Love Actually (I Know, Not Original)

[Something weird is going on with my blog right now and I can’t figure out how to change it. Please do not click on any links that have the green circle with arrow. They should not be there. I’ll keep trying to remove them.]

As has happened many times in the past, the NYTimes published an article last Sunday that can be applied to this show. (I first learned about it from Santa, and I thank her for bringing it to  my attention. I rarely miss articles in the Sunday Review of the NYT because there are often so many good ones. I’m glad I’ve taken this long to publish this post because the Sunday NYTimes from this week contains several letters in reaction to the article.) Anyway, the article was written by Alain de Botton, a Swiss-born, British-based philosopher who has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (FRSL), which appears to be quite an honor. He has been writing novels based on the philosophy of love and marriage for some time. This particular article precedes his forthcoming novel The Course of Love and is titled “Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person.” He has some singular ways of viewing marriage.

Botton covers several pertinent issues related to what we’ve seen going on between Martin and Louisa that I want to take on individually. (This article will also give me a chance to reference several of my previous posts and I hope it won’t appear presumptuous if I call your attention to those whenever it seems appropriate.)

The first thing that jumped out at me was his use of the adjective “normal.” To quote him: “We seem normal only to those who don’t know us very well.” I’m pretty sure his use of “normal” here is the common usage that each of us goes about the day fitting into society. And it is generally true that most of us aren’t walking around muttering to ourselves or making strange gestures in public. But, as a philosopher, Botton must be aware that the word “normal” is loaded, as Dr. Timoney says.  [As you probably remember, I wrote a post on what the term “normal” means on Jan. 12, 2016 named “Normal Is A Loaded Word.”]

Nevertheless his concluding paragraph begins with: “Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up  and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not ‘normal.’” In this case Botton is using the term to connote some form of happiness that comes from an idealized notion of how a marriage should look. [ I wrote a post on 11-04-2013 called “Marriage As An Institution” in which I looked at all the reasons why Martin and Louisa would want to marry as well as some of the reasons they might have problems being married. In some ways that post is a companion piece to this one and you may want to read it. I’ve also written 6 posts on “Happiness.” After the subject of change and all of its manifestations, I’d say the topic of happiness is the next most frequent that comes up in the show.]

Although I think that when most people fall in love, they can’t help being blinded to some of the faults in their lovers, and it’s nice to have that period of time when love is blissful, lately we are becoming less likely to rush into marriage. Once you’ve been around your intended for a year or so, it would be surprising if you didn’t pick up on a few of their idiosyncrasies. We still make mistakes, of course, and sometimes that can be due to being a bit starry eyed; nevertheless, I think couples generally don’t miss those foibles in each other; they just believe they can overlook them or overcome them. In Martin and Louisa’s case, they have known each other and lived with each other over a fairly extended period of time. By the time they decide to marry they have had plenty of occasions that should have given them enough opportunities to recognize the potential areas of conflict. Despite all of these moments, we are supposed to believe that Louisa doesn’t realize yet that Martin is inclined to be unwilling/unable to share his innermost thoughts and fears with her. (Interestingly, one letter to the NYTimes notes that “marrying the right person…requires the strength to lower your walls. All of your walls, all the way down.” Apparently there are many people who erect walls and have to find a way to lower them.) We’re also supposed to believe that Martin continues to have trouble knowing what makes Louisa happy. She has explicitly told him at the end of S5 that she wants to hear him say “nice” things to her, and she has been pretty clear that it matters to her that he join her in some school activities. Moreover, they have both stated they plan to do their best to prevent James Henry from becoming as introverted as his father (if we remember what Martin says to Louisa during that conversation at the end of S5, and what Louisa says to Martin when she asks him to take JH to the music group).

