Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), new dad, bad-ass miner and wavering lover.
Last week in episode 4 of Poldark the scandal mongers were in high dudgeon after the marriage of Ross to his kitchen maid Demelza, Uncle Charles’ death forced his son Francis to become more than a lawn ornament, Demelza Doolittle discovered that becoming a lady is hard work and Ross had an epiphany–he loves his wife!
This week everyone is RECKLESS AND BOLD—gambling on their future and love: Mark Daniel in his choice of bride, Keren; Ross in his new business venture, Demelza in her defiance, and Francis with his livelihood. The only person who is nonplussed is George Warleggan.
(there be spoilers ahead)
Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett), a player on more than just the stage, one suspects.
“I am undone: there is no living, none,
If Bertram be away. ‘Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so above me.” — Keren Smith as Helena in All’s Well That Ends Well
Two new important characters have entered the Poldark sphere: Dr. Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) and Keren Smith (Sabrina Bartlett). While Dr. Enys (in this screen version) is Ross Poldark’s (Aidan Turner) amiable army buddy arriving in Cornwall to study miners lung ailments, Keren is a seductive siren, an actress performing in a traveling troop who captures the heart of miner Mark Daniel (Matthew Wilson). Did any other Shakespeare fans recognize her soliloquy during the stage production? It is Helena’s lament for her love Bertram from All’s Well That Ends Well by Shakespeare—a very interesting selection for the screenwriter to choose. I will not say more, lest I spoil it for everyone. Mark agrees to Keren’s demanding terms for a marriage. He has four days to prepare a home for her or she leaves. Anyone read Why Men Love Bitches? She might have ghost written it. Just sayin’.
Captain Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) a rebel or a rogue?
“The curse of the Poldarks. Once given, our hearts are not easily withdrawn.” — Verity Poldark
Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) gives birth to a daughter in a record breaking delivery of one minute of screen time, and a christening party at Nampara follows. She is in a dither because both the Toffs and the peasants have been invited to the festivities. (More unpleasant reminders to Ross’s family of where she came from, and his proletariat tendencies.) While Ross watches his wife and his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth (Heida Reed) chat, his Cousin Verity (Ruby Bentall) shares the famous Poldark curse with Ross paralleling her own situation with Captain Blamey. (More foreshadowing here so pay attention.) In a really creepy scene he longingly gazes at the two Mistress Poldarks as Verity suggests, “perhaps you would like them both.” Ugh, as if, said I in my best Cher Horowitz disapproving reproach.
Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) in Clueless (1995) spouting her famous line.
Today is the 20th anniversary of Clueless, which has nothing to do with Poldark, but worthy of a tie-in reminder.
Franics Poldark (Kyle Soller), profligate Grambler, gambler.
“We can’t go on as we are, and I would rather fail fighting then throw up my hands and wait for the end.” — Ross Poldark
Copper prices have hit rock bottom and so has Franics Poldark (Kyle Soller). He is so deeply in debt to Warleggans Bank that he cannot join Ross and the other miner owners in their plans to form a copper smelting company, the only way to ensure that more profit stays in their hands and not the bankers. While starting a collective is a bold move that will infuriate George Warleggan (Jack Farthing), it might save the industry and break the stranglehold that is driving everyone into penury. Meanwhile back at Che Warleggan, George’s servant re-fills his brandy glass, again!
A revved-up Elizabeth Poldark (Heida Reed) goes fishing for sympathy with a sharp hook.
“Elizabeth. I wish…” — Ross Poldark
“That there was something you could do? Oh, I do too Ross. But, we are beyond wishing, are we not?” — Elizabeth Poldark
In a surprising outburst of angry sarcasm, Elizabeth has reached her limit with her pantywaist husband and vents her spleen on Ross. It appears that Francis has mismanaged, mortgaged, gambled and whored away the entire Poldark family fortune. Ross, being the gallant neighbor who once gave his heart to her yet finds it difficult to withdraw it, wishes he could help. Even after his own marriage and the birth of his daughter she still has a powerful hold over him. Ew! He really has NOT moved on. His concerned offer of sympathy is more than being neighborly.
George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) smiled once. It was awful.
“How is it possible…”—Dr. Enys
“To leap from poverty to wealth in two generations?” — Ross Poldark
“and maintain it in the midst of a slump while you and Francis face ruin?” — Dr. Enys
“We have different ways of doing business.” — Ross Poldark
Ross has learned that Dr. Choake (the varmint) has sold his shares in his Wheal Leisure mining venture to his nemesis George Warleggan. Unfortunately, he has run out of capital and cannot buy out the other disgruntled investors. While keeping his friends close, and his enemies closer, he and Dwight Enys attend the ultimate house party at the Warleggans’ sparkly mansion and witness the undoing of his Cousin Francis who loses his mine in a card game to Matthew Sanson (Jason Thorpe). This was a substantial asset to his family and his son’s inheritance. The Poldark’s of Trenwith may never recover from this reckless blunder.
