If you have managed to get through the first four episodes of Poldark series 2 without shedding a tear, then this is the episode that breaks the drought. Episode 5 brings out all kinds of feelings and emotions (unless you have a heart of stone). There’s hope, jealousy, love, happiness, regret, loss and sadness – pretty much the norm but multiply the norm by ten and you’ll get how I felt the first time I watched this episode.
So, here goes the recap…
Aunt Agatha feigns sickness and calls for Verity to return home to look after her. Francis goes to work with Ross at Wheal Grace with renewed fervour and hope. He is finally taking adulthood seriously, and this includes his role as the local magistrate, which he is called to perform when one of Ross’s tenants is arrested for smuggling into Tregunna Cove. They suspect there is an informer among them. Francis manages to convince Reverend Halse (Robin Ellis) to pass a sentence of three months’ hard labour instead of prison.
In Sawle, our good doctor can’t figure out what is causing young Rosina Hoblyn’s (Amelia Clarkson) limp. She flirts with him but he assures her he is wedded to his work, but we all know he is quietly pining over Caroline, who has been in London for the past year. He thinks she is about to announce her engagement to Unwin when George casually informs him of a big dinner party at Killewarren set for that evening. When Dwight bumps into Caroline moments later, he is rude and sulky.As Ross and Demelza head to the Penvenen party, she tells him he has been preoccupied with his “other wife”, Grace, of late. He promises to have “eyes for nobody else” but her this evening…which we all know means, he’s going to end up breaking his promise. Whoever did the seating chart seems intent on causing trouble – Ross is seated next to Elizabeth, whose dinner conversation is all about being in love with two men; while Demelza is at the other end of the table next to Captain McNeil, who is clearly smitten with her.
After dinner, Unwin presses Caroline to accept his proposal, although one wonders if he ever actually proposed or if he always just assumed she would oblige. Unsurprisingly, she rejects him and he storms off, completely ruining Uncle Ray’s announcement. The party continues regardless and as Ross and Demelza grace the dance floor, Caroline remarks how unusual it is that a couple should marry for love instead of money.
Speaking of money, Cary Warleggan (Pip Torrens) got wind of Ross’s huge debt and buys up his promissory note so that Ross is now indebted to them. George rushes over to Trenwith to inform Elizabeth of this news. He offers to forgive the debt if she asks him to. But of course, this would come at a price. Their tete-a-tete is interrupted with perfect timing by Aunt Agatha. She tells him she is deaf so he begins to insult her to her face. (Side note: I wish we could get Agatha together in a room with the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey played by Maggie Smith. Oh the fun they would have with their sartorial wit!)
Elizabeth asks Francis to talk to George in hope of easing their debt. Francis agrees, but instead of begging for favours, he tells George that they are no longer friends and that he is not to visit Elizabeth or Geoffrey Charles again, even if this means he may take Trenwith away from them. (At this point, Francis receives a standing ovation from me.)
On the subject of love, Dwight has a rendez-vous with Caroline in the woods. Now that she has turned down Unwin’s offer of marriage, her uncle is sending her back to London until she comes of age in December. Dwight cannot hide his relief at her untethered status but content to wait for her return. In a frank and honest exchange, he tells her he has no money, and while he spent his youth studying, he never learnt how to interact with women except as his patients. For her part, Caroline explains that she was raised to be an heiress, to exude confidence but she never learnt about men at all.
At Wheal Grace, Francis is excited about Trevorgie’s prospects now that they have started draining it. While Ross goes to Truro to receive the bad news about his promissory note from Pascoe, Francis collects rock samples of what he thinks are traces of copper. He hurries to Nampara but Ross is not yet home. Instead, he decides to confess to Demelza about betraying Ross.
In true Demelza fashion, she tells him that “one bad thing does not outweigh the many good.” She confesses that she thinks Ross loves Elizabeth more than he loves her. Contrary to how Francis had once treated Demelza, he now tells her that her only failing is underestimating her own value. “Stop thinking Ross did you a favour letting you marry into this family.” (OK who else needs a tissue?)
Francis decides to return to the mine that night to continue digging. Tragedy strikes when he slips and falls into a pool deep in the mine. When Ross returns home, he gets word that Francis has not returned to Trenwith. He rushes back to the mine with Henshawe to find him.
As Francis struggles to stay afloat, he hangs onto a nail and flashes back to his childhood, playing on the beach with Ross and falling into the water, calling his cousin’s name. Ross runs back to save him. After hanging on for what must have been many hours, he imagines Ross once again coming to his aid. He reaches out for Ross’s outstretched hand and lets go of the nail. It is only his delusion. Ross arrives too late. Francis is dead. (I need a new box of tissues.)
Let’s take a moment and applaud Kyle Soller and thank him for his brilliant turn as Francis Poldark, who was once the second-most hated man in Cornwall, and became one of the most beloved. His death is our loss. RIP Francis Poldark.