Review: Poldark (Series 3, Episode 1)

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80%
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Brilliant

Aidan Turner is more than just a pretty face as the new series of Poldark kicks off with a bang.

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Poldark returns with a bang for its third series. The hit show stars Aidan Turner as brooding protagonist Ross Poldark, and tells the story of both his family and its Cornish mining community during the Napoleonic wars.

Continuing on from last year’s finale, the series opener is incredibly fast paced and dramatic. Elizabeth proceeded to marry George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) despite her affair with Ross Poldark, bringing the paternity of her child into question at the close of the last series. This is obviously the source of much of this episode’s drama, with Turner spending the majority of the episode brooding and skulking about. Needless to say the cinematography in the episode is spectacular.

Heida Reed stands out in her role as the pregnant Elizabeth Warleggan. Reed perfectly portrays Elizabeth’s fear and anxiety as she falls into increasingly irrational behaviour. Not only does this included nearly falling off her horse, but also throwing herself down the stairs to trick her husband into thinking their baby was born prematurely rather than the result of an affair. While it must have been tempting for Reed to overact, she demonstrates her skill as an actress through her subtlety. As well as showing Elizabeth’s growing hatred for Ross, she manages to portray a blossoming disdain for their new-born son.

Aidan Turner – chief bae of housewives everywhere – reprises his role as Ross Poldark. With all the hype which has built up around Turner, mostly thanks to THAT scything scene, it is easy to forget that Turner is actually a very talented actor. The BBC have therefore made the widely publicised decision to give Turner more room to act this series, rather than just posing with his shirt off. This has certainly paid off in the first episode. Turner brilliantly conveys the turmoil that Ross feels about Elizabeth’s child, knowing he can never acknowledge that he may be the father. Ross is torn between his loyalty for his wife and a desire to be involved in the child’s life. This comes to a head in a dramatic scene of Ross running down the beach, undeniably one of the best acted scenes of the episode.

Eleanor Tomlinson is the underrated star of the episode in her role as Ross’ wife Demelza. Tomlinson skilfully portrays the silently suffering wife trapped in a supposedly perfect marriage. Demelza is torn between resentment her husband’s betrayal and her sensitivity for his pain. With very little dialogue, Tomlinson is masterfully able to express Demelza’s emotions through subtle looks and actions, both of which her self-obsessed husband is completely oblivious too.

Due to the heavy focus on Ross and Elizabeth, the episode somewhat neglects the secret wedding of Caroline (Gabriella Wilde) and Doctor Enys (Luke Norris). Wilde and Norris portray the only truly nice couple in all of Poldark so it is sad to contemplate what is going to be an increasingly dark series for the pair. However, one positive is the return of Horace the Pug! Caroline Blakiston plays the delightfully comedic Aunt Agatha brilliantly. Not only is she hilariously vocal about her hatred of George Warleggan, she encourages his young stepson to provoke him.

Overall, the first episode of the third series marks a solid return for Poldark. While it is a bit slow and neglectful of its subplots, the intense writing and acting mean it’s still brilliantly dramatic. Aidan Turner and Heida Reed both dominate the screen, but Eleanor Tomlinson and Caroline Blakiston are equally fantastic. Much like the dramatic scenes of the Cornish coast in this episode, the third series of Poldark promises to make waves if the first episode is anything to go by.

Poldark airs on Sunday at 9pm on BBC One. Check out the Series 3 trailer below.

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