Poldark Season 2 Episode 4: Recap And Review

28/09/2016 12:15


Who says brandy and gin are not essentials? Law enforcer Jim Vercoe, that's who. He's obviously never played the Poldark drinking game.

Because - hurrah! - finally someone has said it. My favourite line has been uttered.

"I took a dislike to his neck cloth." OK, it's not quite "I dislike the cut of his jib", but it easily could have been. Almost. And it was said in the presence of seamen, so I'll take it. Time to down another shot.

It's a clever scene too, one whose origins stretch back to last series, when Francis was manipulated by George Warleggan - "that upstart, " as Aunt Aagatha calls him - into telling him the names of Ross' Carnmore Copper Company investors.

George paid Francis £600 for the deed, or "30 pieces of silver," as George puts it to Ross in the Red Lion. This results in a spectacular fistfight that sees George floored by Ross (so much for those boxing lessons, George). But then, even George's tall hat was no match in the battle of the hats when the two met previously on the coastal path. A tricorn will beat a tall hat every time.

All the best men wear tricorns, including Captain Blamey (or Captain Blimey, as I like to call him). When he and Ross encounter Francis on the harbour, Francis recoils at Blamey, regarding him as a drunkard and a scoundrel, not worthy of his sister Verity's hand in marriage. Ever graceful, Blamey asks Francis once again to reconsider, for Verity's sake.

"This is the moment to wipe out the past," says Ross knowingly, as Francis hesitates. Ross plays it brilliantly because it's a line that simultaneously resolves two issues - if Francis can accept Blamey, then Ross can forgive Francis - with no accusation, hardly any dialogue and no dignity lost.

The penny drops: Francis realises that Ross now knows it was he who rattled off the list of the Carnmore investors to George (even though Ross was silly enough to leave them on public display, for Francis to see). It's a powerful moment.

Francis finally accepts Blamey. When Blamey enquires as to the origin of the 'quarrel' Ross had with George in the Red Lion, Ross avoids answering the question by diffusing the situation with humour. Disliking the cut of someone's gib - or neckcloth - covers a multitude of sins.

Nevertheless, Ross is playing a dangerous game. The district is crawling with soldiers. When a group of convicts walk past Ross's old disused mine, Wheal Grace, Jim Vercoe tells Ross they are destined for Truro gaol. Their crime: "Importing goods without paying the required duty."

St Anne's Customs Office are cracking down on the practice, which also means that access is now difficult to come by, as comedy Cornishman Trencrom explains to Ross after he returns home after a breezy coastal gallop (we've not seen one of those for a while). "We've run out of navigable inlets," says Trencrom. He wants to use Ross' cove.

Desperate to be free from George's strangulation, Ross is keen to accommodate the smugglers - for a price. After negotiating a healthy sum with Trencrom and asking his lawyer to sell half his shares in Wheal Leisure to George, Ross asks Francis to use his 30 silver pieces to help run Wheal Grace with him. Cleverly, Francis has shares made in his young son Jeffrey Charles' name, so that George is unable to buy him out.

Now Ross can blast through to Treworgie mine from Wheal Grace, instead of from Wheal Leisure, as well as buy "one o' them new-fangled pumping engines" from Richard Trevithick (a name I recognise from doing GCSE History almost 30 years ago).

It sounds like a grand plan. Francis had better watch out, though. George wants to navigate Elizabeth's inlet, and both she and Francis seem oblivious to his plans. It's clear Ross still holds a candle for Elizabeth too, as she does him: not so much a love triangle as a love polygon.

It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for Francis, who has been in such jolly spirits it's taking some getting used to. He even has wood - although it's a bit smaller than the huge piles we've seen Ross and Doctor Enys chopping - which he waves about on the front lawn, hoping to get lucky. "What's that contraption?" Aunt Agatha asks Elizabeth. "It's a virgula divinitoria," says she, which is a fancy name for something so unimpressive.

Such a sight greets heavily-pregnant Demelza when she opens the cupboard to find nought but a fish head, before jumping in a rowing boat and going into labour. Perhaps she and Francis should try looking down Caroline's throat: dishy Doctor Enys got lucky there last week, when he pulled out a bone. "You bruised my mouth with your fingers, remember?" says she, insisting he did the same again.

"Open your mouth, please," says he. "Wider, please..."

Alas the experience is only "satisfactory." Enys is preoccupied with the scurvy epidemic afflicting the miners and fisher-folk with swellings, bruising, bleeding gums and listlessness. "Why do they not spend less on gin and more on oranges?" asks Caroline, in a moment of Marie Antoinette recklessness. Enys is distinctly unimpressed.

But Caroline wants to follow her heart and indulge her whim, as ladies often do. And as Enys won't accept the guinea she offers him for his oral exploration, she buys oranges for his scurvy-afflicted patients instead.

"Now you're under obligation to me," says she.

"Is that where you prefer your men?" says he. I suspect she'd rather be under him. "Do you ride, Doctor Enys? For pleasure?" Ooh! And another shot! Knock it back.

With lines like this, it's all a bit 50 Shades, up there with Blamey's mast and Verity's posset. But I'm also a bit confused. First he says he really likes her, then she says she's leaving for London. Is this the last we've seen of her? I doubt it.

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