Previously on Poldark: Ross finally goes to Parliament and does his job, which appears to be making a lot of progressive speeches and inventing what is essentially welfare. Drake decides to marry the nice but drippy Rosina, but can’t go through with the ceremony after he learns that the odious Reverend Whitworth has died (thank goodness!) and Morwenna is free. The newly widowed Mrs. Whitworth, however, is convinced she’s now damaged goods, and rejects Drake, because this show can literally never let us be happy for more than five minutes. (Need more details? Last week’s recap is this way.)
Seriously though, what are they even fighting about anymore? Both men are well off financially, successful, married to the women of their choice and part of the cultural elite in that they are literally making the laws that govern their country. Sure, Ross is a pompous do-gooder sometimes, and George is the definition of scummy, but I honestly fail to see what either could have at this point that the other wants. Mostly, this continuing feud isn’t saying anything interesting about either of them, and it isn’t even fun to watch anymore.
Did anyone actually think that George’s Scooby Doo villain- style plan to wreck the town bank would be successful in the end? This show is called Poldark, and no one even bothered to pretend that Ross and his family have suddenly become destitute paupers for more than like two minutes. As a threat, this plot never even tried to feel serious. I get that the Ross versus George rivalry is a big piece of the show, but surely there’s a better way to let their relationship evolve naturally. (If only so we aren’t constantly subjected to these wacky schemes.) They’re both MPs now, couldn’t we see them battle it out about something political? At least that would be new.
On the plus side, this banking nonsense gave us what is possibly the funniest sequence this season, as Demelza, Prudie, Sam and Zacky all pretend to be random customers bringing cash to deposit at the bank George is targeting in order to demonstrate that it is awesome and trustworthy. (And Ross gets an entire montage dedicated to him riding throughout the countryside to talk to rich backers.) To be fair, while I’m sure Pascoe is a lovely man – and has certainly been a great friend to Ross over the years – we’ve yet to see him do anything the resembles actual work, so I’m not shocked he’s less than great at his job. But, hey, it all worked out alright in the end. Ross is now closer than ever with Sir Phillip and part of a banking conglomerate, despite having exactly zero experience in that industry. Great job ruining his life, George!
Not everything is going badly in the Warleggan household, however. Elizabeth’s pregnant, and surprisingly okay about it. “Content” is actually the word she uses, and that seems to be mostly true, given that she’s suddenly stopped swilling laudanum and become much better at manipulating her husband. At this point, she probably deserves some peace, given the mess of a life she’s lived up until now, and George’s reaction to the news of her pregnancy is so sweet it’s almost enough to make you forget he’s a genuinely terrible person. It’s also an intriguing reminder that George has experienced almost no growth in the course of the four years of the show, and that’s honestly part of the problem with his character. He’s more interesting in this moment than he has been forever, and it’s unfortunate that Poldark doesn’t seem to want to do anything with George other than simply allow him to exist as an eternal foil for Ross.
Sidebar to the Warleggan drama: One of the strangest things about Poldark the past couple of seasons has got to be the fact that Ross Poldark, obsessive family man, seems 100% sure that Elizabeth’s child is his, but has suddenly decided not to mind that his mortal enemy George is raising him. There are obviously many reasons why Ross can’t or won’t claim Valentine, and most of them seem to have to do with protecting Elizabeth, and we as viewers would likely accept all those things, as we have now. But the fact that the two have really never discussed any of it and that Ross has been allowed to get upset about it all of one time, well. It’s strange.
Unfortunately, Elizabeth isn’t the only pregnant lady in Cornwall – Morwenna is too. There’s so much about this storyline that’s horrible: That her baby is the product of marital rape, that she’s being basically kept prisoner by her dead husband’s family, that her pregnancy has basically convinced her she’s damaged and trapped beyond all saving, so much so that it appears she’s contemplating suicide. And the only thing she has on her side is Drake, who so obviously loves her, but is deeply not equipped to handle the dark place she’s in at the moment. The dumb, puppy dog-esque look of hope on his face outside her gate as he asks Morwenna one more time to be with him is heartwrenching, but for all that Drake gets his belongings burned down around him every other weak, he doesn’t seem to understand real darkness, and that’s without doubt where Morwenna is right now. These poor kids. Why does that terrible vicar get to keep ruining our lives from the grave?
At least Caroline finally comes home to Dwight and the Enyses work things out, which at least lets us all believe in love again for a little while. She also helps pack up her husband and both Poldarks for a trip to London together, since Ross seems to have finally realized that Demelza is a smart, capable ally he’s been sidelining for way too long. Progress? Maybe? Here’s hoping, anyway.
What did you think of this episode of Poldark? Let’s discuss in the comments.