Turnabout is Fair Play

One major element of S7 is the many ways in which the action in scenes involves a reversal of what has happened before. There has been a conscious effort to switch up many of the typical interactions amongst the characters. Their decision to present things in this manner leads us to appreciate that change has taken place. Some of these changes are positive, and some not so much.

One of the most significant changes to me is that Martin no longer works on clocks. We might speculate that he was very adversely affected by his mother taking the one clock that meant a lot to him and cannot bring himself to work on them anymore. On the other hand, it is precisely at this moment when working on clocks could be of some comfort to him. He’s alone again, he’s very unhappy that Louisa is gone again, and fixing clocks has always been a source of solace to him. It distracts him from his troubles throughout the other series. Could he have decided the clocks are interfering with his life and the time he could be spending with his wife and son? The fact that he no longer has clocks to work on never comes up.

Martin is trying to change and his efforts include thanking Louisa for a gift he doesn’t like; telling her he doesn’t mind the noise and disarray of the home; accepting the various assignments Dr. T gives them; and, especially, giving Louisa some very nice compliments. He says she’s a good and caring mother and very beautiful, that he misses her (as opposed to Louisa saying she’ll miss him when she leaves for work in S6, and that she missed him and James when she returns from work and getting no reaction or sign that her feeling is reciprocated), telling her she would notice if James had a rash or anything medical that might be important to notice, and instigating a hug.

We certainly can’t overlook that this time Martin moves out instead of Louisa leaving. It’s a generous offer and shows Louisa that he’s willing to sacrifice for her. It also keeps her nearby and gives him plenty of opportunities to see her. For her part, she is willing to stay at the surgery yet considers it his home. She tells him that he should be there, a sign that she realizes how strange it is for him to live somewhere else.

Now that she lives in the surgery, it is Louisa who makes coffee and offers it to Martin.  She also let’s Martin in the kitchen door. It’s particularly amusing to see Martin tapping at the kitchen window while Louisa sits at the kitchen table. It’s also funny that he is surprised by Louisa when she runs into the kitchen after her morning shower and he acts out of place. It was Louisa who previously seemed to be intruding at times.

We also see Louisa clean up the toys and the kitchen. She holds the toys in much the same way we’ve seen Martin hold them in S6. When Louisa cooks dinner on that first night, Martin does not try to wash the cutting board or take over in any way. He eats what she cooks and even suggests using additional seasoning, something he rarely considers necessary. It is also Martin who broaches the subject of their future and intermittently notes that their living circumstances are odd and not what he would prefer. However, it is Louisa who has the deciding vote on this and, like Martin at times in the past, she appears tongue tied when the subject comes up.

It is Louisa who determines who the next child minder will be. Meanwhile Martin has sought therapy and has been willing to let the therapist make the ground rules. He cooperates and tells Dr. T about his childhood. With Dr. Milligan Martin was very resistant and rude. When it is Louisa’s turn, she is more reticent and hesitates to admit her childhood was anything but normal. We are reminded that Martin used to be the one who described his childhood as perfectly healthy.

Martin suggests he has time to do things with JH. We’ve seen him feed James and play with him in his own idiosyncratic way, but now he offers to bathe James every day. Previously Louisa had to prompt him to do something with James.

In another significant change, Al has a home and Bert is in a camper van and unsettled. Al’s business is just getting started and hits several snags, but Bert’s has ended.

We are witnessing a variety of changes that make the case that change is possible. There is a difference between changing one’s personality and changing certain actions; however, we have to start somewhere.  Martin and Louisa’s convictions that people can change are played out in these early episodes by inverting how many of the characters we’ve come to know conduct themselves. They haven’t become different people and still exhibit many of their usual traits. Martin is still stiff and unsmiling and continues to be flummoxed by what Louisa does and says; Louisa has remained convinced that living apart can solve some of their marital problems and she is unwilling to give in too quickly. Other changes may be in store and this post will be updated to reflect them.



Originally posted 2015-10-20 18:40:06.

