Poldark Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: The Reign of Terror
Poldark Season 3 continues with the disappearance of Dwight Enys, and Ross Poldark on the hunt for him overseas.
Last week’s opening episode of Poldark Season 3 threw everything against the wall, in a desperate attempt to bring everyone’s attention back to Ross Poldark and the melodrama of Cornwall. Unfortunately, in order to have that much drama in one episode, there was some robbing of Peter to pay Paul, leaving our second episode oddly bloodless. Especially for one that includes Ross on an overseas spy mission working on a plot we might call “Saving Private Enys.”
We open with Ross in France, already on the hunt. As we know, the ship that Mr Caroline Penvenen boarded after birthing Elizabeth’s baby went down with the sickness of the French revolution, and while Verity’s boy Blamey came out fine, there’s no word if the good doctor is dead or alive.
Caroline: How frustrating is a woman’s lot! We’re left idling at home while the men go off and fight battles.
Demelza: Is that what we do? Idle?
For the history nerds in the corner, 1793 is the year in the French Revolution that most agree is when the period known as The Reign of Terror began. Poldark tips their hat to that with a tip of the beheadings, but it’s mostly background strum and drang.
We’re more concerned that Ross’ newfound faithfulness to Demelza leads him to refuse to sleep with a prostitute, and gets him tossed out out France not once, but twice, in rapid succession. That’s because he keeps coming back to the same bar, in the same failure to disguise himself, to get the updated list of prisoner names, in hopes Dwight Enys will be on it.
When the production of a list is more interesting than the beheading of a man, you already know this is a weird episode. Most of it works, generally, but there’s a lot of wonkiness, especially with everything France and Enys related. Perhaps Poldark should have taken a tip from Outlander on “the proper ways to do Offsite French Based Episodes.
Geoffrey Charles, looking at Valentine: Don’t look much like me. Much darker.
Meanwhile, in story telling that does work, the Warleggans go to church and no one is really happy to see them. No really, that’s how this one starts out. Mostly so that we can have Morwenna Chenowyth and Drake Carne once again smile cute from afar, as she goes about servanting for one side of Poldark divide, while he sings about God with the poor on the other.
Remember how last week, Ross was all “Magistrate? Why would I want to change things for the better the legal way, that’s adulting and dull.” Welp, his shortsightedness means that George Warleggan is now the wig wearing arbiter of justice. Under his Trumpian regime, the patriarchy will be well upheld, the rich will get away with whatever they want, and the poor will be punished extra hard for looking poor. A Warleggan Reign of Terror has arrived in Cornwall.
While George is preening about how everyone tells him how great he looks while ruining lives, he’s also rolling back all the Obama era programs, err excuse me Francis era programs he can. That includes un-donating land to the county for God singing folk like the Carnes to fix up churches and worship on. (Can he do that? BOOM, Uncle Cary Warleggan with the Bannon-ish executive order baby.
Elizabeth: I seem to recall Francis found it all quite tiresome.
George might not have taken back what is his with ink and paper. Elizabeth had been advoacting for him to be “A man of the people” and let the Francis order stand. Except that Sam Carnes asked Elizabeth if they could keep the church –without mentioning he was Demelza’s brother, on her sisterly advice.
When Elizabeth finds out the man who moved her heart is Demelza’s kin, she freaks out, assuming it was Ross trying to… I dunno, trick her into saying yes? Randomly ruin things by churching up some homeless folk? None of this really makes any sense, except that thinking of how angry Ross makes her gets Elizabeth in the mood. I suppose that’s one way for George to get laid anyway.
Elizabeth agrees to be convinced by George to roll out of Trenwith and into town, leaving Morwenna, Aunt Agatha and Geoffrey Charles alone for a little bit to have halcyon days together without her. While George is away, the minor characters will play. We watch Morwenna and Geoffrey have slo-mo sundappled walks on the beach with Drake, and Aunt Agatha happily play with her cards. And Elizabeth gets to watch her husband be the absolute worst in court, driving her to a postpartum depression that only laudanum will cure. Everyone gets what they deserve, don’t they?
Aunt Agatha: Now we can have some fun!
Well ok, not everyone. Caroline gets to be told by Evil Bewigged George her husband’s probably dead as if he really couldn’t care less. She didn’t deserve that. And the Carnes got told they can’t have their church. But that’s when Demelza’s own Reign of Terror begins, as she stands Caroline up on her own two feet and tells her to be strong. To solve the Great Unchurched Crisis, she gives away parts of their own land (and Ross’ storehouse) to her brothers and their flock. Demelza’s Reign of Terror demands you stand up for yourself and find your own happiness.
After all, she’s starting to suspect she’s going to need to do the same. Here she is, pregnant with yet another one, and Ross, when kicked out of France, jumped into the ocean and swam back! So she’s going to run things as she sees fit, and if her Reign of Terror includes everyone having a little more kindness and hope in their lives, so be it. Demelza 2020 y’all! The Audacity of Feminist Hope.
But of course, Ross does come back, because he’s our hero, and his hair even gets nicely windswept as he pulls up on horseback. Dwight Enys *is* listed as alive and well, and growing one hell of a hipster beard in French prison while awaiting rescue.
Ross is a little peeved to lose his storehouse, but his newfound faithfulness to his wife means he’s got to be all male feminist and understanding, as long as there’s a roll in the hay for him at the end of it. He’ll have to head back to France soon enough.