Sally Forth

Episode 6 is not just about Martin and Louisa; Sally and Clive Tishell play an important part due to how they handle their marital reconciliation. After Clive returns in E4 and surprises Sally, their decisions about the future of their marriage are used as a sort of guide to a better marriage. What they do is pretty much a model for how a married couple should reconcile, and how it can be done without a therapist.

When Clive resurfaces, he immediately embraces Sally even though he’s been gone for a long time. He doesn’t hold back despite the circumstances under which he left. It’s Sally who is cautious about taking him back and has no difficulty confronting Clive about being gone. Sally is beside herself over Clive’s return and tells Ruth about it as soon as she sees Ruth passing the pharmacy. Ruth’s advice to Sally is to have a frank conversation with Clive, which prompts Sally to succinctly list what they should talk about. They should discuss where their relationship has gone in the past, and where they are going in the future, and whether it’s apart or together, and if it’s together, how they will do that. There’s not much Ruth can add to that! (I was reminded of Sally’s monologue in the final episode of S5 when she recounts the on and off again relationship between Martin and Louisa so bluntly.)

It doesn’t take Sally long to get around to having a talk with Clive, and she lays out her feelings quite openly. Clive is agreeable and admits he was worried about what Sally would say if he asked her, before he returned. Next Sally tells Clive she’s changed and is no longer the woman he married. He accepts that and asserts he would marry her all over again anyway. He immediately disarms her and goes farther when he says, “I’m here for you Sal, if you’ll have me.” Her anger is defused but she’s still only willing to let him sleep on the couch.

It’s not difficult to juxtapose this exchange with the one we saw between Martin and Louisa when Louisa arrived unannounced in E2. Not only do they struggle to reveal their true feelings, but also their discussion is filled with unspoken psychological baggage. Martin never disarms Louisa by opening his heart and declaring he’s willing to do almost anything to convince her to take him back. Louisa is also unable to speak openly like Sally about how Martin disappointed her. Instead their separation becomes more laden with what is left unsaid. It’s as though the message is that the act of communicating is the fundamental solution to marital problems and eliminates the need for outside intervention.

In E5 we watch Sally as she continues to prepare casseroles to put outside Martin’s front door. Clive catches her in the act of cooking, but instead of getting angry and accusing her of any wrongdoing, he tells her he doesn’t know what she’s up to and doesn’t want to know. He’s letting the past stay in the past. Furthermore, he once again takes responsibility for not having been more attentive and possibly causing her to turn to untoward behaviors. But he suggests trying to trust each other and move on together. His next comments are the most critical: he tells her he ran away when she most needed him, but he’s there now and came back for her. It isn’t long before Sally takes the big step of throwing out her next cooked meal for Martin Ellingham and all the containers she had stored for more meals to come. This act is hugely significant for Sally.

Once again we can contrast Clive’s confessions with the total lack of admission of fault by Louisa. She, too, left when Martin most needed her, and she, too, has come back now. However, she isn’t willing to leave the past in the past. Martin has told Dr. T that he trusts Louisa but telling Louisa directly would be more effective. Moreover, he wants them to move on together yet has trouble expressing that to her. Martin even denies feeling lonely in the final scene of this episode, reinforcing the sense we have that he continues to avoid acknowledging his true feelings. All of their repressed and unsaid sentiments are placed at the root of their estrangement. Both Sally and Martin have suffered through major psychological events. Psychosis accompanied by delusional disorder marked by self-medication and criminal actions for her. Haemophobia followed by self-treatment and Major Depressive Disorder for him. They are both damaged by these experiences but Sally is not one to repress very much, and that seems to be healthier.

Now here we are in E6 and Sally finds Clive doing his best to help in the store. Already Clive’s efforts to demonstrate to Sally that he is sincere about rekindling their marriage are reaping big dividends. She has dropped her resistance to his advances and is ready to invite him back into their bedroom. Soon Sally is preparing Clive’s favorite meal for dinner and herself for a romantic evening.