11 thoughts on “Turnabout is Fair Play

  1. J.C. Lockwood

    The thing that caught my attention most in episode 4 Education, Education, Education is that it seems that Louisa and Martin are learning how to be together in a new way. Apart but working their way back to each other perhaps?. Education is Louisa’s dedication to the children of Port Wenn. This is important to her. Martin seems to accept that she will work and does not complain about it. Education is Martin agreeing to mentor an aspiring student who wants to be a doc. The old Martin would never have agreed to that. Education is Dr. Timoney’s HW to embrace and say something nice. We hear Martin SAY to Louisa that he is glad she came back. We know he had been hoping for her return… though he never would have said it in the past . The episode also seems like a reboot for the couple. We are back to some elements of Series 1 Episode 6 when they first connected physically (the kiss). Here we see Peter Cronk back in the picture along with his anxiety-ridden mother. Louisa has to call Martin about a very sick child. Martin saves the day with Louisa at his side. We remember that oh yes, Martin can be softer/ more human when there is a sick child needing help. We also see that Martin can listen to reason when Louisa talks to ( yells at) him outside of the Cronk’s house. The end of the episode shows Martin and Louisa in an embrace. Although Louisa is literally stuck to him since her ring is caught on his suit, it is nice to see them a bit closer. Maybe this episode is meant to be a new beginning for the couple.

  2. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Thanks for your comments. You identify many ways they have given us good vibes in E4. Peter Cronk’s return provides some really good walks down memory lane including his mother’s unfortunate condition and his propensity for being a snotty know-it-all. It also provides one of several moments when Louisa corrects someone who uses her maiden name. We get hints throughout the series IMO that this marriage is not headed for a dissolution despite many rocky moments. She also tells the little girl’s father that their living arrangements are only temporary. It’s nice that they threw in some affection even if it starts as an assignment. They also spend a lot of time together in E4, and that seems hopeful. They are both learning ways to get back to some sort of give and take. Peter Cronk brought them together in S1 and has now done it again!

  3. Brendan Fusco

    I have now watched the first six episode of S7. Since episode 5 & 6 haven’t been formally discussed, I will refrain from being too specific about these episodes. I will only reference certain scenes in the context of the post topic.
    This post deals with my impressions of Louisa and how the writers decided to change Louisa’s character from the preceding series (mainly S6). Specifically, I want to focus on Louisa’s ambivalence in her relationship with DM. In S6, I viewed Louisa as the conciliatory partner in the relationship. That is, she would reach out to Martin affectionately while he showed indifference and even inconsideration towards her. Now, I see Louisa as someone who fluctuates from affection to harshness. Example: Louisa shows genuine gratefulness when DM decides move into the awful rental instead of allowing Louisa and JH to suffer in it (E2). However, in E3 we see Louisa reading Martin the riot act over the suggestion that she should attend couples therapy. Then towards the end of the same episode, she runs after Martin telling him she would attend couples therapy. Was this in response to Ruth’s persuading (in a subtle way) Louisa to attend counseling or was it because of DM displaying his medical expertise in saving a teenage girl on radio and that rekindled her affection for him? In subsequent episodes, we see the same pattern of Louisa’s ambivalence with DM. Over and over we see Louisa change from someone who is caring to critical and back again. Case in point: Episode 6, shows Louisa’s ex-boy friend Danny resurfacing in Portween and overtly attempts to rekindle their romance. What was striking for me was the way in which Louisa seems to waver in response to his advances. I was left with the question; does Louisa really want to continue with DM, does she subconsciously want to go with Danny, or does she really know what she wants?

    Please give me your comments.

