Ross’ best friend, Dr. Dwight Enys, arrives in Cornwall in order to study health conditions in miners, and he arrives just in time to help deliver one particular miner’s first child, baby Julia. On the wealthy side of town, cousin Francis loses everything, and the family mine is shuttered.
Barrett Brountas: Ross Poldark has finally fallen for his young wife, Demelza. And the birth of their first child, Julia, brings him greater joy than he could ever imagine.
Ross: How did we make something so perfect?
Demelza I am afeared, Ross. That I love her too much. That I will hurt so much more if things go amiss.
Ross: I promise you. I will make the world a better place for her. I will be a better man for her sake.
Barrett: But another new arrival brings Ross additional joy. Dr. Dwight Enys, a friend from his days at war in America, has arrived in Cornwall. Ross might not relish spending time with those of his station, but at least he finally has a genuine friend.
Ross: We’re uncivilized here – let me warn you.
Dwight: I’ve seen worse.
Ross: You’ve saved worse! Come meet my friends. Paul, Zacky, Mark, this is Dwight Enys. I have him to thank for patching me up!
Dwight: I trust my skills improved since then.
Barrett: I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a podcast from MASTERPIECE. I’m joined on this journey, as always, by Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark from the 1970s PBS adaptation of the series.
Hello Robin. It’s good to talk with you again.
Robin Ellis: Hi Barrett, nice to be here.
Barrett: Let’s start with our top of show episode cheat sheet. Where’d the episode go for you, Robin?
Robin: A setting up episode. There’s new beginnings, a baby born, copper found, new characters into this saga old characters return, a new generation of Poldarks: Julia and Geoffrey Charles make their charming presence felt and look mighty happy to have arrived. An old friend of Ross rides in on horseback offering new medical care to the miners and poor Francis continues to dig the hole he’s in.
Barrett: Poverty and starvation have have bred desperation and the people of Cornwall can’t wait for Ross to solve an unjust system. There’s looting of corn and losing at cards and a looming feeling that things will get a whole lot worse.
Robin: The travelling players arrive to put on a play. And the leading lady is taken with Mark Daniels’ wrestling arm. He builds her a house, but that’s not the end of the story. Watch out, Mark. Julia is christened and the toffs are forced to mix with the vulgars at the christening. Demelza is determined Verity shall have a chance at the same happiness and fulfillment she is enjoying herself. She visits Verity’s old flame in secret. Poor Francis is forced to close Grambler mine, according to Aunt Agatha never closed in 200 years but manages to chalk up a sign of hope at the end.
Barrett: Ah so good, there’s so much to get into here.
Robin: Yeah, there really is, yeah.
Barrett: I would love to start with the arrival of Dr. Enys. Does that seem like a good good place to start?
Robin: It does. I absolutely loved it, Barrett. I don’t know whether it reminded you it reminded me of the start of a Western with the old gunfighter arriving very slowly on – it could be James Stuart – on his horse because you see him from the back and the kind of slow movement of the horse was very nice, and it’s a mystery. Who is this mystery man? Lovely opening. I didn’t realize of course that this is slightly different from the book where it’s not mentioned whether Dwight is the old friend who fixed him up in America. So this is a nice this change to see two old mates meeting and it sort of really gets the relationship going very nicely early on.
Barrett: Absolutely. And another thing it accomplishes, having Dr. Enys there, is a contrast to the horrible Doctor Choke. In Episode Four we were treated to Doctor Chokes’ bleedings…
Dr. Choke: If in doubt, purge. That’s our motto. Bleed, boil, blister, sweat. Healing is a science, ma’am. Few comprehend its mysteries.
Dwight: Or its fees.
Barrett I think that Dr. Enys will have more ideas of using nature’s remedies in a way, but Choke has nothing but disdain for Dwight because Dwight is not motivated by money but he’s motivated by healing. And if we’re lucky he’s better at healing and studying mind diseases than he is at stitching up facial wounds on the battle front.
Barrett: Because he did leave Ross with an enormous scar, but that scar is endearing.
Robin: Well I certainly wouldn’t like to be treated by Mr. Choke. I’d pass on very to Dwight Enys who I’d have a lot more confidence in, I have to say. Just from a bedside manner if nothing else.
Barrett: I know he could just sort of beam his wonderful smile and I would heal right away.
Robin: You’d get better. Absolutely, yes.
Barrett: Yeah. So there’s another another new character we meet shortly after, Keren the actress. She catches the eye of Mark Daniels, one of the miners during the performance.