The idyllic dinner Sally plans is precisely offset by the dinner plans of Martin and Louisa, even down to the replacement of the wine glasses on the dinner tables. The two dinners are intercut such that we watch both couples striving to make the evening a success, but in both cases that is not to be. Both end with medical emergencies and what appears to be a reconfirmation of their dedication to their spouses. Louisa makes clear that Danny has overstepped his boundaries and Martin seems satisfied to hear her put Danny in his place. Meanwhile, Clive has had a heart attack from applying testosterone gel combined with taking a pill to help with sexual arousal and Sally is overcome with anxiety that he might die. The difference in the level of emotion between Sally and Martin is exaggerated for comedic value as well as to demonstrate her newfound passion for her husband as opposed to Martin’s revulsion for such overflowing of emotion and his well-measured response to Louisa’s outburst. It would be nice to see Sally lower her excitement level and Martin increase his.

Nevertheless, Sally and Clive have proven that a marriage can be revived with a commitment to talk to each other, to be open about what they want from each other, and to accept responsibility for the mistakes that both of them have made. Sally would probably be categorized as a character with a small role that has a big impact. Throughout the show Sally has mostly been used as a thorn in Martin’s side, much like the dogs that follow him relentlessly. This time her impact is played out in how she lets bygones be bygones. It’s nice to see Sally used as more than for comedic gestures. Of course, she isn’t totally over her obsession with Martin. But we’re getting closer.




Originally posted 2015-11-05 20:08:02.

30 thoughts on “Sally Forth

  1. Paul

    Regarding the dichotomy between the two couples; Martin & Louisa and Sally & Clive, I find it striking how the relationships are similar but yet so different. Clive & Sally relationship appear to be converging, while Martin & Louisa are diverging. Why is this? If you analyze the problems between Clive and Sally vs. those of Louisa & Martin, I find that Sally has more grounds for resisting Clive than Louisa does for Martin. Clive is the one that left Sally and decided to live apart, for quite a long time. Further, Clive refused to visit Sally during her breakdown, even after Sally wrote to him and begged him to visit her. But when Clive shows up out of the blue, even though, Sally is at first resistant, but soon she appears ready to accept him back. Louisa, on the other hand, left Martin and then returned on her own terms and is now calling all the shots. She continues to give different signals to Martin; she berates him about couples counseling, but then changes her mind. She’s affectionate one minute and then cold the next. In one scene she appears to welcome Martin in the surgery , but at other times she seem to barley tolerate him.

    In E6, we have Clive and Sally planning a romantic evening together and Sally is dressed to enhance the occasion. Clive is so eager to perform that he endangers his health when he ODs on male enhancements. But Louisa keeps Martin at arm’s length, with no hint she wants to be intimate. Martin is never invited upstairs and he must ask before even entering his surgery. Additionally, Martin had to deal with Louisa’s ex-boy friend Danny who was hot to trot for Louisa especially after Louisa tells him she is and Martin are separated. We could debate whether Louisa was subconsciously encouraging Danny. Or she simply made thoughtless remark that she later regretted. Or perhaps it was a Freudian slip. The point is that Clive was spared from having to deal with this.

    Overall, it looks like Sally, in spite of her hurts is willing to forgive and accept Clive back. Louisa, on the other hand seems to be playing this control game of, “I’ll let you know when and if we can take the next step in the relationship” and “I’ll decide how close we can be”. Does Louisa do this because she is not ready to forgive? Maybe Louisa needs more time to decide, if Martin is even worth it? Sally has already crossed that bridge. What must Martin do in the remaining episodes to win Louisa’s heart? That’s the unanswered question, for me.

  2. Carol

    Really agree with this post. I am continually amazed at the writers of this show. It’s brilliant how they took these two couples through such similar issues, and yet arrive at totally different places. And bring in some of the funniest scenes we have ever been treated to in this show in the process. Absolutely amazing how they can drive home a very serious point, but still make it laugh out loud funny. When Mrs. Tishell gives Martin that look, after Clive has said how desirable she is, I began to cry because I laughed so hard! Terrific acting. Don’t know how anyone could keep a straight face.

    More proof of the excellence of this show. Writing and acting that are head and shoulders above anything else we see on TV.

  3. Santa Traugott

    For me, the interesting bit about Sally and Clive is that they are willing and able to forgive each other, in spite of the wounds they have received from each other. So the key to Martin and Louisa may be, can Louisa let go of anger, resentment, whatever she’s hanging on to, let bygones be bygones and move forward.

    The thing that resonates with me is that Sally and Clive communicate with each other, and each knows what has to be done to fix their marriage. Martin and Louisa never, ever, sit down and have a conversation about what went wrong and what they might try to do to fix it. Although it’s possible, given how conflicted Louisa apparently is, that such a conversation might even make things worse, unless and until Louisa develops some insight into her own issues and some sense that she might have contributed to their problems.

