Poldark: A fan’s review by Celia Fox
So here we are, the end of a tumultuous, emotional and utterly brilliant second series of POLDARK. The final episode did not disappoint and has certainly left us eagerly waiting for the third series! Celia Fox (one of our lucky readers chosen to write a fan review of the series alongside Sarah-Vita Younan) is back one last time to share her thoughts on the big finale. Take a look at Celia’s review below:
* Warning: spoilers. Do not read if you have not seen Poldark series 2 episode 10 *
And So It Ends… Love, War, Threats and Thrills!
Settled in Trenwith, George, Jack Farthing has fences erected across ancient pathways long used by the local populace. His slightly crazed empire building is becoming disturbing! Tankard, Sebastian Armesto is the only voice of reason here, understanding it is not wise to antagonize one’s neighbours but George is the victor, he has the Poldark ancestral home, he has the woman he believes that Ross loves and he feels untouchable! Tom Harry, Turlough Convery, who has settled so well into this role of villainous sidekick and plays it with such relish, brandishes his big gun and threatens anyone trying to pass including poor Paul Daniel, Ed Browning who is knocked to the ground and injured.
A flurry of curt correspondence between Warleggan and Poldark (no first names here!) summons Ross, Aidan Turner to Trenwith. George wants Ross to give back the half share in Wheal Grace now it is a profitable mine- yes, well good luck with that George! Ross declines and George becomes a little hot under the collar and tries to provoke him and the final barb he throws out ‘Go back to your scullery maid!’ is too much for Ross, and they fight- again! (George doesn’t learn does he?)
Glass smashes, bookcases tumble and George becomes more heated as Ross forces his face into the fireplace! Ross is forcibly ejected from Trenwith and the new Mrs Warleggan, Heida Reed tenderly wipes the blood from her husband’s face… her loyalty now lies totally with George.
Dr Enys, Luke Norris after attending on a sickly Ray Penvenen, John Nettles learns that Caroline, Gabriella Wilde is engaged to Lord Coniston. His love for Caroline has not faded (we knew that!) and the tears in his eyes speak volumes. Poor Dwight! He will join the Navy… to feel needed… to forget! It seems he isn’t the only one contemplating running away as Ross whose relationship with Demelza is still fractured considers re-joining the army. Boys, boys this is not the answer for either of you!
Wishing to put his affairs in order before enlisting, Ross visits Harris Pascoe, Richard Hope and learns that Caroline was his benefactor. He tries to share this information with Demelza but there is no point of contact between them anymore- it is so sad. ‘Oh Demelza it was only one night when will you forgive me?’ he bleats- I can’t believe he said that. Will he never learn? So Demelza teaches him! ‘How long would it take you to forgive me?’ She asks him. The dawning realisation of what she is implying slowly creeps across his face as she tells him about Captain McNeill.
Ross is furious, feeling that he has the moral high ground, as he considers that what happened between him and Elizabeth was after an unfulfilled longing over ten years and not a cheap escapade brought on by too much port! As if any of that explanation makes it right- it is still betrayal and now he knows how it feels- it hurts… oh how it hurts! Demelza reminds him she didn’t commit adultery but he is enraged and doesn’t know what to believe. ‘If you trust me not and I trust you not what is the point of this marriage at all?’ she demands. He agrees! They part in anger hurt, damaged and looking like they are broken for ever. A nation weeps!
Demelza visits Verity, Ruby Bentall to escape a while and support her as her baby is born. It was lovely to see that Blamey’s rather petulant daughter seems to have had a change of heart.
Verity has a baby boy- altogether now- Aww! Verity, always a good friend knows something is wrong between Demelza and Ross. Thank goodness for Verity, her kindness and her calm sense amidst all this anger and confliction.
Ross, in visiting Caroline in order to discharge his debt and thank her, learns that she is not engaged and realising that she still loves Dwight, tells her Dwight has joined the Navy… what is he up to? Is he trying to mend their relationship when he can’t even begin to sort out his own?
He meets with Dwight and as Dwight turns he sees Caroline standing behind him. The Poldark fandom sighs with pleasure at this reuniting of these two… well done Ross! We listen to Ross’s words of wisdom learned from Demelza, ‘If two people love each other the obstacles that keep them apart must be substantial or they lack the courage of their convictions.’ (We know from your face that you believe this Ross) and ‘Life holds very few things that are genuinely worth having and if you possess them then nothing else matters and if you don’t possess them then everything else is worthless!’ (Listen to the words Ross… Please!) He goes to enlist! I know a million women are sighing at this handsome man in his military uniform- but don’t do it Ross! Oh Debbie Horsfield how can you tease us and worry us so? We leave him pen poised to sign his life away…
Returning home, Demelza takes a short cut across newly fenced Trenwith land and waits for Elizabeth. They face each other. It is a tense moment, beautifully filmed and portrayed by these two young talented actors. It seems Demelza has come to tell Elizabeth a few home truths- her marriage is broken, her faith marred. As Demelza knows, as we all know, Elizabeth would have taken Ross from her. Proud and defiant Demelza leaves and Elizabeth stands alone and silent for what can she say? Whatever she might have hoped from Ross was not fulfilled. In her heart she is likely to be as desolate as Demelza.
