Ross goes smuggling, and mostly fails on all fronts — as does Dr. Dwight in his pursuit of Caroline. We learn about the dangers of trusting village strangers, and smuggling remains a bad idea for everybody.
Barrett Brountas: Action addict Ross Podark gambles his future and his freedom with a needless jaunt to France with a group of smugglers.
Demelza How long will you be gone?
Ross Two days? Depends on the weather, The One & All will load goods in France and return to collect me.
Barrett And while he isn’t necessarily caught, we here on the observation deck can’t help but wonder if yet another court date is on the horizon for our hero.
George There was a smuggling incident. The military were out in force.
Agatha Pity they’ve nothing better to do.
George Though I’m told they had their eye on a bigger prize. Your nephew. I pity anyone who must depend on such a man.
Barrett And even worse — Caroline and Dwight appear to be finished.
Caroline “Dear Dwight, I have left for London with my uncle, a move which cannot surprise you after the fiasco of last night. It is better this way. Ever since we agreed to elope I have known of your struggle – between your infatuation for me – and your real love: your patients. Now you need no longer worry – or give anything up – except me. And that you have already done. So farewell, Dwight. I shall never see you again. Your sincere Friend, Caroline Penvenen”
Barrett I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a podcast from MASTERPIECE. And I’m joined by my co-host, Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark from the 1970s adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels. Hey Robin!
Robin Ellis Hello Barrett!
Barrett Let’s recap what happened in this episode in full before laying out our big water cooler moments.
Robin Resolution. Resolution Resolution Resolution. My kingdom for a resolution. Resolution would be nice to some of the stories that have been running for episodes now, but then stuff happens and we are thwarted at the last minute. Dwight and Caroline’s tale seems ripe for resolution but in his heroic unmasking of the traitor, Dwight misses the coach to Bath and bliss. O calamity! Resolution must wait another day.
Barrett Ross is off to Reign of Terror. France on the S.S. smuggled goods in search of wife crusher Mark Daniel whom they hope will reveal the location of Wheal Grace’s elusive copper.
Robin What Mark tells him he dismisses as the old story of the drowning man and the straw. Resolution again delayed if not abandoned. The informer threat is lifted. They caught him? asks Charlie, their traitor. I rather think I have, cool Dwight answers elegantly and survives Charlie’s knife attack in time to light a torch and thwart the ambush. Can we call this resolution when there are red coats behind every bush, even inside Nampara?
Barrett George conducts psychological warfare on Elizabeth via little hand delivered fear inducing missives that convince her of a pending attack by French Revolution inspired riff raff. Aunt Agatha is packing heat. But Elizabeth’s only resource is Ross who she turns to to no avail. Thanks to Prudie finally doing something worthwhile and withholding Elizabeth’s letter to Ross, Elizabeth panics that Ross doesn’t appear at her damsel in distress siren and even makes an entitled, albeit pretty, ride over to Nampara to inquire about why Ross i.e. Demelza’s actual husband, hasn’t gotten back to her. Caroline oblivious to the brawling, the gunfire, the fisticuffs, the torch setting, the roof jumping the cahe searching and cache within a cache hiding, believes only that Dwight has chosen the needy fisher folk of Cornwall over her and her heart is broken.
Robin Ross is in reflective mood on board while waiting to go ashore in darkness. He rues his mistakes and resolves, yes a resolution, to live the quiet life from now on — harvest his crops and look after his family. Why is it we don’t quite believe him?
Barrett Oh that’s wonderful. I I love the way you’ve extracted the theme of resolution and how it frustrates us again and again. That was delightful. Thank you.
Robin Thank you!
Barrett And I’m going to kick us off with my first choice for a big moment. This is a conversation between Ross and Elizabeth when he visits her at Trenwith. She’s inquiring about how things are going with him.
Elizabeth Is it true? Your promissory note was paid?
Ross It seems we both have a mysterious benefactor.
Elizabeth Could it be the same?
Ross Who knows?
Elizabeth I’m glad of it. Though in some ways I regret the change. Now I’ve no further interest in Grace, you no longer have reason to call.
Ross I will always have reason to call. If you wish it?
