‘Poldark’ Season 5, Episode 4 Recap: Heartbreak and Healing

It was clear from the moment that Ross’s old friend Ned Despard reappeared on the scene that the quick-tempered colonel was likely to stir up trouble. In this week’s episode of Poldark, Ned’s thirst for justice leads him to walk right into a trap set by Ralph Hanson (who has stepped into the role of the show’s primary villain since George has been incapacitated by madness). Ross and Demelza’s quick thinking defuses a potentially violent situation, but will they be able to save the unpredictable Irishman from himself in the future? 

Ned ignores Ross’s advice 

Aidan Turner in Poldark
Aidan Turner in Poldark | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

The episode opens with Ross in London, where Wickham wants to know why he hasn’t been reporting on Ned’s activities. Ross insists that it’s because Ned has been keeping his nose clean. After some prodding from Ross, Wickham says it’s possible that Ned could get his position back in Honduras provided he doesn’t get into any trouble in the meantime. So obviously, Ned is going to get into trouble in the very near future. 

Back in Cornwall, Ross’s new maid Tess is agitating for revolution. Hanson overhears their conversation in a pub and immediately enlists Tess’s help in spying on Ned and Ross. Unsurprisingly, Tess excels at stirring the pot. She starts talking about how the Warleggans should pay for having closed their mine and throwing people out of work, and she handily ropes Despard into her protest. 

All of Ross’s pointed throat-clearing and meaningful looks are ignored by Ned, who marches off with Tess and her rag-tag band of rebels to Trenwith. Ned, bless his heart, still thinks this is a peaceful protest, but it’s clear that some members of the group are intent on violence, which is exactly what Hanson hoped. Fortunately for Ned, Ross and Demelza discover what is going on and are able to intervene before things turn really ugly. While violence has been averted, Ned has put himself in a precarious position, and chances are good he’ll do so again in the future. 

The silver lining in this situation is that Demelza finally realizes what has been obvious from the start — that Tess is up to no good. After catching her in the act of sneaking a glass of wine, Demelza firmly tells Tess to pack her things and go, much to the delight of Prudie. But Tess doesn’t seem like one to slink off quietly, so chances are she’ll be back and causing more trouble soon enough.

Morwenna sees her son and Geoffrey Charles has his heart broken

Morwenna, who has been separated from her young son by her nasty former mother-in-law, spots John Conan while she is in town shopping. She starts spying on him and his nurse as they play in the garden, which Drake discovers when he follows her one day. Morwenna has a short interaction with her only child, who does not remember her. This is all very sad and likely isn’t going to end well. 

After a short trip to Bristol, Cecily is back in Cornwall and gallivanting about the countryside with Geoffrey Charles. But when her dad announces that he intends for her to marry George Warleggan, it puts a damper on their fun. Geoffrey Charles confesses that he loves her, which makes Cecily mad. Geoffrey Charles is sad. But after a heart-to-heart with Demelza, Cecily decides to follow her heart and elope with Geoffrey Charles. This is romantic but also maybe a bad idea, as he has no money and she is likely to be cut off by her father for her disobedience. (As a side note, it’s not clear why Hanson is so eager to have his daughter marry George, since he must realize by now that’s there’s something off about him; perhaps it’s because his Honduran mahogany business is actually less successful than he says and he’s hoping to get his hands on that sweet Warleggan cash?) 

George is back 

Pip Torrens and Jack Farthing in Poldark
Pip Torrens and Jack Farthing in Poldark | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

Uncle Cary finally enlists Dr. Enys to help George recover from his delusions. The enlightened doctor ditches the leeches and ice baths in favor of a kind of exposure therapy, taking George to visit Elizabeth’s grave and getting him to remember the moment of her death. This works like a charm and before you know it the old George is back, pounding on the table and ranting about Ross. We missed you, angry, grudge-holding George!  

Dwight hasn’t revealed to anyone that’s he’s caring for George, but he’s spending so much time with his mystery patient that Caroline is getting suspicious and jealous, especially as he’s also been treating Ned’s wife Kitty, who is suffering from some mysterious ailment (she’s probably pregnant). As they do when things get serious, the two talk about themselves in the third person via Horace the Pug, but nothing is really resolved.

Ross gets some one-on-one time with Valentine, which causes tension with Demelza. And it causes more tension with George, who gets upset when Ross brings the boy home after finding him wandering about alone again. Now that George seems to have recovered from his madness, we can only assume that he will be back to his old tricks — mistreating his workers and plotting revenge against Ross.

The next episode of Poldark airs Sunday, October 27 at 9/8c on PBS.