Poldark Season One Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

We were mesmerized by last week’s premiere of Poldark on Masterpiece. Even though it was a front loading fest—to get us up to speed on the characters and lay of the land—the energy and tension really propelled our interest (and admiring gaze) toward what promises to be a swash and buckle summer.

This week in episode two, Ross dances, George schemes, and Demelza washes her hair!

BRIEF RECAP (there be spoilers ahead)

A scandalous suicide and closure of another mine shocks the community, bringing the dangers of being a mine owner close to home. Undaunted, Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is determined to reopen Wheal Leisure, his father’s derelict copper mine. After discussions with friendly banker Mr. Pascoe (Richard Hope), they are hopeful to acquire investors in the scheme. Ross asks his cousin Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller) to join him as a partner in his venture, but he is reluctant, surprised by Ross’s altruistic reasons for resurrecting the mine to help his tenants. In a rare moment of doubt, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) expresses concern to his Uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) of their culpability in the death of mine owner Lord Basset after not extending his loans.

Ross and Elizabeth dance together and sparks fly again

A Country Dance Incites Emotions

Verity (Ruby Bentall) asks her cousin Ross to escort her to the Truro Assembly Ball where his liberty is in danger from a great many girls who would like to acquire his family’s ancient name. Captain Blamey’s (Richard Harrington) immediate attraction to Verity is returned, resulting in a possible beau for the spinster. When Ross’s flirtatious dance with Elizabeth (Heida Reed) reveals his lingering love for her, community tongues wag, turning her husband Francis from doting newlywed to embittered cuckhold. After a warning from Verity of his pronounced attentions to Elizabeth, Ross darts from the dance and into the arms of Margaret (Margaret Leity), the local light skirt who helps ease his pain.

Demelza Washes her Hair!

Demelza is making every effort to fit in at Nampara, including scrubbing herself  “raw as a bullock of beef” to meet Ross’s standards.  Later, Jud finds her inspecting Ross’s personal belongings in the library and is leery of her intensions, telling her that she is not wanted there and should go home. Feisty Demelza will have none of it. While picking wildflowers by the cliff with her dog Garrick, and dreaming of her employer, Demelza spies on Ross skinny dipping in the ocean. Ross and Demelza ride together to Truro: he for a business meeting to pitch his coper mining pursuit and she to buy fish. While George talks Francis out of participating in his cousin’s business venture, Ross acquires investors.

Francis Poldark and Captain Blamey face off in a duel

Tempers Flare

Elizabeth arrives unexpectedly at Nampara, distraught, claiming that it cannot go on any longer. Ross blindly assumes that she means her marriage with Francis. He follows her back to Trenwith, embarrassed to learn that Verity is the cause of family concern. Her father and brother are outraged by her association with Captain Blamey, whose purported dark past as wife murder is totally unacceptable to them. She is forbidden to see him again, but seeks Ross’s support with the relationship. He agrees to let them meet at Nampara in secret.  Eventually, Francis and Charles learn of the trysts and Francis calls Blamey out in a duel which ends in disaster: Francis, seriously wounded and Blamey winged. Verity and Blamey agree that is hopeless and they cannot meet again.

Demelza Claims her Ground

Ross patches Francis up and saves his life, but ungrateful Uncle Charles blames him for the incident, calling him a disgrace to the Poldark name. Hurt, he rallies his own troops for a cliff-side dinner at his mine. While the sun sets, he offers Demelza a chance to return to her family. Taken aback and offended, she thinks he wants to get rid of her. She loyally claims that she belongs here, with him at Nampara.

Philip Davis as Ross Poldark’s servant Jud Paynter


Mining is in the blood. Like a vein of copper. T’is the bread of life. Eat, sleep, live and breath it. She’s your salvation and your downfall. Make you reckless, make you bold. Many a friend it break. And many more will follow. T’is a fools game. T’will end in tears.” — Jud Paynter

This was a surprising speech from a servant who has spent most of his time so far drunk and incapacitated. For those who have read the books, we know that Jud was friend to Joshua Poldark, Ross’s father, helping him with his mining. Since Joshua is now with the “blessed above,” these words of wisdom speak from the grave.

These ancient families lack backbone. I wonder they survive.” — George Warleggan

I do not often agree with what the Warleggan’s say, or do, but in this instance George is right during these times. The landed gentry was in flux as power and money shifted away from land owning aristocracy and toward trade and the middle class. They could no longer rely on the family name and estates to support their lifestyles. Those families who did not adapt by marrying well, or finding income away from agriculture, did not survive.

I fear I possess few of the refinements of polite society, ma’am.” — Ross Poldark

This quote draws a picture of Ross very neatly. He is a romantic Byronic hero: rebellious, broody, impulsive and introspective. He works outside of the norms of polite society. He is a classic romantic rebel archetype.

