Poldark, you know that behemoth of British drama, well its second series came to an end a few weeks ago and I’ve finally, mostly, come to terms with what will be the yearlong wait for the third series to return to our screens. If you haven’t finished watching the second series of Poldark, you’re probably going to want to stop reading here, many spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.
The second series of Poldark picks up moments after the tumultuous, literal cliffhanger ending of the first series and the second series does little to block our path towards stumbling towards that cliff’s edge again and again throughout the series. On the whole, I enjoyed the second series. The acting was always absolutely sublime, the beauty of Cornwall was on full spectacular display, and the music by Anne Dudley added that finishing touch to ten solidly written episodes by Debbie Horsfield. The two additional episodes in the second series only elevated this sweeping drama to another level. This series encompassed so many different elements, love and loss, death and birth, those who have and those who do not, the edge of your seat action and moments of quiet contemplation, and mining, can’t forget about the mining.
Poldark is not without its faults and blessings so, without further ado, here are my loves and hates of series two.
What I loved:
Demelza Poldark (nee Carne) – Demelza is my absolute favourite character on Poldark and with good reason. While she is this fierce, strong, proud woman, she’s also not afraid to be vulnerable, to be vocal, to be true to herself. She knows her worth, she’s a survivor, a fighter, and she loves with her whole heart. Demelza is arguably one of the most well-written and well-rounded female characters on television, and I love that. In a series where we saw Demelza put through the wringer, saw her tackle obstacle after obstacle after obstacle thrown at her, she did not waver, she handled it with grace and continued to love and care for those around her. Her efforts did not go unnoticed, Prudie and Jud, Dwight and Caroline, and the people of whom she lived amongst and helped saw what a boon it was to have her in their lives. (A lesson in which Ross is slowly relearning, the daft idiot.) Eleanor Tomlinson does an absolutely exquisite job of portraying Demelza, she has done so since Demelza first showed up on screen. I’m excited to see where they take her character in the upcoming third series.
Francis’s Redemption – A redemption arc for a character is not an easy thing to accomplish, it’s actually quite hard, but the redemption of Francis Poldark was done masterfully this series. We saw Francis stumble around, numerous times during the first series, making horrible foolhardy decisions that cost him dearly. I actually anointed him with the title of Francis the Fool at one point during series one. The second series saw him male 180-degree transformation after his failed attempt at suicide during the first two episodes. He threw himself back into his family life, caring for Elizabeth and their son, and their home. He made amends with Ross and Demelza after the disastrous fallout in series one. He even reconciled with Verity, with a little push from Ross. He even got back into mining. He became the man he always truly wanted to be. Unfortunately, it all came to a tragic end when Francis drowned in the newly reopened Wheal Grace just as we saw this fire beginning to build within him.
Caroline and Dwight’s Romance – On the offset, Caroline and Dwight are not all at suited for one another, she’s an heiress and he’s a rural doctor, she’s a snob and he’s quite down to earth. But like many love stories, opposites attract and thus began this tale of love born of desire, passion, and respect for one another between Caroline and Dwight. One cannot discard the Pride and Prejudice vibe to their relationship; in fact, they shared many of the same elements of Elizabeth and Darcy’s courtship, which kind of made me love them more. While I loved watching the two of them fall in love with one another, I also loved that we got a greater exploration of each character alongside it. Their relationship with one another changed each of them, they made each other better and more dimensional and drew the audience deeper into their story. You could see how heartbroken each of them were when their relationship came to an abrupt end when Dwight missed meeting with Caroline to run away together and elope. I’m excited to see what happens after Dwight returns from France, though it may be a while, to make an honest woman out of Caroline in the third series.
Verity’s Happy Ending – Verity was one of my favourite characters from the first series of Poldark. I adored her friendship with Demelza and her stand to make her own choices in opposition to the ones that her brother wanted for her about her life. Verity chose love above all else, which left her bereft of her brother but a bounty of everything she had wished for, for so long. That choice continued to bear fruit this series as we saw Verity grow into this role of wife, stepmother, and mother while continuing to be an amazing aunt, a sister, a niece, and friend. I definitely cheered when Verity announced she was with child and definitely crooned over her baby after its birth. I’m really hoping that we get to see more of her in the third series. I’m really hoping for a scene between Verity, Caroline, and Demelza. I think the three of them would be awesome together.
