If there’s a grieving widow, there’s a desperate suitor there to claim a prize. George Warleggan swoops in to Trenwith, offering Elizabeth a shoulder to cry on. We’ll cry, too, in our latest discussion.
Barrett If you’ve been following along on our journey in this second season of Poldark, you’ll already know that I’m 100 percent Team Caroline.
Caroline Forgive me, I’m a little at sea. All I know for certain is I’m my own mistress, yet no freer to follow my heart. But I’m here – and you’re here – perhaps that’s all that matters.
Barrett She anonymously pays off Ross Poldark’s crippling debt, pledges her love to Dwight, and does it all while looking absolutely, effortlessly fabulous.
Caroline I need your assurance that no-one else will learn of this arrangement.
Pascoe Of course. But surely your uncle.
Caroline Your absolute assurance. Can you give it?
Barrett You’ll also know, of course, that I am not Team George, so that development in this episode leaves a lot to be desired.
George As Geoffrey Charles’s godfather, I will of course be responsible for the cost of his education until he completes university.
Elizabeth That’s too generous – I cannot allow…
George I was not asking for your permission, Elizabeth – only your opinion – as to whether you favour Oxford or Cambridge?
Elizabeth But this is beyond anything, George – I don’t know what to say.
Barrett I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a new podcast from MASTERPIECE exploring our epic series, Poldark.
I’m thrilled to be joined, as always, by my co-host, Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark in the 1970s adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels. Welcome, Robin!
Robin Ellis: Hello Barrett. Glad to be here.
Barrett Let’s hit the recap, shall we?
Barrett The episode opens seven months after Francis’s tragic death over something that cruelly wasn’t even copper.
Robin Francis’ death has left Elizabeth the prospect of daily life with Aunt Agatha, and dwindling financial assets not hard to understand why she’s keen to keep her looks as she explains to a puzzle. Geoffrey Charles in front of a mirror.
Barrett Ross couldn’t possibly be more solicitous of Elizabeth. He’s all, ‘Take my coat.’ But what he really means is, ‘Take all my spare time, my attention, and my own son’s potential inheritance. He purchases Francis his old Wheal Grace shares by selling his last shares in Wheal Leisure secretly giving every last pound essentially to Elizabeth while he’s about two weeks away from admission to the poorhouse, thanks to Georges Boxing Day present of calling in the loan plus interest.
Robin Francis’ death and Elizabeth’s dire straits encourages George to reopen his campaign, and he has the means. Uncle Cary is disdainful. There are plenty of younger fillies in the field — good breeding stock. Dwight is imperiously summoned by Ray Penvenan for a dressing down. How dare he think he stands a chance with Caroline as a penniless country doctor, but gets thrown out for giving as good as he gets and making plain his indifference to money and status. Poor Ray is left speechless, while we are left cheered and cheering
He’s not the only one to shower Elizabeth with gifts. George too has made his move threatening to call in Francis his debts men sending a giant fruit basket as people do. Before long he has her out of her morning clothes and into a party dress showing off his table of fancy cakes his A-list guests and a bevy of 17 year old potential wives In mining news the Fool’s Copper has changed everything and Ross is off the rails in desperation trying to find wife crusher on the lamb, Mark Daniel and agreeing to up his role in the smuggling venture. Demelza does not approve of Ross’s latest march to the hangman’s noose. I mean scheme, and their relationship suffers. When he realizes how much he’s neglected Demelza, he pays a visit to Ye Olde Lingerie Department and gives her a pair of stockings. So at least their sex life is healthy, even if Mark Daniel has vanished, the informer is still at large, Wheal Grace is a dud and Ross’s infatuation with Elizabeth is still growing.
Robin Excellent excellent stuff very good, Barrett very enjoyable, too.
Barrett Oh thank you. This episode is chock full of great moments so I’m eager to find out what your first sort of big moment was.
Robin Well it’s very hard to choose wasn’t it? There’s a richness here. I’ve got here my first choice is Caroline and Uncle Ray.
Barrett Oh I almost chose that one, yes.
