Poldark on MASTERPIECE: Season 3, Episode 6 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | November 5, 2017

Demelza gets to know the enigmatic Lieutenant Armitage.

At this point, George Warleggan has committed so many unforgivable sins, it’s difficult to keep count. He should actually set up an Unforgivable Sins Tote Board on the front lawn. His sins are also so wide-ranging, it would be tough to rank them, though the relentless decimation of the Trenwith Poldarks has got to have its own sub-category. Over two and a half seasons, George has sent Francis on the tailspin that led to his bankruptcy and death, hired those fake miners to dig up the lawn and scare Elizabeth into his arms, causing her mum to have a stroke, sent Geoffrey Charles off to boarding school, and this week he killed Aunt Agatha and dumped her body in the church yard. Quite a prolific body of work for even the most dedicated sociopath.

This last sin, though, might just be his undoing. Even if Ross cannot exact revenge, if ever there was a soul built for haunting, it was Aunt Agatha. One has the feeling there is at least one angry ghost who will be tailing George for the remainder of his days at Trenwith. She may just have the last laugh yet.

Having watched this episode of Poldark, get ready for…

The 17 Essentials of Poldark, Season 3, Episode 6

17. They Say It’s Your Birthday

Aunt Agatha is reaching the century mark: 100 years young. She plans a big party and a new black dress to go with her closet full of other black dresses. George doesn’t see the point of a party (or anything else for that matter), that offers him no personal benefit. And given that the average age of Agatha’s guests is deceased, this ain’t George’s kind of party (though I’m surprised he hasn’t thought about the will-wangling opportunities such a party could offer a manipulative young man such as himself).

16. Get Me to The Church on Time:

It’s time for Caroline and Dwight to have their second wedding. When you think of it, it was rather scandalous for the day (given the public, didn’t know they were already married) that Dwight was living there at Killewarren without a chaperone in the house, right? This time we don’t get to see the ceremony, but the reception is pretty eventful. George wants to be there for the strategic social climbing possibilities (natch).

Unfortunately for George, when Lord Falmouth arrives, he once again blanks George; walks right past him. Always good for a laugh. Maybe it was the, “I handed my wife’s cousin to your pervy nephew and all I got was this lousy t-shirt” shirt he was wearing. Feh. To make matters worse (for George), Caroline may be the blushing bride, but the big toasts of the evening go to Ross. Dwight raises a glass to the noblest, bravest of men, Captain Ross Poldark (without whom he wouldn’t have been there). Then Lord Falmouth jumps in, and tells Ross to save his blushing, that he is indebted to him as well for saving his nephew. Just as he says that, out steps said nephew, Lt. Armitage, who makes a rousing toast, “to the hero of Campier!” (leaving out the “whose wife I covet” part. Probably a good thing). Everyone joins in in unison. All these (pardon the expression) valentines for Ross cause George to snap two molars.

Afterwards, Lord Falmouth schmoozes Ross and Demelza, telling her England may yet have need of her husband. She says OK, just remember to rewind him when you’re through. If I am reading this correctly, it seems like both Lord Falmouth and Sir Francis want Ross to be their candidate/puppet. Or maybe they only want someone (anyone) who can win. It also looks a bit like Sir Francis and Lord Falmouth have the same kind of Jets/Sharks thing going on that Ross and George do. It just exists on a higher, less juvenile, level (at least, from what we’ve seen of it so far).

True History: Trull?: George used the word “trull” to describe Demelza. I don’t know about you, but I had to look it up (knowing it wasn’t going to be good). It’s an archaic word that means strumpet or prostitute. How the heck does he get that from Demelza? Whatever.