Robin: Yes she’s she’s impressed with his wrestling arm. He wins a wrestling match with his arm and she catches his eye. And that’s Gosh that’s a bad moment for poor Mark.
Mark: I did miss ‘ee.
Keren: How much?
Mark: Scarce did eat.
Keren: They all say that. I can’t stay here long. An’ tomorrow I shall be gone.
Mark: An’ when return?
Keren: ‘Appen I shan’t.
Mark: Not ever?
Keren: What’s to keep me here?
Barrett: Oh yeah it is. It is. And then the performance begins and Demelza’s labor pains begin in Act 1. Now Robin you’re not just television’s original Ross Poldark and the current Poldark’s Reverend Hulce. You have had an extensive stage career. So how long would you guess a performance of All’s Well That Ends Well might take?
Robin: I suppose it would last three hours so quite time for Mark to fall in love anyway. Maybe it was the shortened version of it which was the bowdlerized version of All’s Well That Ends Well. In a field in Cornwall I wouldn’t put them through the full version, I don’t think.
Barrett: All hours. And yet, whether it was the full amount of time or a shortened version I mean they are still on stage when Ross departs for Nampara and by the time he gets home baby Julia is already clean and swaddled so Demelza has had quite possibly the fastest labor in all of history. Which just goes to show how sensible and competent she is. Only a hothouse flower like Elizabeth would have a long and arduous labour you know, like most women. But Demelza, Demelza nailed it. Just like she does everything else because she because she’s Demelza right.
Robin: Because she’s Demelza. She shows her competence later on. And her willingness to go out on a limb in fact against her husband. There is a very nice little sequence just before the birth that I think where Demelza is showing that she is in pain and Verity’s there and she says I’m so sorry for your pain. And Demelza says, well I’m very sorry for yours.
Barrett: I know, I loved that.
Robin: Yeah it was very beautiful and you know from that point on that that Demelza is going to do something about it when she’s got over this sort of problem of having having a baby she’ll get on the job as it were. Throughout this episode she shows how mature she is and how determined she is and she shows why Ross, while they might not know it fell in love with her really. One of the reasons.
Barrett: It’s true. And then he has this wonderful moment. Well they have this moment together with their newborn.
Robin: They have this very quiet and wonderful moment just after the birth with just appreciating the birth and then as you say he goes off onto the cliff to have this extraordinary wonderful moment in the sunset with his his new daughter.
Barrett: I know he is Dadding so hard right there.
Robin: He is. Well it’s the first time for him so you can’t blame him.
Barrett: So now there’s a lot to talk about at this christening party. One observation that I had is that Julia is only freshly christened when our love triangle reemerges and begins to take its new shape because at this christening party Ross is watching Elizabeth and Demelza talking together. And he has a very curious exchange with Verity.
Verity: The curse of the Poldarks. Once given, our hearts are not easily withdrawn. They’re very different.
Ross: Yes. Yet each has something the other lacks.
Verity: Perhaps you’d like them both?
Ross: Perhaps I would.
Barrett: Did that exchange strike you? Is he joking? Is there truth in jokes?
Robin: It’s wrapped up in a joke in a sense isn’t it, it’s quite an English way of doing it, telling the truth in a roundabout way. I mean he doesn’t mean that he wants both. But I mean in a sense you know he would.
Robin: But that’s impossible. Yeah I agree it’s slightly obscure, it was an odd moment.
Barrett: It was. And I think that Verity’s kind of like us in that moment she just kind of wanders away after he says that.
Robin: She does, well poor Verity’s very vulnerable at the moment and you know to any talk of love and babies and things like that just go straight to her heart doesn’t it. And the wonderful thing is that Demelza is tremendously aware of that and willing to do something about it. Be very positive about it for her new friend.
Barrett: I know I love that. I think she’s going to get in trouble. She might get in trouble. We’ll see. In this episode just like you said that the last episode was about love. I think that in this episode this sort of overriding concept is that of envy and comparing lives with one another and questions of whether one would trade his life for another’s. At the christening party we have Dwight expressing envy for Ross’s life. He says that it’s a life of comfort and purpose and certainty.
Dwight: I envy you.
Ross: My charmed life?
Dwight: Is it not charmed? Has it not comfort, and purpose, and certainty?
Ross: This is Cornwall, Dwight. Nothing is certain!
Barrett: And it’s kind of like, ‘Forget it Jake. It’s Chinatown!’