Botton’s title for the essay refers to marrying the “wrong” person. What he really means is that people may have an idealized notion of what marriage should be like, and how a marriage should unfold. Botton relates our tendency to have false expectations to the circumstances we experienced during childhood, which definitely plays a role in how  Doc Martin  has been constructed. Botton asserts “we marry the wrong people because we don’t associate being loved with feeling happy.” This takes place if we have had troubled childhoods in which we’ve experienced feelings of “wanting to help an adult who was out of control, [or] of being deprived of a parent’s warmth or scared of his anger, of not feeling secure enough to communicate our wishes.” In Doc Martin Louisa has had to deal with parents who are out of control in the sense that her father’s gambling led to debts and possibly to problems between him and her mother. Martin has definitely been deprived of any warmth from his parents and on the receiving end of unjustified anger. He must have felt insecure. Thus, there is a sort of disconnect between the notion of love and that of happiness.

If Martin has no idea why it’s so important for people to be happy, and why he thinks happiness is overrated, it could be because he has never really known actual happiness. Now when he has brief flashes of happiness, they don’t seem to last, and Botton would consider this expected. Yet Martin is aware that Louisa finds being happy important, and we know that Louisa has had moments of happiness in her childhood (e.g. when her father took her for ice cream). Somewhere buried in Louisa, according to Botton, is that good sensation of happiness during her childhood that she wants to recreate.

But Botton is reassuring. He goes on to say “the good news is that it doesn’t matter if we find we have married the wrong person…We need to swap the Romantic view for a tragic (and at points comedic) awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will (without any malice) do the same to them. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.” And we can make a case for this point of view using the show as a guide. As a dramedy, Doc Martin uses both the tragic and comic aspects of marriage and shows us that some of the tensions arise out of situations we can laugh about. So when Martin wants Louisa to keep the baby quiet during his workday or when Louisa keeps the house less tidy than Martin would like, it’s amusing and these are very common problems.

By the end of S7, we have arrived at something akin to Botton’s view that “rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity” that is the key to making a marriage work. Martin is willing to endure more noise and mess while Louisa has decided that she can accept Martin’s quirks. Botton concludes that “we should learn to accommodate ourselves to ‘wrongness,’ striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners” and believes that “compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”

If we agree with Botton, then we can drop any difficulties we might have with whether Martin and Louisa are compatible, and should be married, and recognize that now they have reached a nexus point. Hallelujah!

[Some quotes from Alain de Botton:

“We fall in love because we long to escape from ourselves with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and witty as we are ugly, stupid, and dull. But what if such a perfect being should one day turn around and decide they will love us back? We can only be somewhat shocked-how can they be as wonderful as we had hoped when they have the bad taste to approve of someone like us?”
― Alain de BottonOn Love

“If cynicism and love lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, do we not sometimes fall in love in order to escape the debilitating cynicism to which we are prone? Is there not in every coup de foudre a certain willful exaggeration of the qualities of the beloved, an exaggeration which distracts us from our habitual pessimism and focuses our energies on someone in whom we can believe in a way we have never believed in ourselves?”
― Alain de BottonOn Love

Do you love me enough that I may be weak with you? Everyone loves strength, but do you love me for my weakness? That is the real test.

Alain de Botton]

 

Originally posted 2016-06-05 18:01:51.

21 thoughts on “Love Actually (I Know, Not Original)

  1. Amy

    This post is about so much more than DM and really is provocative. I missed Botton’s piece in the NYT since we were in New Mexico last week, but will have to go back and look at it. But having been married for almost 40 years, I certainly found many points in this post that resonated with me. The whole notion that we idealize our mate at first and then have to learn to live with the reality, accepting that we can be “happy” with that person despite (or maybe because of) the fact that they don’t measure up to that ideal.

    As I’ve commented elsewhere, this is also why I think M&L can work. They do not (never did have) an idealized notion of each other. They both knew there were areas where they were “chalk and cheese,” as Aunt Joan often said. But as time has gone on, I think Martin has recognized the need to be “more generous in accepting the differences” whereas Louisa has been slower to get there even though she walked into the relationship with eyes wide open as to all of Martin’s quirks. Like many people, she probably thought she could change him. Now perhaps she knows only he can change himself and that he’s trying…at least in his relationship with her and with James. I see S7E8 as her signalling at its end that she now sees his willingness to change and she is willing to change as well—that is, to accept him for who he is in most ways.