    I agree that there’s an unstated message here, which might be interesting to trace through the rest of the seasons/series, that simple people, salt of the earth people, know best, and it’s the so-called sophisticated and intellectuals who screw up and can’t manage simple human relationships.
    And I do wonder why that’s there.

  4. Post author

    Wait a minute Paul. Clive left Sally after she was so obsessed with Martin that she took a combination of medicines that made her psychotic, kidnapped Martin’s child and treated it as if it was hers and Martin’s, and was sent for treatment in a mental health clinic. Clive’s only culpability might be the fact that his work takes him away for long periods of time. In their cases both Clive and Sally have to forgive each other. Clive needs to accept Sally’s explanation that she wasn’t to blame (which must mean she’s blaming the meds that she chose to take), and Sally needs to forgive Clive for never visiting her even though she had reached out to him for help.

    Louisa is being extremely cautious about reuniting with Martin, and possibly much more cautious than would be expected in real life. But here we have to remember this is a TV show and they want to keep us in suspense about whether this couple can reconcile until the last episode. I think that many of us find they have pushed this separation thing to its limit and it strains credulity, but it’s a way to keep viewers coming back for more. Even so it is somewhat understandable that Louisa is wary of giving in too soon because each time she’s come back before, Martin has eventually deeply disappointed her again. I would imagine the idea is to make him abundantly aware that he’s on notice.

  5. Post author

    The scenes with Sally are almost always funny. Her comments to Martin are so off the wall, and when she’s trying to be encouraging to Clive in the store, she’s very amusing. Of course, later, up in the bedroom she is hysterical with her makeup, black lace stockings, and neck collar. That neck collar is eternally funny and I’m sure Selina Cadell hates the thing! But her big, blue eyes and facial expressions are priceless. I’m sorry, making shepherd’s pie and peas sound sexy is also a laugh!

  6. Post author

    Well, coming from the intellectual point of view and from a medical background (which I know is true for you too), I find it hard to swallow. It’s even more curious because Martin Ellingham is a doctor and an intellectual who stays abreast of the latest medical articles, nutritional recommendations, and exercise regimens and they serve him well. I’ve lost count of how many lives he’s supposed to have saved at this point. But they’re making the opposite point that people with very little education and very little use for healthy living habits are the ones whose advice we should heed. There’s a place for homespun guidance, but sometimes the characters who they appoint as the arbiters of good sense are surprising.

    We should all be willing to forgive and forget at some point, especially when it comes to people we love. I also agree it’s essential to talk things out as long as we have the tools to make the conversation positive. No matter how much we love someone, there are times when there are conflicts that need to be resolved. We just need to find a good way to resolve them and not allow them to fester and grow until they become insurmountable. Talking is often a good first step and worth a try!

  7. Doris

    Here is my take on the Sally & Clive versus Louisa & Martin issues. To me it comes done to the basic personality types of Louisa and Sally. Sally is a more caring and giving person than Louisa. One exception I’ll make with Louisa is that she’s very caring as a mother and makes James a top priority, in her life. Sally, of course has no children and perhaps this makes it easier for her to except Clive back. Also, Sally doesn’t have Louisa’s emotional baggage. Louisa, as we know, has had to deal with important people consistently letting her down. Examples include; Louisa’s parents, Danny and then Martin himself, and maybe others. Also, Louisa is a much more complex person than Sally is. Sally is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get person. While, Louisa is constantly giving Martin mixed signals. One of the reasons why Martin lets her down is because he has trouble understanding her. I also think Louisa is more confused about what she wants in her marriage and her expectations of Martin. On the other hand, Sally has already come to grips with her expectations about Clive and her marriage. I think one of the biggest hindrances in Martin & Louisa’s happiness together is Louisa’s own conflicting feelings.

    Regarding Clive and Martin, both men want the same results – be happily united with their wives. Both are trying very hard to achieve this, with Martin possibly tying the hardest. Sally has provided Clive with an open door and easy access, while Louisa gives Martin an obstacle course to navigate through.

    Just my opinion.

  8. Post author

    Doris, there’s no doubt that Sally and Louisa have very different temperaments. We have little background about Sally and that isn’t important to the show, so it’s really hard to make a determination about her emotional baggage. Sally is a secondary character who has a much smaller role in the show, but still makes an impact. She’s mostly used as a comic interlude except when she abducts JH. Clive is also not developed much and mostly has some funny scenes.

