* Warning: spoilers. Do not read if you have not seen Poldark series 2 episode 2 *
Well, that was eventful. After last week’s slow start, which felt more like a Poldark recap than anything else, we fairly whizzed through the action in episode 2.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night is that, yes, Francis is alive! Please contain your emotions, but it seems that Signor Haplessness is still with us.
Apparently, after pulling the trigger in the episode one cliffhanger, the powder failed to catch (or something) and his skull stayed intact. So he spent the rest of the evening awake and considering the nature of fate. Or something like that. Poor Francis, it’s hard to take him terribly seriously.
We had to wait a while before finding out that his brains were not all over the pub lodgings in a clear (if slightly cynical) move by scriptwriter Debbie Horsfield to ramp up the dramatic tension. But it wasn’t as if there weren’t other more pressing matters to concern us.
Ross Poldark’s life was also in the balance. (Though perhaps given the fact that they have just just started filming the third series and Aidan Turner is very much on set, it didn’t seem necessary to worry too much about the outcome of his trial).
But yes, our man got off the charge of plundering the shipwrecked Warleggan booty following a stirring speech to the jury when all seemed lost.
His eloquent oration rather cleverly appealed to the men on the jury deciding his fate. He spoke to them as fellow Cornishmen and talked about the “traditions of our county” to “scour the beaches for flotsam”. What else, he asked, should fathers who have seen their children without a “crust for their belly” do?
“I make no apology for my actions. In truth I would do the same again,” he said, channeling his best Jeremy Corbyn it seems. Though his mate Doctor Enys probably had it right when he muttered: “I have heard more penitent speeches.”
It was certainly a risky move given what had happened to the poor fellow who threw some dung at the idiotic would-be MP Unwin Trevaunance (Hugh Skinner) earlier on. He was taken to the gallows pretty damn quickly. And there was a lot of talk about the French Revolution and about the need for lefties to be punished severely by the stern Judge.
But our Ross got off on all three charges and he headed for a sing-song round a beach-side fire in the traditional Cornish way. Ah, it’s not all doom and gloom in Poldark series two.
In another cheery moment, our Ross also indicated that he would bring back Jud (below) and Prudie Paynter into his household which can only be a good thing. They have always been two of my favourite characters in the drama, though Phil Davis, the actor who plays Jud, told RadioTimes.com earlier this year that the boozy factotum will not be behaving himself this series either.
Ross’s acquittal of course sets things up for a nice tussle with the wicked George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) – the sour-faced arch enemy who had nobbled the locals, dropped a few words in the judge’s ear and did just about everything he could to get Ross swinging from the gibbet.
As Warleggan’s creepy assistant – Tankard played by Seb Armesto and looking for all the world like a Harry Potter baddie – observed, there is danger ahead. Ross is not the kind of man to take these things lying down. And the banker was careful enough to load his gun last thing at night.
Whether Francis will want to take a pistol to his own brains in future remains to be seen but I see misery ahead for the poor chap.
And trouble will once again revolve around Elizabeth who was exchanging one or two meaningful glances with her former lover Ross during his trial, which she made sure she attended. It’s not going to be a quiet autumn down in Poldark-land.
Poldark continues on Sunday nights on BBC1 at 9pm