Previously, on Poldark: Season 3 kicked off by introducing us to a bunch of new faces, including Demelza’s two eye-candy brothers, Sam and Drake, as well as Elizabeth’s sweet, but poverty-stricken cousin, Morwenna. In the way of star-crossed youths everywhere, Drake and Morwenna immediately hit it off, as tensions continue to rise between Trenwith and Nampara. Elsewhere, Elizabeth continues to hope that her vile husband won’t notice that her baby is due about a month earlier than she told him it would be, and throws herself down some stairs to provide an excuse for her son’s early birth. In happier news, Dwight and Caroline finally tie the knot, but he’s only gets 24 hours to spend in England before he’s back on a boat and getting taken prisoner by the French. Time for Ross the rescue, obviously!
(Need more than just a paragraph? Check out last week’s full recap here.)
So, it seems fair to say that Season 3 of Poldark really is going to be a whole new thing, this time around. Episodes seem deliberately less focused on Ross, at least at this point, and actively encourage us as viewers to invest ourselves in other characters. I think this idea is working, as I’m actually curious to see where the show goes this season, and I’m actively thinking about things other than the various ways that Ross Poldark has made me angry of late.
However, it means that this week’s episode is rather slow and plodding. Not a lot happens, technically, even though there are some fairly dark moments for several major characters. And we have to sit through some really quite interminable scenes involving Ross trying to get his spycraft on. (Spoiler alert: He should keep his day job.)
It’s Ross to the rescue. The bulk of this episode follows Ross and his random friend we’ve never met before this season whose name is legitimately Tholly, somehow, on their adventure to France. Theoretically, they’re looking for information about Dwight – whether he’s alive or held captive or what – but they basically have their own Bond-esque adventure for a bit first. The two men end up in a generally nondescript French village, one that happens to be positively teeming with political unrest and punishment. (The half-dozen shots of the town guillotine were not subtle.)
Thanks to a particularly smitten local French barmaid who can’t believe that Ross doesn’t want to hook up with her – he just can’t help attracting ladies wherever he goes, don’t you know – the men are soon suspected of being British spies. Which, as it turns out, is probably lucky that they aren’t, because they’d be spectacularly bad at it. Bright side, however, the two men are not immediately shoved into the arms of the town’s Very Obvious Guillotine, but instead put back on a ship bound for the British Isles. Which Ross stays on for roughly five minutes. Yes, our intrepid hero not only leaps off the boat, swims back to shore, but immediately marches right back to the bar where he was originally arrested. Sometimes Ross is so stupid that I’m not entirely sure how he’s still alive. I get that he means well – some of the time, at least, but honestly.
Of course he’s recognized almost immediately. And of course he ends up having to fight his way out of a room full of people, but not before managing to grab the list naming all the prisoners being held nearby. Because, if we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that Ross manages to get incredibly lucky when it counts, most of the time.
George chases his best life. The worst part about Poldark Season 3 is that, thanks to his marriage to Elizabeth, we’re forced to spend a lot more time around Vile George Warleggan. I’m sure if we compared actual length of screentime with last year, it would probably only rate a slight increase, but it feels like he’s everywhere so far this season, ruining everything he touches. And either way, I can tell you that I have precisely zero interest in learning anything more about George’s life goals, or how he intends to raise the Warleggan family’s station through various semi-nefarious means.
Thanks to Ross turning down the Poldark family’s traditional position of local magistrate, George ends up with the job instead. So much for justice, huh? Because he immediately uses his new position for his own advancement, even going so far as to let a connected rapist go free and condemn his accuser to face a trial for perjury, all so he can suck up more obviously to someone who might help him move up the social ladder a little faster. He really does put the V-I-L-E in Vile George, huh? Not to mention he fulfills every stereotype of the evil that men in power can do to those with little of it. (Demelza was so right about why Ross needed to take that magistrate post. When will anyone learn to just LISTEN TO DEMELZA, already?)