    The decision to use Sally and Clive as a guide to how to reconcile is meant to be both funny and poignant. Sally has been obsessed with Martin, Martin has been obsessed with Louisa, and Louisa and Clive have been positioned to figure out how to restart their foundering marriages. We get two different approaches with a bunch of false starts, but it’s interesting to see how they have juxtaposed these two couples and E6 puts that front and center.

    Everything I write is just my opinion and yours is as good as mine. I enjoy the act of thinking through what the mission of the show is and how they get there.

  9. Laura H

    Does the different circumstance of Clive’s return to Sally in Series 7 versus his return in Series 5 have any bearing as to Sally’s seeing him differently? When Clive returned in Series 5, he wanted Sally to retire and go traveling around the country with him…in other words for Sally to join him in his retirement dream. She doesn’t want to do that. Clive seems to have gotten that message when he returns in Series 7…he’ll be a part of Pharmacy Team Tishell, changing his former dream to her desires. This is much the same case as Martin giving up his surgeon dream to stay in the village where Louisa wants to be.

    I didn’t get a sense that the episode was trying to use Clive and Sally as successful in reuniting because of their less intellectual status than Martin and Louisa. M and L’s dinner at The Castle was overshadowed by still unresolved issues and Danny interrupting. Both dinners were humorous in different ways. Clive and Sally’ s because it is a prelude to a romantic or possible intimate encounter that is hilariously funny, and Martin and Louisa’s because they both scare the bejeebies out of the waiter. Just my opinion, but think the writers were merely going for laughs. Funny stuff:) I sighed relief at the logistics of the dinner, as Martin brought real and gorgeous flowers to Louisa and chose a restaurant that was where they first met. See, he can do romance if he tries:) That was a relief.

  10. Brendan

    I have a quick question on something that I have been puzzled about. It’s a scene from S2 E8. The scene follows Martin’s medical treatment of Mrs. T’s neck problem. Also, Louisa had just broken up with Danny. When Louisa and Martin walks from the chemistry (pharmacy), she abruptly turns towards Martin and says, “Martin there’s 20 things that are crap about you, but you’re still Martin Ellingham…” (Paraphrasing).

    Here’s my question – was Louisa paying Martin some sort of strange compliment, by saying he’s crap? Was she sending a double message? Why didn’t she say something like “there’s 10 things about you that are crap, but there are 10 things that are admirable” , or something like this. Was her remarks related with what she told Danny about having no substance, earlier? What am I missing?

  11. Post author

    I think the circumstances of Clive’s return in S5 are different because then he’s simply returning from his usual time away. He has no reason to suspect anything is amiss and is proposing that they retire and travel together. He doesn’t yet realize that she has become obsessed with ME. Even when she runs off with JH, he questions whether ME has made advances toward her, and I would suppose that means he still believes in her loyalty to him. When he has to retrieve her from the Castle and take her to a hospital for psychiatric illness, he can no longer delude himself, or at least we would think so. I have to say I was surprised to see in this series that Clive blames himself so much and thinks he almost drove Sally into another man’s arms (and that other man is sitting across from him and never had any interest in Sally). For Clive, Sally is still beautiful and desirable. Sally really can do no wrong in his eyes, and maybe that’s another message. If you love someone, almost anything they do can be seen through that prism.

    I guess you could say Clive is willing to give up his dream of traveling. He had wanted to retire earlier, so it isn’t such a big step for him to do it now.

    Clive and Sally are very funny in their effort to be romantic, and that was definitely going for laughs in my mind as opposed to the dinner with Martin and Louisa. I would guess that was the idea…let’s offset the serious with the humorous. Eventually both become serious, but Sally’s behavior keeps things on the lighter side in their setting even then. In a way Martin’s romantic gestures backfired because they didn’t lead to the outcome he was hoping for, although it looked like Louisa was impressed with his planning. That poor waiter took a lot of grief for just doing his job. I wouldn’t be too tough on Martin here because his tendency to react too strongly was pretty understandable under these circumstances.

  12. Post author

    My interpretation of Louisa’s comment in that scene is that she is annoyed by Martin’s unique ways of handling things, but she likes the fact that he is unwavering and reliable. It may not have been the nicest way to tell him something mostly complimentary, but that’s the state of their relationship at that time.

