When considering who the top villain on Poldark is, it is understandable if George Warleggan is the first character that springs to mind. The diabolical banker has made himself the detestable enemy of Poldark‘s central protagonist, Ross Poldark, by launching one vicious scheme after another to destroy his nemesis. One of which included trying to get Ross hung for a crime he did not commit.
While George is a formidable villain, after the events of Poldark Season 2, another possible villain has stepped into the forefront. Elizabeth Poldark Warleggan. Is Elizabeth the unsung villain of Poldark? Is Elizabeth, the perennial “iron fist in a velvet glove?” Do not let her impeccable manners and sophisticated style fool you. Elizabeth is a power player, and here are five reasons she is a villain on Poldark.
Reason No. 1: Elizabeth rejected Ross for security in Poldark Season 1 and has made others suffer for it.
Every villain’s journey has to start somewhere, and for Elizabeth, it was her fateful decision in Poldark Season 1 that set off a life-altering chain of events for the characters of Poldark. Her decision was not villainous, but how she has handled the aftermath is.
The main reason Ross (Aidan Turner) and Elizabeth (Heida Reed) are not together on Poldark is because Elizabeth moved on with Ross’ cousin Francis (Kyle Soller) when the former was presumed dead. When Ross returned from the war before Elizabeth’s wedding to Francis in the Poldark Season 1 premiere, she had a chance to call off the marriage and did not.
She chose the security of a marriage to Francis over taking a leap of faith with Ross. She had the power to change things and she did not. Yet, she wants innocent people like Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) to pay for her mistakes.
Reason No. 2: Elizabeth tried to destroy Demelza’s marriage in Poldark Season 2, even though Demelza saved Elizabeth’s family in Poldark Season 1.
Towards the end of Poldark Season 1, there was an epidemic that swept Cornwall. Elizabeth and her family were among the ones who took ill.
Wanting to make things right for her role in Verity’s departure, Demelza tended to Francis, Elizabeth, and their son Jeffrey Charles. She worked tirelessly to keep the family alive, and she succeeded. If Demelza had not nursed them, none of them would have survived Poldark Season 1.
Sadly, Demelza became ill herself, and the ailment was transmitted to hers and Ross’ daughter, Julia. Julia ended up succumbing to the illness known as the putrid throat, dying near the end of Poldark Season 2. While Demelza barely survived.
Despite Demelza losing hers and Ross’ daughter because she saved Elizabeth’s family, Elizabeth still pursued Ross, clearly hoping to destroy his family, and break up his marriage to Demelza in Poldark Season 2. Elizabeth has a strange way of showing her gratitude, which some would call, villainous.
Reason No. 3: Elizabeth used George to incite Ross’ jealousy in Poldark Season 2.
It is hard to believe that Elizabeth could not have pursued other suitors after Francis’ death in Poldark Season 2, and yet she settled on Ross’ sworn enemy, George Warleggan (Jack Farthing) as her new husband. Did she really not know this would grab Ross’ attention?
It would be one thing for Ross not to have her, but to know that she was marrying the man who tried to kill him was a bitter pill that Elizabeth should have known Ross would have a hard time swallowing.
After months of slyly working Ross and trying to isolate him from Demelza, she accepts George’s proposal, late in Poldark Season 2. She clearly hopes it will rile Ross’ competitive streak to claim her, and her plan nearly succeeds.
Reason No. 4: Elizabeth acted like Demelza was going crazy when she confronted her about pursuing Ross in Poldark Season 2.
When Demelza confronts Elizabeth about how she is occupying Ross’ time in Poldark Season 2, Elizabeth barely utters a response. It is here that Elizabeth’s quiet manipulations take full form. She maintains a ladylike façade, while she secretly works to destroy Demelza’s marriage.
Elizabeth’s calm response is ingenious. By not reacting to Demelza, she makes Demelza second-guess if it is her own insecurities taking root, or her justified suspicions.
Reason No. 5: Elizabeth does not apologize to Demelza for her actions with Ross in Poldark Season 2.
When Demelza confronts Elizabeth about her encounter with Ross in Poldark Season 2 Episode 10, Elizabeth barely reacts, her smug disposition never slipping an inch. Elizabeth knows that she has plotted to destroy Demelza’s marriage, and feels no remorse.
She knows she has schemed against the woman who saved her son’s life, and she feels no regret. She also knows she has set out to destroy the happiness of Demelza and Demelza’s son, and still feels no guilt.
Elizabeth clearly knows she has a hold on Ross, and instead of giving him the cold shoulder she is clearly capable of, she works to inflame his passion for her. In Poldark Season 2, Episode 5, Elizabeth tells Ross that she still loves him at a dinner party her then-alive husband and his wife are also attending. It is next to impossible to believe her intentions for doing so are pure.
Even as Demelza and Francis sit a few chairs away, she flirts with Ross, rousing his memories of their past, and she succeeds in rekindling a flame that should have been extinguished years ago. According to Radio Times‘ coverage of recently unveiled footage of the new installment that flame will not be entirely doused in Season 3.
Elizabeth in Poldark Season 3.
Poldark fans will have to wait and see if Elizabeth will use her baby and their questionable paternity to continue wooing Ross in Poldark Season 3. If she does and the possibility that Ross fathered her baby comes to light in Poldark Season 3, she risks losing George, his financial backing, and her position in society. All things that Elizabeth holds dear.
Warning: Mild Poldark Season 3 spoilers below.
According to Radio Times‘ report on that aforementioned footage from Poldark Season 3, Ross rushes to save Elizabeth as her horse carries her towards the edge of a cliff. Has Elizabeth’s horse actually lost control, or is she trying to get Ross’ attention? The latter scenario is not outside the realm of possibility.
As for the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby, Poldark fans are in for a considerable wait to learn if George, or Ross, is the father of Elizabeth’s baby. According to the Express, Poldark writer Debbie Horsfield has confirmed that the paternity of Elizabeth’s baby will remain a mystery for a time in Poldark Season 3.
Based on Radio Times‘ recent interview with actor Aidan Turner that lingering paternity question will have an impact on Ross and Demelza’s marriage in Poldark Season 3. If Ross and Demelza have questions, you can bet Elizabeth will be thinking of ways to use them to get to Ross in Season 3. Or will she?
Elizabeth’s behavior on Poldark is arguably as diabolical as her new husband, George. Elizabeth knows how to play Ross to get what she wants, and she nearly succeeds in Season 2. She wanted Ross no matter the cost, even if it meant destroying Demelza’s family. To repay Demelza’s selfless act of kindness the way Elizabeth did in Season 2 is villainous behavior.
Find out what Elizabeth will scheme up next season on Poldark. Season 3 premieres on BBC Two in June, and on PBS Masterpiece, October 1.
[Featured Image by Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for MASTERPIECE]