But what else might we be able to put together about the remainder of 2016 as a whole, simply from a few things that took place or were mentioned in From The Heart? I've come up with a few ideas (with a little help from Martha herself).
The Exploration Of Love
Oliver's characterization of Valentine's day as an opportunity to "celebrate the multi-faceted nature of love as defined by the Greeks" was absolutely no accident. In fact, it's the key to understanding the core purpose of From The Heart and unlock the secrets to the rest of 2016.
Martha seemingly participated in only one interview prior to From The Heart, and in it she lays out her grand plan for this season of films, revealing "[her] whole intention of this [third season] of four movies has been about the exploration of love."
I think a few minor details in From The Heart offer possible contexts through which some of these themes could be further explored.
"Not Even From My Mother"
Mama McInerney has been a lingering question ever since a birthday card from her appeared in Truth Be Told. So far, Shane's mom has been discussed really only out of necessity, as part of Shane's story in For Christmas, and while standing on the vacant plot of land on which her home once stood in Impossible Dream as Shane recalled random memories from childhood.
But when Shane's mom sends something, whether birthday or Valentine's day card, or that day late box of macaroons, she is immediately set aside for the men in Shane's life, whether Steve or Oliver. I find this minor detail profoundly important for reasons I cannot articulate---and haven't quite figured out---just yet.
We never see Shane reading the letters from her Mom, she treats them almost as she did that last birthday card from her father in the Pilot--and that's saying a lot. What says more is the fact we still don't know if Shane has ever opened any of them.
We could find ourselves asking what caused these two to drift from each other---and perhaps even getting the answer---sometime this year as part of this larger discussion about relationships Martha is exploring.
In the Patheos interview, Martha calls out "...politics and money and faith and family," as "things that can either bring you closer together or can become the stumbling blocks to a healthy, grounded relationship."
While From The Heart seemed to very much center on relational politics, it still leaves money, faith and family as areas of further exploration.
It's common knowledge that ever since there's been a post office there's been an O'Toole delivering mail, but that doesn't mean ALL O'Toole's down the family line necessarily worked for the United States Postal Service.
Could Joseph Lindley O'Toole have been the exception? Sure he was a "man of letters" but that doesn't mean he delivered them. And, as the plaque indicates, he was apparently a "poet laureate" during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, which we can assume is what warranted his home become one of Denver's Historical Landmarks.
But before history had a chance to appreciate what we can assume is Oliver's great-grandfather, might his creative pursuit caused tension within the O'Toole family line? And if it did, what lessons might Martha choose to use his situation to teach us about "genuine, honest, unselfish love?"
To The "Mailed In" Crowd
Given the nature of the conversations that lay ahead this year, I thought this would be a good time to issue a reality check, of sorts.
I was a little disappointed after From The Heart aired to see some comments on Facebook that this latest installment felt "mailed in," because it lacked porch swings and soldiers returning home from captivity---or so the comments seemed to suggest given there wasn't some huge monumental thing that took place between our favorite characters. I chose to just ignore those kinds of comments and hit A&D every day with what essentially amounted to the ultimate rebuttal.
I, for one, am pretty excited that Martha has chosen to tackle the complicated question of the obstacles to the best relationships we can hope to have in this life. Not only will she make it ok for us to acknowledge how bad we are at relationships, she'll lovingly teach us how to be better through the life and times of our POstables. I don't want to speak for anyone else, but that's the kind of instruction I would like to have and admittedly need.
That said, I wouldn't expect this batch of films to follow in the footsteps of those that aired in 2015. You may have to work harder for the valuable lessons, insights and pivotal moments that seemed to scream at us in previous films. Life, and its blessings, don't make it a habit of announcing themselves as they approach. They can arrive while we aren't paying attention, and even pass us by before we have a chance to see them for what they are. From The Heart was your first taste of what mining those invaluable gems might look like moving forward. But I can promise you now that you'll be glad you did.