S7E8 – Back to the Future

I guess it’s about time I say something specifically about E8. It’s too bad the therapy was such a disappointment, and was a failure in so many ways. Nevertheless, somehow Martin and Louisa do find their way back to each other in E8 and it’s worthwhile seeing how that is accomplished.

I’ve already established that Jack Lothian is the writer I consider the best on this show. In my opinion his episodes are the most well conceived and demonstrate outstanding knowledge of story writing as well as of literature. He has written several of the opening and closing episodes of many series, and I believe he methodically connects themes and actions in these first and last episodes to create a coherency that operates on many levels. The last episode of S7 is another example of his striking ability to allude to classical works of literature as well as many other forms of storytelling while consummating the characters in both humorous and complex ways. Each series ends with dialogue that is ambiguous yet satisfying. I enjoy the process of analyzing what he’s doing as he coordinates the action and the dialogue to achieve a successful outcome, plus I get to laugh a lot.

That S7 would end with a reconciliation seemed inevitable to me because I could not imagine this show not completing its mission as a dramedy. If S6 had been the last of the series, it would have been a transgression of all that the show had worked to develop for the previous five series. S7 had to redeem it. In fact, my view is that Lothian includes reminiscences from both S5E8, S6E1, S6E8, and S7E1 in S7E8. He also sustains the primary themes we’ve come to expect, i.e. the difficulty Martin and Louisa have communicating with each other, whether people can change, and the importance of Martin’s skills as a diagnostician and surgeon in saving people’s lives while also keeping his relationship with Louisa alive.

S7 begins with Martin waking up in bed alone wishing he can find a way out of the predicament of losing Louisa. Similarly in the final episode we begin with Martin waking up in bed alone, and hoping again to get out of the predicament he’s in. (BTW, I haven’t figured out how he fell asleep. Was he given a sleeping potion? Otherwise it is doubtful Martin would have felt like sleeping with his mouth duct taped and his hands tied to the bed. He hasn’t been sleeping well in his cottage and now he’s in an even stranger place. But never mind; we can let that go.) It doesn’t take long for him to figure out how to release himself from the bed. He then goes through a series of comedic escape antics including tiptoeing like Sylvester the Cat across a loft area while below Annie Winton speaks to Louisa on the phone and doesn’t see him, making his way down the back stairs and overhearing Jim Winton talking to his son as he sits on the bed, and hiding when the son looks up after he hears a noise. All of these actions have a cartoonish air about them. (FYI, Sylvester shows a lot of pride in himself, and never gives up. Despite (or perhaps because of) his pride and persistence, Sylvester is, with rare exceptions, placed squarely on the “loser” side of the Looney Tunes winner/loser hierarchy. He often sneaks around while his owner “Granny” talks on the phone. In this episode Martin never stops trying to escape from the house through doors and windows. Martin’s persistence is reinforced by Mrs. Winton’s comment that “when you love someone, you never give up.”)

In this mostly amusing and never very convincingly dangerous episode, we also have shades of myths and legends, possible totems from voodoo, and a couple of chase scenes with the last one ending at the entrance to a mine reminiscent of Westerns, including an empty whiskey bottle as a clue. We’ve sometimes speculated that this show is playing with the tropes of Fairytales, and I’ve written about how they undercut those tropes. I’ve wondered as well if they were having some fun with the popularity of the Harry Potter series. Although we don’t have any real witches, goblins, or wizards in this episode, Martin tells Mrs. Winton that he’s not in the business of miracles, he animatedly gesticulates as if he’s casting a spell while denying that he’s a wizard, and says that he can’t conjure a cure. (I must say here that many patients do think doctors can perform miracles and cure almost anything, and some treatments almost seem miraculous. In this episode, we could be tempted to call Martin’s ablation of Jim’s neck mass a miracle.) Ruth has told Louisa that the fight or flight response is not just a myth. Thus, we have more than enough allusions to the mythical and magical than we need to recognize its place in this part of the story.

During this episode Martin is required to leave Portwenn and drive into the wilderness where danger lurks. As Martin approaches the Winton’s front door, the camera lingers on a gargoyle type sculpture. For me this figure looks most like a Griffin, a legendary creature that is a mixture of a lion and an eagle, both kings of their species. The Griffin has been used in literature, most providentially in Dante’s Divine Comedy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack Lothian had this in mind. In Dante’s allegory, after Dante and Virgil’s journey through Hell and Purgatory has concluded, Dante meets a chariot dragged by a Griffin in Earthly Paradise. Immediately afterwards, Dante is reunited with Beatrice. Dante and Beatrice then start their journey through Paradise. We could call Martin’s stay at the Wintons a journey through Hell/Purgatory that ends in being reunited with Louisa (Beatrice) after which they begin their journey together in the Earthly Paradise that is otherwise called Portwenn. (Like Martin, Dante carried his love for Beatrice throughout his life. She represents beatific love.) Allegory, myth, folktale, cartoon, take your pick.

This episode also recollects the scene in S6E8 in which Martin races to the airport in Penhale’s Jeep to rescue Louisa. This time it’s Louisa rushing to rescue Martin and asking Penhale to drive. Both times Penhale delays due to a humorous interruption; with Martin it was his costume, with Louisa it is a useless conversation with Buddy. Ironically, if only Buddy could talk, he could have led them to Martin. Buddy is most like the loyal, but powerless, sidekick at this point. Both times Penhale is somewhat helpful while being his usual oddball self. The scene with Louisa and Penhale sneaking around the Winton house and stopping to discuss the meaning of raising a fist reminded me of the three stooges and is a funny interlude in what is supposed to be a serious rescue effort. Then Penhale tries to enter the house through the bathroom window while Martin is trying to leave through the same window. When they are discovered, Penhale’s taser has not been recharged and is worthless. Now we’re in the zone of comedic Westerns during which a gun is jammed and won’t fire at the crucial moment. (They’ve associated the taser with Westerns with the music they use in the episode where Joe first receives it. In S5E8 Ruth told Joe he isn’t Clint Eastwood, and now we have reconfirmation of that!)

We also have a connection to S7E2 in which Martin is surprised by Louisa’s appearance and says he wasn’t expecting her so early. Well, the Wintons aren’t expecting Martin so early either, and the fact that he is so prompt leads to more trouble and the loss of his medical bag. Martin’s medical bag has been his constant accessory throughout these series and we would think the Wintons would consider it important, but as in S6E1, he’s able to improvise. He also recuperates his image by helping their injured German Shepard as opposed to wanting to euthanize Buddy. And Mrs. Winton’s comment that he has a gentle touch recalls the one made by Barry in E1 when ME discovers that he has a condition that needs immediate medical attention. He tells Martin he considers him a good guy.

Furthermore, in E1 Morwenna speaks of playing the role of a victim needing to be rescued, which of course is exactly what Martin does in E8. Martin is even wearing the same suit and tie in both episodes, and now that I’ve seen E8, Ruth’s comment in E1 as she looks at a picture of Martin wearing a tie as a child that Martin has literally not changed is true in more ways than one.

It is this episode that most reflects the title of E7, “Facta Non Verba,” because here we have actual deeds that speak louder than words. The deeds begin with Mrs. Winton calling the doctor’s office and demanding that he come to her house, which he dutifully does. Next she holds him at gunpoint. He makes an attempt at escape only to run into Clemo Winton who simply takes him back to the house. Meanwhile, back in Portwenn, Louisa has put together a lovely meal with a lot of Martin’s favorite foods. This time she isn’t going to serve him sausage or scotch eggs. She obviously is already planning to make this a reconciliation dinner. Here is another occasion when Martin and Louisa’s efforts to talk are interrupted. In E1 they are unable to connect due to poor reception and Dr. T’s rules cause Martin to miss Louisa’s 4:30 call; in E8 the Wintons disrupt their scheduled conversation. (Throughout this series they continue to be interrupted whenever they attempt to talk in any meaningful way. I should mention that comments on the blog post about therapy point out that any talk they might have had would probably have gone poorly anyway, which is even more evidence that any move they make to have a long talk ends in failure.) Martin doesn’t show, no talk ensues, and Louisa is determined to find him.

When she comes up empty handed the following morning, she calls Mrs. Winton who claims Martin left the previous evening, then she finds Penhale and they retrace Martin’s steps to the Wintons. Louisa will not be stopped from this point on and notices Martin’s shoes, finds his car, and confronts Mrs. Winton.

So we have the deeds leading up to Louisa finding Martin and Martin really trying to read the notes from the oncologist, and finding a possible mistake in the diagnostic procedure. Soon we have more action when they look for Jim Winton and find that he has left his bed. They figure he’s headed to the mine and they all run after him. Martin suggests Louisa stay behind several times, but this time Louisa won’t let Martin out of her sight and tells him “I came here to get you and I’m not going home without you.” Ahh, more indication that Louisa has decided to have Martin move back in with her.