Robin Oh you did? Oh good. She’s so crafty such a contrast to Ross in his dealings with his peers as it were. Caroline really is very clever. She’s now of age. She’s come back after a seven month or something gap, and officially, it’s her to choose. But Ray still holds holds sway over her. So she feels sort of hemmed in and is trying to find a way of working all this out and staying on the good side of Ray, her uncle who she genuinely loves I think but who is really an old codger. I mean he he is part of the ancien regime. He he’s not going to change.
Caroline I shall go to Truro tomorrow. It’s a poor place to shop but I need new buckles for my shoes.
Ray You are your own mistress now, Caroline.
Caroline So I am.
Ray Though I think you should not allow a natural pleasure in your new freedom to override the requirements of good conduct. To ride far and unattended in the company of a young man of eligible years is to invite comment of an unsavoury nature. No doubt it was innocently done, but it is neither fair to me, who may seem to countenance it, or to the young man himself who may derive from it ambitions beyond his proper sphere.
Caroline Thank you for your concern, uncle. If my conduct so bothers you, would it not be better for me to quit this house and live elsewhere?
Ray That would be an excellent solution – were it not for thegreat affection we hold for each other.
Caroline Uncle Ray is becoming cross with me, Horace. There will shortly be angry words – which we shall both regret. Don’t you think we had better change the subject?
Ray At what hour tomorrow shall you require the carriage?
Caroline At nine, thank you, uncle.
Robin And the scene is is just lovely to watch it. She plays him with charm and and a wonderful guile. She has this sort so if she has this then the ventriloquist dummy on her lap that she can have a conversation with and it’s just part of the general guile and charm that she uses to keep him on her side. I love the scene.
Barrett It’s great. And when I was when I was watching it Robin you used the word charm and I was thinking the same thing. And what I realized I was thinking about how to charm something is to work magic on it. Right? Like you, a snake charmer. And in this case you see her beautiful charm actually working magic on him. And you see how beguiling she is and her awareness of that as her power. But also she genuinely does love him, and he genuinely does adore her. And later when I when I’m cheering for Dwight, I do have to remind myself that Uncle Ray does think that he’s looking out for her best interests. You know, that’s just the point of view. I love this scene. I’m so glad you chose. Even Horace did well but he was eating the whole time so.
Robin I did notice that Horace did a little woof-woof at exactly the right moment. And I wondered how they managed to to get him to do that. You know does he act on cue?
Barrett He’s a talented Pug.
Robin He’s a very talented pug.
Barrett He is.
Robin: Okay, what’s your first choice?
Barrett Well my first choice is something that I hardly even want to remember or talk about but I feel obligated to because this is I feel like you know my job here is to talk about these these the big, big moments. This moment is something that you know I’ll never forget because. It’s a moment in which Ross Poldark is one of the worst people ever. He, I can’t even believe he did this. He had a conversation with Elizabeth. He visited Elizabeth again.
Ross You’re shivering. I wish I could help you.
Elizabeth For my own sake I can bear it. But for my son – for his future. When Francis came into his estate, there was money to live on, comfort, dignity. It breaks my heart to think that Geoffrey Charles will have so little to his name.
Barrett And I guess it’s breaking Ross’s heart too, because he proceeds directly to Pascoe’s. He comes up with this really harebrained and morally wrong scheme to. Sell his remaining shares in Wheal Leisure and then take the money from that 600 pounds. But remember that he’s about to be hauled off to debtor’s prison because he owes fourteen hundred pounds. And take those 600 pounds and then use them to anonymously buy the Francis family shares in Wheal Grace, buy them out so that Elizabeth will have 600 pounds to burn, and to do this very secretly. She’ll never know.
Ross: When my shares in Wheal Leisure are sold, you’ll make an offer for Geoffrey Charles’s holding in Wheal Grace. On behalf of an anonymous client whom you represent. Elizabeth will accept – and the money can be transferred to her.
Pascoe So – do I understand you aright? – You are offering six hundred pounds for a half share in a mine which is about to close? When you owe George Warleggan, the man who will happily see you in debtors prison, fourteen hundred pounds!
