As we’ve all learned in these many seasons of Poldark, whatever romantic couplings seem most correct are often the ones that we, the viewers, cannot ever have. So we’re sad to see the young Morwenna Chynoweth and Drake Carne be torn apart by — who else — George Warleggan.
Barrett Brountas The course of true love never did run smooth, as Shakespeare says, but the course of true love for Morwenna and Drake is one nightmare of a road trip to hell.
George Thanks to Ross’s lucky rescue of Lord Falmouth’s nephew, he now has “entrée” into the aristocracy. And I do not.
Elizabeth Until we’re allied to the Godolphins.
George So Morwenna will be wed to Osborne, and soon.
Barrett In a dastardly bit of Warleggan mischief, George arrests Drake on trumped up charges of thievery, telling Morwenna the only way Drake won’t hang is if she marries the Reverend Ozzie. She does, of course, and we’re all distraught. And speaking of distraught — Goodbye, Geoffrey Charles!
George Did I mention the good news from Harrow? Geoffrey Charles is to start there next term.
George Fine thought, is it not? A new home and new friends?
Barrett And even for those deeply in love, like Caroline and Dr. Dwight, true love is slow after the traumas of war. But the dashing Lieutenant Armitage has some advice for him.
Dwight I thought Caroline was different. I thought she’d have an imagination – yet she seems incapable of imagining what it’s like to come home to a life which is utterly vacuous.
Hugh My mother’s no different. She tries to tell me of the latest intrigues, the newest fashions.
Dwight Does that not infuriate you?
Hugh All the time. And then I remember that she has not lived as I have lived – as we have lived.
Barrett I’m Barrett Brountas, and this is Mining Poldark, a podcast from MASTERPIECE.
I’m joined by my wonderful co-host, Robin Ellis, the original Ross Poldark from the 1970s adaptation of the Winston Graham novels. Hi, Robin!
Robin Ellis Hello!
Barrett Let’s lay out all the ways love goes foul in this episode before we get down to our favorite scenes.
Robin Strawberries in bed. Toads on the lawn. There’s good and not so good for George as this episode unfolds. The fruit looks delicious but the toads bring back unhappy boyhood memories. Poldark again. Damn his eyes must be.
Barrett Did you know that by 2019 standards Ross Poldark was a childhood bully. That’s right. Our hero used to stuff frogs down young George Warleggan’s breaches bequeathing a lifelong hatred of the amphibians. An unfortunate legacy given that his brother in law has been restocking the Trenwith pond with baskets of frogs in order to make his beloved Morwenna smile.
Robin Caroline had led a sheltered life until she got involved with the folks at Nampara. So the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Dwight is experiencing and exhibiting is truly frightening for her. It must be he doesn’t love me anymore.
Barrett But hark is that a ribbit I hear. No it’s the sound of Morwenna and Drake shippers sobbing into their Primrose bouquets as Morwenna makes the ultimate sacrifice, agreeing to marry Ossie in order to save Drake from the gallows. For his part in the Drake affair Geoffrey Charles is being sent by George to boarding school at Harrow. It’s a good thing we have Aunt Agatha’s one hundredth birthday party to look forward to. After all it’s going to take more than just a single dose of Elizabeth’s special tincture to erase the memory of Ossie’s amorous toe perversions.
Robin Excellent yes, very memorable. Terrific. Yeah. Gosh you got really a wonderful style I enjoy very much each time. No no it’s great. It’s terrific. Thank you Robin.
Barrett Well I think there our recaps really get to something that’s special about this episode which is the episode is heavy with some really serious, very serious issues, but it also has so many very funny moments, doesn’t it?
Robin Oh absolutely yes. Yes. I mean what a blessing Ossie is in those terns and riches to come on the Ossie front too. Yeah it’s it’s a nice balance.
Barrett Well I understand that you and I have chosen our first favorite moment of the episode as the same one.
Robin Okay. Over to you.
