Poldark: A fan’s review by Sarah-Vita Younan
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! Sarah-Vita Younan (one of our lucky readers chosen to write a fan review of the series alongside Celia Fox) is back one last time to share her thoughts on the big finale. Take a look at Sarah’s review below:
* Warning: spoilers. Do not read if you have not seen Poldark series 2 episode 10 *
Poldarkness Has Arrived
The sun has set on Series 2 of Poldark, and we have a depressing length of Poldarkness to look forward to for the next few months. Before I say anything about that finale, I would just like to sincerely thank Film and TV Now and editor, Lisa Burrows, for granting me the opportunity to fangirl a little more about my current obsession. I will always blab about Winston Graham’s stories, and Aidan Turner, but getting to do it on a somewhat professional level for 10 weeks was a truly amazing experience. Thank you!
Now. Last night’s finale… What a finale it was! Aidan Turner shined! Eleanor Tomlinson was electrifying! Luke Norris and Gabriella Wilde were breaking our hearts and putting them back together! Heida Reed and Jack Farthing completely stole the show! And Ruby Bentall was as delightful and talented as ever!
Wheal Grace has proved more than prosperous for Ross, and he comes home to Nampara with a full purse. He pours a handful of coins into Demelza’s hand, asking her if she’d rather be here, where things are looking up, than twelve months back when they had nothing. She dumps them back into his hand, letting some fall on the floor, replying that she would rather be back there. Before Elizabeth… and she leaves.
At Trenwith, it has become every bit a Warleggan house. Much to everyone’s discomfort, George has taken down the painting of Francis above the mantle, and will replace it with a portrait of himself and Elizabeth. Young Geoffrey Charles is confused as to how long Uncle George is staying. Elizabeth tells him that George is his new Papa.
In typical Warleggan fashion, George is trying to use his new marriage to Elizabeth against Ross. He sends for Ross, after Ross tries to avoid it twice, bent on finding that the sale of Geoffrey Charles’s shares in Wheal Grace were not legal. Ross admits the money was from him, to help Elizabeth during the first few months after Francis’s passing.
George tries to convince him to sell it back to Geoffrey Charles, now that the mine has proved prosperous, and leave the dealings in George’s hands. Obviously, Ross refuses.
“Now, I deem the profit mine. Not Elizabeth’s, not Geoffrey Charles’s, and most especially not yours.”
George points out that this reflects poorly on Ross, that he would “cheat his young ward.” Ross says he has not offered violence, but if George persists…
“Go back to your scullery maid.”
And, that does it! Ross throws George around the room, and finally nearly shoves his face into the fireplace. Really, George, did you think you’d be able to make that remark and walk away in one piece?
Ross is forcibly removed from Trenwith. He returns to Nampara, bloodied and tired. Fortunately, Dwight is there as well. He tells of news that he has joined the Navy as a surgeon, and will soon be leaving. He also explains that he has had news that Caroline Penevenen is to be married. He says he is not sorry, but it is plain that he still loves her.
That night, Demelza’s attitude is still cold toward Ross. He seems to have grown to accept it. At her remark that his brawl with George was like “little boys fighting,” he tells her that it was because he was “offensive to someone other than himself.” She does not answer, but she knows it was her. She changes the subject to Dwight going into the Navy. Ross then admits he’s thinking of going too.
“Why? Because your dearest friend is running away, so must you?”
“Because I’m a soldier.” He then begins to say something about the thought of leaving her and Jeremy. She cuts him off.
“It wouldn’t be the first time you’ve considered such a thing.” She asks him about Elizabeth, to which he tells her she avoided him.
“As you’ve avoided her?”
“What would you have me do?”
“I’d have you be honest, Ross. To her, to me… to yourself.”
“Am I not honest? Why am I not honest now?”
She laughs. “Go to war, Ross. Play soldiers. Or stay home and save all of Cornwall. What it is to be married to such a great man,” she glares at him.
He sighs and leaves the room. In the library downstairs, he opens a chest and takes out his old uniform. Red coat and golden buttons. Perhaps Ross wasn’t serious. Maybe he thought in planting the idea that he might leave, she would ask him to stay. But at her remarks and bitterness, maybe he should leave. Would she not be better off without him? He was right, he is a soldier. Should he not return to his old life?
He’s decided. Ross will rejoin his regiment. He goes to Truro the next day, to see to final financial matters before his departure. He finally drags the name of his benefactor from Harris Pascoe, wishing to thank the person before he leaves.
He returns to Nampara to tell Demelza, who thinks it is because Caroline has an interest in Ross. He defends the loan, and that he is a married man. She acts like that would not matter.
“Demelza. It was one night. How long will it take you to forgive me?
“I don’t know, Ross. How long would it take you to forgive me?”
He realizes now what she’s getting at. “When…?”
She tells him, rather smugly, all about her night with Malcolm McNeil, much to her husband’s disgust.
“After your antics with Elizabeth, I decided I might have a turn myself.”
