Poldark, Episode Three: Oh yes they did

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I’d like to start off this week’s recap by saying that it almost did not happen.  At 8:58 last night I settled in happily with my cup of tea  and turned on PBS, only to be met with a sinister black screen and an even more sinister message from Tivo saying that it could not tune the channel.

I am not sure exactly what I said next, but I know it was panicked and incoherent, and my techie husband leapt into action. He did a few things with the remote and something to the back of the TV (I really need to learn what it was for future reference) and at 9:03, we had “Poldark.”  Scott is amazing.  Is it any wonder I married him thirteen years ago today, or that I write blog posts about his fabulousness?

So I got my “Poldark” fix for the week (I should say we got our “Poldark” fix –Scott is hooked on it now too).  And oh, it was an episode I would not have wanted to miss.  As always, spoilers ahead — if you DVR’d it, watch it first, then come back here.

Thoughts:

1) Biggest thing first: Ross and Demelza!  Did you see that coming?  Scott did.   I guess there were plenty of hints dropped in this episode in particular: the meaningful glances, the rumors other people were spreading about them, the fact that she had her hair pinned up for this episode when she never has before (an updo being hairdressing code for “no longer a kid/urchin” and “ready for romance.”)

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In the book, it’s very clear through the omniscient third-person narration that Demelza deliberately sets out to seduce Ross as a way of being able to stay with him.  She gets the idea, it terrifies her, but she goes for it anyway. The TV show made it look more like a sort of accident — she was tiptoeing around hoping he wouldn’t see her in the dress, while in the book she deliberately makes a big entrance.

I think I like the book’s version better.  That’s not to say that seducing your boss is a good idea, but I love how she is actively trying to decide her fate, and the narration makes it all so believable.   And in the book, her attempts at being seductive sort of fall apart and her natural charm and honesty come through, and those are the things that actually land her in Ross’s arms.  I think the show did a pretty decent job of conveying that as well, even though her initial approach to the whole thing was quite different.

I had to smile when she comes to Ross and asks him to help her because the big fancy dress she is  wearing fastens in the back, and she can’t get it off by herself.  My husband, sitting on the couch next to me, said to the TV, “But you got it ON by yourself!”  I am now trying to recall if at any point in our lives together I have used that line on him?  He certainly caught onto it right away.

By the way, in the book, she immediately fesses up and tells Ross that the fastening thing was just a line, but he is so far into it he doesn’t care.  I wish they’d kept that in the script– it’s such a great example of her inability to lie and get anything under false pretenses.  That is one of her most lovable qualities.

Anyhow, it was all very romantic, and she is certainly a better choice for a lasting relationship than the prostitute from Episode Two (especially because she is now apparently getting chummy with his cousin Francis.  Ick.).  And props to Ross for recognizing that she’s quite a catch, and worth taking to the altar and not just to bed.

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2) I think this episode should be subtitled “Francis’ Downward Spiral.”   How exactly is everything falling apart for him so quickly? Is it all due to his core of insecurity where his wife is concerned?  It certainly seems responsible for the gambling and for the animosity toward Ross; one could even argue that his dumb dumb duel last week was more about asserting his ego than about concern for his sister.  So maybe he’s a good example of the importance of marrying someone who is crazy about you, not lukewarm, so you never have to worry about your much-better-looking cousin sitting next to her and talking about mining.  Part of me feels sympathy for him.

But golly, he’s sure getting unpleasant, isn’t he?  And Verity does NOT deserve your caustic words, Mister.  It’s not her fault you went out in a field with a pistol and now have to keep a scarf forever tied around your neck to hide a bullethole. She even tried to STOP you, but you wouldn’t listen.

3)  Add “mining” to the list of jobs I could never ever do.  Every time I see the characters in that dark, cramped mine, I feel slightly panicked.  I don’t even like being in parking garages, so how people actually descend into the bowels of the earth and stay there is beyond me.  Pay those men a good wage!  ( Of course, Poldark does.  That’s why he’s the hero.)

4) Did you notice that we have had a dancing scene two episodes in a row?  Last week’s was the Assembly Ball, where the upper classes danced very formal dances that are all about sharp angles and bypassing each other and coming together only to part again.  The miners’ wedding dance was a bunch of people in a ring with their arms around each other, a circle with no end.  Is there a symbolism to the contrast between these two dances? Methinks there is.

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5) One of my favorite bits of the episode is when Francis’ dad is schooling him about getting more involved in the mine.  He tells him that he needs to be more like Ross, and be there at the mine, working alongside the miners, getting to know them and their work from the ground up.

I’m not a huge fan of Francis’ dad, but he’s spot-on here.  Managers are more effective when they actually see what their employees are doing firsthand and when they gain their employees’ trust, not when they simply issue orders from on-high. I’ve worked with a whole lot of different administrators since I started teaching in 1997, and the best ones know this.  Whether it’s 1787 or  2015, some management principles never change.

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6) But luckily, childbirth does.  Did you catch the huge metal foreceps the doctor put rather ominously down next to Elizabeth’s bedside when she was in labor? Oh, ouch;   I can’t even think of it without wincing.   The doctor could at least hide that until it has to make an appearance.  (And do you think Elizabeth made a birth plan in advance? Did he honor it?)

What did you think of Episode Three?  

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