Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) sits as MP for Truro. His time is divided between London and Cornwall and his thoughts divided about his wife, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson). His feud with George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) persists, as does the forbidden love between Drake Carne (Harry Richardson) and Morwenna Chynoweth / Whitworth (Ellise Chappell). Alas, soon George and Ross may have to cease their feud, as they will be tied by a loss greater than their quarrels, and Drake and Morwenna by a tragedy that brings them hope. Based on books six and seven Four Swans and Angry Tide by Winston Graham, the adventure continues with series four.
Series three of Poldark ended in 2017 with fans emotionally broken, as Elizabeth Warleggan (Heida Reed) showed how Warleggan she truly was. Additionally, Morwenna was sold by George to the slimy, snakey, disgusting Reverend Whitworth (Christian Brassington); Whitworth is truly one of the greatest TV villains since forever, certainly on par with the likes of Game of Thrones‘ Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Bleak House‘s Mr Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance). Moreover, Demelza cheated on Ross with poetry-loving naval officer Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse). Yet, when you look at the events that lead up to her infidelity, I honestly can’t really blame her.
Depending on your perspective, last series’ closing moment between Demelza and Hugh wasn’t so bad. I believe there is a grey area, especially when your husband is a drinker, a gambler and a rapist. Typically, season four begins lighter, with an opening scene alluding to a stranger from the sea; this is how the townspeople view Ross. He’s a stranger, now a Member of Parliament in London. Yet, like every season, we are witness to token shirtless shots of Ross in the sea or working land. Him emerging from the waters of the Cornish coast is all before the opening crawl has arrived as well, with that amazing theme song, thanks to composer Anne Dudley.
When he’s not admiring himself, Poldark can be seen brooding over Demelza’s unfaithfulness, despite him previously lusting after Elizabeth at any chance he got. Sexual double standards much! And these were the ways of the Georgian Period. The angry tide of relationships is the undertone for this series. Ross and Demelza are a seasoned couple and martial problems come with that. Yet, both Turner and Tomlinson, like in series one, two and three act the hell out of it. Truly, their chemistry is some of the best I’ve seen in not just a period drama, but any television series, much akin to the Claire Foy-Matt Smith tag-team as Elizabeth and Philip in The Crown.
With politics as one of the main themes this season, it comes hand-in-hand with corruption, both at home in Cornwall and in London. Power-hungry George Warleggan (Farthing) is strutting about Cornwall and London and will stop at nothing to ruin Ross’ plans. Ross, Demelza and the rest want to live their life. George’s hate for Ross knows no bounds. With each season their rivalry worsens. Ross hates George but I feel that he is becoming a bit long in the tooth. By the season finale, Ross looks worn. Will they fight like this forever? If it was up to George, he’d see the Poldark’s destitute. He has everything he could want, why does he feel the need to hate so?!
Ross Poldark in London; watching him in the House of Commons debating is glorious to watch. He catches the attention of people of influence, some cautioning him whilst others encourage him. Seeing Ross like this, you can see he’s in his element, still very much a man of the people despite his flaws. What writer Debbie Horsefield has done with this character is really good. He’s tragic, he’s complicated, he’s complex. I like him and I hate him at the same time. And his pride comes when he finds himself in a duel, quite alike to Outlander‘s Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan) who as well was in duel, to defend his own pride (out of sheer folly!) against Black Jack (Tobias Menzies).
Morwenna, Morwenna, Morwenna; can someone give her a break? Every time she has a scene, I’m in fear of her life. Desperate to stay out of Reverend Whitworth’s bed, she even enlists Doctor Enys (Luke Norris) to help her survive a while longer from her creepy her husband. “So help me, a man has needs, a wife has duties” Whitworth says. “Which I fulfilled in every way until you saw fit to debauch my sister” she replies. He’s truly a creep. When he walks through the village, the sun takes a hiatus behind a cloud. Nonetheless, the slime ball made his exit this season, when his horse went brigand assuring his death and Morwenna’s freedom from a loveless marriage.
The arc between Dwight and Caroline (Gabrielle Wilde) peaked as well; nobody should ever have to bury their child. Baby Sarah Caroline Enys was not long born when she died. The dark story of these parents shows that grief manifests itself differently in different people. Caroline was barely a whimper in her grief but she kept it within, forced to accept that her baby is gone. And she left Dwight for London, which she said could be for months. Dwight arrived in series one full of hope and prosperity but now he’s in the pits of despair. Yet, he and Caroline spend much of this series dealing with loss. How they get past that will only be revealed with time.
From politics to loss, grief, pride, tragedy, humility and hope, every character goes on a journey this series. Though, if I’m going to go by the book timeline, the next novel The Stranger From the Sea starts ten years on. Will series five follow suit? Poldark simply gets better and better with each series and I can’t wait for the next. I wait in haste!