    If her greatest fear was being abandoned, she stated clearly in E8 that she knows he will never abandon her. If his greatest need is being loved for who he is, then she may be ready to fulfill that need.

    I remain ever the romantic and the optimist… And yes, I know it’s just a story, but every good story helps us understand a little bit more about what it means to be human. And I do believe DM is a good story, not just a dramedy.

  2. Santa Traugott

    I think perhaps, that like most people, Martin and Louisa each overestimated how much their love for each other would carry them through the various ways that they grated on each other, after they were actually married. Martin underestimated how much noise and mess would bother him, plus social demands and the sharing of oneself that marriage implies. Louisa underestimated how much she would be bothered by Martin’s social awkwardness and aloofness, his need for order and quiet, (“our OCD”) his difficulty in sharing himself with her, his insistence on eating fish… the many ways in which he was not “normal.” In a sense, they had their honeymoon before they were married. When inevitably, the realities of living together emerged, neither of them had the wherewithal to cope. Martin shut down (and his blood phobia returned, I don’t think coincidentally) and Louisa bailed.

    Martin got his wake-up call when she left; Louisa got hers more slowly, as the reality that her marriage might end sunk in. (I think all this “it’s only temporary” was denial to herself as to where her marriage was actually headed, given their separation and inability to communicate.)

    All that said, I’m still thinking that basically, S7 picked up just after Louisa left in the taxi the first time. Nothing that happened after that — the chase to the airport, the operation, the speech, the parting — had any dramatic impact. For all of that action, S6 could have ended at the taxi scene, and S7 begun with Martin waking up in bed alone. It makes me think that the writers and producers realized that they weren’t going to reconcile them at the end of S6, and needed some scenes to fill in about 20 minutes worth of time. Which they then completely disregarded. I find that very annoying. really.

  3. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Amy, I know you always reaffirm your romantic sensibilities, and no doubt those are what the writers of this show and many other shows count on. Who doesn’t like a good love story? I agree that the crux of this show is the story and it is told through the form of a dramedy. For me that’s what made it different from other shows and worth writing about. I always find the combination of drama and comedy much more appealing than each of these elements on its own. In addition, the show took on so many meaningful topics while being funny as well as emotionally compelling.

    It’s interesting that you interpret that last scene as Louisa knowing he would never abandon her. I think she says he would never let her down. If she had said “abandon” I would have been happier. He has let her down often, but I agree that he wouldn’t abandon her and James Henry.

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Santa, I see what you are saying about the end of S6 moving into the beginning of S7. As you know, they determine the arc of each season first, which involves deciding how the series will end before deciding how to get there. There is little doubt that S6 was planned to end without a reconciliation just as S7 was planned to end with them reuniting in the final episode. Then they had to figure out how they were going to get through 8 episodes with that conclusion in mind. In S6 they filled the series with injuries until the final episode, during which Louisa once again must be rushed to the hospital. For me there were too many times when Louisa was physically wounded, not to mention how often her ego was damaged. That last episode really did feel tacked on insofar as the speech in the operating room was concerned. What Martin says to Louisa and how she replies gets us nowhere by S7. It’s a great dramatic scene, but is hard to apply any purpose to.

    In S7 we have to wade through the strange assignments the therapist comes up with, and the fairly implausible events, to get to the last episode and their reunion. As you know, despite some people considering that episode serious, I felt it was comical and cartoonish and never came across as suspenseful.

    I can’t say what their intentions were other than they had a plan to end each series as they had mapped out.

    As for the other aspects of S7, I have trouble attributing too much serious thought into how the writers, et. al. chose to depict Martin and Louisa’s behavior. The assignments and therapy sessions seemed so limited in effectiveness that they were totally unconvincing to me as anything other than entertainment. (BTW, another British show that uses therapy sessions well is Happy Valley.)

    Maybe that’s what the show will now become. Pure entertainment.

