This review contains spoilers.
It’s been too long since we’ve had a traditional folk celebration on Poldark. Countryfolk skipping up to a wet log and whacking it with a ribbon on a stick used to be this show’s lifeblood, back when it was all about copper auctions and Dwight overarm bowling oranges into the mouths of the needy. In the first series, not an episode went by without at least one slow-motion scene of gap-toothed peasants cheerfully doing the polka around a giant, burning wicker man.
The Feast of St Sawle then, was a welcome distraction from all the grief of late. It provided not only be-ribboned sticks and the vocal stylings of MC Tholly (no phoneme left behind), but also a wrestling match between good and evil. Everybody who was anybody was there. Caroline Penvenen wore a hat with two buckles. It was excitement itself.
Evil won, obviously. Its emissary Tom Harry fought dirty and threw the goodly Sam Carne (apologies, Sam Carrrrrrrrrrrrrrrne) to the ground. Sam was wrestling for the soul of Emma Tregirls, who’d arbitrarily promised him that he could try to save it if he won, like she was Rizzo from Grease officiating at a drag race.
Emma’s soul and all her other parts will soon to be out of Sam’s reach. She’s off to the South Pacific on a gap year, but she’ll be back with a tan and a puka shell necklace if and when she decides she’s ready to let the Lord, and Sam, in.
Emma’s was a mature decision in an episode full of them. Ross gave Demelza space and support to visit the fast-fading Hugh (despite the latter spending his final hours once again trying to rifle under Ross’ wife’s skirts). Lord Falmouth eventually accepted that Dr Choake was a quack. And thanks to Caroline and Demelza’s charm offensive, he and Sir Francis even buried the hatchet… in George Warleggan’s back.
Yes, pride cometh before a fall, and a fall cometh before George Warleggan, which was cheering. There George was, happily chirruping about having the election all sewn up and choosing which colour of celebratory bunting to drape over his chaise-and-four, when it all went to absolute shit.
George’s mistake was trying to start a Mexican wave and blowing his vuvuzela the hanging of Jago Martin. After that, his reluctant patron Sir Francis couldn’t stomach the sight of him, so switched allegiance to Lord Falmouth’s new candidate, Captain Ross Poldark, now the honourable member for Truro.
The count was in immediately, what with the leadership of the borough being decided by seventeen men in cravats rather than our much more time-consuming ‘everyone who doesn’t mind the rain’ system. Eighteenth century elections were altogether more X Factor than our own. One by one, the judges declaimed their choice in a booming baratone, each waiting the correct length of dramatic pause before doing so.
Now Ross is off to the ends of the Earth to do what good he can in parliament. Finally. Will he improve Westminster, or will it turn him into a duck house-scamming, cash-for-questions kinkster by summer recess?
Truro’s own kinkster vicar continued to display his thoroughgoing unsuitability for the role. At the mention of the word ‘charity’ while George and Ross’ wager terms were being set, Christian Brassington’s nose screwed up in such disgust it was as though someone had shoved a stinking foot underneath it. Bad example. (Do you think Brassington gets danger money for filming those Amanda de Cadenet scenes? Veruca avoidance is no laughing matter.) Between now and next week, keep fingers and toes crossed that the “common drab” Ossie’s been visiting has been painting her nails with mercury.
It was a win and a loss for Lord Falmouth, whose candidate took the election, but whose nephew gave up the ghost. The handsome and poetic young war hero spent the hour weakening on his eiderdown, while everyone—even the swans—gravely agreed that this was all Demelza’s fault. If only she’d give Hugh hope of another coastal tumble, he’d probably pull through. Alas, she did not, so Hugh died, having narrowly avoided a hole being drilled in his skull to match the one he kept complaining about being in his heart.
I won’t miss Hugh, the shameless dawg. I won’t miss his entitled guilt-trip poetry, and I won’t miss the look of pain on Demelza’s face every time he bowed deeply to her at a social event, then tried to get her to do it with him in the bushes.
A modern marriage, Ross and Demelza have each shown forbearance with the other’s affairs du coeur. Ross will have to live with the perfect ghost of Hugh Armitage in the same way that Demelza has to live with Valentine Warleggan wandering about the village looking the spit of her man. (Caroline’s baby may be, as Dwight says, entirely Ross’ fault, but not quite in the way that Valentine Warleggan was entirely Ross’ fault.)
All change then. Ross is off to London. Hugh is off to the afterlife. Emma’s off to Tahiti and Caroline’s pelvic floor is off to the dogs. Until next week.
Read Louisa’s review of last week’s episode here.