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Series 1, Episode 5: “Of All The Harbours in All the Towns”
This is the One Where: An old love interest of Aunt Joan’s appears in Portwenn, but Martin discovers he has a heart condition. And Martin gets an admirer: he becomes the object of a 15 year old girl’s crush.
The Symmetry is Lovely. I wasn’t crazy about the A-plot plot of this episode – long lost love returns to see the woman he left behind X number of years ago is a storyline that I generally find tiresome – but I did quite enjoy the way this episode is structured around three very different relationships (or at least male-female interactions) and how they don’t or shouldn’t work out, no matter how much one of the people involved might want it to. There were some interesting parallels between the Joan/John, Martin/Melanie and Al/Elaine storylines and an rather deft interweaving of themes that ran through all three. Sometimes, you’re not meant to get the person you want, for whatever reason. It was very well done.
They Surf in Portwenn? This is a thing? Really? Here’s my learning something new for the day. I am kind of sad though that that run-in with the surfboard is basically the only interaction Martin and Louisa get all episode.
A Surprising Ending. I have to admit – half the reason I find the whole “long lost love suddenly returning” trope irritating is that it usually functions as one or both of two things: an easy way to introduce a pre-packaged love interest for a character who doesn’t currently have any viable options on the canvas and/or it usually features a ridiculously implausible happy ending, where years of personal growth and/or experiences are glossed over simply to get a couple together. And I loved that this episode didn’t do any of those things. We find out that Joan isn’t the saint we may have thought – i.e her affair with John while married to her previous husband – and while Joan does find out by the end that John’s lied to her about his illness and his reasons for leaving, it’s too late for a grand reunion. It’s bittersweet all around, which is the best way to handle a (generally very cliché) plot like this.
Martin Gets a Cake, or, Weird Small Town Courting Rituals. Despite young Melanie’s truly annoying screaming during her first visit to Martin’s office, all their interactions were hilarious. Martin’s complete obliviousness to her intentions, Melanie’s over the top flirting (“Did you know our names begin with the same letter?”) and Mark’s explanation for her giving him a cake. All fantastic.
I Heart Mark. Please someone tell me he sticks around for a while? “Don’t disappoint her now. You know her dad is a martial arts expert?”
Wherein I Can’t Help It. Al and Elaine are adorable together. He made her an iPod mixtape, you guys! How cute is that? Even though it was so obvious that every time Elaine picked up the phone she wanted it to be her boyfriend Greg and was upset when it wasn’t, and is just being terribly unfair to Al all around.
Best Line: Martin: All those times you brought me up here. Was it always to watch him sail? Joan: I’m sorry. Affairs taint everything don’t they. (Not a funny line of the week this week, I’m sorry, but I thought this exchange was just so unexpected and true
Series 1, Episode 6 “Haemophobia”
This is the One Where: The town plays a prank on Martin that forces him to face his fear of blood, and a young boy with a ruptured spleen needs immediate surgery.
Martin Likes Portwenn! The look on his face when Adrian was bashing Portwenn was priceless! For all that he never has a kind thing to say about the town or anything in it, it’s clear it’s growing on him. Which of course makes you feel even worse about the villagers decision to prank him with the fake blood incident.
The Blood Thing. This was a great use of Martin’s blood phobia to drive the story of this episode – which is about a lot more than just phobias . The practical joke in the pub was just uncomfortable to watch – but then again so were Martin’s reaction afterward – from his interactions with Peter to his accusing of Roger to his way over the top phone call to the radio show. (I do actually like the fact that the show is willing to allow Martin to be unlikeable – I think it’s a great choice – but wow, he was really unlikeable for a bit here.)
Out of the Mouths of Children. Favorite scene by far was little Peter – half out of it from pain – is the one to tell Martin that he has to let people tease him, so they’ll know that he isn’t an outsider. I am not sure I entirely agree with that bit of psychology (teasing is something friends do but that just seemed so malicious), but the scene was so sweet. I'm glad Lousia's words sunk in for Peter and I may have actually said "Awwwww!" outloud when he said them to Martin.
I Think *I* Might Have Blood Phobia Now. I loved loved loved Martin overcoming his fears to save the boy (and doing it all in a moving ambulance), but I didn’t at all need to see the entire bit with him using his own fingers as a makeshift clamp. Ick.
The Continuing Saga of Martin and Louisa. I feel like the two of them haven’t had a scene together other than Martin being rude to the women outside the café in at least an episode and a half, so the sudden “Do you love him?” question from Peter seemed really out of place. I do like that Louisa was given more to do in this episode and it was nice to see her and Martin working together at Peter’s house and on the way to the hospital. Louisa defending Martin to horrible Adrian at the end was awesome. (More of this active version of the character please, someone!)
And, of course, there’s the kiss in the cab. Even I’m not made of stone – it was very sweet. Though, really, Martin, a dental hygiene comment. Really?! I am fairly certain that I’ve actually never liked Louisa more than when she kicked him out of the cab for that. Well done!
Best Line: Martin: [about to operate on Peter] “I may vomit.”
Martin and Louisa have kissed, Martin’s big secret is out, and we’ve basically learned that no one in Portwenn is perfect. (I do wish Martin would just accept that poor dog though!) Bring on Series 2!