Eggs, ham, partridge, quail and a healthy side order of revenge. Hang on, this wasn’t what we ordered! This episode started with Ross at the bottom of a mine with a very bad headache and, unfortunately, all his clothes on. It ended with Ross basically declaring that he has really been French all along and let there be no mistake, mon ami. Although the only thing that really mattered here, of course, is that Horace did not die. Oh, yes, and also that Geoffrey Charles didn’t die. But more importantly Horace.
Well, this was all exhausting, wasn’t it? Despite some good bits. A huge problem for this series surfaced here: Sir Evil George’s evil pales next to the evil of the slave-trading half-brothers. He is no match for them, it turns out. So now it’s basically The Racist Slave-Trading Half-Brothers Versus Ross and the French. (Someone tell JK Rowling about this potentially excellent book title.)
I guess this is all fine if you don’t mind narrative handbrake turns, but it all felt very sudden next to the slow burn of the Ned storyline, which we’re supposed to just forget about now. I have some concerns about other plot points, too, seeing as it all needs to be tied up neatly smartish: Jacka and the missing ore; Tess and Sam Carne; Morwenna and the village school … ’E can’t wrap all that up in a week and foment a cross-Channel revolution at the same time, can ’e?
This was a busy episode for Sindy Doll who was dispatched to Hyde Park for a few hours to brazenly accost people about all the evil that is being done. But what’s this? An attack upon Sindy Doll? Fie, fool! She is a finer horsewoman than that! Next came the most distressing incident of the past five series: an attempt on the life of Horace the Pug, who had already distinguished himself early on by barking for the first time. Thank goodness for Dr Enys’s transferable skills. Horace was swiftly revived. I did experience extreme distress at the thought of his demise.
Sindy Doll’s finest hour came when she recovered from being a frivolous busybody nosing in her husband’s medical notes and instead put the information to good use, blackmailing Sir Evil George. This occasioned one of the best exchanges ever between George and Cary Warleggan: “Why are we protecting some local lunatic?” “We’re not. We’re protecting you.”
Meanwhile, many other incidents piled upon each other, enough to last another five series of Poldark if the BBC budget had stretched. Tess Tregidden be up to some wickedness with Sam the Preacher. (“I have been called by God to bring souls to salvation. Tess be such a soul.” No, Sam, she be not. She be taking you for a ride.) Jacka and his crew continued with their thievin’, swapping the ore for brandy, tea and rum, the ungrateful varmints. Prudie did some great facial expressions. Ursula, the she-bear baby that everyone had forgotten about (and who caused Elizabeth to die) turned out to still be alive and surprisingly recently birthed. And Morwenna and Drake finally had some good news: “We have news to share. A blessed day might soon be coming.” “We do expect.” “A child?” If things continue like this, a replacement pug might be more useful.
What’s left in our last hour with Team Nampara? Ross has to avenge himself on all the slave-traders, start a revolution with the help of the French, keep Demelza on side, stop Tess and Jacka from stealing both his ore and his religious brother-in-law, save the King from traitors and finally get his own back on Sir Evil George. Oh, yes, and somehow reclaim Valentine without offending Demelza. Hey, if anyone can do this in an hour, it’s Ross. “Do you think me an idiot?” “Yes. But an idiot I love beyond measure.” Ah, you and the rest of us, Demelza. You and the rest of us.
Pewter tankard award for bonkers brilliance as supporting actor
A tankard of ale must be raised to Geoffrey Charles (Freddie Wise) and Cecily (Lily Dodsworth-Evans). They have had a difficult and sometimes irritating story arc where they have nearly escaped and got married about 56 times without ever actually escaping or getting married. In this episode in the “But do you not love me?” scene, they both did wonderfully. And, of course, there’s no avoiding the comparison with the fate of Geoffrey Charles’s mother, Elizabeth, who was also never able to marry the right person at the right time. I didn’t shed a tear but I did have a momentary lapse of cynicism and, frankly, that’s quite impressive at the moment.
Classic Poldark lines
“Is your opinion required?” “No, but it should be.” Come on, Valentine! The adorable child actor playing this role rather brilliantly is Woody Norman, whom viewers might recognise as Young Marius in the BBC’s adaptation of Les Miserables.
“I know that face. You’re up to something.” “Wondering how to rein my wife in.” Ah, yes, the dance that we’ve followed for these many years.
“Save your breath. I know what you’re about.” Full on Kardashian moment from Demelza to Tess.
“I’ve a powerful yearning to learn more of the loaves and fishes.” Oh, Tess.
“First love. Deepest cut.” Ain’t it just. Maybe don’t say that in front of Ross.
Regulation reverse-sexism bare-chest moment
I’m going to have to replace this section with a Horace the Pug Death Watch, I think.
Ross has gone full-on French, as far as I can work out. Our Poldark seems to be playing a dangerous game. Is he a double agent? Or a triple agent? Let’s just hope that, whatever happens, he gets in a bit of scything before it’s all over.