'Poldark': Season 3, Episode 3 Recap

Drake and Morwenna are my new favorite thing. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Poldark, Season 3 Sundays October 1 - November 19, 2017 at 9pm ET On MASTERPIECE on PBS Episode Three Sunday, October 15, 2017 at 9pm ET A failed harvest incites food riots, which George handles harshly. Demelza and Ross get a family addition. Morwenna gets an unwelcome suitor in Rev. Whitworth. A clever plan to import grain foils George. Shown from left to right: Harry Marcus as Geoffrey Charles, Harry Richardson as Drake Carne and Ellise Chappell as Morwenna For editorial use only. Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE

Previously, on Poldark: Ross stages an overly dramatic trip to France, where he gets kicked out of the country and fights a pack of dudes all so he can get a list confirming that Dwight’s being held prisoner there. Elsewhere, Drake and Morwenna flirt adorably some more, Demelza helps her brothers secure a meeting house for their church, and George becomes the worst magistrate in the world in record time.

It seems worth saying: This week’s episode of Poldark finally seems like a return to form. There are multiple interesting subplots, some swoony romance, and Ross manages to actually act like a hero again for the first time in what feels like a year. More of this, please, show, and thank you. 

Drake and Morwenna aren’t even together yet and already there are problems. In case you hadn’t got the memo that Drake and Morenna have officially taken over the mantle of Poldark’s star-crossed couple of choice this season, this episode should do it. (After all, Caroline and Dwight are married now. Someone’s got to step up!)  With George and Elizabeth off to the big city, Drake can now pop by Trenwith whenever he likes to “visit Geoffrey Charles”, though honestly the not-at-all-creepy guise of wanting to be BFFs with an eight-year old so you can see the girl you like is kind of a bad look.  But, whatever, Drake’s really at Trenwith to see Morwenna, and subsequently suffer through awkward group conversations with Aunt Agatha.

But all too soon, Morwenna and her charge are summoned to spend the holidays in Truro. Drake and Morwenna look sad at the prospect of being parted, while Geoffrey Charles looks upset that his real life fanfiction is being taken away from him for a while. Sadly, it appears that Geoffrey Charles is the only one seriously shipping Drawenna. Demelza pulls Morwenna aside, to give her The Talk about how her brother is good and kind and all that, but that Drake’s well below her station and can’t aspire to ever achieve it. She’s happy that Morwenna will be gone for a few weeks, because it’ll break the bond between them.

This speech is particularly interesting coming from Demelza of all people – not because she wants to protect her brother, which is natural. But because she herself married well above her own station - as disreputable as Ross be at times, he’s still from a landed family with history and connections in their area. To put it another way: given that Demelza both slept with and married the man who was technically her employer, I’m not sure she’s the one to be casting stones at Morwenna here.

I don’t know, y’all. I feel like at any other point I would have found the constant cow eyes and LONGING STARES between Morwenna and Drake completely ridiculous. And yet, I can’t. The bit where she promised to never take off his dumb seashell bracelet and he kissed her hand was so sweet. I hate myself, I really do, but I like them

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

Life in this village is ridiculous, sometimes. Suddenly, a large percentage of the population in the village appears to be starving and/or freezing to death, with the added bonus that they seem to spend their free time robbing grain ships and getting shot for their trouble. Everything is basically five minutes away from being Les Miserables, thanks to the fact that it’s been the worst harvest or winter or possibly both in decades, but at least it’s the catalyst for Ross suddenly deciding to care about the local poor again. (To be fair, I like Ross a lot better when he’s doing the crusading hero thing than being a broody jerk, but he sure took his time getting back to it, is all I’m saying.)

Elsewhere, Demelza decides she doesn’t like the village doctor who is not Dwight so just decides to give birth to her daughter at home alone and unassisted save for the aid of Prudie, who probably isn’t even really a plus here? Demelza gives birth to a daughter, Ross is pleased enough not to really question the fact that she basically did it by herself, and they plan a christening for the new baby while I wonder how it’s physically possible for Demelza to look as though she just popped down to a spa for a couple of hours rather than gave birth to an actual live human. Realism! 

