Recapping 'Poldark': Season 2, Episode 3

 Ross and Francis, best friends forever. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Three | Sunday, October 16th at 9pm ET on PBS | Smugglers make Ross an offer. Ross makes Francis an offer. Verity reappears. Ross and George engage in a frank discussion. Demelza risks her neck before a blessed event. Shown, from left to right: Aidan Turner as Ross and Kyle Soller as Francis (C) Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE

Previously on Poldark: The feud between Ross and Vile George Warleggan intensifies, now that Ross has managed to escape prison. Warleggan manages to buy up more shares in Wheal Leisure, install his creepy flunky on the board, and has Jud nearly beat half to death. To make matters worse, it turns out that the Poldarks are flat broke, and have to sell almost all of their early possessions to come up with enough money to pay the interest on the loan. Elizabeth manages to get Ross and Demelza to attend Francis’ harvest party, and the family finally mends fences. While they’re at Trenwith, though, Ross and Elizabeth share a weirdly intimate conversation, where he decides to reminisce about how perfect Elizabeth is and how great they were together. Which of course Demelza overhears. She’s not happy about it, but somehow Ross manages to figure out that she’s pregnant, which smooths things over between them for now.

Need more details? You can find last week’s recap here.

Thankfully, Poldark Season 2 seems to be building into a much more entertaining experience the further away we get from Ross’ trial. The bulk of this week’s installment is built around the main Poldark family foursome, and it’s really pretty great to watch. 

The Ross vs. George Grudgematch Continues.  Tension continues to escalate between Ross and Vile George Warleggan, especially in the wake of the attack on Jud Paynter. Warleggan of course pleads ignorance, but still acts scared when Ross gets threatening. (Guess those boxing lessons aren’t doing much for his self-esteem.)

It turns out that George has been keeping pretty busy outside of working on his fitness. He has his chief flunky Tankard block Ross’ attempt to keep his exploratory copper tunnel going, and he’s been buying up even more additional shares in Wheal Leisure. He actually owns enough shares in the mine to start attending meetings himself, though this is clearly just a maneuver meant to irritate Ross and throw his power in his face. It works though, because Ross is furious about Warleggan’s presence, and the fact that he now has enough power to block them from doing anything that he doesn’t approve of.

Warleggan Also Tries to Blackmail Elizabeth.  Not to be restricted to ruining just one person’s life, Vile George is busy attempting to ruin another branch of the Poldark family as well.  He runs into Elizabeth while she’s out riding and invites her back to the house for tea, where the two have a tremendously awkward conversation about why they’re not friends anymore. She implies that it’s because they’re broke, and they don’t go out or have people over anymore because of it.  Vile George insinuates that he should be some sort of special case, because he is a master creeper.

Warleggan starts making vague comments about how even though Francis and Elizabeth’s lives might suck right now, they could totally be so much worse. Since, you know, he’s the one who’s holding the loan that Francis owes and everything.  He says he doesn’t want to inflict undue pressure their lives or anything, but he could. If, you know, Elizabeth decides to keep being mean to him and stuff.

Elizabeth looks nervous, and does her best to figure out what George wants her to say. Vile Warleggan says that all he wants is a renewal of their former friendship – and even an increase in the intimacy between them, over time. This seems super gross generally, but even more so when he pretty much directly says that her letting his awful self back into her life is the only way that she’s going to be able to keep him from ruining the people she loves. Ugh, Vile Warleggan is so vile. It’d be so great if Elizabeth could “accidentally” trample him with her horse.  

 Ross and Francis, best friends forever. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
 Ross and Francis, best friends forever. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

The Poldarks Are Back in Business. Ross, frustrated with Warleggans constant encroaching in his business at his at Wheal Leisure, decides that it’s time for desperate measures. He sells half his shares in Wheal Leisure and proposes to Francis that the two of them should go into business together. He means to re-open Wheal Grace, and turn it into a functioning mine again.  He’s banking on the fact that all his extra tunneling at Wheal Leisure has indicated that there’s more copper to be found near there, and then they’ll be set.

Francis is overwhelmed by the offer, and super excited to get started. They hug it out and if, like me, you have been living for this new and improved Poldark family friendship, then you are loving this scene. Even Elizabeth, who has been loitering outside the parlor door eavesdropping, can’t stop herself from grinning. 

Dwight Introduces Caroline to Class Issues. Dwight Enys has spent most of this episode treating an outbreak of scurvy amongst the miners and villagers. He’s struggling, because everyone is poor and he can’t afford to buy things like fresh fruit to treat all of them out of his own pocket.

Meanwhile, Caroline Penvenen has been harassing Enys about the fact that he hasn’t been to see her or accepted her payment for his services. (Girl has it bad, y’all.)  When he finally comes by to do a follow-up visit on the bizarre case of the chicken-bone-induced sore throat she had last week, he tells her about what he’s working on. Caroline is…sort of awful about it, taking a very Marie Antoinette “let them eat cake”-style attitude that basically boils down to the idea that this illness is probably nature’s way of culling the herd of the poor. Enys is, quite rightly, horrified and though he tries to explain the difficulties of actually living life in poverty, he basically just leaves immediately.

I Love This Francis So Much. The Poldark men head off to Ross’ lawyer to get all the paperwork set up for their new business venture. Francis, who has somehow gotten all of himself together over the past couple of weeks, smartly suggests that he wants all of his shares put in his son’s name. He knows that Vile Warleggan will try and come at them through him, since he’s the one who owes him money, but if their new mine is technically in Jeffrey Charles’ name, he won’t be able to hurt them.

Francis is maybe my favorite character on the show right now. This sentiment seems wildly out of left field given how irritating Francis was in Season 1, but here we are. It’s also pretty much convinced me that something legitimately terrible is going to happen to him soon, because we all know that I’m not allowed to have nice things.

