Failure to Communicate

Let’s start at the very beginning; it’s a very good place to start (to coin a phrase). I also want to make sure those of you who are in the U.S. and Canada aren’t upset by any discussions that go past what’s available on Acorn TV. As of Monday, Oct. 12, E1-3 will be viewable, so I will keep this post confined to those three episodes. We can always add more once we have additional episodes to watch.

Although E1 is entitled “Rescue Me,” and we can see how they arrived at that designation, I would submit they could have called it “Failure to Communicate.” They might argue that that would be too obvious, but for me it says a lot. This show is built on the constant inability of its two protagonists to communicate with each other. Many times they misunderstand each other. Sometimes that’s because they have trouble expressing themselves clearly or because they have trouble interpreting what the other person is saying. Other times it’s because they are interrupted. Then there’s the regular instances of Martin simply being lacking in insight and responding literally and undiplomatically to what Louisa says.

Their inability to talk to each other reached its zenith in S6 when Martin stopped talking to Louisa about almost everything. She never heard him tell his mother that his family consists of his wife, his son, and Ruth; she wasn’t there when he told his mother to leave or when he spoke to Ruth. Around her Martin was tongue tied at best, as in when he objected at first to taking James to the music group, and utterly stifled at worst. We don’t see him able to express himself to Louisa until he needs to race to the airport and take her off the plane. When he finally has an opportunity to say something to her from his heart, she is sedated and we’re never sure she can remember it.

We start S7 without knowing what happened once Louisa was released from the hospital, but we have to think that Martin never reiterated what he told her in the hospital or she wouldn’t have taken James to Spain. We know Louisa didn’t want to return to the way things were before she had the emergency surgery; however, it’s hard to imagine that if Martin had appealed to her to help him be a better husband, she would have left. Logic says he was once again unable to bring himself to tell her outright that he didn’t want her to leave and what he had finally done about his mother. Principally, the first episode emphasizes many communication impediments. Nearly everyone has many problems hearing and/or talking to others by phone, by radio, and in person.

Martin hasn’t heard from Louisa in 3 weeks. He brings himself to call her but has to leave a message. She calls back on the surgery phone and he can’t hear her. She texts that she has poor reception where she is, then she calls and he’s in a place with poor reception. Her final try to reach him by phone is when he’s with Dr. T and he doesn’t get her call. It’s heartening to see that she continues to attempt to contact him; and deliberately frustrating for him and for us that he never actually talks to her. Since she is so persistent we can’t help thinking that all he had to have done during those 3 weeks was to have tried to call her. Her voice messages and text message are all pleasant and conciliatory.

Martin also has been trying to reach Ruth without success. Once he finds her at home, he informs her he’s been calling her for days. When he manages to get across that he wants to start therapy, she doesn’t at first understand that he wants her to provide therapy for him.

Beyond the Martin and Louisa situation, there are several other times in this episode where there are communication hangups. Morwenna and Martin misunderstand each other almost from the outset of the episode. She wants to participate in the boat rescue event, she wants a pay rise, she wants to reschedule his afternoon patients, and he considers all of these things inappropriate and unnecessary. Then, when she’s crashed in an isolated bay and trying to reach him on the phone or the radio, Martin can’t hear her or she can’t hear him. The rescue squad has its problems too. It can’t reach Steve and the boat’s radio can’t get a message out for some time.

In addition to all this trouble communicating, Steve Baker withholds information from Martin and Barry. No one from the press knows what’s going on, and Martin disrupts their transmissions. Moreover, Al doesn’t tell Ruth the truth about the condition of the B + B, and Steve is forever telling Al to trust him while giving him no reason to do so.

The whole episode is truly a massive amount of failures to communicate. My assessment is that we start this series with this theme because it is at the crux of the troubles between Martin and Louisa and always has been. Furthermore, communication is the key to interpersonal interactions of all kinds and this episode magnifies that.

