Recapping 'Poldark': Season 2, Episode 6

Dwight looks quite heroic this week, unless you're his girlfriend. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: Demelza is irritated that Ross is spending so much time helping Elizabeth, who’s still reeling in the aftermath of her husband’s death. The Warleggans call in Ross’ debt, and the threat of debtors is real when he can’t pay. Happily, Caroline Penvenen, who has come into her majority, decides to secretly buy out Ross’ loan so he doesn’t have to go to jail. Caroline’s romance with Dwight is also moving along. Her Uncle Ray tells him to leave his niece alone because she’s above his station, but Dwight and Caroline continue to go on what appears to be daily rides together and talk about what their life together might look like. Oh, and Ross and Demelza finally make up when he buys her some pointless and expensive stockings. Yay?

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

This week’s episode underlines a simple truth about Poldark: The men in this show do not deserve the women in it.

It’s Not Going So Well at Wheal Grace. Ross and his fellow miners are growing increasingly distressed about the fact that they still haven’t struck any significant copper at Wheal Grace. They up their search for Mark Daniels, a guy from Season 1 you may not remember, but he’s the guy who had to flee for his life after he murdered his wife because she had a thing for Dwight Enys. Mark Daniels is trash, lest you forget. Ross and several of his friends decide to travel to St. Ives in search of him, because that’s where they think he is. They also think that he knows something about where there’s a vein of copper in Wheal Grace, and since they’re about  to run out of money, they need him more than ever.

Caroline and Dwight Debate Their Future. Dwight and Caroline have decided to run away together. How this squares precisely with last week, when we saw that the two of them clearly still had some issues to talk through – Where will they live? How will they live? What will either of them do? – is unknown. But, they’ve fast forwarded to the part where they’re already plotting how they’re going to sneak out without Caroline’s Uncle Ray catching them. 

Another thing that’s unclear: If Caroline has come into her majority, if she’s an adult in control of her own fortune, shouldn’t she pretty much be allowed to do what she likes? If not – and this wouldn’t surprise me since women almost never have power of their own in stories like this – then what was the point of her getting so excited to turn eighteen? Ugh, whatever.

Anyway, for all that Dwight says he loves Caroline and wants to be with her, he’s kind of being a whiny snot about the whole elopement thing. He’s not a fan of marrying Caroline in secret, he doesn’t really want to leave Cornwell and he’s anxious about leaving all his patients behind. He says he loves Caroline, which seems to be actually true, but he’s really being the worst version of himself at this moment.  For her part, Caroline is concerned that Dwight’s obvious unhappiness about leaving his home and patients behind will cause him to resent her eventually.

This seems like a valid fear, but Dwight just reiterates that he’s choosing her and everything’s fine.

Demelza always looks so flawless.  (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Demelza always looks so flawless.  (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Elizabeth’s Feelings Are Complicated. Before he left for St. Ives, Elizabeth told Ross that she really wants him to keep coming by Trenwith to see her, even though she doesn’t have a stake in the mine anymore. He’s happy to, and they look at each other in that awkward way that the two of them have developed lately.

Vile George Warleggan keeps sending Elizabeth warnings about possible unrest and civil uprisings happening in the wake of the execution of Louis XVI in France. Elizabeth is all kinds of anxious about this, since she has almost zero understanding of current events or anything going on in the real world. She writes Ross a couple of letters, asking for advice about what she should do. But Ross, of course, is in St. Ives and can’t answer her. She even goes over to Nampara at one point, ostensibly to see him, and when she discovers he isn’t there, she grills Demelza about where he is. She even asks if he got her notes or not. Prudie says she gave her letter to Ross into his own hand, but the way she digs around in her pocket seems to indicate that Prudie is probably lying. Elizabeth says she guesses Ross must be too busy to answer her, and Demelza snottily replies that she thinks he must be.

Spoiler alert: It drives me crazy that the show loves underlining the tension between Demelza and Elizabeth. Obviously, Demelza has plenty of right to be upset with the fact that Ross is obsessed with his ex and constantly visits her. But by making Demelza be rude to Elizabeth rather than confront Ross openly for, I don’t know, being a terrible husband, just underlines the fact that he can be awful with no consequences. Since apparently Demelza will just forgive him anything and not ask for better from him. Ugh. And yes, before anyone says anything, of course Elizabeth’s behavior is tacky. But she did just lose her husband and she has no idea how to do anything and no one to help her besides the women in her family who don’t seem to like her much (save Verity). Of course she’s awkward and scared.

And apropos of nothing: The absolute BEST PART of this whole episode is when Crazy Aunt Agatha literally PULLS A GUN out of her dress and says she hopes that some civil unrest comes to their house. She is going to straight up KILL A MAN before this season is over at this rate and I cannot WAIT.

A Traitor is Discovered.  So for the past few episodes, which is like two years in Poldark time, we’ve been reminded that there’s an informer among the villagers. This person has been turning the smugglers in to the authorities and pointing out where they’ve been docking their boats. This week, we find out who it is.

And it’s all thanks to Dwight! While paying another visit to the young woman whose knee he’s been trying to fix, Enys realizes that it’s her fiancé, Charlie who’s been turning everyone in. Despite the fact that Dwight is on the clock to meet Caroline in the woods so that they can run away together and live happily ever after, Dwight decides that he has time to go confront Charlie about his crimes.  And this is AFTER he’d already decided to go treat Rosita’s injury again in the first place. He’s basically doing LITERALLY ANYTHING except going off to meet Caroline and get married, which should tell you everything you need to know about where his mind’s at as regards leaving Cornwall. Caroline, welcome to the club – all the men on this show are trash.

