Turning Points — “Doc Martin” (S6E6) Review — “Hazardous Exposure”

Several characters reach turning points or experience pivotal moments. Al, disgruntled with his life, complains to Ruth, who tells him: “We are the authors of our lives. You write the story and you have no one to blame but yourself. If you want to change your circumstances, then change them. Only you can do that.” With no jobs in the village, Al decides to create a job for himself.

Mrs. Tischell receives a letter from the pharmacy regulatory board stating she no longer requires a supervisor. She snaps her cognitive therapy wristband for the last time and gives Jennifer Cardew the boot.

Bert, however, is falling in love with Jennifer; and when he hears she must move away, he is heartbroken. Al advises Bert to tell Jennifer how he feels before it’s too late. In a tender, pivotal moment, Bert meets Jennifer in the countryside, offers her a ring and asks her to marry him. A few moments pass before she answers, “Course I will.”

In the meantime, Malcom Raynor (Christopher Fairbank) and Penhale have created panic in the village over asbestosis. Posting up a warning sign, Penhale runs a staple into his hand. The “Doc” removes the staple, but the blood causes him to throw up all over Penhale, in front of the giggly girls.

TieMartin’s emotions are spinning. Louisa tries to understand the cause of his stress and his insomnia. “Is it the house? Is it too small for us? Do you need more space?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

Is it me, then?”

“Of course not.”

“You don’t sound very sure.”

At that moment, the doorbell rings. Standing at the door is Martin’s mother, Margaret,The Maplayed by Claire Bloom, CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), with news that his father has died. Fans who recall the horrific scene between Martin and his mother (S2E6) are probably as shocked to see her as he is.

“When’s the funeral?”

“It was two weeks ago.  . . .

Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m telling you now. Some things you just don’t do over the phone.”

Margaret says she has come back to make up for the past. Martin doesn’t respond. (Obviously, baby James doesn’t trust his grandmother either, since he cries every time she holds him.) Margaret moves into the spare bedroom, but Martin refuses to engage with her.

In a touching, middle-of-the-night scene, we see Martin looking down at James, asleep in his crib. The moment seems to signal a change in their relationship, as if Martin realizes how precious his son is.

The next day, when Margaret comes into the office carrying James, she says: “We are all we’ve got left, Martin. You and me. Family.”

Martin walks over and takes James from her. “I have a family. I have a wife. I have a son.Sticking togetherAnd I have Ruth.”

“We have a chance now, to make up for lost time. Don’t we, Martin?” She touches his arm, but words can’t melt his icy feelings.

In an ironic twist on “family,” Martin treats Malcom after he collapses in his yard. The man has Pigeon Fancier’s Lung, inflammation from inhaling protein from bird feces. The “Doc” tells Malcom he must give up the pigeons, but Malcolm protests. “They’re my family.”

“What do you mean, family? They’re pigeons.” (Is there a corollary here?)

Any episode with Eileen Atkins and Claire Bloom has to rate 100. thermometer-2

You noticed that “family” remark about the pigeons too. I thought that was very significant. If I remember correctly, the scene with Claire Bloom talking about family to Martin and him “correcting” her is AFTER the scene with the birds. I felt it was almost like subconsciously Martin began to realize what “family” means after being “taught” by Malcolm.


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