True History: The Penvenen’s Killewarren Estate: The estate used as the filming location for Killewarren is actually Great Chalfield Manor, a moated medieval manor house located in a place called Bradford on Avon (don’t you love those names?) It was originally built by a 15th century cloth baron. It had its own scandal in the 18th century when its then-owner, John Hall, got an Act of Parliament that allowed him to bequeath his entire estate to his illegitimate daughter rather than to his closest male heir. This set up a hundred-year-long story of intrigue worthy of its own series! In the early 1900s it was bought by George Fuller, MP, but in 1943 his son gifted it to the National Trust. It is open to the public but the family still live there and manage it. It has also been a location for Lark Rise to Candleford, The Other Boleyn Girl, and Tess of the d’Urbervilles, and the interior was used as Thomas Cromwell’s home in Wolf Hall.

15. Hair Today, Goon Tomorrow

The village is having a party as Tholly’s daughter arrives in the village. She is bold as brass, with a personality as wild and free as her hair. She quickly sets her sights on Sam but he refuses her offer of a dance, saying the Lord finds it sinful. She didn’t ask you to pole dance, sweetie. Skipping in circles can hardly be considered risqué. She is undeterred by his party pooper Lord and goes on her merry, dancing way. To be continued?

14. Doctor, Doctor, Gimme the News

It looks like George and Elizabeth wanted a second opinion. Dr. Enys pays a house call to Valentine and prescribes a different treatment than Dr. Choake for the baby’s rickets. He agrees with Aunt Agatha (much to George’s chagrin): Valentine should be given plenty of sunlight, fruit, vegetables – basically every common sense thing your grandmother (and Dr. Joel Fuhrman on his PBS specials) told you was good for you. But when George asks if Valentine will be deformed, Dr. Enys doesn’t answer exactly (maybe it was just because it was George who asked). He just says to stick with the program.

George then tells Aunt Agatha she was wrong, that his son will not be deformed; she says nevermind, he was born under a black moon, so something else will get him. Later Demelza tells Ross the news that Dwight had been at Trenwith and Valentine has rickets. He responds that it is no concern of his, but she can read him, even with his back turned to her. Yes, Ross. No, Ross. Four bags full, Ross. One thinks it is not the deed (that night with Elizabeth) but the denial that irks her more and has driven a wedge between them. Like with any politician, it’s not the crime that gets you, but the cover-up.

13. Let Me Tell You ‘Bout the Birds and Bees

While Drake is heartsick, Morwenna is just sick, period. When Demelza sees her at Caroline’s wedding reception, and gets her alone, she asks how she is, though anyone with eyes should be able to see. She is a pale green shade of miserable. Whitworth snatches the party punch out of her hand, and every drop of joy out of her life. She is with child but understands little about how she got that way. She tells Demelza mama never spoke of the… obligations of marriage. When Demelza asks if Whitworth is unkind to her, she answers simply and flatly, “He is a monster.” And with that it’s time to go, so there are no more details exchanged.

At home, Morwenna kneels and prays to avoid going to bed and Whitworth is impatient that she finish and hop to his needs. Whitworth’s daughters seem to be as quietly repulsed by him as she is, which makes one wonder what’s going on there. One of her obligations is clearly  to provide sex on demand, which she endures by staring at the ceiling and thinking of England. When Whitworth climbs off her he tells her he decided she should have a companion to help with the chores, so he has written to her mother, requesting the services of yet another of her daughters, whom she will (no doubt) be glad to unload, and whom (he assumes) will learn to love him like she does. Morwenna quietly responds, “But I don’t love you. I love Drake Carne,” but Whitworth is already off to sleep and doesn’t hear. She keeps repeating “I love Drake Carne…” like a mantra, as Whitworth snores away, oblivious. Then again, he is just as oblivious when he’s awake.

12. Playing Footsie

You could see Morwenna’s fear of inflicting Whitworth upon her unknowing sister as soon as he mentioned it, but when she arrives we can tell straight away that this sister’s spirit has not yet been broken. She perplexes him. She has an inquiring mind, and when on their own, wants to know why Morwenna would marry that putz. Morwenna tells her it was to save the man she loves. Now sis wants the dish. She wants to know everything. The next morning, at breakfast sister shows a shocking glimpse of stocking when speaking of how her shoes pinch her toes. Whitworth suddenly looks like he has to be somewhere else and runs out of the room. How did sister know about foot fetishes but Morwenna did not? Oh well, doesn’t matter, he’s gone. She tells Morwenna she told her it would be easy to get rid of him. Morwenna says to be careful, he’s her husband till death us do part, and gets a hearty, “Amen, sister” in return. Hmm… might Sis have an idea about how that eventual death parting could happen sooner rather than later? If she does, and I were on the jury, I know I’d acquit. Wouldn’t you?

