Moving into the Poldark season 4 premiere, we knew that Ross Poldark was facing a changing tide within Cornwall. His relationship was at a precipice and beyond that, he had an opportunity to advance his career in an interesting, exciting manner. (Warning: Spoilers ahead for American readers.)
In the opening minutes of Sunday night’s premiere episode, though, there was one other thought on Ross’ mind: The idea of Demelza together with Hugh Armitage. The events of the end of season 3 haunted him and you saw that play out in a series of images. Ross is a family man with many great things going for him, but he also has demons he must battle.
Luckily, we do think he is on his way back. The quote of “I’m still here” to Demelza says quite a bit in terms of his mindset now. He’s not looking to run away from her or the life that he has — hopefully, that means he is more present in the weeks to come. The one challenge is that Hugh is still around, but his health and his eyesight are failing. Demelza is still singing that same song from the end of season 3, so there may still be a distraction on her mind.
This seaside introduction offered up a segue into city life and a very different world that the show is exploring these days. There are calls for an election and with that, potential for George Warleggan and others to figure out how to climb up the career ladder. To go along with that, he is also trying to fix his relationship with Elizabeth and with his future. Basically, we’re seeing George prove that he can be a good man with at least one faction of his life.
The news of the election did eventually find its way back to Ross, who is working at the grain mill and also doing his part in order to calm the concerns of Sam Carne and others.
Osbourne Whitworth is still awful
Consider this a reminder that Ossie is awful. He still is trying to get with Morwenna, and in turn, she is still absolutely not having any romantic dalliance with him. Watching him with Morwenna, only to then see him leading the service for Agatha, was about as jarring as you would expect. Nobody actually seemed altogether interested in listening to him. There’s nothing sadder than seeing Drake have to look on at Morwenna while she’s there, knowing that she is the person destined to be with him in his mind.
The moment this service was over, there was another crisis — and a big one for Demelza. She had to prepare tea for Sir Francis! Given his history with her family, that’s not altogether easy. What was rather interesting to us is seeing the scenes that followed juxtaposed with one another. From one vantage point, you had Ross and Sir Francis in the midst of a political discussion regarding leadership (and whether or not Ross and Warleggan can bury the hatchet); however, at the same time there were riots happening at the mines. To make matters worse, Sam and Drake were both present at the scene of the crime. They did not act maliciously but in the end, it may not matter. The law is not exactly slanted in their favor at the moment.
Here’s where things became all the more emotional: Watching Ross have to go in and be the one to arrest the reported witnesses to the crime of murder that happened at the scene — included is brothers-in-law! Ross eventually went home, looking for comfort in the midst of what happened. That was no easy task thanks mostly to what he was forced to do. Sam and Drake claimed that they were innocent, and with that, the question inevitably started to swirl around in Ross’ mind: Is George responsible for some of these actions?
Following the riots, the sentencing was harsh — and also terrible. Sam and Drake were among the three told that they would die as a result of their crimes. The moment they were all collectively locked up, it certainly looked as though things were going to be dire. This of course only motivated Ross further to try to pursue some of his own goals, and that meant challenging George in legal warfare.
As Ross tried to figure out his next move, Demelza made it clear to him that they had an invitation from Hugh to pay them a visit alongside Dwight and Caroline. This is a way in which for Ross to better determine his future, but it also led to Ross and Demelza having some harsh questions about the Hugh of it all. While Ross had to still handle the arrests in Truro, he advised Demelza to pay Hugh a visit and she obliged.
Here’s the problem with everything that Ross was doing: Keeping his wife in the dark about what he was doing. He felt like sending Demelza off to visit Hugh and contribute there would keep her from being aware that her two brothers could hang. She may hate him for it after the fact but even with that, he still thought that it would be “the lesser of two evils.”
The moment of truth
Were we really going to lose Sam and Drake forever? Ross arrived at the site of the hanging alongside Whitworth, who seemed to take great pleasure in sending these souls off to the afterlife (but not exactly in Heaven).
It seemed as though Sam and Drake were vindicated somewhat in the moments leading up to the execution, and after that we saw Ross rise up and try to speak on behalf of those who can’t. This was one of the most notable moments of Ross the politician we’ve seen to date! Her was bold, he was fierce, and he did everything that he could to save them while attacking the merchants “who grow fat while people die.”
Ross’ proclamations worked! As it turned out, he did just enough to save Sam and Drake from murder … but that was it.
Meanwhile, Demelza did everything in her part in order to arrange a political compromise, seeing if there is a way to counteract Warleggan and to find a person worthy of uniting the people. There was still passion in the scenes that she had with Hugh, and then he also dropped an emotional bomb on her: If he couldn’t love her again, it would be the death of him.
The end result of the election plot is this — if Armitage continues to live, he will not put his support behind George in the next election. However, it’s clear that Hugh is suffering from everything from illness to heartbreak to ever-increasingly blindness.
The final takeaways
For starters, there is some big news when it comes to Caroline and Dwight — they’re having a baby! That’s the good news. The bad news was that Ross did have to go and tell Demelza that her brothers almost died. We think the fact that they’re alive probably helps to squelch some of the rage that she would’ve otherwise felt here. After that, Demelza and Ross had a conversation about Hugh that was refreshingly honest. It started painfully but ended with Ross admitting that he took her for granted, telling her the words that were in his heart at the end of season 3 and couldn’t bring himself to say.
This is the Ross and Demelza who we’ve wanted to see for ages! They now have (hopefully) learned that there are no things more valuable than their words.
Whether it be Demelza kneading bread or Ross looking out into the ocean, tonight’s premiere felt almost like a playing of Poldark and its greatest hits. Much of what you love about the series was very much there over the premiere. Perhaps one of the most powerful images, though, was watching Demelza burning Hugh’s note, effectively putting an end to whatever feelings she may be harboring.
In between watching Sam and Drake almost hang and see Morwenna score at least a minor victory in their survival, this episode was emotional. It was also hopeful, given that at least some characters were better off at the end than in the beginning.