Poldark, Series 3 Episode 7 features the moon rising over the sea in the vicinity of the Cove below where the Poldark family live at Nampara Farm. Along the shore local miners and their wives and sweethearts, are dancing together around the firelight to a fiddler playing. This is a very real challenge for the young Methodist minister Sam Carne (Tom York) Demelza Poldark’s brother who believes ‘dancing is sinful’.
The jolly party has been arranged by Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) as a celebration; he has given out of work miners access to a portion of his land to plant fruits and vegetables so they can feed themselves through the bad times taking place because of the level of corruption within the aristocratic hierarchy in government and the Church.
Do we trust the Lord to provide? “Trust Ross Poldark and you will get a better return”, observes his wife Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) who comes from a place of common sense and practicality, believing you have to do it yourself if you truly wish to succeed in life. She’s not happy at all with her husband in this chapter, as our favourite characters all race inexorably towards a series of climaxes at the end of Series 3, which offers change as everyone’s main agenda, although that doesn’t mean change for the better.
Don’t read any more if you don’t want spoilers.
Marrying the truly awful Reverend Ossie Whitworth (Christian Brassington) to ensure the man she loves Drake Carne (Harry Richardson) didn’t hang for a crime he did not commit for Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) may have been a noble gesture. However it is one she is going to have to pay for practically, married as she is now to a monstrous man aligned to a cause he does not believe in or know how to honour. The Reverend will do anything at all to serve his own needs and carnal desires because his own moral compass has long been lost.
While Morwenna is submitting to being violated in the bedchamber, the love of her life Drake is on the beach dreaming. He’s topless with all the local girls ogling his abs; although he’s totally unaware he’s inspiring such lustful thoughts, lost as he is in his own sorrow at the turn of events.
Dastardly George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) is out walking around Truro at night when unexpectedly he meets Sir Francis Basset (John Hopkins), who is not as impressed with news about George being a Burgess, as he would have liked. He informs George the local MP has just died, giving him hope there is a new goal for him to aspire to, representing the high born people at whose feet he regularly grovels.
At Trenwith Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) is getting pinned into the birthday dress ordered to celebrate her big day, turning 100. George is furious Elizabeth has invited Ross to the party but she won’t be swayed. Aunt Agatha after all is the only link to her late husband father of her eldest son and indeed, to Ross, the man she has always loved.
The ageing blacksmith on Poldark land has died and Ross gives the distraught Drake the cottage and the job, discharging his obligation to the young man for saving his life in France. For Drake at least, this is something to go on with, as he tries to get over the tragedy of losing Morwenna, who is in the local Church wondering if God is punishing her for sins.
Elizabeth Warleggan (Heida Reed) at Trenwith is musing on the quiet in the house now her eldest son Geoffrey Charles has been shipped off to Harrow by George. She sends for Dr Enys (Luke Norris) to give his opinion on the illness plaguing little Valentine.
He prescribes fresh air, sunshine and fresh vegetables to cure him of his complaint rickets, not the old fashioned remedies having no impact. She doesn’t want her child to be lame and so begins the new regime.
Dr Enys and the lovely Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) are getting ‘married again’, being wed publicly so the whole district will know of their love. His rescue from France by Ross Poldark has only added to Dr Dwight’s status and as a couple they are at least both in love and happy, something to be thankful for.
At a reception for their wedding all the local aristocrats are in attendance and Ross and Demelza arrive to see George and Elizabeth scowling at them for being there.
Dr Enys toasts Caroline and Ross and Lord Falmouth publicly thanks Ross for saving his nephew Hugh Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) from the guillotine. He proposes a toast to Ross, the hero of the hour.
Later Lord Falmouth tells Demelza her husband is a reluctant hero one, who despite himself, cannot avoid fame… hinting it is England that may yet have need of him, yet.
George eavesdropping on conversations he’s not privileged to be part of, only helps to feed his own anger as usual. Hugh Armitage seeks Demelza out in the crowd. He wants to dance with her, infatuated as he is with the beauty of his rescuer’s wife.
Demelza seeking fresh air finds Morwenna outside and finds out she is pregnant. The young woman confesses she did not know what was expected of her in marriage because her mother had not instructed her on such matters. Morwenna does know however, that what she endures nightly, including beatings tells her Reverend Whitworth is a monster, a fact she shares with her cousin.
When they arrive home Demelza tells Ross about Hugh Armitage being over attentive… but he dismisses her thoughts, telling her he believes every man in Cornwall is besotted with her.
George is complaining to Elizabeth who informs him he is trying too hard to please the aristocracy. She’s still addicted to her laudanum, but is relieved to report to George his son Valentine is showing improvement.
Drake has goodly work to keep him going and to set him up for a new life. Sam has a fancy for Emma (Clara Charteris) Tholly’s daughter, which is guaranteed to tempt him soon. Demelza arrives to find them together, giving Drake news of Morwenna, telling him she’s with child and urging him to let her go.