    [I also want to say that I spent 2.5 hours today working on fixing the blog so that it won’t add hyperlinks to any other sites and seem to still have that problem. It seems like there’s something going on with the blog that is very hard to find. I’ll keep trying when I can.]

  5. Santa Traugott

    When Louisa from her hospital bed says “This doesn’t change anything,” I guess we should have believed her. 🙂

    I guess my annoyance stems from how ,much time and effort people (including me) put into trying to parse those last scenes and their implications — only to find that they were non-essential to the story, in fact, apparently irrelevant, but a great opportunity to display acting chops.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I love your take! What did it change?

    They supposedly spent two years working hard to develop new scripts and we got something that could have taken two months!

  7. mmarshall

    I enjoyed these comments on a happy marriage — that happiness is chosen, and made rather than an automatic condition of being married. As I rewatched S6 again I found I was more critical of Louisa and her immaturity in her marriage. She handled it well at first, I thought, and seemed to know what she was getting into, but then she shows some regret at being married at all. When her mother is visiting and goes out with the fisherman, Louisa pouts that she’s left at home with Martin and the baby (“I’m left here with you!… in a good way.”) while her mother gets to have fun and live commitment-less, swinging style. Louisa had plenty of this before she met Martin and previously seemed to be consciously choosing the settled-down lifestyle. But perhaps like many newlyweds as well as new parents, she missed the freedoms she has given up since having a child and now a marriage. She handles it by pouting, whining, and becoming demanding, which I find immature. Running away is also rather immature. At the end of S7E8 (which I agree was a cartoonish episode and lacked the depth I fully expected), she does seem to have gained some more mature understanding. I think S8 will show that though she is more committed and has matured in her attitudes, putting those ideas into practice will still require plenty of effort for her.

  8. Amy

    For some reason these comments didn’t come to my by email although I had checked off Notify me of follow up comments by email. Could that also be a blog issue?

    Having now finished S7 upon the heels of S6, I guess I don’t see as much disjunction as others have between the end of S7E7 and E8, but more on that below. I do agree with Santa that S7 seems to pick up as if Martin never had saved Louisa’s life or made the speeches in the OR and the next morning since Louisa seems so angry with him when she returns. And why does he say she is early when she shows up in the surgery if he was supposed to be surprised that she was coming back? I hated those scenes of her return. If he supposedly had told her he wanted to change (and she was awake enough to hear it), why would she be so cold? It made no sense.

    As for the last scene in S7E7 and E8, there I don’t see quite as much inconsistency in the plot. E7 ends with Martin saying it was time to figure things out, what to do with James, etc., but it doesn’t say things are over. I read it as Martin saying we need to make decisions. Just as he said to L when they left therapy after the list assignment and L asks if Dr T was saying they should divorce and he responds by saying, “No, she said to make a list.,” I think he was only saying that now with Dr T incapacitated, they needed to figure out a next step, not necessarily that the next step was divorce.

    I don’t think they had any conversation in between the two scenes. I think that although the dinner plan was not specified in E7, it was clear that they were going to have a talk. Louisa may have taken the initiative to turn it into a dinner. (Or the writer simply forgot to add a line of dialogue saying, “Let’s talk at dinner tomorrow evening.”)

    When Dr T shows up on the doorstep to tell them she is taking a leave and L tells her that they had decided not to continue with therapy anyway, that did strike me as something that had not been explicitly discussed in E7, but again followed logically from M’s statement about figuring out what to do next, that he couldn’t live like this any longer.

    I also did not notice a real change in L’s demeanor between the two scenes. In E7 she seems sad, not angry, and certainly nothing to me indicated that she was ready to end the whole thing. As she had been all season, she just seemed at a loss to figure out how to fix things. In E8, she clearly tells Dr T that they have not made any final decisions about whether to end the marriage. I think in both scenes she remains ambivalent—not wanting to end things, not knowing what to do next.

