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Series 2, Episode 7: “Out of the Woods”
This is the One Where: Mark has a stag night camping in the woods, gets lost, and ends up bitten by an adder. Martin has to go find him – but since he has no idea where to look, needs some help from the local park ranger, Stewart.
Martin is Rude to Poor Mark. Mark and Julie are getting married even though it appears that they’ve only been dating for five minutes (eyeroll here a little bit), and Mark wants Martin to be his best man, because of course they are the best friends ever. (Or I think so, at least.) But when Mark very adorably asks about it, Martin (very rudely, of course) says no, with no explanation, and goes back into the surgery. Martin, really, did you have to? I mean, okay, you don’t feel like you should be his best man, then you shouldn’t and don’t do it. But at least try to let him down gently about it, at least when it’s someone who has repeatedly said in the past that they consider you a close friend.
Ugh, I want to hug the crap out of Mark. The scene immediately following where he tells Louisa that Martin told him no and he just looks sad and hurt and actually asks her if he thinks he’s done something to annoy the doctor was just - His expression was so sad! Ugh, Martin!
From the shallow end: I find the way Mark pronounces Louisa’s name (Louise-er) to be so cute.
For Once, Louisa is Right. Sometimes I find Louisa’s lectures to Martin about appropriate social and relationship behaviors tiresome, but she was 100% spot on here and I was cheering for her when she showed up at the surgery to give him a piece of her mind after the Mark incident. I had a tremendous amount of sympathy for Martin last episode – and I do think that that glimpse into his family history explains so much about why he is the way that he is, but frankly Louisa is just right. He’s part of the Portwenn community now, and he has – without any prompting – certainly identified himself as such, and it would not kill him to be just the tiniest kinder to the people who inhabit this village that he’s claimed as his own. I need to see a little bit more growth from Martin on this issue – he does act like he doesn’t care, when his actions show that that is patently untrue – but then he continues right on not taking any one else’s feelings into account almost all of time. I don’t want Martin to become a person who wanders round the town hugging people or anything, I don’t even want him to be a character who would say yes to Mark’s request if he didn’t want to, but I do want him to display some sort of awareness that his words have consequences, and that the things he says and the ways he treats people are often needlessly hurtful.
Why I Don’t Go Camping. For some insane reason, Mark decides to schedule a camping in the woods trip for his stag party. Do to various factors (including Martin saying no again), Al is the only one that accompanies Mark on this trip, so it’s just the two of them out in the middle of nowhere with limited cell phone reception. Obviously, nothing bad is going to happen here. Snort. Of course something bad happens. Mark is bitten by an adder and becomes ill. Al manages to get a call through to Pauline who alerts Martin, who heads out to the woods to find them.
Stewart’s Back! No Anthony This Time, Though. It’s lovely the way that this show actually uses its secondary characters. No one that we meet in Portwenn is ever a throwaway addition to an episode, it’s almost a guarantee that we’ll see them again at some point. Makes the community that Louisa spoke of earlier feel very real. Anyway, as Mark and Al are lost in the woods, Martin needs someone who knows the wood to help him find them. Who better than the local park ranger? Welcome back, Stewart! Stewart still seems to be on his meds and says he doesn’t see Anthony – his imaginary six foot tall squirrel friend – anymore. However, apparently this is because he threw Anthony out (I guess squirrels can be quite rude), and not because Stewart stopped hallucinating. Oh, Stewart. I love this character. He’s sympathetic but also uncomfortable to watch – precisely because we’re not sure how much we can trust him and because generally we don’t know whether we should be wary of him. This dichotomy is often used to hilarious ends (such as the introduction of the giant shotgun he apparently keeps in the car), but it does occasionally leave us feeling as though we don’t know how to react to him. That's okay, though. It's part of the reason the character's fun.
Julie Doesn’t Deserve Mark. Part of this is just that I love Mark so much, but the contrast between the way the two of them refer to each other was just so strong in this episode. Compare Mark telling Al about how he loves to just come home and watch telly with Julie to the scene where she complains to Louisa and Pauline that she hopes she doesn’t have to cancel the wedding while her fiancée’s out lost in the woods was very stark to me. She did look very worried at the very end when Mark returns safely, so maybe I'm overreacting here, but I don’t know. I am not entirely sure that I buy it. Or her. He could do better!
And There’s an Actual Bear Trap. Both Stewart and Martin end up caught in what I presume must be a bear trap. Seriously. That actually happens. I’m sort of confused while they’re both not bleeding a lot more profusely, but if I can suspend my disbelief about the existence of the entire Bear Trap Situation, then I guess I can ignore that too.
