Poldark Recap: Now What?


Episode Eight
Season 2 Episode 8
Editor’s Rating *****
Aidan Turner as Ross, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza.
Aidan Turner as Ross, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza. Photo: Adrian Rogers/PBS

We find ourselves sitting in the rubble of last week’s rather epic events, befuddled and reeling. Now what? This isn’t a prestige drama, and we haven’t spent two seasons watching Ross Poldark flail around morally like Don Draper or Tony Soprano. He’s been presented to us as a man with a hot temper who is primarily motivated by a drive to take care of those around him. Having freely chosen to marry Demelza, a fiercely loyal, kind, and loving wife — and the mother of his two children, one no longer on this Earth — I hoped Ross would be faithful to her, knowing full well, based on the novels, that he would not. How much are viewers supposed to care about this guy going forward? The next time he delivers a stuffy little monologue about the iniquities of the magistrates, I’m just going to think, Oh, like when you porked Elizabeth? After Demelza begged you not to go to her house at like 10 p.m.? I guess we’ll have to see.

How Ross handles Demelza in the cold light of the next day is not the best endorsement of the “don’t worry, it was a one-time mistake from a good dude” theory. He is so unused to giving up the moral high ground to anyone else, he can’t quite grasp that he’s unceremoniously jumped off it. For anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation — i.e. you’ve cheated on your basically perfect wife in 18th-century Cornwall with your ex-girlfriend, and made no attempt to hide it — here’s a quick primer on what to say:

“Demelza, I have done something utterly unforgivable and I am disgusted with myself, so I can only imagine how you feel. I acted rashly and more out of anger at George Warleggan’s scheming than out of any deep feelings for Elizabeth. It took making this horrible, horrible mistake for me to finally realize that it’s you who are the anchor of my life and she just a shade from the past, who ultimately means nothing to me. I know it’s impossible to ask for your forgiveness, I can only say that I will devote the rest of my life to proving my love and devotion to you and our family is steadfast. You will never have to see her face again. Also, she was crap in bed, really relied on her beauty and just laid there.”

Instead, Ross goes with this:

“Look, I had basically no choice. I need some time to figure out what I want. I mean, I obviously want you, it’s just a question of whether or not I want her too. Are you still mad? Prudie made dinner and it’s pretty bad. This cot is uncomfortable. When are things going to get back to normal around here?”

It doesn’t go over great, as you might imagine. Not with Elizabeth (who had first postponed her wedding in the wake of Sexgate, then moved it back up and sealed the deal after Ross failed to call or text or even look at her Snapchat story) and certainly not with Demelza. With the glorious force of being the wronged party, Demelza decides what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and proceeds to go to one of those drunk dinner parties at the local nobility’s house, where she gets nearly raped by three different dudes in a scene that is way too Benny Hill for the subject matter. Our friend the Scottish redcoat is among the trio, though he ultimately backs off. She invites him to her room after a halfhearted make-out sesh, but unfortunately can’t bring herself to betray Ross, even now.

Meanwhile, in usual Ross fashion, he stumbles onto enough money to dig past the cave-in, discovering the tin vein of his dreams. He’s brimming with delight, which he brings home to Demelza expecting her to clap her hands and rejoice, and then he has the balls to act confused when she’s like, “Oh, cool. How nice.” He does appear to be realizing the depth of Demelza’s anger and sorrow, so perhaps there’s hope for him yet.

In the tableau that closes out the episode, the now super-rich Elizabeth and her new husband return to Trenwith to see her son, whom she greets with joy, and the old lady, who drills holes into George with her eyes. George is clearly jealous of Elizabeth’s feelings for Jeffrey Charles, once his beloved godson, so you know we’re gearing up for some bad step-daddying. Guaranteed, once he puts a Warleggan in her, Jeffrey Charles is going to fall off a horse or something.

Have a great week, don’t cheat.

Shirtlessness Report: Desperate tin-mining, v. v. good.

Poldark Recap: Now What?