We’ve only got one episode left of Poldark as we know it. And episode 7 has not wrapped things up as neatly as we expected.
Some things came to an end: namely Cecily and Geoffrey Charles’ relationship. Poldark had us hoping until the very end that things between these two might work out, despite the interference of her cruel father, but alas, we along with the GC had to watch as Cecily sailed away to Jamaica alongside Ned’s widow, Kitty.
But at least she appears to have escaped her dad, and we got a bit of tragic Harry and the Hendersons romance. As first loves go, this one was fairly epic. Somewhere, the lovestruck Elizabeth who danced with pre-series Ross on a clifftop is looking on proudly.
Kitty’s departure, too, was bittersweet, but at least this might mean a fresh start for Dwight and Caroline, who are experiencing Demelza and Ross levels of woeful communication. Caroline went through a lot this episode — as did we when we saw Horace the Pug motionless on her floor — but she never blamed Kitty for her own jealousy, only questioned her husband, who continues to underestimate her.
Indeed, for someone who can see right to the heart of Ross’ nonsense, Dwight struggles to do the same with his own. Caroline’s not asking you not to care, you fool, she’s asking you to include her. You know, maybe discuss things with her once in a while. It’s not neuroscience, pal.
Anyway, Caroline gets two organized scares from the season’s villains, one on horseback and one through the medium of poisoned pug. But fortunately, neither come to fruition, which is mostly good, but also doesn’t really do anything to show us that there’s any real jeopardy in what Merceron and Hanson are getting up to (which is still, for the most part, unclear).
This is compounded with the fact that the big shock moment of last episode — Ross being thrown down a mine — is resolved very swiftly in the first half of the episode. Merceron wastes no time bragging about it being him who did it, so any suspense the show may have created is utterly lost.
But Merceron and Hanson can do that by themselves, really. The reveal that they are, in fact, half-brothers is a bit creepy, but also just… fine. Whatever. We’re not convinced it matters.
We care more about their motives, which are still murky, even this late in the series. We know they profit off suffering — both in prisons and their use of slaves — but why are they so obsessed with Ross? Yes, he’s a relatively important MP (emphasis on the relatively), but thus far he’s been a fairly useless spy. Surely these scheming men who can get Colonel Ned Despard executed can go above the heads of a Cornish mine owner, who is also not a good spy?
It just seems weird. As much as we like this “Poldark goes to London” thing, it doesn’t really quite work that he’s an influential part of history. This isn’t 19th century Cornish Forrest Gump.
But even though things are still nowhere near clear, there’s a slight sense of things coming together, albeit messily. It turns out Merceron and Hanson have ties to spymaster Wickham themselves, whilst Ross being thrown down a mine has led to him discovering last week’s missing ore and also some invading Frenchmen for good measure.
Plots remain afoot. The discovery of said Frenchmen ends up with Ross in deadly trouble again at the end of the episode, but then — shock horror — he decides to be a spy for them. So that’s fine, right, with one episode left? Ross Poldark is going to be a turncoat. Or a double agent. With one episode left to wrap it up, in a series that’s not getting a follow up.
Writer Debbie Horsfield has set herself one hell of a task.
On the plus side, Caroline’s aforementioned woes did have the practical advantage of neutralizing George Warleggan. George had already expressed his discomfort with Hanson and Merceron’s misdeeds (handy guide to George’s morals: personally trying to have Drake executed last season: fine, throwing Ross down a mine shaft: not fine) both with his face and through his Daemon Valentine who appears to be performing the role of George’s conscience at this point.
But Caroline’s discovery of his psychological trauma has only sweetened the pot, as she warns the Warleggans to leave her and her friends alone, lest certain news get out. Not her finest moment ethically, but we’ll let her off this time. She did campaign for better prison conditions in the same episode, after all.
All in all, Merceron and Hanson have one less ally. But does that matter when they’ve got actual spymasters turning a blind eye and George’s payoff in their pockets?
And where exactly do the Frenchmen come into it? Will Ross spy on them or for them? Will Demelza give another long-suffering sigh when she realises Ross hasn’t confided in her again? Will Ross ever learn? And will this show finally make sense again?
We’ve only got one more episode to find out.
The (cliff) peaks
So long, Kitty: Ned’s widow once again proved that she is the MVP of the Despards, as she bravely promised to continue her and her husband’s progressive vision and bring up their child with love and hope, even in the wake of her heartbreak. It was very Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again really; Alexa, play “My Love, My Life” as we sob, please.
Hurrah for Horace: Our stout king lives. That is enough to warrant his inclusion here, thank you very much.
Morwenna and Drake, baby: We started from the bottom (all that talk of toads) and now we’re here. At last, they’re pregnant! Our shipper hearts are full.