Robin: Really nice, absolutely
Barrett: Dwight envies what Ross has. During last episode we had Francis saying, “Oh you think that you want what someone else has but you soon realize that he doesn’t have it at all and that’s what you have.” And then later in the episode we have a big scene where Demelza and Ross are talking about envying the life of another, but let’s take up with Verity staring at the sea from a cliff top just like everybody else apparently does. You’ve stood on these very cliff tops. Tell us what it’s like up there.
Robin: Well I was mainly – and certainly in the first episode where I had to do it I think looking out – I was just feeling tremendously relieved because I was so late being called for the first shot that I thought they were recasting. This was in Cornwall on the first ever shooting thing and they just didn’t call me didn’t call me and I thought, the lines are hot to London and they’re recasting. So as I’m looking out to sea I’m saying I am here I’m here and I’m going to stay here. No question of throwing myself off. Gosh, I got this far. I personally have vertigo so you know the idea of standing on a cliff with a big drop below is anathema to me it’s dangerous really.
Barrett: So we joined Verity looking at her picture of a ship, her heart is broken and she’s pining for Blamey and Demelza as you noted really feels so much empathy toward her. She tries to get Ross to intervene to support Verity but he is very firm on staying out of it isn’t he?
Robin: He is he is. And I think it’s rather cruel actually. Watching it, I thought he’s sort of reverting back to his old class thing in a way, this sort of upbringing, although his upbringing wasn’t conventional I don’t think. But in a way because he’s such a different character kicking against the traces usually to hear him not being sympathetic towards this situation with Blamey and really kind of siding with with his cousin and against Blamey in effect and saying don’t get involved, don’t get involved. I was rather disappointed in Ross in that at that stage.
Barrett: Yeah I’m disappointed in Ross too but that’s not going to stop Demelza.
Robin: My favorite scene is is one of them on horseback when they’re coming back from this trip to Truro.
Barrett: Oh yes.
Robin: Wherever Blamey is and there are three of them, two of them know what’s going on and one of them doesn’t. Ross is in the dark about it and the two women there’s a wonderful smile on Verity’s face. She’s just relishing the moment of – well it’s really a smile that’s been years incoming really. She really you know it’s after she’s met with in rather hairy circumstances the riots in Truro with the corn riots turmoil within the turmoil she’s in turmoil he’s in turmoil the crowds in turmoil there’s great turmoil but from turmoil turmoil comes some sort of result. And the calm of them riding their horses back to their homes and Ross not knowing at all what’s happened and probably would have thoroughly disapproved of it but the two women especially the scheming Demelza, having schemed and having completely succeeded absolutely wonderful and the lovely Verity who’s getting to know happiness for the first time in a wretched long time and I thought that was a lovely scene.
Barrett: I thought it was too. However I do have to push back a little bit. I was so happy to see that smile on Verity’s face as well. But I did feel like Demelza was lying.
Ross: I don’t imagine we’ve seen the last of the unrest.
Demelza: I wonder how Verity and I missed it. But we’d so much to talk of, we barely noticed another soul.
Ross: Verity seemed in high spirits.
Demelza: She did indeed. I’m that glad. She deserves to be content.
Barrett: It was so easy for her to breezily lie and she didn’t just sort of lie a little bit she just kept up with it, she was embellishing on it and having quite a bit of fun with it and I thought gee they’re all kind of keeping secrets from one another. That’s not going to end well. And that was a terrific scene and I was so happy for Verity. But I did feel like guys you know you’re still kind of newlyweds you ought to be a little bit more careful about hewing to the truth.
Robin: Maybe she would argue that you know the ends justify the means in a sense that she knew that being straight and straightforward about it Ross would not do anything about this you know real tragedy on his cousin. And so in a way she had to dissemble and I think she would say well you know they’re happy that they’re together or they will be together as a result. I mean we’ll see in future episodes how that how that plays out in terms of Ross’s attitude towards Demelza and how Demelza fooled him.
Barrett: I want to say I’m happy that she took that action. I just thought that she really, she got a little carried away. She just kept kept embellishing her story. Was that really necessary? I don’t know.
Robin: Well I think it’s in her character. One she gets going she gets going. That’s part of her charm.
Barrett: I’m willing to give that to forgive Ross for being imperfect. I should be the same way with Demelza right I shouldn’t hold her to a higher standard because he’s definitely a flawed person. She can have her flaws too I suppose.