I would say that during this episode Martin experiences many moments during which he has a lack of control. However, no matter what they demand of him, he manages to maintain some semblance of control, either by trying to reason with them or by being unwilling to buckle under while they point a gun at him. In a sense, he retains control regardless of their threats because they need him. The only thing he can’t control is Louisa’s actions, and his uncertain answer to Ruth at the end of the episode is evidence of this.

it is also quite noticeable that throughout the episode Martin and Louisa refer to each other as “my wife” and “my husband.” Not only should this identifier matter to Mrs. Winton because she is so dedicated to her husband, but also it reinforces their commitment as a couple. We’ve heard Louisa correct people many times during this series when they neglect to call her Mrs. Ellingham, an indication in my mind that she sees herself as Martin’s wife. In this final episode, that moniker is given precedence when Martin frequently is heard alluding to his concern for his wife. I find it interesting that the Wintons have one child, a son, and that parallels the Ellinghams. I wouldn’t say that Martin and Louisa find any solace in watching the loyalty and care Clemo Winton has for his parents, but it’s amusing to see Clemo try to hug Martin for saving his father’s life. What will Martin do when his son reaches out to hug him?

A final example of how this episode connects to previous ones is the procedure Martin completes on Mr. Winton’s neck. Mr. Winton’s surgery takes us back to S6E1 when Martin and Louisa carry out surgery on the caravan owner’s neck. This time the surgery is much less bloody, but there’s Martin with a makeshift scalpel cutting into a scruffy old man’s neck while Louisa assists and grimaces. In both cases the men survive against all odds and Martin comes away as the hero. Moreover, Martin and Louisa act as a team again.

We are also reminded of the talk Ruth and Martin had sitting on a grassy hill during the last episode of S6 where she explains to him that he has to change to get Louisa to return. Here Louisa comes to the realization that she doesn’t want him to change. He has acted on Ruth’s counsel throughout S7 only to discover that Louisa has concluded that she loves him just the way he is.

Louisa tells Martin that she thinks she has been obsessed with wanting people to be normal. As Dr. T said to Louisa, “normal” is a loaded word. Louisa has told Dr. T that her parents are normal, but now she acknowledges that her idea of normal is complicated and that everyone is unusual in some way. There is no true “normal.” Instead of wanting a “normal” husband, she understands that she should embrace his personality traits regardless of, or especially because of, their uniqueness. “We Are What We Are,” as Erica Holbrook has written for art class.

Martin agrees that he is unusual, and then we get his admission that he has tried but it just seems to make things worse. At first his remark seems very ambiguous. What has he tried and how has he made things worse? He may not have made things better, but his actions have hardly made things worse. (I do not think he is referring to trying to change how he feels about Louisa. Despite the ambiguity of this statement, it makes more sense that he’s talking about his effort to express himself in therapy sessions and to demonstrate to Louisa that he is working on his skills as a spouse.) I think they both say partial truths in this final scene. Louisa tells Martin that he’s never let her down, which he has, and Martin thinks he’s made things worse by trying to be a better husband. Once again he is assuming the blame and she is overstating or exaggerating what has happened between them.

For me the key confession they make to each other is when Martin tells Louisa, “I’m never going to change the way I feel about you,” and she answers, “I don’t want that.” What is an unmitigated fact is that his love for her is something he won’t change and can’t change (and he’s even powerless to change), and she admits that she doesn’t want him to change in that regard. She’s glad to know that his love for her will never change, and we all know she’s tested that.

By the end of this episode we are pleased to hear Louisa respond in kind to Martin’s assertion that he loves her. She hasn’t said it often enough.

We also see the other major characters all find a satisfying conclusion to their plights. Sally has made a new commitment to Clive, Bert is back in business with Al (which may be better for Bert than for Al), Al’s Bed and Breakfast has been given new life and he’s headed for another relationship with the doctor’s receptionist, and Morwenna has gotten her pay rise while Martin has averted another showdown with a disgruntled receptionist.  Portwenn can now return to its previously calm state. It looks like Penhale will be staying on and continuing to keep the place safe. And that’s a wrap!

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(Not for the blog, just for this series. More posts coming soon.)

Originally posted 2015-11-20 06:55:03.

70 thoughts on “S7E8 – Back to the Future

  1. Carol

    Really good one! Thanks especially for the info on the griffin. I thought it was a dragon and had asked on Facebook if anyone knew its significance since the camera lingering on it would indicate something. I think you are probably right, and about Harry Potter too. I thought that myself, but I’m glad he didn’t make an actual Potter wand move because I doubt ME would ever watch Harry Potter ( although he should but that’s another post). I share your affinity for Jack Lothian and all of the devices he uses, and his incredible ability to write dialogue and action that is both humorous and meaningful. I noticed the Western stuff too-hilarious. But the thing I was most taken with was his use of the word “normal” by Louisa. When I first saw the episode, I felt that using “normal” was surely an understatement. But upon reflection, I think it’s pure genius. First of all, it had to be something that could keep the ending moving along, but still brief. Secondly, I feel that “normal” truly is loaded, fully loaded. And for someone like Louisa “normal” would likely be the deepest desire of her heart. (More shades of Potter and the Mirror of Erised.) A little girl in her shoes would dream of two loving parents, living harmoniously, loving their child so much in word and deed. She would have probably agonized over wanting to be normal her whole life. So I believe now that normal was probably the absolute best word to pull so much together without them having a long drawn-out conversation which we would love to see but probably never will because, in truth, it doesn’t really fit with this show.

    I’ll finish with something a therapist told me once long ago. Normal is dysfunctional, if you’re looking at statistics. You don’t want relationships to be normal. You want them to be healthy. May Martin and Louisa find their version of healthy and live healthily ever after!

  2. Santa Traugott

    Great post, and great comment by Carol.

    I think it would be interesting to go back through earlier series and try to deduce whether that’s been a concern of Louisa’s all along — that although she was strongly drawn to, and indeed loved this man, he’s difficult, and his unusual behavior has set him apart from others in ways that she found difficult to tolerate. I think she married him believing she could shape him into something more normal-like and that made them both very unhappy.

    And it is striking indeed how Aunt Ruth’s advice was turned upside down — instead of “change or let the poor girl go”, it turned out to be,” accept him as he is, or he will let you go.” I suspect they play with these inversions a lot, and of course it’s another example of wisdom figures getting things wrong.

  3. Cindy

    I love this: instead of “change or let the poor girl go”, it turned out to be,” accept him as he is, or he will let you go.”

  4. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for your comments about the use of “normal.” You’re so right that it’s better to call a relationship healthy than normal. I like what you postulate Louisa would have wanted as a child, and it makes so much sense that she still would have been looking for that as an adult.

  5. Santa Traugott

    I love the Dante Divine Comedy allusion. How apropos the first lines of the Inferno:

    Midway upon the journey of our life
    I found myself within a forest dark,
    For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

  6. Cindy

    Clarification (hopefully!) – I love the “change” of focus from “change” to “acceptance.” Each of us is a combination of nature and nuture; it’s not either/or, but rather both/and. I think each of us can change, and are able to change, a certain amount, but we will always be who we are. It’s like a continuum on which we can move somewhat but we are never going to move from one end to the other. Does that make sense? I’m afraid I’m not expressing myself very well.

  7. Doris

    I would like to take this opportunity to give my assessment of the series, before I delve too much into episode 8. I thought the first 4 episodes were vintage Doc Martin, with a combination of light comedy and drama. Episodes 5 though 7 were, disappointing, particularly E5 & E7. Episode 8 was well acted, but contained some of holes and lacked the suspense of S6E8.

    E1: In this episode, Clunes is called upon to do the heavy lifting, since Catz was not in any of the scenes. He does an extraordinary good job of conveying is anxiety about Louisa’s return status and his sadness over her (i.e. the poignant scene of him picking up Louisa’s hair brush, in the bathroom). He is able to elicit sympathy from the viewers and shows is talent for physical comedy, i.e. banging his head then rolling down the stairs to get to the phone.

    E2: This episode is where Martin has his first session with Dr T. I liked the way T handles Martin and asserts herself and Martin backing down. This sets the tone for the rest of the episodes; Martin yielding to both Timoney & Louisa.

    Episode 2 is also when Louisa returns, somewhat as a surprise to Martin. IMO, the heartbeat of the entire show is the chemistry between Clunes and Cats. This is shown in the scene when Louisa enters the waiting room, and she and Martin lock eyes on each other, before he even speaks. The Scene continues with Louisa standing with her back towards Martin. It was striking how emotionally distant and awkward their portrayal is. Louisa’s emotional ambivalence in the subsequent kitchen scenes sets the tone for the rest of the episodes, along with Martin’s submission. Additionally, it is in this episode where Louisa gives off mixed signals to Martin about her intentions. She appears to be grateful that Martin is willing to care for James, helps her look for a flat and agrees to move into it. However, Louisa keeps her distance, from him by telling him she needs to be more separate.

