Previously on Poldark: Ned gets arrested as a result of a complicated plan between George, Racist Slave Trader Hansen and that random evil guy Ross thinks is his friend. which basically involved getting him drunk and letting him rant against the government around town at top volume until someone from the government notices. George gives a racist speech in Parliament arguing in favor of slavery. And Morwenna keeps sneaking off to visit her child at his grandmother’s and only realizes this is a bad idea when Drake kidnaps him in an attempt to make her happy. But, hey, at least they finally get romantic after she bids the child a tearful goodbye forever. More details and thoughts can be found at last week’s recap.
For anyone who has done a five-minute Wikipedia search on the historical Ned Despard and his wife since this season started – or read our article here on this subject – what happened in this episode won’t be terribly surprising. But if you didn’t know it was coming, it likely felt like a major shock, especially since Poldark makes a point to lean into every wacky escape hijinks trope it can think of to indicate that Ned was maybe going to make some sort of last-minute getaway to safety after all. In some ways, that feels kind of cruel, particularly since the episode goes so far as to have him on the very steps of freedom, Jean Valjean-style, before Ned decides to return to his jail cell in the name of…something.