It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Sunday evening must be in want of a period drama

Series Four: Episode Four

Series Four: Episode Four


*Spoilers if you haven’t watched this episode!*

A return to brilliance, but such heartbreaking brilliance.


The episode starts back on Holywell beach. Caroline has taken to motherhood with all the aplomb that you would secretly expect of her. Meanwhile, Dwight stands with tears in his eyes watching the Poldark children playing with their mother and uncles. It is soon evident that his disquiet over his daughter in episode three has increased. His belief that she is not long for this world becomes explicit in the third scene as Dwight stands alone with his baby daughter and pleads with her ‘be not in haste to leave us little one… stay a while longer.’

Ross, showing all that empathy, intuition and loyalty he reserves for just about anyone other than his wife, takes Dwight aside to discover why he is out of sorts. The answer is simple and devastating: ‘Sarah will not live. She has a congenital defect of the heart.’

George is livid that Demelza’s intervention with Basset and Falmouth scuppered his reelection plans: ‘So… thanks to the intervention of that impudent kitchen troll’ … this is ironically very similar to the names Elizabeth’s first husband called Demelza when she meddled in his own affairs with Verity (‘ignorant troll’).

Demelza’s question to Ross surely speaks to all of us who have felt the fragility of happiness or have felt that the next straw will break the camel’s back…‘Do you think we’ll ever truly mend?’… ‘I’m just afeared that one little storm will scat us all to midgens’.

Poor Ross must face the ghost of dreamy Hugh when visiting Lord Falmouth, ‘I sometimes think there were few who really knew him… Dr Enys perhaps… your wife…’ Helpful. Definitely hint at the fact that your nephew was in love with someone’s wife before you indicate that you expect them to toe the line on your policies in parliament… he has met Ross, right?!

Rev. Osborne is still doing the devil’s work, providing the Warleggan’s with the names of those whose money  Nat Pearce to attempt to bring down Pascoe’s bank (and ‘with it the Poldark nest egg’).

Morwenna declares that ‘Osborne is a strange man.’ Yes, yes he is. And he’s currently shacked up with your wanton sister who seems to have absolutely no compunction asking for money or shame in taunting the ‘Vicar’. In addition, he’s going to attempt to have Doctors Enys and Choake put you away in an institution mainly (entirely) because you will not perform her conjugal duties. One presumes that he would then have a mistress/housekeeper situation for, as all good Downton fans know, you cannot divorce a lunatic: they are neither the guilty nor the innocent party. Thankfully both doctors, particularly the marvellous Dwight, state that their answer is no: ‘It is my humble opinion that if a husband cannot win his wife by loving kindness and sympathy that he deserves to go without her.’


Drake seems to be coming round to the Rosina plan that Demelza has hatched for him. After all, ‘life must go on’, and we all like the pretty, friendly Rosina. Drake carries her basket back to Sawle and declares that ‘Folk can think what they like’.

Ross and Sam are blasting and digging at the mine when they break through straight into the flooded Wheel Maiden works. This causes a terrible flood. Sam and Ross are heroic, going deeper into the mine to warn the others before they are trapped by the rising waters. Ross manages to haul the trapped Bobby out but he is not breathing when they get to the surface. 

And so to Sarah who has the merest of colds, but it will be enough. Dwight finally plucks up the courage to tell Caroline that this trifling cold will kill their daughter. In the midst of their despair he is summoned to the mine to help the survivors from the flood. He determinedly performs mouth to mouth (yes, that could be historically accurate, the Paris Academy of Sciences officially recommended it for drowning victims from 1740) and saves the life of Bobby. Tragically, he knows he cannot save the life of his own beloved daughter.


Amidst this heartbreak I must throw in a word for the sorrow of Sam. Just as he is euphoric from the rescue at the mine, Emma comes back to tell him she ‘be going to marry Ned Hartnell’.  She affirms that ‘if it were simply a matter of loving’ they’d be wed but the barrier of his faith (and her lack of it) is just too great and she has given Ned her word, though not her heart ‘for that I ‘already give to thee’. Don’t be fooled by his absolute faith in God and her ‘brazen’ character: this anguish is as painful in its own way as Drake and Morwenna’s.


Ross goes straight to Dwight and Caroline on hearing that Sarah has a cold. Although Caroline is ‘taking it in her stride with all the dignity and stoicism of a lady of breeding’ it is evident that our beloved trio are only just holding it together. ‘I believe Demelza would cry, and that I fear would undo us all’ – by ‘us all’ I assume she means the whole nation. The darkness of the funeral was appalling, marked by the devastating smallness of the coffin carried singlehandedly by Dwight.

After the rain clouds cleared, Caroline added further to the tragedy of this episode by announcing that she is leaving Dwight and leaving Cornwall for a time. She cannot remain in their house with all its reminders of the loss of Sarah. One feels terribly sorry for Dwight, who would clearly rather they could cling to each other in their grief.

And so to next week: a week full of London and parliament. Ross is heading back to Westminster despite the continuing trouble at the mine. George and Elizabeth will also be joining them in Westminster – a pretty quick turnaround for a blacksmith’s boy. What will Osborne think of next for the beleaguered Morwenna? Can Drake find joy with Rosina? Will Ross bring Caroline back to Dwight? Is Ross looking over his shoulder as George is fast approaching in his wake?