  4. Laura H

    Karen, I find your points about characters switching roles as ways the writers show change to be really perceptive. Others that I noticed was that in S7E1, Steve Baker is the one having to be rescued rather than the hero of the Moon Ray rescue of five years earlier. In previous episodes, we constantly see Bert in need of Al’s help to the point where we wonder at Bert’s earlier motives of trying to keep Al working with him out of necessity of having someone competent in the pair to do a job. Now Al needs Bert’s help to finish the B & B in time and a lobster meal for his guests after so much has gone wrong. Bert helps Al in S7E3 by giving his son the example of someone who has not given up all hope despite losing Jenny, the restaurant and his home. Morwenna has developed or changed, too. When she first works at the surgery in S5, she is immature and apparently loses several jobs before, one by her tactless act of calling Mrs. Tushell a droopy cow. In S7, we watch her manipulate her way to being able to participate in the life boat exercise, she’s become so confident that she says some funny lines to the Doc and puts Peter Cronk in his place…she becomes the real although unrecognized heroine of the life boat exercise in E1.
    You make some great points about Martin’s clocks…where has that hobby disappeared to? Has he dropped working on clocks? My feeling is that his concentration has shifted to getting Louisa back. If a person wanted to take symbolism to the max, a view might be that when Margaret took the clock, it was symbolic of her also taking his childhood. By giving up working on clocks, Martin maybe has faced his lost childhood and as he tells Louisa in S3, “maybe it will be time for something new.”
    I really enjoyed your view of the switching roles of characters, especially all the reversals done by Martin and Louisa.

  5. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Brendan, thanks for your comment. Just to be clear, my views are merely based on my own judgements which I try to develop after finding evidence for them in the show. I’m not much for reaching beyond what has been given us and that means that all the gaps we have to deal with I feel totally unequipped to fill. That said, I can make some guesses based on what might be the objective for the show using some deductive reasoning and some knowledge of story writing.

    If you’ve read my blog, you know that I have defended Louisa as a character. My post of March 2014, “In Defense of Louisa, S6,” gave a fairly thorough rundown of how I think Louisa has been given many good reasons to be utterly exasperated with her marriage and Martin by the end of S6. So I agree with you about the position she’s been put in during S6. However, some viewers found her harsh during that series. They didn’t like that she walked out on Martin when he was explaining how he was fixing the clock; they thought she should have realized that he wouldn’t want his mother to stay with them; and they believed she had unrealistic expectations of him at Sports Day. They also thought she should have been more alarmed about his insomnia and withdrawal from her and been more forceful in getting him to talk to her.

    All of the above can be substantiated by what has taken place in the show. Therefore, what I would say is that much of how we decide for ourselves what we think about Louisa, or any other character, depends on our own predispositions and demonstrates good writing because there is no one right answer. As I wrote in my post on ambiguity, Sept. 2014, the use of ambiguity can be located in both the language and the action of this show and enriches it. It is also good to use an “open-ending climax” that leaves unanswered exactly what we are supposed to think and leaves space for much conjecture. In other words, they want the audience to come to its own conclusions.

    Louisa does act much more testy in S7 beginning with the fact that she has gone to Spain even after Martin has appealed to her for help being a better husband. Ahh, but we don’t know if she remembers that speech and we don’t know if he ever repeated it after she left the hospital. We are left to wonder why Louisa has returned in such a combative mood. To a great extent it seems as though she is confused about how she feels herself and her uncertainty displays itself in her erratic behavior. She still loves Martin and wants to reunite with him yet she is wary of leaving herself open to more heartache and rejection. In my mind, throughout this series they play with our sympathies. At first we are on Martin’s side because we see how forlorn he is and how much he misses Louisa. He also makes so much effort to compromise for her. On the other hand, we know how much he hurt Louisa soon after they married and we understand that she wants to protect herself. In that scene where she berates him for not having told her about the couples therapy, we can draw a comparison to all the other times he neglected to tell her about something important that she should have been consulted about. We also know that Louisa is proud of Martin’s medical ability and that medical emergencies often bring these two together. As a result, it is congruent with the show that she would respond positively to Martin saving a girl’s life. Furthermore, they don’t want to resolve the suspense of whether Martin and Louisa will reconcile until late in the series, and may leave us in some suspense even then.

    Without getting into E6 at this point, I would just say that this episode was to me a return to a much friendlier and more conciliatory Louisa. I think they give us a mixture of both the angry and frustrated Louisa with the caring and appreciative one in each episode and they do that so that we can’t decide exactly what to think, and we can’t decide whose side we’re on either. Not only does Louisa fluctuate from one pole to another, but also Martin isn’t entirely likable.

    I suppose this may not be the answer you are looking for, but it’s the best I can do at this time. We are at the mercy of the writers and they are doing their damnedest not to answer those questions outright.

