This episode begins with Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) walking near a cliff overlooking the sea in the morning light. She’s barefoot and bare-legged. She is newly married to Ross (Aidan Turner), an impulsive move on his part forced, in part, by Demelza’s determination not to live in sin having gone to Ross’ bedroom one fateful night of delight.
A landed gentry marrying his kitchen maid unsettles just about everyone. And we flit about Cornwall to hear everyone’s opinion.
“Tisn’t right,” Jud (Philip Davis) grumbles in the kitchen.
“Tisn’t fair,” adds Prudie (Beatie Edney).
“Tisn’t fit,”Jud says.
“Tisn’t proper, Prudie continues.
“Tisn’t fit,” Jud says.
Jud also grumbles, “Who does she think she is?”
Prudies adds, “Who does he think she is?”
Afterall, Demelza is “too common to curtsey,” Prudie adds.
Later in the kitchen, the slender Demelza bakes and Ross looks on fondly. He takes her to bed, but we don’t see them frolicking. In the afterglow, Demelza says, “Folks will wonder, but won’t rightly understand.” She herself barely understands what has happened.
“You’re not required to understand,” says Ross.
“So it’s not to be a secret,” Demelza comments.
“Why should it,” Ross replies.
Elsewhere, there’s the problems of the mines. At Wheal Granger, Francis is out in his top hat and declares, “I’m not a magician. I cannot conjure wages out of thin air. The men must wait.” And yet does Francis just wait? He seems to be spending a bit more time in the town, away from home and wife.
When Ross comes by, Francis queries, “Did my father send you?”
“Why would he,” Ross asks.
“To read me the riot act?” Francis quickly replies. Of his wife, Francis declares, “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”
“What she suspects might,” Ross replies.
“Gaming, whoring, what gentleman doesn’t occasionally indulge?” Francis says sulkily.
When Ross says that he does not, not any more. Francis is astonished and then Ross tells him he has wed Demelza and bids Francis to take the news back to Trenwith.
Francis should be happy, but instead he says, “Your kitchen maid…Ross, surely you must see that with such a wife, you cannot to hope to have entry to any respectable gathering. You will consign yourself to…”
Ross completes his sentence, “a life of peace and seclusion?”
Back at Trenwith, “Demelza,” is all Elizabeth (Heida Reed) can say.
Charles (Warren Clarke) sputters, “Damn me. He’s done it now.”
Francis wonders, “What the devil can he mean by it?” Again, Francis thinks it is all about him.
Elsewhere, Ross tells the local bar wench, Margaret who says, “We never thought you the marrying kind. Is she wealthy?” Of course, Demelza’s just the opposite.
The Warleggans celebrate in their own slimy ways. George (Jack Farthing) comments, “He could have had his pick of any number of eligible girls from rising families. Instead of which, he marries his servant…It may beggar him…how will he fare with a scullery maid on his arm?
His uncle Cary (Pip Torrens) notes, “Doors which are open will be slammed in his face; his ventures will fail. You can enjoy the sight of him in the gutter along with his slut.”
He must be deranged,” Elizabeth’s mother (Sally Dexter) says. “How else could he lower his sights so abominably? His family will never forgive him; society will never forgive him.”
Verity (Ruby Bentall) is the only one who writes to say, “I wish you joy” and means it. There’s a light in her eyes.
Things settle down at the Nampara homestead. While Jud and Prudie might grumble, Demelza reminds them that she only got to where she is because of what they taught her so “blame yourselves for educating me.”
At the mine, Wheal Leisure, there is just iron stone. At the shareholders meeting, Ross must ask for more funds but his recent marriage and his angry declarations in court for Jim Carter has caused men to doubt Ross. In town, we learn that Ruth Teague (Harriet Ballard) has found a match. Ross does get financial support and returns home with a small gift for Demelza: a book “to practice your letters and ribbon to tie your unruly mane.”
Ross tells her, “I know little of those things.” He has written to her father. Yet Demelza is obviously touched by his thoughtfulness.