It’s odd – this episode had a lot going on from a character perspective, but not necessarily from a storytelling one. Mark is rescused and everyone gets back to Portwenn safely from the woods, but then the episode just seems to stop. I feel like there some things that could have been dealt with at the end here that aren’t acknowledged at all – Al’s resourcefulness in spite of the fact that no one thinks he can do anything, Martin and Mark’s friendship, to name just a couple. Anyway. A fun ride, though.
Series 2, Episode 8 “Erotomania”
This is the One Where: Martin tries to persuade Mrs. Tishell the pharmacist to remove the neck brace she’s worn for years. A man from the Salvation Army is looking for a missing girl in Portwenn. Mark and Julie get some big pre-wedding news. And Louisa breaks up with Danny.
Hating Julie, Totally Justified. I knew it! I knewwww it! I knew there was something wrong with Julie and that she was totally not good enough for Mark. What a horrible woman. This also makes so much of the rest of their storyline – the incredible rushed pace of their relationship, the race to the altar – make so much more sense, if it turns out Julie knew all of this the whole time and was just planning to use him to cover up the whole being pregnant thing. And wow, the scene in which she basically told Martin that he had to keep her secret or she’d sue him was intense. The fact that she just displayed no remorse about what she was planning to do was just the icing on the cake of my hatred.
Oh, Mark, You Poor Thing. My
giant soft spot for Mark is certainly no secret around here, but watching him get so excited about having a baby and being a dad while we the audience knew it was all a lie was just heartbreaking. And then the devastated look on his face when Martin told him about his infertility problems. Just wow. This whole episode was so hard to watch as someone who loves this character. And while I don’t know if this is true or not – though some of you can probably tell me – I just had the worst feeling that Mark isn’t long for this show. Not that I think he’ll die or anything, but I certainly wouldn’t blame him for wanting to get out of Portwenn for a while after the events of this episode, especially as everyone in the town knows all the particulars of what happened to him. Sidebar: Even though I know Mark said a lot of those things to Martin in anger at something that had nothing to do with him, a lot of them did ring true. And I'd like to hope that maybe Martin will take some of that to heart in the future.
The Search For Emma Lewis. I knew as soon as I saw the picture the Salvation Army guy was passing out, I knew the missing girl was going to be Julie. (Not for the least of which reason is that she appears to be the only new person that's come to Portwenn other than Martin since the show started.) But it’s still a little bit hilarious that one girl can suddenly have so many deep dark secrets about her character surface all at once. Sorry, I just have no sympathy for her at all, despite her comments about Mark making her want to live a different kind of life. Too bad, so sad, lady. However there is sort of an actual, a little bit sad part - I think, had she told Mark all of this from the beginning, or at least some parts of it, that he probably would have loved her anyway. He seems to be that kind of person, who has a big heart and is all about second chances.
Martin Being Rude for a Good Cause. This Mark storyline is such a perfect example of how this show can allow Martin to be caustic and kind of a jerk while still showing that he cares about people. That’s the way this character works best for me and it’s the way I wish the show would always handle him. Yes, Martin probably could have handled breaking the news about Julie a little more tactfully, but unlike the last episode and the whole best man situation, it was clear that Martin’s primary motivation was coming from a good place, and that he cared about Mark not getting taken in by Julie. Do more of this, show! It’s so much easier to not get irritated by Martin’s general demeanor when it’s counterbalanced by moments like these. And I loved that Martin got around Julie’s threats by using Mark’s medical diagnosis as the catalyst to inform him about her lying ways. Ha ha.
Louisa Dumps Danny. Since it was obvious from the moment that they met that Danny was just around to serve as a roadblock to further progress of the Martin and Louisa relationship, I’m sure that no one’s surprised that this is over. I thought the ending of their relationship was quite well done, though, considering how annoying Danny was generally, so that was a nice surprise. I like when Louisa stops being so passive and just reacting to things and is allowed to actually be clear about and act on what she wants.
The Continuing Saga of Martin and Louisa. “Martin there’s twenty things about you that are crap.” How is it possible that I found that sentence Awwww-worthy? How? And yet. I’m glad that one of the two of them (and of course it was Louisa) finally found the nerve to face whatever is going on with them head on and actually force the other to talk about it after letting things go for this whole season. And finally Martin says some actual sweet and romantic things to Louisa – finally. Then promptly passes out. Of course he does. Why am I even surprised? But their whole scene together was wonderful and, really, it was just about darn time. And drunken Martin is hilarious. But, of course Martin then has to go and ruin it by making things awkward and awful again during their conversation the next day (who calls someone who says that they love you delusional? Who does this? Arrrgh). Well, I guess we’ll see where that goes next season.
So I hear there’s a Christmas special coming up next week? I am oddly intrigued to see how Portwenn does the holidays. And of course to see whether we’ve set up another roadblock to Martin and Louisa’s happiness here or whether she’s just learned to deal with the way he is about this issue. Curious!