It’s perhaps the most controversial episode of the entire five season run of Poldark, and rather than spoil the plot points, we’d say it’s important to take a listen as our co-hosts let the episode fully breathe.
Barrett Brountas: Ross. Ross. Ross. Ross. Ross. What were you thinking?
Ross Did you not tell me, barely twelve months ago, that you had made a mistake in marrying Francis? That you realized quite soon that it was I you had always loved?
Elizabeth Do you think I would ever have said those words had I’d known what would happen to Francis?
Ross And yet they cannot be un-said.
Barrett Angered by his first love’s intent to marry his arch enemy, Ross breaks into Trenwith, breaks the vows of marriage and breaks all of our hearts.
Ross I oppose this marriage, Elizabeth. I’d be glad of your assurance you will not go through with it. We both know you don’t love him. We both know you don’t love him.
Elizabeth I love him to distraction and will marry him next month!
Barrett It’s a controversial scene that spurred anger and conversation, both across America and here in the MASTERPIECE offices. It’s something that Robin Ellis, my co-host, and I will devote some special time to in this episode, to give the moment some room to breathe.
I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a podcast from MASTERPIECE
But before all that, Robin and I have the full episode to recap. Robin?
Robin Ross puts his scruples to one side at both ends of this episode. We cheer as he walks free from the courtroom. ‘I played the game,’ he tells an astonished Demelza. We are far from cheering as he enters the farmyard at Nampara at dawn. His plea of, ‘You must see I had no choice’ cuts no ice with Demelza, or us.
Barrett Elizabeth’s mother suffers a massive stroke pushing our delicate widow past her capacity to deal. George offers her private nurses pretty dresses a carriage and his hand in marriage. Elizabeth accepts said hand, Wheal Grace collapses.
Robin George buttons his waistcoat quietly confident. Elizabeth’s Yes to his ‘Will you marry me?’ marks the triumphant close to his relentless campaign to win her over. He is ecstatic and knocks out his boxing sparring partner in celebration. Sometimes I don’t know my own strength. Verity on a visit reveals she’s pregnant and sees her dream of a family being realised. The end of one journey and the start of a new Dwight tries to convince himself that the break with Caroline is all for the good. We were incompatible. I see that now he would never have lasted thinks of joining the Navy encouraged by verities newfound midshipman stepson but we see it as self-deception when Caroline returns his letters and he is crestfallen. No closure there. I’d hazard to guess
Barrett Ross learns about Elizabeth’s engagement and despite Demelza’s pleading heads to Trenwith but all of this pales in comparison to what happens when he breaks down the door to trend with and makes his way into Elizabeth’s room and what happens the next morning when he returns to Nampara. The slap heard round the world and cheered round the world took our hero down to the dirty ground where he belongs.
Barrett Now I understand that your one of your big moments comes first. So can you start us off please with that?
Robin You know, one is distracted by a certain scene at the end of the episode. I did manage to choose two other scenes the first one is Demelza and Ross after the court scene and they’re just having a quiet sort of domestic discussion over the supper I suppose it is he seems to be open eating a chicken bone and he he Demelza has this wonderful expression on her face which is sort of astonishment And so it seems sort of rather playful discussion which is is quite lovely but it develops into I mean I almost chose it for this one line which really just astonishes me
Demelza I never thought I’d see the day…
Ross That I’d go to jail?
Demelza That you’d play the penitent to avoid it!
Ross I played the game! I thought that was what you wanted? All I can say is this, I will never again be guilty of such recklessness!
Quickly one looks back on that line at the end of the scene, and thinks, oh really? It’s wonderful. To look at Demelza’s face at the end of the scene, she says nothing at all to this remarkable statement, she just looks at him with, I don’t know such skepticism and doubt on her face. And it absolutely speaks volumes. So that that was my real reason for choosing the scene. ‘I will never again be guilty of such recklessness’
Barrett Yeah, put that on a t-shirt, Ross.
Robin Absolutely. Barrett, what a good idea! Excellent.
Barrett It is so good. It’s so it’s such a funny funny line and we’re sharing a little joke as the audience like. Oh sure, Ross. And you clarified for me which maybe no teacher I had before could do so, what dramatic irony is because there it’s it’s funny for us in this moment, which kind of almost lighthearted, oh Ross, we know that you’re going to be reckless again before the episode’s over, but boy, does it get dark.
