Poldark Season 4 Episode 5 Recap: Arthur in the Woods with a Candlestick

Ross tries to get justice for the starving people of Britain, Demelza totally screws up Drake’s life, Caroline and Elizabeth treat themselves to new wardrobes, and we finally get a death we’ve been waiting for

Well, that was an exciting hour of television! After a few weeks of one big thing happening per episode, but mostly feeling like pieces were being moved around the chessboard, it felt like a LOT happened here. Let’s unpack, shall we?

Ross is back in Parliament, and so is George, although I thought George wouldn’t be back for a little while because didn’t the MP he bribed just agree not to stand in the next election? Ok, whatever. Do I really need to say that George is a member of the opposing party to Ross? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Demelza’s letters reveal that things are getting pretty bleak in the countryside: food is so expensive that even people with jobs can’t afford it. How very relevant this show is sometimes! Ross keeps bringing up this sad state of affairs in the House, but none of the rich guys care because who cares about poor people who can’t vote anyway? At one point, George just sneers that if they’re so needy, they should just go to the poorhouse. Spoken like someone who had never been to a poorhouse. I think it goes without saying that George would be a Tory if elected today.

It seems that Ross, too, has never been to a poorhouse, but he quickly seeks to rectify that. As one would expect, it’s a hellhole straight out of Charles Dickens’s worst nightmares. Ross is appalled at the idea of people being forced to seek refuge here.

On the other end of the scale is everyone else he interacts with. Ross is having a hard time getting Falmouth, who just wants Ross to fall in line and vote for some road to be built near his estate, and Sir Francis on board with doing something here. Francis, as usual, does seem to be listening, but he’s not really taking in the urgency of the situation.

And then there’s Caroline, who’s partying hard and bouncing around town in the company of several gentlemen, including that icky Monk Adderley. At one of Caroline’s parties, Monk oh-so-casually mentions to George that Ross showed up at Trenwith the night of George’s big ‘impress the local rich people’ party. George is surprised, but Elizabeth skillfully manages to quell this fire (maybe) by saying she totally told George Ross dropped by, he just forgot because he had other things on his mind.

Elizabeth’s going to have other things on her mind soon, too: her eldest son is seriously committing to the hedonistic lifestyle of London and getting himself into trouble. At a gambling party, Ross has to intercede when two young members of the nobility get into a tussle with his nephew over a debt (which Ross pays). And then Geoffrey Charles spews all over the floor. Ross handsomely tips the man who has to clean it up, and apologises for this mess, but the man very cheerfully replies that he doesn’t mind, because tips earned by cleaning up after young members of the gentry and aristocracy are pretty much how he makes ends meet. Yeesh. But his statement does give Ross AN IDEA.

Said idea will send Ross home for a little while, but before he goes he asks Caroline if she’ll come with him. He’s been judging Caroline a fair bit (as has Francis, who makes the rather nasty comment that a dead child is clearly soon forgotten) and at one party goes into a whole speech about how it was for him when Julia died. He gently tells her that they’re brought up to be strong and not to show emotion, but it’s ok to cry, really. It’s nice in a way, and I know he means well, but it also comes across a bit as him mansplaining how to properly grieve in this situation, and honestly I just want everyone to leave Caroline alone and let her deal with this in her own way and her own time. And if that means she needs a fabulous new wardrobe, then so be it! (Between her and Elizabeth, it looks like the Regency period has arrived HARD.)

Caroline declines the invitation to go home, explaining to Ross, as she did to Dwight, that she really needs time away. Fair enough. Ross backs down and returns to Cornwall.

There, as I said, things are not great. The harvest has been poor, and grain prices are so high people are going malnourished and dying like flies at the slightest illness. It’s keeping Dwight busy in the saddest possible way. The only bright spot is Drake, who’s really committed to this relationship with Rosina. He and Demelza have a talk, where she agrees that Rosina will make him a good wife and that, in time, they’ll likely come to love each other, just as Ross came to love her. Rosina seems to agree, because when Drake goes to her and lays everything out: that he has loved someone else and probably always will feel some love for her, but he really cares for Rosina too and can give her a good, solid life, she agrees that they can make a go of this. The wedding is on!

Meanwhile, though, over in Misery Manse, Whitworth has hit upon a way to get his wife to start sleeping with him again: he takes away her son, which was pretty much her only bargaining chip (remember she threatened to harm the child if Whitworth ever came near her again). Once the kid’s out of the picture, Whitworth goes back to raping Morwenna and getting all put out that she’s not enjoying it.

In something of a snit, he takes himself off to visit that embezzler, who appears to be unconscious. So, like an idiot, Whitworth monologues about how he’s screwing his sister-in-law, but will be ending that soon, since he’s got Morwenna to go after now. But, of course, the guy wasn’t unconscious at all.

