As welcome as a free orange to a scurvy-afflicted local, Poldark comes along to cheer up viewers with a resolutely feel-good hour of TV.
It might not seem that way at first: Wheal Leisure’s workers are feeling rather unWheal (unWheal…unwell?…nope, you’re right, I’ll get me coat) and Dr. Enys can’t figure out why. You may also have shared some puzzlement – not at what was making the village folk break out in make-up effects, that was easy – but at how Dwight keeps his hair looking so full and bouncy and feathered.
It’s quite a barnet. No wonder Lady Caroline’s taken an interest in him.
After the sexiest throat examination ever, and a view of the poor that sounds like the first draft of a Katie Hopkins article, she decides that the best way to the good doctor’s heart and associated body parts is with some generosity. Lady C brings in the Vitamin C, and there’s no doubt that after receiving her bounty of 12 sacks of oranges, Dr Dwight’s DTF (Dispensing The Fruit. Why, what did you think I meant?). Shame she’s off to London to live with her mannequin of a fiancé.
His workers may be being soothed with prescription fruit, but Ross finds his troubles aren’t over as, in his fiscal dick-swinging match, George Warleggan scuppers his plans to expand the mine. Not to worry though: crafty Ross sells a load of shares and goes into business with Francis. Oh BUT WAIT – record scratch – Francis only has that money to invest because he sold Ross out last season to Warleggan.
This, as we’ll see in a few sentences time, will cause a pub ruckus that will be replayed in gifs on Tumblr for all eternity. But what Ross should be more worried about is going into business with a man who trusts in the powers of a stick to divine metal from the ground. I’ve not read the books so every week’s a mystery, but even for a man with a particularly good stick, Francis seems a little unstable; a little too happy. Even Aunt Agatha’s noticed it.
George takes immense delight in informing Ross of Francis’ past actions, leading to a good ol’ playground scrap as the two brawl in a pub and Warleggan gets to use the boxing skills he was honing last week. Given the result he should probably ask for his money back. To the show’s credit, it’s a fairly realistic fight – too many TV brawls are all slick moves and sound effects when, in real life, we all know that fighting just looks like two big toddlers shoving one another into stuff.
Warleggan’s a dirty fighter (the eyes, really George?) but seeing him get his ass handed to him is just the start of a merry string of citrussy-scented good news. Oranges are dispensed, and, after he seemed like a bit of a dick last week, Ross looks more like the quixotic hero we expect him to be rather than the questionable character he was last week.
He even manages to be canny enough to rise above Francis’s past transgression and settle his disagreement with Captain Blamey all in one deft swoop. It’s nice to have Blamey back, I’ve missed his sailing-themed innuendo. It’s well over a year and a half ago since he was whispering sweet nautical nothings about the spanker into Verity’s ear. Though it sounds like it’s prime piece of sexual innuendo, his announcement that ‘The Thunderer docks at noon!’ is about his family, not a signal for midday intercourse. Shame. I’m not above some sailorly smut on a Sunday night.
Verity’s ‘will your family like me?’ story is an odd little detour that feels separate to everything but pleasant all the same – the plot equivalent of getting lost down a delightful country lane – especially as it’s always a pleasure to see Verity. Anything that leads to more Ruby Bentall on our screens in the future can only be good.
Ross is far from perfect, but both business and family-wise he seems like a man who’s working for the greater good, even if it does mean breaking promises to Demelza. Taking Pounds Two Hundred to rent out your cove to the moonfleet crowd is reckless, but it’s also for the greater good. And it’s not like Demelza isn’t afraid to disobey Ross’s wishes, as her fishing trip results in going into labour.
Thankfully the baby isn’t delivered in a boat (else technically it’s part of the fishing quota). Demelza gives birth to a brand new Poldarkling, an act which feels almost incidental when compared to everything else going on. More is made of the fish needing to be salted than Poldark Jr. popping into the world.
Still, welcome to the financially fraught world of mining, kiddo! You’re going to love it.
Mind you, I’ve no idea where he’s disappeared to in the final scene as Wheal Grace is opened. Is Jud babysitting?
As mummy and daddy Poldark look out to sea and quaff their drink, the future looks as golden as the sunset they’re staring into. Like I said, it’s all resolutely feel-good.
Enjoy it. We’re only four episodes into a 10-episode run and George Warleggan is nursing a black eye, a passion for Elizabeth, and a drawer full of Poldark debts.
Hold on to your oranges, folks, it’s all about to kick off.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 25 September 2016 on BBC One.
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