Elizabeth I wish it.
Barrett I guess this is like just an affair, you know basically it’s an affair. I like how you of a few episodes ago in our discussion you talked about it as though you know she’s his other family in a way. I just think this this moment is an important moment because she is saying to him I wish it, all right.
Robin We’ll see where he goes he is saying that but I don’t really believe her because I really think that her her sights set on George and I don’t know for some reason maybe it’s just that Ross lives closer. I don’t know but she does. She finds it hard to let him go and it all comes from that scene when they’re sitting at dinner sitting next to each other and she sort of teases him and puts this in his mind. And of course he just can’t. He can’t get rid of it because it’s been in his mind sort of you know as a as a dormant idea for a long time ever since he came back from America. And she she seems to enjoy realizing the fire. I mean just to kick you’re not kidding. Like the word kindling the fire and. It’s weird. It’s. Yeah well weird it’s it’s happening and you know.
Barrett I guess I mean is this is she Robin do you think that she’s in love with him, or do you think even though she knows that maybe George has a better future for her. Or is she just one of those people and they’re out there that just can’t, they want it all they want to have everyone in love with them even if they don’t want to reciprocate. You know, she wants him always pining for her and she doesn’t want to let that go. And every time he moves away from her she’s got to reel him back in. I think she’s in love with him and he is still trying to figure out what her next move is and she wants to keep this one available this option open.
Robin Well I think that last what you just said is probably true she wants to keep her options open whether she’s in love with him. I don’t know. I just feel that somehow self-centered ambition in sight for the future. And I mean you can’t blame her. I mean she knows that Ross is married and so it’s a longshot in a sense but in a way she also knows that she she has power over him. I mean clearly having been initially shocked at dinner he’s coming out with you know with the scenes we talked about last time we’re on horseback with his holding Jeffrey Charles in his arms and on his own his horse and there’s a sort of fantasy thing going on there with him thinking, ‘Yeah this is this is fine this is going to work I’m going to have a second family.’ I mean it’s a complete fantasy. She seems to me to be playing up to that. I mean yeah obviously, they’re very early days but I think she’s moved on from that. So I think maybe I feel it’s a bit more cynical. Yes she does want him there. I’m cynical but so yeah. You think that the flame is there really in her and she’s seeing how it goes.
Barrett I’m not sure because it’s hard to separate her sort of neediness now from, although Francis was still alive when she told him I love, basically she told Ross, I love you still, so. And that was before she was vulnerable and needy. And yeah I don’t know. She’s it’s an she’s an enigma basically. And but he’s definitely perceiving it as her declaring that she wants him and loves him.
Robin No doubt about it.
Barrett Let’s take a quick break before our next scene to hear a word from our sponsors…
Barrett What was your number one scene?
Robin My first scene is Dwight and Caroline in Dwight’s cottage. She lights the candle saying she’s there and he comes back and there’s a sweet togetherness about them at the start of this scene.
Dwight Oh Caroline – marrying you – openly – would set a seal on my happiness, which I don’t deserve but would gladly take. Marrying you in secret, running away with you at night…
Dwight It smacks of dishonesty – of the fortune hunter.
Caroline Which we both know you are not!
Dwight Why can we not go to your uncle? Tell him what we intend?
Caroline Have I not explained? If we run away in secret, Uncle Ray will be furious.
Dwight And rightly so. He’ll denounce us in the strongest possible terms…
Caroline But only to himself. In a year, he will calm down and then there will be nothing to prevent a reconciliation
Dwight He will accept what cannot be changed?
Dwight I acknowledge the rationale but dislike the subterfuge.
Caroline Because you are too honourable!
Dwight Because my honour has been compromised before! You know this. The girl I fell in love with – Keren Daniel, she too was a patient of mine – and though her death was not at my hands, it is on my conscience.
Caroline That I understand, but…
Dwight Also on my conscience is the fact that you are giving up your fortune for me.
Caroline In the first place, I am not. I am just deferring it. And in the second, even if I were, it would be worth it. To be your wife. Do you doubt me?
Dwight Not your intent. But you may find the reality less romantic than you imagine.