Barrett Ok. It’s a little something we like to call Drowenna which is when you take Drake and Morwenna and you blend them into one. It is, it’s a great moment where Geoffrey Charles and Morwenna are delighting in watching Tom Harry. He’s been ordered to clear the clear the pond of toads.
Geoffrey Charles Drake’s toads from last summer must have bred!
Morwenna I hope not.
Geoffrey Charles But he did it for us, Wenna. To make us laugh! You especially.
Geoffrey Charles He told me he thought you looked sad sometimes. And that he’d do anything to make you smile.
Morwenna Did he really say that?
Drake Do ‘ee doubt it? If we see a chance t’ give or take pleasure in this world, ought we not t’ seize it?
Barrett And then Geoffrey Charles is summoned away and Drake and Morwenna are left alone together. And then there’s this really great, super romantic scene where she’s been resisting him because she feels she must do her duty.
Morwenna Why have you come? I sent you away.
Drake An’ I went. Meanin’ t’ put ye behind me. But all I could think of was you – day and night, sun and moon, sleepin’, wakin’, workin’, dreamin’. My life is naught without you.
Barrett Didn’t you love that?
Robin Oh I know. I mean he is a natural poet. He, it pours out of him.
Barrett I know. Move over Hugh Armitage, right?
Robin Oh absolutely yes. Totally. Yes. Big competition ironically that brother of Demelza. Wow yeah. Yeah.
Barrett And then what happens is you know she tries to resist and he says so look me in the eyes and tell me you don’t love me. And she struggles but then of course she can’t. She can’t tell him that lie because she loves him with all her heart and she kisses him hungrily on a bridge. So we know they’re in trouble right?
Robin It’s the Bridge of Sighs Yes. Yes. Yeah I knew this wasn’t going to go well after that. Yeah I mean look she dissolves, doesn’t she? She just it’s wonderful. It’s a great moment where this resolve just disappears and it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous love scene in a truly romantic setting and a romantic way. And it’s convincing it’s convincing because the two play it brilliantly and you believe them that they really are in love.
Barrett Yeah it’s…I think it also does some work for me as a viewer because in this episode, I felt like Drake was just being a complete boob, you know, kind of a dummy with these frogs and I liked learning why he was doing it. It was to get her to smile. And again I always have to remember these are very young people right? He’s very young. And so I have to see his behavior in that context.
Robin You said that before and I appreciate you telling me that. I mean reminding me of that because it’s easy to forget that they are young anyway. Very young.
Barrett Yeah. So it’s important, and it’s important to give him sort of a moment of like, you know, emotional truth and real power, and to cement this love here because otherwise I’m kind of rolling my eyes a little bit like “uh Drake, what are you doing?” Right? You’re endangering your life. Now you’re gonna be hanged. And it’s all because of these toads? So.
Robin Well, I find it very interesting just watching that a couple of times. He’s actually breaking the rules of society which is what she says you know. She says Drake, why do you suppose this has anything to do with a half. That’s not how the world works and we’re in the world and we must keep its rules and Drake who comes from the lower classes says “must we?”. Yes, you should know that by now. And he says that I don’t know anything Morwenna, except what you tell me. And it’s almost a sort of disingenuous look that he gives her. He’s breaking the rules and it’s not for such as he to break the rules. These rules exist and that’s why society works we’re told, or they’re told, and they’re usually broken by people from the top coming down, like Caroline for instance. Caroline, as you know, a privilege aristocrat and she can break the, you know, the norms of society and marry below her. I don’t accept that Dwight is below, but that’s how they say it , certainly her uncle saw it in those days. But Dwight is coming from below and breaking upwards and that’s very unusual in the late 18th century I think. He does it out of a sort of innocence in a sense as well. But it’s impressive. He’s…and he does it convincingly enough to persuade her and she, in the end, she can’t resist it.
Barrett And I think it is the innocence in him and in and in her that is so enchanting in the end to me that makes me really love this relationship.
Robin Yeah absolutely. Poor Drake is in some trouble later on but his resolve is very strong and it’s very good to see it and it’s part of I think the Winston Graham kind of whole picture in a sense
Barrett Say more about that. I’m interested.