    One final point, I found the different scenes involving Al, Bert and Penhale very humorous. Especially the different scenes, involving the lobster and mouse. I give the actor who plays Penhale, lots of kudos for his role as the village idiot. I have always believed that good comedy is difficult and requires a special talent.

    E3 & E4: Episode 3 is where Louisa displays her ambivalence that continues to E8. She berates Martin about couple’s therapy, but later relents and is actually somewhat kind to Martin. She re-discovers her admiration for Martin as a top flight doctor, then shows her annoyance with him when she is startled by Martin in the kitchen and that he doesn’t catch on to her joke about Dr T.

    Episode 4 again shows Louisa conflicting emotions about Martin. She is first very critical of Martin in their first therapy session, but then changes after being flattered by Martin. Overall, I found her opening up more and displaying more affection in this episode than the others. It was pleasing to see Louisa show affection with Martin and one got the impression that Louisa had turned the corner with him.

    E5: This is the start of where the series kind of went south for me. For me it was a mixed bag. The dog theme was carried to extreme, and as a dog lover, I was a bit put off with Martin’s attempt to euthanasia Buddy. Additionally, I felt too much of the episode was given to the Vet and the outdoor activity was both contrived and silly. Personally, I would have liked the three to go somewhere more exclusive, like the honeymoon lodge, S6). One scene stands out for me in this episode. It is the ending scene where Louisa and Martin are talking about Buddy speaking to the Vet. Louisa asks Martin what the dog said, and his reply was “I’m Lonely”. I found Louisa’s response rather cold, when she says “oh”. I suppose this was to convey more of her ambiguity about Martin.

    E6: This is the episode where Louisa’s ex-flame surfaces. I’m still not sure as to why he was added, except to be another fly in the ointment. The Danny subject has been discussed several times on this blog, and I didn’t buy into the Louisa & Danny hooking up, but rather Danny being a device that creates more uncertainly with Louisa & Martin. It also again, shows Louisa’s indifference by brushing off Martin’s inner turmoil with Danny, or perhaps she is simply toying with his feelings. It’s not until the “I’m Louisa not Lou” scene where Martin is finally relieved about Louisa & Danny. But, I feel this was more for Louisa than Martin’s benefit.

    E7: For me, this is a throw away episode. This is where the therapy is exposed as a failure, and Louisa & Martin face their moment of truth, so to speak. That last scene was designed to compel the viewer to come back for the final episode. I’m not going to belabor the weakness and disappointment of E7, since it has been discussed and analyzed many times on this blog.

    E8: I plan on submitting another post on my feelings about episode 8, in the future. But just a couple of points; There is a scene of Louisa sitting alone on top of a hill looking down at the medevac activity. Personally, I would have liked the camera to zoom in on Louisa’s face, at this point. Caroline Catz is excellent at showing her emotions with facial expressions. This would have given the viewer some insights about what she was thinking. There is another scene where Louisa enters Mrs. Winton’s house, alone. I would have liked to have had a scene where Martin & Louisa first see each other. Again, using their chemistry to convey the emotions of the scene.

    Overall, I thought the series 7 was well acted and directed. Most of the script was good, with the exceptions already discussed. It was enjoyable and entertaining but not quite to the quality of previous series. More about this in subsequent posts.

  8. Laura H

    Thank you, Karen, for a really thorough look at E8. And thanks, especially, for addressing what Martin says in the very last conversation on the hill. I know that we have directly and indirectly talked about the use of ambiguity throughout S7, but something you said about Ruth’s talk with Martin on another hill at the end of S6, jarred me to go back further to S5 when Louisa encounters Ruth at the end of E7 and she thanks her for the photos of Martin as a child and shares how sad she found them that he wasn’t smiling in any of them. Ruth says people don’t change. Louisa counters with, “They can do if they want to.” Ruth shrugs and says that maybe she is wrong. Guess I wonder a bit about Ruth’s speech to Martin a whole series later on the hill that he must change or let Louisa go, which, as you pointed out, perhaps propelled Martin to try to change in S7. Did Ruth have a rethink on this point from S5? Was she swayed by Louisa’s view? Or is this simply ambiguity at play again? While I am really fond of both of the Aunts in the show, they, too, seem to suffer from ambiguity. I’ve always wondered why Aunt Joan prodded Martin to go talk to Louisa in S2 when the talk of the village is that Louisa and Danny are close to getting married, and she wants him to make his feelings known to Louisa before it is too late. Fast forward to S3 after the concert date and Aunt Joan tells Martin that he and Louisa are chalk and cheese…she was never going to make you happy…observe and move on.
    Ahhh, ambiguity…where would this show be without it?

  9. Laura H

    Whoops…forgot to ask a question. The agenda that Martin has drawn up and shares with Louisa at the beginning of E7 as an outline for their dinner meeting…why is the third item housework? If they split, this point would be moot. It’s only if they are living under the same roof that it might be valid? What am I missing?

  10. J.C. Lockwood

    Thank you once again for the detailed analysis. I really enjoyed the revisiting/re-purposing of themes from other series throughout the episode. I wondered if the writers chose their favorite or particularly poignant themes to interweave into the final episode. The group kidnapping complete with shot gun reminded me of S2E9-the Christmas Special.

    This final episode could have been called Iron woman because the women seem to be in charge. Mrs. Winton kidnaps DM to save her husband, Louisa has to rescue Martin, Ruth rescues Bert’s business, Morwenna makes a move on Al by demanding a date, and Mrs. Tishell nurses Clive and decides to reconcile with him on her own terms. The women are calling the shots and the men in the episode do what they are told.

    My favorite elements are PC Penhale doing his best Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts on the Andy Griffith Show), kind old Mrs. Winton turned Tasmanian devil to save her husband who has given up, and Louisa on a mission determined to find and rescue Martin and not leave him behind. Also the writers slipped in 3 monologues about lasting love and finding the one who is for you. Mrs. Tishells words to Martin outside of his flat, Janice’s almost offhanded but touching words to Louisa, and of course Mrs Winton’s assertion that you would do “anything” for the one you love because there is no choice in it.

    As we come to the too brief final scene of the final episode. Louisa verbalizes what we have gotten hints of throughout the episode. She is not going to give up on Martin even though most ( even Ruth) thought he might have bolted ( legged it) Martin is not normal. He is unusual and Louisa likes that just fine after all. She asserts that he is the one person who never let her down but actually he has IMO. (Has she forgotten how she got hit by a car in S6?) Martin feels as he always has. He loves Louisa with all his heart but can not always show it in a normal/usual way.

    As viewers, we got what we wanted, a happy ending with Martin and Louisa on the moors outside of Port Wenn (Is that Louisa’s dream in S2E1 without the earthquake?) in love and ready to begin again. No interruptions for once.

    Overall, I thought this was well written action packed episode. Nothing like a crisis to move the plot along. I do have some issues with the path the writers took to get to E8 from E6 and E7. But that is another post altogether.

  11. Brendan

    Hi Laura,

    The scene in which Martin is talking about his agenda for the night’s dinner, I believed it was in E8 not E7. Since Martin is unsure about Louisa’s intentions, we need to assume that he is referencing their separation. He mentions; accommodations childcare, housework, etc. . As Doris pointed out, Martin is not sure what Louisa wants until they talk on the hill.

    He is thinking, as always from a logical and practical viewpoint, like shared custody of James, and Louisa monetary accommodations.

    Regarding housework, I think Martin might be thinking of some kind of maid service, for Louisa.

  12. Laura H

    Thanks, Brendan…yes, I referenced 7 when I should have said 8. Wow, maid service…never thought of that…thanks for that perspective.

  13. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Doris, I appreciate your effort to define what you did and did not like about each of the episodes of S7. Although I may not always like the choices that were made for each series, what I try to do is figure out what the objective was. That is how I arrive at my analysis of each episode. We need to understand that each series has a story arc, each episode has a story arc, and at this point I can look at the entirety of the show and establish a story arc for the show. For this series the story arc was to go from a literal separation of this married couple to a reconciliation. They ended S6 with a question as to whether or not Louisa would return home with Martin. He tells her he will be back to pick her up after she gets some rest, that she doesn’t have to return to living at home with him but she won’t be going anywhere like Spain at the moment, and he agrees with her that they can’t go back to the way things were before the surgery. We’ve heard him say he needs her help to become a better husband and we can imagine the possibility that he will appeal to her for help again when he picks her up, but the series has an open ending which means we don’t know for sure what will happen once Louisa leaves the hospital.

    We begin S7 with the somewhat unexpected news that Louisa is in Spain after all and has been gone for over 3 weeks. But E1 includes attempts at communicating between Martin and Louisa, and we know she will be back or there is no story. The hidden or unspoken part of this is we all know that this series will be about how Martin and Louisa try to get their marriage back on track. We have also been told through interviews with the actors and through previews of the series that there will be marriage counseling and hugging. The story arc for this series, therefore, is the reestablishment of the relationship between Martin and Louisa. We don’t know how many episodes it will take for them to get back together, but we know there are only 8 episodes.

