THE SHOW: Poldark
THE PAIRING: Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson)
THE EPISODE: 1.4 – aired July 12, 2015 (previously aired March 29, 2015 in the UK)
THE MOMENT: Ross tells Demelza that he loves her after she questions for an entire episode his feelings for her.
If you haven’t been watching Poldark on Masterpiece Classic (if you didn’t already watch it in Britain that is), then you’ve been missing out on a real treat. No doubt, this is one of the best romantic period dramas to air in years (no worries though, you can catch up on missed episodes online at PBS.org, buy the episodes on Amazon Streaming or even buy the already released DVD). One of the best parts of the series is the romantic story between Ross Poldark (a Byronic Hero with a social cause) and Demelza, his “kitchen maid” with a kind heart and feisty spirit who remains an optimist despite the harshness of her circumstances. Their love story is unlikely due to their extremely different “classes” and backgrounds, yet most will find themselves rooting for this likable pair.
By the end of episode three, Ross and Demelza get married in a surprise wedding. And considering Ross’ heartbreak over the marriage of his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth to his cousin Francis, this seemed like a shocking move on his part. No doubt Ross found himself attracted to the free-spirited and beautiful Demelza (who loves him with an almost childlike worship) but was it love? Or did he marry Demelza for other reasons?
THE BUILD UP
After the wedding between Ross and Demelza, she finds herself confused as to “why” Ross actually married her. Considering their differences, Demelza’s surprise at the marriage is certainly reasonable. When she questions him, he tells her that she doesn’t need to understand why. But he also tells her that he’s not going to keep their union a secret.
And then the unlikely marriage comes out. Unsurprisingly, everybody has an opinion about their marriage – most of which are unfavorable. How could a “Poldark” marry someone so unrespectable? They tell Ross that he will not be accepted into society because of this marriage, which Ross (a true rebel) takes in stride and almost prideful joy. If there’s one thing you can say about Ross, it’s that he loves being above society and their rules. He also loves being the defender of the underdog which is what drew him to Demelza in the first place. Right from the start, Ross defended Demelza from cruelty and abuse and took her in.
But does he love her? It’s this question that becomes the mystery of the episode. How can someone like Ross love this untamed girl when he had recently lost the supposed love (a genteel lady) of his life to another man?
When Ross’ cousin Verity comes for a visit, the two girls bond over their love for Ross. Both Verity (who has been mistreated by her family by everyone but Ross) and Demelza are kindred spirits with similar struggles even though they come from vastly different backgrounds. These two “underdogs” long for love yet fear they will never be able to have it. Over sewing, they come to understand each other and become fast friends. This exchange of words also reveals Demelza’s true feelings for Ross and her own view of his feelings for her.
The scene begins as Verity breaks an awkward silence between her and Demelza as Ross works at the mine, leaving the two of them to bond alone.
“Before he met you, he was broken. Lost. So I was relieved to think he’d found someone to console him, to save him from his loneliness. But now I see it’s more than consolation. You’ve given him hope. A life without hope is bleak. And a life without love…”
Demelza interrupts, “Oh, tis not that.”
“You do not…?” Verity questions.
“Love ‘im? Beyond anything,” Demelza passionately admits. “But, I could never hope that… that he would ever…He’s kind to me. And when we’re abed I ‘ave reason to think I do please ‘im.”
“Oh, I’m sure you do,” Verity awkwardly agrees.
“But I’d never call it love. Ee’s never used that word t’me and I misdoubt ‘ee ever shall.”
Demelza believes that Ross didn’t marry her for love and that he will never say that “word” to her. Is her fear a reality though?
Later, Ross and Demelza have a conversation about Verity’s own loss of love. Playfully, Ross asks Demelza what she knows of love. “A little,” she playfully answers back. Still, Ross doesn’t use the word. The feelings between them remain ambiguous to each other.
However, throughout the episode, their relationship as husband and wife continues to grow and develop. Their conversations turn to “liking” each other and admitting it aloud. But still not love, keeping his feelings a mystery – perhaps even to himself.
But it’s not until he brings her to meet his family and by extension, society that his own feelings of “love” awaken in him. Ross asks her to sing for the group, which she anxiously agrees to.
Demelza sings a song of red roses and love as the group watches and listens in awe. Ross and Demelza gaze intensely at each other as she sings to him of love – telling him without words that she loves him.
And with family and “society” coming around to Demelza due to her charm, the two leave the party happily the next morning.
Soon after, even better news awaits them. Ross’ mine has finally struck copper! Poverty was about to fall upon them, but their luck has now changed. They embrace happily in the crowd of workers who are also celebrating in joy.
Which brings me to our …
ROMANTIC MOMENT OF THE WEEK
Later that night, with Ross in a great mood due to his mine striking copper, Ross and Demelza discuss the events of the last few days. She wants to know how she did (for his family) and if he is ashamed of her at all.
He pauses and asks her, “Why do you think I married you?”
“I don’t rightly know,” she admits.
“To satisfy an appetite…to save myself from being alone,” he says reiterating other people’s guesses. “Because it was the right thing to do,” (referring to how they slept together before they were married) Ross says. “I had few expectations. At best, you’d be a distraction. A bandage to ease a wound,” he honestly admits. Demelza’s face begins to fall.
But then Ross changes the direction of his words after a long pause. “But I was mistaken….You’ve redeemed me,” he says as he stares into her eyes.
“I am your humble servant,” Ross continues as he takes her hand. “And I love you,” he sincerely tells her.
Demelza smiles when hearing the words she truly believed he would never say. Ross leans in and gives her a genuine kiss.
She breaks the moment saying, “I hope you will have a little love to spare.” And then reveals that they will be having a child together.
The two smile and kiss each other happily in this perfect moment of husband and wife.
Sometimes words (in this case – Ross’ words) have an incredible power to bring two people together. “Love” perhaps the most powerful word of all.
Have you been watching Poldark? What did you think of this episode and the build up to Ross’ declaration? Let me know in the comments!
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