Poldark season 4, episode 1 premiere recap: “Is it now too late?”


Poldark kicked off its fourth season on PBS as dramatically and tragically as ever with a riot, a hanging and a surprising revelation about a love triangle.

“Is it now too late?” Ross (Aidan Turner) asks as the season four premiere of Poldark draws to a close. While he is referring to his relationship with Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson), the question can really be applied to the events of the episode as a whole.

Sadly, in some cases, the answer is yes. If you were hoping the show would go easy on its characters this year, prepare to be disappointed. However, moments of joy, or at least hope, are in the mix, too. Here’s a recap of what went down in last night’s premiere.

A riot and a hanging

Despite the fact that people in Cornwall are starving, local merchants begin selling grain to traders to sell overseas. Rightfully enraged commoners gather at the docks and try to stop the grain from being loaded onto ships. The conflict rapidly escalates, leaving one merchant dead at the hands of a young man named Jago Martin (Jack Riddiford).

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Jago claims the man was alive when he left him, though as far I could tell that wasn’t actually true. The man wasn’t moving anyway. Jago certainly hadn’t intended to kill him, though. In their struggle, Jago accidentally knocked the merchant into a mooring, and the merchant hit his head.

Worse still, Jago isn’t the only person arrested after the riot. George’s man, Tom Harry (Turlough Convery), spots Drake (Harry Richardson) and Sam Carne (Tom York) at the scene, so George ensures they’re arrested as well. Drake and Sam had actually been trying to stop Jago.

Ross ensures the men that he will vouch for them. He technically has no political power, but he is a nobleman, so he has some sway. Unfortunately, George anticipates Ross coming to their defense, so he moves up the hearing. Ross arrives just in time to hear Drake, Sam and Jago being sentenced to death.

Ross isn’t about to give up, but he also wants to spare Demelza from potentially having to watch her brothers die. So, he keeps her in the dark, well aware that if the worst does happen, not knowing “will destroy her” and “she will never forgive” him.

Ross figures that scenario is “the lesser of two evils.” Honestly, since she wouldn’t have been allowed to truly say goodbye to them anyway, I see his point, though I still think he should have told her.

Fortunately, Ross ends up saving Drake and Sam with an impassioned plea to the court members for a reprieve, calling out their motivations for demanding such a harsh punishment. Unfortunately, the court does not extend the same mercy to Jago.

The love triangle

By far, the most surprising development in the premiere of Poldark was a newfound honesty between Ross and Demelza. Ross, in particular, has historically been incredibly poor at being open, especially where romance and emotion is concerned. However, he seems to have turned over a new leaf.

At the beginning of the episode, he doesn’t express anger about Demelza’s relationship with Hugh (Josh Whitehouse). However, Ross does try to gauge her feelings for Hugh, and Demelza is quick to point out Ross’ not-so-distance history with Elizabeth (Heida Reed).

Ross actually ends up encouraging Demelza to accept a luncheon invitation from Hugh, though, to keep her away from the hanging. Dwight (Luke Norris), who fears Hugh’s health is failing, and Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) also attend. (And, to be fair, Ross had actually been invited as well.)

Hugh is very clearly still infatuated with Demelza, while she seems embarrassed by their “moment.” (It remains unclear if they actually slept together at the end of season three, though it’s strongly suggested.) Whatever the case, Demelza wants their relationship to be over, at least that’s what she tells herself and Hugh.

In the final moments of the episode, Ross and Demelza finally lay all their cards on the table. Ross explains that his tryst with Elizabeth made him realize that his first love pales in comparison to his “indispensable and irreplaceable” wife. He acknowledges that he took Demelza for granted, and Demelza admits that she may have done the same to him.

However, in the end, they agree that their story isn’t over yet. I, for one, am not convinced it will be smooth sailing, though.

Looking ahead

The premiere also set up a few long-term arcs for season four. Parliament has been dissolved and a new election ordered, meaning George’s (Jack Farthing) new seat is no longer secure. George is, of course, running again but now he has an opponent. Hugh’s uncle, Lord Falmouth (James Wilby), is insisting that Hugh run, despite his deteriorating condition.

Ross has already been shut out, despite vowing to finally throw his hat in the ring at the end of season three. However, he may soon get his chance after all, thanks to Hugh.

Morwenna (Ellise Chappell), meanwhile, remains trapped in her nightmarish marriage but has gained power over Whitworth (Christian Brassington) by playing the “you defiled my sister” card. It appears that she has been able to put to a stop to his physical abuse for several months now.

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As for her relationship with Drake, Morwenna rushes to the gallows, fearing that one of the “Methodists” Whitworth is supposed to pray for is Drake. The two finally make poignant eye contact when Drake already has the noose around his neck and both are waiting to hear if he will be pardoned. Morwenna rushes back home after Drake is saved and succeeds in fooling Whitworth. As soon as she’s alone, though, she cries out of relief and happiness.

As for the only entirely joyful part of the Poldark premiere, Caroline announces to a delighted Dwight that she is expecting.

What did you think of the Poldark season four premiere? Let us know in the comments section below.