizabeth realizing she was pregnant. For weeks she waited, assuming Ross would, I dunno, just dump Demelza and his other kid, and come marry her and live happily ever after. Not so much. Elizabeth wound up marrying George out of sheer panic, and now has to figure out how to hide that her baby is coming way sooner than the 9 month mark.
Meanwhile, after a night of nearly sleeping with Captain MacNeil, Demelza went home to discover George has blocked all the common paths between the properties and is shot at by his servants. Ross, who was busy helping Enys see Caroline once more before leaving to join the Navy, finds out about the shooting, and decides not to run away himself and rejoin the army to escape ever seeing Elizabeth's face again. Instead he heads back, stops a riot, takes Demelza home, and they reconcile.
So that's where we stand: Elizabeth is pregnant with Ross' babe, and George has no idea. Enys and Caroline, are still unmarried and now separated by oceans. Oh, and somehow Jud's gotta leave, because the actor got a lead role in his own show. (Sorry Prudie.) Ross and Demelza are raising Jeremy, and probably soon to have more. Aunt Agatha was just shuffling her tarot cards...
Poldark Season 3 begins this Sunday, October 1st at 9pm on Masterpiece. Check your local PBS listings.