It is back. After well over a year’s wait the popular series returned with more stunning, sweeping shots of the Cornish countryside (and Aiden Turner looking lovely as always). I have to admit after so long I needed a refresher of the first series, but once I had caught up, the second series met and maybe even surpassed expectations. The series started with Ross Poldark’s (Turner) position being far from ideal. Not only was he arrested for wrecking, attacking a customs official, and murder (which is more than enough for most people), his financial situation is far from stable, and he is still mourning the recent loss of his child. The mood had not lifted by the end of the episode, and doesn’t look to be doing so any time soon. On the plus side we can assume Ross at least doesn’t die as a Poldark series without the eponymous character would be a little bizarre.

Along with the beautiful shots of the Cornish coast and clifftops, the cast returned as super as before. Whilst Aiden Turner quite understandably takes much of the glory, Eleanor Tomlinson (Demelza), Heida Reed (Elizabeth), Jack Farthing (George Warleggan), and Kyle Soller (Francis) also deserve considerable recognition for their parts, as do the entire cast in fact. The new additions of Gabriella Wilde and John Nettles (Caroline and Ray Penvenan) also look promising. Hugh Skinner (Unwin Trevaunance) was another notable addition to the cast, although we are yet to see enough of him to make a judgement on him.

Ross and Demelza were as gripping as ever, as the chemistry in their relationship continued to show. These two characters continue to be compelling, and whatever their many faults , you always end up rooting for them. This of course has noting to do with the fact that both characters are stunning and arguably the best looking 18th century couple. Ross’ principles and seeming unwillingness to help himself was frustrating, but realistically would we like him as much had he accepted Warleggan’s help? Probably not. Demelza’s grief for her lost child, and her efforts to help Ross were endearing and you really felt for her as she faced an uncertain and unstable future without her husband.

However, it is Elizabeth rather than Demelza who now faces an uncertainty. Francis appeared increasingly desperate throughout the episode as his problems mounted. The reality of his troubled and loveless marriage, his alcoholism, his financial insecurity and thus his dependence on George Warleggan overwhelmed him and, perhaps for the first time in his life Francis took a firm action on his own. Unfortunately this had to result in his own death. After his outburst at George (and my mum’s slip up of telling me what happened), this dramatic ending was predictable but no less shocking. This turn of events will undoubtedly have a huge impact on all characters. How will Elizabeth respond to life as a poor widow? How will Ross react to his cousin’s death and his now widowed first love? Will this have any impact on the case against Ross? Will it make George now think twice about his actions? And most importantly, where will Dr Enys sleep now his room is ruined?

I suspect Dr Enys will find hospitality with the Penvenans after his meeting with Caroline. The new cast members look set to add more drama to the series, Caroline especially. Appearing spoilt and rich with her beloved dog Horace, there is also a more manipulative side to her and could spell trouble for those if she aims to get her own way. Dr Enys should look out after his misdoings last series, but I can see more to be explored where these characters are concerned.

A star of the show not mentioned yet is of course Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston). Not only is Agatha the most Aunt-like name, it suits the character completely. Her comments from her corner of the room provide entertainment and I look forward to seeing more as the series progresses. Her guillotining of the fruit (a fig?) was slightly unnerving but fabulous all the same.

So, questions for the next episode. Will Ross be released? Will George intensify his seduction of Elizabeth? What role will the Penvenans play? Is Verity back for good and will she bring Captain Blamey now Francis is dead? Will there be more topless Ross or was that the only bit of the series, put in to draw in viewers? And will Aunt Agatha guillotine any more fruit?

Photo credit to BBC