Ross saved the King from assassination, became a spy, and had his farm firebombed by revolting peasants – with Demelza in it. A standard return for Poldark, by JIM SHELLEY
Poldark was back for its final series and, impressively, madder than ever – literally in the case of George Warleggan.
Ravaged by grief, the banker (traditionally the hero’s nemesis) was suffering from hallucinations, convinced Elizabeth still lived in the house with him, and slowly but unsurely losing his mind…
Fantastic, I mean tragic.
Final hurrah: Poldark was back for its final series and, impressively, madder than ever
Captain Ross meanwhile secured the release of an ex-army comrade illegally imprisoned by the government; saved the King’s life (foiling an assassination attempt by throwing himself at the gunman); and was recruited as a spy by ye olde MI6.
A busy episode even by his standards. All just the last ten minutes in fact, and while his farmhouse was going up in flames after his supermodel wife Demelza were targeted by a firebomb.
Yes, the peasants really were revolting. So revolting they’d turned on the British monarch (HRH George the Third) and, even more treacherously, against Poldark (his Majesty Aiden Turner).
Of course we knew he was ‘a true man of the people’ (because he kept telling us), albeit quite a rich one and an MP nowadays. But the disaffected (starving) local yokels thought otherwise.
Life in Truro and That London circa 1800 certainly wasn’t dull.
There was no sign of Master Ross’ indefatigable trusty steed (Frankel) but the rest of the gang were all there: the obnoxious Geoffrey (‘Joffrey’) Charles, creepy little Valentine, Morwenna, Drake (not that one), his brother Sam (from Mumford & Son), Prudie (Dawn French), Dwight Enys and his hot wife Caroline. ‘Elizabeth was so strong and full of life,’ she sighed (two things she definitely wasn’t). ‘So cruel to have her snatched away…’
Dramatic: A busy episode even by his standards. All just the last ten minutes in fact, and while his farmhouse was going up in flames after his supermodel wife Demelza were targeted by a firebomb
‘Childbirth can be hazardous,’ Doctor Dwight confirmed. ‘One thing I guarantee – you will not share her fate.’
With this he surely guaranteed that she will.
Poldark, predictably, was less soppy about his former fiancée and her son.
‘Geoffrey Charles will recover!’ he reassured Demelza. ‘Life must go forward. Nothing is constant.’
Ross and Demelza certainly weren’t. Luckily their lovers (Elizabeth and Lieutenant Hugh Armitage) were dead though, which allowed Poldark to coo: ‘nothing in my life has meaning without you’ and her to simper back: ‘Nor mine without you.’
Who were they trying to kid?
We’ll have to wait and see whether he falls for Catherine Despard, the Honduran wife (and former slave) of an Irish Colonel who’s saved Poldark’s life back in 1781/2015 (America’s War of Independence/the show’s very first episode).
Ned Despard has been falsely accused and imprisoned without trial, the victim of a state conspiracy.
‘I am desperate and you are my last hope,’ he declared in the letter Catherine delivered.
Unraveling: Ravaged by grief, George Warleggan (traditionally the hero’s nemesis) was suffering from hallucinations and slowly but unsurely losing his mind.
‘If I’m not mistaken he’s asking me to take on the Crown, the government, the empire, and the slave trade!’ Captain Ross concluded.
‘I should warn you that if you take on his case it may be the rashest thing you ever do!’ Catherine confirmed gravely.
At which point we knew his mind was screaming: ‘Count me in!’
Dwight Enys reminded Ross that ‘Ned had the temperament of a powder keg’ (his opinion as a doctor).
‘I think you’ll find he’s older and wiser now,’ suggested Poldark, as we saw Ned punching in his cell punching the wall in rage.
Naturally Poldark immediately abandoned Demelza, leaving her ‘to run the farm, the mine and the family’ (as she put it) despite her obvious inability to keep the revolting peasants in their place.
One particularly stroppy young woman had threatened her on the cliff top: ‘out alone missus? Shouldn’t you be safe at home, sipping tea?’
