‘Poldark’ Season 5, Episode 6 Recap: Farewell, Ned

The end is near for Poldark. We only have two more episodes before the PBS drama signs off for good, and with the show’s conclusion fast approaching, episode 6 wrapped up one of the season’s major storylines.

After being arrested for treason in episode 5, Colonel Ned Despard now must stand trial for high treason. Unfortunately, an impassioned defense from Ross is not enough to save him from the hangman’s noose. 

A brief trial and a brutal sentence  

Pip Torrens and Jack Farthing in Poldark
Pip Torrens as Cary Warleggan and Jack Farthing as George Warleggan | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

The wheels of justice turn quickly in 19th-century England, and Ned is swiftly hauled before the court to answer for his alleged crimes. Avoiding a guilty verdict on the trumped-up charges is going to be difficult, given that corrupt magistrate Joseph Merceron is in charge of selecting the jury. After all, as George points out, “True justice sometimes requires a little assistance.” Indeed. 

At the trial, Ross speaks to his friend’s good character and long-time service to the crown. Dr. Enys also steps up, offering a defense similar to the one he gave in the trial of would-be assassin James Hadfield in episode 2. Ned has sustained one too many blows to the head during his military career, Dwight explains, and as a result he is delusional and can’t be held accountable for his actions. From his expression, Ned is not exactly thrilled with this line of defense. 

Alas, neither Ross nor Dwight’s testimony sways the jurors, who confer for about two minutes before returning with the verdict we knew was coming: guilty. They do, however, recommend mercy. Instead, the judge imposes a stunningly brutal sentence. Ned is to be hung, drawn, and quartered. 

A bold plan goes nowhere

Ross Poldark
Aidan Turner as Ross Poladark | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

Ross being Ross, he hatches a bold plan to break Ned out of prison. (After all, he has experience with this sort of thing, having rescued Dwight from a French prison in season 3.) Under pressure from his wife Caroline, Dwight reluctantly agrees to help, though he voices what everyone watching at home is thinking: This plan is insane.  

Dwight and Ross finagle their way into the prison, which seems to have some pretty lax security. Ned and Ross creep down to the prison’s basement, where they’re about to escape through the sewer. Only then does Ned decide that’s he’s having second thoughts about this whole escape plan. He’d rather go back to his cell and face his unjust punishment. It’s not clear how Ross gets out of the prison undetected, but presumably, he has to crawl through the sewer by himself, which sounds very icky. 

Kitty visits her husband in prison one last time, where she reveals what viewers have probably already guessed: She’s pregnant. Tears are shed on both sides. Then, it’s time for the execution. Ned gives a rousing speech in favor of freedom, and the executioner puts the rope around his neck. But a messenger runs up at the last second, announcing that Ned’s been given a reprieve — sort of. The sentence has been changed to hanging alone; the drawing and quartering won’t happen. Then the hangman kicks the block out from under him. 

George heads to the altar 

The other major storyline in this episode concerns Geoffrey Charles and Cecily, who make plans to elope after her father sets a date for her wedding to George. The young couple sneak off in a carriage on their way to Scotland, but are intercepted before they reach their destination.

Hanson’s henchmen drag both Geoffrey Charles and Cecily to church for her wedding. But Cecily puts a stop to the ceremony by lying and saying that she’s already “given herself body and soul” to Geoffrey Charles. George has already made it clear that he’s not enthusiastic about marrying again. When Geoffrey Charles points out that if he marries Cecily now there’s a chance he’ll end up acting as the father to his stepson’s child, it hits him where it hurts, since George already has doubts about Valentine’s parentage. He storms out of the church, while Hanson locks Cecily in her room, swearing he’ll keep her there until they return to Honduras. 

More trouble in Cornwall 

Prudie, Demelza and Drake in Poldark
Beatie Edney as Prudie, Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza, and Harry Richardson as Drake Carne | Courtesy of Mammoth Screen

Demelza is still holding down the fort in Cornwall. After dealing with counterfeiters in the previous episode, she now learns that someone is stealing the mine’s ore. The troublesome Jacka is the likely culprit. Tess is probably involved too, because of course she is. Tess is also making trouble by flirting aggressively with Sam, even though he is this close to proposing to Rozina. 

In a bit of positive news, Drake and Morwenna are finally having sex. If this show does not end with a baby Carne on the way, I’ll eat my tricorn hat.

Ross returns home after Ned’s execution. He gets brief heart-to-heart with Demelza, who tells him that he shouldn’t bottle up his emotions. She leaves him to cry on a picturesque cliff. But as Ross is getting in touch with his feelings, an unseen person bashes him on the head. The last we see of him, he’s lying unconscious in a cave. Expect a frantic hunt for the missing mine owner in the next episode of Poldark, which airs Sunday, November 10 at 10/9c.