MILD SPOILERS FROM SEASON THREE FOLLOW
The birth of a son to Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) only creates a bigger rift between Ross and his archenemy. The governess of Geoffrey Charles (Harry Marcus), Morwenna Chynoweth (Ellise Chappell), falls for Demelza’s brother Drake Carne (Harry Richardson). When George hears, his feud with Ross escalates. Season three follows the women, these four swans whose lives impact Ross: Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), Elizabeth Warleggan (néé Poldark), Caroline Penvenan (Gabrielle Wilde) and the unhappy Morwenna who finds her self in a loveless marriage to Osborne Whitworth (Christian Brassington) at the behest of George.
“Winter is coming” are the words of House Stark in the critically-acclaimed TV show Game of Thrones and the novel series from which it derives, A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin. But much alike how winter is used as an allegory for bad things in Westeros, in eighteenth-century Cornwall where our story is set, black moons are also allegorical for bad things. Just like how Sandor Clegane (The Hound) says to Joffrey on his nameday: “what a man sews on his nameday, he reaps all year”. Aunt Agatha makes similar sentiments to George about his son Valentine being born under a black moon. “Cursed he be” she says and only time will tell if her words will ring true.
Episode one thrusts us back into the world and the heroics of Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner), “a great pillar or morality”, maybe? Elizabeth is pregnant, but who is the father? She goes into labour a month early, or so her husband believes. But we know better don’t we, she goes to term proving Ross is the father after that controversial rape scene last season. Based on novels five and six Black Moon and Four Swans by Winston Graham, the birth is set against a black moon and judging by the the room’s reactions, this is not a good thing, not good at all. The West Country is a superstitious place and its people even more so, as depicted with Aunt Agatha’s comments.
Black moons aside, season three introduces us to more characters. Demelza’s brothers Drake (Harry Richardson) and Sam Carne (Tom York) join the cast, as does Morwenna Chynoweth (Chappell). Caroline’s uncle Ray (John Nettles) is killed off by mortality. And the slimy Rev. Whitworth (Brassington) joins the throng, as another villain. Where we can see George’s motivations as a businessman, Osborne Whitworth is another beast entirely. That’s exactly what he is, a beast who likes to rape and devastate. And this is whom Morwenna has to endure. There is no redeeming traits in this man, and his presence in any scene really gives me the heebiejeebies.
My favourite episode of the season is one I like to call ‘Prison Break’, those who have watched the season will know the one I mean. Ross proves his prowess as an enforcer of social justice and ruthless pragmatism, taking a small team to France to rescue his friend Dwight (Luke Norris) and and other PoWs, introducing us to Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) in the process, who’ll be more of a player in season four. Episode five was truly brilliant, and then episode six was very much a Dwight episode. He’s shell-shocked, but back then I don’t think they knew what that was. And how Caroline and Dwight react to this is both emotive and intriguing. Dwight’s suffering brings Hugh into the fold, another heartthrob for audiences to love but he’s also one with words, a poet.
From Ross’ exploits in France to Whitworth’s toe-sucking-fetish to witnessing the true masculinity of George Warleggan (he has feelings), season three might just be the best season we’ve had. That’s the thing about Poldark, it only gets better with each season. Lest not forget Harry Marcus (Beauty and the Beast) as Geoffrey Charles and Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) not putting up with George’s antics and giving him a rapid fire of zingers to munch on. George can send Geoffrey Charles to boarding school, but you can’t take the Poldark out of him (he’s hilarious). He’s a Poldark through and through, taking after Ross, and his late father Francis Poldark (Kyle Soller).
I’ve loved Caroline and Dwight from when they were first introduced. I’ve loved the newcomers too (not Whitworth). I love to hate George, you can’t even love to hate Whitworth. He’s despicable, but superbly written. One of the greatest arcs this season is Elizabeth’s. I may not like how she was with George for the first eight episodes, but the finale was recompense. They were Thing One and Thing Two. Regardless of what George did, Ross would somehow scupper his plans (typically). Elizabeth had become a copy of her husband and George’s feud with Ross had rubbed off on her. But the finale showed the Elizabeth I love, standing up to George and putting him on his rich ass.
I will continue to say that Poldark and Outlander are case studies on how to write love stories without it becoming cheesy, book series and television shows alike. It’s also a go-to on how to write villains. Whitworth is not a villain you will forget in a hurry. Whitworth or Black Jack Randall? Both these characters suck you in, but they are scary. Where Jack is physically intimidating as well as scary with his actions, Whitworth will scare you with his nonthreatening demeanour. At first contact, he’s okay to be around. But the more we get to know this religious preacher, the sicker he makes you feel. Not only with his actions, but also with his justification of them including his use of religion.
This is also a season about Ross and him finding himself, as seen with him declining political opportunities because he doesn’t want to be part of a corrupt system. The stubbornness of Poldarks is unwavering. With excellent performances, aesthetics and all-round greatness, this is my favourite season to date, and I can’t wait to see what they bring next. But in the meantime, I think it’s time I read Angry Tide don’t you think?