We’re back! Poldark’s final season is upon us, and Ross Poldark is as “hold my beer” as ever about kissing Demelza goodbye and flinging himself into dangerous situations. Is it hoping too much that the people of Truro will manage to spend this season not being terrible to each other or having disasters befall them? I envision a world where the largest catastrophe in this show is that Morwenna misplaces Dwight’s precious heirloom sugar tongs and the other characters must locate them before he finds out and is slightly dismayed.
In brief, Ross is going to try to rescue his former captain (now a colonel) and right an injustice. But the details are, of course, tangled up with everyone we know. And a lot of minor and therefore much more interesting domestic events are also happening, so let’s dive into discussing them.
George has apparently slashed his workers’ wages, leaning into the young Ebenezer Scrooge thing he has going on by saying, “Why should we pay more for labor when we can get it for less?” It’s that kind of question that explains why you have no friends, George.
Speaking of George’s lamentable but completely understandable lack of support system, he is losing it. If you will remember, Elizabeth died last season after taking some shady London pharmaceuticals in yet another act of sacrifice from the women of Poldark for the men in their lives. George is now left with their daughter, Ursula, and their son, Valentine, who resembles Ross to an almost comic level. Is he paying attention to them? Not really, because he is preoccupied with Elizabeth. His quick descent assuredly started soon after her death, and was no doubt helped along by Ross telling him he knows how he feels “more than you know,” which is basically like, “Hey, I banged your wife too, so I get it.” Ross, you’re an idiot.
When his manservant/only friend asks when he last entertained, George says he has no taste for company. Okay, so as established, he is very sad about Elizabeth dying, but also if this is all the lead-up to him becoming some kind of Batman villain, it makes total sense. He’ll be called the Miser and his thing will be that he hurls coins at you, but they work on the yo-yo system so they always come back to him.
His manservant, whose name I refuse to learn because he only ever behaves terribly, is jazzed because George is going to be ennobled by the king, so he wants him to remarry to look better for Society. To that end, he introduces George to another man we are definitely supposed to hate and his arch daughter (Cecily), who seems fine. This man makes his money through mahogany. He says mahogany is great because you grow it real easy, cut it down, and boom, you got some mahogany. Cecily says it’s at great cost to those who labor for it (most likely the native Hondurans or Nicaraguans), and in a parody of an out-of-touch aristocrat, he holds up his glass of claret and says his daughter has a somewhat naïve grasp of business matters. The men laugh at the silly woman.
George pays zero attention to Cecily and instead is disturbingly talking about Elizabeth as if she is still alive. Worrying! But oh, do not worry, it gets worse, as by the end of the episode he is clearly either hallucinating or Poldark has gone down the very fun ghost route. As that seems rather un-Poldark-like, though, let’s assume grief hallucination. Or hallucination ghost, if you want the best of both worlds.
Also in this episode are Doctor Dwight of the missing sugar tongs; his wife, Caroline; and everyone’s favorite beleaguered pairing, Morwenna and Drake. Remember Morwenna and Drake? She had one of the absolutely most traumatizing marriages I’ve ever seen portrayed on television, and Drake is a sweet dumb young man who is perfect for her. She’s still dealing with PTSD from her sadistic former husband, so there appears to be no physical dimension to her relationship with Drake.
I’m not proud of Poldark for a lot, but this is a really nice portrayal of a marriage involving someone with sexual trauma. Drake is very clear that it doesn’t make any difference to how much he loves her and that their relationship never needs to physically progress. These kids need to get out of Truro before they get sucked into the Vortex of Drama apparently located at the town’s center. (Is it possible Truro sits on a Hellmouth? That would explain a lot.)
A lot happened this episode, including an attempted assassination of the king. Ross prevented it, and now he’s being asked to be a spy by someone named Wickham, who I will from now on assume is a later-in-life George Wickham of Pride and Prejudice, despite that novel being published 12 years later. The former captain he is trying to save is Edward Despard, a historical figure (spoilers for what must inevitably happen this season). Aiding him is his wife Catherine (or “Kitty”), also a historical figure. There are reports of Catherine being of Jamaican or Spanish Creole descent, but as for the show’s claim she was an enslaved woman owned by Despard, that seems to be creative license.
And what of poor Demelza! Abandoned this entire recap, much like she has been abandoned on the farm while her husband saves kings at the opera. Demelza is running everything as usual, taking care of her children, making sure they have enough money to survive. Due to George’s cut wages, local workers are asking for work at the Poldark mine, but there isn’t any work to be had. She ends up offering a job on the farm to an intimidating woman named Tess, who maybe set Demelza’s house on fire but also she has, as they say, presence, so I am looking forward to seeing more of her.
Ross says nothing in his life has meaning without Demelza. Is this season trying to fix his former terrible behavior? Look, if they want to do a Hail Mary pass at the end, I’m willing to forget everything he has done on the entire show. But this could also be soap-opera foreshadowing where he makes promises like “Look, I will NEVER leave you or take you for granted or cheat on you again” and all that means is he’s definitely going to.
But Demelza is off to London and we’re off on this season-five journey! May it treat us well. We deserve it.