Pascoe As your banker and friend I must advise against. You cannot afford it. And you have your own wife and child to care for. Would it not seem as if you value your cousin- in-law’s comfort ahead of hers?
Ross It might. If chose to tell her. Which I do not. I am here. Francis is not. Demelza has resources which Elizabeth does not. She’s a miner’s daughter. She has learnt to survive. Elizabeth is a gentlewoman.
Barrett So the whole thing was just. Disgusted me.
Robin So I agree with you it’s pretty disturbing his his descent into self-deception as it were is is pretty steep and unpleasant. Yeah.
Barrett Yeah yeah it’s true he is he’s sort of like, ‘I’m going to fund my other secret family. And let my primary family starve.’
Barrett It’s just really infuriating. I may never get over it but I’ll get over it.
Barrett Let’s take a quick break before our next scene to hear a word from our sponsors…
Barrett Now your third choice is actually my second.
Robin Oh it was?
Barrett It is the wonderful confrontation between Ray Pevenan and Dwight.
Ray Six thousand pounds, six thousand pounds – all you get if you married her.
Dwight God knows I’ve never given you cause to suppose me a fortune hunter – and if you imagine that no man without an eye to her inheritance could fall in love with your niece, then you greatly underrate her charms and insult us both.
Ray Well I hope I have made my views clear?
Dwight And in doing so you have given me hope. Caroline’s fortune is less than I thought. I’m glad of it. A penniless doctor could wed such a fortune yet not be eclipsed by it.
Ray You will leave this house now sir and you’ll never return. You will cease all communication with my niece.
Dwight Caroline is of age, sir. Your control may be exercised within these walls, but not beyond.
Robin Yes it is absolutely true. It was that great and my theory is that the scene is almost verbatim from the book from how Winston originally wrote it. And I think Winston really is as I would say getting his rocks off here. He has written in 1945 and here is the old brigade, the pompous old man set up against the new doctor. I mean, there’s a nice confrontation between the old world and Dwight as the new doctor and the new and the new social world as well. In which Caroline is absolutely, you know willing to go along with it. Good for her. She comes from the old way but she recognizes the falsity and the and what she wants to follow her truth and her her her love and she feels capable of doing it. It’s a fascinating scene, absolutely wonderful kind of payoff for us. We want we want this to happen in a way for this insult to Dwight who we feel is really the moral center of the whole thing and he he really. His reply is devastating, absolutely devastating but they’re both great in the scene.
Barrett They are. I was disappointed in Uncle Ray because I just adore him. Yeah but I really love Robin. Your observation about the context. In which this was written and it and as you were describing it had me thinking about how Dr. Choke and Dwight are often set against each other, the old guard and then the new. So I love that but, your description of Dwight as the moral center that is dead on. I love it. And usually he just he let it go. He doesn’t engage. You know, he rises above petty things and he’s just a gentle person, he’s a healer, right? So he’s not picking a fight. But this time he stands his ground, he stands up for himself and he stands up for Caroline. And I just, I loved it.
Robin I agree and I think this is after the scene where Caroline actually turns to Dwight and says, ‘I want you to recognize yourself as as the the good person that you are.’ I think I think it comes out of that. And so she she her her advice to him to really stand up for himself. And then Ray Penvenen is a good man but he’s he’s stuck as well in his old. You know the charm usually works but not on someone like Dwight when when he’s taken too far you know and it’s great for us to watch as an audience.
Barrett It absolutely is. And it just makes them a little bit more star-crossed even which ups the stakes for us as viewers.
Robin Absolutely. Yes. Yes absolutely
Barrett So that was a great one. I see. We’re eye to eye on that again. So for my my final moment of the episode I’ve chosen something that again. I could barely watch because I was so angry but I also loved it. It’s very complicated. And then I’m disgusted with myself for loving it so much. So maybe you can guess what this scene is. It’s the stocking scene.
Robin Oh right. Yes and yes. Well because it wasn’t a surprise.
Barrett OK. I’ve chosen this scene. It’s you know as you know that there was nothing for Christmas this year not even Ross’s attention. But she doesn’t need gifts.
Demelza I need no gifts, Ross. ‘Tis enough if you still care for me.