    What becomes apparent after several episodes is that the powers that be have decided to string out any reconciliation until the last episode. Their argument seems to be that once Martin and Louisa are reunited as a couple there is no suspense and the show would become boring. I don’t agree with that, but I don’t get a vote. Once they decided to delay the reconciliation, they had to come up with storylines that were convincing enough to keep this couple apart. Some of their ideas worked and others didn’t, and many of us watching were too aware of this objective and felt manipulated. It was hard to enjoy some of the events in later episodes because they seemed so contrived.

    In terms of the entire show, the on again off again relationship between Martin and Louisa has been the mainstay since the first time they meet on the plane and certainly since the moment Martin is interviewed for GP and Louisa expresses her doubts about him. The story arc of the show has been what will transpire between these two and we have now reached the end of that arc IMO. I find the humor in E8 and the connections to other episodes in the show a great way to end it.

    I hesitate to make any comments about the acting and directing and don’t want to second guess it. I agree with Martin Clunes that Caroline Catz ups the ante with each series. They are given scripts to work with and they make the most of them. I’m sure everyone puts his or her two cents in, but once the script is set, they do what they can to make it turn out as well as possible.

  14. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Laura you point out an important contradiction with Aunt Joan’s position on Martin and Louisa. We could dismiss it as a change of heart after having seen them together, but I think you’re right to notice that they are constantly tinkering with what the message is. This whole idea of whether people can change and if they should is a moving target and I am not sure what we’re supposed to think. I have been planning to write another post on that soon because I find it an important topic yet very mixed up in this show. I’m a proponent of ambiguity but not of confusion.

  15. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I totally agree with your portrayal of the women. I like the fact that the women are strong figures in this show and have written about that quite a while ago. Some men may not be so happy that the men often appear to be weak and dim, but that’s the way the show has been developed.

  16. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I took the brief mention of housework to be another reference to Martin’s need to keep things tidy. I haven’t counted the times that word comes up in this series, but it’s more than a few. They seem to be having fun with that personality trait.

  17. Laura H

    Thanks, Karen, for your moving target take concerning “change” in DM. I’m pumped that you will be writing a future post on it.

    I’ve done some further consideration about change of views/opinions of some characters during the course of the show and now wonder…isn’t this what we humans do? Certainly, I can think of numerous times when I’ve began with one view and revised the view for who-knows-what reasons. Does the portrayal of the characters on DM when they adjust views make them more human…possibly so, in some ways it seems to make them more real to life, yet does not jeopardize their endearing qualities. But that’s just my current view. 🙂

  18. ED

    After reading Doris’s critique, I do have several questions on episode 6.

    What was the point of having Louisa’s ex-boyfriend in the episode in the first place? In Series 2, Danny provided the love triangle device, similar to Edith in S4. Danny presence was meant to create jealously in Martin and light a fire under him. However, this theme doesn’t work in S7. Like Doris, I didn’t believe Louisa would get involve with Danny again. So what was the point of this? Was it simply to create another obstacle for Martin in his quest to win back Louisa?

    Why was Louisa so insensitive to Martin about Danny’s presence? As a man, I would have been quite upset if my wife’s ex-boyfriend came and made advances towards my wife. Add this to the fact that Louisa and Martin are separated, one can understand Martin’s plight.

    Lastly, I agree with Doris, when Louisa tells Danny off, it was not for Martin’s sake, rather she simply had her fill of him.

    Any thoughts, on this?

  19. Linda D.

    I agree with Doris that Louisa tells Danny off because she really had no connection with him and he was even more into the religion that before. He was once again telling her what to do. She has grown tired of the way Danny is and how he treats her. It was great when Martin over-heard her tell Danny off.

  20. Linda D.

    Totally agree with this! Louisa has finally had to admit that he too has baggage and that her issues contributed to the problems just as his did! I wish she had said a lot more at the end. She could certainly have been apologetic and recognized that he had REALLY tried.

  21. Linda D.

    Yes! She wanted her life and relationships to be “normal” because she had never had it growing up. She realizes, thankfully that people are who they are. What is “normal” anyway? She was so busy riding her high horse that she lost sight of why she was attracted to Martin in the beginning and why she fell in love. Thankfully, she realizes what she does and is willing to admit that even she, is not normal. Hopefully this leads them to have a healthy relationship which includes filling the gaps of knowledge about their pasts and moving forward in a gentler, kinder way.

  22. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I hate to be purely practical, but one reason I think they brought back Danny was simply to give that character another appearance in the show before it’s concluded (kind of like Chippy Miller and Pippa). Also, they might have wanted to do something nice for Tristan Sturrock who has been involved with the Doc Martin series since the first film that was located in Port Isaac. He had a serious accident in 2004 and had a long recovery period.

    I also think that Danny has always been a thorn in Martin’s side and since they wanted to stretch out the reunification of this couple, they found a way to use Danny. It worked pretty well to have Danny express the down side of their marital circumstances and reignite Louisa’s sense of justice by making clear that she had no intention of starting anything with another man.

  23. Kate

    In the last minutes of episode 8, we see Louisa finally admitting that the marriage problems weren’t 100% Martin. She finally admits she was a little obsessed with “normalcy”, and rediscovers what she most admires about him, i.e. he is a man of substance and an excellent doctor.

    I have this lingering question however, and that is when did Louisa reach this epic moment? How did she reach it? To answer this, I made the following assumptions:

    1. Louisa & Martin had some type of discourse from the ending conversation in episode 7 to Louisa & Martin’s outside conversation, when Dr. Timoney joins them. Perhaps it was a text/phone interaction about dinner?

    2. Louisa took to heart what Martin said about not being able to continue in the current arrangement anymore. My hunch is that she spent the night soul-searching the situation.

    3. I also think Martin would have told her, during this time, that if they weren’t reconciled, he would leave Portwenn. He certainly made it clear that he couldn’t continue to live in the flat anymore.

    4. When Louisa meets Martin outside the surgery, in episode 8, she has already made up mind that she wants reconciliation (hence the nutritious dinner she is preparing that Martin would really like). It should be noted that Martin remains in a state of uncertainty about Louisa until she confesses her need for him, on the hill top

    My assumptions may be incorrect, but it’s the only way I can make sense of the connection between episode 7 & 8. Please let me know if you think I’m wrong here.

    PS: I found it touching the way in which Ruth reaches out, affectionately to Martin, before the she leaves with AL. She has given Martin the type of care and concern, he never experienced with his real mother.

  24. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Based on how much Dr. T’s forehead bruise has healed and how much better she’s acting, several days must have passed. We have to guess that during that interlude Martin and Louisa decided not to continue therapy and then planned to have a so-called “make or break” dinner. Also during that period of time Louisa did some thinking after Martin made it clear that he couldn’t go on living like this.

    Louisa’s demeanor is so friendly when Martin approaches the surgery at the beginning of E8 that it seems likely that she has decided to tell Martin she wants him to move back in. Then we see that she is preparing a dinner that will include foods he likes, and soon we see her worried about him, etc., etc. He’s always so goal directed that his agenda isn’t surprising, but they have agreed on how to proceed. He is never sure about Louisa, and he has no idea that she was preparing a lovely dinner. What he does know by the time he walks to join her on the hill is that she came to find him, wouldn’t leave without him, and wouldn’t let him out of her sight. He’s got to be encouraged by all of that!

    Like you I am using deductive reasoning.

  25. Doris

    The word normal has been brought up numerous times in this series, as well as previous series. Dr T called normal a loaded word, Louisa says she became obsessed with people being normal. In series 4 Martin accused Louisa’s withholding of her pregnancy as “not normal”. Louisa tells Martin in S6 that Mrs. Tishell has never been normal. But what we perceive as normalcy in a person’s behavior is subjective, for the most part. There are exceptions to this, as in the case when Tishell kidnaps James Henry and fantasies about Martin.

    My point with this is that normalcy was NOT the reason Louisa left Martin in S6, or in S5. I contend that it was Martin’s behavior towards her. Specifically, it was his indifference and insensitivity to her needs. Being indifferent and insensitive to another, especially in a marriage type relationship, is a form of abuse. The victim feels disregarded and abandoned. It’s actually a form of disrespect.

    In the case of Martin and Louisa, Martin had already left Louisa, at least emotionally. It reached critical mass when his mother began to spread her toxic behavior, and then came the school sports event fiasco. Louisa by then reached her breaking point. To be clear, it wasn’t the return of Martin’s blood phobia, or his idiosyncrasies, or even his mother that drove Louisa away, rather his treatment of her. Examples include: Martin schedules JH’s christening without talking to her first, he officially names their son, without consulting with her. He brushes her off when she asks the three of them getting away. He shuts her out about the return of blood issue. Again, it’s not Martin’s blood phobia that hurt Louisa, but the fact he never considered talking to her about it.

    Now in S7, we see a new DM. One who is sensitive and one who wants back into Louisa’s life. Louisa on the other hand is acting cautiously. She has been hurt many times by Martin and doesn’t want a repeat. This is one reason why Louisa gives out mixed messages to Martin.

