Caution: The following article contains spoilers for Poldark Season 3.
If Poldark Season 3 accomplished one thing, it was destroying Ross and Demelza’s relationship once and for all. That language may sound dramatic, but it is no less honest in its observation.
The first death nail came late in Season 2, as Ross (Aidan Turner) ran off to see Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and cheated on his wife with her. Following his encounter with his former fiance, he made excuse after excuse for his behavior.
For two episodes, fans had to endure Ross’ ambivalence and lack of remorse for betraying his wife. He eventually made a half-hearted apology to keep Demelza from leaving with their son in the Season 2 finale. They seemed to reconcile, as Ross held Demelza on the cliff top, the same as he had at the end of Season 1. If a happy marriage seemed doubtful, there was at least some reason to hope in its eventual restoration.
Season 3 has left fans with hardly any. Ross is almost certainly the father of Elizabeth’s son, Valentine, and Episode 7 revealed he still has feelings for Elizabeth. While he put up a brave face in public by not giving Elizabeth the usually flirtatious glances he openly gave her before, Season 3 ultimately reveals that his real feelings were being hidden, rather than resolved.
In private, Ross caressed Elizabeth in an unplanned run-in that led to him kissing her towards the end of Season 3. For her part, Elizabeth seems resigned to move on, her feelings for George (Jack Farthing) appearing to have grown beyond their original marriage of convenience.
For Ross and Demelza, Season 3 marks the definitive end of an era. Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) has joined Ross in the infidelity zone, cheating on her husband with a man she barely knows.
If Demelza needed any more reason not to be with Hugh, she did not have to look any further than the fact that he actively pursued the wife of the man who saved his life. His choice to do so was downright disgusting. In the finale, he claims he doesn’t want to disrupt Demelza’s family, but that is exactly what he does by encouraging the affair.
When Demelza returns home, she tells Ross that she contemplated not coming back. In what universe would Season 1 Demelza have considered leaving her family to be with another man? It is beyond out of character.
As entertaining as certain plots were in Poldark Season 3, almost none of them were enjoyable. This installment has destroyed what was once the best thing about the series.
What had made Poldark so enchanting was the romance between Ross and Demelza, a unique relationship that organically came into being. For fans who have only watched the TV series and never read the books, it would have been impossible to have imagined their relationship coming to this when Season 1 ended.
Ross is still nowhere near as in love with Demelza as she is with him, and both have committed adultery as a result. To say it is disappointing would be an understatement, heartrending a more accurate appraisal of its emotional devastation.
Everything after Poldark Season 2 Episode 6 feels like a nightmare. It is impossible to reconcile that the Ross from Season 1 would have behaved towards Elizabeth as he did in Episode 7, and then treat Demelza so terribly in its horrific aftermath.
It is equally impossible to reconcile that Demelza would cheat on Ross and consider leaving her family to pursue a man she barely knows. What happened to the couple that fell in love and fought through various tragedies in Season 1 and most of Season 2 together? Ross and Demelza are shadows of their former selves and it is not appealing and, more pointedly, hard to accept.
While Radio Times reports Poldark showrunner Debbie Horsfield has indicated their marriage will continue, it can and will never be the same. How Season 4 can possibly put the pieces back together is unfathomable to contemplate.
If it does, it will be with jagged pieces that no longer fit the characters that were originally drawn. After hoping they could rediscover the love they shared in Season 1 during Season 3, it is hard to risk hoping the same for Season 4. Even if Ross and Demelza are able to restore their marriage, it will never be the same.
Poldark Season 4 is expected to premiere on PBS Masterpiece in 2018. Radio Times is reporting that Season 4 will likely follow Season 3’s release pattern and premiere in the U.K. during the summer of 2018.