Episode 2 has fewer miscommunication examples; however, there are enough to sustain the theme of communication being at the heart of this series. Louisa shows up at the surgery unexpectedly, although Martin acts like he thought she would arrive later. Several of their conversations are interrupted, and when they do have a chance to talk, they are both very awkward. It’s clear that they are struggling to converse because the elephant in the room is the future of their marriage and neither one of them is ready to talk about it…until dinner. Even then, the tension in the air is inescapable. One of the truly meaningful exchanges between Martin and Louisa in this episode occurs when Martin is packing so that he can move out to please Louisa. His first attempt at telling her he likes having her and James back comes when he says, “You know I don’t miss the peace and quiet.” She needs clarification and he repeats that now that she’s back he didn’t miss it. What he’s saying still doesn’t make sense to her, and she asks him what he’s trying to say. This time he is clear and says, “When you and James weren’t here, everything was neat and tidy and quiet, and now that you’re back, it’s not, and that’s fine.” In this example, we get a glimpse of the effort Martin is making to express himself better and to make himself more vulnerable.

Martin’s first appointment with Dr. Timoney is a mixture of the doctor setting the tone and of Martin making real attempts to reveal intimate information about himself. Even at this early stage in the clinical setting, she knows more about Martin’s early childhood than Louisa, at least to the best of our knowledge. Still there’s a sense that there’s so much more she should find out and more probing is necessary.

In other parts of the episode we note that Al’s guest couple have very different ideas about what a fishing holiday should entail. He wants peace and quiet while she wants relaxation and time spent together. The two positions are very much at odds and lead to one mishap after another. The funniest depiction of inability to communicate to me is when Bert tries to tell Al he has no lobsters for dinner and ends up looking like he’s playing castanets.

But it’s in this episode that we start to see more withholding of information. The act of hesitating to say what’s really essential is just as important as anything that can be said outright. Sometimes silence means more than any words can convey. Lack of communication includes what we leave out and neglect to say. Many times during this and later episodes there are pregnant silences during which either Louisa or Martin or both don’t know what to say and just stare at each other. Ruth, too, withholds much about her symptoms, probably as much from herself as from Martin. It isn’t until Ruth finally can’t walk steadily and Martin prevails on her to go back home with him that she gives in. (Can we think that this scene presages what may take place between Martin and Louisa?)

[For those of you who are interested in literary theory, Jacques Derrida’s philosophy could apply here. Perhaps Derrida’s most quoted and famous assertion, which appears in an essay on Rousseau in his book Of Grammatology (1967), is the statement that “there is no outside-text” (il n’y a pas de hors-texte). For most of us this means that what is left out of a text is as important as what is left in. (I am being very reductionist here, but getting into Derrida is really outside the scope of this post.)]

It’s amusing that E3 is given the title “It’s Good to Talk” because this episode is once again filled with scenes during which communication, or lack thereof, is prominent. Bert has lost the restaurant and has received a letter from Jennifer breaking off their engagement, but he chooses not to tell Al anything about it and he’s very evasive with Ruth. Al does his best to avoid telling Ruth that business is bad, and later finds himself at a loss for words while on the radio. The entire secondary story about Dermot and Elise is filled with misunderstandings and much withholding of information. Their daughter Ellie has nothing but resentment towards her parents and they see no value in what she wants to do with her life. Interestingly, Ellie is a writer of songs that express her feelings. When direct communication fails, some turn to writing.

The radio station creates lots of opportunities for communication problems, but it’s most notable for the so-called “dead air” DJ Melanie has to fill. After all, what is a radio station without sound? And how often is “dead air” filled with so much meaningless babble?

Martin and Louisa are clashing and Louisa gives him a comeuppance he is stunned by. Later Louisa’s view of Dr. T is complicated by Ruth’s devious method of making Louisa think again about couple’s therapy. By the end of the episode Louisa first finds it hard to give Martin some praise for saving Ellie’s life even though she is obviously proud of her husband and makes a special point of telling James. On the other hand, she is the one to approach Martin with a conciliatory gesture of agreeing to couple’s therapy and telling him “it could be a means to an end or a new beginning.” This last scene holds out hope to Martin even though the statement is somewhat ambiguous.