Eventually, George decides that he, Elizabeth and their poorly named son Valentine should pack up and head for Truro, so that he can more openly chase his dream of becoming a Burgess. A position that will doubtless allow him to be even more vile in some way. (Barf.) Elizabeth – who, interestingly enough seems quite beloved by the villagers and tenants around Trenwith – agrees with this decision to move, for the sole reason that she is angry with Ross. Elizabeth seems to base a lot of big life decisions around being angry at Ross, and while I sympathize with her continued fury over the way he’s treated her, it’s also a little too convenient. Just last week we saw how distraught Elizabeth was at the prospect of having a governess separate her from her son, but now seems perfectly find with leaving Geoffrey Charles behind for the sake of a fancy manor house in Truro. Maybe it’s all the laudanum she’s chugging with such abandon, hmm?
Morwenna and Drake flirt cute. Young Geoffrey Charles Poldark continues to prove himself the biggest possible Drake and Morwenna shipper this week, as he serves as a pseudo-wingman to the couple. He constantly works to facilitate meetings between the two, and snitches on his governess about how much she talks about Drake behind his back. Honestly, this kid is like five minutes from writing Drake and Morwenna (Drawenna? I don’t know) fanfiction, but for some reason, it’s not as annoying as it probably should be.
In all honesty, Drake and Morwenna probably aren’t as annoying together as they probably should be. The two are relentlessly saccharine, constantly making cow eyes and staring after one another with varying degrees of longing. Considering that they’ve only had a handful of conversations, and probably have very little in common other than both being young and attractive, this really shouldn’t work at all. And yet. Somehow, it’s hard to resist their general adorableness as they race along the beach together, or to not cross your fingers and hope that they get their chance at a kiss sometime in the near future. Life's short, kids. And terrible things seem to happen to people in this town all the time. Seize the day!
Demelza takes charge. The best part of this episode is that it reminds us how great Demelza is, particularly when her husband isn’t around. Rather than sit around and wait for Ross to return from his French swashbuckling mission, Demelza just keeps right on trucking, handling household chores and angrily baking bread with Prudie, with a few pauses here and there to mournfully stare at the empty sea. But at the end of the day, Demelza isn’t the sort of woman to sit around and pine after an absent spouse. She’s much better off – and more interesting – being an active, rather than a passive participant in her life. And for us, as viewers, watching her reclaim her own agency is a much-needed balm after the events of last season.
When Demelza learns that her brothers are having a problem securing a meeting house in which to set up their new church, she does her best to help out. As is to be expected, Vile George manages to kick them out of their first option (by rescinding a verbal agreement Francis Poldark had made to gift one of his buildings to the local community), Demelza offers up a large storage building on Nampara land. Ross, of course, being gone, is not consulted on this matter at all, and it’s rather lovely to see her stake her claim as an equal with her husband. After all, if Ross isn’t there, she has to be able to make decisions, and her word has to be respected, same as if it were his. That’s the whole point of being married, isn’t it?
Dwight is okay, and that’s what matters. After Ross flees for his life in France, we learn that Dwight is just fine. Well, not fine, not exactly. But alive, and that’s what counts. Although did anybody really think Dwight would die? He only just married Caroline after all. And while I realize that tragedy often happens, historically speaking, a show like Poldark certainly isn’t interested in realism in a story like this. No, we’re all just going to have to suffer and angst about how and when Caroline and Dwight will find their way back to one another. At the moment, they’re basically everyone’s favorite romantic pairing, and the two haven’t even had a wedding night yet. No, the show will likely drag Dwight’s imprisonment out for several more episodes, so we can watch the two of them pine for one another some more. It’s the kind of story they have.
At any rate, we see that Dwight is remarkably unhurt, and already making himself busy tending to the other wounded or otherwise needy in his terrible looking prison. Somehow he’s already managed to grow a full beard and keep it in remarkably well-groomed condition, so perhaps Dwight possesses magical powers that we were heretofore unaware of. Maybe his personal grooming skills will save us from too many episodes of him stuck in France? I mean, I’m not asking for that much here.
What’d you guys think of this week? How terrible is George? Do you ever wish this show was just about all the women on it, because I do, like all the time.