Whitworth has one last romp with Rowella, unaware that her husband, coming home early one night, has seen the two of them together. When Rowella tries to hit him up for more money, Whitworth brushes her off and heads home on horseback. On the way, he’s accosted by a highwayman, who’s really Rowella’s husband, Arthur, in disguise. Well, ‘disguise’. He’s armed with a silver candlestick and goes after Whitworth, but Whitworth’s on horseback and has the advantage. The tussle is sufficiently fierce for Whitworth to be yanked off his horse. His foot catches in the stirrup, the horse bolts, dragging him, and then he smashes his head on a tree.

Let’s all take a moment…

K, I hope we all enjoyed that, because immediately after that we must remember that Oh, shit, Drake’s getting married today, and this is seriously going to screw things up if not lead to him getting hanged for murder, because of course someone’s going to suspect he did it!

Word of Whitworth’s death gets out fast. Like, supernaturally fast. Who’s writing these letters to Demelza and Elizabeth? As the body’s being examined by Enys for signs of foul play? I can understand Elizabeth being notified, since she’s related to Morwenna, but even then it would have taken a little while. And who’s writing to Demelza with the news?

Ok, fine. Demelza, of course, can’t bring herself to keep this a secret, so she rushes off to the forge, where she interrupts her brother merrily getting ready for his wedding and tells him what happened. He, incredulously, asks her why the hell she couldn’t have kept her mouth shut until later because he is literally on his way to get married right now. And really, what could he do with this information anyway? Yes, Morwenna is free, but that doesn’t mean her family would let her marry someone like Drake. And I don’t think Morwenna quite has it in her to defy her family and run off with him. It would mean the permanent loss of her son, whom she loves, despite his father. And her two stepdaughters, though they seem to have completely disappeared.

What Drake does is head out to intercept poor Rosina, who’s on her way to the ceremony with her bridesmaids, to dump her right then and there.


Man, poor Rosina. Girl can’t catch a break!

Drake next swings by Misery Manse to see Morwenna, who’s now so deeply traumatised she just tells him to get lost and never come near her again. Aww, poor Morwenna!

Drake disappears, which is probably a good thing, because Morwenna’s terrible mother-in-law is now crying murder. Enys says that Whitworth’s injuries are totally consistent with a fall from a horse, but she insists he was too good a rider for that. He used to ride to hounds an everything! I have a hard time imaging Whitworth as a regular hunter.

So, it’s only a matter of time before suspicion falls on Drake, right? Probably steered by George, who gets wind of these suspicions at the funeral and gets that ‘I’m going to stir some shit up’ gleam in his eye. But that dying embezzler will probably end up saving Drake in the end, so it’s kind of a non-issue, right?

At the funeral, Demelza and George approach Morwenna to offer their condolences, and she shakes herself out of her shock long enough to let them both have it. She tells them, in no uncertain terms, that the man they forced her to marry was a monster who enjoyed raping her on a regular basis and that her life is completely wrecked now, so thanks, you two, thanks a hell of a lot! Elizabeth stammers that she had no idea, and she seems genuinely remorseful. Even George looks a bit horrified and guilty, which suggests he does have some human feelings, though they’re clearly restricted to the wealthy.

Rosina’s family have some feelings too, and they aren’t good ones. Drake’s laying low, and not even Demelza knows where he is (though some thug George sends to her house tries to get the information out of her, only to be beaten back by Demelza and Prudie, which is fantastic). So, Rosina’s male relatives have no choice but to take their rage out on something other than Drake. The forge becomes the victim of his jilting of Rosina. As Demelza and Sam survey the wreckage, Drake comes stumbling back, takes in his destroyed home and workplace, and basically tells Demelza, ‘Thanks so much for completely and utterly ruining my life.’ Demelza’s like, ‘Yeah, sorry about that. I really failed to consider the consequences here, didn’t I?’ It’s kind of like when she interfered in the Verity/Blamey affair. Granted, that turned out all right in the end, but it was still plenty bumpy along the way, wasn’t it?

Ross returns home in the middle of all this craziness, has sex with his wife, and then gathers all the local landowners and major businessmen for a powow at Sir Francis’s house. There, Ross proposes a benefits system, essentially. It’s this radical notion that if you allow people to have enough money to actually live and thrive, everyone benefits! George, of course, is opposed, because it’ll take money out of all of their pockets, and thinking of the greater good is hard. Also, considering how much better the economy does when lots of people have enough money to actually spend and keep all the wheels turning is a concept too challenging for many to grasp even now. Ross had already had Francis’s buy-in, though Falmouth, who’s a bit put out by Ross not wholeheartedly supporting this road bill, has remained non-committal to the point where he’s not even at this meeting. They take a vote, and it’s a split. But then Falmouth shows up and casts the deciding vote and–guess who wins? That’s right! It’s Ross! Because Ross always wins.

