Recapping 'Poldark': Season 1, Episode 5

Ross + staring at scenery = OTP. (Photo: Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for MASTERPIECE.)

Previously, on Poldark: The best episode of the season happens! People do things and are likeable! It’s amazing! Specifically, Ross and Demelza break the news to the rest of their town that they’re married and they get a variety of reactions: some people are happy for them (Verity), some people think it’s a terrible idea (Ross’ investors) and some people are basically just laughing at them (pretty much everybody else).  But that’s okay, because Ross and Demelza are too adorable to care about what the rest of the world thinks of them. Verity even visits Namara to bond with Demelza and teach her how to do noble lady things like dance and fold napkins.  Meanwhile, Uncle Charles drops dead, fueling Francis shame spiral of poor life decisions even further, and the attempts to mine Wheal Leisure continue, which means I learn more about mining techniques than I’ve ever cared to know. The Warleggans crash Christmas dinner with the extended Poldark clan because they are trash garbage people and things are super awkward, but it all ends happily when Ross confesses to Demelza that he’s in love with her, and she tells him she’s pregnant.

Man, they cram a lot of stuff into one episode of this show! 

Welcome Baby Poldark! We fast forward a couple of months from the last episode, which you can tell because Demelza is suddenly CRAZY pregnant. In fact, after the standard scene where she like wanders the moors in slow motion for a bit so that we can admire the scenery (Yay, Cornwall!), she goes into labor while Ross is making her sit through a performance of As You Like It from a rather bland Shakespeare troupe. She goes home early, and Ross only just manages to make it back to Nampara in time to meet his child, a daughter that they decide to name Julia Grace Poldark (of course he ges to skip the whole labor business.). The baby is super adorable and both new parents are over the moon about her, though Demelza is worried that she’ll be a terrible mother. Ross swears he’ll make the world (and himself) better for her sake, and everyone just go awwww together. During our next Cornwall Tourism Scene Break, Ross actually takes tiny Julia along with him to stare out over the cliffs into the sea. Teach her early, Ross! 

Time for a Christening Party! Young Julia is christened in the village church, and Ross decides to have a celebration at Nampara to mark the occasion. Demelza is stressed because she had actually wanted two services – one for “Ross’s sort” and one for her own. Which, considering it’s been at least a year since they’ve been married (more maybe? IDK how time on this show works anymore), you’d thinks she’d already know this is a request that her husband would summarily ignore, since he has every other time she’s requested something similar. Luckily, Verity is there to calm her down because Verity has the patience of a saint apparently.

Awkwardness ensues when the Warleggans arrive – how do they keep getting invited to things when everyone hates them? – and start making snide comments about the “riff raff” Ross has started allowing into his how, and the situation intensifies further when Demelza’s father and step-mother show up, to spread their particular brand of crazy around. Demelza’s dad, you’ll remember, has recently transitioned from being a drunk deadbeat, into a fire and brimstone super religious type. He immediately declares the assembled gathering “an abomination” because…reasons, is rude to Ross’ friends and orders a complete stranger to “cover herself” because she’s wearing a gown with cleavage. He is, as you might expect, the total life of the party. Demelza looks like she wants the ground to open up and swallow her, poor thing.

(Oh, and this is also the part where we get our every couple episode reminder that Ross is still sort of also carrying a torch for Elizabeth, even though he loves Demelza too? Just in case you forgot about that.) 

WARNING: This is the Mining Bit. I need some kind of program that, like, erases all the mining talk in this show and replaces it with cat videos or something. I get that it’s all LOOK ROSS IS BEING A GOOD PERSON, but it also makes me want to sleep forever. Here’s the Cliffs Notes: Ross discovered that Human Garbage George Warleggan had bought some shares in Wheal Leisure. I guess probably from some of those guys that were all disgruntled and disapproving of Ross’s personal life last episode. Ross is not into this, as he recognizes that George W. is a trash person, so he wants to figure out a way to buy out the other shares he doesn’t own before the Warleggans end up owning a large piece of their mine.

Later, Ross is out at lunch with his (pretty adorable, fairly dorky) friend Doctor Dwight Ennis, who’s in town to study mine diseases (ick) and has a long history with Ross because he’s the doctor who patched up his face (nice scar?) during the war.  They dish the growing unrest in the countryside and the miners' riots that have been taking place in various places. (Why are the miners rioting? I need to watch this show with Wikipedia open.) They then decide to discuss the problems in the mining industry itself, including falling prices and low wages, and Ross posits the theory that it would be better for all the mines in the area to band together and purchase their own smelting factory so that they could keep some of the profits from their ore, instead of selling to the existing companies at half price. Ross complains that the smelting companies are all working together already to keep prices down and that’s a problem that can’t be dealt with unless the miner all work together too.

Of course, Ross says all this within earshot of another mine owner, who is into this idea a lot, so you can be certain it’s going to come up again later. 

Demelza Plays Matchmaker. Demelza is like seriously invested in Verity’s happiness in the romance department, and refuses to let go of the idea that her cousin-in-law belongs with that nice ship’s captain, Andrew Blamey, you know, her former boyfriend that she had to break up with after he got in a duel with Francis a couple episodes ago. She keeps dropping hints for half the episode that Verity should just go seek him out for herself and be happy since it’s obvious she still cares about him. Verity keeps saying no, so Demelza finally decides that she has to take matters into her own hands.

