The whole season could have been this. All of season seven could have been as good as this episode, if one thing was different.
What? A writer who has actually written for the show before?! What a novel idea! And I understand it is Heidi Thomas and episodes she writes are always really good, but the characters, the actions, even the sets felt familiar and brought back what this season has been missing.
So, let’s get into this.
We somberly move through Poplar as everyone prepares for Barbara’s funeral. Val (Jennifer Kirby) and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) help Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) get ready as Fred (Cliff Parisi) goes to help Tom (Jack Aston). Nurse Crane stares at her black dress and talks about how a wedding dress was hanging there a year ago. I cried more during this episode than I have in the rest of the season combined.
At the church, we pan through everyone looking sad. I don’t know where they could have put it in without it seeming forced but I would have appreciated a line about Trixie, Patsy, Delia, and Sister Mary Cynthia’s absences. But, I stopped thinking about that when Nurse Crane walks up to the podium and we linger on this shot of the alter.
That is the spot where Barbara sang for the BBC broadcast after Trixie convinced her to wear make up. That is where Barbara got married. And now its where her funeral is. Good job, Heidi Thomas and director Syd Macartney.
Nurse Crane chokes up during a poem about happiness and not lingering on those who have gone. Val and Lucille are doing their best to keep things together at the wake at Nonnatus. Nurse Crane is hiding up in her room, when Lucille gets called out. Nurse Crane points out that the world hasn’t stopped despite what has happened. And I liked how the episode just went with that. Barbara’s death loomed over this entire episode, but this was also in places just a normal episode.
The Turners go home and Shelagh (Laura Main) breaks down about planning Angela’s birthday party, which is the perfect Shelagh reaction. They realizes they are just throwing all their efforts into party planning.
During the party, Shelagh gets a call that a nearby maturity home is being closed and all the patients have been refereed to them. They agree to handle that after the 4-year-olds have had their cake.
It ends up being a false alarm when Lucille goes to check on Olive. She left her cheating husband and is currently staying with her dad, Stanley. Donald also stops by, he seems slightly forgetful and Olive calls him uncle. I loved this story line and its very subtle reveal that was very much like 4.2.
This episode did a great job of showing different methods of how everyone is grieving. Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is fixated on getting the television fixed, she then sneaks off to the movies so she can watch the newsreel to figure out what to pray for. Reggie (Daniel Laurie) thinks Barbara’s grave looks lonely as he and Fred are planting iris’s on his mother’s grave. Tom is sitting alone in the chapel and says he will go stay with his parents for a week but then he is coming back. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) sobs while she wipes Barbara’s name off the call board.
At the clinic, Val is helping young and happy mother, Josie. She doesn’t seem bothered by things; she isn’t married, despite being a teenager her mother is never with her, and she is giving her baby up for adoption. Lucile is back at Olive’s and Olive asks her about getting a council flat because she doesn’t think her father’s home will be good for her baby. Donald then wanders in thinking she is Stanley’s wife. We had followed Donald as he walked around Poplar looking confused. He was getting nasty looks but we don’t know why until he gets inside and Lucille sees that he isn’t wearing pants.
He wonders away before she can stop him. She goes to Sgt. Wolff to report him. Thankfully, Gruff McNewCop calls Dr. Turner (Patrick McGann). He thinks he has dementia. Sgt. Wolff tells him that he has two prior convictions of gross indecency, which we and Dr. Turner know from 4.3 means he’s gay. Stanley then arrives asking about his “neighbor” Donald.
Dr. Turner’s is great in this scene. He tells Sgt. Wolff that he doesn’t care if Donald is “a homosexual” or not, the dementia is what is important. He also diagnoses him later and reacts out of sympathy when he sees the true nature of Donald and Stanley’s relationship.
Olive is not really as okay with it. She screams and gets grossed out at her father and then arrives at the maturity home with all her stuff.
Tom comes back from his parents’ house and finds a stack of sympathy cards. He opens one of the cards and I really wish it would have been from Patsy and Delia. They could have just briefly shown their names written in it. There was no references to them this episode and it seemed a little weird. Tom then takes all of Barbara’s clothes over to Nonnatus house and to try and donate them. Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) is a bit confused and concerned. She says he would tell a grieving husband that he is moving too fast.
Okay, Jack Ashton has been on the this show for a very long time and he has been in some emotionally heavy storylines but in those he is usually connected to Helen George or Charlotte Ritchie or Linda Bassett. Women, who give really great, really strong emotional performances. But, he is on his own in this one a lot and it doesn’t feel all that well acted. It really was jumping out at me in the scene with Sister Winifred. Victoria Yeates, who has never been given much to do, acted the hell out of that scene.