    It’s great that you remind us of that scene because that appraisal of him is important. She has always known he has his difficult traits, yet she is also aware that he is solid through and through when it comes to his fundamental personality.

  13. Cathy R

    Brendan, that’s one of my favorite Louisa/ Martin interchanges! I love how she says “Martin, there are twenty things about you that are crap!” and he immediately answers, “Thank you,” as if he’s used to people insulting him. I do consider what she says to him next to be a compliment, “…but if you were a stick of rock, you’d be Martin Ellingham all the way through,” but ‘stick of rock’ was a phrase I’d never heard so I researched it. Those of you who are Brits or Anglophiles might know already that a ‘stick of rock’ is a stick of hard candy often sold at British seaside towns, and one of its identifying characteristics is that it has words formed in the candy which go all the way through (here’s a photo link: ). Essentially Louisa is favorably contrasting Martin’s reliable personality, difficult though it may be, with Danny’s less dependable one. Even though Danny is warm, attentive, and outgoing, she prefers Martin’s quirks because he knows who he is and accepts it. Also, whenever she needs Martin he is immediately available for her (the frequent emergencies at the school, his housecall when she ill from Bert’s “French” bottled water), whereas Danny, who has already left Portwenn once for his career, paints her a pretty picture in his marriage proposal of an idyllic village life for them one moment, then the next he’s accepted a job in London and assumes she’ll drop everything and follow him. Maybe there’s another layer of meaning there too, in that a stick of rock is something enjoyable?

  14. Cathy R

    A difference I noticed in series 5 Clive versus series 7 Clive is that in series 5, he comes across as a two-dimensional buffoon. In contrast with Sally’s career as a licensed pharmacist, Clive is a blue collar worker with sex constantly on his mind and a hearing problem which he refuses to address. Regardless of how much or little Sally cares for him, it would be difficult to carry on an intimate relationship with someone who is constantly yelling at the top of his lungs. I do think that the great thing about writing for this show, and for television in general, is that writers can pull characters from past episodes, flesh them out more, and give them new functions as necessary. This tactic has often been used to the point of ridiculousness in soap operas, where a character is supposedly killed off but then we find out years later that they were in fact not dead; but I think the writers of Doc Martin have been judicious in their reuse of characters like Danny, Martin’s mother, and Peter Cronk. I will say that I didn’t feel like the recent portrayal of Peter matched up with the earlier character. In series 1 and 2, Peter is an intelligent, lonely boy, but he’s still a typical boy in many ways: he plays with the dog, he wants to eat junk food, and he rents a normally off-limit violent movie when Martin isn’t paying attention. In series 7 the writers have portrayed him as a mini Martin, complete with jacket and tie, spouting medical jargon, and generally acting like a know-it-all.

  15. Post author

    I love the comparison you draw between Danny and Martin. Martin’s dependability is certainly important to Louisa. Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

  16. Brendan

    Thank you so much for clarifying this, especially, the stick of rock meaning. I had no idea it referred to hard candy. I have one more follow-up question that follows this scene. Louisa and Martin are drinking wine, together in his kitchen. Louisa is commenting about Martin’s personality and makes the reference “You’re Martin Ellingham on the Ten…”. Use of Ten, is she referring to the British equivalent of a ten dollar bill? Is she is saying Martin is as stable, as British currency?

  17. Cathy R

    Brendan, I think what she means is a “tin”, as in a tin of candy or biscuits (cookies). In other words, he’s exactly what it says on the label. I find the writers to be so clever with dialogue on this show.

  18. DM

    Hi, Doris. It’s interesting to compare the two characters of Louisa and Sally, despite the handicap Karen rightly points out of the latter being a supporting character (and probably has been married for an additional 20 years). The thought that, “Sally is a more caring and giving person than Louisa,” (James Henry being the exception) is an intriguing one. Their distinct personalities do seem to enjoy friendly interactions around the village, and of course have been rivals for Martin’s affections. I’ve always imagined that a big part of Martin’s attraction to Louisa is all her traits that are essentially not like his mother, caring and giving being key ones. Do you think this interpretation, the same as Martin’s apparently, has been wrong? How did you arrive at your opinion?

  19. Paul

    One of the main elements that separates the Doc Martin series from others, both American and British, is the tremendous chemistry that is exists between Clunes and Catz. I’m not saying that there is no chemistry between the other characters, like Sally & Clive, but it is this chemistry that made me a fan of the show. This is what I would like to explore with this post. Also this subject has been referenced on other posts, as well.

