07/09/2016 09:20 BST | Updated 08/09/2017 06:12 BST

Poldark: Season 2 Episode 1 Recap And Review


A theme tune that sounds too much like Crimewatch when I sing it (badly, admittedly) and opening shots of ravishing rocks.

According to George Warleggan, 90-something Aunt Agatha too looks ravishing. "I do not!" says she. "And nor, may I say, do you. Quite pasty-faced. Consequence of sitting too long indoors fingering coin."

How do they say these lines with a straight face? At first I thought she said 'pasty-faced', which made me feel hungry. Well, we are in Cornwall and as I can't get Demelza's pies out of my head, I'll take what I can get.

But I digress. Back on the cliff edge Ross Poldark, the Cornish Robin Hood, is being led away by constables who have arrested him for plundering and inciting a riot. "What part did you play in the death of Matthew Sanson?" a judge asks. "Regretfully, none whatsoever," says Ross, uttering his favourite phrase. A trial at Bodmin assizes awaits him.

He has been set up by the wily Warleggans, who want Ross tried for Sanson's murder in order to get him hanged. Will Elizabeth be taken in? Now Matthew Sanson - he of the 'extensive influence' - is gone, snake-in-the-grass tall hat wearer, George Warleggan, inherits his mantle. "His reach extends everywhere," says Francis. I bet it does.

"Would you consider a small delay?" George asks, as he chances upon Elizabeth in the street. I've never heard it called that before. While George tries to woo her, she tries to get Ross to accept some help from George, who may be able to point the judge in the right direction.

Elizabeth's plan backfires when Ross refuses to budge on his principles. He would rather die than give in to George Warleggan. "So you've made no arrangements?" asks Ross' solicitor in anticipation of the trial's negative outcome. "None whatsoever," says Ross.

"Something must be done or he'll walk his head into a noose," says Francis.

"Or that new contraption they have in France," says Aunt Agatha, hacking her fig with her knife and almost cracking her plate.

Speaking of cracking up, Francis, who is becoming more superfluous to the plot by the minute, appears to be having a breakdown. "Why is it that I amount to precisely nothing," he asks, " While Ross is considered such a threat that men will spend a fortune in order to get him hanged?" Stuck in Ross' shadow, how can Francis compete? There's only one way. But more on that later.

It's certainly not by mining. Ross' sweaty torso glinting in the dimly-lit shadows deep inside Wheal Leisure - the one place he can still do an honest day's work - is a metaphor for his authenticity, transparency and naked principles... Is it heck. It's just a great way of spicing up what could be a tedious scene of men working in a copper mine, and in an episode which by this time is in need of some light relief.

Which also comes in the form of the colourful and flirty Caroline Penvenan. Betrothed to would-be MP Unwin Trevaunance, whom she is reluctantly accompanying to Bodmin for the up-coming elections, she is also the niece of John Nettles (who plays Ray Penvenan but whatever he's in he's always John Nettles to me). She speaks her mind and gets away with it by dint of her prettiness and her cute little pug, Horace, whom she carries everywhere.

John Nettles is also acquainted with the judge who will try Ross in Bodmin. Hearing this, Demelza contrives to visit John Nettles with the intention of subtly retrieving information. On her departure she is spied by Unwin and Caroline, who enter the grounds as she is leaving. "Who can that be, uncle?" asks Caroline.

"She looks like a dangerous woman to me," says Unwin. He must have seen the posters put about by George, denouncing Demelza as a 'notorious doxy from a family of murderers and thieves'.

But look at her now. "Quite a lady," says Ross," as he finds her playing the harpsichord. "Why?" asks she. "'Cause she's primped up to the nines and her physog is powdered?" This saucy talk leads to the bedroom, and a better love scene between Ross and Demelza this time round. Ross has got wood.

In a big pile, ready to chop outside. This too is sweaty man's work, although as he wields his sharp tool Ross keeps his shirt on this time (Oh, come on! A love scene juxtaposed with a woodcutting scene? That's asking for it).

And so: a breezy gallop (hurray!) to Bodmin. Ross is accompanied by dishy doctor Dwight Enys, who, upon arrival in Bodmin is summoned by a patient who is "mortal ill". It's Caroline, who wants him to look at her little furry Horace. Unable to take her request seriously, Dwight is charmed into prescribing a "paregoric of black cherry water and Theban opium" for the little dog. Poor Horace! That Caroline Penvenan, though: she is a card. But I do hope she's careful. She is all too reminiscent of Karen the actress, and we all know what happened to her.

Cut to gaol, where Ross is banged up. Glowering in the dimly-lit cell, he doesn't need those torches, he can generate his own glow. While he smoulders and glares, Francis falls back into old ways and hits the bottle. He knows he can't measure up to anyone. "Oh, do I disappoint you?" he asks Verity. "Well, I disappoint most people: Father, Elizabeth, myself..."

Francis pens his suicide note to Elizabeth. What follows involves more plate-cracking, as he points a pistol at his skull and pulls the trigger. Did he have to? He was the one I was counting on to say, "I dislike the cut of his jib."

Mind you, he has survived near-drowning, a shot to the neck and the putrid throat, so maybe it was time. In awe of Ross, even Francis can't bear the prospect of a world without Ross in it. "Which of us does not secretly adore him?"

With things getting a bit dark in Poldarkland (perhaps that's why John Nettles keeps saying PolDARK, with the emphasis on the second syllable), it was a relief that there wasn't too much sea-staring this time, which is in danger of becoming a cliché.

But how will Ross get out of this one? Any idea? In his favourite words: "None whatsoever."

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