‘Poldark’ Season 5, Episode 7 Recap: Ross Switches Sides

We ended the previous episode of Poldark with Ross unconscious down a mineshaft, Demelza on the hunt for smugglers, Geoffrey Charles and Cecily at a crossroads in their relationship, and George Warleggan deepening his ties with Merceron and Hanson. That’s a lot to deal with, and the second-to-last installment of the PBS series rushed right in, tying up a few storylines while introducing some more drama (including a shocking attempt on Horace the pug’s life) in a busy, somewhat convoluted episode.  

Ross confronts his enemies 

Ross and Demelza Poldark
Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark and Eleanor Tomlinson as Demelza Courtesy of Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE

Ross wakes up at the bottom of a mineshaft, where he’s been dumped by one of Merceron’s henchmen. But this sloppy assassination attempt won’t stop Ross. Soon, he’s found a way out. In the process, he discovers the ore that’s gone missing from his mine and encounters some mysterious Frenchmen who are surely up to no good. 

Understandably put out about almost being murdered, Ross departs for London to have it out with Merceron, despite Dwight pointing out that this is a pointless endeavor since he can’t prove who was behind the attack. But Merceron himself isn’t exactly hiding his role in the incident. He shows up at the Warleggan house and announces that he ordered Ross to be thrown into a mine. As one does. Even evil George looks pretty uncomfortable at this revelation.  

Ross arrives in London, where he confronts the corrupt magistrate and the slave-trading Hanson, who is apparently Merceron’s half brother. Then, Ross pays a visit to Wickham. The spymaster isn’t interested in Ross’s hot tip about the French skulking about in Cornwall. He’s also indifferent to his complaints about Merceron’s shenanigans since he’s also an informant for the crown. The corruption runs deep. 

Trouble in the Enys household  

Since her husband’s death, Kitty has been staying with the Enyses, and it’s causing some friction between Caroline and the good doctor. “I know I speak for Caroline when I say that you’ll always have a home with us,” he tells the widow. From the look on his wife’s face, it’s pretty clear that he does not speak for Caroline. She’s jealous of Kitty and worried that her husband sees their houseguest as a serious person while she’s just an empty-headed socialite. 

The tension in the Enys household gets worse when Caroline stumbles upon Dwight’s medical notes and discovers he treated George for insanity. When her husband walks in on her reading his private papers, he’s angry at her for snooping. 

Meanwhile, Merceron’s reputation in London has taken a hit with the revelation that he’s allowed doctors to conduct medical experiments on prisoners. George and his uncle Cary swiftly decamp to Trenwith to escape the scandal. But Hanson and Merceron follow, since Geoffrey Charles and Cecily have run off together (again), this time to Cornwall with the help of Ross. 

Merceron has it out for the Enyses and Poldarks. He already orchestrated an attack on Caroline in London’s Hyde Park. Now, he has one of his henchmen sneak into her home and poison poor Horace. Caroline is panic-stricken when she discovers her beloved pug on the brink of death. Thankfully, Dwight is able to revive him. But he doesn’t believe someone tried to kill Horace; he just thinks that the pampered pooch is a glutton who made himself sick from overeating. Not cool, Dwight. 

Caroline has had enough. Armed with her knowledge of George’s condition, she visits Trenwith and tells him to have his friends lay off or she’ll spill the beans about him being crazy. This ploy seems to work, since George fears exposure and ridicule above all else. But it’s not clear that Merceron will play along, despite a hefty payoff from George. 

A narrow escape

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

Geoffrey Charles and Cecily plan to flee to America, where they can live happily ever after. But Ross is captured by the French when he heads to the cove to ready the boat that will take the couple to the ship. And when Demelza attempts to take them there herself, they’re intercepted by Merceron and Hanson’s thugs. Geoffrey Charles endures a brutal beating, and Cecily’s father informs her that if she tries to elope again, he’ll finish him off for good. 

When Geoffrey Charles comes to, Cecily tearfully tells them that they can’t be together. In fact, she’s never going to get married because she has more important things to do than be a wife. This feminist awakening seems a little out of left field, but okay. 

Ross has been captured by a Frenchman whom he apparently met when he was recusing Dwight back in season 3, based on a brief flashback. He’s on the verge of cutting Ross’s throat, but our quick-thinking hero convinces him that he’s been so poorly treated by the English that he’s ready to switch sides and support the French. The French guy buys it and lets Ross go, with the promise that he’ll act as his spy. 

Kitty, realizing she’s worn out her welcome with the Enyses, decides to sail for Jamaica. Cecily joins her after bidding a tearful goodbye to Geoffrey Charles. As they sail away, Ross pulls Dwight aside and asks him to look after Demelza since his behavior will seem odd in the next few months.

What have you got planned, Ross? We’ll find out (hopefully) when Poldark’s final episode airs Sunday, November 17, at 9/8c on PBS.