    Only when Louisa left with JH, plus his and his frank talk with Ruth, did Martin get the wake-up call he needed. Likewise, it took Martin telling Louisa that he couldn’t continue with the presence situation to provoked Louisa into a critical assessment in herself.

    I find it incredible that this was not uncovered in the therapy sessions. That is, the main reason Louisa left, in the first place.

  26. Santa Traugott

    I’m not entirely sure that Louisa had consciously decided that she was going to take Martin back, but I do think she was going into that dinner wanting very much to have things work out so she could ask him to return home. And would have leaned over backward to make that possible. I agree that in the days that intervened, she did some serious soul searching, and decided that ending her marriage was NOT what she wanted.

    I think the famous agenda was Martin’s idea of what the flashpoints in their marital troubles were, and he thought that was what was logical to discuss. I agree — he hadn’t picked up that Louisa was ready to give in, if she could do so reasonably gracefully.

    Given their history, though, and how easily Martin says the wrong thing, it’s probably better that the decision to reconcile came BEFORE the conversation about the agenda. I hope they still have some version of that at some point.

  27. Waxwings2

    Doris, thank you for returning us to this critical point–that Louisa left Martin because of his disrespectful behavior towards her and the “community” of their marriage. He shut her out and dissolved into a closed world. She couldn’t take it anymore and her leaving was the result. That and Aunt Ruth’s admonition to him that he must change if he wished to keep Louisa led him to wake up and go for the therapy, trying very hard in Series 7 to “pay attention” to Louisa’s needs, without understanding much else. This is why I wrote in Karen’s blog “Aliens” of my own disappointment in the therapy: it consciously avoided, downplayed and blurred the reasons Louisa left (or talking openly about them) and instead seemed to trivialize the therapy and the therapist, whose figure became farcical in the end. Maybe BP had to do it this way to keep the Doc the Doc, but the seriousness of Series 6 and Martin’s descent into Dante’s Inferno certainly led us to expect otherwise.

    Despite my disappointment, I have appreciated the brilliance of how BP kept the Doc the Doc, and got the couple back together. Intuitively I think they recognized their rightness for each other–both self-developed, extraordinary individuals from very broken childhoods, who managed to become more than they might have given their “abnormal” backgrounds. Will always love them and this magnificent show. Sign me a forever fan.

  28. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Doris, I totally agree that the blood phobia is only the tangential culprit and that the main obstacle between Martin and Louisa is their lack of communication, especially in S6. If you look back in this blog you will see that I wrote about Louisa several times. The most pertinent post that supports your position is “Louisa, S6.”

    I also agree that therapy did nothing to address this major issue, and then Louisa tells Martin he’s never let her down in the final scene of the series! We’ve seen him let her down many times and I’m surprised they chose to dismiss those times as if they never happened. It would have been better if Louisa had said she always knew Martin would never leave her, or abandon her. That would be much more accurate!

    I had never noticed that Louisa was obsessed with people being “normal.” She was often the one who expressed an appreciation for people’s differences and accepted them. I have no good explanation for those final positions.

  29. J.C. Lockwood

    I was a bit frustrated by the way that Danny was used in S7. Yes his presence was good to shake up the current rocky relationship between Louisa ans DM but I had hoped that Danny’s annoying nature and barging in might give Louisa pause to stop and consider why she chose DM and not Danny in the first place. And I hoped that the viewers might be allowed to share in that revelation. I thought that it would have been a good way to pivot and move the couple toward reconciliation in a more gradual way. Instead at the end of that episode, the chemistry between Louisa and DM had all but flat lined. After viewing 8 I felt a little used/manipulated. Was the Danny story line mainly filler or as you mentioned, the writers just wanted to give Tristan S. a job for the final season. Just expected more from that story line.

  30. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What seems to be the general consensus, at least on this blog, is that too many of the episodes of S7 did not move the action forward sufficiently and that made them appear to be placeholders rather than bona fide parts of the story. There are many ways they could have used the therapy sessions or the secondary characters for better purposes and chose not to. I’m a little surprised because S7 had a lot riding on it and much anticipation amongst the fans. They had to have known that.

  31. Steve

    I think it’s clear that the producers and writers, and Clunes, pay little or no attention to what the hard core “fans” like or desire. In some interview or other, Clunes said that the best thing they can do is to ignore the fans. (This was several months ago and I can’t cite chapter and verse.) I’m sure that the professionals believe they know best. I’m always surprised — shocked, even — by the fans who think they could do a better job and believe that the show’s professionals pay them the slightest attention. (See Facebook spoilers’ group.) Sorry to rain on the parade, but so it goes.

  32. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Of course you’re right and it would be presumptuous for fans to think they can tell the show writers, producers, et. al. how to handle the episodes. We can, however, express our opinions. They have to care on some level because without viewers they don’t have a show.

  33. Steve

    Fundamentally, I think Buffalo has painted itself into a corner in the show: the engine that’s been driving it for the last 5 seasons has been the will-they-won’t-they of Martin and Louisa, and we can be sure, if we can be sure of anything, that that’s finished. Louisa won’t move out, much less go to Spain again, and if Doc’s depression comes back, there will be a way and a will to treat it. To quote a Tom Rush song (probably the only time this has been done for DM), “Driving Wheel:” “I feel like/ some old engine/ that’s lost/ its driving wheel.”

    Any inevitable conflicts between the two of them will be manageable, not marriage-threatening. And as for the secondary characters, they are cute, but they can’t carry a show. (Well, except for Buddy, who I think will get a TV talk show with Penhale as his first guest.)

    In fan groups, it’s all about “will there be a series 8,” and everyone is sure there will be, because, well, there just has to be or how will we continue our lives? I’m not going to get into that discussion; I’ll believe it when ITV and Buffalo announce it. Further, there’s the American question. Assuming that there will be a US show, I hope it’s really based in America and not a mere transplant. Let’s have a profound departure from cute-white-people-by-the-sea. What I’d like is a complete change of venue. I’d focus on immigrants and what is happening to transform this country. I’d put it in Queens, NYC, which has more immigrants than anywhere else. I’d make Doc a young South or East Asian doctor, of which there are plenty, and Louisa from another group — perhaps Hispanic. Or the doctor could be the woman, and the love interest Luis. Or they could be a gay couple. The secondary characters will be a mix of immigrants with the humor coming from their very different lives, contact with their homelands, etc., and their wildly different versions of English.

    Or put it in Texas, where even the 7 year olds are packing heat. There could be shoot outs in the waiting room over whose turn it is. Morwenna can keep order with a pearl handled .22. Doc can become an expert in gunshot wounds.

    But that’s just my view, which isn’t worth the keyboard it’s typed on.

  34. Santa Traugott

    Hi Steve,

    Always enjoy your posts….

    I agree that they’ve painted themselves into a corner. The M-L relationship has been the driving force of the series, and it’s ground, if not to a halt, then a slow and unexciting drive in low gear.

    Latest comments from Ian MacNeice suggest, or he thinks anyway, that the series will continue IF the production team thinks it can come up with a compelling story arc. (And it isn’t going to be the trials and tribulations of newlyweds.) I wouldn’t rule it out — they’re very creative — but I’m not holding my breath either.

    I also find the general decrying of American TV and the insistence that we despoil everything we touch, rather tiresome. We’re perfectly capable of producing an edgy, slightly ironic, funny dramedy. The general pattern — fish out of water, inappropriate romance — can be replicated in any environment, as you suggest. Although given the general spirit of xenophobia that dominates public discourse — Happy Thanksgiving — I doubt it will be about immigrants.

    On another topic, does anyone feel that the reconciliation between them, on the basis of Louisa realizing that “normal” wasn’t as important as she thought it was, was a little bit of a switcharoo between the reasons why we thought the left in the first place — that he shut down and shut her out?

    I can only accomodate it in my mind by thinking that his being “normal” was always important to her, that she was always trying to shape him in that direction (as CC has repeatedly said she wanted to “change him” and that was foolish of her), and that whilst in Spain, she realized that (even if) he got out of his funk, there would still be the problem that she found his unusual behaviors too troublesome to tolerate being married to, given that it had become clear to her that she couldn’t change him.

  35. Carol

    Santa, here’s a reply to your last paragraph. To add to my earlier reply to this post, I think Louisa finally realized that “the normal thing” WAS truly always important to her. So important that she realized that it was an underlying factor in most of her issues with him and in her own issues too. Was watching the taxi kiss again this week, and, all the way back then, normal was an issue. She gets angry when he’s not social because that’s not normal. She gets hurt that he doesn’t talk – that’s not normal. She’s hurt when he withdraws – that’s not normal. Now of course we know that for some people all of those things are perfectly normal. But Louisa has her own vision of normal which is truly one of the driving forces in her life. Everything fitting her vision is an absolute must for her. Realizing what she did is huge, and in real life would turn a person’s whole world around. I think people often fail to understand the power that a childhood vision can hold over us. Hers has driven her life to this point. Now the interesting thing will be, when this is no longer her driving force, what will be? In a sense she has been chained by it so what happens when the chains are loosed? Will she move forward with other things, or will she continue to put the chains back on, since they are “the devil she knows”? In the capable hands of BP’s writers, I can’t wait to see!