Moving on, Sister Winifred agreed to keep the clothes until Tom is certain. She couldn’t bring herself to put them in storage and takes them into Val’s room, where she is hanging out with Lucille. They agree to keep them in that room and Val’s says they should have a glass of sherry for Barbara. And I’m crying again.
That room was never Barbara’s. But it was Jenny’s and Trixie’s and Patsy’s and they are all gone. Why didn’t you write this entire season, Heidi Thomas?
With all the extra patients, everyone is called to the maturity home. Josie is freaking out while listening to another mother give birth. Nurse Crane tells her she will be her midwife. She wanted one of the nice, young ones, which Nurse Crane is nice about. This episode was also really well directed. There are about four births going on at once.
After Olive’s is born, her father and Donald come to see her. She is far less mean to them. Donald can’t remember who she is but knows that she is someone they love. Olive decides the three of them can show her son what a family can look like.
Nurse Crane has been having back pain since the funeral, which at times felt a bit too comical in the wake of Barbara’s death, but it goes away after Josie’s daughter is born. Josie is saying her daughter is still important to her even if she wasn’t in her life for very long. She names her Barbara, because it just popped into her head, like it was in the air or something. And I’m crying again.
Reggie knocks on Tom’s door because he has a present for Barbara. They go to her grave together and Tom places the carousel on the grave.
After turning off the radio broadcast about the Kennedy assassination, Sister Monica Joan gives an impassioned speech about how they cannot continue living in sorrow. They must cherish life and time on Earth and know Barbara is in a better place. This gives everyone else the idea to make a movie of pictures and archival footage of Sister Monica Joan for her birthday.
Everyone gathers in the community center to watch it. It’s all happy and everyone is laughing until the first photo with Sister Evangelina. Then there starts being photos that have Barbara in them. But is also includes a clip from Trixie in Italy and Mature Jenny starts saying how everything turns into a memory but that those memories don’t have to always be sad.
The whole season could have been this good. I don’t know why almost all the writers were new to the show this season, but I really hope that doesn’t happen again. And hopefully we keep this cast for a while. Tom mentioned Barbara’s father wanting him to come to New Guinea and do mission work with him. So, I’m guessing that is how Jack Ashton and Helen George are going to switch off parenting duties. Barbara’s spot at Nonnatus will need to be filled, so I guess that will be one of the new nurses. Patsy and Delia are just travelling so that keeps open the possibility of them returning, which I really hope they do. This episode saved this season for me and I’m excited again about seeing more Call the Midwife.
I wanted to write regular posts about 7.6 and 7.7, but I can’t now. I hadn’t written my post for 7.6 by the time 7.7 aired because I couldn’t work out what I wanted to say about it. This season has been slowly unraveling for me since 7.3. I haven’t felt as emotionally invested as usual and none of the story lines have felt all that grand because the characters I have spent years with aren’t here. I love Val and Lucille by they are the fun, young cast of a show I’m not sure I signed up for. They are not Patsy or Trixie or Barbara.
So, that brings me to Barbara. This is why I couldn’t write a normal post about 7.6 or even 7.7 really because it ended with the show killing Barbara.
And in doing so outlined everything that I have been disliking about this season. The season so far has had tearjerking moments but I don’t know if I cried at them. One main reason was because I didn’t feel like I knew those characters. I cried twice during this episode: 1) when Barbara (Charlotte Ritchie) told Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) that she knew she was dying and 2) when Nurse Crane finished the prayer because Tom couldn’t.
Those moments has so much backstory to them. Everyone is always trying to protect Barbara but she is smarter and more mature than most people give her credit for and of course she knows she is dying. And Nurse Crane is an atheist and basically mocked Tom once for his ability to turn to god in a moment of crisis while she can only turn to science and reality. But she prayed for him because she knew what it meant to him and Barbara.
An elderly nun dying in her sleep took a whole lot out of Nonnatus and Poplar, but a 25-year-old newly married nurse who died suddenly? That doesn’t seem like an issue that can be handled in one episode. And I really hope it isn’t.
Also, half the cast is missing! Is Trixie going to came back from rehab in Italy for her little sister stand-in Barbara’s funeral? Are Patsy and Delia going to came back from their African adventure? Is Sister Mary Cynthia going to return from her mental health facility?
