GIF Recap: Poldark Season 2, Episode 1
*This recap is full of spoilers from the Poldark Season 2 premiere. You've been warned!*
Finally, the moment we've been waiting for! The new season of Poldark rode into town with a special two-hour episode packed with action. Here's everything you need to know:
It seems like just yesterday that we left beautiful Cornwall. Cliffs! Cornflowers! We’re back, and so excited! But don't get too joyful—Ross Poldark is under arrest, charged with rioting and assaulting a customs officer. He is quickly released, but has to return to Bodmin in five days' time to stand trial. He doesn't think it's a big deal. Ross is adamant that Demelza not come to court, but since Demelza is not exactly the picture of an obedient 17th century wife, we're guessing she has other plans.
Meanwhile, at Trenwith—the fancy Poldarks are eager to help Ross in court, but the families are still silently feuding for more reasons than we have room to recount here. Like most family drama, it’s messy. But it is obvious that Francis still has a massive inferiority complex and is upset about losing his mine in a card game, which is really straining his and Elizabeth’s relationship.
George Warleggan, Cornwall's resident arch-villain, is eagerly plotting. Ross Poldark on trial for his life? It's George's dream come true! He conjures his inner mean girl and writes a scandalous pamphlet about a “fictional” army captain with questionable morals, then spreads them all around town. He also hires a scary new attorney/minion named Tankard, who tries to get ex-servants Jud and Prudie to testify against Ross. No one is safe from George Warleggan's well-manicured claws! It doesn't take long before they find Jud alone, and he’s had a bit to drink. In the words of Demelza, “Judas!”
As the trial date looms, Ross starts preparing for worst-case scenario with his faithful asset manager. Per usual, Ross Poldark is extremely broke.
But it's not all crippling debt and failed mines in Cornwall—enter Unwin Trevaunance, a young parliamentary candidate, and sassy socialite Caroline Penvenen. We also meet Caroline's pug Horace, who is quite possibly more dashing than even Ross Poldark.
Caroline is the niece of a local gentleman and heiress to a big, fat fortune. She’s expected to marry Unwin, but she's well aware her money is the biggest draw here, and regularly tells him off with sass that rivals a Jane Austen heroine. Brains and beauty!
Before we know it Ross and Demelza bid each other a heartbreaking adieu as he departs for his trial. Is someone chopping onions? Our eyes are watering…
But despite the very serious possibility of Ross’ death, the riffraff of Bodmin are in a partying mood. Not only is the big trial going on, it’s also election night for Unwin. It’s a grand social affair! Even Horace will attend!
In preparation for the trial, on Team Ross: Dwight comes to Bodmin for moral support, Francis makes the trek but leaves Elizabeth at home, and—surprising no one—Demelza defies Ross’ wishes and hitches a ride with a familiar face: Verity! We missed you, dear.
Brave captain Horace's adventures continue in Bodmin: Caroline calls for a doctor when the little pug is short of breath, and Doctor Enys comes to the rescue. Sparks fly between Dwight and Caroline, despite the obvious difference in where they fall on Cornwall's social ladder. Hmm, could there be a new romance on the horizon?
Meanwhile, Francis arrives in town, only to find the pamphlets indicting Ross littering the streets. It doesn't take long for him to guess who authored them, and—channeling his braver cousin—he gets out his verbal scythe and mows down George Warleggan with a truly epic string of insults.
George reminds Francis that Trenwith owes a lot of money to the Warleggans, but the disillusioned Poldark sticks to his guns. Francis has always been kind of annoying, but we can’t help but applaud him this time. Team Francis?
The night before the trial, Ross is finally starting to get a little worried about his case. His ex-servant Jud is on the list of those who will testify against him (Judas!), which will most definitely not look good. His lawyer urges him to act apologetic in court, but that’s not really Ross’ style.
