Poldark s4 ep 8

*SPOILERS*

“The process of recovery is not a straightforward one, but I hope that our abiding love for each other will mend what has been broken.”

Preach, Dr Dwight. As well as superlative medical skills and a lovely bedside manner, the nicest man in the county handily manages to summarises this entire finale in one sentence, as he and Caroline, Ross and Demelza, Drake and Morwenna, and, yes, even Elizabeth and George, try to love their way back to happiness, although in Elizabeth’s case, it’s not so much love as it is lie. Poor Elizabeth. Her scheme actually works, for a moment, but the price is too high and the collateral damage, for now, anyway, unquantifiable. George may be a better father as a result – the scenes in the bedroom and in the graveyard where he stands with Valentine at his side, contemplating their loss, are desperately sad and moving – but is he a better man? If he uses REDACTED’s death as another excuse to step up his feud with Ross and the Carnes even more, next season might be even more annoying than this one.

Since this episode is the tv equivalent of a very fast-moving registry office – birth, death and marriage all in the space of an hour – though, there is as much delight to go around as there is devastation, even if everyone has to go through a lot of grief to get their happy endings. Drake wins Morwenna back by being gentle, patient and selfless, and seals the deal by waving a very big stick at the appalling NotTom Harry. Go Drake! After the horrors she’s been through, and the setbacks he’s had, I’m so glad they’re happy for now, even if I know it’s only going to last till the start of next season because this is Poldark and nobody is allowed to be happy for very long.

I’m overjoyed for the wonderful Dwight and Caroline, reunited and looking to the future with hope and love again, too – they’re just so decent. And such terrific friends to Ross and Demelza, saving them from their own stubbornness more times than I can count. Caroline persuading Ross to come back to Cornwall with her is the kindest, most sensible thing she could possibly have done for him and Demelza, and it’s the first step in reuniting them too: a little chat, a lot of passion, and all’s right with the Nampara Poldarks once again, although obviously – see above – nobody should get too comfortable. The show has already spent four seasons having Ross and Demelza fight and make up and fight and make up, so I can’t see the next one being eight episodes of smiles and sunshine.

The Poldark formula has been tired for a while now, though. Fond as I am of a number of the characters, and impressed as I am by many of the performances, I’ve found this season something of a chore. The Ross and Demelza plot line isn’t the only recycled one, either; like I said, if the next season means yet more of George smugly scheming to destroy Poldark and his family, it will drive me nuts. As Ross put it: “What do you want, George? What more do you want?”

But maybe REDACTED’s death will act as a reset button and change all that. Could we see a softer, kinder George next year? Will he take responsibility for his own behaviour and change it? Will he honour his wife’s memory by reaching out to Ross in the end? *Shrugs* Yeah, no, I don’t think so either. But we can hope. “Poldark will return”, according to the end credits, and I’m ambivalent about that since I’m already bored with it but, in fairness this was a tremendous finale and I would like to see how the whole thing ends. I read somewhere that the fifth season is expected to be the last, and I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it really should be.

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