Screens: BBC

Use Your Words, Poldarks!

Francis learns the hard way that there are some methods of solving disputes he should not engage in.

We can all agree that, ever since his cousin Ross returned from losing a war in the Colonies, Francis Poldark's life has not been super-great. Sure, he locked down Elizabeth, Ross's ex, in marriage, but it's pretty clear to everyone that she didn't exactly enter into the union with overwhelming enthusiasm -- and, in fact, that she finds Francis's touch repulsive.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

If this is how Elizabeth reacts to a chaste kiss from her husband, Charles probably shouldn't spend too much of his remaining fortune fixing up more than the one nursery, if you know what I mean. (I mean I suspect that, now that she's gotten knocked up once, Elizabeth's junk is closed for business.)

And it's not just Francis's lawfully married wife who's publicly enjoying herself too much at balls with Ross and privately soaking her petticoats for him: sure, he pays for a night's companionship...

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...presumably -- we know she's in the trade but we don't actually see money change hands, so maybe she couldn't help throwing him a freebie. And Ross's own kitchen help is spending her breaks spying on him while he skinny-dips.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Poor Francis has to stand by while Ross attracts not just the amorous attentions of every girl and woman in Cornwall AND investors to his mining venture? Sounds like the time is right for Francis to try to exert his authority over one of the very few things in his life that he CAN control: his sister Verity.

See, while Elizabeth was having the time of her life with Ross at a recent ball, Verity was doing the seemingly impossible: being noticed by a certain Captain Blamey. And since the rumour is that Blamey killed his first wife, Francis and Charles are Not Having It; I guess even a crusted-over spinster of [gasp] twenty-five has sufficient value for her family not to entertain overtures from possible murderers. Knowing this may be her very last chance at love, Verity decides to believe Blamey's own account of the matter (which is that it was an accident), and gets Ross to let her meet Blamey at Ross's place. Francis finds out, heads straight to Ross's, and inserts himself in the situation, getting in Blamey's face and spitting his indignation all over it. When Blamey dismisses Francis as a puppy, it's on.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Ish.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Despite having just been easily dominated by Blamey in front of all his closest relatives, Francis decides the answer is to escalate the dispute, and demands that Blamey face him in a duel, with pistols. Now, Blamey is a naval captain, so when it comes to implements of human destruction, he might have more experience with cannons than small arms. But it seems pretty clear that even if Blamey only spent a nominal amount of time being trained on handguns, that's exponentially more time than Francis has ever spent handling explosive firearms.

And yet it seems like the theme raised in the series premiere -- that the Poldarks are among the few "gentlemen" in the region, and that while the world is changing a little, class still counts -- is so ingrained in Francis that he's certain he's going to triumph over Blamey just because he fancy. There is no indication that Francis has any doubt about his chances in this fight. Ross seems like he does, though!

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Francis has spent the bulk of these first two episodes showing us how impotent he is; now, dueling with Blamey, he's also emasculated subtextually.

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

Francis fails to shoot his gun (geddit) effectively, and barely manages to give Blamey an injury that would require the period equivalent of Neosporin, and though he does succeed in getting Blamey to leave town, it's probably mostly because someone who's already thought to have murdered one person wouldn't want to hang out and see if he's taken out another -- because, as the episode ends, Francis still hasn't regained consciousness. Dude, was it really so important for you to keep Verity at home so she could deal with the chicken coop that you had to take such a dumb risk with your life that ended so predictably?

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Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

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