This review contains spoilers.
London. Fin de Siecle. An endless bacchanalia belching forth sin. Exotically bewigged women carry parrots on sticks. Arabian conjurors breathe fire and juggle spoons. A petite monkey nibbles on a grape and thinks of its mother. Men drink. Women flirt. A python, tired of limitless pleasure, drapes itself louchely around a man’s neck and longs for novelty.
It’s no wonder Mistress Demelza feels out of place. She be a friendly sort not used to scheming London ways. The only games Demelza likes are skittles and toss-a-pilchard, not hop-a-bed and finger-me-under-the-whist table, as seem to be the fashion in the capital. Judas, this trip to London was doomed from the start.
Oh, it began well enough, with Demelza and Ross spending their days going at it full gallop all over Mrs Parkinson’s guest linen, grinning arm in arm up at St Paul’s and declaring London life “all pleasure”. But then who had to slime along and ruin it? Walking penis Captain Monk Adderley.
Less a character than a laboratory-grown mould, Adderley is from a genus that deserves to have died out by now because women should rightfully refuse to go anywhere near them. Baffingly, thanks to Lord Byron and pals., his type persists to this day (often spotted descending in the Take Me Out love lift or kissing their biceps in the mirror of the loo in an episode of Channel 4’s First Dates). Captain Monk Adderley is a bad boy.
Bad boys like Adderley go about their lives with a permanent hard-on for themselves and the unshaken conviction that the feeling’s mutual. They’re like cats, treating the entire world as their scratching post. Every available hard surface and warm body is something for them to back up to and rub against. They speak only in cliché and double entendre, and permanently sport the self-satisfied look of a baby midway through filling its nappy.
It wasn’t really Adderley that ruined things of course, it was Ross. Instead of doing what any clear-headed person would do when faced with such a specimen—going home with his wife, laughing their heads off about what a prong they’d just met and doing impressions of him by licking the butterknife all sexy at breakfast the next day—Ross gave in to jealousy and hurt pride. He rued Hugh, and Adderley made him madderly.
Adderley and Demelza were from two different worlds. His had trained him to interpret reluctance on a woman’s part as coyness that was all part of the chase. Hers had trained her to be courteous to her social superiors and not to trust her good instincts. It’s too late to be any use, but the answer, Demelza, is yes, you very much should have smacked his face and spit on his shoe, then kneed him in the crotch for good measure.
At least Ross shot Adderley in the baby-maker, which was almost as satisfying a death as Ossie’s, and twice as poetically just. Now nobody will ever admire his hairy buttons again. Good riddance.
Demelza’s distress aside, the entire duel plot was pure silliness, especially predicated as it was on a bum-to-gloves dissing and round of parliamentary pushy-pushy. Adderley was a Blackadder character and deserved to be treated as such. Ross should have taken Caroline and Dwight’s advice and laughed the man out of town, but armoured by a series five renewal, deep down he knew he could afford to take the risk.
Elizabeth is taking a risk of her own with her ‘secretly a month more pregnant than everyone thinks’ scheme. That may all be for naught, as the Warleggan marriage went from the same high to the same low as the Poldarks’ this week. Thanks to Geoffrey Charles unwittingly landing his mother in it by pointing out that Valentine is a 1:3 scale model of Uncle Ross, George is back to giving Elizabeth the silent treatment over the plum pudding.
Fit to burst with the fruit of George’s actual loins, Elizabeth has run out of options. To whom did she write that letter? Next week’s finale will tell.
The finale will also tell “whether there’s anything to be done” to save Ross and Demelza’s relationship. Again.
What we really want next week’s finale to tell though, is the story of how Drake and Morwenna lived happily ever after. At the end of all the misery this series, we deserve a little brightness. Poor Morwenna might not think it possible, but recovery is real. Kindness, patience and time is what she needs, and we know just the blacksmith to provide it.
Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here.