Recapping 'Poldark': Season 2, Episode 9

Ross and Demelza and dramatic firelight from the local riot. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Poldark, Season 2 MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Nine Sunday, November 27th at 9pm ET on PBS The wars tempt Ross and Dwight. An enraged mob threatens George and Elizabeth. Caroline and Dwight have a fateful reunion. Ross and Demelza confront their demons. Shown from left to right: Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza and Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark Courtesy of Mammoth Screen/BBC and MASTERPIECE

© Adrian Rogers

Previously on Poldark: Ross waffles some more about his feelings for Elizabeth and Demelza. For her part, Demelza has had quite enough of Ross’ awful behavior, and lets him know about it. She also takes herself to a house party where she tries to commit some revenge adultery with Captain MacNeil. She can’t go through with it in the end, but she can’t seem to forgive Ross either. (And his attitude is not helping.) Elsewhere, Elizabeth gets tired of putting her life in limbo for Ross, and marries George Warleggan. And I debate whether I can start a petition to ban all men in Cornwall, and let the women of Poldark build their own matriarchy.

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

Turns Out That Money Isn’t Actually All You Need.  Finally, after what seems to be eons of strife, the mine at Wheal Grace has started to make some money. This is, of course, after everyone involved in it practically bankrupted themselves to keep it open, and several people died in the process. Ross tries to cheer Demelza up by telling her that they’re actually making money now, instead of living on the brink of poverty. Demelza is unimpressed, because while she may not be poor any longer, she now knows that she’s married to a cheater, so on balance her life probably seems a lot worse.

Elsewhere, Dwight has decided to enlist in the Navy as a surgeon, since he’s heard Caroline’s about to announce her engagement and he has nothing else to live for now. Oh, Dwight. He informs Ross about his decision, and Ross starts thinking about whether he ought to join up again too.  He says it’s because he thinks his regiment needs him and he’s a soldier blah blah. But it’s obviously also the easiest way to run away from his life, from his poor decisions and from his currently unhappy marriage. 

George Warleggan Still Exists. To what is likely the vast disappointment of most viewers, Vile George Warleggan is still alive, and has not spontaneously dropped dead between last week’s episode and now. He’s busy taking things over at Trenwith, getting rid of Francis’ portrait and creepily talking about how Geoffrey Charles will be lonely if he stays an only child too long.

For some reason, Vile George has also decided that the best way to deal with the fact that his neighbors hate him is to build a massive fence around the entirety of his property. And also to pay people to patrol his land and shoot at anyone who might be trying to do scurrilous things like walk across it. The motive for this is largely unclear, other than the fact that George sucks, and wants to remind everyone that he is the master at Trenwith now.

Ross is very good at dashing poses.  (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Ross is very good at dashing poses.  (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Ross and George Get in a Fight Again.  Ross is summoned to Trenwith for a meeting with George, because His Vileness has decided to try and contest Elizabeth’s sale of her half-share in Wheal Grace a few episodes ago. Ross admits that he’s the one who bought it from her, because Elizabeth was in such dire financial straights and he wanted to give her back Francis’ investment. George is salty that the mine is now making money and that share is worth much more than it was back then. And also he wants a foothold in Ross’ mine, because he is a jerk. Ross says that he’s the one who risked everything to keep Grace going, so the profit is going to be all his, not anyone else’s, especially a piece of trash like George Warleggan. 

To the surprise of no one, the two end up in a fistfight. It goes on for quite a while, and it’s kind of cathartic. Ross even comes real close to shoving Vile George’s head in the fireplace. But of course his dumb servants show up just in time to pull Ross off of him, because I’m not allowed to have nice things this season.  

Ross Seems Serious About This Soldier Thing. Ross seems pretty convinced that joining back up with the army is the thing that’s going to fix the mess he’s made of his life. He takes his old uniform out of its chest and looks at it longingly, even tries it on so that we can all be reminded of how dashing he looks in it. He heads to his lawyers office to set his affairs in order, and part of this plan is paying back the mysterious loan he received from a helpful stranger a few episodes ago. In the process of all this, he learns it was Caroline Penvenen who was his mysterious benefactor.

For her part, Demelza is trying to spend as little time around her husband as possible. This involves going on a visit to Verity, whose home life has much improved now that Captain Blamely’s kids all adore her. Verity is also massively pregnant, and due to give birth at virtually any second. She tries to give Demelza advice about her Ross-related troubles, but their talk is interrupted when Verity goes into labor. Demelza delivers the baby, and I think we can all agree that Verity is going to be an amazing mom.

