Poldark Recap: Fisticuffs!

Heida Reed as Elizabeth. Photo: PBS
Episode Title
Episode Three
Editor’s Rating

We have been very, very patient for Poldark to get to our love triangle, and the mild tease we got at the end of episode two only fanned the flames. Therefore, I was not thrilled when this week's episode opened with a line of surly-looking men being taken by the local fuzz to Truro Jail. They're immediately accosted by Ross, who couldn't miss the chance to deliver a stirring speech about rural poverty. Keep your head down, Ross! You just got out of jail! Why are you this way?

Across the way, slutty Pug Lady is all agitated because Dr. Enys has failed to show up to tend to the tingling in her throat. You can tell she's a woman of weak virtue because she is visibly wearing makeup. Dr. Enys is selfishly attending to a weird new sickness that's hitting miners and fishermen alike, so this is basically the opening of Contagion. He literally says, "I've tried everything: fresh air, sunshine, goat's milk, nutmeg … " just to drive home that we are in the past and everything is terrible. I felt like Dr. Oz over here, because I was like "that sounds like scurvy" about 20 seconds before Enys said, "It's scurvy," so I could probably be one of the finest doctors in olden Cornwall.

Demelza is now hugely pregnant, as there are only two stages of pregnancy in 18th-century Cornwall: skinny and telling your husband, and then ready to pop. It is in this state that she has a frosty little encounter in the woods with Elizabeth (looking like a summer's freaking dawn, as per usual), who is clearly confused as to why Demelza isn't happy to see her. Because you have never drawn appropriate boundaries with her man! To Elizabeth's credit, it's really Ross who's been pushing the envelope, but don't play dumb.

When Enys finally hauls his cookies to visit Pug Lady and inquire after her perfectly healthy throat, she responds to his request to open her mouth by very slightly parting her lips in a Suggestive Manner. Like many blossoming make-out sessions, however, this one is brought to an abrupt end by political differences. Pug Lady delivers a brief Scrooge-esque monologue about how it would be best if all his poor sick patients just died already to stop clogging up the picturesque countryside with their ugly belongings and open sores. Enys is like, "Must be going now, Mother Teresa, best of luck to you and your fat pug." She sends him a bunch of oranges later, it'll be fine.

Elizabeth, knowing what side her bread is buttered on, pays a call on George Warleggan, who is all, "Why don't we hang out anymore? You can't still be bothered about the trial where I tried to destroy your family, right? That was MONTHS ago." And then, the kill shot: He could call in their loans at any time, so they need to play nice. He just wants to be friends! Close, close friends. The kind of close friendship where you eventually engage in some tongue-kissing. Surely that's not too unreasonable to protect your family?

Back at the mine, Ross is beginning to come up with two new schemes (I know, I know) to fill his coffers and dust his ambition. One is smuggling-adjacent, and the other is to rev up Wheal Grace, his father's old, defunct mine, the money from the first ideally assisting him in the latter. What great timing for George Warleggan to reveal himself as the Saruman to his agent's Wormtongue, rolling up on Ross's meeting!

Side note: Naming your mines "Wheal Grace" — I know, I know, it's after Ross's mom — and "Wheal Leisure" just seems mean! I've listened to enough folk music to know mining isn't exactly a job that involves a lot of sweet tea on a veranda.

Demelza is none too thrilled, having seen plenty of Ross's schemes come and go. She goes on to invent feminism! "Why do you get to do whatever YOU want while I always have to do whatever you want as well?" Tell me about it, girl. You should have the franchise and less-cumbersome garments and epidurals.

No good scheme is complete without roping your shiftless, useless cousin into it, so Ross drags Francis along after him. Francis, to his credit, wants to tell Ross about the whole "I took 600 pounds from the Warleggans to sell out your last scheme" situation, but Ross is all, "The past is the past! I don't want to know!" Unfortunately, this means the news winds up coming from George himself, causing Ross's fake-looking scar to twitch and FISTICUFFS to ensue! Eye-gouging attempts! Chair-breaking! A Warleggan tossed across the room!

Still high off this encounter, Ross manages to broker peace between Francis and Verity's husband (he seems like a stand-up dude apart from killing his wife), and everything looks like it's going to end nicely, so of course Demelza start going into labor on her stupid boat. Feminism, man. Ross saves her, she has a boy, peace is briefly spread across the land.

Shirtlessness Report: Some deep-V-shirt action in the mine, but the (understandably) poor lighting leaves much to be desired. There was substantially better (and wetter) deep-V action as Ross waded out to save Demelza, but it seemed inappropriate to focus on it at such a time.