    Relating back to Karen’s post about Botton, I think L & M were both at that point of realizing that although their relationship might not measure up to the ideals they might have wanted, it was still a relationship worth fighting for—if only they could figure out how. The two other marriages in those last two episodes—the Tishells and the Wintons—suggest other pathways. The Wintons will do anything for love, including break the law. The Tishells will go back to their youthful passion and rebuild from their memories. Even Morwenna and Al suggest a way to build (or start) a relationship—be assertive and honest with your feelings.

    I think that the writers are signalling a belief in love conquering all—even for Louisa and Martin. Botton may not agree that that is enough, but his point that we can learn to tolerate the differences (between each other and between our idealized hopes and the reality of human relationships) is also ultimately an optimistic one. For relationships that last (and many do, after all), it’s all about that adjustment of expectations. I think the writers will show us in S8 how M & L can adjust their expectations and learn to tolerate those differences.

  9. Amy

    FYI, I tried again to subscribe to this post, but did not get a notification of subscription nor does it appear on the list of posts to which I’ve subscribed.

  10. Amy

    I guess I interpreted Louisa’s words that way because for her, abandonment is how she was let down by both her mother and her father. Being disappointed in his performance at the Sports Day ceremony certainly was a way he let her down, for example, but I don’t think that went to the core of her emotional needs. The fact that he kept true to her despite all her attempts to push him away and the fact that she twice left town to escape him but he was still there for her when she returned is what mattered most. And it was in the context of others suggesting he had left Portwenn this time—had left her behind—that she says she knew he would never let her down. So that’s why I heard what she said as meaning, “You will never abandon me.” After all, I don’t think even those in a “perfect” relationship could ever claim that their partner never disappointed them in some way. As Botton said, we are all in some way “let down” by the other.

  11. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m a little confused by which series you’re rewatching. It was in S5, before Martin and Louisa married, that Louisa’s mother returned and Louisa was jealous of her date. I agree that Louisa was rather snippy to Martin when she spoke to him, but that is the badinage of the show. They both say offensive things to each other from time to time. Also, Martin put her on the defensive about her mother quite a bit. I kind of think Louisa’s mixed feelings are fairly common once a baby is born. Our freedom to come and go is curtailed and we’re tired too. Soon she finds out her mother isn’t really going on a date and has a return of her dim view of her mother’s behavior.

    Once they get married in S6, I think Louisa is ready to be a wife in all its many facets, but Martin is relatively inhibited and then totally shuts down. I had the impression that we were supposed to think the time between S5 and S6 went especially well and they had some intimate periods together. Louisa tells Martin she’ll miss him when she returns to work in S6, and that gave me the feeling that Martin had taken their conversation at the end of S5 to heart. But it doesn’t take long for that to end, and what we see is the falling apart of their relationship.

  12. mmarshall

    You’re right, it was S5 when they weren’t married yet that I saw L’s pouty behavior. I thought she matured through the next 3 seasons — and needed to — and probably will have some more to go.

  13. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I’m very sorry for any problems you’ve had and can’t explain them. I found your comments in the trash for some inexplicable reason and have now restored them. I hope any other comments you make simply appear on the blog as they have in the past. I plan to follow up with the blog host and see what I can learn about the problems I’ve been having. I tried everything I could think of with my limited computer skills and may have caused more problems than I fixed. I was mainly concentrating on my computer and now should concentrate on the blog. Some of the changes I made were due to so much spam, which has decreased, but now I may be blocking too many messages. Yours were the only non spam comments I found in the trash though. I am at a loss!!

  14. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    It’s amazing how people can see things so differently. I imagine the folks that edit and decide on the final product figure most viewers won’t notice quite a few of the things we’ve been discussing, and they don’t. Many viewers watch mostly for story and simply accept those jumps in scenes, or project their own assumptions onto the action.