While Ross is out on his mining errands, Demelza sneaks out to go see Captain Blamey herself. She tells him that none of her family knows that she’s come, but she just wanted to say that he should go back into Verity’s life because she still cared for him and missed him and everything. (Man, Demelza just ships this so hard. Get it, girl.) Blamey tries to play all this off – insisting that he’s married to his ship and his career and that he never thinks of Verity at all anymore – but we all know this is a lie. Demelza leaves, and Blamey looks emotionally devastated. 

How Did Francis Become So Terrible? Francis, still spiraling from his father’s death (or at least I’m going to try and cut him some slack for that as long as possible?), continues on his merry journey toward being the worst possible version of himself at all times. Despite the fact that they’re married – with kids – to other people, he remains insanely jealous of Ross, and continues to make arch, snotty comments to both Elizabeth and his cousin about their supposed feelings for each other.  He also spends a lot of time moping about whether he can “live up” to the man his father was, which I guess is supposed to be heartrending or something, but since his father was kind of a jerk it kind of seems like the worst set of lifegoals ever.

Francis also continues to visit the village at night in order to gamble and consort with the Show’s Main Prostitute (or possibly only prostitute given that any man interested in extramarital activity seems to end up spending time with her?), frequently leaving his wife and child home alone at night to do so. Francis has become so gross. 

The Mining-Related Excitement Continues. A day or so later, at the latest auction – where the miners sell their ore to the smelting houses – and Ross’s predictions come true. The factories once again buy up the ore for a low price – less than half of what the mine owners had been seeking and hoping for. The mine owners are all up in arms over this, calling it disgraceful, and they organize a secret meeting, which some random guy convinces Ross and Francis to attend.

Turns out that the mine owners want to implement Ross’ crazy plan from the other day, to create their own smelting company and stand together against the people ripping them off. Everyone’s very supportive, except for Francis who – displaying the maturity that he is so rightly famous for – seems to decide that he can’t be involved because it was Ross’ idea originally. Ross himself says that he’d rather go down fighting and accepts the mine owners’ request to lead their ragtag group.

This is the Most Dramatic Way to Get a Date Ever. Meanwhile, back at Nampara, Captain Blamey shows up out of nowhere to tell Demelza that he’d been wrong to deny his feelings for Verity to her earlier, because he (so obviously) still loved her and very much wanted to see her again. Demelza, who is basically five minutes away from writing internet fan fiction about these two already, is pretty excited and launches a plan to help Blamely meet with Verity. (Though no one, it would seem, has bothered to clue Verity in on this initiative.)

While Ross is attending a party at the Vile Warleggans’ household, Demelza uses the opportunity to invite Verity shopping, so that they can conveniently just run into Captain Blamey while they are out ostensibly picking out fabric for new cloaks. Unfortunately, Demelza decided to not mention the expected appearance of this surprise guest to Verity at all, so when Blamey randomly shows up in the fabric shop she basically freaks out and runs away into the street. Demelza follows, encouraging her cousin-in-law to at least hear her ex out, but their conversation is rudely interrupted by the arrival of an angry mob.

Nope, not kidding. A miners' riot has broken out during the time that the girls were happily shopping in the store, and now an angry, dirty mob with pitchforks has formed and is roaming the streets destroying things. (I need Wikipedia again to figure out what the goals of this whole thing are. It’s obvious these workers are poor and hungry, but what kicked all this off?) Verity and Demelza clutch each other in the middle of the street, instead of say, running the heck away, but happily, Captain Blamey also followed them out of the fabric shop, and at least has sense enough to pull them both behind a nearby cart and hide. Blamey decides that this is obviously his time to shine and begs Verity once again to just give him a chance to explain himself. She, stupidly, runs off into the mob again, and he has to chase after her some more. He tells her that he’s thought of nothing but her all these years since they originally parted, declares that all he wants to be with her, and swears that he’ll never leave her again if she gives him a chance. Sure, confessing your eternal devotion while pinned down by an angry, roving mob is hardly conventional, but it’s certainly dramatic and seems to be working for him. Go, Verity. Be happy, girl.

Good Times at the Warleggans House Party. Ross, Doctor Dwight, Francis and a bunch of other local gentleman attend a house party – which seems to be just for guys except possibly the Singular Village Prostitute who is there for some reason? – at the Vile Warleggans’ home. Doctor Dwight is a bit taken aback by the opulence that the family has managed to acquire in just two generations – and keep when so many (like all the Poldarks) are steps away from financial ruin.

Francis continues to make poor life choices by spending the entire party gambling, actively losing to what appears to be some form of card shark. The situation becomes so dire that Francis, in spite of all the trouble he has been having with his mine and his marriage and his life in general, and the fact that his lack of gaming skill is quite well documented at this point, decides to bet his mine, Wheal Grambler, on a hand of this game he’s playing. There is no evidence, as yet, that Francis has managed to be in any way successful at this game, whatever it is, but here we are.

Of course Francis loses. So now he’s lost the family mine, his main source of income and his pride. He breaks the news to the family at home. His Awesome Crazy Aunt is upset, Verity is shocked and Elizabeth is resolute. The next day, Francis has to close down Grambler, and is actively feeling sorry for himself, because he is clearly too dumb to live. Elizabeth, however, refuses to let her current life circumstances get her down. She and Ross have a heart to heart after the mine is closed, and she declares that she and her family are going to weather the storm. Elizabeth declares that she’s not going to wallow in self-pity like her husband, and this is the first time I’ve ever actually really liked her. Here’s hoping that this turn of events will finally let Elizabeth do something on her own terms – and maybe actually be interesting for once?

Lots to discuss this week – got thoughts on Verity’s love life, Francis’ idiocy or how cute Ross Poldark looks carrying a baby around?  Hit the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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