It seems quite likely that communication will continue to be a major hurdle in Martin and Louisa’s effort to reunite. We see some improvement, and therapy should be a place where the therapist facilitates better communicating. In fact, as some of the therapists in this group have noted elsewhere, the best assignment Dr. T can give this couple is to talk about the things that have been a disruption to the marriage and about what they would like to see in their future together. Talking things out can often help. The show is built around intrusions that keep them from having a chance to express themselves adequately, but lately we have seen fewer interruptions and that’s a good sign.

[I want to add that we see another scene of forgiveness in episode 3 when Ellie’s mother, who has been acting angry at everyone actually tells Ellie she’s not angry at her and gives her a hug. She has decided to hire someone to help with the pigs until Dermot is well and not expect Ellie to do that work. She understands Ellie wants to write and sing songs. (It’s at least ironic that the song Ellie sings after her mother leaves is about how her parents care more for the pigs than for her, but she is singing from her heart!)]

Originally posted 2015-10-12 18:07:17.

24 thoughts on “Failure to Communicate

  1. Mary F.

    Thank you for keeping this discussion to the first 3 episodes; I just finished watching the third one on Acorn and although I’m very curious about comments on future episodes, I don’t want to spoil the treat of seeing the shows first. And what a treat it is to sit down and be able to watch an entirely new episode! I think I know all of the old ones by heart. There are some good changes happening in S7 but overall I feel a bit disappointed that there has not even been a hug between them. I feel like that would be a good first beginning to working together on their issues, although I understand that Louisa is still focusing on Martin as the source for all of their problems. I thought it was very interesting to hear and see her reaction to Dr. T’s recommendation that they both see her, that it would not be a one sided treatment for Martin. That idea seemed to hit Louisa like a brick. I also think its high time they retired Mrs. Tishell. I think it is wasting the actress’s talent to use her so little and in such a demeaning part. (It was very funny to see the dog eating her stew though!) I can’t say the new side characters are terribly interesting this time around. I wish they would stop dressing Morwenna in silly outfits, she is way too sensible for that…and Al is complaining far too much… me right now.

  2. Post author

    Once you see a couple more episodes you will have a little more appreciation for Mrs. Tishell. I know exactly how you feel though. They’ve created a situation in which the relationship between Martin and Louisa is the reason most people are watching the show. We find the secondary stories annoying and too time consuming, for the most part. They continue to bolster the major themes of the show, but they seem so superfluous at this point. Also, some of them have run their course, like Mrs. T. I thought they wouldn’t bring her back for S6, but there she was. This series I can’t help wondering if they brought back many of the characters from past series just in case this is the last time they film the show.

    It’s funny how Martin doesn’t want the dog around and also doesn’t plan to eat the casseroles Mrs. T delivers, but by giving the dog the food, he’s actually making it more likely the dog will return. He’s trying to get back at Mrs. T and instead it backfires!

  3. Stephany

    Food – is it because I am on a diet? – what is food communicating this season?
    How was that cup cake going to get Morwina (sp) the afternoon off? What was she thinking?
    Was Louisa bating Martin with the sausage gift? What reaction did she expect? Was she disappointed when he reacted pretty well actually.
    The one pot dinner plopped on the table was pretty unappealing and they both got through that together, and they were able to have a conversation.
    Al ending his interview with Fish Fish And Louisa ends her tirade with Fish
    Martin feeding the dog Ms.T’s soup was hilarious and he now has a friend for life.

    I love the conversation on this site and am avoiding all other sites/spoilers until I have finished the season on Acorn. Thank you all

  4. Post author

    Great observations. The fish is so perfect for Cornwall too, except that it’s best to eat lobster, crab, and mussels there. Not much of a sacrifice!

    You’re right to wonder what the food is communicating. Maybe we can wait until the end of the series and have more to say about it.

    Thanks for joining the conversation. I’ll keep my posts parallel with Acorn from now on since it’s really only two episodes behind the UK as of this week. Hopefully I’ll find enough to write about each week.

