'Poldark' Series Finale Recap

Aidan Turner in the final season of "Poldark" (Photo:  Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE)

Previously on Poldark: After five years and over forty episodes, the story of Ross Poldark and friends is finally coming to an end. For now, anyway. Oh, and also Ross is also currently pretending to commit treason, because reasons. It’s hard to explain. If you’ve missed something, we’ve got recaps of every episode, including last week’s that set all this up.

This is it, the end of an era.

Here’s the thing. I’m choosing to remember Poldark for all the reasons I loved it prior to this moment, because this finale is…well, it’s a lot of things, and definitely not all of them good. In fact, it’s pretty much a perfect microcosm of everything that’s ever gone wrong with the series and a bunch of the stuff it got right, all crammed into a fifty-two-minute installment.

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Demelza, too stylish for this world. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen)

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.

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Demelza, Drake and Prudie (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen)

Previously on Poldark: Ned gets arrested as a result of a complicated plan between George, Racist Slave Trader Hansen and that random evil guy Ross thinks is his friend. which basically involved getting him drunk and letting him rant against the government around town at top volume until someone from the government notices. George gives a racist speech in Parliament arguing in favor of slavery. And Morwenna keeps sneaking off to visit her child at his grandmother’s and only realizes this is a bad idea when Drake kidnaps him in an attempt to make her happy. But, hey, at least they finally get romantic after she bids the child a tearful goodbye forever. More details and thoughts can be found at last week’s recap.

For anyone who has done a five-minute Wikipedia search on the historical Ned Despard and his wife since this season started – or read our article here on this subject – what happened in this episode won’t be terribly surprising. But if you didn’t know it was coming, it likely felt like a major shock, especially since Poldark makes a point to lean into every wacky escape hijinks trope it can think of to indicate that Ned was maybe going to make some sort of last-minute getaway to safety after all. In some ways, that feels kind of cruel, particularly since the episode goes so far as to have him on the very steps of freedom, Jean Valjean-style, before Ned decides to return to his jail cell in the name of…something.

'Poldark' Recap: Season 5, Episode 5

Demelza's fashion game in Season 5 is on point (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen)

Previously on Poldark: Ned, who is getting more irritating by the day, leads a rag tag group of protesters to Trenwith to guilt George Warleggan into reopening his mind, an argument he’d probably have been more open to initially if Ned hadn’t broken his arm first. As for George, he seems pretty much over his recent, possibly years-long mental decline, thanks to Dwight’s magical doctoring skills, and honestly did we expect anything that might be mistaken for nuance? Oh, and our aged-up Geoffrey Charles is in love with the racist slave trader Hansen’s daughter Cecily, only her trash dad has decided she should marry George instead. Yikes. (Need more details: Check out our Episode 4 recap.)

The fifth episode of Poldark’s final season is far too busy for its own good, cramming at least half a dozen storylines together into this hour. Some of them are charming and emotional (Christmas in Cornwall, literally anything to do with Morwenna), and some of them are honestly a hot mess. (George’s complicated attempt to entrap Ned and Ross into what appears to be treason? IDK.)   And one of them – the revelation of trash Hansen’s secret partner – is a total dud.

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Really gonna miss these sweeping horseback shots (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen)

Previously on Poldark: Ross and Demelza return to Cornwall with Ned and Kitty in tow, only to deal with a deadly mine accident, an unhinged George Warleggan who’s basically being tortured by his own family, and a crowd of rowdy townsfolk itching to overthrow the wealthy elites. Maybe y’all should have just stayed in London. For more details, you can read our recap of Episode 3 here.

Poldark has always been a show about politics and social issues, as Ross and friends have fought to make the world a better place not only for themselves but for the less fortunate who both work for and depend on them. Season 5 has really leaned into this, as Ross not only attempts to help his friend Ned avoid prison and/or death for giving away land to freed slaves in Honduras, but by showing us a whole lot of unhappy Cornwall residents being hungry, poor and itching to light something on fire to punish the rich.

'Poldark' Recap: Season 5, Episode 3

Back in Cornwall, Ross and Demelza still have problems. (Photo: Courtesy of Mammoth Screen)

Previously on Poldark: There’s a lot of political conspiracy going on, but whether any of us actually care about it remains to be seen. Ross’ old military captain Ned Despard is still trying to prove who named him as a traitor to the crown for giving away land in Honduras, although why we’re trying to pretend it was anyone other than sketchy Mr. Hansen is unclear. Elsewhere, George is seeing visions of his dead wife Elizabeth and Demelza hired local girl Tess Trigidden to help around Nampara, but the girl is pretty much prepping to Single White Female her. Need more details? Our recap of Episode 2 is here.

Now that they’re safely back home, Ross and Demelza are flirting and happy again, full of the joy that comes from being away from London and its  “strange ways” that apparently only become problematic when one of them screws something up. Anyway, their carefree attitude is how you know immediately that a bunch of stuff is about to go real wrong, particularly when Demelza actually says something about how peaceful and perfect everything is in Cornwall. Oh, girl. It’s like you’ve never even watched this show.