  36. Santa Traugott

    Yes, I do think that if you go all the way back through the series you can see how important this has always been to Louisa. I think it’s the main reason she called off the wedding for the first time — she realized how important it was to her and that she would always be trying to change him, which would make them both unhappy, as indeed it played out. I just don’t think she left b/c he was not “normal” — and that wasn’t was emphasized at the end of S6. But she did come to understand both how important it was to her and how unlikely he was to change, while she was away, it seems.

  37. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I love your fantasy about using other cultural groups. I don’t know if you read my post on my walk on part, but I wished I could have been some other ethnic group because the show is so white. At least this series they used some Black children.

    Maybe we could call it Dr. Martinez! If it’s in Texas he could be a specialist in injuries from climbing over the border wall as well as gunshot wounds. So many possibilities!,

  38. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You know I agree with you about American TV and really wish we could put this topic to bed.

    I’ve been thinking about the “normal” issue and the idea of people changing. I always had the impression that Louisa expressed appreciation for people’s differences and how we should still love them. So I’m not convinced that people being normal was so important to her. Will have to think more about it and will need more time than I have right now.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

  39. ED

    I have a question, regarding Buddy in episode 8. There several scenes involving Buddy. One where he goes out to the Winton farm presumably to locate and help Martin. There is another scene where attempts to get PC Penhale to follow him. However, they didn’t follow through with it. What was then the point of having Buddy in those scenes?

  40. Steve

    I’m thinking about doc dealing with the huge variety of ethnic restaurants and markets. He/ she may eat fish every day, but it won’t be the same type or method of preparation… By the way, this could be just as much a dramedy as UK DM. Let’s deal with refugees’ health issues and those of the undocumented. I’m actually looking forward to what the US producers cook up.

  41. Brendan

    I have a couple of questions that involve dialogue between Louisa and Edith, from series 4. This takes place when Louisa was having an ultrasound done on the fetus. But first, I need to prefect my questions with an assumption. It was never established that Edit and DM were ever intimate, even before series four. We are told that Martin once fancied Edith, back in medical school, but there is no clear cut proof that they had sex.

    The first question deals with Edith asking a rather intrusive question Louisa about her sex life with Martin. What was the Medical Justification for this? Was Edith tying to pry into Martin’s privacy here? What was the point of the question?

    Second question involves Louisa’s answer; “…on the few occasions…”. Was Louisa deliberately being coy with Edith? This would be my first assumption. Since Louisa and Martin were spending nights together for about 3 to four weeks, I find it hard to believe that Martin would have only wanted it a few times.
    Any thoughts?

  42. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I can only speculate that Buddy has been in every episode of this series and they wanted him in this episode as well. He’s also been an irritant in previous series, especially the end of S6E1 when he enters the kitchen barking to maximize the mayhem going on there. In my post I was guessing that they were also making a reference to the frequent problems with communication in this show by having Penhale ask Buddy where Martin is. Of course Buddy can’t tell him, although there might have been a chance that Buddy could have shown him if Penhale had given him a chance. On the other hand, when Buddy reaches the Winton’s front door, he goes unnoticed, even by the German Shepherd. After that he is left out of the picture. In general Buddy is used as a devoted follower of Martin’s no matter how he’s treated. In E8 he finds the house but not Martin, and I have no explanation as to what we are supposed to think about Buddy after that.

  43. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I suppose we can’t be sure that Martin and Edith had sex, but Edith says he’s seen her naked before when she’s standing in front of him with that corset on.

    There is no medical justification for asking Louisa about how often she and Martin had sex. In fact that question is unethical and intrusive. My perspective is that she is prying into Louisa’s private affairs and being deliberately meddlesome because she is trying to insert herself between these two.

    Louisa’s answer is somewhat in kind because she doesn’t want to tell Edith yet feels obliged to. I don’t think we can be sure that she and Martin spent more than a couple of nights together, however, I had the impression that Louisa wanted Edith to know that she was more than a one night stand. It’s pretty obvious that Edith disdains the little town of Portwenn and its people and is hoping that Martin’s dalliance with Louisa is nothing more than sexual.

  44. Cathy R

    My memory of the scene is that Edith never asked Louisa how often she and Martin had sex. She first asked, because of the fetus’ small size, if Louisa had gotten the date of conception wrong. I believe her words were “Have you made a mistake?”. When Louisa didn’t understand the question, Edith bluntly followed with “When did you have sex with Dr. Ellingham?”, as if she assumed it could only have been a one-night stand. Louisa then offered the information that she had slept with Martin on more than one occasion. I took Louisa’s answer to mean that she was well aware of Edith’s incorrect assumption and patronizing manner, and in true Louisa fashion she was going to set Edith straight.

  45. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    You’re right that Edith is ostensibly trying to establish whether the baby may be small for gestational age because of a mistake in the estimated time of conception. To the best of my recollection, doctors usually ask when the first day of your last menstrual period was NOT when you had sex. Also Edith asks when Louisa last had sex with Dr. Ellingham as if Louisa was an interloper who seduced a man of superior social standing.

  46. Santa Traugott

    Yes, there is a definite nuance of class here. Also, in the scene in E2 when Louisa goes off down the hill and Edith comes out of the house and asks if she is “a girl from the village’ just as if she was asking if the young son of the house had gotten a dairy maid in trouble. One of the many ways in which Martin is “wrong” for the village is that he is clearly of a different social class, and insists on maintaining those markers — his suit, car, etc. And Edith is similar to him in that, so they immediately have that comfort level with each other.

    While this is not a major preoccupation of the series, it is definitely there.

  47. Kate

    Brendan’s question along with the responses brings up another question. That is the cultural differences between London society, specifically the upper London class and that of Cornwall. Having never lived in the UK, I am assuming that are biases that a Londoner would have towards the people of Cornwall, particularly the people of Portwenn. I t was clear from the outset that Edith considered herself too good for the Portwenn and superior to Louisa. She made a snide comment to Martin about being paid with chickens, as one example. Edith also talks down to Louisa in their first meeting in the hospital with her question regarding waiting 6 months to come to “Ellingham’s village”. Actually, Louisa did both attend college and worked in London, but didn’t like London. My assumption is Louisa preferred the small time village culture to that of high society.

    So, my question is this; is there that big of a cultural divide between the societies in London vs. Cornwall that carries with it certain snobbery? Or was this embellished by the writers, for the storyline?

    Would it be the equivalent of comparing Boston, or NY society to that of West Virginia?

  48. Doris

    I found the scenes with Buddy, in E8, a waste of episode time. Personally, I think it would have been more beneficial to have a scene where Louisa and Martin greet one another, after Louisa second entry into the house), than the scenes of Buddy running around. JMO.

  49. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    I really don’t know any more than you do about how Londoners feel toward the citizens of Cornwall. One thing I have seen is a criticism of the show due to its treatment of those who live in Cornwall. We have to admit that most of the villagers are portrayed as pretty limited in terms of intelligence. We could also say, however, that there is an effort to consider their down home wisdom better than that of the professionals at times.

    Maybe someone from England, or knowledgable about it, can give us an idea of how the city folk of London look at the country folk of Cornwall.

  50. mmarshall

    Great in-depth look at and discussion of the end of S7! Perhaps some things never change…and never will. ME’s line at the end of S7 “I’ve tried, I’ve really tried, but it makes things worse…” is reminiscent of a line at the end of S1 when Louisa is confronting ME about his blood phobia, and more to the point, about not telling the town about it and accepting their jeers and mockery (along these lines she had told Peter Cronk to go along with his school mates’ bullying: “Let them tease you… If you take part in things, eventually you’ll be part of things.” — which seems to me shocking advice from a teacher.). She hollers at ME, “I don’t know why every conversation we have is so combative!” That sentiment was repeated in her comment after the disastrous pirate party in S7, “Why can’t things be simple between us!” His answer in S1 that seemed to be repeated at the end of S7 was, “Now when I speak it just makes things worse.” This just angers Louisa! “That’s not an answer!” (Peter’s “Do you think that’s logical?” might be coming back to haunt her!) L. continues: “That’s just so childish!” ME acknowledges, “You just proved my point.”

    I think ME’s assertion that speaking has and always does make things worse is not true, just as his “trying” has not actually made things worse. Maybe his “worse” is his anxiety, his feeling of being out of his comfort zone. In his case, I would think a little of this is going to make things better — with Louisa anyway. Talking… trying. But in the show it does seem to get her goat up and make her defensive. He was trying to talk to her and explain himself (S1) and it just made her mad. He was trying to be a better husband to her (S7) and she seemed not to notice or appreciate it. So perhaps it did make things worse, or at least not better for all his trying.

