Poldark series 3 episode 4 review

The people of Cornwall face their harshest winter for decades in the latest Poldark episode...

This review contains spoilers. 

Oh, do piss off, George Warleggan. Pack up your little wig, your grubby social aspirations and your spiteful contempt and just do one. The eighteenth century is perfectly capable of culling the poor all on its own thank you very much. It doesn’t need your help.

Nevertheless, help it George does. The cost of his imagined humiliation this week was the financial ruin of seventy-five mining families. To spite Ross Poldark, who’d spent the week setting up a pop-up budget supermarket and giving no thought whatsoever to Trenwith’s odious master, George closed down Wheal Leisure. That’ll teach Ross to make a fool of/completely ignore him! Warleggan’s dickheadery truly knows no bounds.

When he wasn’t kicking bread rolls out of starving kids’ hands and sentencing their desperate parents to transportation to the colonies, George was engaged in a new kind of trade this week – the human variety. Morwenna having displeased him, he chose to use her as a stepping stone on his despicable journey to the top of the pile and marry her off to a human boil with connections to the God-awful Godolphins. 

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That Morwenna was mortified by the sight of her intended and refused his every advance meant nothing. Coyness is to be expected, nay hoped for, in young ladies. After putting up an initial show of modesty, she was certain to fall for Rev. Whitworth and his lemon silk waistcoat, he reasoned. It was only a matter of time.

The recently widowed Whitworth (a horridly fun comic turn by Christian Brassington), is an oleaginous bore who, if he were alive today would be wearing a fedora in his Tinder profile pic. Think Pride & Prejudice’s Mr Collins with a permanent hard-on. If Morwenna has to marry him, Elizabeth had better pass on the name of that doctor who keeps her tincture bottle topped up – the girl’s going to need it. (What, one wonders, killed Whitworth’s first wife – a case of Putrid Throat or one of extreme good luck?) 

Morwenna’s heart belongs to another, of course – winsome puppy dog Drake Carne. Everyone agrees however, that the daughter of a dean with an ancient name has no business snogging the low-born son of a miner, which is exactly what she was doing by the end of the episode.

Even Demelza, who married well above her station and whose romantic idealism was responsible for Verity and Captain Blamey finding happiness, says the young lovers haven’t a chance. “Tis well you are going away. T’will break the bond,” she told Morwenna. Not likely, Dem. They’re teenagers, a few miles’ distance won’t have any effect on their bond. In my experience, the only thing likely to split them is an indiscretion at a party involving the bass player of a Green Day covers band and a bottle of strawberry 20/20.

After last week’s action-heavy hour, episode four was a more domestic affair. There was romance, comedy, a plot to feed the poor, and a child born.

Rightly not trusting quack Dr Choake, Demelza dug herself a hole under the garden shed and whelped her new pup alone. It was the perfect TV birth – a few painful twinges and voila! Gleaming infant, a mother looking as though she’d just returned from a week at a spa instead of pushing a human out of her privates, and not a bucket of afterbirth to be seen. Welcome to the world, Clowance Poldark. (And yes, that is your real name. Your mum wasn’t just trying to say ‘Clarence’ through a mouthful of ice cubes.)

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No bed-rest for the mistress of Nampara. Demelza went straight from pushing a baby out of her belly to trying to put food in the bellies of the poor. Wearing their widest hats and even wider smiles, she and Caroline shook down the local gentlemen for funds in a fun sequence that was comically spliced with George negotiating Morwenna’s dowry.

There was no such comedy in Dwight’s plight, just death, disease and exhaustion. He was worked harder than a Junior Doctor under Jeremy Hunt in that French prison, spending day upon day pulling out shrapnel and cauterising wounds with makeshift instruments. Time for Ross, well aware that Caroline’s feckless MP was talking rubbish about ongoing negotiations to release British officers, to mount a rescue mission.

Between the starving poor and Dwight’s patients being shot by the French for a laugh, this was probably the least feel-good Christmas episode since whatever tragedy befell Albert Square last December the 25th (aliens?). Amid all that sadness though, Aunt Agatha and her thoroughgoing hatred of George could be relied upon to lift all our spirits. What do you think she’ll do with those toads? Perhaps she eats them. The secret to everlasting life.

Read Louisa’s review of the previous episode here