Poldark Recaps

'Poldark': Season 4 Finale Recap

Ross doing what he does best, brooding (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE))

Previously on Poldark: Ross ends up in a duel with local London sexual harasser Monk Adderley after getting all kinds of jealous and suspicious that Adderley wanted to hook up with Demelza. Adderley dies from his gunshot wound, because it’s definitely fine for the hero of our story to be a man who kills people. Elsewhere, Morwenna flees her mother-in-law’s house before the odious Lady Whitworth can have her committed, but even though she runs straight to Drake, she still insists she can’t be with him, because she doesn’t think she can let a man touch her ever again. (Need more details? You can read our full recap of Episode 7 here.) 

'Poldark' Recap: Season 4, Episode 7

Dwight and Caroline are goals in all things (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: George hatched a plot to wreck the town bank and predictably failed because he has the finesse of a Scooby Doo villain a lot of the time and we all know Ross is basically invincible. Elizabeth learns she’s pregnant and is surprisingly fine with it, as long as her condition doesn’t accidentally remind her husband about that time he thought their son wasn’t his.  And even with her odious husband finally kicking it, Morwenna still can’t catch a break as she too discovers she’s with child. (Need more details? Here’s our full recap of Season 4, Episode 6).

For all that this is a show called Poldark, it features a lead character that is beyond troublesome. One might even use the word problematic. As viewers, we’re all conditioned to root for Ross, to hope for his happiness, and to expect that at some point on this multi-season journey, he will ultimately become a better person. That he will learn from his mistakes. That he is, in fact, capable of growth. The fact that much of that hasn’t really seemed to happen yet is not only disappointing, but also intensely frustrating. How many more times can we be expected to happily watch Ross make increasingly terrible choices, behave rashly and repeatedly disrespect the person he claims to love most?

This week, Ross brings Demelza to London and though the two spend the episodes opening scenes acting like newlyweds – early mornings and late nights in bed, magical strolls through a variety of exciting and exotic metropolitan entertainments – like most things on this show, the happiness cannot last more than a few moments.

‘Poldark’: Season 4, Episode 6 Recap

Elizabeth finally got interesting this season (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

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.)

This episode of Poldark is as almost as full of ridiculous twists as last week’s was, and is at least as soapy. So why isn’t it as fun? Part of the problem is that it returns the focus on the story to the neverending feud between Ross and George Warleggan which, let’s be honest, isn’t as entertaining as it once was. I mean, let’s be real: These are grown men. Grown, adult men, who still spend their time plotting the local downfall and creation of banking institutions to get back at one another. Get hobbies, guys! Read a book!

'Poldark': Season 4, Episode 5 Recap

Ross and George are so extra it hurts (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously, on Poldark: We are officially in the Bad Place, as awful, terrible things happen to virtually everyone except George Warleggan, which is in and of itself an awful, terrible thing. Dwight hides the fact that his infant daughter has a deadly heart defeat, and only tells his wife just in time for the baby to die in her arms. Caroline subsequently leaves for London in an attempt to outrun her grief, just as Vile George manages to buy himself a fresh seat in Parliament thanks to an overly complicated scheme involving buying up a random township elsewhere. (Need more details? The full recap is this way.)

This week, Poldark finally realizes what I’ve been saying all along: This show is a soap opera. There is still no shortage of dreadful things taking place in Season 4’s fifth episode, but somehow – finally – the show seems to have decided to have some fun with them, rather than playing it all straight. Perhaps that’s because someone behind the scenes realized just how extremely ridiculous the plot developments are this week – Adultery! A jilted wedding! A teen vomiting at a fancy party! – that even they couldn’t take it it all seriously anymore. And you know what? This is the best, most entertaining episode of the season, and downright fun to watch.

'Poldark': Season 4, Episode 4 Recap

Eleanor Tomlinson does such a great upset face. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: Ross officially becomes an MP, but gets weirdly jealous that his new status as a member of his country’s representative government means that he doesn’t get invited to the village beach parties anymore. George researches how to buy his way back into Parliament, with the help of a new friend, Captain Monk Adderley. Ross and Demelza’s marriage turns frosty once more, but at least they sort of work things out – again – by the end of the episode. Oh, and Dwight gets to run through the surf shirtless as part of the onscreen celebrations surrounding the birth of his daughter, because this is Poldark and that’s what happens. Obviously. (If you need a more in-depth version of things, our recap of last week's installment is right here.)

Perhaps we should all just accept that Poldark is not a happy story, and isn’t meant to be. Maybe this is just a show that’s good at telling over-the-top dramatic stories, and for those to really land, the characters involved have to suffer. But that suffering might be easier to take – or even more emotionally affecting – if anyone was allowed to experience any joy for any substantial period of time. Alas, that is not to be. In fact, this episode is even darker and more heartbreaking than usual, and the only person who gets anything even remotely resembling good news is George Warleggan.

So, you know, take that for the warning that it is. 

