BBC One Poldark Series 4 has passed half way now, and in Episodes 6 and 7 we are well on the way to building suspense and drama on the way to the season finale.
Our hero Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) is living a double life as an aggressive politician in London and a country Squire when at home at Nampara Farm at Truro in Cornwall. This is where Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) his devoted wife looks to keeping their lives together humming along, despite there being long time food shortages and difficulties with the running of their mine and managing their funds.
Ross feels her loss keenly, because he is used to relying on her common sense and practical nature to bring them all through being separated for such great lengths of time.
Up in London riding in the park with Caroline Enys (Gabriella Wilde) Ross finds he has to excuse himself from her kind invitation as he has been summoned to dine with the Prime Minister. He is after all, now an MP and such an event is par for the course.
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Back in Cornwall her husband Dr Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) is looking after all those under his care. He’s missing his wife keenly too.
Nathanial Pearce has passed on and Pascoe’s Bank comes under siege due to his being one of the partners who speculated with client’s money unsuccessfully.
Demelza and her friends do their best to support their old friend Harris Pascoe (Richard Hope) through very difficult times by depositing money, not withdrawing it.
She borrows money from Lord Falmouth (James Wilby) to help stem the tide of growing resentment, especially when the nasty George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) sends a letter to clients and acquaintances, about Pascoe’s being under a cloud of doubt due to embezzled funds.
George doesn’t want to be thwarted by a ‘scullery maid’ as he dubs Demelza, and wants everyone to change their banking practices and to deal with his bank.
Meanwhile Sam Carne (Tom York) is doing his best to help his brother Drake (Harry Richardson) recover from the sadness of his wedding breakdown and the loss of his blacksmith’s forge through a fire, deliberately set.
At Trenwith House Elizabeth realises she is with child but holds back from telling George at this point… she’s remembering Ross’s warning she should try and give George another 8 months child… to legitimise her first birth of their son, Valentine. She wants to confuse the date of conception.
Dr Dwight comes to see Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) who is these days living her life in depression having been constantly violated and abused by her horrible husband the Reverend Whitworth who has recently died, having been dragged by his horse.
Ross is very unhappy with his cousin Francis’s son Geoffrey Charles (Louis Davison), who drinks and gambles to excess in London. He and Caroline are on their way home to Cornwall bringing him with them and delivering him safely to his mother, Elizabeth, while George is from home.
Elizabeth has told Ross she is content with her ‘lot in life’ and Ross gets to meet his son Valentine before saying goodbye to her, missing his host on his way out the gate in a carriage, where they pass like ships in the night and without being discovered.
She is left to explain to George how her eldest son Geoffrey Charles has just arrived for a visit.
Ross arrives at Nampara and settles Demelza’s mind when he tells her he knows about her valiant efforts to help save Harris Pascoe and their Bank. Ross goes to talk to Pascoe, who shows him a copy of George’s letter and tells him he’s going to work at Lord Bassett’s bank.
Ross as his friend is displeased and he vows to do something about it, talking to all Pascoe’s creditors to see if anything can be done to help save the bank from destruction by Warleggan’s by injecting it with new capital.
He goes to see Sir Francis Bassett (John Hopkins) to see if he will also help, showing him George’s letter, which his mentor regards as monstrous. Ross urges him to think about creating a new entity and to thwart George by turning a disaster into a triumph, at least in people’s perceptions.
Lord Bassett is angry about the letter George has circulated and decides to do something about it. He incorporates a new bank and sends for Ross, who with Harris Pascoe, he has made an equal partner of the newly-formed Bank of Cornwall.
Ross and Demelza are benevolent hosts and treat their miners and their families to a feast at Nampara Farm with fireworks both buoying spirits and putting smiles on many faces.
Sam urges his brother Drake to see Morwenna one last time before giving up all hope of making her his wife. However, she rejects him once more and sends him on his way for good as she is with child by the horrible Ossie Whitworth.
Ross now a man of substance, offers his Demelza a chance of coming to London with him for a month in the capital, 300 miles away. Caroline by now is also in need of variety and she leaves with them once more.
Back in London Ross is all fired up about creating conditions where the poor may earn money to improve their own lives, rather than always having to offer help through charity.
He and George have a fight in public and Elizabeth collapses, so distressed is she by it all, as Demelza drags Ross out of harm’s way.
Elizabeth gives George her news at last, that she is with child and he’s overjoyed, planning that she will give birth to their second child at London in December.
Meanwhile Ross is enjoying having Demelza in London with him and takes her rowing on the lake, where the swans mate for life. Demelza is enchanted by everything.
She’s somewhat dazzled and in a daze because for a country girl and former miner’s daughter, London is all at once overwhelming and bewitching at the same time.
George Warleggan is to hold a ball and present Elizabeth as a charity Queen of the capital, helping him to ascend to sainthood, or at least a knighthood. He certainly has stars in his eyes.
Dr Enys arrives to spend time with Caroline who helps Demelza to choose a gown in the high-waisted Empire style, to attend the ball.
Dastardly Monk Adderley (Max Bennett) sets his sights on Demelza the moment he sees her.
He’s fascinated with thoughts of seducing her and undressing her in London and finds he is intent on destroying her reputation as a virtuous woman, entering into a wager with George Warleggan he can achieve his goal.
Demelza finds London is full of temptations, including gambling. She finds herself all at sea, in unfamiliar territory not knowing how to play the politics of life on a social scene where flattery is everywhere offered, but sincerity rare.
She begs Ross, who expresses his displeasure at her being polite to a cad like Adderley, to forgive her inability to fend off her pressing suitor without a public scene.
She refuses his unwelcome advances and sends Adderley packing from their lodgings after he shows her home, much to his disgust.
Ross is also entirely unhappy with standing by and watching Adderley cuckold him. In the end, their angst leads to a duel in the park with pistols at sunrise.
By this day and age in England, engaging in such a sport of honour was already banned and prison the sentence for those caught in the act.
The two men face off with only their seconds to witness the incident, with Monk Adderley taking a fatal bullet in the side, while Ross is wounded in the arm. Fortunately, he has Dr Enys to attend him and manages to conceal his wound in public.
Demelza overcome with emotion when Adderley dies, is distressed with Ross and his reaction to her attempt at being friendly to his peers and find happiness while being in London.
Back in Cornwall Morwenna comes to explain to Drake why she shunned him, about her husband’s abuse, about how he destroyed the beauty they had shared because now she cannot bear any man near her and asks his forgiveness.
George receives a letter from the Prime Minister and Geoffrey Charles arrives in the room, where he notices for the first time how much the young Alexander, who is riding his rocking horse, is the spitting image of their Uncle Ross. Unwisely he comments indiscreetly about it aloud to his mother, well within George’s hearing.
Elizabeth is completely dismayed and keeps her back turned to George to hide her emotional response and reaction, as he looks at his son Valentine with horror. This can’t be good for anyone, especially Elizabeth who George now ignores, because all his old suspicions about his wife and his rival, bubble back to the surface.
Ross calls out to George at a garden party they are all attending. He wants to deliver a message and ten guineas from Monk Adderley as he requested of Ross on his deathbed. Not knowing why he does so, George throws the money back into Ross’s face.
In the aftermath of all these encounters, Elizabeth is left alone by George to ponder consequences. Meanwhile, Ross awakes the next morning to find his love Demelza has left for Cornwall with Dwight. It is an environment where she feels safe and will have the space to wander along the ocean shore to ponder what her future might be.
London certainly has not lived up to her great expectations.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2018