Recapping 'Poldark': Season 2, Episode 5

Caroline and Dwight sure are cute together though. (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Five Sunday, October 30th at 9pm ET on PBS Ross does Elizabeth a favor. A mysterious benefactor reciprocates. The search is on for Mark, who knows where secret riches lie. George starts plan C against Ross. Shown from left to right: Luke Norris as Dwight Enys and Gabriella Wilde as Caroline Penvenen Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

Previously on Poldark: The timeline of our story jumps forward roughly a year. Vile George Warleggan and his equally Vile Uncle arrange to purchase Ross’ debt from the bank, with plans to call it in and ruin him. Elsewhere, Ross and Elizabeth have a weird personal conversation at a big dinner party, where they talk about their feelings for each other in front of like 20 other people. Which is apparently not weird at all. Elizabeth says it’s definitely possible to be in love with two men at once, and they skirt around admitting that they still wish they had gotten a chance together. Caroline and Dwight reunite and talk about how bad they both are at dating. They also manage to kiss though, so things turnout okay. What does NOT turn out okay is Francis’ storyline because he ends up drowned.

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

Welcome to Another Week in Inexplicable Poldark Time Jumps. It’s possible we should just get used to the idea of this show hurtling through time whenever it’s convenient. This episode opens, and suddenly seven months have passed since the events of last week. It’s almost Christmas now. Here’s where we’re at:

Everyone’s still really sad about Francis’ death. Elizabeth looks lost and depressed. Verity’s still staying with her family at Trenwith, even though her “quick visit” has now extended for the better part of a year. I have no idea what exactly her husband is off doing.  Even Ross and the other miners are sad, because we learn that Francis found “fool’s copper” so the mine still isn’t making any money. His death didn’t save the day for anyone at all. Poor Francis.

Ross has been having regular meetings with Elizabeth, which seem to involve them going for rides to the mine together and talking about money and her son’s future and how she has no idea how to run the estate in Francis’ place. It’s weirdly nice to see them actually be friends again, except for the new undercurrent of weird romantic tension that’s always around them now. Or maybe the ghost of what their relationship once was, is a better way to put it. Demelza is pretty irritated by all of this, probably because Ross is ignoring her and spending all his time with Elizabeth. It’s gotten so bad she’s already reached the “snotty asides whenever he mentions Trenwith” stage.

The Poldark Women Talk. Verity and Demelza have a heart to heart about Ross’ Elizabeth obsession. Demelza explains that her husband never tells her anything about what goes on during his meetings with Elizabeth and she doesn’t ask. She says being married is an act of faith, and if you don’t believe in your relationship you shouldn’t be in it. But if you do believe, you can’t go around asking for proof of its validity all the time. She says she believes in her marriage most days, so she lets all this other stuff go. This is a pretty speech, and it’s hard not to like Demelza’s clear-headed, realistic view. But..it’s also not how she’s been behaving at all during this episode, so who knows how much of it’s true in her heart. But mostly, it just seems to underline that ALL of these women are too good for Ross. You know he’s not sitting around thinking about how his actions are impacting his wife or Elizabeth’s lives – or even considering any of their feelings – AT ALL. 

After this talk, Verity decides that it’s time for her to finally head back to her own home. At least Crazy Aunt Poldark doesn’t fake getting sick again over the news this time. But before she leaves, Verity advises her sister-in-law that it’s going to be better for everyone if Elizabeth doesn’t go to Nampara for Christmas. She doesn’t say why, but I am assuming we’ve all guessed the reason.

Ross’ Debt Comes Due. As we all suspected, the Vile Warleggans decide that it’s time to call in that loan of Ross’ that they acquired last week. Along with the interest. Of course, Ross doesn’t have the money to pay it, so the possibility that he’s about to get thrown into debtors’ prison is very real.

Demelza begs her husband to talk to some of his wealthier friends, and see if he can’t ask any of them for a loan to get the Warleggans off his back. Ross scoffs and says he won’t ask anyone to give him money when he has no chance of every repaying it. He won’t even bring it up to anyone. This infuriates Demelza. She accuses Ross of valuing his pride more than staying out of jail, which is clearly true.

Poor Elizabeth.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Poor Elizabeth.  (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Ross Plots to Help Elizabeth. Ross really can’t stand it that Elizabeth is poor now, so he decides that the best thing he can do is give her back the money Francis invested in Wheal Grace. Since she won’t take it from him directly, he concocts an elaborate scheme to sell his remaining shares in Wheal Leisure and use the money to set up an anonymous offer to buy her son’s shares in the new mine. For exactly the same amount that Francis paid in. He doesn’t tell Demelza or anyone about this outside of his banker, and Elizabeth just believes that some random person was dumb enough to offer top value for shares in a mine that is failing for no reason. Well, at least one thing is clear – Elizabeth should probably not be running a business for any reason.