I’m assuming next week is going to be all about everyone but mostly Tom and Nurse Crane dealing with Barbara’s death. I am much more interested in Nurse Crane’s side of that than Tom’s. And no offense to Val and Lucille, but I would so much rather watch Trixie and Patsy’s reactions.
I am starting to see the show get criticized for having soap opera story lines again. Most of the time I like to defend it but if Barbara’s death doesn’t shake up the entire show for a while, I’m not sure if it deserves being defended.
This was not a very plot heavy episode and I feel like it can be best summed up with this photo of Nurse Crane and Val:
That is them saying goodbye to Trixie (Helen George) as she goes to visit her aunt in Italy for a while for rehab/Helen George’s maturity leave. But I feel like this gets to the deeper issue of why this season has felt strange so far. We seem to have lost our close knit, large cast of characters and have been left with an odd splitting of characters into groups. Only two people come outside to say goodbye to Trixie! Everyone lined up for Patsy.
As the with beauty contest in 7.3 and the Poplar picnic this episode, the show is trying to increase the scope by having these community wide events but only Fred and Violet are really included in them. And there needs to be a deeper and character level connection to really have those events make for meaningful story, like the Rose Queen Festival in 4.3. That included the entire community, dealt with our parents-to-be of the week, Trixie’s insecurity about her relationship with Tom, Patsy’s internalized homophobia, and numerous character’s views of sexuality.
This was a fun, but overall pretty forgettable episode.
After Trixie gets a a ride to the airport from Christopher (Jack Hawkins) as a friend, we cut over the docks for an incredibly uncomfortable scene. A group of white sailors are forcing a black sailor, who is covering his face, off the boat with brooms and shouting at him. The sailor, Ade as we later learn, struggles to get anyone to help him but eventually finds the Seamen’s mission.
He hides out there praying under a blanket until a drunken sailor messes with him, sees his marked face, and starts shouting about smallpox. That then leads to everyone freaking out that a sailor brought smallpox over from Sweden. The Nonnatans, the Turners, the board of health, and the police are looking for him.
In our other story line, Eunice Dobson has not been attending her clinic appointments. Her husband, Kenny, is concerned and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) agrees to go visit her at home. Eunice didn’t want to see her or talk about anything and tells Lucille to leave, which she does. The plotting really didn’t work well in this story line About four different times Lucille went to see the Dobson, was sent away, asked someone for advice, returned and had a brief conversation with Eunice. Last week, the story was perfectly relieved slowly. This was just repetitive story telling and there wasn’t even that good of character moments within those repeats.
One time Lucille is hanging out with Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) and Val (Jennifer Kirby) but even with that all we get is a story about Jamaican coffee. And Lucille adorable nightgown.
With the success of the beauty contest, Violet (Annabelle Apison) is charged with taking care of the Poplar picnic. She and Fred (Cliff Parisi) go through planning and collecting donations. Reggie (Daniel Laurie) comes for a visit and gets roped into helping. While running one of the chores for Violet, he sees Ade in an underground tunnel. He is the first person who isn’t afraid of him and offers him the bread he was supposed to bring home.
Ade tells Reggie he is sick so to not come close to him. That doesn’t stop Reggie from bringing him food numerous other times. He eventually tells Fred and Violet that he has been bringing his new friend food but doesn’t tell them his location because Ade told him it was a secret. Violet freaks out like all the other parents of Poplar and runs Reggie to Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) to get checked for smallpox. He doesn’t have any of the symptoms.
Reggie eventually tells Nurse Crane where Ade is. She takes him to Nonnatus, which he sees as an answer to his prayers. He has been praying throughout the episode on a wooden cross. Dr. Turner examines him and sees he has leprosy. With all the religion around, Ade is as concerned about leprosy as he was about smallpox. But, Dr. Turner tells him it is curable nowadays and called Hanson’s disease. Also, there is a hospital in Surrey that can cure him. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) says he can stay at Nonnatus until a space is available.
He bonds with Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) in the chapel and she is sad when he has to go even through he is going to get treatment. She gives him her book of prayers and he gives her his wooden cross.
Through the repeats with the Dobson, we find out forceps had to be used in Eunice’s last pregnancy and she is terrified of giving birth again. She tried numerous ways to get out of having a baby and now is in a denial about having to go through it again. When her labor starts, Eunice has locked herself in the bathroom saying she is not having her baby. Kenny calls Lucille and she, Dr. Turner, and Shelagh (Laura Main) head over. Lucille is able to get her out of the bathroom.