  6. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Laura, I like some of your examples and agree that Morwenna has matured tremendously since we first met her. I’m not sure I can make the leap to thinking that the clocks represent Martin’s childhood, but I really like your reminding us of the remark he makes to Louisa when she asks him what he plans to do after he finishes the clock he’s working on then. It seems entirely pertinent that they would have that remark in mind when they wrote this series. It is time for something new and that means he has given up clocks.

    I’m pretty sure we will be adding more examples of these reversals after we watch a few more episodes. For now, I think they are using that as a plot device and it is making a strong contribution. Thank you for writing!

  7. Brendan Fusco

    Thank you for your reply and your insights. I would like to revisit the subject of Danny in E6, once you have viewed it. For now, I’m still grappling whether Louisa really wavered, even subconsciously, when Danny was pursuing her. Or did I miss read the scenes. This also begs the question of why she didn’t tell Martin when Danny first called her and wanted her help. Putting myself in Martin’s shoes, I would have felt somewhat betrayed by this, knowing their history.

  8. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Brendan, since I’m trying not to get ahead of what Acorn TV has put on their site, I won’t be able to say much about E6 for another wo weeks. I’ll give you my best reaction then!

  9. DM

    These motifs serve as a great reminder that a dyadic relationships are comprised of two individuals. We’re being treated in this series to Louisa’s individual development, which although it occurs simultaneous to Martin’s, is clearly not synchronous. S6 focused on Martin’s development through his midlife descent that had to precede his ascent and his constant pushing away of Louisa until she, well- “ran away”. Whilst S7 is focusing on Louisa’s individual development, particularly since first being drawn into “orbit” with Martin. I’ve enjoyed the scenes you’ve identified in this series to illustrate some of the symmetrical development these two characters experience as they swirl about their, to borrow another astronomical term, barycentre which the motifs of reversal perfectly illustrate the couple’s syzygy (to borrow one last astronomical term).

    Of course much of S7 so far seems written for the particular delight of many female viewers ready to affix blame and ascribe to Louisa more than her share too. In the wake of S6 Louisa’s behaviour, particularly in the glimpses of “therapy” we’ve seen so far, is- to use a highly-technical term, “gun-shy and trigger happy.” No doubt the writer’s will play with some shades of transference/counter-transference to make Louisa’s character react to feeling even more set upon.

    Good observation on the clocks! It’s significance, as you suggest, might be explained away by something as simple as having to now maintain two households and therefore Martin simply doesn’t have the “time”. A more appealing speculation is that Martin’s growing self-awareness means that inanimate objects no longer prescribe his identity as relationships with others can now and will do. It is likely coincidental, but possibly an interesting nod to Object Relations Theory which follows from Attachment Theory and is (believe it or not!) applicable to couples therapy and “real” issues of “real” intimacy (far more than hugging assignments).

    Louisa’s gift of the sausage is great symmetry with the earlier gift from Martin of the yams for the then anemic Louisa, though she still must teach him to accept it as graciously, if not as humourously, as she had done (although it would have been extra funny had Louisa pointed out pedantically that sausage, nonetheless, a much richer source of iron!).

  10. kjacobson@mindspring.com Post author

    Your astronomical comparisons are a unique way of looking at this. There is some sort of attraction and repulsion going on here, and probably in most experiences where people fall in love. Falling in love isn’t a conscious act; it happens by way of forces that are hard to control and inexplicable.

    I am fascinated by the reference you make to Object Relations Theory and how it relates to couples therapy. I would like to read more about that from you.

    Thanks for reminding us about his gift of yams. Her gift of sausage makes more sense now, although it’s a rather strained connection that most of us never thought of. If that’s what they had in mind, it was lost on the majority of viewers.

  11. Amy Cohen

    Interesting post, Karen. I was really bothered by how they seemed to change Louisa (and Martin) in S7. Especially Louisa. I went from sympathizing with her to being annoyed by her and wondering why the writers made such drastic changes. I just found it a bit of a shark jump to alter her personality as much as they did. But maybe someone who had been through the wringer as much as she had been in their relationship would have changed that much. I just think they could have made it a more believable transition.

    On the other hand, I found the changes in Martin more credible and consistent. He wanted Louisa and was willing to do things he might otherwise have resisted in order to get her back.

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