'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.)

Sure, Ross campaigns for the rights of the poor and the end of slavery and all sorts of admirable progressive causes in Parliament. But for some reason, Poldark decides to do all of this as a montage, rather than give us, as viewers, any real chance to acclimate to Ross in a new environment. Instead, the focus remains quite firmly back in Cornwall. After what feels like mere moments to us but is actually months-worth of in-story time, Ross heads back home to deal with a problem at Wheal Grace (mining, remember, is still a thing on this show) and also handle all the other things in his life that are still a mess.

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

One, of which, is still his marriage. Poldark seems largely incapable of writing the Poldarks well these days, so of course things remain frostly between Ross and Demelza. Part of this is due to Hugh Armitage’s death, and the lingering and still largely undealt with the fact that Demelza cheated. Yet, the larger issue between them is that the pair still seem to barely known one another at all anymore, or how to talk to one another. Their initial reunion is joyless and awkward, full of Ross assuming Demelza basically did nothing while he was gone and not even saying so much as a thank you for keeping his entire life going on the home front. Apparently Ross believes that Demelza’s spent the bulk of this year pining for her dead boyfriend, which she insists isn’t true, and most of us probably stopped caring about a while ago. It’s awful that these two spend so much time talking about their relationship and yet have zero real understanding of one another. Sigh.

Anyway, his marriage isn’t the only awkward relationship Ross is in these days. Now that he’s a big wig political type, all his regular rough house friends at the mine and around the village treat him differently and think he’s out of touch with what’s really going on. Ross is weirdly jealous when they’re still all friendly with Dwight, and is legit upset when he doesn’t get invited to some of the local village parties anymore. Eventually it all works out as many things on this show often do: With a fistfight. But once Ross rescues Tholly from a gang of strange dudes who seem to have wandered into town specifically to fight people they don’t know, all appears forgiven. Let’s not talk about how there’s no believable way Ross could have fought off like ten guys himself, but he’s Ross and this show is called Poldark and that’s just how it rolls. (Ross obvious joy at getting to beat some randoms up is another one of those moments that probably isn’t supposed to be as funny as I found it. But still.)

Elsewhere, George is still salty about being replaced in Parliament by Ross. So he’s decided to figure out how to get back into Westminster by any means necessary. Enter one Captain Monk Adderley, who basically looks like an oil slick has somehow been given human form. Adderley, for what it’s worth, is pretty much the disgusting conscienceless jerk that George wishes he could be on his best day. He’s an MP himself, but only because he’s bought the position, representing a small borough that he’s never seen and will never visit. He basically talks George into buying his own borough – how this works legally, I have no idea – so that he can control everything about it, including who it elects to serve in government. Joke’s on George though, as Adderley seems instantly obsessed with Elizabeth, and that’s probably not going to go anywhere good.

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

In happier news, Caroline and Dwight officially have a daughter, a baby girl named Sarah Caroline. Mrs. Enys is, of course, predictably droll about the whole thing, insisting that the child is a hardship who’ll inevitably grow up a spoiled brat. It’s clear, however, how happy both of them are, and on a show where joy is so frequently absent. Also, fatherhood is a great look on Dwight, just saying. It’s enough to give him our obligatory shirtless guy-in-the-surf scene of the week, because who doesn’t immediately run to take a swim after becoming a father? Thanks, show.

But, naturally, this is Poldark, where no one can be allowed to be happy for more than three minutes at a time. So of course something is wrong with Caroline’s daughter. We don’t know what it is or to what degree yet – young Sarah could have a terminal illness or just be allergic to dogs – but it’s obvious that Dwight’s noticed something’s amiss. And his dark expressions and repeated grimacing when Caroline says anything about their daughter growing up are so heavy handed; it’s hard not to immediately assume the worst. Also, hey, Caroline and Dwight haven’t had to suffer horribly in a bit, so….

What did you all think of Ross’s Westminster debut? Are you heartbroken about Dwight and Caroline’s daughter? Grossed out by the fact that Reverend Whitworth’s foot fetish has returned with a vengeance? Let’s discuss in 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 Twitter at @LacyMB

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