Robin So it’s a complex scene where Dwight is in two minds.
Barrett Well Robin I chose this scene too. I love that you chose it. And I also was taken with with Caroline in the scene and I think she’s right about that her strategy is I agree is is a correct one that Uncle Ray will you know succumb to her charms within time and what’s done cannot be undone, A, but B you know he loves her so eventually he will forgive forgive them. However I do think that Dwight, I think he has a right to be concerned. You know, Dwight’s character is very important to him. Being a good person doing the right thing and being hones, that’s his very character. So to come off so badly and to do something sneaky and underhanded. He is gonna look bad, and he’ll always have that taint on him in Uncle Ray’s eyes. So I don’t think he’s being prudish I think he’s being more more sort of practical and he’s thinking about it outside of you know Caroline can be confident in her own charms and she can beguile her uncle into forgiving her but not him. So I see both sides of this. One thing that surprised me in it, he says at one point because my honor has been compromised before you know this. The girl I fell in love with, Keren Daniel she too was a patient of mine and I was just like wait you were in love with her. No you weren’t.
Robin So you didn’t think he was in love with her. I thought it probably was I’m unlikely as it was. No. Sort of. He gave in to her. In this sense he. He was flattered by her.
Barrett Yeah I think he was in lust with her, as they say. Caroline’s is his true and his first love. He just he you know he was seduced by Karin as she sort of remember how she moved around and picked up Oh what what is this medicine you know. Oh she just seduced him. I think she seduced him because he was sort of an innocent he tried to resist her. Although it’s true he may be telling himself and telling Caroline that he was in love with Keren in order to sort of justify his behavior to himself a little bit and to her.
Robin I mean you know none of us are perfect, even Dwight and.
Barrett Well Ross Poldark is perfect. He’s not flawed at all. Our next moment, I understand we also share. This is this great moment is when Ross Henshaw and Paul are on their way back to Cornwall on the ship, disappointed that things didn’t pan out with Mark Daniel and they’re pondering the future.
Ross For the first time in my life, I feel old.
Henshawe We’re none of us young are as we were, Ross.
Ross These last few years – often I’ve known failure, but I always believed it was a temporary setback. This time…
Paul ‘Twas a brave venture.
Ross Was it? I begin to think it was the height of my folly. To throw away a profitable investment? And pour everything I had – and persuade Francis to do likewise – in to a played out mine that failed my father a quarter of a century back? I didn’t just gamble with money, I gambled with the happiness and security of my workers – and most especially that of my wife and child.
Henshawe What will ‘ee do now?
Ross Learn my lesson! Plough my fields, harvest my crops, cherish my family. Live a quiet life.
Henshawe There’s a lot to be said for it.
Ross My wife would agree with you
Barrett Obviously all the adventures are over.
Robin All this at the actual time and he’s about to assist in landing a load of contraband. I mean. It doesn’t quite make sense doesn’t it.
Barrett It certainly doesn’t. It’s priceless, I love it.
Robin It’s Ross hundred percent, I think
Barrett He believes it, at the time.
Robin Hundred percent he believes it. Yeah it is. It is an astonishing scene. As they say they stand there. I think the two of them are fairly astonished to hear him talking like this as well as certainly Henshaw.
Barrett I think you’re right. And certainly when any of us has sort of an epiphany about our lives and our behaviors and the effect on other people you know one would hope that they would be longer lived than Ross’s epiphany here.
Robin Stuff happens and circumstances take over. In fact and he’s he’s he’s running up the cliff and jumping into the hidey hole.
Barrett So what is your what is your third choice?
Robin My third scene right at the end when George comes finally comes to Elizabeth and it’s really wonderful tying up joint just this demonstrates George is outrageousness. He comes to her with it with all this sort of fake news Ross is a fugitive from justice. He proceeds to rubbish him in a really impressive tirade of moral outrageousness which he hopes will kill off any any lingering hots she may have for Ross.
Elizabeth: George! I’ve been worried out of my mind.
Agatha I haven’t.
George There was a smuggling incident. The military were out in force.
Agatha Pity they’ve nothing better to do.
George Though I’m told they had their eye on a bigger prize. Your nephew. I pity anyone who must depend on such a man.
