“When did anything go according to plan with Ross?”, Eleanor Tomlinson’s Demelza sighed wearily in episode three of BBC drama Poldark.
In dramatic scenes, our hero forsook his wife once again and buckled his swash against the dastardly Frenchies who have imprisoned his friend Dwight Enys.
Making a landing with his old friend Tholly Tregirls, Ross was rumbled by the officers of the Republique and sent packing. But Ross being Ross he dived into the freezing briny (well, you could see his breath, couldn’t you, so it was certainly cold) and returned for his friend, knowing that discovery would have meant instant decapitation by la guillotine.
And it was a close-run thing. He had already made something of an enemy in the landlady of the shady boozer that he hung out in (he wouldn’t sleep with her, so she was happy to shop him in a second time). But before you could say Jacques Robinson he had punched the living daylights out of the arresting company and fled. The next we saw of him he was riding up to Nampara to a grateful Demelza.
Ross 1, La Republique 0
But still, he didn’t manage to liberate Dwight (below) who remains locked up in the prison which all the inmates agree is about the closest thing to hell on earth as could be imagined. Will Dwight return? Clearly there is unfinished business in those cells, in more ways than one.
The slammer/hell-hole also houses a certain officer by the name of Lieutenant Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) who, if pre-publicity is to be believed, is to become a future love interest of Demelza. But that’s for another day.
Back in Cornwall, of course there was a lot of waiting to be done – Caroline pined for Dwight, Demelza waited for Ross, but not in a simpering way. She had had enough of his absence and gave her religious brother Sam Carne approval to set up his new church in an old storehouse belonging to her husband.
Morwenna heaved a fair few love sighs, staring longingly at Drake, who stared longingly back. Their romance is clearly racing along nicely, so much so that she even invited the young lad to kiss her. Blimey.
But George Warleggan will have a few things to say about that, having set his sights on the Carne boys, denying them the use of the old Grambler building. We suspect there is more to come from this head-to-head.
Even by his standards George was especially villainous tonight. Maybe it was the wig and gown when he started his duties on the bench, dispensing justice to the local people – or, as he would have it, the “vulgars” – with customary lack of mercy; twenty lashes for some poor man who stole a pheasant, letting off the son of one of his friends (and charging his accuser with perjury).
“A most satisfactory day,” he told his wife. We also learned that the harvest had failed in this part of Cornwall so it’s a safe bet to suggest that there will be more of this sort of petty thieving punished with George’s unspeakable cruelty.
Little wonder Elizabeth is starting to have second thoughts about him. She flashed her husband looks of distinct disgust whenever she was in his company. And she has taken to the bottle – or rather the tincture – which she appears to now be downing with carefree abandon to “calm the nerves and fortify the constitution” as her doctor put it.
Still, apart from the fighting and boozing, there were some light-hearted moments to be had, best of which was the neat bit of trolling by Geoffrey Charles to stepdad George when he said what everyone had been thinking and suggested that the child was “much darker” than his supposed father.
Each episode so far has seen a sly dig about Valentine’s paternity aimed in George’s general direction but the beastly banker still hasn’t picked up on it. Too busy being a tyrant, I suppose.
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Poldark season three airs on Sundays, 9/8c, PBS Masterpiece