The whole side story of Bert and his relationship with Jennifer has been a curiosity to me. It’s sweet that Bert revives an interest in a woman he knew a long time ago and might have even married if he hadn’t met someone else. But I wasn’t really sure what the point was in having this other love story in the series. In fact, I was sort of annoyed by the distraction. I even thought this secondary story was another way to avoid putting too many demands on Martin Clunes while he recovered, much like we speculate the storyline about Penhale’s survivor course might have been. However, now I’ve been thinking about it more and come up with something a bit more useful.
I think Bert’s interaction with Jennifer leading to his proposal should be seen as a counterpoint to how Martin has been handling his desire to be with Louisa. Of course, the Bert and Jennifer thing is much briefer, but here’s how I think it may work:
Jennifer comes to town unannounced after a long absence. Bert sees her and is surprised that she’s returned. He immediately approaches her and invites her to stay in his house instead of the Crab and Lobster. Even though he plans to have her pay for her lodgings, his real reason for offering her a place to stay is to have time to talk and rekindle his relationship with her. She’s happy to be asked. While she stays with him they get to know each other better and they confide in each other. It isn’t long before he asks her for a date and she accepts. Mrs. Tishell returns and Jennifer knows that as soon as Mrs. T is given permission to work unsupervised, she’ll be told to go somewhere else. Bert hopes to find something for Jennifer in town so she can stay on, but that doesn’t work out. A short time later Mrs. T gets the letter allowing her to run her business alone again and Bert is faced with the real prospect of Jennifer leaving. Al makes it clear to Bert that if he doesn’t want Jennifer to leave, he must act. And act he does. He tells the taxi driver to bring Jennifer to a quiet spot away from everything where he is waiting to ask her to marry him. He has the ring and he removes his hat as a formal gesture. It has all the hallmarks of a romantic proposal. Jennifer is duly surprised and impressed, and accepts.
If you look at it this way, Bert has handled his interplay with Jennifer the way we would have liked to have seen Martin treat Louisa. Louisa was a much tougher woman to convince when she first arrived back in Portwenn, and may not have accepted an offer by Martin to stay with him, but many people in the town thought he should have asked. At least once L has the baby, M asks if he can stay with her, and she is very happy to have him. Once they stay together, they develop a close connection and series 5 has many nice scenes while they all live together. M is the one who changes his plans to leave Portwenn first during series 5, but since Bert’s scenes with Jennifer occur during series 6, I think we can relate them to how M should have handled L’s decision to depart. If M does not want L to leave, which he certainly does not, he could have made some sort of romantic gesture or offered to drive her to the airport and cancel surgery that day, or he could have even asked the taxi driver to take her someplace where he could have been waiting. To me, L appears hopeful that M will say something loving when she’s standing behind the closed door to the bathroom and M is on the other side. But, despite his evident pain, he can only muster that his first patient has arrived. He offers to drive her only after the taxi is already there and he has a waiting room filled with patients. L knows he always feels a responsibility to his patients and isn’t about to be shut down again by asking him to choose her over his patients. (Ironically, M cancels his patients for 2 days when L is hit by the car, but he would not have voluntarily closed the surgery.) As it turns out, M is in no shape to see patients that day and Morwenna ends up canceling patients for the day after all. M goes after L due to an emergency, but he could have shown L his priorities without the emergency. Isn’t that what she’s looking for? She’d like to see him do something for her/with her without being asked or forced.
Originally posted 2013-11-17 18:29:13.