Demelza feels her father will be disappointed that she won’t return, but Ross tells her her duty now resides in Nampara. While Demelza says, “Nothing has changed,” Ross smiles and contradicts her and he also tricks her into agreeing to visit his mine. Demelza goes but feels awkward. She doesn’t know how to curtsey and make small talk. She expresses her discomfort, but Ross has confidence in her. And then as they approached Nampara, Demelza sees Jud has stolen one of the pies she made and she chases him and tackles him.
Ross decides that she’ll need a kitchen maid so she doesn’t feel like a kitchen maid. They go over to see Jinny (Gracee O’Brien) who agrees to come on the next day.
At Trenwith, things aren’t so happy. Charles is determined to mount a horse and attend to business since his son won’t. Verity cautions, “Dr. Choake (Robert Dawes) ordered bed rest.”
Charles still trying to mount the horse replies, “Dr. Choake doesn’t have a failing mine nor a son who is neither use nor ornament.”
“I’m touched by your faith, father,” Francis says looking on with Elizabeth and yet doing nothing.
“Not sufficiently touched to behave like a man and the heir of Trenwith,” Charles replies just before he has a heart attack. He is taken to bed where later it looks like the doctor bleeds him. Charles is a bit light-headed. Ross comes to visit and Charles says something that’s a bit loopy.
The Dr. Choake is less delightful, saying “The Nampara Poldarks are renowned for this disregard for convention.”
Charles makes a joke but in laughing finds he is much weaker. Ross leaves the room, until Francis comes out and tells Ross, Charles wants to see him.
“I’ve lost all faith in this world of ours and our legacy,” Charles says. “We both know Francis is not the man you are. Look after him for me and our family and our good name.” Soon after, Charles fails and dies.
At the funeral, Francis is troubled but not in a good way.
“He’ll be missed,” Ross says.
“Not by me. It’s terrible to feel nothing but relief,” Francis replies.
Ross tells him he still has a chance to prove his father wrong and show that he is capable of managing the mine and the estate. Yet Francis is having a pity party for one and replies that “apparently now, I’m one of the most important me of the county.”
After the funeral and back at Trenwith Verity and Elizabeth confer. Elizabeth doesn’t want to meet the guests, but Verity comments that “one of us must play the hostess.”
“She didn’t come, his wife,” Elizabeth says.
“This isn’t the occasion,” Verity notes.
“Will you give him my good wishes,” Elizabeth asks.
“Shouldn’t you do that yourself?” Verity replies.
“I wouldn’t know where to begin,” Elizabeth explains.
Downstairs, Verity tells Francis about Elizabeth. Francis replies, “Unwell? Not even the thought tete-a-tete with Ross could persuade her. She’ll have few opportunities with Mistress Poldark to amuse him.” Then Francis proceeds to attack Ross while giving Verity a backhanded compliment. “You must be relieved. You’re not the only one in the family to disgrace yourself by an unsuitable attachment. Consider yourself fortunate. See what you missed.” Francis does take after his father Charles in some respects.
George Warleggan takes this as an opportunity to engage in his torture of Ross. “I’ve puzzled you out,” George says. “Your recent nuptials make it clear. It delights you to thumb your nose at society because you consider yourself above the niceties by which it operates.”
“Not above, but indifferent,” Ross replies.
George also uses the wake as an occasion to sniff out investors in Wheal Leisure who have faltering faith. The man can smell doubt. And he finds Dr. Choake to be filled with doubt.
Later, while Ross watches the mine, the women of the village watch from the cliffs looking for signs of fish migration. Without the fish, they will starve during the winter. Francis also looks out into the crashing waves, but without hope or reason.
At Nampara, Verity comes for a visit. She stays a bit, hoping to get to know Demelza. At first things are stiff. “You know, Ross is very dear to me…When I heard he married you, I was relieved.” She says that Demelza “has given him hope” because before he met Demelza he was broken and lost. Verity tells her, “A life without hope is bleak.”
There’s the question of love. Demelza says that she loves him. “I could never hope that he would ever…he’s kind to me…and when we’re to bed, I think I do please him.” Demelza believes that Ross never shall use the word love.
Verity tells her, “It’s life’s greatest treasure to love and to be loved in return.” Verity teaches Demelza how to curtsy and dance. Demelza relaxes and delights in Verity’s company.