    When people, or critics use the word chemistry (i.e. screen chemistry), are they referring to the believability in a relationship between the characters. Chemistry doesn’t have to be between a man & woman; it can be portrayed between a boy and his dog, or even a boy and an alien (Movie ET).

    Returning back to Martin & Louisa, their chemistry is manifested in all different ways. For instance in S7 E2, when Louisa walks into the waiting room and Martin first turns around, there is this moment when they both gaze at each other, without speaking. For me, I found this compelling, even though they don’t speak; they simply use their eyes to convey their feelings. Then Martin says “Louisa”, Louisa says “Martin”, and there is another moment when their eyes seem to talk for them. There are many other examples throughout the series where this is displayed.

    Here is crux of my question (Louisa & Martin). What is it that makes this work and work so well? Is it just brilliant acting by Clunes & Catz, or good directing with the use of cameras? My opinion is that Catz brings the majority of the chemistry, (60 to 70%); not to imply that Clunes doesn’t contribute. But that Caroline Catz is a master at conveying facial gestures and body language to communicate her emotions for a specific scene.

  20. Post author

    I was pleased that they brought back some characters from previous years this series, including Peter Cronk, Danny, Clive, Chippy Miller, and Pippa. For me this was to once again stir up the action, which they did, and to sort of take a final bow in case this is the last series. In addition to that, many viewers have wondered what happened to some of these folks, especially Roger Fenn, although he did not return. Portwenn is such a small village and there have been so few characters overall that it’s kind of expected that we would see them again in some capacity.

    I thought they made Peter Cronk pretty obnoxious, but then they took him down a peg or two at the end. He always expressed an interest in becoming a doctor and compared himself to ME when he was younger, but ME sets him straight about acting as if he’s a doctor without having the training. It was a good lesson in how mixing naturopathic substances with prescription meds can get people in a lot of trouble too. It was also a reminder of the time when Peter and Peter’s mother had brought Martin and Louisa together previously, and in a very similar fashion to this one. I was impressed with how they put all of that to good use.

  21. Post author

    Paul, I agree that CC and MC have good chemistry, which to me means they take cues from each other and work well as a team. We believe that they could be a couple and that helps in making us willing to suspend our disbelief, something we always need to do when watching a film or show.

    In Dec. 2013 I wrote a post about the importance of Eyes, especially now that films and TV use so many close up shots. It comes down to the actors consciously using their eyes and the editors making the most of it. I very much agree that Caroline Catz is masterful at using her eyes to express emotions of all kinds.

  22. DM

    I see a larger theme exhibited by the Sally and Clive subplot, that of tenacity. Tenacity together with communications is what makes even the idea of marriage a practicable endeavour. Likewise, tenacity as a theme seems to characterise Bert’s subplot in this series especially too, as it does for much of his long running storyline.

    The parallels between the Sally and Clive couple and Martin and Louisa couple, requires a few significant differences to be noted first. Sally and Clive have been married for about 20 years and we can infer that it began with a period of as a foundation for trust and commitment to develop. From Clive’s earlier appearances, we can probably infer that problems began to develop from his continual lack of presence on account of his job.

    When Clive returns in this series, he forswears his job, proclaims his love and devotion to his wife, and eagerly looks forward to living, working, helping, and being together with her– not the first time, or even the second time, but for now the third time. Back in S4, it seemed that Clive’s long absences, despite his continued devotion and faithfulness, already accounted for Sally’s wavering commitment to marriage as Sally pushes him away, glad to see him return to the rigs. Clive returns again in S5 where she again pushes him, nixing the idea of spending time together, working together or traveling into retirement.
    This happens even before she mixes medications and precipitates her breakdown and ruptures her marriage with her obsession, then treatment and, as we learn, long estranged convalescence. In S7, he returns replete with contrition for running away at that critical time, addresses his culpability by ending his long absences, recommits himself to the relationship, and finds forbearance that his spouse will change of her own accord to overcome the lingering effects of her obsession with Martin. That sort of tenacity is what makes a lasting reconciliation possible in S7E6.

    Unfortunately, the idea of tenacity conjures up a different scenario when a marriage is already under threat two weeks after the wedding. Without much of a stable period or an, at best, milquetoast-y investment in therapy, the idea of “reconciliation” (an inherently broad term) means something frightfully different.

