** Warning: spoilers. Do not read if you haven’t watched Poldark series 2 episode 3 **
Ross Poldark fans look away now. Tonight, for perhaps the first time, we saw a side to Aidan Turner’s hero that we might not like very much. He hurt poor Delmelza’s feelings with what appeared to be some wayward and unhusbandly late-night flirting with his first love Elizabeth (Heida Reed). The cad.
The occasion was a harvest party at which Ross and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) appeared to patch things up with Francis and Elizabeth. But as the night wore on and Francis slumbered upstairs, Ross told his old love: “I remember a time you were already perfect… to me, I mean.”
Steady on. Demelza didn’t quite catch that line, bit she did appear at the door and ear-wig on the rest of their nocturnal reflections, including the bit where Ross tells Elizabeth that she now looks “like a girl of 16, the age when I first knew you.”
No wife wants to hear her husband say that to his ex, now, do they?
Ross also proceeded to suggest that their love could have overcome the obstacles of their conflicting temperaments, before praising Elizabeth for bringing “the light back to Francis’ eyes.” Go to bed Ross, suggested Elizabeth, not before time.
Poor Demelza didn’t take all this very well, grumping away upstairs when Ross did finally retire and commenting archly: “Elizabeth looked well tonight.” She finally managed to tell Ross about her pregnancy, though.
Dramatically speaking, it was an intriguing and finely-tuned visit to Cornwall tonight, where present and future troubles fermented away. Ross’s money worries continue to mount, forcing him and Demelza to sell most of their possessions to meet their debts, and Warleggan has a spy in the Wheal Leisure mine.
Still, the light, as ever in Poldark land, was on hand to offset the shade and the funniest moment of tonight’s episode was the resurrection of Jud.
Yes, Phil Davies’ sweary boozy factotum had been beaten to death – or so it seemed – by Warleggan’s brutes for failing to testify against his master. And his demise prompted much sadness from everyone. Well. Sort of.
“I have known him since I was a child. He was the most useless servant under the sun,” said Ross. “But he taught me how to smoke a pipe…”
Prudie (Beatie Edney) elseemed to enjoy her husband’s demise for the opportunity it gave her to drink away her sorrows and get some fine clothes for his funeral. “Ne’er a cross word did pass his lips.” she said of Jud, proving that in death his character was going to be wholly, and not entirely honestly, reappraised.
Only Jud wasn’t dead. The disappearance of the body, laid out in winding sheets, wasn’t the work of body snatchers as Prudie feared, but the miraculous agency of… God knows what. Jud was alive all along and he got up to go to the pub because he had a “thirst on”. Jud lives! Lord be praised.
The second best moment of comedy came earlier when Jack Farthing’s creepy Warleggan proved he was so afeared of a beating from Ross that he’d taken up boxing lessons, prancing round his living room like an idiot.
I suspect Warleggan will be needing a bit more practise when Ross clocks the full extent of his enemy’s malevolence, however, and those mine-hewn fists of our hero are thrown into action.
Poldark continues on BBC1 at 9pm on Sunday nights