Episode 7 of Normal People begins in July with Connell drowning his sorrows in alcohol. We then cut back 6 weeks to see the time we lost last episode. Connell tells Marianne he won’t be at Trinity for the Summer as he has to move out. He tells her he’ll be going back to Sligo and the two decide to see other people. Only, Connell is a complete mess and after hooking up with his old teacher, he heads home to stew over his past decisions.
Marianne meanwhile tries to move on as well and with their break-up still raw, they agree to be friends. Connell shows up for her Father’s funeral and the two cast a warm smile at one another; a possible sign that their friendship is on the mend.
We then jump forward to September where Connell and Marianne sit drinking coffee together. Marianne is now dating Jamie and it turns out he’s a sadist, which certainly makes him awkward. She tells him they don’t have to talk about it but he insists. Marianne admits that she feels like she’s playing a part whereas with Connell it all felt very real.
Exams begin, distracting both of them from their feelings, with both Marianne and Connell managing to ace their respective scholar tests. While the group toast to Marianne’s success, Connell rings and tells her he’s in trouble.
Sh rushes off to meet him and with blood oozing down his mouth, it turns out someone tried to mug Connell. Drunk and stumbling, Connell tries holding her hand but she rejects him, despite their obvious feelings for one another.
This is yet another teasing throwback to their moments in the past where she was drunk and he rejected her. It’s clear they both have obvious feelings for one another but given their circumstances they can never find the right time to be together.
Marianne discusses her feelings for Jamie to him the next day but as the conversation turns to their own past relationship, they discuss their break-up and what a misunderstanding it was. She tells Connell it would have been okay for him to stay but with the damage now done and both of them seeing different people, they head back to their respective lives with big “what-ifs” hanging over them like a black cloud.
Back from backpacking, Connell and Niall return and meet Marianne and Peggy in Italy at her family’s summer house.. Things are a little awkward between Connell and Marianne to begin with but both of them seem to have moved on now. Connell calls home and speaks to Helen while Jamie stays close to Marianne.
After spending the day together, Marianne and Connell reconnect and discuss their changing fates. It turns out he’s been emailing her too and as they head back to the house, tensions are clearly running high between Jamie and Marianne.
At dinner, Marianne excuses herself to get another bottle of wine while Jamie’s perspective on life and culture makes things awkward for everyone. Eventually things take a messy turn and Jamie goes completely off the rails, prompting Connell to interject and help Marianne before things turn violent.
Marianne stays in Connell’s bed that night and she tells him she believes there’s something wrong with her given no one seems to love her. In the past Alan wished she was dead and told her outright that no one would miss her if she was gone. Connell is clearly torn up about this but she tells him she didn’t want him thinking she was damaged.
After stopping themselves from letting their kiss go any further, in the morning the group head to Venice. Connell stares at one of the paintings in the gallery and as he does, Marianne stands and stares with him in silence.
A fitting song at the end of episode 8, “Love Will Tear Us Apart Again”, is certainly very meaningful in the context of these two slices of drama. Marianne and Connell are clearly meant for one another but as fate would have it, they’ve found themselves with different people but unable to fill that void the other fills.
Once again there’s some great throwbacks to the past and plenty of interesting juxtapositions and contrasts between the two episodes. Episode 8 in particular is pretty dramatic with the entire saga with Jamie, and with each of these chapters acting like a stand-alone page from the duo’s lives, whether Connell and Marianne end up together in the future remains a doubt for now.