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

Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza in Episode 4 of Poldark (2015)

“They like you.” proclaims Demelza to Ross. No kidding, sweetie!

Last week, episode three of Poldark began with Ross re-opening his family copper mine, Demelza catching his eye while dancing at a local villager’s wedding, Jim’s trial for poaching ending badly, and Ross, after a hellish day arguing with Demelza while trying to resist the temptations of the flesh, succumbing to said temptations, ending in their surprise nuptials. Whoa!

This week, as the scandal of their wedding rocks the community and sours Ross’s business venture, Uncle Charles joins the blessed above (or below), and Verity instructs Demelza on becoming a lady. A first Christmas together for Romelza is shared with the dreaded Poldark family at Trenwith, resulting in a revelation for Ross.

(there be spoilers ahead)

RECAP

Beatie Edney as Prudie and Philip Davis as Jud in Poldark (2015)

Prudie (Beatie Edney) and Jud (Philip Davis), servants of Nampara

One minute she is skiverly scullery kitchen maid, the next she be Mistress High and Mighty.” — Jud

Do you think it not as strange to me as it is to you? Do you imagine I ever looked for or expected it? Come to think of it, it is more your fault than mine.” — Demelza

How be that then?” — Jud

Tis you that raised me up and taught me all I know. So If I am fit for better than I hoped, blame yourselves for educating me.” — Demelza

The whole community is shocked by the news of Demelza and Ross’s marriage, including his caustic family, the scheming Warleggans (who smell a profit to be made from society’s prejudice), and the two Nampara servants, Jud and Prudie, who finally confront her. I just love how Demelza (clever girl) turns the sword around and points it firmly back at her former fellow servants while complimenting them at the same time. Touché!

Jack Farthing as George Warleggan in Poldark (2015)

George Warleggan (Jack Farthing), Ross Poldark’s nemesis

Your recent nuptials have made everything clear. It delights you to thumb your nose at society because you consider yourself above the niceties by which it operates.” — George Warleggan

Not above…just indifferent.” — Ross Poldark

So George thinks he has Ross figured out. Not by far, I suspect. While George craves the power behind the Poldark name (and the doors that it would open to his family in trade), he also envies his strength and persistence in re-opening a mine without many resources. While he formerly remarked that, “These ancient families lack backbone. I wonder they survive.” Ross is clearly operating outside society norms, even more of threat to George because he is so unpredictable.

Ruby Bentall and Eleanor Tomlison in Poldark (2015 )

Verity (Ruby Bentall) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) become BFF’s

Love him? Beyond anything. But I would never hope that he would love me. He’s kind to me and when we are abed I have reason to believe I do please him.” — Demelza

Oh…I am sure you do.” — Verity

But I’d never call it love. He’s never used that word to me and I doubt he ever shall.” — Demelza

It’s life’s greatest treasure to be love and be loved in return.” — Verity

I laughed at Verity’s reaction to Demelza’s admission that she pleases her husband in bed. You could see that Verity was shocked down to her toes at this remark. Nice touch to show their class divide. A proper Georgian-era lady would never talk about such a thing to anyone! Ha!

Regardless of this quick and unintentional moment of levity, this was a very moving scene. It gave me pause for reflection. Here we have two women who think they are not loved. So sad. Men of this era might live for power and money, but women, who rarely had any power or money could only live for the man they loved and the life they would give them. Verity’s situation is even more miserable because she does not have a husband, her own home to tend, nor the prospect of children. Even in the face of adversity Verity generously helps Demelza by being her friend and teaching her how to be a lady—the one thing that no one can take away from her.

Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson Ep 4 Poldark (2015)

Ross (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) watch the pilchard catch from the shore

They like you.” — Demelza

Nonsense.” — Ross

It’s the truth. I am one of them. You’re a gent. You don’t despise them. You help them. You give them food and work.” — Demelza

And marry you.” — Ross

After Demelza and Ross help the villagers with the welcome catch of pilchards there is a great sense of relief. No one will starve this winter. As they walk hand in hand back to Nampara I was touched by the care that he took in helping his lady in conversation and physical affection. PDA’s (public displays of affection) are not very prevalent today and in Georgian times, a lady and gentleman would never indulge, ever. Ross’s actions are very modern for the times and his class, reflecting his rebellious nature to walk outside of social dictum, and into our hearts.

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark (2015 )

The rebel, Capt. Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner)

Ross Poldark, the loose cannon. Too much of a risk for the prudent investor.” — Ross Poldark

During a conversation with his banker Mr. Pascoe, Ross learns that his efforts on his behalf to find new investors for his mine has been thwarted by Dr. Choake’s bad mouthing him about his unsuitable marriage. Ross is always the first to condemn himself. This is such a true trait of the Byronic hero. They turn misfortune inward and punish themselves. While some may consider this a character flaw, in this case it seems to fuel his desire to succeed even more. He is determined to make his copper mine a success and in turn help the local miners and his tenants.

