In the world of Poldark, things are looking bleak. The final season, which premiered in the U.S. on Sept. 29, picks up a few months after the death of Elizabeth Warleggan (Heida Reed) — who, in all honesty, may have had the most depressing story arc of any character on the show.
What happened to Elizabeth on Poldark?
At the end of Season 4, the brunette beauty died of gangrene after taking a potion to induce labor early.
Elizabeth’s desire to give birth prematurely stemmed from her second pregnancy, during which she tricked her husband George into thinking she gave birth early because of a fall down the stairs. In reality, the timeline was off because Ross Poldark is the real father of her son Valentine, not George.
The captain raped her shortly before her wedding to George in Season 2. Though her husband questioned the child’s parentage, Elizabeth insisted that Valentine is his son.
When Elizabeth got pregnant again, this time with George’s actual child, she concocted a plan to remove any doubt about Valentine’s suspicious birth. In an effort to make it look like she always goes into labor prematurely, the mother took a special potion to induce childbirth.
Though it worked, the mysterious mixture also caused gangrene, leading to Elizabeth's death. This leaves her infant daughter Ursula, Valentine, and her eldest son, Geoffrey Charles, in George’s care.
Elizabeth’s untimely death will be felt throughout Season 5 of Poldark.
Actor Jack Farthing, who plays George in the series, told the BBC, "Losing Elizabeth at the end of last [season] was extremely traumatic for George… He is apparently back to normal, at his desk hard at work, but crucially refusing to talk about anything."
"He doesn’t want to hear her name, pictures of her are being taken down from the house, he is getting on with his life," Jack continued. "However, gradually you become aware that he is not anywhere near as calm as he appears, he is suffering inwardly and apocalyptically."
While things go south for George, Aidan Turner, who plays Ross, hinted that the former soldier might actually get his happily-ever-after with wife Demelza. "My favorite part of Ross’ evolution is he’s getting older, more responsible, wiser," the 36-year-old said in a recent interview.
"He’s a better listener, treats people with more respect, I suppose… [But Ross and Demelza have] overcome a lot of things, haven’t they. I think they’re in a good place by the end of the series."
As for Elizabeth’s legacy, actress Heida Reed hopes that fans will look back at the character fondly.
"I guess I would like [viewers] to remember her as someone who, as a character, served her purpose in the story, and for them to remember that if she wasn’t there, it would be an entirely different story that might not be as exciting to watch," she told Masterpiece.
"She was genuinely a good person who was just trying to survive in her world!” the 31-year-old added. Amen to that.
Watch new episodes of Poldark Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.