Shelagh helps with the delivery and allows Lucille to comfort Eunice and talk her through it. Everything goes perfectly and Eunice thanks Lucille. I still feel like Lucille is being a bit underused. This was her first delivery with Shelagh and nothing really happened. Same with Shelagh too, she assisted in a delivery and it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal.
Then we get to the goofy Poplar Picnic, where the dialogue got all awkward. It seems like our characters don’t know each other that well. Like remember the senior’s luncheon at the start of 5.6 that is how these characters should be. Anyway, the main point to this event is that Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) and Tom (Jack Ashton) return and are back for good.
Overall, this was not that great of an episode. Thankfully, Barbara is back. She can hopefully pick up the comedy torch. But there is still so much missing from this season, I don’t even know if superfluous bananas can lift this season above an average score.
Once a season Call the Midwife seems to have an episode where every character is used perfectly. I could say this is a Trixie and Sister Monica Joan episode, but Nurse Crane, Sister Julienne, and Fred were so amazingly woven in that seems unfair. This episode covered a lot of dramatic themes and it earned all of it, unlike last week. That might be because Heidi Thomas (and Laura Klee) wrote this episode.
We set up our two main story lines right off the bat. Trixie (Helen George) is not having a good time. I have always criticized the alcoholism story line because they never seem to put enough effort into it, but that seemed to change this week. Trixie was actually displaying alcoholic behavior for the first time.
Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is reading with a magnifying glass and it takes her a moment to recognize strawberries. The issue with her eyesight was revealed rather slowly and I greatly appreciated that.
Elsewhere in Poplar, Saddiq Gani returns from Pakistan. His wife, Mumtaz, has just got home for the sewing shop they run together. She is confused to see he was brought someone back with her, a pregnant someone. He is clearly nervous and upset as she tells her Parveen is his second wife. Their families decided it without even telling them. Mumtaz runs out angry at the both of them.
Over at the clinic, Lucille (Leonie Elliott) sees Mrs. Campbell. She catches her quickly eating something out of her purse. Lucille makes a joke about it being cake before she realizes it is not cake, but coal. We quickly explain Pica. Lucille says it isn’t that strange or uncommon and then we move along. Nobody seems concerned enough about Mrs. Campbell eating coal. That has to be dangerous. Also, Lucille and Val (Jennifer Kirby) are a bit underused in this episode.
At the Gani’s, Saddiq is trying to apologize to Mumtaz again. In some incredibly well written and delivered dialogue, we realize they couldn’t have children together making Parveen and her pregnancy even worse. Saddiq said he really didn’t want this and it was already arranged when he got home for his father’s funeral, which seemed oddly specific and like a reference to a character who has only appeared in photos so far this season. But more on missing main characters later.
Trixie attends to Mrs. Campbell’s birth. It went so smoothly we didn’t even see it, which is an odd new thing this season. But the Campbells seemed more like set pieces than characters so maybe it was okay. Mr. Campbell offers Trixie a brandy, which she accepts despite being on duty.
Through some simple observation by Fred (Cliff Parisi) and medical advice from Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), everyone realizes Sister Monica Joan has cataracts. Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) goes to see her but she is not having it. She doesn’t want his advice or his help. She has come to terms with whatever God has planned for her and she tells Sister Julienne she should know to respect that.
Val goes to visit Parveen and we find out she is Mumtaz’s cousin. Ouch. Also, I appreciate Val’s East End confusion about there being two Mrs. Ganis, Lucille’s utterly religious based disapproval, and Nurse Crane’s western feminist disapproval.
Then a few quick plot points happen at once. Nurse Crane visits the Campbells and is told about Trixie accepting the brandy. She returns to Nonnatus and calls her out for relapsing and not attending AA. Shelagh (Laura Main) convinces Sister Monica Joan to see the eye specialist with her. He suggests surgery, but she doesn’t want it and runs out. Sister Julienne visits Mumtaz and tries to convince her to come around to fact that the child she doesn’t want will be part of her life, but Mumtaz is not having it and tells her off.
Trixie goes to an AA meeting but leaves before it begins, goes back to Nonnatus, locks herself in the bathroom, and drinks from the bottle of vodka in her purse. Christopher (Jack Hawkins) comes around Nonnatus later looking for Trixie but only finds Nurse Crane. She tells him that Trixie can’t be with someone who is basically married – why is nobody respecting his divorce? –but she could use a friend. That is a good god damn point because remember oldest-friend Sister Mary Cynthia, let’s-have-fun-and-not-talk-about-our-problems Patsy, and little-sister Barbara are not here!
