A Quick Guide to Where We Left Everyone Before 'Poldark' Season 5 Begins

(Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Like most period shows on PBS, Poldark is a world viewers escape to on Sunday nights. There are the gorgeous vistas of Cornwall and the stunning cliffs overlooking the sea. It's a simpler time before technology, where candles and fires are the light and heat, and silk stockings are the gift of choice. So in this time of Trump and Brexit, when all viewers want to do is never see another thing about Congress or Parliament, Poldark Season 4 decided to focus in on politics.

The political nature of Season 4, and Ross' choice to take up being an MP in London is taken directly from the books (unlike some upcoming seasons of the series I could mention). And I suppose watching the poor and starving people of Ross' district riot over bread is a little more realistic than the "happy peasants frolicking" scenes from earlier seasons. But it's also a reminder this could be England very soon, especially if a No Deal Brexit comes to pass on Oct. 31. Hey, at least it reminds Ross he's supposed to be going to Parliament and doing something about it -- the food shortage, that is, not Brexit. (On the other hand, shirtless Aidan Turner yelling about Brexit? It would kill in the ratings.)

(Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Ross goes to London to play at being a politician. Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) stays home, not-so-silently grieving over the death of her favorite Hugh Armitage plaything from last season. The London storyline brings several of Ross' flaws to the fore, including but not limited to the crisis of "Ross is upper-class now, and his peasant friends won't play with him." But there is good news, as George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) lost the election, and has to buy an entire borough to compete in the Westminster scene. Jeff Bezos would agree that burning money is the correct way for the rich to play. Once everyone heads to London, Poldark reminds people watching progressives fight for the win in an unfair system feels good. Now if only we could get Turner to show up for the Impeachment hearings with a few of those blustering solilioquies.

Meanwhile, Dwight (Luke Norris) and Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) have a baby daughter. But don't worry, Caroline's fashion sense won't be sacrificed to motherhood. The baby is born with heart problems, proving once and for all that Horace was right. Sticking to pugs is the better bet. Caroline gets to be stiff upper lip stoic while Dwight turns into a pile of grieving goo. But the main point is it gets them both to London as well, along with the Warleggans and Ross. Ross even attempts to bring Demelza, in a foolish attempt to leave Cornwall's cliffs behind. But the ratings won't stand for it, so she spends most of her time being sexually harrassed by Monk Adderley (Max Bennett). Ross winds up going all "pistols at dawn" with her harasser and killing him, expediting their return ticket home. Yay romance.

Elizabeth (Heida Reed) has decided to go full Warleggan after spending last season terrified her husband would figure out Valentine wasn't his. It also means she's committed to the evil side of all plot twists along with it, like a strong heel turn in a reality show. Sadly, she never does tell anyone she's not here to make friends, but it wouldn't have been out of place. Especially when the Drake (Harry Richardson) and Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) romance goes belly up. To be fair, Demelza is just as much to blame, shoving her brother at neighborhood wench Rosina. She talks him into marrying the girl, only to interrupt the wedding five minutes before it starts to tell Drake actually, nevermind Morwenna's a widow now. (Timing is not Delmelza's strong suit, but we knew that.) 

(Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

But none of this matters because pregnancy. Morwenna is carrying her late husband's kid. Elizabeth is finally carrying her not-so-late husband's kid. Morwenna thankfully miscarries. Elizabeth, on the other hand...

We in the 21st century may disbelieve that Elizabeth can fob off George with "oh delivering happy, healthy full-term babies at seven months runs in the family." But while we regularly complain about the patriarchial lack of information or curiosity about women's health and bodies, in the 18th century, women used that to their advantage. They obfuscated on this sort of thing all the time because it was in their best interests. Despite how much we love Dwight, male doctors were regularly fooled. This is how someone like George can get snowed."Oh yes, so-and-so's great aunt, she delivered two full-term babies at the eight-month mark. Just a few months back, I delivered a healthy baby boy at Lord Y's house. You know, the 90-year-old man, that 15-year-old wife of his delivered at barely seven months and it all worked out fine."

This is why Elizabeth can settle in having gotten away with Valentine... until she has to do it again. That she almost succeeds is a miracle. That, in the end, it kills her, is tragic.

(Credit: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

It also sets up Poldark's final season. After four years, the show is going off-book. The show will not force Turner, Tomlinson, Farthing, et al., to undergo an entire season's worth of aging makeup. It won't give everyone 19th-century fashions to coo over, or jump ten years as the books do. Instead, the series will cover the parts Winston Graham didn't write, exploring those years directly after Elizabeth's passing. George attempts to find his way out of grief, while Ross and Demelza, freed from the jealousy over each other's secret lovers, work towards an active sort of contentment.

Poldark's final season begins on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at 9 p.m. ET. As always, check your local listings.