Friendships – One of the best things I loved about the second series was this greater exploration of friendships between the many different characters on Poldark. Ross and Dwight’s friendship is one of the oldest on the show, and we got a greater look into the depths that each would reach for when it came to the other. The bond between Demelza and Verity continued to deepen and grow as the two women faced the changing dynamics of their individual lives while also supporting and being there for one another. The camaraderie between Prudie and Demelza really strengthened throughout the entire series, theirs is a bond that would be hard to break, especially now. Demelza’s friendship with Dwight was a godsend this series and one I really want to see continue into the next. The one friendship that I enjoyed the most this series, that also gave way to one of my favourite scenes this series, was the one between Francis and Demelza. The bond between Francis and Demelza went to new heights this season; they gained a better understanding and respect for one another. Unfortunately, that friendship will be one that we’ll never get to see play out.
What I hated:
Ross Poldark – Ross Poldark, husband, father, mine owner, idiot if his actions in this series were anything to go by. I definitely had a love/hate relationship with Ross this series. I know that he’s the hero of the story and he does have many redeeming qualities but they came in direct conflict with his more human side this series. Ross is stubborn, prideful, a bit controlling, and has an ego on him and at many points this series he was a complete and utter ass, especially to Demelza. He took a lot of risks, especially when it came to smuggling, putting not only his life but also the lives of his family and others at risk. Ross’s decision to break his marriage vows (that’s a whole other subject and one that many smarter people than I have discussed that I will be lightly touching upon later) and then his subsequent dismissal of his actions was what really twisted my feelings about him and made me dislike him this season. Ross’s actions inflicted a lot of damage, especially on his relationship with Demelza, and his actions shouldn’t be dismissed and the consequences of his actions are going to be more far-reaching than he could ever imagine. I’m interested in seeing how he’ll redeem himself in the next series.
Francis’s death – I knew prior to the start of the series that this was going to happen. I knew that Francis was going to die, but it did not stop the heart crushing moment when it actually happened. Francis’s redemption arc prior to his death brought him into a different light. He was happy, content, and hopeful for the first time in a long time. He stood up to George. He had finally taken on the responsibility thrust upon him by his name and title and he was really revelling in it. You were rooting for Francis to succeed. There were moments throughout that episode, especially during the last part where Francis was in the water, that I thought that the show would possibly break from canon and save Francis as Ross did in the childhood flashbacks but it was naught. Francis drowned to death in Wheal Grace in search of copper that was never found and it was all that more heartbreaking.
George Warleggan – I don’t think this really needs explanation. I mean who really likes George Warleggan other than George Warleggan anyway? I do not think that I did not utter the words “Burn All Warleggans” each and every episode this series whenever George appeared on the screen. George has really taken hold of the role of villain in this series and I don’t think he’ll be relinquishing that title soon. George is manipulative, jealous, angry, he’s also power hungry and has a lot of money to furnish his mentality that his money can buy everything and everyone if he so pleases. When his attempts fail to get Ross hung and him a puppet in Parliament, George works to bankrupt Ross and take Wheal Leisure right from under him, which he succeeds in doing when it came to the latter. Throughout the series we increasingly see George become more and more focused on bringing down Ross. Marrying Elizabeth, which I do genuinely think he cares about, maybe, possibly, has the added benefit of striking another blow to Ross and the Poldarks as he now controls the family home of the Poldarks. I doubt we’ll see George becoming less George in the upcoming third series.
The resurrection of Ross and Elizabeth’s relationship – I really did not enjoy seeing the resurrection of the relationship between Ross and Elizabeth, at all. I knew it was going to happen but I was not looking forward to it. I really don’t like love triangles. I understand that they were each other’s first loves and that their relationship didn’t end on the best of terms but they still individually made the decision not to be with one another when they freely could have. Ross and Elizabeth, subtle and not so subtle flirting through the early part of the series lit the powder keg for this resurrection. In a way it was could be classified as a kind of form of escapism for the both of them, but they both committed wrongs in this rekindling. Ross neglected his family, his true family, and his responsibilities to them in favour of playing with the bygone past with Elizabeth while Elizabeth willingly called upon Ross again and again at her every whim even though she knew the cost it would cause Demelza, the women who saved not only her life but the life of her son and husband at the cost of her own child. The explosive result of this rekindling between the two of them resulted in not only Ross breaking his vows to Demelza but committing a terrible act against Elizabeth, where the consequences will be more far reaching than either could’ve expected and that we’ll see play out in the third series. It takes two to tango and the tango between Ross and Elizabeth had disastrous results.
Series three of Poldark has already begun production and will cover the fifth and sixth book of Winston Graham’s Poldark Saga over the course of nine episodes likely to air in the fall of 2017. I, for one, am excited to see what rollercoaster that the cast and crew of Poldark will take us on. Poldark is a unique story, not only because of its adaptations from Winston Graham’s novels, but because of all theses different elements that have coalesced together to create this mammoth of British drama that has captured the hearts, minds, and views of millions around the world. It certainly has captured mine.