Robin Absolutely said straight at Elizabeth who must be getting the message pretty strong. But it comes at the end of quite a campaign on George’s part to really make Elizabeth feel very very frightened. In a sense in this big house on her own with Aunt Agatha and here he comes in the cavalry comes in right at the last moment and is is you know the gift he has is that is the news that Ross is yet again unworthy of her in a sense. It’s terrific
Barrett I mean if it has any effect on her I would be surprised. And yet she’s so vulnerable right now because he’s been sort of terrorizing her that you know maybe it does penetrate but really it’s just you know another day of Ross being Ross. I wouldn’t think that that would sway Elizabeth one way or another. And you know George obviously never learned the lesson that nobody likes a tattletale. He just comes off as so petty and small and hypocritical in it but that’s that’s to the viewer to Elizabeth. Maybe. Maybe he does come off as like in the moral high ground and upstanding I don’t know.
Robin She seems to be in a vulnerable state because of all the little hints she’s been giving about about the threats to her and her big house. So it’s a good time for him to choose. But I felt for a while that she is her her eyes are on the prize and the prize is George and his money and his his you know the security she’ll get from that. She doesn’t love him I says the difference in the way she does love him and she she she possibly is still loves Ross so there is a tension there in her obviously.
Barrett Maybe if Ross had you know shown shown up, maybe George’s stock would not have risen for her in this episode but Ross didn’t show up and she was disappointed. And you know she’s not accustomed to that so someone’s gotta come and whoever comes, maybe that is going to be the winner.
Robin It’s not the first time Ross hasn’t turned up at a critical time is it because if you think way, way, way back to the beginning right, when she was expecting a visit from the Ross at the critical time before she before she actually got married to Francis. You know when she was engaged but Ross had just coming back into my life and he said he’d come over and he didn’t come and her mother says well he didn’t come. He obviously is not serious about it.
Barrett That’s right.
Robin She was sulking, she wouldn’t forget that. And this is this is this must remind her of that that yes he is totally unreliable and a moment in our life she needs she needs to rely on someone even if she doesn’t know who isn’t in love with him, perhaps.
Barrett Yeah. Yeah. So there’s George. That was that was a terrific scene. And of course every scene that involves George and Agatha it is pure gold.
Robin I want a spin off actually, George and Agatha.
Barrett Yes. Oh that would be great. I love it. I feel like they’re on it a long carriage ride somewhere it’s gonna be like a buddy film on a journey somewhere where they’re thwarted at every turn lately. Yes.
Robin Yeah, absolutely.
Barrett So what’s your assessment of Ross this episode how heroic is he?
Robin Well I think I just watched him. I mean I mean that scene is pretty damning that the fact that he’s going to land this contraband and all that. But I think I’d notch him up one percent from last time which I think I heard him on three and I’ll put him on for maybe four and a half. I think. He was entertaining.
Barrett He was very entertaining. I’m gonna give him a five because I don’t I just feel like this is this is just another day in the life of Ross. He’s being reckless he’s being impulsive but his heart is in the right place. He’s not upset me terribly this episode. He was too busy doing like mining and those kinds of things and so, yeah he couldn’t upset me too much this episode so I’m gonna have a neutral five.
Robin I knew as well I mean I think my justified because he’s his motivation for going to the Scilly Isles was a good motivation. He’s he’s still in search of the elusive copper and that was you know and there was there was every every reason to think that Mark had had not know mistaken followed for something else and so that was a genuine hang I took a risk but nevertheless it was a genuine attempt to find fortune. So yeah you’re right.
Barrett Thank you see you Ross is on the rise again. He’s just nowhere to go but up.
Robin I can’t believe I marked him at seven or eight at one point I think.
Barrett Well this was such fun as always. Thank you so much.
Robin Thanks Barrett, it was lovely.
Barrett Before we leave today, I wanted to share a portion of my colleague Jace Lacob’s interview with Poldark star Luke Norris, whose Dwight Enys took on a hefty haul of heartbreak in this episode of the series.