    Of course there are many interesting scenes in this episode and so much great material too. There is perhaps a visual pun in the scene of Martin and Ruth walking together to deliver the cake (considering how unusual and intriguing that scene already is for various reasons) where Martin tells her: “It just doesn’t seem to be working…. I’m just not very good at “it”… Therapy. Marriage. You know,” followed shortly thereafter when the birthday party goes awry and Louisa’s responds similar: “I just don’t know why things have to be so difficult between us… I wish it were simpler”. The visual pun being that “it” (therapy and marriage) is not meant to be a cakewalk, a tribute to tenacity, it might seem. Of course, Ruth’s specious comment to Martin that, “Everyone loves [a piece of] cake,” and Martin’s unequivocal rejoinder of, “I don’t”
    suggests that nothing about Martin is meant to be a “piece of cake”– a certain requisite for tenacity.

    And as for peas– an aphrodisiac, who knew?

  23. Doris

    Hi DM, I arrived at this conclusion about the two women based on my reflections from the last episode of S5, Louisa’s decision to leave in S6 and particularly when Louisa returns from Spain. I see episode 7 from two perspectives. (1) She returns with the intent of calling the shots with Martin, and (2) Louisa’s ambivalent feeling because of the previous people in her live, as already noted. I did believe that at a certain level Sally is more forgiving person then Louisa (I’ll backtrack somewhat on what I wrote earlier regarding Sally being more giving than Louisa). Again I’m making certain assumptions here, since we know more about Louisa’s past than Sally.

    Regarding Martin’s attraction to Louisa; I think there are many aspects to this that includes, her beauty (Martin has said more than once how beautiful Louisa is), being a loving and caring mother, intelligent (even though Martin may not have explicitly said, I believe he feels she’s intelligent), and Louisa has shown that she can be warm and affectionate with him. I also think its Louisa’s warmth and affection he caveats the most, the antithesis of his mother. Louisa certainly showed this side of her in S6, unfortunately, Martin for various reasons didn’t reciprocate. Martin did make some feeble gestures at the end of S8, but really never told Louisa how he really felt about her. Certainly he didn’t tell her what she needed to hear.

  24. Post author

    You’re right that Sally and Clive have been married a lot longer, and we would have to assume there has been some commitment to each other. They never had children, and we’re not sure why. When Sally becomes psychotic and appears at the surgery, she comforts James Henry and Morwenna acts like she’s surprised at how good Sally is with children. Sally notes that she’s still not too old to have a child, which to me indicates just how much she’s hallucinating! It’s true that Clive’s job has taken him away from Portwenn for long periods of time, but many men have jobs like that and women just make adjustments. Maybe in the 21st century, women aren’t so quick to accept those circumstances.

    I think you’re right to identify tenacity as a theme and Clive and Bert as good examples of it, although to some degree they are also good examples of positive thinkers and/or possibly moronic (as the good doctor is prone to saying). They both are willing to take a punch and get up again and again. Bert doesn’t fight much though when Jennifer rejects him, but maybe that’s because it was time for that storyline to bid adieu. He does persevere in other ways, and I like that he isn’t willing to let each failure get him down for long. Lucky for him Ruth comes along to rescue him much like she did Al. A whiskey business would probably bring in patrons!

    Your idea about the wordplay with “cakewalk” and “piece of cake” is lots of fun, and I see no reason that it wouldn’t have been intentional. Nothing has been easy for Martin, Louisa, Clive, Sally, or Bert, so why not call them all tenacious. Thanks!

  25. Paul

    I inadvertently posted this in the wrong section of the site. Sorry

    I have a couple of questions regarding S4.

    Louisa shows up unexpectedly 6-7 months pregnant. Louisa is surprised; possible shocked to see Edith sitting in the kitchen. I think her surprise at seeing Edith is more about that fact that Martin actually has a woman with him, that anything else( i.e. how can someone like Martin possible have a woman with him?) Edith is present throughout the series and it’s clear from the onset that neither Louisa nor Edith like one another. It is also clear that Edith is jealousy towards Louisa, mainly because she’s carrying Martin’s child.

    Here is my first question. Is Louisa really Jealous of Edit, or is it that Edith is merely a distasteful person? We all know that Martin holds no romantic interest in Edith. My assumption has been that Louisa never believed that Martin had any romantic feelings for Edith.

