Poldark Season 5, Episode 5 marks a point of reckoning for Ross Poldark (Aidan Turner) and his dangerous friend Ned Despard (Vincent Regan). At the start of the episode, everything seems calm and bright. It is, after all, Christmas in Cornwall and Ross is certain that Ned will soon get his permission from the Prime Minister to return to Honduras. However, as soon as Ross and Ned arrive at Wickham’s for the papers, the smug spymaster informs them that, oops, Pitt is no longer Prime Minister, so the deal is off. Ross and Ned must find another way to get the rogue home.
Complicating matters, Sir George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) is telling people that Ned pushed him down the stairs, which is only sort of true. (I do appreciate that Sir George is rocking a fashion sling, though). And Falcon Man has finally stepped out of the shadows. He’s officially introduced as Joseph Merceron (Tim Dutton), as if I’m supposed to know who that is. So I shall continue to call him Falcon Man. Evil Ralph Hanson (Peter Sullivan) and Falcon Man want to get Sir George to commit to their slave-owning boys club. Sir George is iffy on it.
Meanwhile in Cornwall, Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) is struggling to understand the concept of paper currency. As gold is scarce, pound notes have become all the rage. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but Tess (Sofia Oxenham) is looking for a way to mess with Demelza. She decides to start a side gig forging counterfeit money. It doesn’t take long for Demelza to figure out a) there’s counterfeit money around and b) Tess is behind it. To Demelza’s credit, she makes a big dramatic scene that convinces the townspeople that forging currency only bites them in the long run. She nobly offers to give the yet unnamed culprits another chance, noting dramatically that “forgery is a hanging offense.”
That’s not the only drama in Cornwall this week. Morwenna (Ellise Chappell) and Drake (Harry Richardson) finally have a serious conversation about her clandestine visits to John Conan, who is a cute kid but shit with a cup-and-ball. Drake offers to adopt the boy, which touches Morwenna. However, Drake takes this one step further and visits Morwenna’s vile former mother-in-law, Lady Whitworth (Rebecca Front). It naturally doesn’t go well, and she orders her guards to take him hostage, and Drake’s got to somersault away. It’s all exciting. Drake even says ominously, “You shouldn’t have done that, Ladyship.”
Yeah, Ladyship, you shouldn’t have done that! Because Drake actually abducts John Conan. Before an Amber Alert can be unleashed, Demelza catches Drake in the act. Well, she catches her kids playing with John Conan on the beach and is immediately like, “HOLY SHIT, DRAKE, YOU CAN’T STEAL CHILDREN. PUT HIM BACK WHERE YOU FOUND HIM.” And he does! Just in the nick of time. However, because this is Drake, he’s got to admit it to Morwenna. He literally says, “I did a thing today…I stole John Conan.” Naturally Morwenna is pissed that her husband attempted to kidnap her child.
Morwenna decides to say goodbye forever to John Conan. This has two surprising affects. One, Her Evil Ladyship overhears Morwenna’s tender goodbye and finally looks sort of human for the first time in the show’s run. (Methinks she might be softening?) Two, Morwenna is finally ready to bang. Tragically, the show cuts away from said banging.
Back in London, Sir George has decided to go “Team Evil Slaveowners.” He’s finally going to give a speech at Parliament all about how great it is to own people. (Reader, I hated his speech and STRONGLY DISAGREE.) Ross’s rebuttal is scathing, and helped by the fact that Cecily Hanson (Lily Dodsworth-Evans) has helped him with some op-ed research. Sir George is so pissed about this — “They made a laughing stock of me!” (Bitch, you did that to yourself.) — that he lets Falcon Man help him plot revenge. They are going to frame Ross and Ned for treason!
The problem with this plan is Ned basically is close to committing treason. He keeps running his drunk mouth off about the Mad King, and Dwight (Luke Norris) has had enough of it. He tells Ross that his loyalty to Ned will only burn him in the end, and walks away. Caroline (Gabriella Wilde), who has been miffed about Dwight’s apparent indifference to her all season, correctly points out that Dwight was in the right, but that he shouldn’t have walked away. Ross needs him. As it happens, when Dwight and Caroline go to Ross’s flat they discover — just in time — that Falcon Man’s agents of destruction have planted a fake treason document in Ross’s house.
While this is happening, Ross and Kitty (Kerri McLean) are dealing with a super drunk Ned. He is literally laughing at the idea of blowing folks up. It’s bad. Worse, Falcon Man’s spies are working to pin a fake treason document on him. Ross is so worried about how this all looks that he suggests his drunk friend call it a day (because it’s still DAYLIGHT). Ned punches Ross and isn’t even sorry about it. At long last, Ross has to admit that Ned is a loose cannon who can’t be trusted.
When Ross returns home, Dwight and Caroline are dealing with a task force looking for treason documents. They sneak him in, and Caroline smoothly deals with the guards. She even has the foresight to make them sign a document that they found nothing. Dwight is so impressed with Caroline; I think they may bone.
The episode ends with Ross admitting they’ve got to do something about Ned, like send him to Jamaica. At that point, Kitty bursts in crying. Ned is back in jail, only this time the charge is super serious: HIGH TREASON. As Ross’s spymaster puts it, “Now if he falls, he takes you with him.”
The new moral of Poldark is never help your friends.
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