    In S7 Louisa answered, “No, I don’t want that.” Does she really not want him to try? Certainly seems that way in S7 as she rarely acknowledged his efforts to improve their marriage. Perhaps as Dr. Timmany said, it made her unable to set herself up for disappointment. Perhaps her realization is what she began to articulate in S1: “Maybe the truth is people like Peter never are going to quite fit in. They’re never going to be quite ordinary. And maybe that’s why we love the Peters of this world. Maybe that’s why I…” She said it in S1. Has she really internalized it by S7? (maybe S8 will show us!)

    In Season 1, I think Louisa really didn’t understand people like ME or Peter who had social differences or anxieties — who really didn’t understand how to imitate other people’s social skills and had found even trying to be pointless. She saw the failing as their fault (“selfish”). For his part, ME continues to be befuddled at how he can be blamed for something so beyond his reach (social skills). His instinct, like Peter’s, is to remove himself from the bullying and focus on his strengths. I don’t think these things will change for ME, and Louisa will need to learn to appreciate this aspect of ME’s character. Other things will change, some of his behaviors can soften, he can be more attentive and sensitive to her needs. But his basic personality and instincts won’t change. “We are who we are.”

  51. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Interesting comments, m. I think you’re onto something when you notice that in S1 Martin also remarks that when he talks it makes things worse, and in S7 he continues to think that when he makes an effort to alter his behavior he makes things worse. The two occasions seem to be further indication that many things haven’t changed in all the time these two have been together.

    I have a slightly different view of Louisa’s reaction to Martin in S1. IMO she tells him in that scene that he’s being childish because she thinks his explanation is a cop out, and he just wants to find an excuse for how he handled things. In S7 she gets angry because he isn’t changing enough to suit her at that stage. She has now grown to realize how he behaves and is not ready to concede that he’s doing enough to satisfy her.

    When she says “I don’t want that” in E8, she’s referring to his admission that he can’t stop loving her. She’s happy that he still loves her and can’t stop. What we have in the final scene is still quite simplistic and rather disappointing as a result.

  52. mmarshall

    More thoughts on this… I wondered what patterns we found L and ME in in this very first season. Why is she already saying, “I don’t know why every conversation we have is so combative?” by episode 5? Here is what I found:
    E1: Confrontational (#1)on airplane and during interview. Louisa: “You cross the line just once in Portwenn…”
    Then non-confrontational (#1) when she flirts with him at the town party. “I got off to a bad start with [my doctor]…. You’re not at all like I thought you were…”
    E2: Confrontational (#2) when Louisa is offended that ME isn’t pandering to townspeople in his surgery. “You always have a line, don’t you. It’s like every conversation is a competition. It’s so — male!”
    Interesting, because this is only their third time talking. She’s labeling it combative when it appears she’s quite responsible for much of the combat. They are at the school during this conversation and she calls a student’s mother and he grabs the phone away from her to take over the call. This shows a power struggle. Who will be running the show? Right off the bat they each want to be in charge, perhaps to cover their insecurities.
    At Elaine’s father’s wedding their exchange is confrontational (#3), mostly by Louisa who things he didn’t see Roger Phen in the hospital.
    E3: Louisa stops by surgery to apologize. ME: “You’re angry with yourself so you took it out on me.” Louisa is defensive, “Well excuse me!” ME was just clarifying so he understood her correctly. “I thought that’s what you were saying. So, it’s not my fault — oh good!” She shows how easy it is to get her goat up. I’ll call this one almost confrontational (#4ish).
    Episode ends with flirty banter and this a ruined date with misunderstanding with Mark i the pub. I’ll chalk this meeting up to “non-confrontational (#2).”
    E4: Non-confrontational (#3) meeting when she flirts with him to get him to ask her to the town dance.
    E5: Fairly non-confrontational (#4) conversation when she bumps into him, literally, as she’s heading out surfing.
    E6: Confrontational conversation (#5): L begins the episode feeling the need to apologize to townsfolks for ME’s lack of social skills (staring at the woman’s breasts). ME: “I don’t need to be apologized for!”
    Then we have the conversation where she wonders why they have combative conversations. I’d have to say they are both to blame for the nearly 5 confrontational conversations they’ve had so far (as compared to the 3 or so non-confrontational conversations they’ve had). Each gets defensive pretty quickly and raises voice to gain control. L name calls, “Male!” “Selfish!” ME defends himself, “I was only trying to…” “I don’t serve tea in my surgery.”

    RIght off the bat we had two personalities attracted to each other, but with confrontational manner, which doesn’t change much throughout the series. As has been said, they’ll probably always be that kind of couple that banters and quips at each other.

  53. mmarshall

    Oh I didn’t see this reply 🙂

    I think a power struggle early on — and throughout — may explain her not conceeding that he’s doing enough to satisfy her by the end of S7. Has she even noticed what he’s been doing? Does she even want to notice? It may take her power away, and she seems to want to hang on to that. In S1 we see that she wants to be right, be the one telling him he’s wrong and has bad manners, and tell him how to interact with people. She even takes it upon herself to apologize for him. Kind of puts her in powerful position. I think she has enjoyed this kind of position throughout her life as it would protect her from people letting her down if she first puts them in their place and acts superior to them. She took this position early on with ME and has a hard time giving it up.

  54. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    What you are putting your finger on is exactly their method of creating conflict between Martin and Louisa throughout the years of the show. As I’ve mentioned before, without conflict there is no plot, or conflict is essential to plot. When the creators decided to make the story about a doctor out of his element coming to a town that dislikes him and then meeting a pretty woman who intrigues him but is a strong character herself, they determined the overall story arc for the show. Since S1 they’ve been maintaining it with variations on that theme.

  55. Santa

    I think there are s a lot to be said for the power struggle idea. They very seldom relate to each other as adults, and relate often very childishly … As in a couple of scenes in S4. The first in E2 where they squabble about where she’s staying, and another at the beginning of E7. And parent to child…somewhere in S5, Louisa rebukes him for treating her as a child, while in the examples that mmarshall cites above, there is more than a whiff of schoolmarm to particularly recalcitrant student. And I do think there is a consistency with how their relationship is presented, with S1 setting the theme, and other seasons as variations.

  56. mmarshall

    I think the power struggle — even more than ME’s lack of social skills in public — was a big reason she left the house in E6. She hadn’t learned the give and take of married life — neither had he. She she wanted to be in control. The therapist touched on this a little, trying to give Louisa control over an outing. But that was inadequate to their joint power issues. And yes, they handle these things immaturely. Perhaps stuck in infantile-issues, Freud would surmise.

  57. Santa

    My initial response was that Louisa left the house in S6 because Martin withdrew from her, not because of a power struggle. And I still think that was part of it, and that we are meant to think that his many “issues” stemming from unhappy childhood , were the source of his difficulties in marriage. But the more I think about the power struggle idea, the more I like it. Because certainly a lot of what went on was about power and control. One illustrative moment: radio blaring as Martin enters kitchen where Louisa is feeding JH, and he snaps it off. Also, untidiness vs order. These issues can’t be resolved if they aren’t ever addressed in some adult way. And I think it was his inability to cope with these power struggles — otherwise known, maybe, as the give and take of a successful marriage, that stressed both of them, and led to Martin’s withdrawal.

  58. DM

    My interpretation of the Martin and Louisa exchanges, particularly the early ones, are somewhat different. They are elements of “screwball comedies” that are known to employ romantic tension between two characters, one being staid and pompous and the other strong-willed and outspoken and the misunderstandings from all the interactions that ensue, and Louisa and Martin have some great interactions accordingly. I do love that scene you mention where Louisa first inquires about Martin’s blood phobia and the back and forth, her service of sympathy, his return of defensiveness, she takes exception being grouped with common gossipers, he responds with his integrity being slighted, her conciliatory tone, his self-pitying remarks, etc.

    Martin’s character is a fêted surgeon with all the arrogance that comes with it (a stereotype that by my experience tends to be true). His arrogance exasperates everybody– in and out of medicine (including his beloved Aunt Joan), and Louisa especially. She deals with him straightforwardly and unabashedly (a trait common to Aunt Joan as well). She advocates for the villagers against this arrogance, realising one of the first rules of medicine which Martin still has yet to learn: you can’t help a patient who is too afraid of a confrontation to come and see you in the first place. Of course all the ensuing misunderstandings are exacerbated by Martin’s inability to express himself, the theme of an earlier episode already.

    I do think that Martin’s unwillingness to share himself with others, particularly Louisa, is emblematic of his selfishness– we just don’t generally use the word in that way. Besides, Martin’s unconscious certainly thinks so– as we see him in the next scene erotically dreaming about this woman who dares to value him for all he might share and want to share (even if she has to be confrontational to assert it). Ironically, I think it’s that very line that she entreats him (it’s definitely not a holler!), “I don’t know why every conversation we have is so combative. Do you… Mart-tin?,” that arouses his unconscious. I believe his unconscious is weighing upon those words and that tone and how they might divulge this woman’s sense of his vulnerabilities and begins to understand his contradictions even before they’ve been exposed later in the very same episode.