    My second question is Louisa reluctance in having Martin is part of her life. And why does she thwart every attempt by Martin wanting to care for her and the unborn baby? She does not contact him when she discovers she’s pregnant. Then tells him her pregnancy and the unborn baby is not his problem. Am I not seeing the situation correctly?

  26. Post author

    Paul, I have a post entitled “What’s the Matter with Edith?” (4/2015) that gives you some of my thoughts about Edith’s role. I never thought Martin was romantically interested in Edith either, but many people did/do and I think she was supposed to be plausible as a love interest. Like Danny had been for Louisa, Edith was someone from Martin’s past and makes Louisa jealous. I think Louisa would never have guessed that Martin would have another woman in his life so soon after she left, and Martin really doesn’t because he doesn’t “get” that Edith is manipulating him. He’s always clueless.

    I have also written about Louisa and her keen desire to be independent. She jumps to conclusions about Martin because they called off the marriage with the mutual understanding that it wasn’t the best decision for them. Now she wants to keep the baby and makes assumptions without checking. If she had called him when she first found out she was pregnant and he had discouraged her from going ahead with the pregnancy, she’d be in more of a quandary. When she returns at the end of her second trimester, it’s too late for him to stop her. But she’s too proud to accept anything from him, to her own detriment. She made the decision to have the baby and now she’s going to take responsibility for the rest, no matter what he thinks. She is in her self-protective mode. She reads him entirely wrong, as she does many times. That’s a major conceit of the show and part of what makes their relationship so rocky.

  27. DM

    Thanks, Doris. I understand what you’re saying much better now. I too have been trying to work out Louisa’s behaviour since the end of S6 (almost there I think). Her behaviour is greatly complicated by the fact that neither Martin nor Louisa are able to tell the other what they themselves want, even in this series (to rather tell what they want from the other, is an unhealthy and harmful alternative). That’s another aspect, and one not strictly related to communications, where Martin and Louisa are deficient in contrast to Clive and Sally.

    Although Aunt Ruth does pose this pointed question to Martin, she let’s the opportunity pass to press Martin on his answer of, “I only want this bloody thing to be over.” What?! The therapy? The marriage? The anxiety over the therapy? Or the challenge and anxiety of the marriage? Because some of those answers are easy- if that’s what Martin wants. Because if that is what he wants, Aunt Ruth herself said it best, “…then just let the poor girl go.”

    I’m sure it’ll all be made crystal clear for us by the next episode- Ha!

  28. Post author

    What you say is so much at the heart of how this series and the therapy have been written. You want ambiguity? Well, here’s tons of it!

    The only thing that’s clear is that they leave a lot opaque!!

  29. Brendan

    One final thought on E6. Louisa is showing a side to Martin that’s was one of the reason why she left for Spain in the first place. That is, indifference.. In S6, Martin shows indifference and insensitivity with Louisa, while she is trying reach out to Martin. In S7, there is a reversal, t Martin is the one trying with Louisa and Louisa is being insensitive with Martin. This is evident with Martin’s concern about Danny’s presence and Louisa’s brushing his concerns aside. This occurs several times in the episode. Additionally, the way she handled the scene in the woods after Danny’s inappropriate action when Martin walks up. Martin hears the dialogue between Danny and Louisa and an argument ensues, between Martin and Danny. I thought it was odd for Louisa to chime in and tell BOTH to get a grip. Danny had just made an improper advance with Louisa (it’s not clear if Martin saw that, but he certainly overheard Danny’s gesture of that Louisa should leave Martin, also inappropriate). I would have expected her to say something like; “Danny you need to get a grip and help us find the missing child”, or something like that. Instead, she seems to be scolding both men here. I have wondered if her behavior through these episodes is a kind of pay back, for the way she was treated, S6. Your’e Thoughts?

  30. Post author

    My view of the scene with Danny and Martin is that Martin came to her rescue when Danny was badgering her and told her God works in mysterious ways. Martin heard that and heard Louisa say “No” to him several times, then he spoke up. He hears Danny’s unsolicited opinion of their marriage, sees Louisa find it also without merit, and calls Danny smug and sanctimonious. By this time Louisa thinks things have deteriorated to a juvenile level and she wants them both to grow up. There is still a missing child out there. She’s also probably a bit embarrassed that Danny had ambushed her and just wanted to get out of there.

    There are times during this series when Louisa seems to be giving Martin some of his own medicine, so to speak. I don’t think this is one of them though. It’s more when she won’t give him an answer that it looks like that to me.

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