She almost looks like she’s enjoying his anger. He stands up. “I tell you, I do not admire you for this! It does you no credit! Nor me neither.”
“What credit did your night with Elizabeth do me?”
“That’s entirely different! I take no pride in my visit to her! It was the outcome of a devotion, which on my side lasted 10 years! Not some tawdry little passion, worked up over a glass off port, where some opportunist soldier took what an offer!”
She stands too. “That is precisely not what was an offer, I did not permit him!”
“How do I know what you permitted?”
Demelza finally says to him that if neither of them trust each other, then what is the point of their marriage. To which he agrees, and leaves the room. He returns to the library and begins to properly unpack his uniform.
The next day, Demelza takes Jeremy with her to Truro to stay with Verity and help with the birth of her child.
In her absence, Dwight calls on Nampara. He walks into the library to find Ross in full uniform and sword in hilt.
Ross tells Dwight that Caroline is to thank for saving him from debtor’s prison. At first, Dwight apologizes for speaking freely of Ross’s financial situation, but Ross thanks him, and tells Dwight just how much he owes him.
Before he enlists, Ross travels to London, to the Penevenen estate. Caroline is pleasantly surprised by his arrival, and greets him with a warm smile. “What brings you to London?”
“A need to see justice done. My mine has begun to prosper. It was your loan which enabled me to keep it open.”
“There’s no point denying it. So now you stand accused of willfully saving three people from the worst disaster bankruptcy can bring.”
She smiles. “And what is my sentence?”
“To bear the brunt of my eternal gratitude.” He begins to congratulate her on her marriage, to which she says is not happening. He asks if she still loves Dwight. At her silence, Ross begins to tell her just how different Dwight has been since she left, and that he is going to the Navy because of it. At first she plays the heiress; that her well-bred lifestyle would not allow her to live in a Cornish cottage with Dwight, but Ross sees right through her. He has a plan, and convinces her to meet Dwight with him at a nearby inn. Much to Dwight’s shock and delight.
Before he leaves them to be together, he gives them some words of wisdom that Demelza has taught him. “If two people love each other, then the obstacles which keep them apart must be substantial, else they lack the courage of their convictions. Life holds very few things which 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.
Dwight and Caroline spend his final night on land together. He makes her a small ring out of cord, that she wears proudly on her left hand. They promise to still be married when he returns. “I am putting my name aside, and taking that of the man that I love.”
Back in Cornwall, Demelza is on her way back to Nampara, and crosses over Trenwith land. She unexpectedly runs into Elizabeth, who almost looks afraid of her. “Why have you come?”
“I thought it was to tell you that I hate you. You’ve marred my faith, broke my marriage… that I envy you. The passion you arouse that Ross could not withstand. That I pity you, because you could never make up your mind. Now I wonder, what do any of it matter? What you did… what Ross did… it cannot be undone. And you both must live with that. But I need not.”
“What will you do?”
“I’ll take my son, and I’ll go back to my Father’s house.”
Elizabeth looks surprised. “You would leave Ross?”
“I will no longer be ruled by what he did. You’re welcome to him.” And she leaves.
As she heads toward home, Demelza climbs over the fence. As she’s climbing, a rifle is shot, hitting the post and scratching her arm badly. She falls. One of Warleggan’s men come up to her, and after she tells him off for firing without looking for people, he threatens to do it again. She takes the hint.
Jud and Prudie at home are livid at the idea of Demelza being fired at, but she orders them to say and do nothing. Of course they don’t listen, and Jud stirs up a mob to march on Trenwith with torches.
“Why didn’t you stop him?” Demelza questions.
“Stop him? Why? ‘Twas I that told him to go,” Prudie answers. “George Warleggan do think he can throw his weight around, and tramp common folk beneath his boot. But fire at thee? Tis too much!”
As the unrest grows in Cornwall, Ross stands before the officers, ready to sign back up for the war. He stands before them with his back straight and his hands behind his back. “Captain Ross Poldark, of His Majesty’s 62nd Regiment.”
Just as he’s about to sign, he stops… And the scene cuts back to Cornwall.
Demelza barges in on George and Elizabeth’s dinner, and begs him to do something or protect himself from the coming mob. “I have no love for, George, nor you, Elizabeth, but for the sake of Geoffrey Charles and Agatha, I urge you.”
Elizabeth confronts Demelza. “Did Ross send you?”
“How could he? He’ll be on his way to France now,” George interrupts. Demelza stares at him. Oh George, how DARE you?! “My informers told me he’s rejoined his regiment. Oh, surely he hasn’t snuck away without telling you. But perhaps having tasted defeat at home, he’s gone to vent his rage on a different enemy.”
“Defeat?” Demelza scoffs.
“As you see,” George says haughtily. “his foe is in possession of the field. Of his ancestral home, of the woman he loved.” He takes Elizabeth’s hand. “And in March, the route will be complete when Elizabeth gives birth to a Warleggan heir.”
I must say, I am surprised at Elizabeth’s staying on George’s side here, when he almost admitted to doing everything he has done just to get at Ross. Wow.
