A moment of silence please, first of all, for the redoubtable Agatha Poldark, who weathered war, sorrow and all manner of trials and tribulations, only to be undone in the end by a Warleggan gleefully cancelling her “100th” birthday party. That such pettiness is in no way unexpected renders it no less cruel; losing such a fiery, funny, feisty character is sad enough, but the Weasel scoring his only true victory over his fiercest critic by reducing her to begging and betrayal before finally consigning her to the nastiest, most spiteful of burials, makes it doubly so.
Still, at least we can take some consolation from the fact that she went out swinging – I know telling George the Valentine secret might be disastrous for Elizabeth, but it’s worth it as long as it’s also disastrous for George – and the fact that Ross, assuming he can spare the time between goodly works, stupid decisions and even stupider fights with his wife, will make him pay.
Even before Aunt Agatha’s demise, however, it turns out not to be the happiest of weeks for the Poldark circle. There is some light amongst the shade: Caroline and Doctor Dwight are sweetly, wholeheartedly loved up again, bless them both. And Tholly’s daughter joining the cast means Preacher Sam starts showing belated but encouraging signs of actually being human as opposed to being made entirely of religious homilies. But this is scant comfort when Drake and Morwenna are both laid low with post-romantic stress disorder, pining desperately for each other and the love that cannot be. (At least not at this moment in time, but hold on, dear hearts – with the death rate on this programme, there’s always hope of early widowhood.)
Of course, Drake’s symptoms are alleviated somewhat by brother-in-law Ross gifting him gainful employment in the form of his own blacksmith business. But poor, gentle Morwenna, having sacrificed herself and her body for the cause, not only has to endure the heartbreak of lost love but also the more pressing, less poetic reality of spousal abuse as Osborne turns out to be even more monstrous than we had suspected. Sigh.
Ross and Demelza, by contrast, start out joyfully enough; the first harvest from the field he gifted to the villagers last week (Ross is certainly doing a lot of gifting these days – perhaps Aidan Turner is auditioning for Santa Claus, rather than James Bond) is in, there’s some cheerful, charming post-coital canoodling, and they’re generally quite delighted with each other. As soon as Ross says he hopes this contentment will last, however, we know it won’t survive the episode, and to hasten its demise, Lt Armitage turns from sweet to sly, determinedly pursuing the wife of the Hero of Quimper (the man responsible, let’s not forget, for saving his life and bringing him home). Said wife is not entirely welcoming of these advances and nor should she be, since, hello, she’s married to the handsomest man in the county, but she’s not entirely dismissive of them either, so by the end of the episode, Lt Armitage’s prospects with Demelza are looking better than her husband’s, since she forgets all about Ross’s goodly works, Ross forgets to flirt with her and the pair of them end up having a fight that I could say comes out of nowhere, but I’d be wrong since it actually comes straight out of season 2.
Ross turning down the chance of political advancement and social change offered – again – by Sir Francis, especially when it’s obvious that George will take it instead and do terrible things with it – again – is obviously an idiotic decision. But the way it suddenly seems to rock the entire fabric of the Poldark marriage and apparently opens the door for the Armitage to advance with Demelza and for Ross to regress with SPOILER – if next week’s trailer is to be believed – is infuriating. I really thought we were past Ross and Demelza fighting and cheating but if we’re not, and if this doesn’t blow over very quickly with some grand romantic gesture and a lot of Poldark passion, I will be very, very annoyed.