Demelza falls foul of Tom Harry and her arm is grazed by a gunshot. Returning to Nampara she realises that this situation is volatile and demands nothing more be done to inflame it but after her own encounter with Tom Harry, the ill-treatment of Paul Daniel and others this final insult to Demelza is too much for loyal Prudie, Beatie Edney to bear. She incites Jud, Phil Davies to stir up the villagers to wreak revenge on the Warleggans at Trenwith. In desperation Demelza tries to warn the Trenwith household that an angry and uncontrolled mob is on its way. George, unconcerned, still crowing and delighted with his victory over Ross and the new fact that Elizabeth is with child is so smugly satisfied that he is totally uncomprehending of the danger he is in. meanwhile the rabble carrying flaming torches rage over broken burning fences and onwards to Trenwith.
As George and his servants with loaded pistols face down the resentful mob, angry words are shouted but no-one makes the first move and a shot rings out adding to the tension. It is Ross, our erstwhile anti-hero riding in to the rescue, not in uniform (we knew it didn’t we really?) gun aimed directly at George’s head. It’s a stand off! Ross lowers the gun and takes control of the threatening crowd. George cannot stop himself from goading Ross- perilous thing to do George, for Ross can so easily control this dangerous mob and bring them back to do his bidding! George’s face shows that he knows that Ross still has power over him but having believed him to be sailing away to France he wonders for what reason can Ross have returned.
Ross slowly turns to look at Demelza and by his expression, enhanced by Anne Dudley’s evocative music we know exactly why Ross has returned. He offers Demelza his hand and after a moment of hesitation she jumps onto his horse and they turn their backs on Trenwith and with their friends beside them they ride away into the night- together. In a window in Trenwith, with a saddened Aunt Agatha like a shadow at her shoulder, a lonely Elizabeth watches.
Is it resolved for Ross and Demelza? No, of course not for Demelza still believes that Ross loves Elizabeth, always has, always will and so she is leaving him. Struggling to put it into words, Ross finally tells Demelza that although yes, he once loved Elizabeth, idealised her as a perfect love only to find that his spectacular arrogance and idiocy in his behaviour that night has led him to realise that his real and only true love was for Demelza. She looks at him, we see tears pricking the back of her eyes (I realise I’ve forgotten to breathe!) Finally Ross speaks the truth and shames the devil!
And the devil is still with us… as we have seen through the flames in the fireplace at Trenwith, George takes control and Elizabeth begins to softly weep. There is no comfort from Aunt Agatha, Caroline Blakiston for as she says what do you expect when you make a pact with the devil? Elizabeth clings to the hope that George will soften when his child is born in March but the suggestion, dripped like acid from Aunt Agatha’s tongue, that the child may be born sooner hangs in the air and Elizabeth is left staring as if into the fires of hell!
Out on a windswept cliff, Series Two reaches full circle with Ross and Demelza but this is a different Ross unsure and tentative as he touches her cheek. Out to sea the ships take Dr Enys and the Navy far away to war with the French. Caroline, having gone back to care for Ray Penvenen wears the leather ring around her finger given her by Dwight and we know she’ll wait for him to return.
But what is there for Ross and Demelza? These two… these two… how they stir our emotions and break our hearts! It is Demelza who makes the choice now, she turns her face up to Ross and they kiss. He holds her close and then kisses her forehead- it’s gentle, loving and a beginning… and there is hope.
And so it ends! There are still enough loose ends and cliff hangers to keep us desperate to know more. Will Dwight Enys return safely? We hope so but war is dirty, dangerous and unpredictable and nothing is easy in Winston Graham’s world of Poldark. Can Ross and Demelza once again find the love and comfort in each other’s arms that they both so desperately need? And what about George and Elizabeth for there lies the greatest unknown of all… whose child is growing inside her and what implications could this have for everyone.
Poldark has been powerful, stirring and controversial but always a wonderfully scripted, superbly acted compelling drama. Eleanor Tomlinson has frankly astounded me with the maturity and brilliance of her portrayal of Demelza. Heida Reed has really grown into her character of Elizabeth, showing such talent and expression in making me feel her pain, love her and hate her in equal measure. Jack Farthing has created a damaged George Warleggan with such depth and taken us with him on his descent into vengeful bitterness. Finally Aidan Turner, who initially stirred the hearts of many with his good looks and physique has won over many more fans in managing to take on and create such a complex character who swings from anger and unpredictability to sensitivity and tormented heart ache all in a heartbeat… a tremendous performance in a difficult role and he should receive, along with all the other cast, all the plaudits he and they deserve!
Onwards to Series Three! I would like to thank Film and TV Now for the opportunity to write these past ten reviews. It has been a marvellous experience in so many different ways and I’ve enjoyed every minute.