This review contains spoilers.
Months ago, when George Warleggan received the insider tip about Pascoe’s Bank, he stashed it away like a malevolent little squirrel storing evil hazelnuts for winter. This week, he dug up his stash and prepared to feast, only to find that—ha!—it choked him.
One day George will learn that his every bid to strike Poldark down only makes Ross stronger than he could possibly imagine. Try to hang his brothers-in-law? Ross becomes an MP. Try to break his nest-egg? Ross becomes a partner in a new banking conglomerate. Next week, tune in to see George stick a foot out in the House of Commons to trip Ross up, only for Poldark to fall straight into the lap of William Pitt the Younger, and instantly made Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Ross shared some food with Pitt this episode, who shared some wisdom in turn. The prime minister told our man to “help those who cannot help themselves” (so, me around Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolately Mini-Bites). Captain Poldark duly did so, first by proffering Geoffrey Charles a hanky with which to wipe the Jagerbomb-flavoured sick from the corners of his mouth, and then by trying to rally local investors around Harris Pascoe’s bank.
Demelza was one step ahead of him, having already tried to shake down Lord Falmouth for funds to shore Pascoe’s up. Hers was an admirable attempt and not just because she had to take the long way around. While Ross can simply gallop his horse straight into rich folk’s sitting rooms and from his saddle declaim a stirring speech on patrician responsibility, Demelza has to flatter and dissemble.
Asked how many men work in the mine, Mistress Poldark pretended that no, she wasn’t able to mentally calcuate the cube root of the product of all her employees’ National Insurance numbers, she didn’t even know how many there were. Then she furrowed her brow, threw her hands in the air and laughed for she be but a wench who no more has a head for figures than a dangleshaft for bedding maids!
“Forgive me my lord,” Demelza told Falmouth, “I don’t rightly understand these things and dearly wish Ross were here to help, but it do seem to me that a Keynesian approach be more fitting than your Hayekian stance which would see Cornwall’s small and medium-sized enterprises all scat to mitchens.”
Falmouth gave her eight hundred quid, which Demelza used to stage a devised piece with her street theatre improv troupe. Her play, entitled ‘Adults with bank accounts are more gullible than my son Jeremy who thinks a mermaid lives in our horse trough’ went down well enough for Pascoe’s demise to be delayed (and for her, Prudie, Zacky and Sam to be taking it up to Edinburgh for the Fringe in August – 3 stars in The Scotsman).
Neither Ross nor his wife’s efforts were quite enough to save the bank, but a happy compromise was reached.
Compromise is the name of Elizabeth’s game. She’s truly content, she told Ross in their latest secret meeting. Elizabeth and George have worked out a system for their marriage whereby he hides his pettiest evil schemes from her, and she takes opium.
The stopper has gone in Elizabeth’s opium vial for the foreseeable though, as she’s with child again. George’schild, to be clear. (Steady on Liz, with three children by three different fathers, you’re this close to being the subject of a disapproving Sarah Vine column.)
George was so thrilled with the news of his new progeny that he stopped saying the phrase “Ross Poldark’s entire life savings” like Dr Evil says “one million dollars” and instead started fussing over whether Elizabeth was taking enougb folic acid. Even Uncle Doom delivering the news of Ross’ latest coup couldn’t bring him down.
The pregnancy led to more dissembling from Poldark’s women, as Elizabeth decided to take Ross’ advice and fudge the dates. Her goal is to make George believe that all her babies are, like Valentine, born bonny and strong of teeth and bone at the age of eight months, thanks to her super-powered womb.
Speaking of wombs, poor Morwenna’s contains another Whitworth, which is enough to make anyone wish for oblivion. Even in death, Ossie continues to wreak havoc on Wenna’s life. The new child will be another tether to her hellish mother-in-law, whose retractable second set of teeth could just be glimpsed in her short scene with Dwight.
Dr Enys was reunited with his wife (lovely) while Drake Carne’s almost-but-not-wife told him to hush his creening and get some perspective (also lovely). Rosina’s fast becoming a favourite. Can someone please write her a spinoff where she goes around the country in a horse-and-cart telling Georgian men to get over themselves? First stop: Pemberley!
This busy, mixed episode had it all—heartbreak, joy, travel, a man called St John, and a crisis that necessitated much clifftop galloping. It closed with what is now Poldark’s traditional happy ending: Ross and Demelza doing it on the floor.
If Drake and Morwenna are still heading for their happy ending, with only two episodes left, they’d better hurry up about it. Should those two not fall into each other’s arms come the finale, it’ll be the greatest tragedy since banks stopped offering their customers a glass of port upon arrival.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.