Deborah Ross on the penultimate Poldark episode: ‘Cracking’


Sunday, BBC1


And so, Captain Ross, in this week’s penultimate episode of Poldark – Already! Time’s gone so fast, as Elizabeth might also say about her pregnancy* – you took Demelzabub to that there London. You took her to that there London with its pleasure gardens and masked balls and fine frocks and you did have strawberry-sex with her in the lodging house and you did say she looked beautiful in that dress she borrowed from Caroline and you did both stroll happily through Hyde Park. But then, alas, you had to duel mad, bad, Captain Monk Adderley, who had taken to stalking her, and had also sat on your gloves, which seemed the more unforgiveable. Oh well, no holiday is perfect. You only have to check out TripAdvisor to know that. (Were they, may I ask, very special gloves?) 

It was a cracking episode. The Warleggans, who were also in London, held a masked ball even though it was more a hold-a-mask-on-a-stick-quite-a-way-from-you sort of ball. Here, Captain Mad Badderley took a shine to your Demelzabub. ‘The hair is provincial but the rest is good,’ he told George. ‘Doubtless she has been dressed in London,’ George replied. ‘Then she must be undressed in London…’ said Captain Mad Badderley, licking his lips. 

Max Bennett and Aidan Turner in Poldark. Poldark deuls with Captain Monk Adderley

Max Bennett and Aidan Turner in Poldark. Poldark deuls with Captain Monk Adderley

He bet George ten guineas he could take Demelzabub’s virtue, then led her into dinner saying: ‘Two things I like… to fight and make love.’ ‘With the same person?’ she asked. ‘On the same day. One whets the appetite for the other…’ She then threw you one of those desperate ‘rescue me’ looks you do throw at your husband when you’ve been trapped by someone at a party. I have thrown such looks myself although, in my instance, it’s usually at the point I’m being asked if I can get Oscar an internship on the news desk. ‘Rescue me, rescue me, rescue me,’ says that look. But you did not rescue your Demelzabub, Ross. You even later implied she was enjoying Mad Badderley’s attentions. Ross, I love you and all that, and this isn’t a dealbreaker, but sometimes you can be so stupid I want only to bang your head against a wall. 

The situation escalated. Mad Badderley sent Demelzabub a magnificent bunch of flowers, which she did not bin. ‘But they are so beau’iful, Rars,’ she said, because sometimes she could  also do with having her head banged against a wall. Then Demelzabub returned one evening to your rooms and did so alone, as you were in Parliament, saving the poor and abolishing slavery, only to discover Mad, Bad, Actually-Quite- Rapey Badderley had let himself in and was waiting for her. ‘Do you cry out when a man takes you?’ he asked her. ‘YES, YES, YES!’ is what, I’m guessing, he wanted to hear, but it was not forthcoming. Neither did she shout for help. Instead, she rang the little bell which, one supposes, had to do as a rape alarm in 1790. Mad Badderley left in a fury, then sat on your gloves the next day – Were they Vivienne Westwood? I know they can be pricey – which led to the duel. 

Doctor Enys tried to knock some sense into you, of course, but your stupidity – sorry, strike  that out, I meant ‘male honour’ – meant you had to go through with it. Ultimately, he shot you in the arm while you shot him in the nuts, essentially. And he later died, which prompted Demelzabub to return to Cornwall. I don’t know what she’s been doing since she got back, but I imagine she’s baked at least six angry kidney puddings and one furious stargazey pie by now. 

But sticking with London, we also had George and Elizabeth, who have lately found happiness with each other, even if she is sometimes given the job of rushing through exposition like Babs from Acorn Antiques: ‘Wilbraham-refuses to-resign-his-seat-so-you-cannot-replace-him- with-Adderley-nor-direct-him-to-vote-as you-wish…’ George was even being nice to Valentine, buying him expensive gifts, but then Giant Geoffrey Charles popped in and opened his big trap. ‘Lord, how have I not noticed this before?’ he exclaimed, looking at Valentine, ‘Is he not the very spit of Uncle Ross?’ Not even the thought of tea with the Prime Minister could cheer George up after that, and God knows what Elizabeth is going to do. Maybe she’d best throw herself down the stairs again? 

And back in Cornwall, poor Morwenna was telling Drake how, after her experiences with Ossie, she would not be able to stand being touched by a man ever again. It was very moving, even if Drake did stand there with his mouth hanging dimly open, quite like Frank Spencer. ‘Morwenna! The cat’s just done a whoopsie in my beret!’ he didn’t call out after her, but you did half expect he would. And that’s it for this week and, annoyingly, I’m not here for the finale next week as I’ll be on holiday myself. I can only hope that, while I’m away, no one sits on anyone else’s gloves. 

*The latest data from the Poldark Time Research Institute is saying that your average Poldark pregnancy takes around a week to go to full term.