After the events of season one, audiences go into season two with no doubt that Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is a man of honour among a poisonous aristocratic class. Francis says “which of us does not secretly adore him?” To be honest, he’s right. Ross is one of those characters that really plays with audience’s hearts because he fights for ‘The People’ regardless of his own safety. Audiences love him, the villagers love him but the his own class hate him. By the season’s end, some of us may hate him as well. He’s not as honourable as one may think, as we see in a highly provocative scene with Elizabeth in a during episode eight.
BBC One’s romantic period drama delivered a strong season premiere, taking us back to the glorious Cornish landscapes, chiselled torsos and stunning set pieces. It doesn’t waste anytime in getting us into the thick of it, picking up where season one finished. Ross comes to blows with Cornish law yet again, after being accused of inciting a bloodthirsty riot. His evident arrogance and honour when he refuses any good willed help from his friends and family is really irritating. You’d think he’d do what’s necessary rather than be a slave to pride. He could be hanged but it’s only the premiere and this isn’t Game Of Thrones, so they can’t go around killing main characters whenever they fancy.
Jack Farthing as George Warleggan is one of the best television villains in recent years. He’s menacing yet still entertaining and engaging to watch. Turner (The Hobbit Trilogy) and Farthing (Cilla) bounce of each other, as every paring of this nature should. There are numerous times throughout the season where these two come to blows and it makes for great television. I recollect one such occasion when Poldark pays back the money he owes George to avoid debtors prison. When George realises Ross won’t be going to prison, his face is priceless…yet again, another Warleggan plan thwarted by Ross Poldark. One other such occasion is when George creates some literary propaganda to smear Ross’ name. Their encounters are the gold standard of what every protagonist-antagonist encounter should be.
Numerous new characters have joined the throng, including British TV legend John Nettles (Midsomer Murders) who has come to Poldark to play Ray Penvenen. Gabrielle Wilde joins him as his niece Caroline. Let’s be honest, she soon became a fan favourite yet she’s too much trouble. She has the silver tongue of Elizabeth Bennett but the eccentricity of Sybil Crawley. Essentially, she’s Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) if she was born into money. Three is company, as Hugh Skinner (Windsors and Flebag) joins the Penvenens as wannabe politician, Unwin Trevaunance. The triple act bring a bit more edge to the series but also some much needed, classic period drama witty banter. Hear! Hear!
Season two also sees the arrival of Captain McNeil (Henry Garrett) and the return of characters such as: Verity (Ruby Bentall), Elizabeth (Heidi Reed) and Francis (Kyle Soller). Let’s not forget the local aristocracy with their idol gossip about who is courting whom. From episode to episode, the continuity is sound, despite writers constantly dumping us with things from the previous season. Season one was very much Ross’ season but season two is more female-led. Demelza (Tomlinson) comes into her own showing us more to her character. Player, Captain McNeil does his best to work Demelza but to no avail. Their arcs and dialogue is certainly pivotal to her character. Though, I did revel in Demelza slapping Ross after he his act of infidelity.
Season two has shown us that Ross Poldark is far from the great man everyone thinks he is. He’s deeply flawed with an alcohol problem and likes to exert power over others, regardless of their sex. He doesn’t like taking no for an answer. He’s sweet and has a charming allure. Then he turns into someone else entirely. Some of the things he does and says are brutal to watch. His cousin on the other hand, Francis Poldark, is another kettle of fish. During the first season, I didn’t like him at all. Season two brings a reborn Francis, free from mental traumas and annoying outbursts. Just as I was getting to like this new Francis, he drowns in the mines. True to the source material, but nonetheless saddening.
Season two of this cult-followed period drama shows more betrayals but there are great elements of unity and friendship. Though in my opinion, Caroline Penvenen is one of my new favourite characters and her arc with Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) is marvellous indeed. It’s a cringe-free romance and I wouldn’t expect anything less from the BBC. With excellent performance, a stunning musical score and poignant aesthetic features, season two is an improvement of season one (not that it was bad). Poldark continues to do the books justice, a rarity for an adaptation in post-2010 television.