11. Key Exchange

Drake only has eyes for Morwenna still, and is oblivious to the attentions of all the young maids who ogle him as he sits on the beach, shirtless, gazing out to sea. Ross decides to buy a cottage and blacksmith shop and gift it to him, saying it is to repay the debt of saving his life in France (though we suspect that debt repayment story was a cover to allow Drake to maintain his pride and not have to feel like he was accepting charity).

Drake already had some smithee experience, so he is set up. He pours a metal portrait of Morwenna, but goes along with Sam when he mistakes it for the holy virgin and child, saying, “Yes brother,” in the same way Demelza says, “Yes Ross.” When Demelza stops by for a visit, she tells Drake she has news of Morwenna, that she is with child and he must now let her go — but, interestingly, without relaying the rest of the story; just how utterly, sickly miserable she is or that her husband is the creature from the black lagoon. Why did Demelza withhold this bit of intel? Drake says yes, it must be time to let her go. No! Do we all fear where this is going? Do we all have the sinking feeling that Drake will give up on her, find a second best elsewhere, then Morwenna will somehow get away from Whitworth but it will be too late? Sigh.

10. Saturday Afternoon Fever

George passes Sir Francis Basset in the street and tells him his good news; he’s been named Burgess. Sir Francis tells him the bad news, MP (Member of Parliament) Sir Piers Arthur is dead. George feigns distress then breaks out the bubbly — there’s an MP position going spare! George is the type who goes apartment hunting in the obituaries. He has a plan but Sir Francis has other ideas.

Sir Francis invites Ross and Demelza to a party at Tehidy Estate. Ross and Demelza and Dwight and Caroline double date, with Ross grumbling the whole way there about how he hates to out anywhere anymore. His fame makes it all oh-so-unbearable, and the paparazzi will be everywhere in about 150 years. Demelza rolls her eyes, and Caroline rightly diagnoses him as developing a misanthropy. But he’s happy to see their new pal Smitten Armitage who pulled strings to get an invite too.

9. Westminster or Bust

During the party, George turns up at Tehidy uninvited and won’t take no for an answer when told Sir Francis is otherwise engaged and cannot see him. He won’t leave. He says he’ll just wait in the foyer for Sir Francis to finish with his party guests, thank you very much. He sits there, hearing the sounds of laughter and bowling anytime a servant goes in or out of the door. One guesses that George has had a lot of experience sitting outside parties uninvited. Unfortunately, at one point when the door is ajar, he overhears Sir Francis offering to back Ross for MP and is livid. Again. I’d say George is livid so often it should say “George Warleggan, Livid” on his business card. He stomps out of Tehidy in a snit. Due to his hasty exit, George doesn’t hear that Ross turning down the offer. Naturally he assumes Ross is as power-mad as he is and accepted. Who would turn down the opportunity to grind the unwashed masses under his boot heel?

True History: The Basset’s Tehidy Estate: The Basset family are one of the few ancient aristocratic English families that have survived since Norman times through their paternal line. Tehidy is the real-life family seat of a junior branch of the family, who first bought the land in the 12th century. It remained in the family for over 700 years, until 1916 when they could no longer afford it. It then became an isolation hospital for tuberculosis patients and eventually stroke patients. In 1983 the Cornwall County Council bought the estate and turned the grounds into a public park with educational facilities and venues to rent for barbecues. Several years later the house itself was sold to a private developer and converted into luxury apartments with no access to the public, but the grounds and woodlands do remain public.

