OK, people, we’re trying here, but it doesn’t mean we’re enjoying it. Poldark (2015-) season 3 premiered in the U.K. over the summer, I think, and here in the states this fall on PBS Masterpiece. I slogged through the series without a lot of enthusiasm, mostly because I knew what was going to happen, having seen it all back in the ’70s, plus I wasn’t super impressed by the costuming. That said, this season did have a lot more shiny fancy-pants garb for us to nitpick, so part of me just wants to throw a bunch of photos out and let y’all harass them.
Said fancy-pants garb showed up because Elizabeth had married George Warleggan at the end of season 2, and Warleggan is a total social climber, always trying to get in with the landed gentry. Ugh, I can’t with Warleggan, he’s such a transparent and cliched cartoon villain, it’s no wonder Elizabeth starts kicking back the laudanum or whatever she’s dulling the pain with. Anyway, they go to parties and stuff at the Godolphins’ and whoever else, and Ross, Demelza, and last season’s fancy-gal Caroline Penvenen tend to show up too, so everyone gets pretty new clothes.
These high faultin’ social occasions are contrasted with the oh-so-serious (e.g., ridiculous) escapade to release Dr. Dwight Enys from a French prison. I was mildly amused by Demelza telling Ross essentially ‘you’re an ass for going off to do this stuff, but I can’t stop you because this is the kind of thing I know you’ll always do.’ When Dwight is rescued, he suffers from PTSD, which his new wife Caroline has no clue about because this is the 1790s and nobody has a clue about that (except for Ross, who makes a speech about ‘what men see during war’ because, duh, Ross knows all).
There’s also the tedious side-plot about Elizabeth’s cousin, Morwenna, and Demelza’s brother, Drake, falling in love, but being thwarted by George. Because Warleggan is a cartoon villain, again. Morwenna is married off to someone even more repulsive than George — a hypocritical, jerky, fat churchman Rev. Whitworth. He, of course has no compunction about banging any available female that crosses his path. He does get some spiffy waistcoats, so props to the costume designer, Howard Burden, for dressing the large gent quite finely as appropriate for his station. Whitworth is a nasty buffoon, but he doesn’t look like one, he just acts like one. That shows why the marriage would at least appear advantageous.
A bunch of side-plots involve babies and bored me: Elizabeth has the baby that results from Ross raping her at the end of the last season and successfully passes the boy off as George’s son, although there’s some controversy about the idea; Demelza is knocked up a third time by Ross’ super sperm and has another girl, Clowance; Verity visits for just one episode, bringing her and Capt. Blamey’s baby, while the captain is missing (off with Dwight); and since Morwenna is forced into marrying Rev. Whitworth, she gets pregnant, plus he knocks up her sister (eww) who blackmails him. OK, so good job for showing actual consequences of having sex in a pre-birth-control historical period. But dang, that’s a lot babies to keep track of. Also, as we noted in a recent podcast, some of the pregnancy costuming was less-than realistic-looking.
Finally, the season begins to wrap up with Aunt Agatha dying (aww), and Demelza contemplates an affair with cutie Hugh Armitage. Sure, why not?
Costuming-wize, the only big changes are that most of the upper-class(ish) dresses are of a “zone” style and with a lot of historically appropriate stripes and small prints. The “zone” style was increasingly fashionable through the late 1780s and 1790s so maybe this is supposed to hint at time passing?
In the hair and makeup department, Elizabeth finally pins her hair up consistently, while Demelza resists the siren song of hairpins. Morwenna is supposed to look “young” and thus her hair hangs down, except for a terribly modern barrette in the back. And Caroline is still rocking her bright pink lipstick.
The lower-class(ish) ladies wear the same mix of jackets, jumps, and plain dresses as they have for the past two seasons. The boys wear mostly unexciting boy clothes, except for when they don’t wear any clothes.
I only spotted one back-lacing gown, and it’s on a random extra in a ball scene. There could be others, but this was all I got a screencap of, so let’s give them props for keeping the numbers low.
And finally, what Kendra has been waiting for, yes, Horace the Pug was indeed back this season with Caroline. He didn’t have a big part to play because the actress wasn’t pregnant so no need to hide a real baby bump, and Horace didn’t get much lap time. But he exists!
What are your thoughts on Poldark season three?