And I have to say, that’s becoming a bit problem with this story. There’s absolutely no tension when it comes to the big things, like this. We know Ross is going to come out on top, because that’s always what happens. He’s a total Marty Stu. Did anyone believe he wouldn’t come back from that suicide mission in France? Of course not. Did anyone doubt that he would lose the election? Nope. Do we really think this risk to Pascoe’s bank will end up being a serious setback, or that he won’t be able to turn the mine around yet again? Definitely not. I’m not saying that bad things don’t happen to him, it’s just that they’re so rare and, aside from Julia’s death, have so little lasting impact that they never feel like they have any real impact.

So, of course this vote goes his way, though Falmouth makes it clear that Ross WILL support that road now, which makes Ross pouty. And the scheme is so successful in their area of Cornwall that, when the House reconvenes, Ross proposes they make it more widespread. This prompts George to pull out the common conservative bullshit argument that just giving money to poor people will simply make them sit around and refuse to work. Sometimes I feel like rich people shouldn’t be allowed to run governments.

So, will Drake be hanged? (Nah, Ross’ll save him, with an assist from the slowest dying character ever). Will Ross manage to get his benefits system through the House? (Probably, in some fashion). Will Wheal Leisure ever be mineable again? (Probably, somehow. It always is. Or Ross’ll find something else to do.) Will Geoffrey Charles truly follow in his father’s vice-footsteps and fall into a destructive round of drinking and gambling? (Nah, Ross’ll probably save him too). Tune in next week to find out!

All sarcasm aside, though, this was, as I said, a rather exciting hour of television. It was nice to get a break from Ross and Demelza talking about the same marital issues for the tenth time (yeah, it happens in real life, but it’s not much fun to see it dramatised), there was action, a death we’ve all been longing for for ages, heartbreak aplenty, and FABULOUS hats and dresses. What more do we need? More, please!

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6 thoughts on “Poldark Season 4 Episode 5 Recap: Arthur in the Woods with a Candlestick

  1. Whitworth’s death is doubly ironic: He dies because his foot gets caught in his stirrup. Live by the foot, die by the foot ;-), Secondly, the scene in which Rowella seduced him by sitting on his knee and ripping her own bodice began with her telling him that she was reading a section of the Iliad in which the body one of the dead Trojans is degraded by the Greeks. She doesn’t say how, but the way they did that was by Dragging Him Behind A Chariot ! I’ve said it before : Karma may be a bitch, but she has quite a sense of humour. ;-D
    Incidentally, Rowella seems to be wearing one of Verity’s old dresses from Season One. I mean the grey one with the raised pattern on the front.
    Apparently, after George did what Elizabeth demanded and fired the horrible Tom Harry, he immediately hired his equally horrible brother to take his place. I did love to see Prudie and Demelza throwing him out of Nampara. Don’t mess with the Poldark women !
    So for the second time, Drake’s forge has been burned to the ground by a member of the Harry family, this time with the assistance of the jilted Rosina’s father. I don’t know why he should be upset, since he didn’t seem to want her to get married anyway.
    Dwight is spending a lot of time at Nampara, in preference to sitting alone in his big empty house, but the tabloid speculation that the two of them would have an affair ( after all, both of them are adulterers ) will come to nothing. Demelza would never repeat her folly with Smarmitage, and Dwight ought to be feeling guilty over the fact that he didn’t warn Ross about him while there was time to put a stop to it. Some best friend.
    Ross’ efforts to help the poor have attracted the attention of the Prime Minister, William Pitt the Younger. I wonder if that will be a good or bad thing ?
    I’m sure that once the water is pumped out of the mine, they will discover that it was covering a monstrous lode of copper and everyone will be saved. The miners will work, Ross will get rich and the sun will shine in Cornwall once more.

  2. How sweet . . . Ross to the rescue for Geoffrey Charles in a storyline that obviously has no real impact upon the saga’s narrative. Just another excuse for Debbie Horsfield to paint Ross as a “real heroic man’s man”. Ugh.

  3. I really should say something about Christian Brassington’s performance as Osburn Whitworth: It wasn’t easy to portray a character even more despicable than George Warleggan, while at the same time being hilariously funny. Bravo.

  4. “Ross always wins” cracks me up every time I read it. I’m just catching up on seasons 3 and onwards and reading your recaps is such an entertaining accompaniment.

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