Robin Well that…Winston was racing at the time of the end of the…I’ve said this before at least it’s a bit straight and boring really….but he was writing at the end of the Second World War and the society was changing. You know the old, it had changed quite a lot after the First World War which really blew that kind of hierarchical society apart. But it needed a bit more, and the Second World War did even more. Lot of men got killed and the Labour government…It was a Labour government that came in in 1948. Churchill was not elected much to his surprise and a wonderful man called Mr. Atlee came in and the National Health Service which Americans are the NHS which is very much accepted by the by the English by the Brits as part of their everyday life came in and Winston’s writing in that context of society’s norms being broken down if you like and in a way this is an example of society’s norms breaking down. That’s exactly what Morwenna says to Drake, you know, this isn’t the way it should be. This isn’t the way it’s organized. And maybe Winston had that in mind when writing this. That he saw the world changing round him as he started writing the saga and some of his characters reflect that. And it’s an echo of Ross and Demelza as well you know. Here comes Demelza from the same background as Drake and she didn’t have a choice in a sense. You know Ross…it happened sort of more naturally but it was the same thing, really.
Barrett So we move on from our lovers on the bridge. What’s your next, what’s your next big scene.
Robin I said okay well I’ll go to…It’s a short scene between Aunt Agatha and George is that the one you mean?
Robin And they have they have poor rickety Valentine in the same scene. It’s a very short scene but it’s kind of interesting I think. It’s revealing. George is very still and he’s looking down at the cradle where Valentine is sleeping and Aunt Agatha comes up behind him
Agatha Crooked little mite isn’t he? Rickets is a cruel disease. No sign of it yet of course. It’ll be later when he goes to school and can’t run fast enough to escape the bully. Boys can be cruel can’t they. Especially to one that give himself heirs.
George Especially to one who’s grandfather was a blacksmith. As your nephews never ceased to remind me.
Agatha Georgie, it was not your grandfather they mocked, but your pityful attempts to deny him, that’s what you never understood.
Barrett This scene really got under my skin. It’s a great scene but I’m very bothered in this episode that George was bullied as a child and I see Aunt Agatha and I am a big fan of these great, sort of, duel of wits that the two have and it’s sort of duel of cruelty as well that the two have with one another. They’re really gratifying. But I think she comes in and deliberately is provoking him over something, over an illness that his child has, right?
Barrett And then she plants in his head that he may later be bullied for it and then she blames George for his own bullying. It pains me to think of a child being bullied someone who’s young you know and maybe everyone understands perfectly clearly from a very young age the class system, but he was nevertheless probably a child and didn’t. And this is why he has such a chip on the shoulder. You know maybe the root of everything about George and why he’s so evil, later, in our series, is that he was bullied by Frances and Ross.
Robin Yeah. That’s a whole other discussion. I mean was he? Yes. I mean, was it the bullying or is it something innate in him that is triggered by this which wasn’t triggered in Sir Francis for instance. I mean that’s a discussion for another day maybe but, I absolutely take your point about Aunt Agatha’s cruelty if you like and butting into this this quiet moment of George and bating him. I mean she is pretty provoked by him as well. There is really no love. Yeah. They treat each other abominably but it’s terribly entertaining.
Barrett It is. It certainly is. Well I think you know the difference between Sir Francis Bassett and George Warleggan probably is Uncle Cary right.
Robin So Bassett doesn’t have an uncle Cary egging him on. Oh no I’m not sure George needs egging on frankly. Gosh yes.
Barrett How do you like me? A George Werleggen apologist for once. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Robin I will I will. Oh yes quite. Yeah
Barrett Well that’s a good scene.