Christopher ends up creeping in front of Nonnatus waiting for her. They then go have a talk in the garden, where everyone has serious talks. She admits she needs help and he says he wants to help her, as a strictly platonic friend. Later, he drives her to an AA meeting and waits for her outside. She thanks him and tells him she needed his friendship but that they can’t go on seeing each other like this. They say goodbye and Trixie gets out of his sports cars.
Back at Nonnatus, Fred finds Sister Monica Joan in the chapel. He tests her eyesight and it is the first time she doesn’t seem angry about someone trying to help her. I’m so glad Heidi Thomas wrote this episode. Fred’s relationship with Sister Monica Joan is so much different than it is with Sister Julienne, Dr. Turner, or Shelagh. And I don’t even exactly know how. But he convinces her that God created the world, so he created the medical advancements that allows for the surgery she needs. He even uses the example of the first women in space, which she has been particularly interested in this episode.
Sister Monica Joan then excitedly goes into Sister Julienne’s office and tells her she is getting the surgery while comparing herself to the astronaut. Sister Julienne was side-eyeing in confusion so hard that I laughed out loud multiple times. It was the funniest moment of the episode and it was just an eye movement. Jenny Agutter is amazing.
Sister Julienne takes over the Gani birth. Mumtaz is there for Parveen, who is only 15, during it but stops being so supportive when her husband says the baby is “his son” to Mumtaz but “our son” to Parveen. Parveen isn’t interested in feeding the baby later on. Sister Julienne goes to Mumtaz for help and she eventually agrees, knowing they are all going to have to adjust to this situation none of them chose. They are all being nice and familial during the ending voice over.
And now back to Trixie. Trixie at first berated Nurse Crane for butting in on her business but then thanks her and says she needs to take some time to figure everything out. She then goes to Sister Julienne’s office. Sister Julienne grants her six months of leave so she can figure everything out. She then holds her as she cries.
That was beautiful. But six months?! Jesus, characters are dropping like flies this season. Obviously, Helen George needed some maturity leave. I’m glad first-time director Rebecca Johnson went with the who cares approach to covering up her pregnancy because we all know so why hide it.
Overall, this was an amazing episode. I’m not really sure if the Campbells were needed and the Ganis overshadowed them. It looks like Barbara and Tom are back next week, hopefully they can make up for Trixie’s absence.
Well that was a whirlwind of an episode. We started out with a lot of clunky dialogue and actions, swung wildly between drama and comedy, made Magda one of my favorite new characters, then seemingly wrote off two characters, blew up a major relationship, and had a relapse.
This episode did not start all that well. Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) heads to the Lunt’s for a home visit. The place is dirty, the kids have scrapes and bruises, and the dad is kind of an asshole. It seemed like we were hitting abuse right on the head there, but it ended up not being that at all. I get subverting our expectations, but that was a little weird. Nurse Crane books Mrs. Lunt in at the clinic.
Over at the Buckle’s, Fred (Cliff Parisi) and Violet (Annabell Apison) are cooking up a scheme to have a beauty contest. The dialogue clunks around, attempting to be flirty. After Fred convinces Violet he doesn’t just want to “see the local girls in their smalls” — ew, first time writer Kelly Jones –, Violet agrees to help out because they could make a homemade dress portion.
Over at the Turners, Shelagh (Laura Main) has totally come around to Magda (Nina Yndis). She saves her from having to learn about cricket with Tim, but asking Valerie (Jennifer Kirby) if she could hang out with the nurses sometime. Val tells Shelagh to send her to Keep Fit that night. Violet brings the beauty contest sign up sheet to Keep Fit. Magda quickly agrees to sign up and Val also agrees, seemingly because she really wants to be friends with Magda. Maybe it is Patsy and Delia’s absence, but I am fully behind the gay Val theory now.
Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) is giving a talk at the school and the Lunts’ daughter, Wendy, falls and is covered in bruises. Sister Winifred brings her concerns to Nonnatus. Nurse Crane is seeing Mrs. Lunt the next day and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) asks if they need to be concerned about abuse. They aren’t sure yet. At clinic, Mrs. Lunt says her husband wouldn’t like her talking to Nurse Crane. Mrs. Lunt then runs off her and leaves her children there. Trixie (Helen George) ends up taking them home. She forces her way inside when Mr. Lunt tries to turn her away.