Ross sets out for Truro to see his solicitor and in the meeting hears of a new initiative for George, wanting to be MP.
Sir Francis Basset arrives and invites Ross and Demelza to dinner, which at this stage in society was usually about 3pm in the afternoon. He wants to talk to Ross about politics.
At Trenwith the Poldark family Bible, an item George Warleggan has had the household searching the house for is finally in George’s possession. He’s found the information he is looking for, but before he drops a revelation, is off to visit Sir Francis, unannounced.
Morwenna’s sister arrives in her household to be governess to Osborne’s children and he already has her in his sights. She questions her sister about her marriage and sets out to divert her husband by showing off her shapely ankle.
Demelza, Ross, Dwight and Elizabeth arrive for dinner at Sir Francis Basset’s house, to find the handsome Hugh Armitage is also a member of the party. He has gained an invitation because he wants to see Demelza again and is not afraid to tell her how much he admires her.
The dinner party conversation turns to talking about the young General, Bonaparte in Paris, who crushed the counter Revolution and Dwight comments he’s a man to be reckoned with for the future. When asked, Hugh Armitage declares he knows his limitations. He won’t be a candidate for the MP’s job.
George is being insistent out in the foyer with the servants. He wants to see their master, while Sir Francis Basset is ignoring his presence preferring to play skittles with his guests.
Hugh seeks out Demelza declaring himself wholly disoriented, lost and shipwrecked and she empathises how hard it must have been to return home from France after such an experience. My struggles are different now, he declares, showing her a sketch he has made of her. How can he resist such inspiration as her beauty?
Sir Francis and Ross Poldark are busy talking about the ‘deserving poor’ and agree they are of one mind on many issues, including that industry should be rewarded. They don’t know George is listening to their conversation through the open the door, especially when Sir Francis Basset invites Ross to be MP although he will be required to vote as he directs.
George is furious, storming away before Ross answers. He doesn’t hear Ross decline his host’s offer and in doing so makes a new rival. Ross declares power when pursued for its own sake is evil… and that he would not emerge from the process his host is offering, with his soul intact. Angrily Sir Francis declares to Ross that his soul will be his undoing.
Later at home Demelza believes Ross was wrong to refuse Sir Francis’s offer… and he retorts he will not allow another man to use him. She is angry he has not sought her thoughts about the offer before making a decision that will affect the both of them.
Arriving home in a furious mood George now takes on Aunt Agatha. He’s discovered she is not 100 after all her birth recorded in the old Poldark family Bible as at 1697… you see old crone on Monday you will be but 98…not 100.
He leaves the old lady in shock and turmoil and when Elizabeth arrives she finds her in a confused and distressed state. She does not know George has tormented Aunt Agatha, saying he’s cancelled her supper and the party, ignoring her pleas for them to proceed.
Too late, the old lady realises the full extent of George’s cruelty and defiant to the end, knowing she won’t live another two years tells him Valentine was no eight months baby George… born under the black moon… maybe someone got there before you George, sowing a seed of doubt about his son’s parentage.
Rocked by her declaration when George arrives in Elizabeth’s sitting room she asks if he is unwell and he tells her the old woman will have no party…
What do you mean she asks – has she given orders to defer it?
Sir Francis Basset arrives to see George at that precise moment… and while he is distracted Elizabeth rushes to find Aunt Agatha confused and babbling.
With her dying breath the old lady asks her forgiveness leaving Elizabeth in a terrible state, as she does not know what Agatha has confessed and why.
Basset meanwhile is saying to George… “You called to see me today”?
“I fear the moment has passed,” replies George… “…Not necessarily”.
If “change is what you seek, the right man would not need to be popular only capable of achieving the task at hand” offers George.
Arriving in the hallway with Valentine Sir Francis tells Elizabeth he is putting George forward to be MP. “Forgive Me,” she says, “…my great aunt has just died”.
“I trust when you have grieved for the departed there will be time for a celebration” is his reply.
The waves are crashing on the coast as Drake arrives to attend his brother’s Methodist meeting.
Sam hopes his thoughts are pure again… but Drake declares his thoughts are not pure and is surprised when Sam comments back “…nor are mine, God forgive me”, as he sees Emma standing off in the distance.
Ross has news of Aunt Agatha’s death and distressed goes walking on the beach of Nampara Cove.
Demelza reading the note delivering the news finds there was more to George’s note than news of death.
She follows Ross so she can tell him about George now being the candidate…sad he has refused another offer to contribute to the greater good. He declares she has married the wrong man if she believes he should just roll over…
… look elsewhere he declares and storms off.
Perhaps I won’t have to look too far, Demelza muses to herself.
Aunt Agatha is delivered in her coffin to the graveyard of the local church where Tholly is digging a grave. Ross arrives to find George has requested a secret burial. She was my great aunt and George will pay for this, Ross promises, as he takes over digging her grave so that he can honour her life.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017