Tragedy hits the Poldark family in a moving episode of the Aidan Turner drama

Viewers say goodbye to a major character tonight as the second series reaches its half-way point

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**Spoiler warnings: Do not read on if you have not seen Poldark series 2 episode 5**

I suppose we should have seen it coming.

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The opening montage for tonight’s episode saw Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark strolling along the beach, re-imagining mini Ross and mini Francis playing along the same stretch of sand as boys. Poldark doesn’t go in for imaginary recollections much. Something, clearly, was going to happen. 

And happen it did at the end of a tragic episode of the drama: poor Francis was dead. Just as he had made amends with Demelza and told Warleggan that he hated him and didn’t want him to pay any more visits to Trenwith, he was gone. Drowned in his own mine.

Francis had also just found copper in Wheal Grace, but then the ground fell from under him and he went tumbling into the drink, facing what seemed like many agonising hours waiting for a rescue that never came.

“Why the hell didn’t you learn to swim,” said Ross when Francis’s lifeless body was dragged from the water. It seemed a little harsh under the circumstances but what felt even crueller was the moment just before he sunk under when Francis imagined his rescue from Ross, holding out a hand, before realising it wasn’t there, after all. Ross arrived too late.

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It was a terribly sad moment of television, capped off with the funeral scene replete with a distraught Demelza, a devastated Elizabeth, a stony-faced Ross and a creepily contented-looking George Warleggan.

But it wasn’t the only moment of high drama tonight. We also saw Elizabeth admit to Ross that she still loved him – that there was still a place for him in her heart and, she suggested, her in his.

“Can not a woman love two men?” she asked, echoing Ross’ own words on the subject. 

Warleggan secured Ross’ £1,000 debt, which in some respects was the indirect cause of poor Francis’ demise (Ross hotfooted it to Truro and wasn’t around to rescue his cousin). 

Also, there seems to be an informer around the place snitching on the smugglers which spells trouble for Ross’ little contraband money-earner.

And Caroline Penvenen was back in Cornwall (this episode jumped ahead a year). She had been in London for a full 12 months and returned only to spurn her very silly intended Unwin and to flutter her eyes at Dr Enys.

The fluttering did the trick as the two kissed in a lovely bluebell wood and seemed to promise themselves to each other when Caroline comes of age.

With Francis out of the way, the path is also now open for Warleggan to make a proper play for Elizabeth. But he may find another obstacle in his path in the form of Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston).

Warleggan told her that he hoped she were dead, refusing to address her with the respect and deference due to a lady of her years.

“I hope when I next call you will be six feet under,” he hissed at her, for no good reason apart from the fact that he is a total bastard (and seemed to believe her when she said she couldn’t hear).

But he may live to regret it, because heard it she did. “Big mistake,” thundered the great lady and she seems the sort to make good on her threats. 

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But at the end the biggest mistake was Francis’ in staying down a once flooded mine all by himself. One of the last images was of poor Francis’ coffin at his funeral, with the lid slammed shut. There will be no Jud-style resurrection for him, just a life that went bad and was cut shorrt just as he was making it good. How sad. If only he had learned to swim, indeed.

Farewell Francis. Here you are in happier times…

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Poldark continues on Sunday nights on BBC1 at 9pm