“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)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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’.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Read my recap & review of Episode Three of Poldark
- Read my Poldark Season One Character Guide
- Read Ross Poldark, and 15 Other Ultimate Romantic Heroes to Fall in Love with This Summer
- Visit the World of Poldark website on Masterpiece PBS
- Enter a giveaway chance for the first two novels in the Poldark Saga
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.”