Emerging from several days of preparation, cooking, and consuming to write this commentary. My observations this time are likely to be on the short side partly because of the holiday, partly because this was a “fall-out” episode, in which characters mostly reacted to what had happened last week. Namely, Ross succumbing to lust, jealousy, and outraged possession and having a one-night stand (level of consent debatable) with Elizabeth. And getting decked by Demelza when he returns and immediately starts in with the lame excuses.
- Demelza: For all intents and purposes, this was her episode. From her cool, incisive take-down of her cheating husband while she sat alone in their bed like a queen holding court (no room for Ross, I observed) to her furious smashing of crockery when he once again tried to make excuses for what he’d done to her failed attempt to pay him back in his own coin to her desolate walk along the shore afterwards, she was the dominant and most sympathetic figure here. Which is just as well because Ross was unspeakable…but I’ll get to that, presently. I also enjoyed Demelza’s decision to have breakfast in bed and ignore the chores piling up in the kitchen–if only because so many in that household take her industry and hard work for granted, Ross chief among them.
- Prudie and Jud: While I like the Oldark incarnations of these characters better, I enjoyed their gruff concern for Demelza and their partisanship when it came to her vs. Ross. Face it, Ross–you know you’ve screwed up when even the Paynters are mad at you, even though that truth is doubtless as unpalatable as that burned mess Prudie served up to you at breakfast.
- Jeremy! I don’t usually wax sentimental over kids, but he’s a cute one. And Demelza’s loving relationship with her son was a welcome contrast to the bitterness she currently feels towards his father. Liked her song as well–Tomlinson has been blessed with a lovely voice–and the lyrics reminded me of the lines from The Faerie Queene that Colonel Brandon reads to Marianne in the 1995 film of Sense & Sensibility.
- Pop-Up George: In Warleggan, he is not among the guests at Sir Hugh Bodrugan’s party. Nor does he set on his accomplice–Tankard (who is never that prominent in the books)–to debauch Demelza. Canonically, he has far bigger fish to fry trying to get suddenly skittish Elizabeth to the altar. Having him at the party, conniving at Demelza’s ruin, just feels gratuitous and serves no purpose. It would be one thing if he took advantage of seeing Demelza there and needled Ross about seeing his wife carrying on with MacNeil, but he doesn’t, which makes his presence pointless.
- OOC Aunt Agatha: I realize that Newdark was in a bit of a bind when it came to dramatizing Elizabeth’s predicament. Canonically, she has no confidante at this time, and she is left to struggle on with what happened and trying to make sense of it (especially since Ross refuses to “man up” and confront the consequences of his actions). But making Agatha her confidante and having her dismiss Ross’s “kitchen maid” while touting Elizabeth’s “prior claim” was a horrid bit of character assassination. For one thing, Agatha in the novels genuinely liked Demelza–her “little bud”–and for another, “prior claim,” my arse! Ross is married and has a child with Demelza! In my book, that supersedes anything Ross and Elizabeth shared, which was neither a marriage nor even an official engagement! And in 18th century England, Agatha would think that way too! Plus, it would be a big scandal if Ross did desert his family to set up house with his former flame. Both their reputations would be smirched, and Geoffrey Charles and Jeremy would suffer for their parents’ folly.
In a word, Ross. Seriously, he needed to stop talking. To stop making excuses. To stop trying to justify what he did. To stop trying to control/rewrite the narrative. Because the hole he’d already dug for himself got a foot deeper every time he opened his mouth. This is not Graham’s Ross–or even Oldark‘s Ross–neither of whom covers himself with glory after the Elizabeth Incident, but neither consistently shoves his foot in his mouth either. Both versions have enough sense to shut up in the immediate aftermath of what they’ve done.
Newdark‘s Ross? Not so much. It was getting to the point where I cringed every time he tried to talk to Demelza because I knew he’d come out with something that would just offend or alienate her even more. It would be hard to choose from all the bone-headed, self-serving crap things he said, but I think the one that took the cake was his suggestion that she “bide a while and let it all play out.” In other words, wait around until he decides which woman he wants more. Um, yeah, buddy–that’ll go over well with your wife of six years.
Most glaring of all, so far? He hasn’t apologized. Or asked forgiveness. There’s been a ton of self-justification but no remorse. Word of advice: Stop mansplaining and start crawling. Now. And stop trying to throw money at your problem in hopes that that will make it go away–that’s a George move.
Apropos of which, Ross’s treatment of Elizabeth isn’t any better. Even though I’m largely indifferent to her, I can sympathize because she had made a decision to move on with her life, to marry George for comfort and security. And why shouldn’t she? It was her choice to make. And now Ross, by his arrogant actions, has completely upset her plans and thrown her into turmoil. Worse, he doesn’t have the guts to ride over and thrash things out for once and for all. So, his getting an eyeful of the Warleggans’ wedded bliss as they move into Trenwith? No more than he deserves.
Next up, the finale! Until then…