This is when we find out his isn’t an asshole and something is wrong with Mrs. Lunt. Her father was taken to a “nut house,” so they don’t want to see Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) at first but Trixie convinces them.
Back in our comedy plot, Val asks Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) if she can be Miss Nonnatus House in the contest. That gets shot down and she is Miss Black Sails Public House instead. Magda comes over because she needs help making her dress and I guess Val offered. They then hang out with Trixie and Lucille and we get some backstory for Magda. She escaped out of communist Hungary, spent some time in a refugee camp in Austria, and had an abusive boyfriend in Paris. She is happy to be in Poplar now.
A specialize sees Mrs. Lunt and Dr. Turner and Trixie break the news to them that Mrs. Lunt has Huntington’s Disease, which causes nerves in the brain to break down over time. They aren’t sure what to do but Dr. Turner and Trixie try their best to help them. Mrs. Lunt has her baby, which is a seemingly health girl. That is almost a forgotten detail in their storyline, so I thought I would just get it out of the way.
Speaking of things to get out of the way, I’ll mention this bit with Trixie here because it seems unimportant until it is incredibly important at the end of the episode. Christopher (Jack Hawkins) tells Trixie that his daughter, Alexandra, is having trouble in school, having nightmares, and wetting the bed. Trixie seems more concerned then she let on. Alexandra goes to a psychologist, who suggests that Christopher only sees her on set days and she doesn’t see Trixie if she doesn’t want to. Trixie reminds him that she told him she didn’t want to meet his daughter if it would be bad for her. It didn’t seem like he thought that through enough.
Let’s focus on Magda for a bit here. I was getting really invested in her story line and was getting all excited about a new young character being added to the cast who isn’t a nurse. It would have been really interesting, but more on that later I guess. Magda goes to a family planning clinic, not the one ran but the Nonnatans. She is trying to get birth control, which already felt like a scandalous element. But when she gets examined, the nurse tells her she is two months pregnant. This was when the writing started getting good.
Magda naively asks about an abortion, which are legal in Hungary. She is shot down and sent away crying. She is still freaking out a bit at the beauty contest practice. Val keeps looking to her for confidence. Val is seeming rather unsure about this whole thing and also called Magda glamorous earlier. Magda seems to notice and takes charge of the practice, while Val trips over her heels.
As they are leaving, Magda is strategically asking Val questions about a boyfriend. Interesting, Val doesn’t really say anything more than “men are more trouble than they’re worth.” Well that sounds an awful lot like, “Trixie, having a boyfriend isn’t the be all and end all.” Val pieces together that Magda is asking her about how to get rid of a baby.
Val tells her she isn’t allowed to see any of the women who can help that she has read about. Magda cries and Val holds her. I ship it.
Also, what was this?!
The set designer just hung up a random photo? Trixie secretly knows and supports this relationship? Val and Pupcakes had an off-screen bonding session and they left their photo with their new gayby for inspiration?
Wendy Lunt also has Huntington’s. Trixie tries her best to help but they aren’t taking good enough care of the new baby. Her brother and sister are put in foster care. Trixie takes Wendy to a residential home for children. While there, Trixie stops for a moment while looking at a girl that looks a lot like Alexandra. It isn’t but the camera lingered for so long, I thought it was going to be.
Magda tells Shelagh she wants to enter nurses training after she is done working for them and they quickly offer her all the medical books she needs to read about how to bring on a miscarriage. On the day of the competition, Magda tells Trixie she isn’t feeling well and leaves to go to Nonnatus. Only Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parifitt) is there. Magda has been taking a bunch of pills she got out of Dr. Turner’s bag and injects herself with something. She stumbles away and collapses in the garden.
Thankfully, Sister Monica Joan calls Shelagh at the contest and she leaves. Val overhears and chases after her, while wearing her first-place homemade dress. At Nonnatus, Val tells Shelagh Magda is pregnant. They find her in the garden and call an ambulance.
At the hospital, Shelagh is rightfully a bit freaked out with Dr. Turner. Magda is going to be fine, but Shelagh partially blames herself for not noticing, making Magda feel like she couldn’t tell them, and giving her all the resources to find out how to do it. But, importantly they don’t seem mad or disappointed. Neither do the Nonnatans. Only Sister Winifred, because of course, asks if they are going to report her. Sister Julienne tells everyone Magda has suffered enough.
