Poldark Series 3 Episode 8 was indeed lustfully charged! Scriptwriter Debbie Horsefield excelled herself. Josh Agnew was kept busy directing his talented cast quoting poetry, singing pretty songs, peering through conveniently placed peep holes, flashing a shapely ankle and a boob or two, while yet others indulged themselves in a great deal of wishful thinking.
Talk about emotional fireworks needing to be dampened down, as the secrets in the hearts of major characters were revealed with the obligations of marriage and bigamy well explored.
This episode reveals George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) concentrating on his political ambitions as he cuts the wages for many of his workers, basically casting them callously out into the cold.
His rival in so many spheres of his life Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), is left not only looking to the welfare of all the local people many of whom are now struggling to survive, but also to that of his wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), whom he finally knows he truly loves and trusts.
Demelza is in focus as she sings sweetly wanting to warn off the man whose heart she has unwittingly captured.
Do not read any more if you don’t want spoilers.
That was no eight-month baby George were Aunt Agatha’s final words about his son before her sad demise. Despite her now being in her pauper’s grave, dug by her nephew Ross, her words keep resonating long and loud in George Warleggan’s head. She threw doubt on Valentine’s parentage and what he believed.
George goes to see Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) to see if he has any proof the child may not be his. “I observed nothing at the time of his birth” Dwight says, “that has led me to believe his birth was anything but as it seemed”, a premature event.
George however remains racked with fear and uncertainty and starts to freeze out Elizabeth, the wife he has always adored. He doesn’t give his baby son Valentine the time of day.
Elizabeth is confused, she cannot work out what she has done to earn his displeasure. Her curiosity is aroused however when Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) comes to visit Elizabeth and tells her George has recently been to visit her husband Dr Dwight on a personal matter.
Dr Enys is kept busy talking about and birthing babies. Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) has remained beleaguered by her husband, the truly vipish Reverend Ossie Whitworth (Christian Brassington). He continues to demand nightly conjugal rights despite his wife’s advanced pregnancy and against the advice of Doctor Enys. Her baby is due any day now and she is not in a good frame of mind.
Caroline comes to visit Elizabeth and tells her George has been to visit Dwight.
Meanwhile Demelza is down by the seaside thinking on the ‘Mona Lisa’ image of her drawn by Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse), the young nephew of Lord Falmouth Ross rescued from the prison in France along with Dwight Enys. Sensing danger in keeping it, Demelza screws it up and throws it away.
Dr Enys arrives to see Ross and tells him how unpleasant his encounters are with both George and the Reverend Ossie, although he will not disclose the details of such matters.
Demelza arrives home to find Hugh Armitage bearing a plant for her garden, a white Magnolia… a rare bloom symbolic of love, which he offers to the lady he considers even rarer.
The Rev Ossie and George have a discussion about expanding his influence in the district by giving him an additional parish. Ossie has been indulging in lustful thoughts while peeping through a crack in his studies panelling spying on her sister Rowella (Esme Coy) undressing for, and taking a bath.
Ross arrives home and sees a horse he knows outside. Despite knowing its owner Hugh Armitage is infatuated with his wife; he invites him to stay for dinner.
Hugh accepts because he wants to escape having to dine with Mrs Teague and her four daughters, after all they believe he is a man in wont of a wife.
In love we keep company with the Gods, is the homily he offers.
Ross comments to Demelza later how young Hugh Armitage lives in a dream… do you know his eyesight is fading, says Demelza, a serious issue for such a young man in a time when there was not easy cures. It is easy to see Ross, despite feeling tormented, is trusting in Demelza’s good sense to prevail.
The waves are crashing along the coast of Cornwall and now it is Morwenna standing on the cliff top wondering if she should throw herself off. Her baby is due any day now.
Demelza is visiting her brother Drake Carne (Harry Richardson) in his blacksmith’s shop where hard work is helping him through losing his one true love. His brother Pastor Sam Carne (Tom York) arrives and offers his view of marriage to the girl he wants to save Emma Tregirls (Clara Charteris) who also stops by.
Saucily she tells Sam, who she can see has eyes for only her, that a girls’ only power is when she has men dangling on a string, Once they get her its around her neck. Choose wisely and it needn’t be… observes Demelza, who has many pearls of wisdom to share.
Over at the former Poldark estate Trenwith George Warleggan is leaving for the election and being very brusque with Elizabeth who he requires to stay at home. He is on travelling with his Uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) to talk to Lord Falmouth, who as an aristocrat does not believe in the ‘common man’ having a say in how they are governed.