Robin Yes it’s a huge huge double take when it happens at the end of the episode. You think, oh I remember what he said. Oh my word!
Barrett What do you have next?
Robin Well I have this this very long scene between George and Elizabeth where he comes over because he’s heard that Mrs. Chynoweth. Elizabeth’s mother, has has been taken very ill, in fact she’s had a stroke, really, and is probably bedridden for the rest of her life, and he sees of course, opportunity in that situation.
George I came as soon as I could. How is she?
Elizabeth Very bad. Dr Enys fears she may never recover.
George You must know how that grieves me.
Elizabeth I know how fond you are of her.
George Do you know what I wish?
George That you would allow me to make all the necessary arrangements. Engage a separate establishment for her, here at Trenwith, so that no further burden need fall on you.
Elizabeth I couldn’t let you do that…
George You’re so frail, Elizabeth. You try to be strong but now it is you who need care. Let me provide it.
Robin So he arrives at exactly the right moment. And he proceeds in quite quite some lengths to to build up to a proposal, and he proposes, starts to propose in the only way he can which is to tell her how materially better off she will be as it were.
George But at the risk of offending, let me be clear about what I can offer. My house is four times the size of Trenwith. I have twenty servants. A park of five hundred acres. My own carriage. A phaeton. You could have one too. Or three or four. I would take you to London or Bath. You’d wear the finest clothes, the rarest jewels, mix with the best in society. As my adopted son, Geoffrey Charles would be my heir. For so long you have lived in a cage. Will you not allow me to give you the key?
Elizabeth Oh George. I don’t know what to say.
George Say nothing, my dear. I don’t ask for an answer now. I only ask permission to give.
Elizabeth It’s just that I feel so alone.
George Loneliness is not one-sided, Elizabeth. A man may feel it too. Especially when he has loved as long and as devotedly as I have.
Robin And I know you do you don’t like me showing any sympathy for George, that’s been a running thing through our discussions but I did find him slightly vulnerable at this point. And it sort of brings it into perspective that there are two two people who in a sense need each other, you know they found each other, and it’s both a practical and possibly a potential something else, relationship. Am I wrong?
Barrett No you’re not wrong. It is a wonderful scene because of that very unexpected element that you just described. That vulnerability especially when George shows it, it does endear him to us a bit and so we we can appreciate how clever he’s been and how good he is at the art of the unappealing deal. He he is making his case. And this is what she needs to hear. But she has been lonely. She’s she’s not on stable ground at all. And when she was sort of being a pretty princess in the previous episode that was one thing. But her mother has had a massive stroke and is you know severely severely ill and incapacitated and Elizabeth has not the capacity to know how to take care of her. She doesn’t have the skill set, and she is overwhelmed and doesn’t know what to do at all. This is a real thing for her. It’s not just like, ‘Oh I don’t know how to season firewood,’ you know. So this is it does you know in light of one of the things she says later in her conversation with Ross which we’ll get to. I think that there is something here. She has been lonely. She’s really vulnerable. And so, let’s see what happens with them. What are her options anyway?
Robin Well absolutely and she’s got Geoffrey Charles to worry about. And even if she did harbor some kind of fantasy about finally getting together with Ross she’d very quickly have second thoughts because you know he just doesn’t have the means to look after. Geoffrey Charles her her futures.
Barrett Yeah, yeah.
Robin It’s sort of it’s organic on both both sides really it seems to fit the personalities involved. I feel I but I felt too sort of and an antagonism towards Elizabeth. No I mean not antagonism maybe a too strong a word but somehow that that this was a right move for Elizabeth in her circumstances. I mean it just to again thinking she thinking I’m going to spend the rest of my life with Aunt Agatha, who never seems to die. You know, she’s clearly there for another decade. That’s right.
Barrett That’s right, and if you’re not a big fan of playing cards then things don’t look so good.