Demelza begins to wonder about Verity and the possibility of a match with Captain Blamey. Upstairs in bed she asks, “Must hope be buried and love denied?”
“What do you know about love?” Ross asks playfully.
“A little,” Demelza replies.
“Then we must practice more,” Ross tells her.
While Ross makes love to his wife, Francis, however, is spending time with the lascivious Margaret (Crystal Lealty). Elizabeth is alone with her baby.
Verity teaches the manners of the upper classes to Demelza–to curtsy, to dance, etc., and they do a bit of shopping before Verity returns to Trenwith and Demelza slyly reveals that she is pregnant, but hasn’t told Ross.
Soon after, Ross finds Demelza at Nampara and takes her to help gather baskets of fish. Ross and Demelza help the villagers. One can hardly think of Francis or Elizabeth using their bare hands to pick up fish. The villagers are fond of Ross and Demelza comments on it.
“You’re a gent. You don’t despise them,” Demelza notes.
While that settles one of this episodes problems, the finances for the mine have run out. They’ve only a week left and Ross’ banker friend tells him, “Tom Choake has done you no favors.” Choake’s views on his marriage have negatively affected the faith of other investors. The mine should close just before Christmas.
“If I have to sell half my house, I will not ruin Christmas for them,” declares Ross.
Ross had accepted an invitation to spend Christmas at Trenwith. There Demelza meets Aunt Agath (Caroline Blakiston). “Six generation of Poldarks have I seen.” She bids Demelza to sit next to Elizabeth. While the great-aunt declares she a little coarse compared to Elizabeth, she also notes that “doubtless she’ll polish up sufficient.” Elizabeth touches Demelza’s arm to comfort her.
Later, when they are alone upstairs Francis is angered that Elizabeth is kind toward Demelza.
Elizabeth escapes her husband downstairs and while waiting for dinner before a great fire, Ross thanks Elizabeth for her kindness. “You don’t despise my choice then?”
“What right have I to despise anyone,” Elizabeth asks. “I have too much to distract me here. Grambler failing and Francis gambling away his inheritance,” Elizabeth replies. She also says she’s heard “reports” of another woman. When she asks Ross if that report is true, Ross diplomatically replies, “If he has, he’s an idiot.” We already know that Francis is an idiot.
Upstairs, Verity is helping Demelza change into her new frock, one that Ross has never seen. Verity tells her, “Trust your husband and yourself.” Demelza is afraid that she’ll have morning sickness and the others will look down upon her. She not entirely wrong.
Oddly, there are visitors so late at night, led by the George Warleggan. Are they just hoping for a free meal or there to make sport of Demelza? George allows that Choake has sold his shares. Either way the Warleggans will win. Enjoy Ross’ ruin or the fruits of his labors.
Christmas dinner at Trenwith is filled with intrigue and deliciously controlled viciousness. The little vixen who accompanies George manages to make a dig at Demelza as a gold digger and Verity for her age since there’s little hope of marriage after age 23. The little harpie isn’t content to hear Elizabeth entertain by playing the harp. In an attempt to embarrass Demelza, the lady with George asks for Demelza to provide musical entertainment. Demelza sings a beautifully romantic ballad in a soft soprano voice. Ross is deeply affected.
Francis tells Ross, “It s a curious thing. We envy a man for something he has yet the truth may be he hasn’t got it after all and we have.” They are both looking at Demelza and Elizabeth talking to each other.
Something changed while Ross was listen to Demelza sing. He looks down at the sleeping Demelza later and whispers, “Merry Christmas my love.” Ross and Francis are for the moment happy and Francis seems to have released some of his jealous paranoia.
The next day, as they are walking home, as Ross and Demelza are about to pass the mine when a man rings the mine’s bell. Thinking it a disaster, instead Ross learns that it is truly a wonderful Christmas. Copper has been struck.
Much later, he reflects upon his new life. “I thought at best you’d be a bandage to heal a wound. I’ve been mistaken,” Ross declares. “You’ve redeemed me and I’m your humble servant and I love you.”
Demelza smiles and tells him, “I hope you will have a little love to spare.”
“For what?” Ross asks.
“Our child,” she tells him.
Happiness and heartbreak are ahead.