    I do find Louisa’s advice to Peter regarding bullying to be perfectly sound. “Let them tease you and just see the funny side,” may seem unintuitive and ineffectual but in situations like these it’s important for the person being bullied person not to develop a frame of mind of singling themselves out or feeling singled out by others as a reaction to the bullying (I have seen several teachers with good intentions give very bad advice). Louisa’s thoughtful, caring manner– unlike what Martin likely experienced at a similar age, would have made for an invaluable intervention for young Peter (although I have no idea why the creators chose to represent the adolescent Peter in S7 as such an awful bore, unless it was to distinguish how a clever boy having had “a good and caring mother”, again unlike himself, actually made no difference whatsoever?)

    I would disagree that Louisa’s character doesn’t understand others’ social differences and anxieties– she is depicted as a successful school teacher to children of an age who would be experiencing those very difficulties and all the awkwardness that accompanies them. There are smatterings of brief scenes across the series of Louisa attending to children facing such challenges. Notably, she doesn’t approach the problem with coddling, a commonly mistaken approach since children will often misconstrue any hint of it as being felt sorry for and thus merely tends to reinforce their sense of shame and unworthiness. Likewise for Louisa’s adult relationships with the village’s cast of peculiar characters that seem to be free of resentment and affliction were it otherwise as well as how she handles the inevitable misunderstandings.

    You raise great points about the interpretation of Martin’s sense of “making things worse.” I agree with you that it absolutely does not seem true, nor does it seem true for him from what we can perceive of his anxiety either. I hadn’t considered it before, but I think its origins lie in a sense of self-pity, a behaviour that Martin often engages in. A good example are those very instances where Louisa offers to help or to explain and he reflexively misconstrues them as being “apologised for”, a response of his that only serves to reinforce his sense of self-pity. Self-pity is a learned behaviour and somewhat like learned helplessness in childhood and would correspond to the persistent passivity Martin exhibits in matters beyond medicine and his inability to express to Louisa, in almost every given circumstance, what it is he wants. Thanks for all the thought provoking comments.

  59. Amy Cohen

    I love how you found all the literary allusions here. They went right over my head as I was too caught up in the story. When I watch the series and this episode again, I will be sure to keep your post in mind.

    The comments cover so many things that I think I’ve commented on elsewhere that I won’t repeat myself or the commenters. But I will say that it is just fascinating and fun to read the thoughts and reactions of others.

    One observation—you wrote this, I assume, thinking this was the last episode ever. When I watched it,I never thought of that as the last episode. If it had been, I would have been sorely disappointed because despite the “going home” language, there was nothing in this episode or this series overall that led me to believe that Martin and Louisa would make it as a couple without further intervention and help.

    Finally—I’ve heard from one source that there will definitely be TWO more series. Have you heard that? This person said she heard it from two authoritative sources including Philippa.

  60. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Yes, Philippa has reported that ITV has commissioned two more series and I know they are already working on S8. Jack Lothian is now the head writer and that is a good sign. IMO he is the best writer on the show.

    I did think they had written the last episode as if it were the last one for the show, and I thought it would be a good place to stop for many reasons. I don’t think they resolved the major issues regarding the marital woes between these two characters, but I have low expectations that we will ever get there.

    Thank you for being a dedicated reader. It’s always nice to know there are some out there!

  61. Amy Cohen

    I am dedicated—just wish I’d been at the party before all the guests left! 🙂

    My expectations aren’t too high either, but what’s the point of going on with 16 more episodes if they aren’t going to move the story to a satisfactory ending? I know TV isn’t “art” and that DM is not a novel or play, but it is a continuing story, not a sitcom, and the viewers certainly expect and I’d say deserve something more than more of the same.

    Here’s hoping…

  62. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Perhaps when they are sure that the show is coming to a final episode, they will try to give these characters and their marriage some sort of resolution. It’s tricky because the show depends so much on them being at odds with each other, and we know they aren’t about to change Martin very much. What we might end up with is getting them to a place where we can imagine they will remain a family despite continuing tensions. That’s basically where we all are in our own lives anyway. Honestly, I would be discontent with anything close to a conclusion that was too upbeat and artificially happy.

    My question now is where will S8 begin? MC and CC are aging, so are the other actors, and starting soon after S7, as they usually do from series to series, seems a bit of a stretch. On the other hand, if they jump ahead too far there will be a lot of time to account for. We’ll see what they come up with!

  63. Dre Flitcraft

    With season eight starting on Acorn soon, does anyone have any thoughts or expectations about what how things will go?

    The conclusion of season seven has Martin and Louisa reconciled and it is established that they want to be together and they have told each other so. Telling each other is an giant step forward, but that alone does not make everything fine. They still have far to go, many more steps, baby steps… Perhaps James Henry’s development will be used as a metaphor for the new development of their relationship. Surely it will be used for humor and cuteness.

    Some promos describe James Henry as a toddler. How much time will have gone by? Toddler could mean that he has just turned one, so it will still be at the end of season seven, or as old as three, so maybe a year or more has gone by. A gap or no gap, either would have a big effect on the telling of the story. While it might be gratifying for fans to see them pick up in that same romantic moment and to experience them putting their life together back together, I am not sure that would make for great television. If some months, maybe a year more or less, have passed the story might have better pacing. The couple could be settled back into their home, even more committed to their marriage, their issues still present but getting better. In real life the process of getting there might be really dull; often what a relationship needs is some drama-free privacy. The writers and the actors could tell us about that time with small touches or remembrances (not flashbacks) but the show could resume with fresher story lines and issues to be explored.

    None the less, it will be interesting to find out what progress they can make and how that happens. There has to be some progress. Even during the difficult parts of season seven there were things to build on. I don’t think that that ending meant “we’re just going to stay together.” It had to mean “we are going to get better.”

    One of the recurring devices has been them being interrupted any time they ever started to have a good talk. The conclusion of S7E8 was remarkable in that is was a secure private moment where no one was going to interfere. Will the scripts have them turning toward each other in public to force interruptions away when they need to complete a conversation? Will the scripts have more of those secure private moments? Will they learn to hear what the other means when the words don’t come out right? Those things are relationship basics–sometimes I wonder if the writers need counseling more than the characters.

    What about their emotional relationship? Can they get their affections in sync? Presumably they will be sharing a bed again. Does the S7E8 kiss signal a rekindling of passion? At the very least there should a little ease and comfort between them if only because they no longer need to question the other’s commitment. I don’t expect a Road to Damascus transformation–that would be false–but after all they have gone through the past two season, how could there not now be positive changes.

    I am looking forward to the Al and Morwenna story line. As I said before, they have that same uniquely suited to each other feeling. He had some issues growing up. Since her only family that we saw was her grandfather, we might assume her relationship with her parents was not ideal. Both are working out their identities. Both seem to be to be moral and competent. I have always liked Al because of the scene in season one in the bar when everyone is making fun of the doctor’s blood phobia. Al is participating in that but is clearly uncomfortable with it. I think that signaled a decency and generosity in him that appears in his dealings with Bert, Mark, Pauline, Mike, Joe, and Ruth. These two have a comradery that you wish Martin and Louisa could have. Whether their relationship is a mirror or a foil of the main couple or goes somewhere different, it could be very interesting.

  64. Amy

    Dre, I could answer some of those questions having seen the first episode of Series 8, but I assume you do not want things spoiled.

    As for Al, I also have always had a soft spot for the character. He is in many ways the most decent person in the whole show—moral like Martin, but kinder and more social; friendly and outgoing like Louisa without her edge and sharp tongue; smart (he beat Ruth in chess!) but not arrogant, hard-working, tolerant of his father most of the time, and so on. His only major flaw is not being his own man—letting his father rule his life.

    There were some who speculated that Al would someday be revealed as Martin’s half-brother—the spawn of Martin’s father and Bert’s wife. I doubt they will go that soap opera route!

  65. Dre Flitcraft

    Thanks, Amy. I guess I am a little late with this comment, but whatever. I will probably have to stay away from this site for a while, or be very careful which posts I read, since my schedule won’t allow me to start watching for a couple months. Have fun without me.

  66. Amy

    I didn’t mean to discourage you from commenting. I for one will not post any spoilers, but I can’t predict what others will do. Right now only Episode 1 is available on Acorn, not the whole season.

  67. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Dre, I may decide to write something before too long and that might make it difficult for you. I will say that they have stuck to the usual plan of not having much time pass between series. This new series begins fairly soon after the last one ended so don’t expect James to be a 2 or 3 yo.

    We only get one episode per week so we’ll see how things go.

  68. Amy

    Looking forward to new posts, Karen!

    Am I the only one who gets an error message whenever I click on the link in the email notifications of new comments? It always leads to “This is somewhat embarrassing, isn’t it? It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.”

    I always have to go back to the site through the basic URL and then look for the newest comment. Not a big deal, but for a newer reader, it might be discouraging!

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