We have made it now to the halfway point of “Poldark” this season, and we’re leaving off with this episode with one that many fans of the original series or the book were inevitably dreading.
Unfortunately, we are speaking of the death of Francis Poldark. From the moment you saw that childhood flashback at the start of the episode, you could feel the chill going down your spine. You knew that Francis was in a prison of his own making, one brought on by his action, his jealousy, and at times even his addictions. His cousin Ross was cavalier, but these two do not have a dynamic that causes the two of them to balance each other out. Instead, both at times seem to just further fuel each others’ misgivings.
Around the three-quarter mark of the episode, Francis admitted to Demelza his role in giving George valuable information, one that has led to the further downfall of the family. George has been using shares to decimate Ross and his debt, and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. When Ross realized what George had over him, he learned that he would go to prison if he couldn’t come up with the shares quickly.
What he didn’t know was that at the same time he was making these revelations, we saw Francis fighting for his life. The mines are a character within this show in their own way, and this time around they were rather cruel. He went down into one alone, and what he faced was worse than he could have ever imagined. The show took its time with the death, which in turn made it all the more heartbreaking. The way in which it happened — via drowning — was all the harder. There is no immediacy to it; there is only suffering, and there was a lot of life and regret for Francis to look back on.
If you did not get choked up watching Ross in the closing minutes, we question the fabric of your soul. The same goes for if you don’t hate George, arguably television’s most-hateable character since King Joffrey over on “Game of Thrones.”
Elsewhere in the episode, we do want to point out the intelligence and intrigue of the Caroline – Dwight scenes, while at the same time conceding that they had the misfortune of airing at a rather inopportune time given what we were dealing with in this episode. I knowing the death was coming, we found ourselves instead merely pining for more time with Francis than anything else.
Farewell, Francis. While he may not have always been the smartest character on the series, we never wanted this fate for him or to see Ross suffer. After what we saw tonight, it will only be so much more severe than before. Grade: A-.
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