Let’s take a quick break before our next scene to hear a word from our sponsors…
Barrett So now that we have put our blessings on this marriage, this engagement and you know, we have no objections if you know if there is anyone here in this church who objects, you and I are not raising our hands. On to the next scene. And Robin what can I say. This scene was something, I cannot explain. You must see, I had no choice but to choose this scene. This you and I both chose the terrible. Amazing, horrible Ambiguous, troublesome. Scene Demelza already knows that Elizabeth has accepted George’s proposal. She has learned of that from a visit from everyone’s favorite red coat, MacNeil. And she’s really worried about what’s going to happen when Ross finds out and then and then as you mentioned in your introduction — the tragedy at the mine happens. He 100 percent feels as though this was his fault. And he’s just really destroyed. He gets home. And then he gets the letter from Elizabeth saying that she’s going to marry George.
Ross You knew?
Demelza I heard rumours.
Ross And you didn’t think to tell me?
Demelza What an’ have my head snapp’d off?
Ross This – thing – must be stopped.
Demelza How will you stop it? You cannot stop it.
Ross Perhaps you don’t want me to stop it!
Demelza P’raps I don’t! An’ especially not like this.
Ross Like what?
Demelza Whatever it is you intend!
Ross How do you know what I intend?
Demelza How do I know anything, Ross? How do I know you? And yet I think I do!
Ross Please get out of my way.
Demelza Ross, don’t go there tonight. Wait until tomorrow.
Ross Please – get out – of my way.
Barrett She knows it’s going to get ugly and but she can’t stop him. He goes to Trenwith, he knocks on the door. He can’t get in. He kicks down a door and then makes his way up to Elizabeth’s room. So then, Elizabeth opens the door and comes out. They start off having sort of a like a tense but civil conversation about the news that he’s received and the letter he received.
Ross Are you marrying him for his money?
Elizabeth How dare you! God knows I’ve made mistakes in my life, Ross, but I’ve tried to be loyal to the people I care for. And what seems like disloyalty to you now, is actually loyalty to my son. What do you suggest for me? Thirty years of widowhood and loneliness? Can you offer me anything else? Do you?
Ross Do you love George?
Ross Why do I not believe you? Why does this remind me of when you said you loved Francis? You ask me would I condemn you to thirty years of widowhood? Why would I need to? You could have your pick of thirty men! But I won’t see you condemned to George.
Elizabeth Please leave now, Ross. I’m my own mistress and will not be instructed. I’m sorry you feel like this but I cannot help it.
Ross Oh, you’ve never been able to help anything, have you? It’s all been beyond your control. Full of good intentions, leaving a trail of havoc in your wake! Perhaps you can’t help this either. I oppose this marriage, Elizabeth. I’d be glad of your assurance you will not go through with it. We both know you don’t love him.
Elizabeth I love him to distraction and will marry him next month! Ross! You’re hateful! Horrible! I detest you!
Ross No, you don’t. You never have! And you never will.
Elizabeth! You would not dare! You would not dare.
Ross Oh, I would, Elizabeth. I would and so would you.
Barrett And then he pushes himself on her. And then there’s a very sort of like, ambiguous moment, where he throws her onto the bed, and he’s forcing himself on her. Right? And then in this moment. We see her sort of rising up to kiss him. And then it looks as though there’s not resistance in that last moment of that part of the scene. And then the next morning, the sun is not up yet. He’s getting dressed. She’s in bed and then and maybe we can talk about that. I don’t know. Should we talk about that as well? Like what do you think? How do we even get into this?
Robin Well I think that certainly the the the scene at the end as far as the as the sun comes up is is an important scene. I’ve read the book and I’ve rewatched the 1975 version. There is a there is a distinction in that particular there are distinctions anyway. But the the the final the scene after the night before as it is very different in in the two versions. In the 1975 version the the morning after scene it’s probably a bit earlier than the morning after, they are both lying side by side, almost like those stone effigies in churches where you see two people lying on top of their tomb. And it’s a very cold atmosphere, very cold and she has her hand to her mouth in a sort of regret for one could say, pensive mood he is just looking at the ceiling, frankly. There is absolutely no dialogue at all. They just lie there and that’s it. And the message is pretty bleak. I would say this this version is is rather different. It seems to me that they’re not both in bed. He’s actually getting dressed and she is sort of lying on her side and not really signaling any any real signs of regret. She says what what what shall we do? in a shortened sentence. And he says I must think. And she she nods and then a bit later she will say when will when will you. Soon he says. So. Yeah I get from that that they both somehow feel that maybe there is some future here and that is a very different interpretation than the 1975 version.