'Poldark': Season 4, Episode 3 Recap

Aidan Turner getting his MP on. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: Ross manages to get himself elected to Parliament, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually think he’s going to win, and is only standing for election because young Hugh Armitage is literally on his deathbed and can’t run. Sadly, after a series of increasingly grotesque medical procedures and a bedside visit from a weepy Demelza, Hugh dies, and Ross doesn’t know how to feel about any of this. Neither, for that matter, does Demelza, who tries to act like she’s not that sad over Hugh’s loss, she’s just sobbing constantly about the terrible state of the world at large. Sure, girl.  Also, Sam Carne and Tom Harris have a wrestling match over a woman, because of course they did. (Reminder: If you need more details, our recap of Season 4, Episode 2 is right this way.) 

Three episodes in and it’s time for Poldark Season 4’s big hook: Ross the politician. Which, unfortunately, doesn’t turn out to be that exciting. Mainly because we spend almost zero time on this particular subplot, and thus have no real sense of what Ross’ life in London might be like – outside of a few shots of prostitutes and fire eaters at a swanky party. (At least he manages to meet an aged-up Geoffrey Charles while he’s there.)

‘Poldark’: Season 4, Episode 2 Recap

Ross Poldark's dramatic ride should maybe be the subtitle of this show (Photo:

Previously on Poldark: Ross and Demelza have a surprisingly satisfying heart-to-heart about the state of the relationship that somehow doesn’t include any information about Demelza’s feelings for Hugh or what precisely happened between the two of them. Lest we think Ross might be turning over a new leaf, he immediately goes back to keeping secrets from his wife, this time that her brothers were sort-of involved in a grain riot and might hang for it. A stirring speech from Ross saves the Carnes brothers from death, but not the newly introduced son of one of his miner friends. This, somehow, is the straw that convinces Ross he must brave the world of politics. (Because he apparently forgot the Season 3 finale.) Need more info? Visit last week's recap right this way. 

.This week, the locals celebrate the Feast of St. Sawle, which involves most of the town going to church, then gallivanting around an intricately decorated log, flinging ribbons and generally making merry. And also there’s two dudes literally fighting over a woman, because that’s always entertaining

'Poldark': Season 4, Episode 1 Recap

Ross Poldark looking appropriately broody in Season 4 (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: There was a lot. Like, a whole lot. New characters, new romances, new villains, a couple of weddings, several adulterous affairs and even a death or two rocked our favorite Cornish period drama. In short: It’s way too much to try to summarize, so if you’re feeling a bit lost, it’s probably time to skim the recaps from last year before diving in to the new season.

Poldark Season 3 was a dark place, where almost everyone was miserable, and its few lighthearted moments were stamped out almost before we could enjoy them. We watched the Poldarks’ marriage spiral once again, as Ross generally ignored his wife and Demelza caught feelings for a sensitive local poet. The show introduced a swoony new romance in Drake and Morwenna. Too bad they were only allowed to be happy together for roughly 1.5 episodes before Morwenna was forced to marry a lecherous, abusive minister to save Drake’s life. Romance in Cornwall is grand!

On the surface, the Season 4 premiere has everything we have come to expect from a Poldark episode: There’s shirtless Aiden Turner, beautiful shots of the Cornish beach and countryside, and dramatic slow-motion shots of someone riding a horse. Eleanor Tomlinson looks tremendously lovely as Demelza frolics with her adorable children on a beach. But, Ross Poldark remains as stoically insufferable as ever, and it’s hard to tell if any of the hard-earned lessons from the end of last season were actually, well, learned.

'Poldark': Season 3 Finale Recap

(Photo:  Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously, on Poldark: Caroline and Dwight get married, because everything else on this show right now is pure misery, and we deserve at least some joy. George knows Valentine is probably not his son, Morwenna’s disgusting husband is forcing himself on her constantly, and Ross and Demelza’s marriage is in shambles again, thanks to Ross’s inability to communicate with his wife, and Demelza’s attraction to Hugh Armitage. Everything is garbage, basically.

Despite the fact that this is a season finale, this episode doesn’t exactly provide anyone with a particularly happy ending. The only folks who seem even remotely happy are the recently married Enyses, and that’s basically just because Dwight and Caroline receive approximately a combined minute of screentime. (That might actually make them lucky and better off, to be honest.)

On the upside, the Poldark finale does seem to finally realize one thing. It’s the women of Cornwell that make this story worth watching. Almost every single interesting thing about this episode is driven by the women in it, a refreshing twist which this show could stand to embrace more often. (And here’s hoping it does, when the series returns next year.)

'Poldark': Season 3, Episode 7 Recap

Courtesy of Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE

Previously on Poldark: Dwight and Caroline get married publically, but their “wedding” just serves as an excuse to talk politics. Sir Francis Bassett tries to convince Ross to throw his hat into the ring for the empty MP seat, but he declines, insisting that he can’t be beholden to anyone’s interests but his own. Elsewhere, Morwenna’s marriage to Whitworth is a study in misery. And sassy old Aunt Agatha sadly meets her maker, but not before she tips George off that little Valentine might not be his.

Everything basically feels as though it’s falling apart in this episode of Poldark. There’s no joy, for anyone, and the episode’s most uplifting storyline centers around the reaffirmation that two young people still love one another even when they’re separated and one of them is forced to endure horrific abuse on a daily basis. Yikes.

Will anyone ever be happy again? 

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