In real life, Sir Francis Basset knew quite a lot about Members of Parliament; his father, Francis Basset, and his son, John Francis Basset, as was his great grandfather were all MPs in Cornwall.

8. Mona Demelza

During pillow talk conversation, Demelza tells Ross she hopes Sam and Drake find contentment. Ross asks her if she is content, and she says she is in that moment, probably thinking it’s not a great time to bring up other, less content moments – and he doesn’t ask. It seems like the only time Demelza and Ross are content right now is in bed. Elsewhere things are not so rosy.

At the wedding reception, Armitage zeros in on Demelza and lays it on thick, but he needn’t really. She’s feeling neglected by Ross and despite her mystic smile, she’s a tad fed up with The Hero of Campier. She sparks with Armitage the moment she sees him. They make small talk about Adam and Eve and snakes.  Later at home she tries to make Ross jealous, but he doesn’t take the bait. In fact, I’d say he is rather dismissive, telling her, “not every man is besotted with you” in such a way it almost sounds as if he is jealous of the attention paid to her, in a way his ego won’t allow him to acknowledge. Does that attention Demelza usually gets when she walks into a ballroom compete with his own?

7. Sketchy

At the Tehidy dinner table, Armitage pays Demelza the compliment of sketching her. This requires him to really look at her and see her, something her husband doesn’t seem to do much anymore. Armitage flirts with Demelza, outrageously and in plain sight of Ross, who takes no notice. Ross misses every sign on the highway warning of the last stop before take-a-lover-ville. Armitage might be sincere in his attentions to Demelza, but given the fact that those attentions are pointed so boldly at someone who is obviously married (not to mention, to the man who saved his life – helloo!) he strikes me as quite the player.  Does Demelza see that? Does she even care? Is she so fed up with Ross’ behavior that her way of hiding her broken heart is to settle that score tit for tat?

6. Gift Registry

George settles on (what is to his mind) the perfect gift for Great Aunt-in-law for her birthday: A gaslighting. George sends out a servant search party to find the old Poldark family bible, which went into mothballs as soon as he got his feet under that table at Trenwith. His toadies are combing the attics looking – and Tom Harry finds it. George couldn’t be doing all that to be kind to Agatha, could he? Nope. If he wasn’t up to no good with the Poldark bible, he wouldn’t have hidden it from Elizabeth when she walked in on them in his office. He is up to something and he chooses his moment: Coiled and ready to strike after his disastrous party crash attempt at Tehidy, George returns to Trenwith on a tear, and when he gets there, he takes his anger out on Aunt Agatha. Agatha has taunted him one time too many and now he bites: He questions her about her birthday, claiming that he checked and there was no record at the church of her baptism in 1695, so he investigated further and found a faded entry in the Poldark family bible announcing her birth… in 1697. She would really be turning 98, not 100. He changed the recording in the Poldark family bible and lied to a poor (now crestfallen) old lady about it. #FakeNews

5. Second Hand Rose

George goes to Agatha’s room, where she is waiting to be served her supper, and where (clearly) he knows that what he is about to say and do will not be overheard. He tells Agatha she will get no supper, and there will be no party either. It’s been cancelled since she’s not really 100. She’ll have to wait two more years to have her party. She pleads for him to reconsider, seeking pity, that she won’t live another two years.

When George will not relent, this epic duel of wits takes an even darker turn. She tells him he can rot. He has complete power over her and nothing she says can get to him until she pointedly refers to Valentine as a “so-called Warleggan” — but that maybe he isn’t. She tells him how he looked nothing like an early baby, that either he and Elizabeth had not waited until the wedding night or maybe someone else had gotten there first. Ruh-roh! Horrified George knows exactly what that means. He exits stage left. He creeps downstairs and tells Elizabeth there’ll be no party. She’s confused and asks if Agatha cancelled it but he doesn’t answer.

