This review contains spoilers.
The Cornish vulgars are a short-memoried people. For years they’ve been staring up at our lead, all wonky with rickets and begrimed with pilchard dust, pleading, ‘if only ee were in a position of executive power, Cap’n Ross, ee could ensure the effective safeguarding of us working classes via legislative means.’
Having done just that and now home to tell the tale, this week the commonfolk treated Ross as though he’d been in London these past months eating jellies and having silk waistcoats made for his set of collectible George III dolls instead of arguing the case for their welfare and protection.
In memory of Jago Martin, Ross’ maiden speech railed against the one-hundred-and-sixty crimes for which a man could legally be hanged. (Such offences included but were not limited to: pilfering, fidgeting in church, removing the string from a steamed pudding, wearing a daffodil on ones collar after the day of St David, and producing foul vapours from ones devil’s apparatus in the vicinity of a baronet.)
His second speech was against the use of child labour. Had Prime Minister’s Questions been live-Tweeted in those days, Ross’ old friends would have laid on a hero’s welcome for his return to Cornwall. Alas it wasn’t, so Ross was snubbed. Zacky, Sam and Tholly wouldn’t sit next to him in Geography and didn’t invite him to play out after school on account of his being a la-di-dah Londoner who wouldn’t recognise a mine shaft if he fell down one.
Only Dwight, fresh from delivering his new daughter Sarah Caroline, greeted him with fellow-feeling, the happy news making them both as high in spirits as the waistbands on their trousers.
There was much cooing over baby Sarah (“Jibby jibby jibby jibby jibby” said Prudie, with characteristic decipherability) to begin with, followed by much frowning by Dwight, who, thanks to his profession, has noticed something sadly amiss.
The House of Commons (or simply ‘the House’ to the cool kids) seems a good professional fit for Poldark, a man who makes as many as six passionate arguments in favour of social equality before breakfast. Ross may find London loud and hectic, but when it comes to denouncing injustice while being sneered at by a roomful of George Warleggans, he’s a seasoned pro.
The practice will prove useful in Ross’ dealings with sneer-master general Captain Monk Adderley (played by early-noughties Robert Webb). A conscienceless cad who cares only for his own progression, Adderley is the latest recruit to George’s league of evil. He is George, really. He’s George to the power of ten – George, after a dose of Captain America’s super-soldier serum. If George turned Dr Frankenstein and built himself the perfect creature, it would be Captain Monk Adderley.
In such a scenario, George would have done well to leave the wang off though, because Adderley had his pointed directly at Elizabeth throughout the party, like it was a compass needle and she was North. The wolfish way he stalked her past the decorative pineapple bouquets boded ill for all concerned.
Like Captain Adderley, Poldark’s friendly neighbourhood rapist Rev. Ossie was making a point of taking whatever women have to offer. While George plotted to buy a borough, Roweena plotted to make a bit of money by letting Ossie watch her soak her bunions and get measured for a new pair of school shoes at Clark’s.
Soon being measured for his own pair of leather brogues, if this week’s second new villain has anything to do with it, is two-year-old John Conan. Ossie’s mama Lady Whitworth (played by her royal highness, Queen Rebecca Front) swept in, made Gradgrind look like a fleece-wearing, guitar-strumming circle-time actualisation facilitator, and swept out again. Magnificently evil, her return is eagerly awaited.
After months of swapping lonely letters, Ross’ return to Demelza proved underwhelming. He ballsed it up by intimating that while he’d been away, she’d been gadding about picking daisies rather than keeping the home (and mine and farm) fires burning. That was all solved though, by a new pair of earrings and a good going over on the kitchen table, just like old times.
Thawing the ice with the boys took a different approach—an old-fashioned comic-strip punch-up with the Crockers from Luggen into which Ross gleefully jumped, kicking bums and throwing punches until their aggressors ran scared and everyone declared each other the best of friends. “I believe we been here before, Ross” admitted Zacky ruefully.
They had. We’ve all been here before, back in series one, of which this episode felt pleasingly reminiscent. The mine was in trouble! George was plotting to bankrupt Ross! Verity and Elizabeth played cards! Demelza and Master Ross were at it all over the work surfaces!
It was comfortingly familiar, especially in light of Ross’ announcement at the end of the previous episode that his winning a seat in parliament would mean “everything will change.” We don’t watch Poldark for change; we watch it to escape change. We watch it for coastline galloping and romance and heartbreak set against the sort of natural backdrop they paint on ornamental milk churns. Not change. Never that.
(Nobody mention the new Geoffrey Charles, please. I’ve decided to ignore it.)
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.