    For some of us Louisa appears disconcerted at best after the ride back from Dr. T’s office. She would be disappointed that the appointment had not helped in any way when she’d been hopeful. When Martin gets out of the car to finally let her know that not only is he discouraged by Dr. T but also by Louisa, his remarks come as a sort of ultimatum to many of us. He seems to be saying, “Either you let me return home now (because I can’t go on living in that hovel), or we have to decide how our marriage and lives will proceed from here (which means we need to talk about James’ care, etc.). She appears to many of us to realize the seriousness of that statement but still can’t let her emotions show. (Again, this seems very different from the Louisa we’ve known throughout the other series.) Here he is the more emotional of the two and she retreats into the house after looking relatively in agreement that this sort of impersonal meeting needs to take place. The writers are probably going for a little added suspense and delay in any upshot of their therapy and difficulties relating.

    But the next episode begins with Louisa looking quite cheerful when she sees Martin. She greets him with a smile, asks him how he slept (when most of us would think she would know he must have had a rough night), and when he brings up the list, she almost seems hopeful he might have forgotten about it. Dr. T appears about then and Louisa moves to stand next to Martin as if in unity with him and then they have the conversation about not missing Dr. T. To me, and others, that seems like a disjunction between episodes. In addition, soon we learn that Louisa has decided to make a special dinner that night when they supposedly had planned to meet.

    If your assessment that the writers may have left out some lines is correct, then that’s an oversight that is troubling and comes at a very important juncture. All of these sorts of editing, writing, directing concerns are problematic when they occur at such a critical time in the series and we are constantly reminded that they take two years to write and polish each series. They should notice such inconsistencies. We know they need to get Martin and Louisa to a point where they will get back together, and all I can think is that they ran out of time to make the transition smoothly.

  15. Santa Traugott

    I think that Louisa had been pinning her hopes on some kind of magical solution to their marital problems, generated by the therapist or therapy. (Until they get well into the process, many people expect that at some point, the therapist will wave their magic wand, and all will be well.) She was not yet consciously ready to concede that she might have some work to do herself, or that she might have to come to terms with Martin as he was (largely) rather than some idealized version of him that she imagined might be possible. Thus, when she saw that further help from the therapist was not going to be forthcoming, she was disappointed, and temporarily at a loss. As anyone would, she had to think through the implications of that.

    Martin though, had already developed the sense that therapy was not likely to work for them — as he expressed in the “cake walk” with Aunt Ruth — “I don’t think I’m very good at it (therapy)”. Adding, ‘or at marriage.” But I think he had a sense that Louisa would only return to him IF therapy worked some kind of significant changes in him or their marriage. So when he called to her, to tell her that he could not continue as things were, he might have hoped against hope that she would say, “well, OK then, come home,” but that’s not what he expected. He was simply stating that if therapy wasn’t going to work, and she wasn’t going to budge without it, then they would have to decide how to separate. I don’t even really think that it was an ultimatum as such.

    There’s a definite implication, throughout this episode, and acted out by the art teacher and her pupils, that he has decided that he has to accept himself as he is, even if it means losing Louisa. And I think that’s part of why he spoke up, also.

    When people think about separating, the custody of their children is often uppermost in their minds. That’s why, to me, his statement that they had to decide what to do about James, was clearly about custody arrangements in the separation and divorce. There’s really no other reason to bring him up at this point. Babysitting arrangements at this point are way down the list of priorities.

    I’m not so sure, though, that we needed to see the process by which Louisa registered that Martin was prepared for their marriage to end, and that, since she was the one who had initiated the separation and insisted on maintaining it until some unspecified changes happened, she was going to have to be the one to make the first moves toward reconciliation. Things had reached such a point that her only options were to let her marriage go, or make her first really concrete attempts to find a path forward for them. Martin simply pointed that out to her.

    I don’t think, btw, that she was just recalcitrant and stubborn. The most charitable interpretation is that she was just ambivalent and therefore, more or less frozen in place. Something needed to tip the scales, and Martin’s throwing in the towel, was what did it, I think.

