SALT LAKE CITY — "Poldark," the PBS Masterpiece drama jampacked with passionate horseback riding and moody cliff walking, is returning for its fourth season on Sunday, Sept. 30, and we're here to make sure that you are ready for the upcoming season.
If you're already a "Poldark" fan, then you know the dramatic events that ended season three. If not, well, let's just say Demelza broke our hearts while Ross continues to break hers. Here's a run down of the main characters, where they were when the third season ended and what might be awaiting them on Cornwall's stormy shores in season four.
Captain Ross Poldark: Oh, Ross. So dashing. So handsome. So full of righteous indignation for society's downtrodden. Season three found our favorite aristocrat with a heart of gold leading a raid on a French prison to rescue his good friend, Dr. Dwight Enys, losing a comrade in arms in the process. Cue guilt. Ross also let his terrible pride get in the way of accepting a public office position, opening the door for his nemesis George Warleggan to snag the local MP spot. And if that wasn't enough, thanks to all of his adventuring, he ignored his dynamic and remarkable wife, Demelza, putting her in a position to make some really bad choices. Season four hints that Ross heads to London to see if he's any good at politics. We guess yes.
Demelza Poldark: It's OK to have a favorite "Poldark" character, right? If so, we choose Demelza. Hers isn't exactly a rags-to-riches story (she's still hauling buckets of water and hoeing the garden), but it is the tale of a woman who has found her voice and isn't afraid to use it. Season three was a hard one for the fiery redhead: She and Ross continued to grow apart as she worried over her husband's dangerous exploits and seemingly never-ending feelings for his elegant — and twice married — first love, Elizabeth, and over her two brothers, who become tenants of Elizabeth's meanie husband, George. She takes her feelings out by succumbing to the advances of a baby-faced rich kid who is losing his eyesight. (As if we haven't heard that one before.) From the look of things, the fourth season won't bring any relief to her wounded soul, but we know she'll keep fighting.
Elizabeth Warleggan: Elizabeth is a tricky one. It isn't that we don't like her, but she makes it hard for us to really love her. But we will say this for the patrician beauty: She is a survivor. After the loss of her first husband (and Ross' cousin), Francis, followed by a shocking nighttime encounter with Ross, Elizabeth married George to save her honor and her children's future. In season three, Elizabeth had to convince George that her newborn son really was his and finally put to rest her feelings for Ross, as well as support her no-good husband in (most of) his terrible schemes. Just when we thought Elizabeth had gone too far, she reminded us of the decent woman still in there, even if that woman is increasingly becoming an opium addict. The trailer for season four doesn't give much away, but we are sure Elizabeth's loyalties to both George and Ross will continue to be tested.
George Warleggan: Isn't he just so awful? Which, of course, is exactly why "Poldark" needs him. George's real gift as a bad guy is his always transparent weaknesses — his greed, his insecurities, his seemingly total lack of human compassion. But then, isn't there a part of all of us that can relate, just a tiny bit? He was the picked-on kid who grew up willing to do anything to get back at his bullies. He knows he's no good and he's desperate to hide it, but no matter how hard he tries, Ross is always the better man. The third season ended up being a net positive for George, with his MP job and settling the question of his son's parentage (little does he know), but with Ross joining him in London for political sparing, season four is bound to be full of woe for the weaselly George.
Dr. Dwight Enys: Ross may be the swashbuckling "Poldark" hero, but Dwight is the hero everyone loves. Season three took its toll on the good doctor, rightfully so, considering he spent most of it in a hell-hole of a French prison during the French Revolution. Last season showed the newly rescued hunky doctor battling back from well-earned PTSD; luckily for him, he had the aid of his beautiful, thoughtful and, let's be honest, embarrassingly wealthy new wife Caroline to help him through it. Finger's crossed that season four sees the two of them grow closer and that they can put aside the differences of their upbringings.
Caroline Enys: When we first met her back in the second season, Caroline Penvenen was spoiled, rich and fabulously dressed. She is still those things, but who are we to judge? In both seasons two and three, Caroline proved she has depth, first by bailing Ross out of debtor's prison (anonymously, even) and then by showing excellent taste in men as well as dresses by marrying Dwight. Caroline did what she could to get her husband out of French prison in season three, although in the end, it was Ross who saved the day. The season ended with her true love safely returned but strangely changed. Will season four prove to be even more difficult for the lovely couple? Probably.
Morwenna Chynoweth: Morwenna showed up not a moment too soon. Just when things were in danger of getting stale in the romance department, "Poldark" gave us Elizabeth's cousin, the porcelain skinned, doe-eyed Morwenna and her adorable love, Drake Carne. Little did Morwenna know that when she became a governess for Elizabeth's oldest son that she would find sweet love and terrible suffering all in one season. In its early days, Morwenna and Drake's budding romance had the soft-focus look of a spring fashion spread as they played and flirted on Cornwall's foamy shores. But alas, he is poor and she is, if not rich, at least aristocratic, and thus they became pawns in the hands of the powerful people. Midway through the last season, Morwenna sacrificed herself to save Drake by agreeing to become the wife to the most reprehensible libertine of the show. We're hoping, along with Morwenna (we guess), that season four sees her husband choke on a pork chop.
Drake Carne: Demelza's youngest brother is, by all accounts, a good lad. Religious, but not overly zealous like his older brother Sam, Drake's main misfortune is that he fell in love with a woman of a higher social rank. For that crime — and for being Ross' brother-in-law — the poor guy has paid. In season three, Drake was savagely beaten, saw his blacksmith shop burn and had to watch his love marry a human toad-rat. But Drake is also Demelza's brother and we know he's got plenty of unseen grit to get him through this and more. We don't know what season four has for Drake, but we believe in Drake and Morwenna.
Rev. Osborne "Ossie" Whitworth: While George is clearly "Poldark's" king baddy, Ossie is the bad guy we love to hate. Odious, preening, vile, depraved — all the villain words work for this guy, with the exception of wily, or anything that would indicate intelligence. The real genius of Ossie's villainy, though, is his self-righteousness — and maybe his foot fetish. As a man of the cloth, he believes in his goodness, no matter how fully he lives as a man of the flesh. While it looked as though he had crush Morwenna's spirit by the end of season three, we have hope that in this next season, she will prevail and he will take a long walk off a short pier — with his shoes on.3 comments on this story
Cornwall: Perhaps not a character in the strictest sense, "Poldark's" Cornwall setting looms large in the show's plot. Located in south-west England, Cornwall is a long peninsula with over 400 miles of coastline, allowing for ample shots of dramatic cliffs, crashing seas and those cool stone mines — thanks to Cornwall's mining history — where Ross and his buddies hang out and dig for metals. Where would Ross swim shirtless if not for Cornwall's easy ocean access? Or where would anyone in the show have important talks or illicit trysts if they couldn't visit Cornwall's beautiful cliffs? Cornwall endured a lot during the third season — riots, burnings, low-level warrings and plenty of galloping horses — but with part of season four heading to London, Cornwall looks to get a break from the Ross vs. George feud. However, "Poldark" will never fully leave Cornwall — as Demelza said to Ross in season one, "I belong here." It's a sentiment that goes for the whole group.
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated this Sunday is Sept. 29. It is actually Sept. 30.