The mob does indeed march on Trenwith, and sets fire to the fence. Demelza runs outside to try and stop them, but they won’t listen. They’re hell-bent on killing George. Who himself comes out of the house with servants, all carrying guns.
Demelza stands between them all, trying to settle the madness. Finally, a shot rings out from behind the mob. The people make a path, and a rider comes through, holding a pistol in the air.
He rides to the head of the group, and aims his pistol right at George. George does the same. Ross pulls back.
He convinces the angry villagers to think before they act. “I urge you to go home! Do not give this man reason to see you hang! You have families… wives… children… And they are worth ten of this sorry excuse for a man.”
They take his advice. But George isn’t through. “Should you not join your comrades?” he calls to Ross.
“Have a care, George. Do you really wish to provoke me? You know I could call them back in an instant. At any time.”
“And this is what you came back for?”
Silence. Ross looks toward Demelza, who returns his gaze. He holds his hand out to her. She takes it, and they ride home together.
After everything settles at Trenwith, George tells Elizabeth that he is planning to send Geoffrey Charles away to school. This does not sit well with her, as she tells Aunt Agatha. “I hope George will be more accommodating once his child is born.”
“Can you wait that long?”
“March is not so far away.”
“Unless it comes sooner,” she says.
And then Elizabeth realizes the dire situation… What if it’s not George’s child…?
Following the night’s incident, Ross sees Demelza packing her things, with two trunks settled at the door.
So she really did mean what she said to Elizabeth. He watches her for a moment, with a look of pure confusion on his face. “What are you doing?” She tells him she’s taking Jeremy, and going to her father’s house. “You’re leaving me?” Ross, you poor, slow, fool. Yes, she’s leaving you, now apologize and make her stay! “But I came back for you… I chose not to go to war.”
“’Tis not my concern what you choose. Only what I choose.”
“But you are my wife.” His heart is breaking. He must do something.
“Raised from the gutter to be a great lady? I’ll never be such a one. But what do I care? For I am fierce, and proud, and steadfast, and true. And I’ll not settle for second best.” She brushes past him.
“Why would you be?”
She faces him again. “Because you love Elizabeth, because you will always love Elizabeth. And you cannot conceal your pain that George now possesses her, body and soul. Do you deny it?”
“I do not deny that I loved her.” Finally, his honesty comes. “Long before I set eyes on you, she was my first… Perfect, untouchable love.”
“Whereas I am dull, imperfect, and ordinary,” she heads toward the door.
“No, not ordinary. But yes! Imperfect!” Ross calls to her.
She stops and turns to face him again.
“Human. Real.” his voice cracks. She is leaving him. His world is crashing down around him, and he must think of something to say to bring it back before he looses it all for good. “What that night with Elizabeth taught me, and God knows there should have been other ways for me to come to my senses, but my arrogance… my idiocy… has been spectacular. All I can say is, after that night, because of it, I came to see that if you take an idealized love and bring it down to the level of an imperfect one, it is the imperfect one which suffers. My true, real, and abiding love is not for her. It’s for you. She will never come between us again.”
AND THANK THE LORD, HE’S FINALLY COME TO HIS SENSES!!!! IT’S ABOUT TIME, ROSS!!!! And by this point, I was literally crying tears of joy!
And now the tears of sorrow come…
Demelza stands on a cliff, overlooking Nampara Cove. The same familiar music at the end of last season’s finale begins to play as Ross comes up behind her. She turns to face him. Their foreheads touch in the familiar way we have grown used to, and they kiss. Not a passionate, longing kiss, but a gentle, loving, forgiving kiss. He kisses her forehead and holds her tightly in his arms as the wind blows.
The camera zooms out as Ross and Demelza grow smaller, and we see the ships sailing away to war. And our screens go black. The words “POLDARK WILL RETURN,” come up. And we end the second series.
And what a series it was! We laughed, we cried, we clapped at speeches and booed at villains.
Winston Graham’s stories have been yet again superbly adapted by Debbie Horsfield, and I could not be more pleased with the outcome. Eleanor Tomlinson captured our hearts yet again, and showed us what true love really means. Luke Norris made us feel for Dwight’s pain and his happiness, and Gabriella Wilde gave us a 16th Century Princess, who we look forward to calling Mrs. Enys.
Jack Farthing gave us a villain we love to hate, who I have fondly begun calling “the Cornish Loki.” Heida Reed was every bit the lady, and the woman we all love and admire. Ruby Bentall was the friend we all wish we had.
And last, but certainly not least, the reason I came to love Poldark so deeply: Aidan Turner. Who has given us a character so flawed and real that he is every bit the hero to us all.
And everyone else in this fabulous show, have all added to the splendor.
This series 2 was even better than the first, and I cannot wait for what’s in store with the third. Thank you, so very much, to everyone who has given us Poldark. It was an amazing ten weeks, and I cannot wait to have it all back again. Hurry up, 2017!!!