"Francis was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that." —Charles Dickens, if he watched Poldark, probably.
Everyone is in mourning, myself included, as the family begins to muddle on without Francis. To twist the knife, it appears that the rich vein of copper was, in fact, fool's copper — did you know that was a thing? — which means Elizabeth has essentially nothing left to support herself. Unsurprisingly, she still looks great. Is this why Ross comes to visit her so frequently and solicitously? Demelza is unenthused.
To no one's shock, the Warleggans have decided in their munificence to call in Ross's debt the day after Christmas, with debtors' prison the sure result. Personally, I think he should just kill them both, but he'll probably weasel out of it in some other fashion in the nick of time.
George, in full flower of his toadying slimy self, is of course already showing up at Trenwith to wipe away Elizabeth's tears. "Boo hoo," he says. "My house is so large that I must throw the most extravagant parties in all the land, it's so tiresome." Elizabeth is all, "I'll just get back to scraping seaweed off these rocks for lunch, then." When George says he wouldn't dream of letting her debts overtake her until after her mourning period, he might as well be twirling a waxed mustache while tying a maiden to the railroad tracks.
Meanwhile, Ross has a plan to let the free traders use his property in exchange for much-needed money, which has a tradition of working out beautifully, especially with the informer still unidentified and roaming Cornwall. The only thing worse than debtors' prison is normal prison. His second, even worse plan is to redirect 600 pounds' worth of his own shares in cash to Elizabeth via an intermediary, a plan I am QUITE CONFIDENT he has not shared with Demelza, who is getting shriller and more (legitimately) suspicious of his motives by the day.
Pug Lady's uncle has roused himself to notice her untoward rides with (but not on) Dr. Enys, and calls him on the carpet about it. The words "fortune hunter" are used! Gasp! Enys is delighted, assuming correctly that this means Pug Lady is indeed interested in him for the long haul, and her uncle kicks him out of the house in high dudgeon.
There is a delightful bit of heated foreshadowing between Ross and Elizabeth as to how he wishes he could Do Something for Her and how she in turn also wishes he could Do Something for Her and how unfortunate it is that he cannot Do Something for Her, and then her breast heaves and he stares moonily at it.
Ross, you have prime rib at home! There's no reason to go all the way to Trenwith for slightly hotter prime rib! Especially when your prime rib is from a working-class family and can brawl and has red hair and is spoiling for a fight.
Elizabeth is cornered at a fancy Christmas party by George, who has sweetened the deal of his infernal friendship by promising to pay for young Jeffrey Charles's education. It's like Indecent Proposal except George isn't cute.
Everything ends at a brief perky pace as Pug Lady anonymously hauls Ross's financial cookies out of the fire just in time for Christmas. He then rides to the Warleggans' and jams the money up their butts while humming "The Little Drummer Boy" as Demelza tweaks their noses.
Ross feels like a heel because Demelza thinks he doesn't love her anymore — at least not like he used to — so he buys her some stockings and then they do it.
Merry Christmas in October!
Shirtlessness Report: None, but the stocking scene was pretty hot.