Robin And in the book in the book I mean that they’re both. I think what one has to say first of all is that there’s only one person who knows what Winston Graham meant how how he meant us to interpret the encounter or what he meant by the encounter and that is Winston Graham. And unfortunately he’s he’s dead and not able to tell us. So in a sense the the and the book and the 1975 version both and the scene with with Ross pushing Elizabeth back on the bed and then and then the book ends. There’s no there’s no further action at all in the 75 version. Ross sort of comes pushes her back and then covers her covers her with his cloak and then it cuts to the next next little thing with both lying prone on the bed. So in a way Winston has said has left it to our imaginations. Who are these two the two the adapters imaginations to watch you know what to what to make of it next. And the two adapters have decided decided on on different things I think. I don’t know. You know, maybe 40 years has made a difference. There is definitely a difference. But reading the book I would say I think I’d go out on a limb and say I think Winston certainly from the writing I mean she says in in the in the book let me go, Ross you’re hateful horrible Ross you can’t in Stop Stop I tell you you’re treating me like a slut. And he says it’s time you would say treated. I mean it’s really quite shocking. And the third language before the actual action which implies to me very strongly that Winston. Well I’m I’m putting words into Winston Graham’s mouth which is just what I’ve said to you but I wouldn’t have the tag.
Barrett It’s tricky we have the text right.
Robin Yes I would interpret it as as a rape as I would indeed interpret the version in 1975 whereas I I’m not sure that I’m convinced that it’s a rape in this version. What do you think?
Barrett So I think that it’s very tricky and that we’ve gone you know from the copper mine to a minefield. this is a I again I have only my own experience with this to to try to form an opinion. You know it’s funny because when we you know as as a digital producer for MASTERPIECE, we screen these episodes some you know beforehand so before they air so that we can start working on them. So we were watching this as a group and I had to leave sort of right before Ross got the letter, I had to leave to go pick up my daughter at school. So I left the group. And I was waiting in the carpool line and my phone started to blow up with texts: You’ve got to get as soon as you can finish the episode, finish the episode! And I was like, Oh my God what happened? And everybody said, I’m not going to say just go watch go watch. So I watched the rest of the episode. And to me it did not read as a rape. It read as a woman of her time had to say no had to say no and then succumbed to a long repressed desire that was sort of the way that it felt to me at the time. And then when the episode aired in the UK and there was a large reaction where people were saying this is a rape I looked at the footage again and I thought, well absolutely it could be perceived as a rape. And I think that it’s very troublesome to have a character saying, no, stop, and your hero perseveres despite this in 2016, in an age where you know fortunately consent is on the table. It’s a very different time from not just the time that this takes place in but the time that it was the book the the source material was written. So I guess my personal wish is that. It would have been a little bit more clear that it wasn’t a rape. You know?
Robin Yeah well I think they they thought it wasn’t a rape, certainly Adan has said that he didn’t think it was a rape.
Barrett That’s my understanding, too. Yeah.
Robin The build up to it is enough for me really. OK. He even even in this version which is not as I don’t think it uses the full force of the book’s build up to it. Which is pretty, I mean they don’t use the word slut in this fashion. I don’t think. I’d forgotten that it is Elizabeth actually slaps him in this version is that is that?
Barrett Yeah she she is. Does she really fighting back a little bit. Yeah.
Robin She is. Because certainly just before the end when she’s on the bed she does appear to be returning his advances in fact at that point. Now whether she’s doing that in order to protect herself. You know I’ve got to give it in order to survive this is a question I suppose one could ask, but she certainly seems to suddenly be compliant with this approach. So it’s it’s open. I mean itself is open to interpretation but they were they were very they were very I think they were unanimous. The company the actors that this was not a rape.
Barrett Yeah. No one making this at all thought that this was a rape. And I think that every viewer is going to come to it with his or her own experience and that is just ends up being a lens through which they see it you know.
Robin Maybe what you just said before was was it was very relevant. I think you said this was 2016 well we’re now in 2019 and stuff has happened since then in terms of #metoo and you know a a very really quite significant development on that on that front so to speak. And the reaction may be maybe different now, and even than in 2016.