Verity (Ruby Bentall) woefully gazes out to sea.
“Love should conquer all, even if it requires a little help.” — Demelza Poldark
“On the contrary. Some obstacles cannot be overcome, and should not for the sake of the peace of all concerned.” — Ross Poldark
Cut to scene of a windswept Verity looking out over the grey ocean from the clifftop. (Red flag on the field. Torment and trouble brewing.)
Ross has warned Demelza not to reopen old wounds where Verity and Captain Blamey’s (Richard Harrington) failed romance is concerned, but “knowing her own mind” she is determined not to follow her marriage vows and obey her husband, contriving a surprise meeting for them under the guise of a shopping spree in town. Verity flips out when she meets Blamey again and flees into the street now beset with hungry, angry, rioting miners pillaging the local corn merchant Mr. Sanson’s warehouse. Blamey follows them, saving the ladies from harm and pleading with Verity to see him again. Hmm?
Captain Blamey (Richard Harrington) and Verity Poldark (Ruby Bentall), unrequited love?
“All these years I’ve thought of nothing but you. I’ve been waiting in the hope that one day…” — Captain Blamey
Blimey Verity. Blamey just saved your life and confessed his undying love, maybe you should listen.
The two Mrs. Poldarks and Captain Poldark. A Cornish love triangle that smells like 3-day old pilchards.
“My life is more precious for being less certain, and richer for being poorer.” — Ross Poldark
During the closing ceremony of Grambler mine, Francis gives a pathetic speech and writes “Resurgam” in calk on the wooden post at the entrance. Elizabeth stalks off prompting Ross to look at Demelza in a panic (or approval?) and then follows her, asking what he can do. Really Ross? Poor Demelza. She now knows that she is not the only one in his heart. The love triangle has reared its ugly head. Elizabeth puts on a brave face claiming they will retrench and briskly walks away. In attempt to smooth over his obvious faux pas, Ross changes the subject and then gives the “precious for being poorer” speech to Demelza. While these are fine words, I’m not buying it. We shall see if she does.
I knew that episode 4’s blissfully happy ending would not last long—they never do. The afterglow was quickly extinguished in episode 5. Having been introduced to new characters and new conflicts, I see that the Poldarks face three main problems: Francis FAIL, Demelza’s matchmaking ambitions and Ross’s wavering heart.
Can we take a moment to spotlight two minor character actors in a large cast who are really pulling more than their own weight so far: Richard Hope as Harris Pascoe and Robert Daws as Dr. Choake. Interestingly, one is a true friend to Ross Poldark and the other quite the opposite. Based on their professions, one would think that Pascoe as a banker would be the stick in the mud and Choake as the doctor would be helpful and kind. Nope. Author Winston Graham made sure that nothing is complacent or predictable in his Poldark Saga novels and screenwriter Debbie Horsfield is keeping things real—adapting this story as it was written. While Daws has the meatier character with more scenes (villainous types always get the best lines), Hope, has the more challenging job of making Pascoe likable, but not saccharine. He is playing him brilliantly, like a diplomatic Father Christmas. We would like to hire him as OUR banker.
The addition of Luke Norris as Dr. Dwight Enys and Sabrina Bartlett as Keren Smith has opened up the storyline and expanded the romantic entanglement opportunities exponentially. He seems kind, and is certainly handsome. She on the other hand, is like a hurricane building speed before it makes landfall.
While the birth of their first child is a significant event for Ross and Demelza, one that should bring them closer together, they seem to be drifting apart—she with her defiant “love should conquer all” theories and he with his “some obstacles should not be overcome.” My reaction to his reply produced a deep grimace. If the curse of the Poldarks is to never forget your first love and torment over them forever, then we are in for a very long, rough carriage ride to Truro.
Margaret, (Crystal Leaity), the local light skirt reveals that Ross is her favorite. Get in line sister!
Poldark continues next Sunday on Masterpiece PBS. Join me during the broadcast, July 26, 2015 9/8c as I co-moderate the live Twitter Event of episode six of Poldark, hosted by Masterpiece Classic PBS. Just use hashtag #PoldarkPBS to join in.
- My recap & review of Episode Four of Poldark
- Poldark Season One Character Guide
- 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
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