At Least Caroline and Dwight Are Still Adorable. Ross, deciding to think of someone else for the first time in a long time, goes to see Caroline to thank her for her anonymous loan. They have a nice, but somewhat weird, chat, since this is clearly the most they’ve talked together, well, ever. Somewhere in there, Ross determines that Caroline hasn’t officially gotten engaged yet, and tells her that Dwight still loves her.

Ross then meets up with Dwight at their local pub, where they discuss their plans to join the military.  Surprise, though – Ross has brought Caroline back with him. You know, since she’s not engaged or anything. The two stare at each other stupidly, and it’s kind of adorable.  Maybe I’m just really desperate for a romance that I can root for on Poldark right now, but ugh, I love them. The two confess their feelings, are generally cuteness personified and kiss passionately. Unfortunately,  thanks to Dwight’s new military career, he’s sailing to war at first light.  The two decide to spend the night together, even though they’re not married yet. This is probably a poor decision, but let’s just go with it.

Ross just loves making an entrance. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Ross just loves making an entrance. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Time for Some....Civil Unrest? On her walk home from Trenwith, Demelza gets grazed by a bullet, fired by one of George Warleggan’s flunkies. Said flunkie is patrolling the perimeter of the stupid fence George has set up in order to keep, well, everyone in the area from walking across his land.

Demelza tries to downplay what happened to her when she gets back to Nampara, but Jud is upset about it. And as is per usual when Jud is involved, he immediately makes the situation roughly 1000x worse. He riles up all the villagers in the local bar about how George sucks and is treating all of them like garbage. They decide that the best course of action is to burn Trenwith to the ground. Welp. That escalated quickly.

An instant angry mob of villagers with blazing torches and pitchforks heads toward the Warleggans’ home. Demelza races ahead to try and warn the family, but they don’t believe her, because quite frankly the story probably sounds kind of crazy. Demelza then goes outside to try and stop the angry mob, but of course the only thing that stops them is Ross showing up, and talking them out of their plans for violence. Ross and Demelza ride off into the firelit night together, after he admits that he didn’t join the army again because he felt like he still had something to come back to in Cornwall.

And That’s the End of Season 2. Ross discovers that Demelza is busy packing up all her stuff. She says she’s going to take Jeremy and go to her father’s because this whole thing with Ross isn’t working so much. He looks upset, especially because he decided not to join the army again for her. (“I came back to you! I chose not to go to war!” is something he actually says.) Demelza declares that she can’t settle for second best, and that she’s generally too awesome to let him run over her the way he’s been doing. Ross explains that now that he’s slept with Elizabeth, he’s realized that he loved the idealistic, perfect, untouchable love that he had with her. He says he loves Demelza for the fact that she’s human and real, and so are his feelings for her. Now that he’s spent the night with Elizabeth, he’s realized that an idealized love can’t compete with an imperfect one, and he wants to be with her instead. He says Elizabeth will never come between them again.

Apparently, this is supposed to be romantic. Demelza certainly seems to take it that way. But there’s something super gross about the way that Ross is framing this. As if he had to commit adultery to get Elizabeth out of his system or something, and that Demelza should just understand that. He never apologizes for cheating on his wife: he never says he shouldn’t have done it. He never even says it was wrong. Just something he had to do, and now it’s done he understands himself and his feelings more clearly. Which is apparently supposed to be worth what he put both Demelza and Elizabeth through, I guess. (And that’s on top of all the consent issues inherent in his encounter with Elizabeth in the first place.) The worst part of this season, at least for me, is that it’s kind of destroyed Ross in my eyes, and I don’t know how it can go about making me care about what happens to him – let alone wish him well – again.

The two of them head off to the beautiful Cornish cliffs to stare into the distance, and also to make out, because I guess everything is cool between them now.

Anyway. Of course, Ross’ big confession of love to Demelza is also the exact moment where Crazy Aunt Agatha tells Elizabeth that she wouldn’t be surprised if her baby is born early. You know, since it’s probably Ross’ and all. Dun dun dunnnn. I wonder how Demelza would feel about this whole forgiveness thing if she knew that Ross and Elizabeth had a child together? We all know he’ll never let it be raised as a Warleggan if he finds out the truth.

Stay tuned for Season 3, I guess.

Thoughts on this episode, or the season in general?  Hit the comments and let’s talk. 

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