Anyway, Dwight runs over to Charlie’s house and determines pretty immediately that he’s not sick the way he’d claimed to everyone else.  He accuses him of being the informer, and uses a book on Charlie’s table – that he’d previously seen at the customs officers house while treating his son – as proof.  Charlie, who is crazy, just says that there’s nothing Dwight can do about it anyway, and laughs an evil laugh. Dwight wants to know how he can betray his own people this way. Charlie just snorts and says that no one in this town’s ever done anything for him. They scuffle and Charlie pulls a knife, but Dwight escapes, in hopes of sounding the alarm.

Poor Caroline.  For her part, Caroline Penvenen is following the plan. She has an awkward evening with her Uncle Ray, where she makes small talk and tries to do that thing where she says goodbye to her loved one without actually saying goodbye to them. She writes Ray a heartfelt goodbye note. Then she packs up all her stuff, and grabs Horace, and the two of them head to a carriage that she’s had hidden in the woods. It looks like it’s near the place she and Dwight often met.

And she waits. And waits. And waits.

It gets increasingly sad as the realization dawns on her face that Dwight’s not coming. She talks to her dog, and tries to keep him warm and looks miserable.

Oh, Ross. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Oh, Ross. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Ross Strikes Out Again.  Ross and his friends meet up with Mark Daniels in a tavern in St. Ives, far down the coast. They’re happy to see that he’s okay, and get him to take a look at a map of Wheal Grace in the hopes that he’ll be able to pinpoint where there might be some copper. Unfortunately for them, he points to a place that Ross and his men have already excavated and had found nothing but quartz. Womp womp.

That’s not the only potentially ruinous problem Ross is facing.  To maximize the use of the trip, they’re also all doing a smuggling run on their way back from St. Ives. And this is exactly the incoming illegal shipment that Charlie’s already ratted out to the local customs’ officer and all his soldier friends. They’re sailing home with no copper, straight into a trap. As the boat approaches Nampara Cove, soldiers are hiding everywhere in the brush. Captain MacNeil has put Demelza under house arrest because he doesn’t entirely believe she could be completely ignorant about the smugglers using her cove. So she can’t even sneak out and warn anyone.

Things are looking pretty bleak for our crew.

Dwight to the Rescue. Well, unless you’re Caroline Penvenen, I guess.  Dwight arrives at Nampara Cove just as the smugglers’ boat lands. The customs’ folks and soldiers are still laying in wait – something about wanting the men to get all the illicit goods off the boat onto dry ground first. The camera cuts rapidly between Ross’ rowboat inching toward shore, the soldiers crouched in the weeds and Demelza in her own parlor being watched by a soldier. It’s very tense.

So Dwight builds a bonfire on the ridge behind them, to signal his friends that there’s danger.  How Dwight managed to do this without anyone seeing or hearing him, or how Ross knew that the signal fire meant that the situation on the beach was an ambush, I don’t know. Maybe they had a prearranged signal system worked out somehow. We’ll just go with it.

Time for a Big Action Sequence.  Once the realize that their ambush is no longer a surprise, the soldiers rush the smugglers, who are suddenly throwing themselves and their stolen goods back in their rowboat. They relaunch, and some of the men get away but not all. Everyone scatters and Ross decides he’s going to take his chances in the cove he knows so well. The soldiers reach the beach and then there’s lots of fighting.  It’s dark and there’s a lot of fighting and it’s hard to see what’s happening. Ross ends up punching the customs officre in the face, but not before he recognizes him.

Ross makes it back to Nampara and successfully hides himself, thanks to a quick heads up from Demelza that there are soldiers in the house. (She literally snuck out a second floor window to try and help her dumb husband. Ross does not deserve this woman.) Dwight gets knocked out y a soldier because for some reason he decided that the best way to protect himself was just to stand next to the warning signal fire he’d lit.  Sometimes you have to wonder how Dwight managed to become a doctor.

The Fallout Continues.  The next day, there’s still no sign of Ross.  The soldiers eventually have to release Dwight even though it seems kind of obvious he was involved with something untoward. (I guess they didn’t catch enough – any? – smugglers to prove he warned them off.) Demelza’s beside herself with worry, because even though she saw her husband the night before, she can’t figure out where he’s hidden himself. (The soldiers searched their crawlspace in the library and nothing was there.)  She’s legit crying over how Ross could be bleeding to death somewhere, even though he’s only injuries appeared to be some bloody knuckles from punching a guy. Chill, Demelza.

Dwight heads to Caroline’s house to try and apologize to her about the whole leaving her sitting in an empty carriage waiting on an elopement that never happened thing. But all that’s waiting for him is a letter.  Caroline has gone back to London with her Uncle Ray, and she expects she’ll never see Dwight again. She says she thinks that’s for the best, given that he hadn’t really wanted to give up his patients or his life in Cornwall anyways. Dwight looks devastated, but it’s kind of hard to feel but so bad for him since this is all his fault.

Charlie the informer’s body washes up on the beach. Who killed him? Did he kill himself? We may never know.

Meanwhile, back at Nampara, Ross reappears. It turns out that he had been hiding in the library floor crawlspace all this time, he’d just hidden himself behind a fake/trick wall where no one had thought to look. He looks wild eyed, which I guess make sense given that he’s got to have been in that thing for the better part of 24 hours. Sure, this development is super convenient, but since the name of the show is Poldark I have decided that I have to give up on Ross actually having to face consequences for any of his decisions. Demelza is overjoyed to see him safe, and they hug for a long time, and everything seems to be happy and back to normal for them.

That probably means something else terrible is going to happen next week. Will be something external like the customs’ officer showing up and proving he saw Ross on the beach that night? Or will it be some other dumb emotional decision Ross makes about Elizabeth when he magically forgets about Demelza? Your guess is as good as mine.


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