Doc Martin

Recap for 'Doc Martin,' Episode 36: 'Don't Let Go'

This episode will be streaming online for three weeks from December 18 to January 8. Catch episodes of "Doc Martin" that aren't currently streaming via our recaps here.

Previously on "Doc Martin"

Penhale's ex-wife returns to town, but it becomes clear she is suffering from amnesia. Eleanor goes out on a date. Martin and Louisa finally give a name to their child: James Henry Ellington.

This week's episode: "Don't Let Go"
Written by: Chris Hurford and Tom Butterworth
Directed by: Ben Bolt

After eating a meal that Ruth (Eileen Atkins) prepared from a chicken she ran over with her car, Ruth brings Martin (Martin Clunes) and Louisa (Caroline Catz) into late Joanie's barn and shows them what she has discovered--a treasure chest of Ellingham mementos, including photos of Martin as an unsmiling child and, more importantly, his grandfather's clock. Martin has no need for such memories, but the women convince Martin to keep them.

Later, Martin and Louisa's bickering continues, and it seems that they are having trouble agreeing on James' future education. A product of boarding school, Martin has expressed interest in registering James at the prestigious St. Benedict's Prep School in Hampshire, while Louisa is perfectly fine with sending him to Portwenn. After all, she went there and turned out fine, right? Alas, their conversation is cut short as it is Louisa's first day back at work, and neither of them have time to look after their child. Where's Louisa's mother Eleanor when you need her.

Across town, it's Maggie's (Julia Graham) last day in Portwenn before she heads back home to Bude, as long as the good doctor gives her a clean bill of health. Saying that he has changed, her ex-husband PC Joe Penhale (John Marquez) is sorry to see her go. But Martin has taken a look over Maggie's EEG and declares that there are no abnormalities or anything wrong with her neural functions, either. However, as "transient global amnesia is a rare condition" and "very little is known about its pathophysiology," Martin suggests that she regularly visit her General Practitioner back in Bude. Martin, as usual, comes across and arrogant and rude, and Maggie leaves confused and irate.

At school, Louisa returns to work only to find that there is a particular smell permeating the air and tells the daffy school custodian Mr. Coley (Brian Pettifer) to take care of the problem. But she must put aside this concern when one of her students, Adam (Samuel Timson) begins vomiting profusely. Martin makes a visit to the school and diagnoses him with a severe allergic reaction, to which Adam admits he was licking the floor as part of the class-wide Dare Club. Martin must leave, but Louisa convinces him to take a sample of the floor and take it with him for diagnostic purposes.

At the police station, Maggie arrives and tells Penhale that the good doctor was rude to her. Wanting to prove himself worthy of her affection, he angrily calls up the doctor's office with some harsh words. "Shut your mouth and open your ears," he bellows to the person on the other end of the line, demanding an apology for Martin's behavior. But what Maggie doesn't know is that he's yelling at Martin's receptionist Morwenna (Jessica Ransom). How long can this fib hold up? It doesn't matter, because this is Penhale's plan, and when he learns that before Maggie leaves via bus at 5:30, she's going to stop by Large's place to grab a cup of coffee. Racing through the village to beat her there, Penhale pays Bert Large (Ian McNeice) 20 quid to overcharge and insult her, then shows up and "defends her honor," much to her amazement. Perhaps they can spend one final night together.

Back at the school, Louisa notices that Mr. Coley is painting the school with tea, but once again her concern for him is interrupted when another child, on a dare, has stuck his thumb in a pencil sharpener. Martin arrives again, tends to the child, and expresses to Louisa his fury at how undisciplined the children of Portwenn School are behaving. Is this really the type of upbringing they want for James? As Martin leaves, Eleanor arrives and hands James back to Louisa, no longer able to look after the child as a result of an impending transaction with a shellfish dealer. Baby in arms, Louisa turns to hear a commotion down the hall. Two running children have accidentally knocked Mr. Coley off his ladder, and Louisa suggests that the man go to Martin for his injuries.

At the Surgery, Martin finds no superficial bruising, breaks, or fractures, but he is still very much concerned about Mr. Coley's forgetful, whacky state of mind, referring to Louisa as "Linda" and the children as "goats." Swearing he doesn't drink, the clearly lightheaded Mr. Coley leaves the office before the examination can continue.

The next day, the situation at the school has become worse, now with six reported cases of children vomiting. Martin arrives with Adam's blood results, which show traces of cleaning solution. However, that cleaning solution wasn't on the floor sample he took the day before. What was on the floor sample? Fertilizer. What in god's name is going on with Mr. Coley? The students fess up--they've been eating the strawberries at the school's growing patch, the growing patch that Mr. Coley tends to, to show that they weren't afraid of him. Looking far and wide for Mr. Coley, Martin and Louisa they reach his shack at the edge of the school, enter, and discover that he has been living there for what seems like weeks. Not only that, he has been using a paraffin heater which, if he's been sleeping in there with the door closed, likely has given himself carbon monoxide poisoning.

Ah. There's Mr. Coley. On the roof of the school, unsure of how he got there. Unable to get down, Martin climbs up the ladder and sees that Mr. Coley has been suffering from delirium. Admitting that his wife kicked him out weeks earlier, he has been suffering ever since, both emotionally and, well, mentally. Arriving at the scene, Penhale attempts to climb up the ladder, only to stop, terrified of heights. If that wasn't enough to turn Maggie off, Morwenna arrives with an oxygen mask and asks Penhale, within Maggie's earshot, why she was so rude to him on the phone. Amidst the commotion, Martin finally manages to get Mr. Coley onto the ground and put him in the ambulance.

At Penhale's place, Maggie tries to start a serious conversation about the two of them, only to have Penhale interrupt and say that she shouldn't stay with him anymore. Policework is dangerous, he hyperbolizes, saying that he loves her too much to keep her in the line of fire. She doesn't buy the story, but she understands what he truly means.

After a conversation with Ruth, Louisa is furious to discover that Martin has set up James' christening without her. Storming into his Surgery, she berates him for not asking her, then stubbornly refuses to eat the meal he has planned. As they sit across the dinner table from each other, she comes to a realization.

"You and me," Louisa tells him, "there should be something we both agree on. Where James might go to school. What day he's gonna get christened. Something. But there's nothing, you know? We don't even want to share the same meal." Proclaiming that she simply cannot do this anymore, she takes James and goes to live with her mother.

Martin, alone, grabs a repair kit, begins work on his grandfather's clock, and sighs.

Hey! I Know That Actor!

Brian Pettifer, who plays the carbon monoxide-poisoned Mr. Coley, has appeared in such films as "If..." and "O Lucky Man!," but is likely best known for his 23 years as Andra on "Rab C. Nesbitt."

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About the Author

Marcus Gorman is a pop culture writer and the author of the novel triceratops.
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