“Things will be different. I am now different.”
Or not so much. George might have changed his ways towards Elizabeth now he (wrongly) believes Valentine is his, but he’s really just reverted to the second of his two main settings: assiduously, creepily attentive. As far as the most of the rest of the county’s concerned, however, he’s sticking to setting one: unmitigated, abject evil. Which means that, yet again, he’s trying to stick it to Ross Poldark by, yet again, trying to get a Carne or two killed and, yet again, Ross is trying to save them and the Cornish common man with a lot of galloping – clifftops, beaches, the usual – and another impassioned speech about mercy, poverty and general good works.
The unshakeable feeling that we’ve seen all of this before carries into the rest of the storylines as well. Sure it’s Demelza’s turn rather than Ross’s to think she loves two people and to try not that hard to distance herself from the one of them that she’s not married to, and Ross’s “I realised that day that (Elizabeth) never was and never could be what you are to me…. you are the better part of me” is very sweet and heartfelt but it could have been lifted straight from any of the other times Ross was exercising his brain and trying to woo back his wife last season or the one before. His patient, almost altruistic attitude to Demelza hanging out with Armitage is new, right enough, but perversely it’s a new thing I could do without: I suppose it’s a sign of Poldark maturity hard-won, and lessons hard-learned over the past few seasons so I should be happy about the new, understanding Ross, but the sappy, sickly Armitage with his soppy poetry, emotional blackmail and borderline stalking of Demelza drives me nuts. I know it would be a terrible, terrible idea for the Captain to punch him in the face, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy it. Unlike this “torn between two men, one of whom is on his deathbed” business we seem to be embarking on.
On a more positive note, Caroline and Dr Dwight are as delightful as ever; they’re lovely together and they even manage to liven up the Armitage awfulness – the scene where Dr and Mrs Enys and Ross all communicate certain feelings and views about the Lieutenant almost entirely by subtext is both brilliant and hilarious. And the show proves it can still pack a punch by shocking me with how close it comes to Carne-icide – Ross cut that plea for mercy pretty fine, and poor Zacky Martin’s pain at Jago’s death is heartbreaking. But Zacky, Caroline and Dr Dwight are not enough to keep me from feeling that even if Poldark the man is still full of vigour – as the admittedly impressive, but deeply cynical shirtless-Aidan-Turner-coming-out-of-the-sea scene is no doubt meant to demonstrate – Poldark the show is getting somewhat tired. Ross running for Parliament might be the change both of them need – let’s hope it happens.