Christmas dinner at Trenwith. Poldark (2015)

Christmas Eve dinner at Trenwith with the dreaded Poldark’s and snooty neighbors

How do you manage for servants Elizabeth? Mama and I were only just saying that young girls these days have such ideas, always trying to rise above their station.” — Ruth Treneglos

Ross and Demelza are invited to Trenwith for Christmas. She is terrified of socializing with his high-born relations but bravely sallies forth and participates in the festivities to please him. Crashing the party in true deus ex machina style are the wile Warleggans and John and Ruth Treneglos. Ah—Ruth, the valedictorian of the Caroline Bingley School of Cutting Remarks and Abject Snobbery. No polite barbs for her. She goes straight for the jugular with her implication that Demelza, a former serving girl and now Ross’s wife, has risen above her station. I must say that actress Harriet Ballard plays this part to perfection. Arrogant and condescending, she must have studied her Jane Austen to get the role down. Just sayin’.

Heida Reed and Kyle Soller in Poldark (2015 )

Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Francis (Kyle Soller) in a happier moment before their marriage

Such a curious thing. We envy a man for something he has. And yet the truth maybe, that he hasn’t got it after all, and we have.” — Francis Poldark

Demelza proves during the Trenwith Christmas gathering, by appearance and action, that she can be a lady. She even surprises her husband, who gives her that polarizing Mr. Darcy “look” during her moving song. Also noticing the sparks fly between them is his former love Elizabeth and her husband Francis, who now realize that Ross has moved on emotionally. Interestingly, Francis now sees that his marriage to Elizabeth is no longer the envy of everyone. What power he held over Ross by his marriage is no longer there. Someone else has surpassed his wife’s place in Ross’s affections—Demelza.

Demelza and Ross in Poldark (2015)

Ross (Aidan Turner) reveals his true feelings for Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson)

I had few expectations. At best you would be a distraction. A bandage to ease the wound. But I was mistaken. You’ve redeemed me. I am your humble servant and I love you.” — Ross Poldark

Honesty is the best policy – but as this speech began, and we witness Demelza’s cautious and apprehensive reaction, I feared the worst. Could Ross really be so blunt? Thank goodness he changed his course and humbled himself with a profession of love. It was a touching moment of intimacy between them giving her the confidence to reveal that they were going to have a child soon. It doesn’t get much better than this in the romance department folks. Now that this is a full-blown love story the bar has just been raised.

MY REVIEW

Last week’s episode left me with mixed emotions—mostly that I did not like Ross at all for seducing his kitchen maid, proposing to her out of guilt, and then trying to hide the wedding. Since the marriage scene in the church ended abruptly and left us guessing, I cringed when episode four confirmed my fears.

As the news of their nuptials spread through the community their shocked reactions tell us that Ross’s family, friends and enemies were clueless about the marriage. My theory was confirmed: the bands had not been read in church (which would have been announced during Sunday service repeatedly over several weeks) and he had obtained a special license. Since there was no one at the wedding but the two witnesses, servants Jud and Prudie, it was obvious that he had not informed nor invited anyone. Why? Was he afraid someone would talk him out of it? No. Poldark’s are stubborn. It is their downfall and salvation!

While Demelza looks at him with affection during the ceremony, Ross is frozen with apprehension, telescoping his fears of his rash, impulsive actions. UGH. Not a good way to start a marriage. His rebellious behavior is both troubling and intriguing. We never know, nor does anyone else, what he will do next. He admits to being a loose cannon, and this is just more than self-depreciation. It’s the truth! It’s what makes him complex and enigmatically attractive to us.

Despite Ross’s short comings, this episode is all about Demelza and hers. She is now Mistress of Nampara with all its rights and responsibilities. How she will rise to the challenges is the main plot of this episode. Verity to the rescue. Her kindness to Demelza in helping her to become a lady is a reflection of her generous nature. Her family have ruined her hopes of any marriage and made her into a spinster servant, but she can still share the one thing that they can never take away from her. Now that Demelza has a new friend and she sees that Verity is so miserable, I was encouraged that Demelza wants her to be happy and is investigating the whereabouts of her lost beau, Captain Blamey. Is there a glimmer of hope?

The pilchard fishing scene was very important in the book and I felt that this adaptation conveyed the bond that Demelza and Ross now feel between each other and the community well enough, but not entirely. As they walk home, hand in hand, you can see that something has changed between them. Ross is more content and relaxed, and Demelza, sensing his mood is more at ease with their relationship too, teasing him and smiling. For those who have not read the Poldark Saga novels that this series is based upon, I recommend that you read chapter two of Book Three of Ross Poldark (240) to catch my meaning. The book scene is much different than the television series. Ross and Demelza take a boat and row out into to Nampara Bay to watch the fishermen in the moonlight and experience one of those rare magical moments in our lives that happen too infrequently, but are ingrained in our memory forever.