  5. Linda D.

    Failure to Communicate is matched by Failure to Launch. I think a lack of confidence and trust is at the root of their communication failures. Neither wants to hurt the other nor to ruffle feathers for fear of making things worse or even more worse – bringing their relationship to it’s end. It remains clear that each one loves the other and also James, but walls of protection are up, stemming from “back stories” which have been revealed to us but not to them! Does Dr. Timoney know ALL about their upbringing issues or not? If so, why does she not assign them “homework” to reveal this to each other? THEY certainly do not know much and that is the rub. If they did know, and had time to absorb, understand and relate to the early lives of each other, surely that would make many things clearer and possibly open up meaningful dialogue about how it affects their own relationship. I think the writers have withheld this information from them far too long. Martin and Louisa have very different personalities, notably a different sense of humour, (his is pretty much non-existent), and different attitudes about what constitutes fun. Both have strong opinions of others but, in terms of their own issues, they are AFRAID to stand up to each other because they are afraid to make a mistake and cause a rift. They are not romantic or intimate for the same reason. I venture to say that if either one, but especially Martin, made the first romantic move, a lot would change. If either suggested they drop their petty complaints and concentrated on the things they admire about one another, they would be relating in a positive way. I think they both REALLY want to live together and regret renting the cottage down the hill. I think she may be more reluctant to admire things about Martin than he about her because she thinks he is the one who needs to change and she is not at all in need of correction. At some point, they need to think about how to break the cycle of behaviour and attitude for the sake of James whom they both love and cherish.

    I agree that the stories of the other characters are probably there in part to wrap things up if this is the last season. I’d like to see these story lines expanded because they seem to be choppy and under-developed. Of course, there is only so much time. I think we’d enjoy these side stories more if there was a lot MORE therapy and action between Martin and Louisa as well. I find myself groaning at the end of each episode when not much progress is seen, their efforts are interrupted, and we are left trying to figure out where they are going next. I just want to get Martin and Louisa in a room and shake some sense into them. One thing which is certain, we are left on the edges of our seats, wanting more from week to week! With so few episodes left, I have a bad feeling we won’t see a really satisfying ending. But, hopefully, that will lead to Series 8

  6. Post author

    Well, Linda, it seems we all share your frustration on one level or another. I know they think it’s critical to string us along for many episodes and not resolve their issue too fast. They clearly know viewers want to see Martin and Louisa back together again and that’s what keeps many viewers watching. But I’m with you that the therapy sessions are meager and lacking in thoroughness. We all also agree that a lot could be accomplished by some good talks. Thanks for writing!

  7. Santa Traugott

    It’s interesting, though, that there are times when they seem to understand each other perfectly, almost without words. In S7, I’m thinking of the scene at their dinner, where Martin anticipates that she wants to move out and that she wants him to sleep in the spare bedroom. He didn’t make her spell it out. Also, he picked up what she wanted him to do about Peter, both times. (Well, the second time,he couldn’t miss it.) There is another instance, at the end of E4, which I won’t be specific about, but he read her perfectly, again without words. Also, of course, he picked up immediately that he needed to be conciliatory about the sausage gift (which I still think was a passive-aggressive gesture).

    In series 6: I’m thinking of the sweet little scene at the altar where for a moment they seem to be in their own little world, and also of the scene at the very end, where they give each other a nod and leave the kitchen which is full of intrusive neighbors and take care of their domestic business. Also, several people have commented about the scene at the reception, where he was starting to get agitated, and she put her hand on his chest and calmed him down. Finally — when she told him to take JH to story hour, because they didn’t want him to grow up “shy and introverted” many thought she was being critical of him, in a mean way. My immediate reaction was that they had had some conversations about his shyness and introversion and he had partially admitted that this had been a problem for him .I’m sure if we looked, there are other instances throughout the series,where they are on the same wavelength, with little or no verbal communication. My point is, they CAN communicate well, but sometimes they choose not to, and it’s interesting to speculate about when and why that is.

    (As to what happened to their communication directly after the surgery and before she left for Spain — in my imagination, he repeated some version of the “better husband” speech, but she told him she would think about it and first he needed to get some help for himself. He might have even offered to go with her, but she put her foot down quite firmly, hence his hesitation about calling her. I hope yet to hear Louisa make the corresponding declaration — that she wants to be a better wife and needs his help. Dream on! )

    I suspect he’s not talking to her while she’s away, because he’s been told not to. And she is still thinking about what she might want to say, and doesn’t want to give him false encouragement.