Barrett Absolutely we’ve all learned a lot about the complexities around what happens to people and as as you just said like it looks and in the end in those that those final frames as though she is rising up to meet his passion with her own and that again maybe that is part of a survival scenario work just as a sort of the complexity that that can happen in in an unfortunate situation or a dangerous situation. Yeah.
Robin Although although the the morning after. In this version wouldn’t you wouldn’t go with that. He wouldn’t right. Wouldn’t suggest that. Seems very relaxed and really quite quite comfortable and?
Barrett Hopeful Well she seems hoepful doesn’t she?
Barrett As you know for a moment she allows herself to believe that she could have a future although you know what you think it through and it’s like OK well he has he’s got a family you know.
Robin Well out he’s got he does say at the beginning this this dreadful word this this phrase at the beginning of the scene where he says she said.
Barrett Oh do I know what you’re thinking. Yes.
Robin There’s there’s no one else here. No. Nobody else is. I just haven’t got the quote to hand but it’s it’s saying he’s saying well you know because there’s nobody else that has anything. Any any right to to an opinion on this. You know right now there’s no children no nothing. This is this is about us. It’s it’s absolutely determined and ruthless.
Barrett Statement. So he sets out with the total ruthlessness he does and then he also says. And I know you and I have to move on but. Actually I’m going to leave this in that moment at the end where he’s you know sort of like buttoning his shirt as fast as he can. I feel like he’s not hopeful that so I think he’s feeling. Oh beep. You know he’s made like I’ve made an enormous mistake here and that he looks sheepish and guilty and that he is like just trying to get out of there as fast as he can. Oh but you think maybe he had a little hope.
Robin Well I wasn’t I wasn’t sure about that. I thought there was. There’s still the glow of the night before I actually was there. And the reality only really hits him when she hit him. when the moment
Barrett: And that that is how we’re going to move on to the my second moment. I only chose two moments of this episode. It’s good because we’ve gone so far and we’re almost out of time. But this was just one of the best moments that Demelza has in at least four seasons. All four seasons. She’s hanging the linens out to dry. The light is. It’s not yet. Daylight you know and it’s sort of like a gray wash like it’s just it’s gray bleak. She’s standing in line and we’re seeing her face as we hear the hoofbeats. And Russ approaching and you can see her face sort of imperceptibly like it just changes a tiny bit where she stiffens and she goes sort of like dead eyed because she’s she knows exactly what happened. Right. And Russ rides into the courtyard. He comes into focus behind her. And then it shifts as he walks over and then shifts back.
Ross What can I say? It was something I cannot explain. You must see I had no choice.
Demelza Nor I.
Barrett And then without warning like pow she hits him so hard that he’s not to his feet. And I just feel like there’s like. Power in this and taking her power back. But it’s also like there’s violence there. Like you remember she is a miner’s daughter she is the daughter of that guy who came around in the very beginning with those other with her like with other people to like beat down Ross. Like this is that bitch that tamales it that Demelza still exists and she is not going to take any of this. It was an amazing amazing moment. And Eleanor Tomlinson did it so well. Did you love that slap?
Robin I did. She’s got a forearm hasn’t yet. I mean she came from nowhere and I mean it looked absolutely true true. I mean it really knocked him out. I mean knocking off but it was it really knocked him over is very convincing. And she really built up to it. It was like a hammer throw you know the way they build up to the hammer throwing the hammer.
Robin She really she spun on us on the spot and whacked him. And it was just terrific in a way is what the audience wanted. Exactly. It was so gratifying worldwide. They were all going.
Barrett Yes. Yes. Yes just as us. Yeah.
Robin I was very very effective and that in the book just as a justice. Yeah. Demelza,it’s much less effective she sweeps the breakfast tray off that off the table or the breaks the tea party and that’s how I rang but it’s no longer is described in the book and she is really really really deeply deeply angry and it’s a very effective in this version. Very effective.
Barrett It’s so good. And then this last shot is from overhead and the way it’s framed is terrific because Nampara is sort of like it’s sort of like a square almost and this yard in the middle it almost looks like a prison yard or it’s like the scene of a like I’m like a fight and he’s on the ground and she’s walking away and he’s sort of it’s just the way that shot is framed is terrific. Yes. And that’s the end of that season.