The Smuggling Storyline is Still Happening. The fact that it’s obviously going to come up again in a big way later is the only reason I’m mentioning this now. Anyway, Ross and his smuggler friends are still nervous about being exposed over their illegal activities. And with a possible mole in their midst they’re being more circumspect than ever. The long and short of this is that instead of just allowing the smugglers to use Nampara Cove as a drop-off point, Ross has decided to allow them to hide smuggled goods in his house for a few days after the initial shipment. This legit seems to involve digging a hole in their floor and burying things. Surely a plan that will never go awry!

The Courtship of Dwight and Caroline Creeps Ahead. Caroline returns from London. She’s had a birthday, so she’s officially another year older and now officially in charge of her own life and finances. She and Dwight meet up in the woods for a clandestine reunion and make-out session. We learn that they’ve been writing to one another and they’re as awkward as ever together. They have a hesitant conversation about what being together would be like.  Caroline clearly wants Dwight to do a better class of doctoring, and work less with the poor people who can’t pay him. Dwight doesn’t want to be a “society pet”.

While Caroline’s gone into town, her uncle Ray summons Dwight for a visit. He calls their friendship inappropriate and tells him to stay away from his niece. He says that Dwight isn’t on her level, socially speaking. He also tells Dwight how much money Caroline has, which seems an incredibly awkward thing to disclose to a man who’s romantically interested in a family member. But anyway. For his part, Dwight’s weirdly relieved to finally know how much money Caroline actually has, because it turns out she’s not a rich as he thought she was. He says a penniless doctor could marry a woman with a fortune of only six thousand pounds and not be eclipsed by it. Whatever that means.

After this, Caroline and Dwight start going riding together regularly. And their interactions now have something of an air of negotiation to them now that Caroline knows that Dwight has been thinking about marrying her. They ride and flirt and joke about whether Dwight could stand life in a medium-sized town like Bath, that kind of thing. Just get it over with and tie the knot kids so we can all watch Uncle Ray freak out.

Ugh, still so vile. (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Ugh, still so vile. (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

George’s Obsession with Elizabeth Continues. Vile George Warleggan is still all kinds of hung up on Elizabeth. He’s coming by Trenwith to visit and bring her son presents. He’s still visiting with her mother. He’s avoiding the fact that his uncle keeps shoving young heiresses in his face. He’s refusing to call in any of Francis’ outstanding debts, because he knows Elizabeth can’t pay them, but he’s refusing to cancel them because he wants her to feel the pinch of being poor. Yup, George is still Vile, and totally planning to try and make a play for Elizabeth. You heard it here first. 

Everything is Okay Again for Ross I Guess? Translation: Thank goodness Dwight’s sort-of girlfriend is rich! Caroline Penvenen goes to see Ross’ lawyer and offers to provide a loan with much lower interest, all so that he can have the cash to go pay his loan with the Warleggans off. She’s very insistent that her identity be kept secret, and that Ross and Demelza (and I guess Dwight in a roundabout way) never find out that she stepped in to save the day.

The Poldarks are psyched and head off to see the Warleggans, and flaunt their newfound ability to pay their debt in their face. (And to be fair, watching Vile Uncle Warleggan splutter in rage afterward is pretty satisfying.)

The household finances aren’t the only thing that’s back on track for the Poldarks. After Prudie informs Ross that Demelza was hoarding food so that they wouldn’t starve while he was in debtors’ prison, he suddenly realizes that he’s married an amazing woman. Which he decides to prove by buying her superfancy luxe stockings she’ll never wear anywhere and that are completely unlike her, I guess?  

Anyway, Ross and Demelza make up and make out, and all seems well between them again. They never even really discuss how Ross has apparently been completely ignoring his wife for over six months and treating her like a second class citizen in her own home. But Demelza seems happy enough with Ross’ reassurance that he still loves her, though none of his recent actions have proved that fact. (I apparently have some deep well of irritation inside me that Ross makes so little effort to really know Demelza at all, while she puts up with...well, everything from him.)

Even though neither of them brings up the Elizabeth-shaped elephant in the room. I’m sure that this marital bliss will totally last when Demelza finds out that Ross bought out Elizabeth’s mine share?

Would love to hear what everyone’s thinking about this episode, particularly about all the messy Ross/Demelza/Elizabeth stuff. I think I’m firmly Team All These Women Are Too Good for Him, but given this is a period drama I doubt either of these ladies can choose themselves, Kelly Taylor in 90210 style.

Hit the comments and sound off! 


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