Now that I’ve finally wrangled in my feels, here are my afterthoughts on Yverdon les Bains, Martin’s role in series 4, and Cabin Pressure in general.
I want to begin by stating that I’ve always been a Douglas fan. He gets all the best lines, he’s a pompous arse and sharp as a tack, and even when he loses he still somehow manages to come out on top. All throughout the series, particularly 1 and 2, Martin seemed to exist solely to be the butt of Douglas’ jokes. That was all fine and good, but it did not make him particularly interesting, at least not to me. Much of this changed with the reveal of Icarus Removals and Martin’s unfortunate living situation, not to mention the fact that he loves piloting so much that he would do it for free. I think, for me, that Martin fattened up into a much rounder character in ‘St Petersburg’ (probably my favorite episode of Series three. Right up there with ‘Ottery St. Mary,’ which is by far the funniest episode IMO). Just, wow, the bird strike was so flawless. Especially when shit gets real with all the sexy jargon and the phonetic alphabet. The perfect moment was when Douglas asked “Do you want me to land it?” and Martin replied “No, I’ll do it.” It also really cemented his character later when Arthur comments on how brilliant his landing was, and Martin actually agrees (“It was, wasn’t it?”). This was the beginning of a major turning point in his character arc: he finally realized that he could stand to be a bit more confident and really believe in his own greatness and perhaps aspire to something greater.
Which, naturally, brings me to series 4. A lot of people complained that series 4 was too Martin-centered and John Finnemore was just trying to make bank off Benedict’s name. First of all, I don’t agree with either of those arguments. Martin, for all intents and purposes, is hardly a character in the first 2 series – what I mean is that he doesn’t develop very much, and seems to exist solely to be the punchline of everyone’s jokes. Douglas developed the most in these seasons I think; most of the time his cleverness drove the plots (Birling day, the orchids, the business about his lie in ‘Fitton,’ etc) and this served to round him out. This is why Douglas doesn’t feature as prominently in series 4, and I was perfectly all right with this even though Douglas is my favorite character. I actually liked that Martin seemed to get all the attention in Series 4. I loved the fact that he gets a love interest in ‘Vaduz’ after three seasons of fumbling and embarrassing himself around women (‘Newcastle,’ anyone?) and his devotion to his mum’s aid in ‘Wokingham’ was adorable and well deserved. After three seasons of being ridiculed and embarrassed at every turn (even if it made for some flawless situational comedy) Martin more than earned a serious and meaningful ending. Even if that ending was a somewhat frustrating and definitely heartbreaking cliffhanger.
Yverdon les Bains: I won’t lie. Just like everyone else, I sat stupefied in front of my computer (or radio) when it was over. I honestly can’t even remember what the ending credits sounded like, and those are always my favorite part of every episode. The ending was so abrupt, and so abruptly bittersweet when these things usually end with some witty Douglas quip or silly Arthur one-liner, and occasionally a ridiculous musical number. But not this. The last moment is Martin’s, and it’s a serious moment which cements him as a serious character with real passions and dilemmas which surpass ‘wanting to be an aeroplane’ or stuttering “I’m the Captain, Captain Crieff, Captain Martin Crieff, but you can call me Martin” eleven times in a row. That’s why it was devastating and upsetting; because it actually felt REAL. You forgot you were listening to a comedy show. A radio comedy show which has plot points like stuffing a charter plane full of otters, jelly babies to manual, ‘This is the airport speaking,’ ‘From Hong to Kong,’ and Martin’s dress shirt smelling of bacon.
Do I even need to say anything about Martin’s speech. This is probably the only REALLY serious speech delivered in the entire series, and Martin gets it. And he earned it. Screw off if you think this had anything to do with Benedict’s name! This was brilliant writing at its best and Mr. Finnemore is a genius. An evil genius, maybe, but a genius nonetheless. The ending (if this is the end, I’ve got my fingers crossed for Zurich) is brilliant. It really is. It’s the best kind of cliffhanger there is, because regardless of whether or not Martin goes to Swiss Airways, we know that the MJN crew is a real family now. We know that they love each other. Yes, they LOVE each other, because they NEED each other. They’re all misfits with tragic lives marred by horrible things like poverty and divorce and manipulation and failure and revenge — and that’s the essence of their bond. And the fact that all of this was pulled off under the guise of absurdist comedy just proves, yet again, how bloody brilliant the writing is.
So, in conclusion, whether this is the end or not, whether Martin goes off to Swiss Airways or stays with MJN, we know that he will be happy not only because he has a family, but because he’s finally figured himself out and he believes in his own greatness. On top of it all, he now KNOWS that the cabin crew love him and will support him all the way, even if this means the end of MJN. Martin deserved to be the star of series 4, and he more than earned the speech and the ending. You and I both know that he will make the right choice. I believe in Martin Crieff.
My biggest weakness as a pilot is that I’m not very good at flying aeroplanes. I’m good enough. Like the sim said, I’m adequate. Adequate to the task. But I don’t do it easily; it’s not second nature to me. On your scale of one to ten, if one is the bare minimum of competence then I’m about a four. And I used to be a one - no, I used to be a zero. And then I took my CPL again, and then again, and then I was a one and then a two and then a three and now a four. And I’m not finished yet… That’s why you SHOULD employ me, that’s why you’d be LUCKY to employ me because, if you’re not naturally good, if you cant just rely on just knowing how to do it like Dou- like SOME people can, you have to be a perfectionist, actually, and I AM ONE. That’s why, even though you’ve turned me down, I’m going to keep applying, because flying is the perfect job and I won’t settle for a life where I don’t get to do it.