Robin: She can. She can I think, yes. Look I’m sorry we haven’t you know we’re coming to the end because I wanted to talk about this strange thing of the cobwebs and the and the butterfly. I wanted to ask you you felt that they symbolized. You know it is very marked both the two, is it two cobwebs and the fantastic Red Admiral I think. I don’t know whether.
Barrett: A little butterfly collector. Little Nabokov here, right. Very nice.
Robin: Well I’d wondered whether Red Admiral was a reference to Blamey but I mean maybe you know I’m going too far with that. You know the what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive. I mean that’s absolutely what Demelza has been doing, deceiving.
Barrett: I thought that that that the web was about the lying. I agree. And I thought that the butterfly is not a super subtle symbol for maybe for Elizabeth and that she’s sort of contained and trapped in a way, but she goes and frees it. I don’t know what did you think of that butterfly?
Robin: I just wondered whether it was you know, Elizabeth’s trapped in this marriage and this house all alone with her new baby. And she doesn’t quite know it yet maybe but the sort of dramatic irony is that she lets the butterfly, i.e. Verity out. The butterfly is free having been a captive in this this prison for about three or four years or so. OK. And finally she goes and poor Elizabeth is captive. But Elizabeth has her son in her arms so that is something for her.
Barrett: That’s nice. Yeah I saw the butterfly more as Elizabeth but I think you’re right. Obviously it is Verity. Now I’m afraid that we have to pivot to decide whether Ross is a hero or a hater. I think we’re at some point we’re going to start seeing him as a hater. But I’m landing on hero again. Even though he doesn’t bring Demelza to George’s party. And maybe you know because he’s like the only woman who’s going to be there is the prostitute Margaret and she’s going to be spending the whole time trying to seduce me. But even so he remains a hero to all. What do you think?
Robin: Well one thing that made him a hero for me in this in this episode is the very tiny moment where he comes to the seven brides for seven brothers moment where they’re all building this house. Did you see the film Seven Brides to Seven Brothers?
Robin: There’s a fantastic sequence where they build a house in a day. And Ross comes here and he takes off his coat. He takes his coat and he goes to work with these much much poorer people and build this house in a day which is very important. I thought that makes him a hero. Frankly.
Barrett: I agree. You know it seems almost like he’s never happier than when he is working with his bros. He’s got his sleeves rolled up. I think that’s when he’s happy. I think he’s when he’s happiest.
Robin: Absolutely. He’s fully expressed then I think and very comfortable. He’s not comfortable in big houses with sort of fancy clothes and he’s just not comfortable.
Barrett: Yeah I like that fully expressed. I like that.
Robin: Fully expressed, yeah.
Barrett: And so next time on Poldark I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to: the fallout from all the things that happened in this episode. But we also have Demelza goes to a ball and poor Ross goes to a dark dark place. What are you thinking of for next time?
Robin: I don’t like knowing too much about what’s going to happen. So I’m looking forward to reviewing the episode and finding out what happens and I come to it fresh inside you know it’s like going to plays and things I never like reading reviews about plays or films I like to come to them fresh and then come away with just my raw reactions rather than feeding some critics ideas into it or so I I look forward to it. And we’ll talk about it and then I’ll discover more.
Barrett I look forward to that indeed. Thank you so much Robin, it was terrific to talk with you about this.
Robin You’re welcome. Lovely to talk to you, Barrett, as usual. Bye for now.
Barrett Coming up next on Mining Poldark, a luxurious ball, a drunken Ross and an utterly transformed Demelza.
Mrs. Chynoweth: Who is that young person dancing with Sir Hugh? She’s quite lovely, don’t you think?
Elizabeth: That’s Demelza, mama. Ross’s wife.
Barrett: That’s next time on Mining Poldark.
And you can join us in our rewatching adventure here on Mining Poldark by watching the entire series on PBS Passport — a new member benefit from your local PBS station. You can watch select MASTERPIECE titles like Poldark, Downton Abbey or Victoria as a part of the Passport experience. To learn more, visit pbs.org/getpassport.
You can also follow along with us on the MASTERPIECE Amazon Prime Channel, available as a part of your Amazon Prime membership.
Mining Poldark is hosted by me, Barrett Brountas, with co-host Robin Ellis. We’re produced by Nick Andersen, with help from Robyn Bissette. Thanks to Meredith Wheeler for off-site recording. Tina Tobey-Mack is our sound designer. Susanne Simpson is our executive producer. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton.
Sponsors for MASTERPIECE on PBS are Viking Cruises and The MASTERPIECE Trust.
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