Robin It’s sort of a graveyard without tombs.
Barrett Yes. Yes totally it’s it’s barren.
Robin It’s in a sense what the two figures in the 1975 version lying like that it was an echo of that that this is really bleak. This is a really bleak moment in that extraordinary relationship. Yeah. And that I agree that shot with the with the the laundry blowing on the line was pretty empty gets back to our old western right. It is it’s like yeah what’s the Sierra Leone it. Yeah. Once upon a time in the West or something. I see the wind blowing and yeah it’s absolutely evokes that image.
Barrett I love Demelza, I’ve I’ve loved her from the start but you know this that that’s this is how she reacts. She really gives it to him.
Robin She’s been building up to this I mean, not knowing this was gonna happen but you know her her whole feeling of being really dubious about Ross’s intentions you know and promises and all the rest of it and fears about Elizabeth and the fact that she would do it. She’s a widow now and all that’s been building up and is very hard to do that really to to show an interior life on the screen and she hasn’t been given a lot of words to do. You don’t really need a lot of words but she’s managed to do it without words and then suddenly this action brings all that kind of worry and thoughts on into focus. And it was a good moment. It sure was very well done.
Barrett So in answer to our question of Ross Poldark how heroic is he. I’m going surprise you by giving him a zero he’s a zero today.
Robin Well I mean I damned say anything else. Not that I would. I think he really doesn’t. He doesn’t start today really does he. Well maybe he starts today trying to get back on the scale but boy he’s right at the bottom at the moment.
Barrett He’s at the bottom he’s flat out on his back on the dirt. Zero. Let’s see if he ever gets to the top of his horse again.
Robin Okay let’s do that. We’ll open a book on it as well.
Barrett Okay. And this has been just wonderful I was I was apprehensive about talking with this and I to talk with you about it has been so. Helpful and gratifying and useful. I really appreciate it as always.
Robin I know the feeling is mutual I’ve enjoyed it very much. It’s a very interesting and a controversial scene and should be talked about especially now and it’s it’s just been fascinating talking and talking to you about how I’ve really enjoyed it.
Barrett So thank you so much. Until next time.
Robin Thank you Barrett. Until the next time.
Barrett While this episode might have left us all with big questions about Ross Poldark, it’s with his wife, Demelza, where our sympathies lie. It’s something Poldark star, Eleanor Tomlinson, explored with my colleague Jace Lacob in an interview on our companion podcast, MASTERPIECE Studio.
Jace Lacob: One of my favorite moments in this entire season, is when Demelza slaps Ross across the face, after realizing that he has cheated on her with Elizabeth. Can you talk about shooting this scene and what it was like getting into that, sort of, anger and fury that Demelza is feeling right now.
Eleanor Tomlinson: Oh, I think the betrayal is something so enormous that, you know, Elizabeth, as well, this woman has caused so many problems. This woman, you know, everything that Ross and Demelza have been through, all the jealousy that’s been buried there with this woman, Elizabeth. The fact that they’ve been through so much. They’ve lost their child together, Demelza constantly supports Ross in everything that he doesn’t and he just cannot get her out of his system and in a rage, goes round, does this despicable deed, without considering Demelza at all and he says that. He says, “You must see, this had to be done”, which is the most extraordinary thing to say to someone. And I don’t know quite how I’d react if someone ever said that to me. It’s outrageous that he feels that he can just walk all over that life and their relationship and she gives him what he deserves. And, yeah, it comes as a shock because, obviously, it’s, you know, it’s horrible, but, he’s broken her heart and he’s ruined. He’s set a problem in store for the rest of their marriage. That is something that Demelza will never get over. She might be able to move on past it for the sake of their son, but she will never forgive him for it and she will, certainly, never forgive her. And there’s that scene where, she actually turns around to Elizabeth and just says, well, you can have him. I wanted to tell you that I hate you, I wanted to tell you this, I wanted to say that, but, actually, what’s the point, because you’re the lowest of the low and you’re not going to touch me and says, I’ll take my son and go. So, have him. And that’s incredible that she can do that.
Jace: I mean, that’s why we love Demelza. I think, the, in that, did you actually make contact with Aiden in that scene?