    Generally, when he doesn’t communicate with her, I think he’s afraid of her reaction. He knows she can be “spiky” and that currently they are on very thin ice with respect to their marriage. Literally anything he says could jeopardize their fragile truce. So he isn’t wanting to press her, or be critical in any way. But actually, he is trying to express more of his more vulnerable side to her. I think he’s also afraid to press her because he’s afraid of what he might hear — that she’s really on the verge of asking for a permanent separation. He literally doesn’t think he could bear it.

    He didn’t talk to her in S6, I think, because he was ashamed. I think he must always feel on the thin edge of rejection.

    But what’s Louisa’s excuse? Her dealing with him is often characterized by the exchange about the honeymoon — “I didn’t ask you because I thought you wouldn’t want to.” So she has negative perceptions and expectations of him which never get changed, because she never checks them against his reality — she never talks to him. Why does she do that? I think she’s built up a rather false picture of him in her mind, and she is clinging to it rather than challenging it by communicating with him. It’s not clear to me whether she wants to hang on to this negative picture (all the easier to bear if he does leave her) or because she’s afraid to challenge it and have it confirmed. What if she did ask for a honeymoon and he refused? Is it worth the bother? Will they quarrel and jeopardize their newly found happiness together?

    Of course, avoiding conflict in this way is a recipe to build up vast stores of resentment, than which nothing poisons a marriage faster, in my opinion.

    And the biggest mystery of all to me is: why is she not being clear with him about what she wants and needs from him, if their marriage is to continue? It’s almost like the honeymoon misunderstanding. Either she wants him to blunder around without doing any of the right things, so she can justify their continued separation, or she has little to no faith that he can provide what she needs, and if she sets goals and they can’t reach them, then the marriage, tenuous as it is now, is in even worse shape.

    So I guess maybe I’m channeling Derrida here — what’s left out is maybe more significant than what is actually said.

  8. Post author

    Santa, they definitely have moments when they communicate very well. I can point to several times when Martin and Louisa seem to be on the same wavelength and S6E1 is the best example. (I wrote about their eyes communicating a lot to us and to each other in my post “Eyes,” Dec. 2013.) Their ability to communicate by just looking at each other starts when Louisa appears at the door to the church and continues while they sit in the back of the limousine as Bert drives, and through their experience with the caravan owner, culminating when they arrive back home. S6 started off with them so much in synch I was truly shocked when things started to fall apart so quickly after that. What I was trying to argue was that the emphasis in the show is on when they have breakdowns in their ability to communicate.

    I knew I would get push back when I took the stand that Martin must not have appealed to Louisa for help in being a better husband like he did prior to surgery. I have to still argue that even though we have nothing very specific to go by in regard to what happens between series, we can make a few deductions. For example, between S5 and S6 there had to have been several months of true harmony because they decided to marry. Not only that, but also in E2 Louisa kisses Martin goodbye as she leaves for work and tells him she’ll miss him. She must have enjoyed spending time with him and James during her break. Now we are wondering what happened between S6 and S7. Well, there’s a world of difference from the beginning of S6 and when we last see them together. Louisa says they can’t just go back to how they were and Martin agrees. We don’t see him comfort her except to tell her she needs to rest. We also hear him say he will come back to pick her up and take her home, but she doesn’t have to stay in the surgery with him. Where would she go? Apparently, she left for Spain as soon as she could get on a plane again. To me this means that Martin did not make much of an effort to stop her because in that final hospital scene Louisa looked much more appreciative and humbled than perturbed. IMO she looks sad and bewildered. Once he brought her “home,” I would have to guess she would have been receptive to any effort he made to appeal to her. After Ruth makes it clear to him that he should go after Louisa, he might have realized that he should tell Louisa he doesn’t want her to go, but he’s always so cowed by her that he might have found it hard to be as straightforward as he should have been. I think he missed another opportunity to stop her.

