The BBC seems to be as keen to get this last season of Poldark over with as I am, burning off the last two episodes ever in something it’s calling a “double bill” but really isn’t. 8pm on Sunday (25th) and 8.30pm on Monday (26th) is just two episodes on consecutive nights, at different times, apparently to make way for new Peaky Blinders. It’s not entirely clear why new Peaky Blinders couldn’t have waited a week or even a day so Poldark could actually have ended with a double bill on Sunday, instead of this nonsense. Whether I’m fed up with it or not, Poldark is a big deal of a show for the BBC, every single episode before now has been on in the big deal slot of 9pm on a Sunday and people expected a similarly big deal of a finale, but this arrangement feels less like the BBC screening the last ever episode of one of its flagship dramas and more like the BBC finding a spare minute here and there between more important things to put its washing out.
Sigh. Then again, what do timeslots really mean in these days of streaming and catch-up services? Currently, the BBC is faithfully showing Keeping Faith season 2 one episode at a time on prime time Tuesday nights, but I and a whole lot of other people have already watched (and thoroughly enjoyed, as it happens) it all on iPlayer instead. People did the same with Killing Eve, and will no doubt do the same with plenty more shows in the future. Although, unlike those shows, episodes of Poldark aren’t on iPlayer till they’ve had their traditional tv airing, it’s not like these last two episodes are going out at 3AM on a Wednesday and, regardless, once they have gone out we’ll all be able to watch them whatever time we want. So maybe it doesn’t matter. But it feels like it does.
Enough about the schedule, though, what about this week’s episode? It was fine. Better than last week’s tedium by some distance as well. The culmination of Ned’s story re-ran a lot of elements the show has relied on before – a frame job; a wildly unfair trial; Ross making a very long, very passionate, somewhat irrelevant speech in court; Dr Dwight trying an unpopular insanity defence; even a desperate but ultimately pointless prison break – but actually surprised (and slightly bewildered) me by not pulling out a last-minute happy ending. I didn’t know quite what to do with myself afterwards. I mean, Ned and I haven’t seen eye to eye at all, but he didn’t deserve that. Goodbye, Ned. And sorry.
Sorry too to Ross who not only lost his friend but also came close to losing his life. I don’t believe for a minute he’s going to die too, but that whack to the head really looked like it hurt, which made it the second upsetting/ theoretically potentially fatal surprise of the night. Bummer. Still, it wasn’t all doom and gloom, though. Morwenna and Drake got all loved up. The rejuvenated Caroline lit the episode up even though she was only in it for a few minutes. And, unlike poor Ned, Cecily managed to avoid her own awful fate and stop her marriage to the unspeakable George, even if I might have a few quibbles about her choosing wet blanket Geoffrey Charles as her life partner. Don’t fret, Cecily! I know it’s all gone slightly wrong at the moment and your mad evil father has temporarily imprisoned you in your room, but I very much doubt the bad guys will get another big win – you and GC will be reunited soon enough. (There are only two episodes to go, after all.) And if that reunion could also involve something dreadful happening to George and to your dad, that would go some way to cheering me up, thank you. As would something equally dreadful happening to Jacka and Tess, and I don’t mean marrying Preacher Carne.