'Poldark': Season 4, Episode 5 Recap

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

MASTERPIECE “Poldark” Season 4 Sundays, September 30 - November 18, 2018 at 9pm ET Episode Five Sunday, October 28, 2018: 9-10pm ET on PBS To his frustration, Ross faces successive failures in Westminster and he is advised to take a slyer approach. Back in Cornwall, Demelza continues her matchmaking efforts. Shown from left to right: Jack Farthing as George, John Hopkins as Sir Francis Basset and Aidan Turner as Ross For editorial use only. Photo courtesy of Mammoth Screen for 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 just 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.

There’s just so much to enjoy here, and the show utterly revels in every ridiculous over the top twist. If only Poldark could always be this self-aware.

Ross finally actually goes to Westminster and, like, actually does his job, which seems to be inventing welfare. There’s yet another grain shortage of some stripe going on and people are starving to death all over Cornwall, since everyone lives in a scene from Les Miserables apparently. Ross, ready to use the power of government for good, spends a lot of time doing research about how poor folks get by in the real world and nationalizing the concept of tipping. Aidan Turner gets to give a bunch of blazingly progressive speeches and be a do-gooder, helping Caroline talk through her grief over Sarah’s death and visiting local poor houses on his day off. Honestly, this is the best, least irritating version of this character and I don’t know why Poldark doesn’t write Ross this way all the time.

Elizabeth now taking hat cues from Caroline apparently (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
Elizabeth now taking hat cues from Caroline, apparently (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

This episode also features a moment that literally every Poldark fan has been waiting for, for well over a year. Yes, finally, the odious Reverend Whitworth meets his maker, freeing Morwenna from her terrible marriage and us viewers from having to watch repeated scenes of conjugal rape every week. His death comes about thanks to Rowella’s way too nice husband finding out about her sordid toe-sucking affair. (Can we really call it an affair if it's more correctly sex work for money?) Either way, what’s his name decides to dress up like a highwayman and attack the good vicar on a dark road and it’s all very unintentionally hilarious even though it’s probably not meant to be. (Particularly Osborne’s shriek after the horse bolts.) Good riddance to some serious trash.

The only sad bit about Osborne’s death is that it didn’t take longer, if you ask me.

Elsewhere, in true soap opera style, Drake finally decides to marry the nice but drippy Rosina, who seems surprisingly fine with settling for a man who tells her to her face that he’ll always love someone else. Demelza, who is really a dreadful matchmaker, it must be said, thinks this is all just fine. In fact, she tells the two crazy kids that love will bloom between them eventually, since once they’re married, they’ll be pretty much stuck with each other forever! Romance is grand, I guess.

Poldark spends a lot of time leading up to Drake’s wedding to a character we all probably forgot existed until last week, but at least the lighting and camera shots look pretty. Of course, news of Osbourne’s death – and Morwenna’s subsequent freedom – arrives what appears to be moments before Drake’s ceremony. How this happened is not entirely clear as Demelza gets a letter about his death at the same moment Dwight is examining the vicar’s dead body, but whatever this is maximum drama and we’re all obviously here for it. After Drake learns the truth he runs away to cry and rend his clothes and sleep on the ground outside Morwenna’s front gate while her husband’s funeral is going on, because he is nothing if not extremely extra at all times. This show doesn’t deserve him.

How does no one realize this is Ross' child? (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)
How does no one realize this is Ross' child? (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Demelza should honestly get a lot of credit for telling Drake the truth before the ceremony – she was so dedicated to shipping Drake and Rosina, it wouldn’t have been that surprising if she chose to just keep it to herself until afterward. (And, Sam, a.k.a The Worst Carne Family Member, straight up says he wouldn’t have said anything, as I guess it’s more important to make sure his brother marries someone religious than worry about whether he is trapped with someone he doesn’t love and miserable forever. Shut up, Sam.) The rest of the village doesn’t take too kindly to Drake jilting Rosina moments before the altar, and we’re about five minutes away from pitchforks and torches, only the villagers can't find him since I guess no one thinks to go to Morwenna’s house or anything. Never change, town.

And since this is Poldark, we should all know not to trust anything good that appears to happen. After several days of roughing it for some reason, Drake shows up at Morwenna’s to confess his love and give us all that reunion we’ve been waiting for since last season. Joke’s on us though, because Morwenna’s now convinced she’s damaged goods and unworthy of love forever, all because she got sold in marriage to a monster. (Good job looking upset now, Elizabeth!) So, of course she drives Drake away instead of leaping into his arms. Your mileage may vary on whether or not you believe that he’d give up on Morwenna after one weak five minute attempt to get her back, but that’s where we are. Drake trudges back home in tears, only to find out that the villagers have yet again set fire to his blacksmith shop as revenge for Rosina. (And George may or may not be pushing the rumor that Drake’s the one who killed Whitworth in the first place.) These people!

After all this, what on earth can next week bring us? 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 Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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