    He does seem afraid of how she will react at times, especially during this series. He is walking on tenterhooks because of how important it is to him that she returns to Portwenn and to him.

    Louisa tries to talk to Martin throughout S6, thinks he should tell her his worries because she’s his wife, makes an effort to help him with his sleeplessness, etc. and he is simply not receptive at all. Again, this is the crux of their problems beginning with S1E1. As he tells her in S2, he doesn’t talk and thinks talking is rubbish. Her negative view of trying to have a conversation with him is only occasionally punctured by moments when he finally can’t keep his feelings bottled up anymore. I agree with you that she, too, is afraid to push him too much because she has her own baggage from childhood. Anyone who thinks she doesn’t need a mother anymore after the age of 12 is rationalizing big time. She’s a teacher whose students are around the age of when her mother abandoned her and she, of all people, would know how important it is for these children to have their mothers (and fathers) with them. The young girl who has to be rushed to the hospital is probably a bit younger than 12, but both Martin and Louisa find it hard to understand how her father didn’t notice her symptoms.

    But, yes, silence and not addressing their concerns head-on is not healthy for their marriage. What is said between them is important, but so is what is unsaid. I still think the best assignment the therapist could give them at this point is to sit down and talk and not allow any interruptions. The doctor is out (at least for 30 minutes a day)!!

  9. Santa Traugott

    I have to say that it does cross my mind that Martin was so overwhelmed by the magnitude of his possible loss — as see the bathroom tearful scene — that he just doesn’t summon up the energy to try to stop her. And the fact is, they do communicate very well that she wants a separation, in the scene in her hospital room. He understands her perfectly well. I think he might feel that it would be futile and her mind is made up, and to try to push her at that time would be counterproductive.

    Still, I wish he could have made her a valedictory speech as she left– something for her to think about, as in, I do want to be a better husband, you know. Don’t give up on me.

    I think we talked about at one point how S6 and S7 were going to form sort of a v-shaped trough — downhill to the bottom in S6, still bottom at beginning of S7, but beginning a slow and slippery climb back up throughout S7. I think that’s what’s intended. And to a degree, I feel like there are certain parallels. Martin became increasingly non-communicative in S6, until it was too late. Louisa starts out and still is quite non-communicative, except of hostility and occasional tenderness, and I think we are to start to see her become increasingly responsive. Ultimately, Martin had a revelation that he had to grow and change — become a better husband — if he was to keep Louisa. Andhe had to fight hard to keep her when she was in danger. I think she will have a similar realization. a similar dilemma, and communicate to him her desire to be a better wife. Apparently, they are also sitting on a hill in the climactic scene. I don’t think that’s an accident.

  10. Post author

    Your view of S6 leading to S7 and the downward plummet in S6 eventually culminating in a trudge back up the hill works beautifully for me. They have done such a good job of reversing things in this series that I really find that likelihood very compelling.

  11. Laura H

    Karen, you did a great summary of the first three episodes, the reoccurring theme of miscommunication. One paragraph especially jumped out at me when you talked of Martin’s first therapy session, that Dr. Timoney probably knew more of Martin’s background than Louisa but it was still sparse. When Martin scrutinizes Dr. Timoney, she says something that stood out. “If this is to work, you’ve got to trust me.” I wonder if there might be a trust issue at the heart of Martin and Louisa’s issues? Louisa did not trust Martin to reveal her pregnancy to him early enough for him to weigh in on it. Martin did not trust Louisa enough to tell her in E6 about the return of his blood phobia. Neither of them have told the other their childhood challenges with their parents. Where would this trust come from, is it an important factor in their relationship, maybe they have it or selectively have it and I’m not recognizing it?

  12. Post author

    Trust is definitely at stake here. Why does Dr. T ask Martin if he trusts Louisa? He says yes, but we may find it hard to believe him. Could be worth thinking about!

  13. Santa Traugott

    Great point about trust. It really resonates with me.

    I suppose these are two people who have had to depend only on themselves to get through life — and have grown used to others disappointing them.

    That’s their script — and they can’t yet revise it to include the possibility that someone else will be there for them and is dependable.