In less happy news, Vile Warleggan has heard about the Poldarks new business venture.  He decides that now is the time to reveal the fact that Francis is the one who sold out the names of the shareholders in Ross’ fake copper company to George last season. Ross is predictably furious about this, and he and Warleggan actually come to blows (Spoiler alert: All that boxing does not keep George from getting beat up.)  To his credit, Francis had tried to tell Ross about this before they became all business partner official. He tried rather hard, actually. But Ross had insisted that the past is the past and whatever Francis’ wanted to tell him didn’t matter anymore, so they didn’t need to discuss it. Well, it turns out that now Ross knows what it was it seems to matter to him a great deal, but he can’t discuss it now without breaking trust with Francis forever. He feels the partnership is doomed. Womp womp.

Caroline really loves amazing hats. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE

Caroline Penvenen Actually Does Something Nice.  After another run-in with Enys, where she learns that he’s using the last of the harvest fruits to treat the villagers with scurvy, Caroline decides to take matters into her own hands. Though we don’t really see any reason behind her change of heart – which, unfortunately, makes it look kind of a like a play for Dwight – she decides to implore her rather adorable uncle for a cash advance so she can buy oranges for the poor. She frames it as a kind of gambling, which is a metaphor that doesn’t really make much sense here, but it seems as though we’re supposed to applaud any movement toward humanity in her character so I guess that is okay. (And, to be honest, the character of Caroline is so charming that you want her to be better than she is. It’s easy to cheer this move, no matter how possibly suspect her initial motivations may be.)

Interestingly enough, Caroline arranges to have her wagon full of oranges delivered to Dwight in secret. However, once Ross denies being the secret benefactor of the local poor community, Enys pretty much immediately guesses it was her. He tries to thank her, but she blows it off as being the only way he’d allow her to pay him. The two of them then engage in some awkward flirting, and are basically adorable together. It’s a pretty great scene, and almost enough to cover over the fact that we, as viewers, have no idea where Caroline’s sudden change of heart about the poor has come from. (Was she kidding? Did she feel shamed that Dwight reacted so badly to earlier comment? I’m genuinely curious and I just know this show is never going to tell me. 

By the end of the episode, however, Caroline has decided that it’s time for her to return to London, but she’s ordered an additional batch of oranges to be delivered to Dwight before she leaves. She bids him farewell – in yet another amazing hat!! – and even though she wonders if she’ll ever see him again, the way that the two are staring moonily at each other indicates otherwise. I give it two episodes, max.

Finally Verity Gets Something Good! Verity has spent most of this episode – and actually this season – existing in a dual state of happiness and despair.  She’s happy with Andrew Blamey because she loves him, but she’s miserable because Francis still won’t talk to her and she doesn’t think Andrew’s kids like her much. Happily, she the tables finally turn for her this episode – which is great, because we all know that Verity, like most of the other Poldark women – is too good for everyone else on this show.

Verity’s spirts get a much needed boost from the arrival of Andrew’s children –particularly his son James, who is excited to meet her and make her part of the family. So excited in fact that he bullies his mulish sister into being nice to her too. Then on top of everything, Ross manages to get Francis to actually talk to Andrew, in public, while they’re in town doing their mining paperwork. And because it’s a magical time for Team Poldark, Francis actually listens to Ross’ about it being time to wipe out the past. (Maybe he’s feeling charitable, because Ross is actually ignoring his own past indiscretions?) Whatever the reason, the three of them manage to stumble through an entire conversation together, and Francis and his brother-in-law appear to actually patch things up this time. Will wonders never cease??

Ahh, romance.  (Photo: Courtesy of Adrian Rogers/Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Ahh, romance.  (Photo: Courtesy of Adrian Rogers/Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE) 

Demelza’s Dangerous Adventures. Poor Demelza has spent most of this episode being irritated – with Ross, with Prudie, and with her pregnancy. Annoyed that she and Ross are so broke, she decides to take a boat out into their cove and try her hand at catching…oysters I think? Mussels? Doesn’t really matter other than they’re small, edible shell-based things. Ross is furious about this – he says it’s dangerous and too risky, and he’s worried that she could hurt herself or the baby. Demelza, for her part, is pretty angry that Ross seems to believe he can do anything he wants, no matter how risky it might be, as long as it benefits their family, while she must always do as she’s told. She also seems very determined to prove that she’s just fine and can handle herself. Which she does, for the most part. Right up until she goes into labor in the boat and can’t get herself back to shore.

That’s about right when Ross storms in, all dark and angry because she defied him, and worried about her at the same time. He wades out to the boat, grabs her and physically carries her back to the shore. They fight about it in a way that I think is supposed to convey some kind of romantic and sexual tension or something, but everything ends happily when Dwight announces that Demelza has had a boy. The family has him baptized with Verity and Francis and Elizabeth standing around, and it’s all very sweet.

A New Era for the Poldarks Begins. After the baby’s baptism, for some reason the entire Poldark clan decides to go and stand and stare at the ruin of Wheal Grace in the glow of a beautiful Cornish sunset. Ross, Demelza, Francis, Elizabeth, Verity and Andrew get all nostalgic and trade emotional glances, until a servant comes out of nowhere to bring them mugs of alcohol so that they can all toast their new business venture. (PS: Where is the baby, anyway?) They toast to the Poldarks and everyone looks not only joyous, but exceptionally attractive, bathed in the fading sunlight. (Seriously, they look like an 18th century Gossip Girl promo.) Ross even manages to say something romantic to Demelza, so this is probably about as well as an episode can end. Something terrible is probably going to happen next week.

Thoughts? Did you enjoy this Poldark family love fest as much as I did? 

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 Twitter at @LacyMB