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Normal People: Episode 6

“I think I was starting to have feelings for you there at one point.”

An episode in which people make questionable decisions and I am left ever so slightly irked.

We’re only halfway into the series, so perhaps it was too much to ask that they’d live out a happy college romance together. And we started out so sweetly, too.

The broken glass in the opening shot was pretty much a metaphor for what happened in this episode. We see the broken glass and we see Marianne alone crying, so we naturally think there must have been a huge fight between them. But in reality, Marianne broke the glass herself after a very abrupt and likely quick breakup. Similarly, a lot of the hurt that ensued this time was due to some very rash decisions.

This is the first time we see Marianne and Connell in a proper (as proper as can be) relationship. They’re practically living together while their friends know they’re an item probably a lot more than they do, much to Connell’s consternation. And here we see the two sides of that relationship and how unevenly they match. We have the sexual side which, suffice it to say, is quite healthy. Then we have the not-so-healthy communication side.

Marianne doesn't confide in Connell about the issues with her family. She continues to suffer emotional abuse at the hands of her brother, while her mother tries to talk to her but once again leaves their relationship colder than it was before. We still don’t know a lot about her family, other than the fact that her father was abusive. While the shadow of that abuse is still lingering now in the form of Alan, I feel like all we ever see is her family being awful to her without much insight as to why they act that way. We can only assume at this point.

We already know Connell is a piss poor communicator. But the fact that he ends up making the same mistake he did in high school of neglecting someone who loves him makes him a downright jerk. He doesn’t have to deal with the social pressure of his peers, because as was illustrated in the pool scene, nobody knows him the way they did back in high school. And the people that do know him are well aware of his connection to Marianne. This time he was even driven by financial necessity to deepen his relationship with her, and despite Marianne herself, Niall, and Lorraine implying that he should just open up to her, he still withdraws and hurts Marianne once again in the process.

So while we see them having a lot of sex this episode, we also see them barely communicating. The threesome talk was interesting because we see the crux of their relationship problems – Marianne is all too willing to submit herself to Connell while Connell is too insecure to face that level of emotional intimacy head on.

A lot of the decisions made this episode were frustrating, and suddenly we’re back where we were a few episodes ago – Connell and Marianne broken up and now separated over distance. I hope we get to see more personal motivations fleshed out in the next few episodes instead of retreading past character decisions.

Bits and Pieces:

- MVP award for the episode goes to Niall. Niall is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. He went from being the chill friend to actually having more sense than Connell about his and Marianne’s relationship. Niall’s aloof vibes are also a nice counter to Connell’s stoicism.

- Second place MVP award goes to Joanna. Her silently slipping away to allow Marianne and Connell to be together at the pool was just the kind of prodding they needed to have a moment. Something tells me that if Joanna had been the one to talk to them in private instead of Peggy, the conversation would have been a lot more comfortable.

- Connell’s editorial rejection was definitely a blow to his self-confidence, but surely rejection has to be something he’s learning as an English major?

- Jamie actually seems to get along with Marianne pretty well. But he also seems too willing to make subtle moves on her while she’s obviously with another guy.

- Alan appears to have taken on the family business while Marianne is given the luxury to study.

- Connell’s email is connellwaldron@hotmail.com. Do people still use Hotmail?

- Many chain sightings. Too many to count. Let’s say 25. This episode gets 25 chain points.


Marianne: “Is he your best friend, do you think?”
Connell: “No. You are.”

Connell: “How would you feel if I kept going at you about some stupid teenage mistake that you made?”
Lorraine: “Sweetheart, you are the stupid teenage mistake I made.”

Niall: “Fuck’s sake, man. I give up. Do what you want. I can’t get my head around it.”

Marianne: “You don’t want to touch me but you get to dictate who else does?”
Connell: “I touch you.”
Marianne: “Yeah, as long as there’s about six closed doors between us and another person who might fucking witness you demonstrating some level of affection towards me.”

Consider me exasperated. 2.5 dishwashing sponge baths out of 5.

Mara Fabella is a visual artist, writer, retired martial artist, yoga practitioner, booper of cat noses, and lifelong lover of mint chocolate chip ice cream.


  1. People do still use hotmail. I have a very old hotmail address that I use for a bunch of things. :)

  2. I feel like it's been years since I've emailed anyone using Hotmail. My Yahoo mail also feels like a relic.

  3. I'll admit I almost always say, "I know it's antiquated, but I still have a hotmail address" when I give it to someone. :)

  4. Yes, this is definitely a frustrating lack of communication episode. :)


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