She goes to Aunt Agatha’s room and finds her flustered and babbling. Elizabeth asks what’s happened and tries to calm her down, but she cannot be calmed. She keeps babbling about George taking her home and cancelling her party and she shouldn’t have told him what she did. “Told him what?” and asks Elizabeth. She asks Elizabeth to forgive her. “TOLD HIM WHAT???” And with that Aunt Agatha dies without answering the big question. George killed her.

4. Whigstock

Sir Francis is nothing if not smooth. He slides right from Ross to his polar opposite George quite easily, even though George could not possibly be a Whig; he has got to be a Tory. George reasons that the right candidate would not need to be popular (just ruthless). The locals must know about George’s still brief but tyrannical tenure on the bench. For Sir Francis to go from Ross to George (two people whose views could not be more different) pretty much confirms that Ross was correct in assessing that Basset was only looking for a puppet and didn’t really care much for their so-called “shared” principals. Will George be that puppet or will he cut the strings? Will he even get elected?

And not for nothing, but now George is doing an end run around Lord Falmouth and getting his Big Opportunity via Sir Francis – meaning he sacrificed Morwenna’s life for nothing (not that he’s given what he did to her a passing thought). Yep. Tory.

3. Aunt (bought the) Farm

Elizabeth goes downstairs, Valentine in arms, and interrupts George’s meeting with Sir Francis who had turned up to offer the MP candidacy to George and tells her the news. Elizabeth has an announcement of her own: her great aunt is dead. George’s first impulse is to throw his arms in the air like he just don’t care and run through the house squealing, “Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!” but he restrains himself admirably. After all, he is grown up, and a newly minted candidate for MP now

When George first questioned having Agatha’s  frivolous party in his house, Elizabeth reminded him that it is Agatha’s house too. Did she mean that Agatha owned part of it? Now that she’s gone, what will happen to it? Who did she leave it to? Will George try to tamper with Agatha’s Last Will and Testament the way he tampered with the family bible?

2. Soul Train

Ross refused the offer to run for MP because (he says) he wants his soul to remain intact. Does he never learn? Sir Francis told him stubbornness will be his undoing, and methinks it will likely be the village’s undoing too, since he is likely the only person there in Cornwall with the personal power to get to Parliament, who would actually take the interests of the village people with him. All this holier-than-thou posturing does get a bit tiring – especially for his wife who knows just how unholy Mr. Hero has been. Demelza is angry. Now George will likely be the MP and once again Ross could have prevented it but didn’t, and not once did he ever ask her advice about it all. Ross (basically) says he will not be Demelza’s puppet either. If she wanted a husband who would dance to her tune and care about her opinions, she married the wrong man and should look elsewhere. She agrees with that assessment; says it appears so, and she might not have to look too far. Armitage is waiting in the wings.

1. Death Becomes Him

Ross gets notified of Aunt Agatha’s death via a note sent by George, who uses the solemn occasion to gloat. He cannot help but include the happy news that he  has been chosen by Sir Francis to run for MP. With George, every death comes with a silver lining of opportunity. And thanks to him being in charge of Trenwith, Aunt Agatha gets no funeral, no nothing. George’s toadies just schlep her casket to the church graveyard, toss it on the ground, sneer and walk away. Ross arrives as Tholly is hastily digging her grave and takes over the responsibility, insisting this was the last thing he could do for her, that his aunt was a great lady, and she should not be treated like this. As he shovels Ross says, “George will pay for this.” Might he be dreaming of digging someone else’s grave as well?

Ross can’t actually kill George and get away with it. (Can he?) How could Ross exact his revenge? Maybe by being Lord Falmouth’s candidate for MP? Given the way Falmouth treats George like a bad smell, he’s going to look extra hard for someone to run against him. Might it be reluctant hero Ross? Having Ross challenge George would certainly set George’s teeth on edge, and a campaign pamphlet depicting him as a toad could finish him off completely.

Bonus Question: Am I over-thinking this?: This just occurred to me about Valentine’s rickets: Is it a metaphor? George is twisted one way and Valentine is (or will be) twisted in another? What say you, Poldarkians?

How do you think Ross will make George pay?

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