Previously on Poldark: Ned Despard is executed on trumped up treason charges after a high drama trial that saw Ross passionately defend his friend and Dwight imply he was brain damaged. Back in Cornwall, Terrible Tess Trigedden is busy throwing herself at Sam Carne because it looked like he might marry that nice Rosina for a hot second and she can’t allow anyone to have joy. And George Warleggan decides that it’s fine to try marry a girl who’s name he barely knows simply because he hates his stepson. (If you need more details, our recap of Episode 6 is right here.)
Well, if you thought that Poldark might get back to its swoony period drama roots following the execution of Ned Despard last week, you got your wish. In what feels like the worst way possible. Instead of reminding us why we care about all these characters with just a couple of hours left until we say goodbye to them forever, Poldark’s penultimate episode seems determined to make us actively dislike virtually every one of them in the series’ final moments.
Except Drake and Morwenna. At least the Carneses remain generally too pure for this world, glowing with love and happiness as they announce they’re expecting a baby. But, we still don’t get to spend any real amount of time enjoying this blessed event (that, by the way, we’ve all waited literal years for) because this season still erroneously thinks we care more about whatever is going on with Hansen and Merceron. We do not, show. We do not.
Not content to simply rob us of valuable Drake and Morwenna time, this episode also manages to turn Dwight into a jerk, Caroline into a petty, blackmailing shrew, and Ross into a complete idiot that is totally fine with lying to his wife again because reasons. It’s exhausting, and at this point, I’m almost relieved we’ve only got one more episode to go.
(I’m saying this out of anger, and will totally miss Poldark, of course. But this season has not met my customer satisfaction standards.)
When last we saw Ross, he was thrown down an unidentified hole somewhere in Cornwall. But, displaying the traditional Poldark luck in truly incompetent enemies, Ross not only realizes that he’s been deposited in Wheal Leisure – the mine he basically grew up in – but that his captors are nearby, loudly discussing that it was Merceron who sent them to do this dirty deed. Get it together, random henchmen!
Ross spends the rest of the episode riding back and forth to London trying to accuse the man he just watched manipulate the entire government to have his BFF executed of treason, while also coordinating with the French to…cause a revolution. Sort of? Sure, it’s fun watching Aidan Turner suddenly pretend to be a secret French sympathizer, but this plot is convoluted to the point of near-incoherency, and what part of watching Caroline’s dog get poisoned or Hansen spend like ten minutes straight cackling like Doctor Evil is enjoyable?
The worst part of it all, is that this storyline has caused serious collateral damage throughout the show. Demelza is stuck in the dark for what feels like the twentieth time. Dwight is left trying to convince Ross that it’s probably dangerous to threaten a man who’s already proven how willing he is to murder to get his way. This is a thankless enough task to break even the best of men, and Dwight’s character certainly suffers for it.
The Enyses haven’t exactly had what you might call a compelling storyline in Poldark’s final season, as the show has chosen to ignore their lingering grief over the death of their daughter in favor of having Dwight and Caroline prop up Ross and the Despards' storyline and giving the pair of them marital problems out of the blue. I’m not sure which viewers out there were hoping to see Dwight go back to belittling his wife and treating her as though she’s a society airhead, but trust me when I say that I was not one of them. Poor Caroline has to suffer through Dwight’s incessant rudeness as he insists she has no place on their London adventures, offers up their home to the poor widow Despard for the rest of her life, and yells at her for reading the patient notes he apparently leaves out in the open all over the house.
Caroline bears up under all this beautifully, because it is what she does, taking everything from an attack in broad daylight while she’s riding in the park to the poisoning of her beloved pug in stride. The idea that she responds to this by blackmailing George isn’t exactly the best of looks, but since Dwight seems to have little interest in actually solving the problems facing the Enys household, I guess it’s fine. It’s not like George doesn’t deserve it, after everything that’s happened, even if the fact that he seems to possess little memory of his own bout of madness seems extremely strange. What does he think happened for the nebulously two months to a year he was struggling? There’s only one episode left, so we’ll probably never find out. But, at least it’s comforting to know even George’s villainy has a limit. (And it’s apparently throwing Ross down a hole.)
Elsewhere, Geoffrey Charles and Cecily encounter their share of tragedy again, as another attempt to escape and elope is thwarted by her apparently omniscient father. This time, however, Geoffrey Charles ends up beaten within an inch of his life, and Cecily is told in no uncertain terms that if she doesn’t stop trying to run away, he’ll have his thugs kill him next time. Once the heavily battered Geoffrey Charles regains consciousness, Cecily tearfully breaks up with his poor, likely heavily concussed self, insisting that the wild events of recent weeks have convinced her that she’s just not meant to be married.
As break-up speeches go, this is a fairly strange one, involving Cecily going on about how much she loves life and listing all the things she wants to do with the one she has, things she’d never be allowed to achieve if she was a wife. Given that in her single state she’s the daughter of the most controlling man on the show, this immediately rings a little false, but Geoffrey Charles is Francis’ son through and through, which means that though he is sweet, he is not the smartest tool in the proverbial shed. The two agree to part ways and mope together until Cecily’s ship leaves port, which happens to be the same vessel carrying Kitty Despard back to Jamaica as well. I’m sure that will be a pleasant ride for everyone. Yikes.
There’s a sad symmetry to this final twist in their relationship, as Geoffrey Charles’ own mother was also prevented from marrying the person of her choice thanks to the intervention of an overbearing (but not quite as overtly evil) parent. Does this mean that her son’s romantic life is also destined to end as sadly? Let’s hope not.
Thoughts on this episode? What do you think might happen in the series’ finale next week? How can Poldark wrap all this up satisfactorily with just one hour to go? Let’s discuss.