So with all of that and all the time dedicated to Magda this episode, I really thought she was going to stay. But, she doesn’t. The story is that she is going back to Paris and going to study to be a nurse, but worryingly I don’t believe that. The Turners ask her to keep in touch, but it doesn’t seem like she is going to. The last we see her, she is getting a last glimpse of Poplar outside the train station.
Now to the other character seemingly written off, Christopher and Trixie are talking in the garden. And Trixie oddly tells Christopher he should go back to his wife for Alexandra’s sake. Christopher is shocked and confused – me too, Christopher – and points out its his ex-wife and he doesn’t love her, he loves Trixie. But, she gets up and leaves him in the garden. Um Trixie, this doesn’t make any sense.
And then what seemed like a silly story line that we have basically had before takes an important and dark turn. Trixie goes into her darkened room alone, eyes the drinks tray and…
…I don’t know if the episode deserved to do this. I’ve never liked Trixie’s alcoholism storyline because I feel like the show never put enough effort into it. And again, her BIG drunken moment is because she broke up with a guy. I know Helen George can act the hell out of whatever this show throws at her, I only hope the writing can match the potential.
Overall, this was a weird episode that I really liked. It started like a nothing episode and by the end it shook up a lot of things. Nina Yndis was amazing this episode and I’m sad she’s gone now. Trixie has kind of been taking a backseat for this season so far, so I’m glad she is going to get some more screen time. I really hope it’s good.
I am tempted to start this episode with just a series of sort outs from the directing to the writing to Leonie Elliott to the focus on friendship to the subtle inclusion of Violet to Laura Main’s comedic abilities. This was an amazing episode. Five main cast members from last season are missing and I barely noticed. Also, I’m starting to ship Lucille and Valerie.
Anyway let’s get into this.
We start with Val (Jennifer Kirby) standing outside of a hairstyle while Mature Jenny (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave) talks about the changes in 1963. Val is sadly not getting an alternative lifestyle haircut, but she has known the owner of the hair salon and her pregnant daughter for years. While she is there, the daughter, Marge, goes into labor. Val calls Nonnatus and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) is set.
She instantly gets a few weird looks walking in but the full blown racism doesn’t hit until Marge’s mom, Mrs. Stanton sees her.
I am really glad Val got paired with Lucille for this story line. It makes specific sense later after her East End heritage is brought up, but for this early bit it seems to be playing off the fact that they seems to really hit it off last week.
The birth goes so smoothly it isn’t even shown, which just made it feel like something was going to happen afterward and it did. Marge starts complaining about her head hurting. Val runs downstairs and calls an ambulance. She thinks it’s post natal eclampsia, but Lucille doesn’t think the symptoms fit and thinks its a stroke. Mrs. Stanton starts to freak out and get even more racist, blaming Lucille. Val does her best to stand up to Mrs. Stanton as Marge and her mother go to the hospital.
Over in the Turners’ story line, their au pair Magda (Nina Yndis) is set to arrive. Shelagh (Laura Main) sends Dr. Turner (Patrick McGann) to go get her from the train station. She looks much more glamorous than her picture and Shelagh is shocked and a bit threatened. Shelagh spends most of the episode flustered and annoyed with Magda, who Tim (Max MacMillion) instantly takes a strong liking to.
The Barbara-shaped comedy hole is filled by Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) again this week. This week was much better. Shout out to writer Louise Ironside, whose only other writing credit is 6.6, so damn could she write some more? Sister Winifred’s story line starts with her knitting boobs for the breast feeding lesson of her mother craft class. Fred (Cliff Parisi) has a fun moment when he asks if he can carry the box for her.
At her class, eager mother-to-be Janet keeps talking about how great her husband is and gets a bunch of eye rolls from the other mothers. Janet says her husband is so dedicated, he’d even come next week. Sister Winifred likes the idea. She brings it up at Nonnatus that night. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) thinks it is a good idea, but asks for Sister Monica Joan’s (Judy Parfitt) opinion. Sister Monica Joan says they can’t let progress stop and maybe it is time.
Lucille is there during the discussion but doesn’t contribute because she is too busy dealing with racists this week. Mrs. Stanton specifically starts blaming Lucille for her daughter’s stroke. She brings her grandchildren to the clinic for milk tokens. Val and Lucille instantly descend on her to ask how everyone is doing. She yells at Lucille and tells her to keep her filthy hands off her grandchild. Obviously, the Turners are not having this and Val pleads with Mrs. Stanton to stop. Lucille quietly takes it, turns around, and gets back to work.