Tess Tregidden seemed almost offended by Demelza’s attempts at empathy, branding her ‘a scullery maid who wed her master, got grand, and forgot what it’s like to starve.’
‘Tis my aim to find work for you all!’ bridled Demelza, prompting Tess to scoff: ‘Oh bless thee Lady Bountiful! Alms for the poor to salve your conscience!’
Revolt: Naturally Poldark immediately abandoned Demelza, leaving her ‘to run the farm, the mine and the family’ (as she put it) despite her obvious inability to keep the revolting peasants in their place
In hindsight, giving Tess a job as a farmhand was not the brightest thing Demelza ever did (but not the stupidest either).
‘Did you do this?’ Demelza grilled her after the firebomb that followed a couple of nights later.
‘I did not,’ said Tess, with her fingers crossed and nose growing.
Nonetheless, intelligently, Demelza headed off to the capital leaving Prudie to deal with Tess.
Meanwhile in London, Doctor Dwight seemed suspiciously smitten with Catherine Despard when she gave an understandably impassioned speech to supporters campaigning for the abolition of slavery.
‘A force to be reckoned with!’ Enys purred as she blazed:
‘What corrupts the milk of human kindness, turns the just and tender-hearted into vile, rapacious, brutes? The pursuit of profit! Do not our senses cry out for liberty, equality, brotherhood!’
‘Most eloquent!’ diagnosed Doctor Dwight.
‘And dangerous…’ tutted Poldark, looking round in case anyone had called ye olde Old Bill.
The swashbuckling pilchard plunderer and rebel tin-mine owner of the early series had now become a master at hedging his bets.
After he had secured the Colonel’s freedom (albeit unwittingly), he vowed to help Despard clear his name paying no heed to Doctor Dwight’s warning ‘Ned has clearly acquired some powerful enemies.’
All in a day’s work: Captain Ross secured the release of an ex-army comrade illegally imprisoned by the government; saved the King’s life (foiling an assassination attempt by throwing himself at the gunman); and was recruited as a spy by ye olde MI6
These included the founder of the British foreign secret service, an Alistair Campbell/Malcolm Tucker lookalike William Wickham, who witnessed Poldark’s heroics with the assassination attempt and mooted: ‘the government can always find a covert role for a person of your… talents.’
Naturally our hero responded to his offer in the manner we’ve come to expect – asking what was in it for him.
Ned’s release for a start, although the sinister Wickham mused: ‘Are you quite sure you know where your loyalties lie? Colonel Despard had some unwise connections in the West Indies.’
This was true. As luck would have it, at that very moment, Ned’s fiercest enemy was discussing going into business with (you’ve guessed it) George Warleggan.
Mr. Ralph Hanson’s Mosquito Shore Mahogany Company had recently experienced ‘a minor slave trade difficulty’ in (you guessed it) Honduras.
Hanson explained he had been ‘plagued by ‘an upstart Irishman – a most vexatious specimen’ and had eventually denounced Ned as ‘a traitor acting against the interests of the crown.’
Hanson handed him the Mosquito Shore Mahogany Company’s accounts expecting to close their deal. Unfortunately George this moment to have one of his funny turns. ‘My dear would you favour us with your opinion?’ he called to his servant Bessie – mistaking her for Elizabeth.
Awkward… Poor George had been hearing his wife’s voice too, as his uncle/advisor/business partner had realized. Warleggan was so doolally he had no clue that he was due in London -to be knighted by the King.
‘I’ll inform Elizabeth,’ the previously power-crazed banker replied when his uncle informed him. ‘Elizabeth is already there awaiting us,’ his uncle bluffed desperately. ‘Are you quite sane?!’ spluttered George in disbelief.
‘Elizabeth is here!’ And sure enough there she was – sitting at the table opposite him, looking lovelier if slightly paler and more ghostly than ever. It was an uncharacteristically dark, disturbing, end to an episode of Poldark.
On the other hand, the way George smiled at ‘Elizabeth’ contentedly was nice to see. In a manner he never did when she was alive.
‘Elizabeth is here!’: And sure enough there she was – sitting at the table opposite him, looking lovelier if slightly paler and more ghostly than ever
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