And so, as promised, the French Revolution encroaches upon Cornwall … “An old friend of my father has contacts in France.” Ross to the rescue – with the help of a libidinous man with a hook for a hand (who carries the bones of that former hand in a canister affixed to his belt.) Dear me. Where is the sensible Dr Enys when we need him? “Un, deux, trois …” Have the French shot him or not? We cannot know. And so it is best, it seems, to row from Cornwall to France to go and find him. I’m no expert in maritime escapades, but with no mobile reception and in the company of a co-conspirator who seems very much like an actual pirate, this does seem ambitious of Ross, to put it mildly.
There was plenty to occupy us here, including multiple chest moments (more details below) and some classic one-liners: “Perhaps she finds her Warleggan cousins more congenial.” “I tremble for the young maids hereabouts.” “Doubtless he has found some credulous wench to take him to bed.” You’d think the Poldark-Warleggan feud would become tedious but somehow they keep it fresh, this time by crashing Evil George’s Sunday prayers. I am loving the rebellious Methodists and Ross’s attitude to them. “I’m looking for a little peace …” “In the Lord shall ye find it.” I’m not sure how much longer Ross is going to put up with this God-bothering. He looked as if he wanted to hit Sam and Drake with a large piece of driftwood.
As for the business about the ships lost at sea, t’was most troubling. “Please excuse us, Miss Penvenen is unwell …” Hurry to Truro for news. But what’s this? The Esmerelda and the Travail both lost? Hasn’t Verity suffered enough? But there was still hope. And so as the action moved to Evil George’s “please, please can I be a magistrate?” party, Demelza, Verity and Sindy Doll transformed themselves into a three-woman internet as they tried to crowdsource second-hand information from the high seas. Verity (Ruby Bentall) was a wonder in this episode. The line “I never expected such joy” was beautiful. Thankfully she had a reprieve. “Weatherbeaten but unharmed …” I thought Sindy Doll would pop out of her frock. Lisbon ahoy!
Meanwhile Demelza’s brother Drake (Harry Richardson) was pouring more fuel on the Poldark-Warleggan fire with his answer to “Come and see my etchings”: “Come and see the ancient well of St Saul.” I’m in two minds about whether Geoffrey Charles is a good thing in these scenes; he is both entertaining and insufferable, which is probably at least accurate for the period. Still, the class discussion was interesting. “They seem very low-born.” Don’t underestimate the low-born, Morwenna.
It was extremely distressing to see Evil George get what he most wanted: a wig. No wonder Ross turned it down – it would mess up his hair. “You should be aware that if you decline this role, it will be offered elsewhere … to George Warleggan.” Ouch! I had to wonder whether Evil George’s Premier League-style quasi-fist-pump was a bit anachronistic. “The first Warleggan to be called to the bench. Are you not impressed?” Truly Trenwith has fallen into unfriendly hands, and now so has the court of Truro.
Pewter tankard award for bonkers brilliance as supporting actor
“I am Warleggan now and must take my husband’s part.” Let us have a moment of appreciation this week for the superlative Heida Reed as Elizabeth. She’s not had an easy task, having to act That Ambiguous Scene last series and, now, having to do resting bitch face for the remainder of her life with Evil George. Despite the fact that she doesn’t often have much to do emotions-wise, Reed always looks gorgeously regal and repressed. This character could really come into her own this series; no one does simmering disgust better. I like that she is becoming as dastardly as Evil George. “All children are different. If you have another, you’ll realise that.” Bring on Evil Elizabeth. Let’s see the fire in her belly.
Classic Poldark lines
“Ray Penvenen’s death has been a great loss to the county.” Yes! We miss Bergerac. Bring back the ghost of Bergerac.
“Love Him first and all the rest will follow.” Drake is talking about God here, but he could also be referring to Cap’n Ross.
“And Valentine, who does he favour?” Best not to ask that, Verity. Cue violent coughing over the candied jellies from Aunt Agatha.
“We feel nothing but relief at being spared his intrusions.” Elizabeth looked like she wouldn’t mind some more of Ross’s intrusions.
Regulation reverse sexism bare chest moment
Surprise! The chest is back – and in triplicate. I’m not sure how the producers got that bed scene past Aidan Turner and his agent. It was as brief as it was subdued but welcome nonetheless. And swiftly followed by the hilarious washing-in-the-stream scene with Prudie and Sam: “Not to mention other needs a body might have …” Excellent work, Prudie (Beatie Edney). And all that was before the naked Christian sea-swimming. I may have to become a Methodist. Like many of the lady mine workers, looking moon-faced upon Demelza’s preacher brother, I suddenly find myself very interested in the teachings of the Bible. Never mind bringing redemption to the dark places of Cornwall, we could all do with a bit of, er, faith healing.
Evil George is wearing his judge’s wig and is, of course, preparing to abuse his power. Demelza’s brothers are under threat. Meanwhile, Ross is in France and it’s all gone a bit ‘Allo ‘Allo.