We are now at S7E5 and I have noticed that there is a refrain going through this series. We have talked about the question of whether people can change, and that several characters (notably Martin, Louisa, and Ruth) think they can. In this series they have added the undercurrent of being unable to stop, whatever that can be construed to mean.
On at least three occasions that I can think of characters have literally announced they can’t stop. The first time is when Martin runs past Louisa near the school on the way to see a patient, she calls out to him, and he says “I can’t stop.” The next time is when Louisa is in a hurry to get to work after Janice has shown up late and she runs by Martin. She says “I can’t stop.” The third time I noticed is when Angela Sim tells Mrs. Tishell she can’t stop as she runs up the road to the surgery. Angela repeats this refrain a couple of times.
We can see that there is a literal reason for each of these characters to say they can’t stop. Martin has to get to a patient, Louisa has to get to work, and Angela thinks she has an urgent message for the doc. But repeating that phrase makes it stand out in a way that for me gives it more substance.
We know there are many issues related to control in this show. More specifically and immediately, we are now hearing from the therapist that she notices that Martin likes to be in control and she wants Martin to let Louisa control an activity. We may find that a bit jarring since we know Louisa usually has been the one to determine the direction of their relationship, but we also know that Martin’s behavior denotes significant problems with repression and a need to control his environment. The refrain of “I can’t stop,” therefore, takes on the meaning of lack of control and an inability to change.
In S6E1 I was impressed to hear Louisa say to Martin during a romantic moment “anything you say.” Of course, he responded “I didn’t say anything.” Nevertheless, for that moment at least she was handing over control to him. The rest of the episode, however, was a battle of who was in control. He walks off in search of a phone and with no thought about her difficulty in keeping up with him, she tells him they’re going the wrong way but can’t get him to stop, she refuses to wade across the stream and he carries her, she walks off in a rage because he never understands what she’s saying, they reach the caravan where she grabs the flashlight from him, soon she grabs the rifle and demands an apology from the caravan owner, etc., etc. By the end of the episode, they’re walking arm in arm and are back on equal footing. Nevertheless, who’s in control is a major stumbling block for them, and being unable to stop trying to do things their own way only ends when they work together to save the caravan owner’s life.
In this series we expect to see both of them make an effort to change so that their marriage can recover. But what if the hitch is they can’t stop…they can’t stop being who they are and acting out in their customary ways? There is always a point where we plateau or make little progress. It’s like being on a diet and losing weight consistently until the weight no longer drops off, and that’s when we have to dig in and not give up. We may have reached such a place with them at this stage in their therapy.
Bringing in the phrase “I can’t stop” at regular intervals reminds us that stopping is an important step in the process of changing. Martin has to stop being so closed off and so sure of how each day must proceed. He can’t follow the rigid sequence he’s always had while living alone and that he has gone back to in some ways now that he’s once again living by himself. We see him starting his morning with a cup of espresso, always wearing his suit and tie, marching down the street to work like clockwork, and going through his day as if nothing has changed. But it has changed, and now he’s seeing a therapist with Louisa and visiting Louisa and James, and he’s beginning to realize that he needs to accept more disruptions. Maybe Louisa likes eating sausage on occasion and he can’t expect her to want fish every day just because he does.
For her part, Louisa needs to stop assuming his problems are causing their troubles and accept that she now has to share space and make compromises for their marriage. She also has to stop expecting him to make dramatic changes in his behavior because that’s a long term process, as the therapist says. She has to take the trust he puts in her and reinforce it by her actions until he can relax and give in to her. We may never see that whole process, but it will hopefully be implied.
I took great interest in watching Mrs. Tishell throw away the food she cooked for Martin and then throw away all the containers she had bought in preparation for making him many more meals. She has been able to stop finally, or at least it looks that way. The preview of the next episode shows her telling Clive that he can rejoin her in the bedroom. He has offered an authentic apology including not wanting to know what she’s been up to. He simply wants her to take him back and give him another chance. As predicted by Luskin’s prescriptions for forgiveness, she has a positive response to that request. I have to admit that I had reached my limit with Sally Tishell’s obsession with Martin. This series they are using her for much better purposes and I appreciate that.
I hope to see Bert stop living on the good graces of his son and Ruth, Al and Morwenna stop being so worried about being a couple, and perhaps Penhale stop being so alone. Most importantly, of course, I hope to see Martin and Louisa stop erecting defenses and admit they both need to work on themselves and on their marriage. Mrs. Tishell is the first chink in the armor of feeling unable to stop. She shouldn’t be the last.
Originally posted 2015-10-07 11:47:21.