“Putrid throat” dealt Aidan Turner’s Ross Poldark a couple of pretty hefty hammer blows in this last episode of BBC1’s smash hit period drama series.
The disease – and what a name it has – first infected Elizabeth and her Doofus husband (also known as Kyle Soller’s Francis Poldark), with Demelza choosing to expiate her guilt by tending to them.
Only thing was that while they recovered from the illness – which executive producer Karen Thrussell tells me is what we modern folk know as diptheria – Demelza then picked it up herself.
She narrowly escaped death – hooray! – but tragically infected her daughter, the beautiful and gorgeous Julia Poldark into the bargain.
It’s hard to write these words with the usual lightness of tone these reviews have carried all series because the baby’s death was one of the most awful, heartbreaking moments of drama I have ever seen.
Deftly written by Debbie Horsfield, the moment where Ross held his dying daughter and told her she would not be scared or alone was stunningly moving.
And there he was, carrying the little coffin into the churchyard where the whole community turned up to pay their respects…
And the moment Demelza awoke to find that her daughter was dead and that she didn’t have time to say goodbye was as plausible as it was devastating. Hats off to Eleanor Tomlinson who once again acted her socks off.
The death of a child is a hard thing to take, even in a work of fiction, but the unhappiness didn’t end there.
Ross’s business dealings continued to go from bad to worse under the steely malevolent gaze of the dastardly Warleggans.
Old ‘Putrid Throat in a Top Hat’ himself Cary Warleggan (Pip Torrens) thought the death of Ross’s daughter was a good time to strike at him, something which made even his highly unpleasant son George (Jack Farthing) show just a flicker of guilt. Perhaps there is some good in him, if just a smidgen.
Still, at least the Doofus, whose own child survived at the expense of Ross’, didn’t entirely disgrace himself. He was contrite enough to give his cousin a consoling pat at Julia’s funeral. Which is something, I suppose.
And Dr “Shagger” Enys, the physician who caused all those Mark and Keren problems in the last episode, at least tried his best. His ministrations probably saved poor Demelza even if he could do nothing for Julia.
The episode also brought out the best in Elizabeth who, following her recovery, went to see what she could do for her erstwhile love rival.
Demelza’s delirious dreams were deftly dramatised, and it is clear she harbours a fear that Ross will run off with Elizabeth. But we were left in no doubt where he stood when he cradled Demelza and cried out: “Pray to God I don’t lose the love of my life.”
Still, there was one bright spot. The Warleggans’ ship foundered on the rocks, leaving the Cornish community able to scoop the booty which washed up on shore (“enough pilchards for a month!” went the cry which shows just how tough things are in this neck of the woods).
But even that bright moment led directly to the terrible final scene when Ross and Demelza went to visit their daughter’s grave…
…only for Ross to get arrested for the theft and murder.
It appears that George Warleggan had snitched on Ross after being rejected by Elizabeth, that flicker of goodness having been completely snuffed out.
It’s a dark end. But at least there is the consolation of a second series where Ross can fight back. And the long-term plan is to make five series in total, so we’ll leave you on that bright note.
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years. After a two year stint on local newspapers in the mid 1990s, he spent more than 5 years as the broadcast reporter at the Stage newspaper. Following that he enjoyed staff reporting positions at the Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times breaking stories and writing features before settling as a full time freelance writing for an array of newspapers and magazines - but mainly for the Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.