Poldark ended tonight’s episode with one of its soft-focused candlelit sex sessions between Ross and Demelza, complete with some new stockings he bought for his wife.
It was almost as if this romantic, rather beautiful scene (preceded by another example of lovely singing from Eleanor Tomlinson) could make up for the shocking behaviour of Aidan Turner’s hero earlier on in the episode. Almost. But not quite.
Because these scenes tend to take place when there is trouble around the corner and there has been a strange inexorable journey towards disillusionment with our Ross this series. It is like a runaway train where Tragedy the Tank Engine is careering towards the train station marked Elizabeth. And it won’t end happily.
The sexual tension between Heida Reed’s glacial widow (as she is now, poor Francis) and Ross is as palpable as his pig-headed folly. The latest example of which was his brazen decision to anonymously give Elizabeth the money for her worthless Wheal Grace shares.
He faced debtor’s prison, likely penury for Demelza (below) and their son (not to mention putting poor Jud and Prudie out of jobs), but instead of worrying about all that, he wanted to risk everything with this gesture for his former lover who is now, of course, newly single.
His reasoning was that she was a lady and would find hardship more difficult than Demelza, a “miner’s daughter” who is capable of enduring whatever life throws at her. Blimey. There’s chivalry for you. But we did see what being a lady meant when Elizabeth explained to her son that she doesn’t tend to smile because it may crease her face and speed up the ageing process.
Demelza herself has sensed the estrangement with her husband and seems to have ramped up the Paddington-style “hard stares” towards her rival. But not without taking the commendably practical steps of “storing vittals” in case her husband was jailed.
It also didn’t help that Ross continued to ignore his wife’s warnings abut his growing smuggling operation, which tonight saw him store a heap of contraband under the floorboards at Nampara.
But still, disaster was averted (for the time being). The Red Coats didn’t storm the place and Ross himself was saved from jail by another act of anonymous generosity; this time Caroline Penvenen was the one with the largesse and she, in what is clearly the custom in these parts, also insisted that her identity be kept a secret. One day Ross’s luck will run out but this last-minute twist made this episode one of the sunnier visits in a rather dark series.
Caroline’s romance with Dr Enys continues apace, despite the objections of Uncle Ray (John Nettles) who has our Doc marked out as a fortune hunter. He clearly did not see the way he saved young Rosina’s leg (or the way Rosina keeps looking longingly at him) to appreciate everything Enys has to offer.
Christmas also came to Elizabeth’s household, where the grieving lady of the house was wise to heed Verity’s advice and stay away from Ross and Demelza for the festive season.
Tonight’s episode also included a very satisfying scene which saw George Warleggan forced to eat humble pie/Christmas pudding when his plan to have Ross carted away to incarceration on Boxing Day came to naught. Ross delivered his debt with a fabulous comic flourish.
There were also some delicious exchanges involving Aunt Agatha and Warleggan – a feud which is fast becoming one of my favourite sub-plots of this series.
The card-playing old dame has marked the hand of Jack Farthing’s dastardly banker and will no doubt have something to say when he finally makes his play for Elizabeth.
But George, it seems, is unlikely to be the only one seeking the young widow’s favours…
Poldark continues on Sunday nights on BBC1 at 9pm