    And of course, S6 showed in spades that they can and do fail each other in significant ways, Martin by his emotional abandonment of a wife who needs him more than he realizes, and Louisa by her real abandonment of Martin, first in her lack of understanding and attention to what was happening with him and then by actually physically leaving. (I’m sorry — I fault her for that, and always will. Bailing after 3 months is just inexplicable to me, unless he’s actually abusing her.)

    While Louisa can trust that he will always run after her when medical heroics are required, I think he has lost her already fragile trust that he will be there for her emotionally, playing out her expectations.

    Why Martin thinks he can trust Louisa, if he does, I don’t know. Maybe he just expects so little from anyone that all he’s saying is, I know she won’t deliberately hurt me physically.

    I’m thinking now of a moment of unintended communication, where he blurts out “you’d make a lovely mother.” To me, it spoke volumes about his yearning for maternal warmth in his life, and the possibility that Louisa can bring that to him. He’s not wrong about that perception, but so little of that was in evidence in S6, at least where he was concerned, and when it was finally there, it was too late.

    I’m making that point because I think they’re both still operating out of unhelpful childhood scripts, which they have not yet put aside, although Martin is moving in that direction. They may not be able to really trust each other, until they’re dealing with each other as adults.

  14. Post author

    What you say is so smart and truly meaningful. Our childhoods mold us and create the foundation upon which our future lives are built. It’s exceedingly hard to dispense with that, from what I can tell. Having established that both of these characters have had troubled childhoods, we are forced to consider that as a major issue for both to overcome. Yet they aren’t working on that in therapy at all, which is extremely frustrating to us. Once they brought in a therapist and had Martin explain to her that he was an unwanted child and probably has attachment problems as a result, are we just supposed to drop that and move on to couples therapy? Then Louisa tells the therapist that her mother left at age 12 and her father was incarcerated while she was a child. The therapist never asks where she lived at that point and who were adults in her life she could turn to.

    They have done a piss poor job of dealing with the childhood situation in both cases and in having them discuss this with each other on any level. Of course they have trust issues!

  15. Linda D.

    I agree whole heartedly about the “trust” issue. Does Martin just take this literally? Is he ready to open up and be honest, and transparent about his past life and current feelings. Nope. He is still that little boy, waiting for the strap or a trip under the stairs. She is not ready either. She has NEVER had cause to trust another person to be there for her. There are too many protective “walls” up and too much experience with thoughtless, judgemental responses when attempts HAVE been made to take a big step of the cliff. Since there is not much romance or displays of affection, there is very little doubt that trust has not yet built to the degree it should for them to be completely open with each other. Someone is going to have to make the BIG emotional move and I think it is her this time! She has never really told him how she feels about him has she?

  16. Linda D.

    I agree with you Santa that Louisa has done a poor job of explaining to Martin what it is she wants and wants him to do! He has asked her what her plans are and if they are staying together which is HUGE for him. She just brushed it off! He thinks it’s all his fault so she could tell him anything and he’d do it if he thought it would help. Why did she not come back prepared with a list of things to talk about? The ball was clearly in her court. Can she not see that he HAS changed and IS really trying to please her? She needs to get off her high horse and figure things out! How can he change if he doesn’t know what she wants? These two need a big talk!

  17. Post author

    We all seem to think the correct next step is to talk, but we don’t know if they’ll actually do that. Either way, it seems clear to us that Louisa should be the one to make the next move, and we keep waiting for her to do that. So far whenever she has a chance to effect change, she makes a strange choice or doesn’t act at all. That seems to be the plot device to sustain the suspense at this point. Will Louisa do something that changes the dynamics? To be continued…

  18. Linda D.

    Great idea Karen! have them TALK uninterrupted for 30 minutes! That would be a test, wouldn’t it? But, it does make sense since there are NO cards on the table from either one. Surely, a person in this state, would have some requests of the other or ideas to “get things back on track,” as she already told him. Surely, HE would ask her what she wants from him? Does she even know? She has had lots of time to think about it. He has only said he wants her to be happy but clearly has NO idea of what that would look like. let’s face it, the writers wanted to build in angst and suspense and I believe they are heading to a happy reunion in the end, especially if it IS the end.