Jace Lacob: Dwight first meets Caroline Penvenen when he’s summoned to tend to a sick patient only to learn that the patient in question is actually Caroline’s pug. What does he initially make of this very privileged girl?
Luke: I think his hackles are up straight away. He’s a quite serious individual in some ways and the idea of being called out to treat a pug is not what he needs particularly at the time when his friend is on his way to being hanged potentially. She proves herself I guess over the course of the series that there’s more to her than this entitled, privileged heiress.
Jace: You and Gabriela Wilde share such a great chemistry that sparks fly immediately when Dwight and Caroline meet cementing this great love/hate relationship. What did Gabriela bring to that dynamic?
Luke: She is about as blue blooded as they come I think so we naturally have that class divide, social disconnect. Then she, like Caroline is wonderful and lovely and there’s much, much, more to her than a cut glass accent. I think that gave us a real short cut into that relationship.
Jace: Caroline seems to represent the very institution that Dwight rails against. Wealth, excess, privilege. Is this a love between opposites or of equals or both?
Luke: Both absolutely yeah. In terms of social standing, they’re poles apart but fundamentally I think they each believe in the power of love above anything else. Although it’s difficult, I think a lot of the best love stories are.
Jace: There’s a gorgeous scene with Dwight and Caroline in the woods. She’s wearing this deep red dress and the two of them finally kiss. After being reunited, Dwight says, “I have no desire to become a society pet.” Before they race on horseback in the surf. What was it like filming that particular scene?
Luke: It was really fun but at that stage of shooting though, I should say that Gabriela was maybe 6 or 7 months pregnant. That was a lot of shooting around the bump and kissing from a distance.
Jace: You could not tell.
Luke: Well good. I’m pleased.
Jace: You could not tell. In the same episode Dwight is summoned by Ray Penvenen and he stands up to Caroline’s uncle. He says, “I’m a gentleman sir.” Before giving a gorgeous speech about how Ray is insulting both him and Caroline. Do you feel that this is Dwight at his very best? Forthright, honorable, steadfast?
Luke: Yeah, I guess so. Maybe a little more hot-headed than he would like to be at his best but yeah, like I said, I think the idea of an enduring love is really important. Particularly after Karen Daniel, and the idea that Ray Penvenon is cheapening that I think provokes something in Dwight that is quite honorable and really makes him cling to his belief.
Jace: Ray Penvenen threatens to cut Caroline off completely if she weds Dwight. He’s no fortune hunter but is there no part of him that isn’t excited at the prospect of being wealthy perhaps?
Luke: I think the opposite is true actually, that her wealth is something of a barrier between them and when he finds out that she doesn’t have as much money as he thought she did, it’s a relief that he is not going to detract from the life that she has and that he possibly would be able to provide for her enough.
Jace: He sums up his feelings for Caroline thusly. “Without you, nothing is possible.” Why do you feel these two suit each other so well?
Luke: Why do they suit each other so well? I think because Caroline is inherently mischievous and exciting and beautiful and Dwight has spent his life being quite sensible I think and the idea she can provide that kind of excitement for him forever more is what he’s into.
Jace: Caroline secretly pays off Ross’ debt to the Warleggans freeing him and Demalza from their yolk. Is it Dwight’s influence that compels him to help? Has he changed her?
Luke: Absolutely I think, yeah. They’ve changed each other. That sense of social justice is something that I think takes Caroline by surprise. I think that because she’s in her ivory tower that she’s quite aware of the hardships that people are suffering. Until the and everything and the oranges and that’s the beginning of the ball rolling to redistribute some of her wealth and privilege.
Jace: Oranges to promissory notes.
Luke Exactly yeah.
Jace Is there going forward any chance at reconciliation between the two lovers despite Caroline’s note indicating that it’s over between them?
Luke: There’s a chance, yeah. It becomes ever more complicated and Ross weighs in with a favor of his own to try and help things out.
Barrett That was Poldark star Luke Norris, 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.org/masterpiecestudio, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public or wherever else you listen to podcasts.
Coming up next: the most infamous episode of the entire Poldark series.
Elizabeth Ross, I don’t think…
Ross I should be in here? There is no-one to consider but you and I.
Barrett Robin and I will handle the weight, 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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