SALT LAKE CITY — It’s nearly time to bid farewell to Masterpiece’s “Poldark,” but first, we must see the crew through their final season, which starts Sunday. The hit PBS costume drama has yet to fail us in either department (costumes or drama) and this last season is guaranteed to offer up the goods from both. To prepare for Season 5, which premieres Sept. 29, we decided to look back at a favorite scene from each season. We opted not to include the famous scything scene — the moment that launched a thousand swoons — simply because choosing that one would have been too easy.
So, take a look at our picks, see if you agree and share your own favorite in the comment section. Also, if you haven’t caught up to the end of Season 4, be warned that our choice from that season includes mention of its shocking ending.
Season 1, Episode 4
To say that we thought Demelza Carne and Ross Poldark were an unlikely match would have been an understatement back in Season 1, when Ross impetuously decided to make an honest woman of the street urchin he brought into his home as his serving woman. Of course, by now we know that Demelza is the only woman for our hunky and sometimes tiresome hero (always with the doing the right thing that is often the wrong thing), but we and Ross had to learn.
In this candlelit scene from Season 1, Demelza sings for a gathering of aristocrats at Trenwith, Ross’ ancestral estate and the then-current home of his first love Elizabeth and her husband, Ross’ cousin Francis. As Demelza sings “I’d Pluck a Fair Rose” (by Anne Dudley), the intensity of Ross’ gaze upon her grows until the room fairly steams. But this isn’t just a scene of love expressed and realized. We watch too as Elizabeth, who was so sure of Ross’ affection in spite of her marriage, begins to understand that she has lost out to this new woman. And then there is poor Francis, who shares a quick glance with his wife, recognition passing between them that Elizabeth has never looked at him the way Demelza is looking at Ross. Their love quadrangle is never so apparent as in this dusky-hued moment of Ross watching Demelza watching Ross as Elizabeth watches the two of them and Francis watches her.
Season 2, Episode 9
Season 2 may be best remembered as the season where Ross goes to prison a lot and almost gets hung. It’s a pretty dreary one on the whole, especially with the loss of Francis. While it did give us the pretty togetherness of Dr. Dwight Enys and the sartorially gifted Caroline Penvenen, this was not a happy time for Ross and Demelza — in Season 2 Ross learns Elizabeth intends to marry Cornwall’s No. 1 Weasle, George Warleggan, and in a fit of rage, forces himself on her.
In this scene, Demelza offers up a powerful and damning condemnation of Ross’ actions, but in the most Demelza way possible, by making this not about her wounded heart, but about Ross’ fall from her esteem. It is one of the more eloquent you-have-disappointed-me’s out there — just listen to the line, “It is not my pride that is wounded, Ross, it is my pride in you.” Ouch. The scene, too, is thoughtfully composed, with Demelza sitting regally in bed and Ross standing in front of her, painfully ingesting her critique. If we didn’t know better, this scene would make it seem that things are over for the hot-headed couple.
Season 3, Episode 9
Season 3 got things back on track and the series finally moved away from the Ross-might-get-hung storyline. This is the season that gave us Ross and company’s daring rescue of Dwight from the French prison, the vision-impaired pretty boy Hugh Armitage (boo) and, perhaps most entertainingly, in spite of his utter despicableness, the Rev. Osborne Whitworth. Now that we know how he met his end and have seen Morwenna happily married to Drake, we can fully appreciate Ossie’s complete toadishness.
In this scene, Morwenna makes a promise to the foot-loving reverend that if he attempts to resume their relations, she will smother their son. Morwenna’s eyes burn under her heavy brows, and we, along with the totally stunned Ossie, believe she just might do it. Of course, she wasn’t going to kill her child, but she wisely used the one thing she had to stop her loathsome husband. After enduring months of abuse of all kinds, here Morwenna finally faces Ossie and calls him out for the foul fiend that he is. He, of course, salvaged his ego by telling her she’s been ill and that he’ll pray for her, before making a quick escape, to which we say: Run while you can, you big sweaty lump; you’ll get yours soon enough.
Season 4, Episode 8
We fully admit it: We didn’t see the end of Season 4 coming until it was too late to do anything but gasp. Yet it isn’t Elizabeth’s deathbed scene that made our list, but rather the moment just afterward.
Over “Poldark’s” so-far four seasons, George has done little to endear himself to … well, anyone, with the possibility of perhaps his wife, although even his relationship with Elizabeth has always been something of a mystery to the rest of us. But in spite of his sometimes lingering doubts about his children’s parentage, he worshipped Elizabeth with the fervor of a religious zealot. She was the aristocratic unattainable beauty who somehow became his wife, and George never could quite believe that Elizabeth cared for him. Honestly, we struggled to believe it ourselves, but Elizabeth was one to keep things close to the vest, and from all we could tell, she did seem to actually love the “Poldark” villain.
And so in that moment when George realizes his divine goddess really is gone, he is stripped of his George hubris and left bare in his grief. As he asks Dwight in a strangled voice, “Why would I want any of this if she is not here to share it with me?” George is more human than we have perhaps ever seen him. We know he’ll soon be back to being Cornwall’s bully, and we do worry what he’ll become without Elizabeth’s tempering influence (such as it was), but still, his pain over her death will change him. How, Season 5 will soon tell us.