Eleanor: No, of course not!
Jace: It looks like it. I mean, he goes, he’s flying.
Eleanor: Yeah. He’s very good at old stunts. No, no, no. Um, but, yeah, it’s a really fierce hit and it comes from this, kind of guttural feeling of betrayal and hurt and, you know, it’s anger at its peak.
Jace: I mean, she’s putting the clothes up on the line, she’s seething with anger when he finally does come home, the next morning. I love that the only words that she says in the scene are, nor I, when he says he couldn’t help himself and she says, nor I. Um, I mean, the weight of that moment, I feel like, has been building over the last 8 episodes. Does it dissipate with this slap? Is this, sort of, Demelza expressing herself and it’s an eruption of rage or is this just the beginning?
Eleanor: Oh, it’s just the beginning, definitely. I think, when you’re that hurt, nothing you do makes any difference to the pain that you feel. I think what it does, is it just satisfies her a little bit, but, you know, he got what he deserved. He got taken off his pedestal when no one could touch him. And he realizes what he’s done and he comes back and he’s upset that he’s done it. And it takes him a while, actually, to realize the extent to what he has done. You know, and there’s a few scenes after that that follow where she’s furious with him, but, shows it in a different way. She just knocked him off his high horse, you know, she just brought him down to reality and, you know, to, actually, the reality of what he’s done. So, I think, it’s actually, just the beginning of the heartbreak and the journey that they then have to go on, which will continue into, you know, seriously, you can’t get over something like that. You can just put it to one side and ignore it, I mean, but, it will always be there.
Jace: The slap is at odds with the stocking scene, where Ross purchases a pair of silk stockings for Demelza, and then, seductively, puts them on her, partly as an apology for neglecting her, as he tends to do this season, but, also as proof of his longing for her. What did you make of that scene and is there a chance that they could get back to that intimacy again, or has he destroyed it, at this point?
Eleanor: Um, it’s very interesting, actually, because I think there is always hope and I think Demelza has that quality that she can probably, she can’t forget and I wouldn’t say that she can forgive, but, she can, certainly, put it to one side and the most important thing to her, is her son and this, you know, making this work for him and making that relationship carry on. You know, it wasn’t like it is now, you know, you can’t just divorce somebody. She could leave him, but, what kind of life would she have? You know, and it’s, it’s, yeah, I hope that they can get back to that stage. You certainly, without giving too much away, you, certainly, get a hint of it in, you know, the way the series ends. But, you know, they have a massive journey to go on, yet. And there’s a lot of, you know, obstacles that are going to get in the way.
Jace: He clearly still has feelings for Elizabeth, those that are maybe, somewhat explored in his night with her, but, um, it, it, he has not worked this out of his system. What is your take on the love triangle, at this point and what does Elizabeth offer that Demelza can’t, at this point in the series?
Eleanor: Elizabeth doesn’t offer Ross anything that Demelza can’t. What he thinks, is that, because he’s never had her, he can’t get that out of his system. And when, in Episode 8, he does, he actually says, when you take an idealized love and bring it down to basic reality level, you know, it’s not the kind of normal relationship that suffers. It’s the one that you’ve put on this pedestal for so long and that’s where he realizes, is that he has everything that he could ever want with Demelza, and it’s just this thing that he’s always had since he was a young boy, before he went off to war. He’s always loved this woman. They’ve always had this undeniable chemistry, this undeniable love for each other and he can’t let that go. He doesn’t realize that until he’s got it out of his system.
Barrett That was Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson, in conversation with MASTERPIECE Studio host Jace Lacob. You can hear more of that interview, and a whole lot more besides on our MASTERPIECE Studio podcast, available at pbs dot org slash masterpiece studio, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public or wherever else you listen to podcasts.
Next time on Mining Poldark: everyone’s waiting for Ross:
George But What is there to wait for? What do you imagine will happen in the meantime?
Elizabeth I – do not know.
Barrett We’ll wait too, next time.
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 the PBS Masterpiece Prime Video Channel, available as an add-on service to 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. Meredith Wheeler is our field producer. 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, Raymond James and The MASTERPIECE Trust. Poldark is a Mammoth Screen production for BBC, co-produced with MASTERPIECE.
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