He has to spend the night in Bodmin Jail, and gets a surprise visitor: Satan! Sorry, typo—George Warleggan! Like an ascot-clad cat, George purrs his way through a sea of malarkey; he hasn't come to fight, he wants to confess how impressed he is with Ross' loyal following. He extends a tempting offer: If Ross just apologizes George will make sure the whole case is dismissed.
Just when it seems like Ross might shake hands with the devil, he has a major moment:
Our hero has principles and he’s sticking to them, darn it! Even at the cost of those he loves! It’s hard to know if we’re proud of Ross or frustrated with him for being so reckless. Is this what it feels like to be Demelza?
Back at the inn, Francis is about to make the worst decision of his life. The marital trouble with Elizabeth, the guilt over losing his mine, and the fear sparked by his encounter with George Warleggan have all brewed into the perfect storm of self-loathing and despair. It looks like Aunt Agatha's macabre tarot predictions are finally coming true as Francis locks himself in his hotel room and puts a pistol to his head. No, Francis, no!
Demelza, meanwhile, wins all the awards for unsuccessful meddling when she learns who will judge Ross’ case and tries to tell him her side of the story. Naturally, George Warleggan ruins everything by outing her as a Poldark. Oops.
Meanwhile, Dwight finds Francis, and he's alive; the gun misfired. You’d think the whole life-or-death experience would change him, but Second Chance Francis is only interested in complaining about his failed suicide attempt and drinking more brandy. Ugh, we're cancelling our Team Francis membership.
Finally, the reason we're all here: the trial. Unable to stay away, Elizabeth comes from Trenwith. The prosecution paints a pretty ghastly picture, accusing Ross of being a violent hooligan who laughs at injured ship crews as a hobby. At one point it’s just too much for Demelza, who goes out for some air and drops a huge bomb: She's pregnant. She hasn’t told Ross yet, and now it’s looking like she might never get the chance.
Back in the courtroom, the star witness is called to the stand: Jud. But just when it looks like all hope is lost, Sober Jud regrets Drunk Jud’s judgment and quickly commits some welcome perjury.
This means no more easy win for Warleggan, but Jud's recanted testimony doesn't exactly reverse the tide. The remaining witnesses keep the bad news carriage rolling, and it starts to look grim.
In a last attempt at justice, Ross Poldark—hero, husband, heartthrob—takes the stand. He finally listens to his lawyer and starts reading an apologetic statement, but one look at George Warleggan’s smug face, and Ross just can’t take it anymore. Ross! No! Stick to the script!
He continues his stint as the Robin Hood of Cornwall, using his time in the spotlight to champion the poor and elevate the villagers' plight above his own. He should be saving his own neck, but nah, he'd rather save the world. Always Doing the Right Thing at the Worst Possible Time, a memoir by Ross Poldark.
Just in case the jury wasn’t convinced that he’s a reckless hero, he tops his statement off with:
Oy. We’re assuming this is not what his lawyer meant by “showing contrition.”
The jury retires briefly before making a decision, and everyone is expecting the worst. The tension in the room is an all-time high as they give their verdict. Wait, wait—Ross won’t lose, right? RIGHT? He can't die! This show is named Poldark!
The jury finds Ross…
The courtroom explodes into applause, and joyful tears start flowing along with the ale. Ross, Demelza, and Dwight celebrate Cornwall style: with a beach bonfire!
But don't think this is over yet—George Warleggan lives to fight another day. He makes plans to play the long game with Ross by buying as much of Wheal Leisure as possible. Although Francis also drew his ire, George doesn't punish Trenwith yet (clearly thinking of his longtime crush Elizabeth).
Back at Nampara, it’s all cozy firelight and fresh flower petals for Ross and Demelza as they share a romantic moment. She is about to share the good news of her pregnancy with Ross, but holds off when he expresses his grief over baby Julia’s death. Oh well. In the meantime…
Don't forget to catch up on Season 2 with free online streaming, for a limited time. Keep watching Poldark on Sundays, through November 27, 2016 at 9/8c on MASTERPIECE on PBS. #PoldarkPBS