  16. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What you say is quite an in depth view of what could have been the motivations involved in how the situation was set up. I actually agree with most of it, even if my explanation isn’t as specific as yours. James is the reason Martin gives for many of his actions and is sometimes used as the vehicle by which he tries to reach Louisa. He offers to take care of James and to bathe him just so he can stay later. So, yes, he is using James as a means to unsettle Louisa, and perhaps suggest the end of their marriage.

    But what, then, is your reason for thinking these two episodes are missing something in their transition? You have frequently noted that there is a disjunction between the two that you find troubling.

  17. Santa Traugott

    I’ve actually come around to thinking that maybe there is not something missing — in that, they really were at a fork in the road — either the next conversation they had was going to be about custody arrangements for James, etc., or Louisa was going to have to bring herself to suggest a possible path toward reconciliation. As we see her at the beginning of E8, it’s clear that by whatever internal process she went through, she chose a “last ditch effort” although it’s pretty clear that she was preparing to let him come him, given any kind of reasonable response from him at their dinner. So maybe we don’t need to see that process, which is probably largely internal anyway? Maybe we could have had a little scene where she had a conversation with James, or with Ruth, or she was laying in bed, staring at the ceiling — but the point is, that she was faced with a choice and she made it. Maybe we don’t really need to see how that happened.

  18. Amy

    Thank you so much for finding them. I am not sure I could have retyped all that! Now let’s see if this comment ends up in the trash. (If I were an insecure person, I’d think your blog host was expressing a view as the content of my comments!)

  19. Amy

    I agree with Santa. I don’t think Martin was issuing an ultimatum as much as a white flag. But I am not sure Louisa had some revelation. I think she was right where she’d been: upset, yes, but not yet ready to call it quits. I am not sure she was prepared yet to let him come home, but she certainly wasn’t ready to end the marriage. She was the one who seemed most upset by Dr T’s suggestion that they end the relationship. Martin seemed almost resigned to it (but that could also just be his affect). And that was before Martin’s statement when he dropped her off.

    So do you think the writers deliberately left all this so unclear? Or was it editing for time to fit the parameters of the length of an episode? One thing we hear all the time about TV is how scenes are cut to make sure they fit those parameters. Maybe there had been a scene showing Louisa weighing her options. Or maybe the writers just didn’t think it was necessary.

    In any event, I didn’t find much of a disjunction, but we all see what we want to see in some ways.

  20. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Well! I am a bit surprised and have to assume that after too much thinking about it, you became exhausted and are willing to give them a pass on this. It’s fine to reconsider and come to a different position, although it gives me pause after all these months of discussions about this issue during which you were pretty certain that there were problems with the transition between these last two episodes.

    As always, we can agree to disagree, and truly we have spent far too much time looking at this! The only other thing I would say is that if something like this transition is so hard to deconstruct and requires this much time to finally convince you it could make sense, then something about it was not clear or well conceived.

    As an aside, I want to mention that Louisa regularly asking Martin if he slept well became a running joke of sorts. Throughout S6 Martin couldn’t sleep and sometimes interfered with Louisa’s sleep. Now in S7 he’s sleeping in all sorts of odd conditions and places and she’s concerned about whether he has slept well. That includes the fact that he has noisy neighbors and he is constantly managing the stupefying array of assignments and Louisa’s reactions/implacability. If he could have slept well, it would be a miracle!

  21. Santa Traugott

    The revelation that Louisa had did not come after that speech — agreed. I think it came as she realized that he would not have intentionally let her down or abandoned her, and that therefore there was some other reason why he couldn’t show up for dinner.

    The therapy sessions, whatever else they did, prepared us to understand that this was of bedrock importance to Louisa and her understanding of this would tip the scales, finally and definitively (we hope) in Martin’s favor.

    I don’t think she had a revelation as such after the “arrangements” speech. She did recognize what he was suggesting, and quietly added that “maybe the therapist was right.” She did have a rethink, we have to conclude, about the necessity of her taking the first step toward trying to work things out so that her marriage could be salvaged. Because, once again, it was up to her. The dinner to work things out must have been her idea, because the defeated Martin in that scene would not have reversed himself and suggested it (or so it seems to me).

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