Warning: contains spoilers for series five.
Well, my little chivvies, that’s it for Poldark. The Cornish drama has galloped its last hilltop and stood in brooding coastal silhouette for the final time. Say goodbye to Nampara, Trenwith, Killewarren and the many Wheals. Look squinty-eyed at the cold-hearted toffs and toss a charitable sack of grain at the West Country vulgars to tide them over the coming winters, for we must say farewell.
Spending too long in London with newcomers and not long enough in Cornwall with the characters we loved, series five was far from Poldark’s best. It did have its moments though. Episode three, in which Ross and co. staged a daring mine rescue, was a terrific hour. The finale too, for all its silliness with the Frenchies, paid service to fans with a special cameo and a number of characters returning to reason after temporary madness.
Revisit them all below, with a synopsis and link to a spoiler-filled review of each episode… And if you need it, here’s a round-up of everything that happened in series four.
Ross campaigns to free old acquaintance Colonel Ned Despard from wrongful imprisonment, foils an attempt on the King’s life and is offered the position of spy for the Crown. Behind the conspiracy against Despard is slave owner Ralph Hanson, who seeks the investment of George Warleggan, who is hallucinating his dead wife Elizabeth. Demelza takes on rabble rouser as a kitchen maid in an attempt to quell her rebellion.
Despard is free but his and his wife’s reputation in London is shot. Dwight defends the King’s would-be assassin in court. Geoffrey-Charles falls for Ralph Hanson’s daughter Cecily, who is intended for the widower George Warleggan. The Despard conspirators have a key witness against them murdered.
George’s uncle has him treated for madness by cruel, outmoded methods that drive him to a suicide attempt from which he is rescued by Dwight. A cave-in at a Warleggan mine leads to a daring rescue mission led by the reckless Ned Despard. Morwenna, still unable to consummate her marriage with Drake, starts to teach the local children to read and write.
Paid by Hanson to rile up Ned Despard, Tess leads a mob to Trenwith to confront George about the closure of his mine. Ned and Ross stop the mob’s violence, but a report to the Crown is falsified saying Ned was the perpetrator. Dwight treats George’s insanity with modern, sympathetic methods. Morwenna spies on her estranged son John Conan Whitworth.
The Hanson conspiracy has Ned Despard arrested for treason (Ross only escaping the same fate thanks to Caroline and Dwight). George Warleggan agrees to marry Cecily Hanson to spite his hated step-son Geoffrey Charles. Morwenna says goodbye to John Conan and she and Drake consummate their marriage. Demelza uncovers a forgery ring led by Tess Tregeddin and Jacka Hobyln.
Ned is found guilty of treason and executed, leaving behind his pregnant wife. Demelza discovers that Tess and Jacka are stealing ore from the Poldark mine. Geoffrey-Charles and Cecily’s attempt to elope is stymied and she is forced to a wedding with George, who leaves her at the altar when Cecily lies that she slept with Geoffrey-Charles.
Cecily Hanson escapes her father and she and Geoffrey-Charles are taken to Cornwall, where Ross plans to put them on a ship to America. Hanson’s men discover them and beat Geoffrey-Charles severely. To save his life, Cecily agrees to cut ties with him, and runs away to Jamaica with Kitty Despard. Ross is taken prisoner by the French revolutionaries to whom Tess has been selling stolen ore, and pretends to sympathise with their scheme.
Ross goes undercover with the French as a double agent, making Tess believe he loves her and Demelza believe that he’s having an affair with Tess. When his betrayal of the French is discovered, he sword fights a French general, who is shot and killed by George Warleggan, who saves Ross’ life and injures the despicable Hanson. Morwenna and Drake have a baby daughter, Caroline and Dwight reconcile, Demelza announces another pregnancy and Ross leaves to spy for the Crown in France.