Remind me Captain Poldark. Was I engaged to you for this next dance?”—Ruth Teague

Not that I recall. Will you excuse me?”—Ross Poldark

The Assembly Ball in Truro is one of my favorite chapters in the book Ross Poldark, and remains one of my favorites of this adaptation so far. It is the closest that we get to anything resembling a Jane Austen novel, and, is so cleverly written by Winston Graham that I am certain he was an admirer of her work. The action is quick and the conversation witty. Screenwriter Debbie Horsfield has done an excellent job in translation, and actors Aidan Turner as Captain Poldark and Harriet Ballard, as the assertive debutante Ruth Teague play this scene to perfection.

Demelza daydreams in a field of blue cornflowers with her faithful dog Garrick.

Saddle my horse, and remind me to thrash you when I return.”—Ross Poldark

I often enjoy the humor in period drama more than the tragedy. Ross has a quick, sarcastic wit that is endearing him to me, more and more.

You must take tea with us at Teague House. Perhaps we can show you what a woman’s touch can do to a home.”—Mrs. Teague

I thank you ma’am. But I fear that your efforts would be wasted.” — Ross Poldark

Touché. Another great comeback line for Ross. I love how he gallantly bows to kiss each of their hands while delivering this line. It is not mentioned in this adaptation, but widow Mrs. Teague is a grasping mama with five unmarried daughters. Shades of Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice!

I belong here. I belong here.”—Demelza

Demelza has worked hard to fit in a Nampara, She has scrubbed the house and herself to please Ross and contribute to the household. When he offers her the chance to return to her family, we can hear her heart breaking and we silently scream, no you idiot. Why would anyone want to go back to their shady father when we have seen YOU sea-bathing. Nope. Not gunna happen.


Episode one was all about introductions and hooking us into the series. Now that has been accomplished it is on to character development and drama.

Proletariat Views

We have come to understand Ross’s real personality more by his choice of re-opening his father’s mine for the benefit of the local starving workers. In opposition, his cousin Francis is astounded that he feels responsible for them. Unfortunately, this view was common by the ruling class of this time, and one of the main reasons why Ross abhors them. He is a man uncomfortable in his own class because he cannot abide their views or actions.

Hero Worship

Demelza’s development is interesting. She is still “somewhat feral” but is changing and adapting to her duties and her environment. Eleanor Tomlinson is so believable in the role that it is hard to fathom that she portrayed the elegant and fragile Georgiana Darcy in Death Comes to Pemberley last year. I read in an interview that she was eager to move on from “drop curl roles,” and she has certainly proven her mettle. Her growing fondness to Ross is more hero worship at this point, but prospects look good for more.

A Dastardly Villain

We would be remiss if we did not mention Jack Farthing as George Warleggan. This despicable character could easily become fake and wooden in the wrong hands. His wig is really iffy, and his dandyish attire looks more Beau Brummel than late Georgian foppery, but I rather like that since he is a forward thinking man of business, he is also in dress. When he appears on the scene, I want to clutch my purse and hold my breath.

Beautiful Costumes vs. Editing Choices

Over-all this adaptation is well-cast and beautifully produced. The ball gowns at the Assembly Ball where particularly stunning and I love what they dressed tart Margaret in too—a combination Madonna during her Like a Virgin years and a third hand Claire Randall from Outlander. My only quibbles are with too many cliff-side galloping scenes and the slow motion effects. Both are totally unnecessary, and lower the quality of the production.

Join me next Sunday, July 5, 2015 9/8c as I co-moderate the live Twitter Event of episode three of Poldark, hosted by Masterpiece Classic PBS


  • Poldark Season One (2015)
  • Studio: Mammoth Screen, BBC, & PBS
  • Directors: Edward Bazalgette & William McGregor
  • Screenplay: Debbie Horsfield adapted from the novels of Winston Graham
  • Cast: Aidan Turner, Eleanor Tomlinson, Jack Farthing
  • Length: Eight (58) minute episodes



We viewed this television series on Amazon Video with our subscription to Masterpiece PBS. Images courtesy of Mammoth Screen, Ltd., Masterpiece Classic PBS © 2015, text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2015, austenprose.com, an Amazon affiliate. Updated 24 January 2023.