Let’s take a quick break to hear a word from our sponsors…
Barrett And I have another scene where now I’m kind of mocking George like a terrible person. It’s this showdown between Ross and George over at Trenwith. Ross rides over to see George upon learning that Drake is going to hang, or is, you know, likely to hang and that George is the magistrate. So, some of the things I like about the scene is I like the humor in it so much. There’s this great moment where Ross enters the library and George is pretending to be very, very busy reading some documents or some letters or something and he’s sort of like moving his lips as he reads. And it’s sort of like it’s audible just slightly audible. And then Ross sits down and he’s not playing this game. He picks up a book from George’s desk and opens it and starts reading himself so that when George lifts his eyes to Ross, Ross is engaged in reading. And so that was just so funny. I loved this sort of like Ross taking the power right out of George’s hands. It was very funny.
Robin Haven’t you played that scene yourself at times?
Barrett I’m not clever enough. I can’t think fast enough to do that. I just sit quietly and fume.
George Ah, the hero of Quimper! How dull it must seem, to be home.
Ross On the contrary – since your decision to prosecute my brother-in-law.
George You admit the connection?
Ross Should I be ashamed of it?
George To be related to a thief?
RossHe’s no such thing, as you well know. Geoffrey Charles…
George Is a child whose emotions are easily played on. Your brother-in-law insinuated himself into his affections – into this household – where he contrived to steal a valuable family item, hoping no doubt to turn it into ready money.
Ross He’s a Methodist. How likely is that?
George Furthermore, he callously engaged the affections of an impressionable young girl. And finally, deliberately polluted my grounds, on several occasions this summer.
Ross With what?
George A type of – amphibian.
Barrett As he’s saying it he is realizing: oh no I’ve made a terrible mistake, like this is exactly the thing that I was mocked for in my childhood and now I’ve just given it all away and I just think that this is exactly like, Jack Farthing is such a terrific actor in his delivery of this moment. I loved it. Did you get it? Did you laugh then?
Robin Absolutely. There’s a slight hesitation before he says amphibian because it’s the realization, and you’re right, this is what Jack does so well. This other level that George is on all the time. He’s speaking but he’s thinking as well, and he realized that this is going to come…it can’t come out right.
Barrett Yep. And now we have to race on to our last scene which you and I both have in common again. OK shall you take us away?
Robin This is the two to go at it. It’s a sequence of scenes which ends and it’s the end, it’s the last scene really that I’ve chosen and you probably as well. It’s the story of Caroline’s absolutely not understanding Dwight’s behavior when he comes out, when he’s rescued. She thinks, you know, I’ve given a bit of care and understanding, and we’ll be back to where we were and his behavior is such that she really thinks that he’s not in love with her anymore and he’s probably going to leave her. She just doesn’t understand it.
Dwight Ross told me I must tell you…
Caroline You’re leaving me.
Dwight No. My desire to return to the navy – is not for want of love for you – but for want of knowing how to live in this world. This place – lovely as it is – now seems alien to me. Accustomed to the cries of wounded men, the quiet appalls me. I have slept so long on filthy straw, soft linen seems wanton luxury. Having lived in the shadow of the firing squad, the least noise makes me scream. And every breath I take makes me feel guilt that I am here and others are not. You think me ungrateful when if I decline an invitation or some delicacy you’ve prepared. But in truth I’ve no appetite for food or society. All I wish is to hide away until the world no longer seems strange to me.
Caroline Is that why Ross sent for Hugh Armitage?
Dwight There is a, there is a kind of bond between men who have seen atrocities and survived – a need to talk – until all the horror is talked away. I’ll not have you hear such things – but till Hugh came, I knew not how to be rid of them.
Caroline And are you now rid of them?
Dwight It’s, it’s a beginning. Can you bear with me?
Caroline I can bear anything. Now that I know I’ve not lost your love.
Barrett I loved the whole scene. The setting in that beautiful Rose Garden that he is, he’s in no way present there, you know, in this beauty. And him having the courage to talk with her about this. And then the way he is able to articulate what he’s going through. I understand that you know his articulation of this benefits greatly from history and our learning as a people to understand what people have gone through in combat and who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But he has this language. He’s been given these beautiful words, ways of describing his experience and it’s so powerful and he does such a great job delivering it. I think that you can’t watch this scene and come away without understanding a little bit more deeply what people go through still to this day. What people are suffering from right now you know and that’s the power in it.