They want to tell him that instead of going along with what their Lord has to say as tradition would have it, the local Burgess representatives of the local boroughs in parliament, have now decided to vote according to their own inclination or conscience rather than for his choice.
As a response Lord Falmouth begins cancelling contracts and calling in loans because he wants to force people to vote his way.
In the middle of the election Dr Enys is called to attend to Mrs Whitworth who is about to give birth. He finds Morwenna in a very bad way.
Rev Whitworth gets busy praying for his wife’s death, asking God to give him a replacement. However, she lives and as a bonus gives him a son – the Lord certainly moves in mysterious ways.
George Warleggan gets elected and Lord Falmouth carrying out his threats revokes loans and cancels contracts.
Ross and George get into a humdinger of a showdown when they unexpectedly meet. Ross apologises to Sir Francis Bassett, who nominated George when Ross refused his sponsorship, although George is not contrite and makes a spectacle of himself in public.
Morwenna is endeavouring to recover from nearly dying giving birth while downstairs a local librarian is delivering books to her sister containing enlightened ideas.
Rev Whitworth comes upon them both and declares he disapproves of libraries; he’s fearful of the dangers of exposing uninstructed minds to ideas beyond their scope!
George arrives home and tells Elizabeth he’s going to Westminster alone. He will be forging connections with those that matter… and this means wives and children must remain at a distance. Before he leaves she overhears him telling the Constable to watch his wife, where she goes and whom she meets.
Sam Carne once again sees the love of his heart Emma frolicking in the woods. When she challenges him he asks her to marry him and she tells him she is as happy in her sin as he is in his goodness. You are a good man Sam, but not for the likes of me.
Elizabeth welcomes a visit from her son Geoffrey Charles home from Harrow. As he steps from the carriage he offers to shake her hand rather than give his mother a hug, but asks can they enjoy cakes, jelly and cream by the fire.
Morwenna’s sister is going to take a bath and the Reverend is at his peephole… and to overcome his desires he once again forces himself onto Morwenna his wife, who has only just given birth badly.
Elizabeth comes to visit with Geoffrey Charles and finds Morwenna in a terrible state. When Geoffrey Charles and Morwenna get time together, she gives him a message for Drake.
Elizabeth meanwhile is taking the awful Reverend Ossie to task and she sends for Dr Enys to find his patient in such distress. He is appalled at the Reverend’s behaviour, and forbids him to have marital relations with his wife for a month at least.
Later Morwenna’s sister is finally alone with Osborne who can scarcely contain himself. He has come upon her reading The Iliad in a small parlour where she offers to sit on his lap and rends her bodice asunder to tempt him.
Ross is contemplating events at Aunt Agatha’s grave. He unexpectedly meets Elizabeth in the church and says he cannot believe George is still jealous of their former attachment. Point blank he asks her if Valentine is his son, but how can she know?
What they do agree on that it must have been Agatha who told George of her suspicions that Valentine was a Poldark, as it is from the day of her death that George has treated Elizabeth very badly indeed.
Ross tells Elizabeth it is up to her to convince her husband Valentine is his and he asks her forgiveness for their night of passion. Elizabeth has helped him understand how much he really loves Demelza, but while kissing her tenderly good bye he is overseen from afar by Prudie, Demelza’s housekeeper who is sure to misconstrue his intentions.
Later Demelza questions him about his visit to Aunt Agatha’s grave and he imagines how he tells her he met Elizabeth. For the first time in years they talked and I kissed her, I love her Demelza. However it’s the ghost of a love, a fondness… I want to help her. In the fifteen years since we met I have changed… because of you.
But that is not the reality… what we have seen is only a dream.
You can trust your wife to my care says Hugh as Ross and Demelza arrive at Lord Falmouth’s house where they have been invited to visit before his nephew Hugh Armitage returns to sea.
We find out that Ross’s capabilities are not for sale as Lord Falmouth and Ross talk about liberty, equality and fraternity. Ross tells him George and his brother Sir Francis were alike in some ways… but poles apart in others. Sir Francis valued his menials, while George hates his.
Ross confirms he is his own man before arriving back in the main hall where Demelza is sweetly singing for her supper and for the company. He finds her looking only at the handsome Hugh causing Caroline to observe, life is short and love is long. Ross observes she’s singing the song for the young man’s benefit.
Later at home Ross and Demelza sit alone together and he comments that she is far away. “I want to tell you that I wish I could be two people” she says, … your wife… and someone new who could love another just for a day… without being disloyal to the man she truly loves. “I saw you look at him the way you once looked at me” he observes. “I will again, she says, just be patient with me the way I have been with you”.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017