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

Series Four: Episode Five

Series Four: Episode Five


Dramatic, traumatic, full of heartbreak but full of hope?

Ross and George are back in London with letters once again the only communication between the Poldarks. People in Cornwall are dying, Ross is talking about it in Westminster while Demelza and Dwight are doing practical things like saving lives and providing food.

Elizabeth and George are generally back in step with each other. Laughing together at parties, being generally most wealthy, bitching about Ross and Dwight and Caroline and Demelza, and mocking the poor (have you forgotten when you had to wear a made-over frock and help with the harvest Elizabeth?)


Demelza and Dwight  question whether they’d be better suited to each other, which Prudie doesn’t believe is quite proper. Of late he’s come to regard Nampara more of a home than Killewarren and they question ‘do you not sometimes wonder… ‘if they’d known each other before they met us’… they’d be better matched… ‘would we?’ the smile, eyes down flirting from Demelza suggests in her most chaste way that maybe they would have been. (I do not believe this. Caroline would bring out the arrogance and recklessness in Ross and Dwight needs pepping up and bringing out of himself more than Demelza could achieve. I understand the impulse but I don’t think it is sound.)

Caroline is out of step with everyone, particularly herself. She has returned to her apparently vacuous ways a la the Unwin Trevaunance years. While Dwight and Demelza seem to be making a wonderful, practical home (almost) together in Cornwall, Caroline is swanning around London hosting soirees for hundreds of people and having a seemingly glorious time. But, as with many of the trappings of finery, fame and high society, it is hollow and empty and rather fragile. Ross is attending some of the said soirees (with mixed enthusiasm) and determined to shock Caroline into grieving for her daughter: ‘Did I tell you how she died in my arms, how I watched her take her last breath, I could not conceive how the life could go out of her when the day before I’d danced her on my knee…pain should not be avoided, tears must fall.’ Do you have to make her cry at the party? Couldn’t you visit her in the day Ross?


Morwenna, oh my dear. What has he done to you? Morwenna’s threat to kill their son, the only weapon she has against her husbands attentions, is removed by the arrival of the harriden Miss Cane who makes her threat ‘quite futile’. And then Osborne resumes his conjugal relations (in other (clearer) words, he rapes her). He repulses his wife but declares that it is ‘quite baffling’ that she finds ‘not the smallest pleasure’ in their congress. But throughout the episode one feels his comeuppance is near at hand.

One senses that Osborne has ridden his luck and trampled over everyone once too often when he thanks Nat Pearce (who he assumes is asleep) for lingering on as it has provided the perfect cover for him to service his ‘ardent young sister-in-law.’ He declares that he will not be visiting Rowella or Nat Pearce again ending with the most holy benediction: ‘May I cheerfully say, the devil take you both’. If one was going to save one’s last breath for anything (other than declarations of love or wisdom) there would be a certain satisfaction in using it for the triumphant ‘and you sir’ choked out to unsettle that arrogant, evil, self-absorbed toad.

Rowella’s wet and dim husband has finally seen through the lies and caught out the evil vicar and his manipulative temptress, catching them in flagrante. He privately determines to attack Osborne as he travels alone through the woods. The attack isn’t really a tour de force of fighting (think Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in Bridget Jones 2). It is, however, unnervingly effective from Arthur’s perspective and a most apt demise for the odious Rev. Osborne Whitworth. For someone who had such a predilection for feet it is rather fitting that he dies dragged by his foot caught in a stirrup.

In pleasanter, but unbelievably ill-timed, news Demelza is interfering in Drake’s love life again – to be fair, her advice is sound based on her own experience: she loved Ross, Ross loved Elizabeth, Ross couldn’t have Elizabeth (well not when he wanted her anyway) so he married Demelza and came to love her, more than anything, more than Elizabeth. Drake also cannot have Morwenna who is/was wed to that odious, pompous, despicable excuse for a vicar.

Drake ‘has a liking for thee’, Rosina. He’s most truthful and honest and good. He tells her all about Morwenna (perhaps not the most flattering proposal, but not without charm). It’s also delivered on the granite slipway at Penberth, an excellent location for a proposal. He offers her a home, a hearth and a quiet yet comfortable living. Rather like Lizzy Bennet, she does not believe in trifling with the affections of a respectable man. Although unlike Lizzy, her answer is a certain yes. This is all played out for dramatic effect against the various scenes of the Osborne/Rowella/Arthur/foot-in-stirrup storyline.


Rosina looks boho-great in her wedding garb, with flowers in her hair, dancing and laughing over the river. Demelza does completely and utterly the right thing by telling him. Yes it was hard, yes Rosina is brilliant and brave, yes every man and his dog will question whether she should have done it, ‘why not keep me in the dark and let me wed that sweet, sweet girl’, but it is irrefutably the right decision. If Morwenna will take him, Drake would want that. If she won’t, perhaps Rosina might take him back in the future. But the love that everyone hopes will grow between Drake and Rosina would have been materially damaged by letting him wed her and then discovering that Morwenna was widowed before he said his vows (which he would certainly have stuck to).

We return to the Dwight-Demelza, Caroline-Ross relationships. In all fairness, though there is clearly some attraction and affinity between each pairing, they all remain steadfastly attached to their respective spouse. Demelza seeks comfort from Dwight after Drake abandons Rosina on her wedding day but all they talk about is missing Ross and Caroline. Caroline has started the healing process and has begun to weep.

Lady Whitworth is pretty objectionable. She openly states that she believes Morwenna to be wholly incapable and determines to take John Conan from Morwenna to educate and bring up as her heir. Morwenna shows her mettle when she undertakes a private eulogy for her departed husband to Mr and Mrs Warleggan: ‘I feel nothing but relief. I loathed him with every bone in my body. He sought to have me committed. He took away my son. He violated me again and again and again.’

Poor, unlucky Drake has chosen to seek out his prior love but she rejects him. The violation of which she so poignantly spoke of to Elizabeth and George means that she feels tainted and cannot accept Drake’s advances. Drake must return home, but as sorrow seems to shadow him, that has been set fire to by Rosina’s father and Mr Harry, Tom Harry’s brother who looks very similar to him but I have yet to catch his name.


Elizabeth will not take nonsense from George anymore ‘my dear must we revisit the subject, did we not agree, suspicion has no place in a marriage…’ we did agree. She also tells him not to pursue Drake Carne if he values her love. Well done, keep it up, you seem to have found some tentative peace with George (or at least with George’s money and lovely houses and your nice clothes, but actually, fair enough, not everyone would choose to scrimp and save and scrub and mend and toil with the looming threat of bankruptcy).

Ross went to the poor house (visiting, surprisingly, one would have felt he could have ended up there in earlier series). He watches Oliver Twist come up for some slopped about gruel…OK so it may not be exactly Oliver but Dickens would be proud of these earlier efforts to expose and improve these horrific conditions. Ross, it turns out, is a Corbynite and comes up with plan to supplement wages in Cornwall to prevent starvation while grain prices are insanely high. He speaks to his friend Basset about them and then his patron Falmouth. However, he has epically failed to do anything Falmouth asked of him in parliament so his agreement is by no means certain. The temporary assistance is almost voted down (by George and his cronies) but Lord Falmouth (whose bark is always worse than his bite) swoops in to vote with Ross, Basset and co.

And so to the next episode: Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger has requested that ‘the honourable member for Truro’ calls on him. Demelza will, as always, stay in Cornwall and do everything. Can Ross bring Caroline home? Can Morwenna overcome her pain and torment to make Drake the happiest man in history? Or will Rosina’s gentle loveliness win the day?

Episode six, 15th July, 9pm BBC1