This blog has addressed the topic of whether people can change several times; nevertheless, it’s time to do it again because series 7 is set to determine whether Martin and Louisa can change. Martin Ellingham is the character for whom change has been the target. We’ve seen him assert to Aunt Joan that change is possible and that he can change if he wants to. At the end of S6, Martin was specifically told by Aunt Ruth that if he wants Louisa back, which he unequivocally states that he does, he will have to change. She tells him it may be harder for him to change, but he must if he’s to have any chance of keeping Louisa.
During S6 we witnessed Martin’s devolution into a Major Depression due to the recurrence of his blood phobia and the return of his evil, ego deflating, mother. Ultimately, the marriage that began so hopefully starts to sink under the weight of too much psychological baggage until Louisa suffers a terrible accident followed by the discovery of a life threatening brain AVM. Martin has withdrawn from his family, and from almost everyone, until he has become a shell of himself. It takes the prospect of Louisa dying to motivate him to take action.
The brain surgery he performs to save Louisa’s life also has the effect of turning his life around. He was able to overcome his aversion to blood to successfully complete the surgery, and he is seen having an emotional moment during which he appears relieved probably because he saved Louisa and also because he once again was able to perform well in the operating room. Even so, the series ends with this couple acknowledging things can’t go on as they had been. There needs to be a change.
Series 7 has now begun, and the show has turned many things around. Instead of starting, like S6, with a happy event — the wedding, this series begins with Louisa in Spain and Martin living on his own again in the surgery. However, despite his sadness that Louisa and James Henry are not in Portwenn with him, he no longer seems depressed. This time he has found new energy and made up his mind that he will make every effort to change to get Louisa back. The most momentous of these changes is to seek therapy. Other changes include, getting up the courage to call Louisa and not just wait for her to call him, leaving a message rather than simply hanging up when he gets her voicemail, and sleeping on his side of the bed to sort of save her side for when she returns. He also looks ruefully at the hairbrush she has left behind. (By the way, there are several signs that she plans to return during this episode and the brush is, to me, one of them.)
Ruth’s recommendation to see a young, female counselor does not put him off, and when he first meets her, he doesn’t walk out on her. This time he agrees to return for another appointment. He also accepts her rules, relinquishes his phone without resistance, and takes a seat as asked.
We also see Martin being thoughtful and less angry. Morwenna makes note of this when he doesn’t snap at her about canceling his patients for the afternoon so that she can volunteer on the lifeboat excursion.
We are never sure that Martin and Louisa have talked to each other before she appears in E2. Martin looks startled to see her come through the front door. We get the feeling that he covers by saying he didn’t expect her so early, and Louisa plays along. But later, when they are away from prying eyes, he once again tells her he didn’t know she would get there so early. We can only assume that this comment is included to lead us to believe they had been in contact, and that he may have known she was coming, just not when exactly.
E2 is when some other significant changes in Martin become evident:
- He tries to take over his first session with the therapist but backs down quickly and confides that he was an unwanted child, that he probably has attachment difficulties as a result, and that he’s had trouble forming relationships as an adult. He also admits he’s afraid of losing Louisa and that he cares about her happiness but not his own.
- Once Louisa arrives, he confronts her at the dinner table and directly asks her if she plans to stay.
- He tells Louisa that he’s no longer concerned about how tidy and quiet the house is.
- He offers to sleep in the small bedroom where he’ll be much less comfortable.
- He gets up with the baby and she finds him feeding JH the next morning. (In S5 he had woken Louisa to take care of the baby.)
- And finally he insists on staying in the only rental property available rather than have Louisa and JH move there. This marks the first time Martin has moved somewhere else instead of Louisa. (We may suspect some ulterior motives, e.g. keeping them at the surgery means he’ll see them fairly often and interact with them too. Still, he’s never offered to move out before and it’s a change.)
- He’s always shown concern for Ruth, but this time he races to the train station to keep her from leaving because he’s so worried about her. He also thanks Al for helping her.
- Overall he acts much less angry and annoyed with everything and everyone.
The changes in him are noticeable enough to be apparent to Louisa and she thanks him over and over for the various things he does that show his concern for her. Ruth, too, responds positively and relents about leaving for London. His new approach seems to be going well and hasn’t caused him to feel disingenuous at all.
Furthermore, Martin’s depression has lifted and his blood phobia has diminished to the point of being back to where it was before S6: an embarrassing irritant but not a huge impediment.
Thus, even before he has spent much time on the therapist’s bench (or dare we call it a settee?), Martin has managed to muster many alterations in his behavior. The therapist’s job may be easier than she might have imagined! In addition, the question of whether people can change appears to have been answered by a resounding “Yes!” (We’ll see if it lasts and if there will be further changes in store.)
Originally posted 2016-05-22 14:49:26.