Robin Oh absolutely. I mean that’s why it’s relevant now. I mean it’s relevant after every terrible conflict. People just don’t understand. I mean it was terrible the way she says, “You never used to look so girlish”. I remember when my mother died. You know a traumatic event and my father and I are walking down the local street and someone we knew fairly well was on the other side of the street, and they avoided us. They couldn’t face the fact her company…. And another time my brother died, dear I’m getting a very personal here but, and in the market here someone came up and said, he knew before this had happened, he said, ‘Are you over your brother’s death now?.’
Barrett No no no.
Robin And it was it was so strange that sensitivity I hadn’t come forth you know. And people don’t understand I don’t think they really don’t. And this really tells that story and it’s a very important story I think. Dear Caroline does and she makes that journey, helped by other people, helped by Ross. I mean Ross very, very brilliant thing he did there because he’d been in conflict and he knew what it was like to see people blown up.
Barrett We forget that sometimes. Yeah yeah, absolutely yeah. I think that we had a wonderful episode here. So how did our hero fare this week in your ratings of how heroic is Ross Poldark this episode?
Robin Well I mean I…. He can’t possibly come down from eight and a half I don’t think because of what he did with Dwight and calling Hugh and… Did he convince you?
Barrett Oh yeah he did. I’m going to bump him up to eight and a half from my…
Robin Oh you are!
Barrett …Yeah. From my eight of last week because he also gave an unused field to the miners who had, who were unable to work so that they could farm it and get food, which is terrific. I loved that he did that. That’s so Ross and it’s so heroic. Thanks until next time, Robin.
Robin Thanks, Barrett. Bye!
Barrett Never fear, Morwenna and Drake fans: there’s still hope. In an interview with my MASTERPIECE colleague, Jace Lacob, host of our companion podcast, MASTERPIECE Studio, Poldark star Ellise Chapel reveals it’s not all bad news ahead for the lovely Morwenna.
Jace: How much darker are things going to get from for Morwenna this season? They’re going to get pretty bleak I imagine.
Ellise Chappell: I think yeah I am going to say they get they get pretty, pretty bleak but what’s nice to say is there there’s always that little bit of hope.
Jace: It’s always darkest before the dawn.
Jace: Is Morwenna’s story ultimately about the loss of innocence?
Ellise: I think it’s about definitely about the loss of innocence but also I think it’s she’s part of this amazing love story. I think it’s her story is one of passion. It’s one of hope and heartbreak but also incredible strength and incredible integrity. You know she goes on such a turbulent journey but she… I think it’s I think it’s a story of learning I think she discovers so much about herself and aspects of her character that she had no idea existed. So I think it’s a it’s a story of learning and of growth.
Barrett That was Poldark star Ellise Chappell, in conversation with MASTERPIECE Studio host Jace Lacob. You can hear the rest of the interview, and interviews with the rest of the Poldark cast, at pbs dot org slash masterpiece studio, or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Radio Public or wherever else you listen to podcasts.
Coming up next on Mining Polark, it’s a long-expected birthday party.
Agatha A hundred years old next week!
Barrett We’ll celebrate everyone’s favorite aged Auntie, next time.
You can join us in our rewatching adventure here on Mining Poldark by watching the entire series on PBS Passport — a new member benefit from your local PBS station. You can watch select MASTERPIECE titles like Poldark, Downton Abbey or Victoria as a part of the Passport experience. To learn more, visit pbs.org/getpassport.
You can also follow along with us on the PBS MASTERPIECE Prime Video Channel, available as a part of your Amazon Prime membership.
MINING POLDARK is hosted by me, Barrett Brountas, and Robin Ellis. We’re produced by Nick Andersen, with help from Robyn Bissette. Meredith Wheeler is our field producer. Tina Tobey-Mack and Elisheba Ittoop are our sound designers. Susanne Simpson is our executive producer. The executive producer of MASTERPIECE is Rebecca Eaton.
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