I would be remiss if I did not dish about the final scene of this episode. Good things are finally happening for Ross. With the pilchard catch there will be food for the villagers this winter, Demelza’s transformation into a lady has surpassed his expectations, and his family’s and the community’s reservations, and his copper mine has struck a “monstrous” load. Eureka! Life is good after so much turmoil. In an intimate moment Ross tests Demelza, asking her why she thought that he married her. Still uncertain of her position as his wife, Demelza honestly answers that she does not know. He then lists many of his egotistic reasons including calling her a bandage to ease a wound. OUCH. Then he honestly reveals that she has redeemed him; he is her humble servant; and he loves her. There it is. That word that she never thought he would say to her has been placed at her feet. It was the perfect moment to share that they were expecting their first child.

I did not laugh much during this episode (my Janeite measurement of good writing), except at the snide Ruth Treneglos/Caroline Bingley and her weak attempts to cut Demelza down. However, there were some witty moments that I applauded, i.e. when Ross reveals to his Cousin Francis that he has married his kitchen maid. Francis is appalled and fears he will be cut off from society. Ross’s retort was priceless, “A life of peace and seclusion? I must try to bear it as best I can.” Jane Austen would have approved of that bon mot.

Aidan Turner and Kyle Soller in Podark (2015)

Ross’s (Aidan Turner) reaction to his Cousin Francis’s (Kyle Soller) admonishment of his choice of bride

Poldark continues next Sunday on Masterpiece PBS. Join me during the broadcast, July 19, 2015 9/8c as I co-moderate the live Twitter Event of episode five of Poldark, hosted by Masterpiece Classic PBS

Images courtesy of Mammoth Screen, Ltd & Masterpiece PBS © 2015; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2015, Austenprose.com

Disclosure of Material Connection: We received one review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We only review or recommend products we have read or used and believe will be a good match for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

14 thoughts on “Poldark Season One Episode Four on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review

  1. Excellent recap. Things are slowing down enough that the audience can now bond with several characters. But as things seem to be going right, I fear we are awaiting something dire soon. I was not expecting Ross to admit to love so soon but found it quite sweet. The scenery, especially at the introduction is just so gorgeous. I didn’t catch what they were looking out to sea for, but when the boats came in with the fish it was revealed. Waiting for Francis to go under as he takes no interest in his mine.

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  2. The “life of peace and seclusion” quote was definitely one of my favorites too. I agree with your comparison of Ruth to Caroline Bingley. I liked the way Demelza, Verity, and Elizabeth supported one another.

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  3. Finally saw my first episode last night–and thanks to your recaps, I knew exactly what was going on! I love the characters, the costumes, the dialogue, the class clash–another period drama success for PBS. Now I just have to catch up with those earlier episodes…

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  4. You and I think alike about the pilchards scene. I LOVE that part of the book. The episode did a fairly good job of conveying it as an emotional turning point for Ross and Demelza, but it is not nearly as magical and beautiful as it is in the novel.

    During Episode 4, I kept thinking about Demelza as Tom Branson from “Downton Abbey.” Both had to deal with many of the same challenges, marrying up. I think it’s harder for Demelza in some ways as she has to deal with catty women — Tom didn’t have to, to quite the same extent. And I guess Demelza only has to deal with two servants who “remembered her back when,” while Tom has to deal with a whole basement full.

    Loved her song, too! So authentic and from the heart.

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  5. “Ross and Demelza take a boat and row out into to Nampara Bay to watch the fishermen in the moonlight and experience one of those rare magical moments in our lives that happen too infrequently, but are ingrained in our memory forever.”

    Well, Laurel Ann, you did it. Now, I have to order the books because I can’t live without reading about that ‘rare magical moment’ in the lives of two characters I’ve fallen in love with!

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    • Well, my pleasure Jan. You will not regret reading the books. They are fabulous. I hope I have not oversold them. That can take the air out of any pretty red balloon. ;-)

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  6. Is it bad that I’ve watched this 3 times already (that’s what folding laundry is for:)? I love the dialogue, the scenery and emotion put into this episode! I too want to read the books now.

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  7. I’m really enjoying your Poldark series, thank you Laurel Ann! You’ve pointed some things out to me that I missed when watching, and since it moved so fast at the beginning, I really appreciate it. I was a big fan of the first series with Robin Ellis and Angarhad Rees (hope I spelled the actress’s name correctly!) and I was a little leery of watching this one, but no more, partly thanks to you. I, too, got a real kick out of Robin Ellis’s appearance as the judge, last week.

    One tiny nit-pick for you: The word is BANNS, not BANDS. :-)

    Thanks again for enhancing my enjoyment of this wonderful show.

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  8. Reblogged this on Poldarkian and commented:
    My thoughts on episode four of Poldark. The scandal of the Romelza wedding is the talk of the community, Demelza Doolittle becomes a proper lady and Ross has a epiphany.

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  9. Pingback: Poldark Season One Episode Five on Masterpiece Classic PBS – A Recap & Review | Austenprose - A Jane Austen Blog

  10. Why do so many people believe that Ross has emotionally moved on from Elizabeth? Didn’t anyone noticed the expression on his face, while she was discussing her marriage to Francis with him?

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