19 thoughts on “Poldark Season One Episode Two on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

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  1. Fantastic recap! Thoroughly enjoyed it! I am currently reading the book as I watch the show and it’s been a fun experience. You are so right about Poldark being the classic Byronic hero. He’s definitely my kind of hero and I also love that you included Poldark’s Mr. Darcy moment….a favorite of mine! haha. I can’t wait for episode three.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your recap/review! I am already hooked on this series and cannot wait for the next episode. The characters and plot are so interesting. Even though I love Jane Austen period dramas, I like that Poldark is something different. The only aspect of Poldark that I’m not crazy about is the pacing. It feels really choppy at times. Overall, though, such a great series so far!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kate, so happy you are enjoying it. It is refreshing to have a story line very different than our beloved Austen. I think that the choppiness may be because of the edits by PBS from the full-length edition. The full-length UK edition is available on the DVD, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am liking this series but at this point thinking I REALLY need to read the books as it seems to be speeding along and I am not sure about what is happening in certain aspects. Elizabeth is difficult to figure out. Does she love two men for different reasons? Or did she just marry for love and now wants her cake and to eat it also? The two servants-seem like spongers doing as little as possible. How is he re-opening a “spent” mine? Don’t see much chance of success there! Where is he getting money to even live on much less visit a brothel?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The books do expand on many points and make watching this series even more enjoyable. The downside to an adaptations is that you cannot include everything in the scripts. I think that Elizabeth is a woman of her times. She needed to marry for money since her family has fallen on hard times. This is in the book, but not mentioned in the screenplay which was an oversight. Not sure she loves Francis. We shall see. The two servants are really comic relief and to illustrate Ross’s tolerance and understanding of the working class. The mine was not spent, but closed because of lack of funds. It was being mined for tin, but we hear from the former mine manager Mr. Hinshaw that copper looked promising. I believe that Ross has money from loans from his banker Mr. Pascoe and from his crops. Hope this helps.


  4. Spot on review again Laurel. I loved the Ball scene and thought at the time that it was very reminiscent of Jane Austen. Ross’s put downs were so well timed. As for the skinny dipping part, what else needs to be added? When it comes to George Warleggan, I wanted to boo and hiss every time I saw him on screen, just like a pantomime villain!

    I will impart a bit of a spoiler here though. There is more cliff top galloping to come!

    Once more, my main issue was in the pacing. As Sheila says, things are speeding along at a rapid pace.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad to have found your posts. I’m a massive Poldark fan (love the novels and the new series). I’m also an English teacher, and since I’m now on vacation and can’t debrief with my colleagues each Monday as I did with “Downton Abbey,” I have been filling the void by writing my own blog posts about Poldark. So wonderful how the Internet helps period drama geeks find each other!

    I agree with your assessments, although I kind of like the cliff galloping (nothing says “romantic hero” to me like a cloaked man on a horse). Love your comment on the prostitute’s outfit. By the way, did I hear George refer to her as “Anna”? She’s certainly Margaret in the books. Maybe I misheard.


  6. Starting to warm up to Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza, but it’s taking some work. It isn’t that she doesn’t have emotional range, it’s just that physically she is so jarring.She must be 5’11” — so impossible to portray an early teen convincingly. And there is no way that an impoverished miner’s child in the 18th century would have had enough nutrition to reach that height. Episode 1, when Ross kept calling her “child” made me laugh–who actually is the taller of the two?
    So I probably know the books too well and am a fan of the original series also. I am missing the sprite-like qualities of Angharad Rees. I realize that TV can’t handle the jumps in years that Graham could with a few narrative paragraphs, taking the 24 year old Ross and 13 year old Demelza to 28 and 17 in a page turn. But missing the age spread and how young Demelza was makes it somewhat difficult to understand that it was rather scandalous when Ross took her from her home (she was too young to work “out”)–which explains why her father and her hometown’s miners came in a rage and why Mrs. Teague makes the comment about adoption.


    1. Totally agree with you Beth. Tomlinson’s height is a disadvantage. But remember in the 1970’s version they had Demelza admit she was a tart when she met Ross? I cringe to understand what that screenwriter was thinking. I am puzzled about a 13 year old being too young to work out. I had relatives in Northumberland during this time whose children worked in household service at 12. Think about all of Dickens and Gaskell novels with child labor. I think people did what they could to survive poverty.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now that I think on it, you’re definitely right about the child labor. I don’t have a copy of the first book handy (my library’s copy is currently checked out–YEAH!!), but there was something in it about her not yet being 14–was that an age of self-determination? So the issue was about her being taken without her father’s permission? Or without him being paid?


  7. Laurel Ann, I forced myself to wait to read your re-cap until I could watch Episode 2. How funny that you mention the cliff-side gallops: they struck me as gratuitous… but also gave me a giggle thinking about the crew muttering, “Gotta film another cliff-side gallop today. T’int right, t’int fair, t’int fit, t’int proper!” But, really, who are we kidding? We would watch Ross Poldark ride back and forth along the coast of Cornwall until the cows come home.


  8. Love this adaptation! Love Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson (the whole cast and production is wonderful. I saw it when it aired in GB (online) and I’ m watching again on Materpiece (bigger) screen. I was so intrigued I sought out all 12 books. It was such a rich reading experience that I can’t recommend them enough! Do yourself a favor and read them! They won’t disapoint.


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