Poor Dwight. Thanks to her sources in the government – who are clearly giant liars – poor Caroline has not only convinced herself that Dwight will be ransomed and returned home safely to England very soon, she’s sure that he’s spending his time in the best sorts of conditions. We, as viewers, have known from the start that that isn’t the case, but this week’s episode make’s the magnitude of Dwight’s plight abundantly clear. Everyone in this prison is dirty, cold, and miserable, with many eating rats and suffering from a variety of awful injuries. Dwight’s doing his best to help, but he has no medicine or clean water to work with, plus the French are actively shooting his patients for sport.

Oh, Dwight. At least he’s made a new friend? And since they’ve actually bothered to give him a name the odds are pretty good that he won’t die immediately.

This business also has a very Victor Hugo vibe to it, and I wonder if this is some sort of sign that Poldark should do a musical episode or something similar Because the way it’s going someone is definitely going to bust out with Do You Hear the People Sing or Empty Chairs at Empty Tables before this season is over.

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

Ross save the people. Ross is back to his saintly ways after last week’s swashbuckling Bond-esque adventure. This do-gooding crusader thing is a much better look on him, as he joins forces with a bunch of other townspeople and implements an elaborate scheme to buy grain to feed the starving among them. This plan is possibly overly complicated, as it involves Demelza and Caroline drumming up money from local rich gentlemen, and then the boatful of supplies getting hidden in Sam’s church, but it all turns out right in the end, and everyone’s super grateful to Ross for providing them with something to eat.

George, of course, tries to bust them for smuggling, which he can’t, since they bought everything legally. He’s furious at not getting to punish Ross, because George never passes up the chance to be petty. But then again, I’m also not entirely sure why George thinks it’s a good idea to let people – who have pitchforks, torches and nothing to lose – starve to death in his back yard, with the hopes they won’t eventually burn his house down? In any event, in retaliation for Ross feeding the poor like the monster he is, George decides to close Wheal Leisure entirely, a move that impoverishes 70 families and will inevitably make everything worse. 

Just what this show needed: Another horrible man. In case you didn’t realize yet after the whole letting a rapist walk free thing last week, there is no bottom when it comes to how dreadful George Warleggan is. This week finds our favorite villain continuing right along being disgusting, hoarding grain from starving people, then turning around and handing out harsh punishment when they’re caught stealing.

Not content to merely ruin the lives of strangers, George decides to start selling off his own family members this week, attempting to pledge Morwenna in marriage to an obsequious and obviously terrible man named Reverend Whitworth, who basically seems to be what Gollum from The Hobbit would be, if he were a human person. Whitworth’s wife has been dead for all of a week, so he’s obviously looking to line up another, mostly because he appears to be broke. Even George thinks this man is god awful, which should tell you something right there.

But Whitworth is related to the Godolphin family that George is so desperate to suck up to, and Elizabeth’s decided Morwenna should be punished for taking Geoffrey Charles to his cousin’s christening. I guess they don’t believe in, like, grounding her or docking her governess’ wages or anything. Nope, time to marry her off to what appears to be the worst person alive. Suddenly, I’m starting to feel less sorry for Elizabeth.  

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

Morwenna dodges a bullet. Morwenna, as any woman of sense would be, is horrified by the Reverend Whitworth and George’s decree that she marry him. She wants to marry for love, and she certainly doesn’t love – or even like – this Whitworth guy. Not that you can blame her, because he is straight up disgusting, and every one of their interactions has been awful. No wonder Morwenna literally ran away from several of them. Pro tip: Keep your cardio up, girl.

To her credit, at least Morwenna knows what she wants, and is being honest. And there’s something extremely appealing about her earnest nature in doing so. Maybe it’s because this scene takes place opposite Elizabeth, who has basically sold her soul in marrying George and has made her own life so unbearable that she has to chug drugs all day long just to survive it, but still pretends that it was a smart choice. Francis would be so ashamed of her, if he could see her now.

Eventually, Morwenna’s resistance seems to pay off, because she gets  sent back to Trenwith. According to George, this is so she can get bored and think about what she did in turning down such an advantageous match. In reality, Morwenna literally runs straight into Drake’s arms and they kiss on a windswept beach as dramatic music swells behind them. But, since Reverend Trash Heap is busy picking out some very aesthetically bad wedding attire, we can only assume that this story isn’t over. Because Poldark loves to foist horrible men on us with no escape in sight.

Thoughts, comments, general views about whether or not I should actually be shipping Drake and Morwenna this aggressively? Hit the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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