Keeping up with Poldark – series 3, episode 7

There is only one important take-away from this week’s Poldark: Aunt Agatha’s (Caroline Blakiston) gleeful cackling and ominous forewarnings are no more. Last week it looked like the last of the Trenwith Poldarks (excluding young Geoffrey Charles, and bearing in mind that in the first series there was a whole table of them) would live to about one hundred and fifty. Unfortunately, it seems that her prominence in this series was just set up for the character’s demise. She proved a thorn in George Warleggan’s side from the moment he set foot in her house, but when he cancelled her much-anticipated birthday celebrations and callously told her she was not, in fact, one hundred, but ninety-eight, she expired, probably from sheer rage. At least she got to go full witch beforehand: muttering about black moons, crowing insults, and snarling secrets likely to shake up Trenwith, though dark-haired Valentine’s parentage has been obvious to pretty much everyone except George (Jack Farthing) from the get-go. Caroline Blakiston’s turn as the tarot-reading great-aunt was part of the Poldark furniture, but with any luck Agatha’s ghost will return, likely just so she can rattle chandeliers or put toads in George’s soup. Or maybe she’ll kill off the series’ other vile wretch, Mr. Whitworth. Some foul-tasting poison or the old skillet to the back of the head are both convenient options.

Plot-wise, Ross (Aidan Turner) was being an idiot (again), as he refused a position that would have helped the ordinary folk of the district for a second time, because dangerous expeditions to post-revolutionary France and near-ruinous forays into feeding the poor are way easier than having to put on an official’s wig on every now and then. Ross’ tendency toward bullishness is leading a landslide of dubious decisions, and leading George – who hasn’t yet figured out that sometimes people have motives other than sneering or politics – to make more greasy grabs up the social ladder in his stead. Still, it’s a handy trait for writer Debbie Horsfield to be able to call on when she’s trying to stretch thin plots across nine hours of Sunday night television.

Ross was oblivious to the fact that Demelza and the dishy Lieutenant Armitage (Josh Whitehouse) kept exchanging glances across the dining table. Even if Armitage is all love poetry and voluminous hairspray these days, he seems to have no qualms about enticing an entanglement with a married woman. And to be honest, with Ross’ pining for Elizabeth looming again (what does anyone see in her? She’s a laudanum addict with the personal warmth of a fridge freezer), I wouldn’t blame Demelza if she treated herself to some extra-marital bodice-ripping by the end of next week. These two just don’t realise how good they have it. While I dislike the slide back to last year’s tones of nonsensical strain and ill-explained melodrama, Poldark never was known for the novelty of its twists.

Elsewhere, Drake (Harry Richardson), who has a background in Methodism, mining and taking bullets for his brother-in-law, has been given the local blacksmith’s cottage, land and workshop with no trace of a trial period or health and safety inspections. His brother Sam has finally expressed something other than Bible-bashing sanctimony after encountering hook-handed Tholly’s sharp-tongued daughter, Emma (Ciara Charteris). As long as Drake’s true love is out of reach and Sam won’t stop mentioning the Holy Lord instead of flirting they’ll likely remain single, but it may be good news for Cornwall’s beachgoers, who must be queueing up to get a look at some shirtless woe at this rate.

There are just two episodes left in the third season of Poldark, so it’s predictably hit that stretch where everything is terrible and we’re wondering if or how they’ll manage to turn it all around this time. Things were only really looking up for Dr. Enys and Caroline, who finally got their wedding night a mere six episodes after they got hitched. Someone please bring cousin Verity (Ruby Bentall) back before windswept Cornwall turns into some kind of eighteenth century Eastenders…

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