‘Hold onto your cocoa. Sunday nights just put on a tricorn hat and got sexy.’
That was the garrulous opening line from our Episode 1 review: a sentence which was subsequently quoted by a national newspaper and paired with a forensically-chosen screengrab of swoon-magnet Aidan Turner displaying the kind of body you could set your pocket watch – and your prurience – to.
Now for the rest of Interneternity that sentence and my name will hang above his torso, like a placard in a weird sexy human zoo.
I mention that only because it’s emblematic of how we all – both Print and Public – have treated what has been a knee-trembling success for Auntie Beeb’s Sunday nights. Every end-of-weekend we and our Twitter accounts have sat on our fainting couches and watched a quality BBC period drama that, if it were any sexier, would only be available on prescription, and we’ve done so with a hashtaggable wink and any Emoji appropriate to the financial rigours of copper mining. Poldark‘s allure has been a massive in-joke that everyone but Ross has cottoned on to.
So it’s been easy to forget that there has been actual drama here – often soapy, occasionally slo-mo, but always present and engaging – and Poldark‘s finale ruthlessly kicks you and me in the gut for forgetting that we’re mean to be doing more than ogling.
Actual liquid Super-Soaker’d out of my tear ducts and onto my keyboard as I watched Ross bearing the physical and emotional weight of Juliet Grace Poldark’s toddler-sized coffin by himself, and then again at seeing Demelza discover that her daughter had died.
Turner gives it the expected stiff upper-lip, but there’s a soul-wrenching performance from Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza finds out her child is dead. Proper, shiver-to-your-bones acting; the kind of performance that you can’t look away from and can’t quite shake after the credits have rolled.
It’s tragic irony that her own child should die as a result of her caring for Francis and Elizabeth’s. But after prolonged exposure to him, Demelza has contracted Ross’s need to do whatever is right no matter to cost: an affliction which is arguably more deadly than ‘Putrid Throat’, the sickness which sounds like a Cornish hamlet where you’d stumble across a delightful B&B, but which actually turns attractive cast members into slightly less attractive copies of themselves.
Then, as you’re scrabbling away at the bottom of the Kleenex box and feeling an emotional wreck, there’s an actual wreck. A triumph from disaster for Ross, and a disaster for George Warleggan, who loses his card-shark cousin to the sharks, as well as a lot of money. Although George has his eye on what he considers an even more valuable asset: Elizabeth Poldark, nee Chynoweth.
Will she and the banker be joined in holy matri-money? If you’ve read ahead then you’ll know. Keep those 65 year old spoilers to yourself.
Francis and Elizabeth’s marriage may be on the rocks, but there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon for Ross and Demelza, and the idea that they can both overcome their grief in each other’s telegenic arms. That is until the soldiers march in and arrest Ross.
If this were a Tumblr account then this is where the Tenth Doctor ‘What? What?! WHAT?’ gif would be placed. But it’s not so you’ll just have to play it in your head. We didn’t need a reason to tune in for Season 2 – we’re already hooked – but it’s a giant OMFG of a cliffhanger, especially as it takes place on an actual cliff. Well, Poldark always has made great use of its geography.
I started this review in the same way I started the review of Episode 1, and after a run that ended as strongly as it began, it’s only fair I end it in more-or-less the same way, especially as Season 2 is already in the works.
Poldark will ride again, and no doubt it’ll once again make for terrific, sexy, and even tragic, viewing. Can’t wait.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 19 April 2015 on BBC One.
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