Doc Martin

Recap for 'Doc Martin,' Episode Fifteen A: "On the Edge: Part 1"

Previously on "Doc Martin"

When Julie Mitchell is revealed to be a con artist, and Mark discovers that he is infertile, their wedding is definitely off. Mrs. Tishell is diagnosed with a prolapsed disc. Martin and Louisa get drunk together, but before they can kiss, the light-drinking Martin passes out. The next morning, she reveals that she loves him, but he backtracks and accuses her of having "erotomania" that could be affecting her judgment.

This week's episode: "On the Edge: Part 1"
Written by: Jack Lothian
Directed by: Ben Bolt

Martin (Martin Clunes) and Louisa (Caroline Catz) start this episode as they would any other, tied up in chairs and fearing for their lives. Wait...what?

We flash back to three days earlier, and all seems well as Martin, his car in the shop, slogs up the hill in order to pay a visit to dear Auntie Joan (Stephanie Cole). Having rolled her ankle while tending to the chicken coop, Martin quickly tells her to stay off her feet as long as possible and to save emergency calls for actual emergencies. Just as Martin is wrapping up, Colonel Spencer (Richard Johnson) arrives, brandishing a shotgun. Not for the two of them, of course, but to protect the choughs - a rare species of bird that could fetch a fortune on the black market - from roaming ornithologists who might have more on their minds than simple birdwatching. On his way out, Martin accidentally knocks over the shotgun, which discharges and blasts out the window as well as tiny pieces of Joan's leg. It's only a flesh wound, so no harm, no foul, I suppose. Worried that the Colonel - who once accidentally shot a man in the back because "It was dark [and] I thought he was a wild boar!" - may cause more harm than good "stalking the cliffs," Joan convinces Martin to take the shotgun and bring it to PC Mylow.

Left alone at Martin's office, Pauline (Katherine Parkinson) takes in a patient, the local baker (Paul Rider), tending to a sliced hand thanks to a seized-up mixture. Taking initiative, Pauline takes the baker into the examination room, telling him, "I'm almost a trained nurse. Well, in three years or so. If the university accepts me." Before she can do too much damage, Martin arrives from his visit to Joan, diagnoses the baker's injury as a minor wound, and sends away another potential patient for not making an appointment.

As Pauline flirts with Al Large (Jo Absolom) and discusses her potential nursing future far from the shores of Portwenn, Martin makes a visit to Mrs. Tishell (Selina Cadell) to pick up some antiseptic wipes and a tube of antifungal cream (fun!) when he sees Louisa out and about. Still on tentative ground after their drunken near-kiss in the last episode, Martin apologizes for accusing Louisa of suffering from "delusional romantic attachments," hands her a birthday card, and asks her out to dinner. But before she can answer, she spots an unexpected visitor, none other than her own estranged father Terry (Kenneth Cranham). What is he doing here after all these years, especially since he has constantly forgotten her birthday in the past? Additionally, why is everybody around town calling him a "tosser"?

The next day, Martin is taking the trash out of his office when he runs into the man he sent away the day before. But this man was no appointment-less patient. He is Gavin Peters (Jonathan Arias) from the Cause for Concern Initiative, which deals with complaints made about doctors. Martin isn't in trouble, not yet, but the opening questions don't go very well for the standoffish Martin, especially when the Colonel comes by, accusing Martin of blabbing to Bert (Ian McNeice) about the choughs.

Lo and behold, Bert has taken it upon himself to start a birdwatching tour for new tourists, hoping to squeeze a few pounds out of the choughs. But the tour is delayed slightly when Terry tries to bargain with Bert, attempting to give him 60 quid for the two-hour use of Bert's boat. Bert refuses, as do the rest of the men along the shore. Whatever Terry did to this community, there is no forgiveness. No matter, though, because Terry has other things on his mind when he notices Jonathan (Chris O'Dowd), Terry's lodger, sitting on a bench in the middle of Portwenn, apparently without invitation. What's he doing there, and why do he and Terry "need to talk"? Moving their conversation to the local pub, Jonathan reveals himself to be a bipolar conspiracy theorist, certain that smoke detectors are listening devices and that some birds have cameras implanted in them. But the pub itself becomes an unsafe place for Terry, noticing that all the townsfolk are glaring at him. "I left Portwenn under a bit of a cloud," Terry discloses. Louisa defends her father as a good man, but nobody believes her.

At the office, after Pauline informs Martin that she may not be long for Portwenn, Gavin informs Martin of the complaints made about the good doctor's bedside manner. Martin defends his tactics, as he gives good diagnoses and operates within the budget, but it's too late: Martin is hereby required to attend a review panel on his behavior. As Gavin leaves, Terry has brought Jonathan by the office, hoping to score some lithium for him. Martin doesn't like to be bossed around or told how to treat his patients, but after realizing that Jonathan might suffer a psychotic breakdown without the medication, Martin quickly writes a prescription - "Can you make sure it's the ones without tracking devices?" Jonathan asks - and sends them on their way.

After retrieving his medication from Mrs. Tishell, who is busy defending Martin to the visiting Gavin, Jonathan gets a stern talking-to from Terry, wondering why he didn't stay put wherever they lodge together. Jonathan demands to know what Terry's planning, and Terry retorts that he'll only give him details if he takes a tablet of lithium. Jonathan complies. "The boat arrives tomorrow at 12," Terry reveals, "and when I get the package off it, we'll leave town and head home." As Terry turns around to leave the block, Jonathan spits out the pill, having never swallowed it.

Making another visit to Joan's place, Martin helps her pick eggs from the coop and gets an unintended earful: the Colonel saw somebody in the cliffs the night before trying to steal eggs, and she suspects that Terry is the culprit. It's in his nature, after all, because years earlier he was "involved with money for charity for the lifeboat going missing." Even though Joan says that she caught him red-handed, she didn't call the police because she liked Louisa. "Loyalty is but a step away from delusion."

At the shore, Bert finally agrees to let Terry borrow the boat for two hours and 80 quid. Money is money, especially if he is to believe the Colonel's information that the choughs are no longer along the cliffs and have left. The Colonel is of course lying, but there's nothing he wouldn't do for these birds.

After diagnosing the baker with a potential stomach infection, Martin informs him to take some time off work. This is nothing the baker wants to hear, as he has been losing business to the supermarket and the general march of time. If he can't participate in the town's annual pasty-eating competition, what will become of his business?

Finding Louisa on the street buying ice cream, Martin tries to talk to her about her father, mentioning what Joan told him. Upset that he would believe such tawdry gossip, Louisa smears the ice cream on his forehead and leaves, just in time for Gavin to stop by and inform Martin that the review panel is happening tomorrow. Angry and covered in ice cream, Martin tells Gavin off, calling him an "unctuous, platitudinizing eunuch," and prepares for the worst.

To be continued...

Hey! I Know That Actor!

The Irish Chris O'Dowd, who plays the bipolar Jonathan, starred alongside "Doc Martin" actress Katherine Parkinson and actor/writer/director Richard Ayoade on the hit British sitcom "The IT Crowd" before stealing scenes in films "Bridesmaids," "This is 40," and "The Boat that Rocked" as well as Lena Dunham's "Girls" and Christopher Guest's "Family Tree," both HBO sitcoms.

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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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