Ross Do you doubt it?
Demelza I’ve begun to. At least. Not your liking. But mebbe – your longing.
Ross You think I no longer love you.
Demelza Not in – that way.
Ross Open your present. What is it? Do you not like them?
Demelza They’re too fine. When would I wear them?
Ross Will they suit you?
Demelza I – cannot tell.
Ross Let me see?
Demelza If you like.
Ross So you are not to be rid of me, my love.
Demelza So I am not to be rid of you, my love.
Barrett And she actually burst into tears at the sight of them because. This is such a sort of a fine high quality present like it’s it’s so fancy. And of course where’s she going to wear them. It’s like did you get these for Elizabeth and then decide to give them to themselves at the last minute I don’t know
Robin I was going to ask you, do you think he did buy them for Elizabeth and then changed his mind?
Barrett He could not have, he couldn’t. Even Ross can’t be that bad right? They have this really great intimate moment. And you know I love it even though I’m disgusted with him. I’m so angry because of course this is a present that Ross got for himself. Let’s be honest right? He got himself this. He got her these stockings but it’s like really Ross’ present. So they have this this great scene and I don’t know I mean, is this supposed to make up for it like. And do you think that do you think Demelza is sort of like, ‘Wow this is such a great present, and all is forgiven?’ What do you think?
Robin Well it is puzzling watching it. I mean it’s puzzling that it happened anyway that out of the blue he comes up with a very expensive Christmas present a little late but I mean they have had good news in terms of the debt which has been settled of course they might have a bit of spare cash on him. But yeah I mean it’s in terms of the way she’s being feeling pretty unhappy all the way through. Mind you he hasn’t noticed that you know. I mean he says to Prudie in the scene just before this, ‘Oh yes I haven’t been paying much attention to her.’ I don’t know what what the motivation is. I mean it is I suppose that you know to get back in the good books in a sense. But it’s just I mean it’s another thing that doesn’t really ring true in effect. And you know that his his his his whole self-deception theme which is running through this episode there’s another scene where he he’s called over by Elisabeth too to supposedly ask his advice about whether she should accept this offer as it were. And they’re both you know dissembling in the scene all the way through. He of course knows that it’s him. He’s given the gifts and she yeah she she’s I don’t know what her motivation is really, I would imagine she’s decided to take it. But yeah out of the blue he gives this this very intimate and delicate person to his wife. But underneath it all one has to remember that he does love her. He’s just behavior behaving badly. In fact you know that’s the bottom line. But I understand completely your anger basically.
Barrett Now my anger is even worse, now that you’ve suggested that maybe he had bought these stockings for Elizabeth because if you look at the chronology here it’s not as though he had that conversation with Prudie and then rode to Truro for some shopping. Right?
Robin Well he couldn’t have done that. No. Right. There wasn’t time. Absolutely.
Barrett Oh Ross. What are you giving him? How heroic is Ross this week?
Robin I’m giving him a three, I think.
Barrett That’s what I’m giving him.I think he’s terrible. But we have to reserve some…
Robin We do, we do, we do, we do, winl wink.
Barrett Yes. Yes. But it could get worse. It
Robin It absolutely could.
Barrett Oh mercy, mercy
Barrett This was a great episode. I had so much fun talking to you know what I think that you and I are emerging as Caroline and Dwight’s biggest fans.
Robin I know it’s it’s it’s difficult isn’t it because it’s so it’s so attractive and they’re so good. It’s witty it’s it’s amusing and lovely.
Barrett It’s all this has been such fun. I appreciate all of your wonderful insights and and all the times you’ve made me laugh today, too
Robin Oh, thank you, well that feeling is mutual. Barrett, thanks very much. I love it too.
Barrett Thank you.
Robin Bye for now.
Barrett Coming up next on Poldark, it’s Smuggling Season in Cornwall, and Ross is in deep.
McNeil I must ask you to remain indoors this evening. Trooper Wilkins will guard you.
Demelza Against what, may I ask? D’y’suppose there to be an enemy about?
McNeil Of sorts, ma’am. We have word that the smugglers intend to use your cove tonight. Where’s your husband?
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 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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