Caution: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 4 of Poldark Season 3 on PBS.
Poldark Season 3 reached its halfway point with a beloved character meeting a tragic fate. The loveable and heroic Captain Henshawe (the terrific John Hollingworth) lost his life in the rescue effort to save Dwight Enys (Luke Norris) from prison. It was a jarring death that meant the end of one of Poldark‘s most likable supporting characters.
Henshawe had helped Ross (Aidan Turner) through a myriad of crises and been a support system to his family. He had always been encouraging of Ross’ marriage to Demelza and commonly offered sage and much-needed advice to Captain Poldark, who often heeded it.
Of all the characters that have perished on the series, Henshawe’s loss was particularly bitter. It is hard to imagine Poldark without him, especially given how crucial he has been to the dynamic at the mine and his banter with Ross had always been an entertaining highlight. So who will take over and run Henshawe’s share of Wheal Leisure? It is not clear yet.
To Poldark‘s credit, the series addressed his death with the grace and gravity it deserved. It was only fitting that Demelza’s first song of the season was in honor of Henshawe. His memorial was a tearjerker that saw all of Poldark‘s central good guys come out to pay their respects.
While Henshawe’s death marks a seismic change for the show going forward, a question remains. Was it in the books?
Following Episode 4’s initial airing in the U.K., Poldark showrunner Debbie Horsfield told Digital Spy that in Winston Graham’s book series, which Poldark is based on, Henshawe did not die as a result of the rescue mission. She also stated the decision to kill off Henshawe came from needing “somebody that we, as the audience, really cared about” to perish. They definitely accomplished that.
Only time will tell how the decision impacts the series long-term. Without Henshawe’s voice of reason, hot-headed Ross is unlikely to have a cooling counterbalance at work. Henshawe’s death marks another sad change in Season 3.
The loss of an absent yet thankfully alive Jud (Phil Davis) and the reduced screen time of his wife Prudie (Beatie Edney) have meant less comedy, while the introduction of Demelza’s brothers and Elizabeth’s cousin Morwenna have meant less screen time for Ross and Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson).
Season 3 has been entertaining although incredibly different from its previous installments. The series has an overcast feel to it. The huge cloud of last season’s tumultuous activity continues to set the stage for Poldark‘s current ambiance.
The good news is that ever since Season 3 Episode 3, Ross has been acting more like himself than he has since the midpoint of last season. His heroics saving Dwight and his heartfelt reaction to Henshawe’s loss were classic Ross and that’s his best version.
Find out how Cornwall recovers from Henshawe’s untimely death as Poldark Season 3 continues. Episode 5 premieres October 29 at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.
[Featured Image by Robert Viglasky/Mammoth Screen for BBC and MASTERPIECE]