Scott and I just watched the finale of “Poldark.” I was on the edge of my seat the entire two hours and when the credits began to roll I was reduced to the inarticulate sounds I always make when I have just seen something absolutely gripping on TV and realize I have to wait an entire year for the next season. It’s the same sound I make at the end of “Downton Abbey” and “Sherlock,” and I can best describe it as somewhere between a growl and a cry of pain. (Tell me I’m not the only one who does this?)
Because even though I have read the books and knew how the season would end, the screenwriter did a fabulous job of pulling me into the story. I was lost in the episode and those final credits felt like an abrupt forcible ejection out of Cornwall and into a world where I don’t get to see what happens next. And oh, what a finale it was. Don’t read ahead if you haven’t seen the show yet — spoilers await.
*First of all, I was somewhat dreading this episode because I knew from the books (seriously, SPOILER AHEAD) that Julia was going to die. And I wasn’t sure I could handle it, especially being a mom, because it is all too awful. The sight of Ross carrying her tiny coffin across the cliffs and into the churchyard — oh, it was gut-wrenching. There’s nothing else to say; it was just too painful.
*Demelza was already such a lovable character, and she just rockets off the charts in this finale. To go and take care of Francis after his utter awfulness to her … well, it’s forgiveness at its finest. Who says this is not a spiritual show? I think she’s a model of Christian charity and selfless love. And oh, alas, she pays a dear price for it.
*If she is the paragon of goodness, George is the polar opposite. You could just see him playing Francis like a fiddle, feeding the flames of his suspicion about Ross and cagily getting Francis to reveal the names of Ross’s business associates. As bad as Francis is — and he does call Demelza some awful things in this episode, including “trull” (sp?) which is a new one to me– at least his awfulness is not as premeditated as George’s is. There is something about coldly-calculated evil that is so much worse than crime-of-passion evil.
*Speaking of crimes of passion, the Mark/Keren subplot ended about as well as one would expect. You knew that was disastrous from the start. Any woman who can make Ruth Teague’s eye daggers look like foam darts is surely headed for trouble.
I didn’t like Keren — I guess we’re not supposed to — but I sure would not wish her fate on anyone. And it was interesting that the TV show makes her death a little more ambiguous, like Mark was just hugging her a little too hard and whoops! Her neck ends up broken (kind of like Lennie in Of Mice and Men). The book is much more clear that it was a CRIME of passion, and I am not surprised that the screenwriter went with the “accidental” scenario. We do want to feel sympathy for Ross, after all, and can we have much sympathy for a man who loans his oars to a cold-blooded murderer?
By the way, let’s all remember what Mark said about how he was hiding out in the old abandoned mine and saw what looked like copper there. My spidey-sense tells me that this may be important in future seasons.
*Is there any more disgusting name for an illness than “putrid throat”?
*Dr. Enys messed up by getting mixed up with Keren, but to his credit, he makes amends by staying in the community and caring for the sick miners. In fact, so much of this episode seems to be about people wanting to make amends, like Demelza wanting to undo the disastrous chain reaction she unwittingly set into place by getting Verity and Andrew back together. And we have Elizabeth at the end, caring for Demelza as she recovers, because Demelza saved her child.
*By the way, when Ross tells Elizabeth to pray “that I don’t lose the love of my life,” it was so emotional and romantic that I started getting teary-eyed (again). I just love the Ross and Demelza love story. It is not a love story that ends with marriage, as so many of them are; theirs begins with marriage and gets more interesting as the series goes on.
All in all, I loved “Poldark.” Aidan Turner played the part beautifully — edgy, restless, brooding, good at heart, sensitive, loyal. Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza is the perfect foil to him, and captured all the fineness and goodness of the character in the book without making her saccharine. The scenery was as beautiful as could be, and the scripts honored the novels while still making the story feel suspenseful.
Most of all, the series incorporates so many big themes, themes that I may dare to call spiritual. Loyalty, social justice, forgiveness, choosing one’s own path in spite of social expectation, seeing people for who they are inside, resilience, love — it was all there, and more.
What a great way to spend my summer Sunday nights. I miss it already.