  19. Santa Traugott

    Both MC and CC have said that Martin and Louisa can “never” be happy together, because they are “mismatched.” I’m probably getting cranky about how long all this angst is going on, but I think “mismatched” is a meaningless word here. They have differences in temperaments and interests. She doesn’t like some of the stuff he does, he doesn’t like some of the stuff she does. So what– lots of couples are different in temperament and interests, all couples canfind faults with each other, but still manage to make a reasonably contented and happy life together. I don’t even really know what “incompatible” or “mismatched” means except it means that other things are more important than making the compromises and learning the tolerance necessary to have a relationship. And that’s fine — just say that and deal with it. I really am getting tired of that line, and I think it’s a lazy way to describe the problems in their relationship.

  20. Post author

    I don’t think they can ever be happy together in the sense of a “happily ever after” sort of way, and it’s wrong for us to want that. We enjoy the differences and part of the humor is in seeing how they misinterpret each other. I don’t even think the writers, et. al have made them very mismatched. In many ways they are compatible and lately, they are wearing similarly formal clothing, evidencing similarly stubborn attitudes, and finding themselves agreeing quite often. For example, they both think the cottage Martin ends up in is atrocious, they both avoid talking to anyone about their relationship, and they both look to Ruth for advice. In correlation with what seems to be an effort to reverse many of the actions each of them has taken in previous series, now Louisa watches Martin walk down the hill on his way towards town, and it is she who cleans up the kitchen and the toys, and even makes the coffee. He’s the one knocking on the kitchen door and asking if he can come in, etc. IMO they are doing a good job of subtly demonstrating to us that this couple belong together.

    I know we are seeing a lot of conflict and we aren’t happy with Louisa’s anger and inability to recognize how hard Martin is trying. But we could actually see this, too, as a play on how dense Martin was when dealing with Louisa’s overtures to him. I have been trying to figure out why they have turned Louisa into such a difficult person and wonder if they are once again turning the tables on what’s gone on before. She used to smile much more; she used to make excuses for Martin; and she used to give in sooner. It’s more than simply swapping places because she has good reasons to be on the defensive and very wary, but there is also the possibility that we are being shown a reverse picture of these two characters.

    I know very few couples who can live and work in such close quarters without having some clashes. I also think it would be hard to imagine a couple that is perfectly matched. We all make compromises and adjustments to get along. Based on what we’ve been shown, they are complementary in some ways and compatible in other ways, so I don’t buy that assessment any more than you do.

  21. Post author

    I think it is not uncommon for a marriage counselor to suggest a block of time be set aside for simply talking to each other. So often days go by and couples neglect to talk. This can easily lead to feeling estranged from each other, and Martin and Louisa are specifically prevented from doing much talking in this show. We get that as a conceit of the show, but every now and then, they find some time to talk, so it’s not impossible. The problem lately seems to be that when they get a period of time alone, they don’t talk or they don’t say anything that is revealing. It’s very frustrating to watch and that’s probably the point. It gets us to that place where we’re yelling at the screen. I look forward to seeing what the final upshot will be and agree that it is likely to be some sort of reunion.

  22. MARJE

    I love the show and actors in it. I agree with so much said here about the relationship between Martin and Louisa. Love the baby too and the poor little dog. I am writing about the dog. It is off the subject, but last night I watched the latest episode and Doc was ready to put the dog down. I hate watching this dog beg for love from Doc. In my opinion it does not add to anything.. I know what kind of person he is already. They show him pinching the neck making the dog cry (hope this was fake and since the actor in real life loves animals, I think it was). Can’t they at least let him get to put up with the dog. If this keeps up I have to stop watching. I am very upset by this. Anyone know how to write the producers to express my feelings.Am I the only one thinking this way? I know it is make believe, but it is too sad for me.

  23. Post author

    First let me welcome you to the blog. I also want to say you are getting a little ahead of Acorn TV and some people reading this won’t know what you are talking about. I know you aren’t the only one to have been upset by that segment of E5 and I will address it next week, if you don’t mind.

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