Once Marge gets discharged from the hospital, Sister Julienne and Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) decide Val should take over for Lucille as Marge’s nurse. Lucille goes and stands up to Sister Julienne — in her second episode, so damn — and says if she doesn’t let her continue to see Marge it is like she is saying Mrs. Stanton is right. Sister Julienne agrees and let’s Lucille continue to see Marge.
Rumors are starting to circular that the stroke was caused by Marge’s mom forcing her to continue to work during her pregnancy. Lucille loudly discredits that rumor in front of everyone at the hair salon. Mrs. Stanton then starts to allow Lucille, Dr. Turner, and Marge’s husband, Dennis help more.
Janet’s husband, Allan, does come to mother craft, but he is not as up for being at the birth as Janet thought he’d be. They have a bit of a falling out over the issue. She has a good talk with Nurse Crane and they seem to reconcile. She is helping out with Allan football team when she goes into labor. He helps her into the team’s van and they start driving toward Nonnatus. They don’t make it through and have to call from a pay phone, right around the corner from the site of Delia’s bike accident. I don’t know if it is limited sets or world building but I liked that I recognized it.
Sister Winifred decides her bike would take too long and opts for Nurse Crane’s car instead. There was a running joke through the episode that Nurse Crane and Fred both don’t trust her enough to lend her their vehicles. She makes it a bit later than Allan would have liked but he and Janet did a good job on their own. He almost faints when it is over. He says he wants to be at the next one and Janet says she wants him nowhere near it.
Now that that levity is out of the way, back to our racism story line. Val finds Lucille in the kitchen late at night and apologize for Mrs. Stanton’s behavior. Lucille tells her she doesn’t have anything to apologize for. But Val feels bad that an East Ender would treat her that way, especially because she was basically discriminated against in the army for being from a poor, working class neighborhood.
And let the air out of your Valerie’s a secret lesbian theories, everyone. Her superior didn’t like her not having a good upbringing and blamed her for a young soldiers death. She was found to have done nothing wrong but Val decided to leave the army after that and come home. Lucille told her she should have had to leave because of that.
So with that reveal and Tim’s crush on Magda, it seems our queer representation is officially at zero until Patsy and Delia come back. Or maybe Val is crushing on Lucille, who knows?
Anyway, after all the standing up Lucille has to do to Mrs. Stanton she gives Dennis the courage to stand up to his mother-in-law and convince her that Marge is on the mend and they all have to work together.
Trixie (Helen George) has a brief but fun story line in here. Shout out to first-time director Claire Winyard. Now that is how you cover up a pregnancy without it being distracting. Valerie and Nurse Crane tease Trixie for reading a book about home making. She spends some time with Christopher (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter, Alexandra. It seems they have also spent some sexy times together. She also attempts to cook for him, which goes poorly but he is sweet about it.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode. Everyone was used nicely, except for maybe Gruff McNewCop. I’m not sure how I feel about him yet. Leonie Elliott and Jennifer Kirby have clearly proven they can handle being the leads of this show for however long they need to be. See you next week.
I always enjoy the first episodes of the season. It always feels like everything I know and love about this show is back, but with a bit of difference. And since it’s Call the Midwife, we can swing wildly between silly and enjoyable and horrifically sad. We were in a mix of both this week.
We are still during the 1962-1963 winter, which was the coldest in more than 300 years as the radio told us. Everyone is wrapped up in blankets, but no one more than Helen George. I sort of enjoyed how the show used all the cliched ways to cover up her pregnancy. I’m really glad the show didn’t write it in or write her off for a bit but it has been humorously distracting at times.
Down in the clinical room, Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) is preparing to take her driver’s test and freaking out about it. Without Barbara here, it seems that all the humor has fallen to Sister Winifred, which is…fine. Nobody is better at comedy than Charlotte Ritchie and nobody is better at being an asshole, judgmental nun than Victoria Yeates. And I like both of those aspects about them.
Elsewhere, a stripper we haven’t met yet, but her name is Nadine, is getting chewed out by her boss for not showing enough skin. Her argument that it is burlesque doesn’t work because her boss knows she’s pregnant. She gets fired and sent away without her last week’s pay.
Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) is sent to check on a patient, who was recently released from the hospital. Mrs. Gelin keeps telling him that she is fine and not to worry. He husband is seemingly concerned but doesn’t want to speak up against her.
Back at Nonnatus, Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) tells everyone that a new midwife is coming from a class of newly qualified midwives. The new midwife will be sharing Nurse Crane’s (Linda Bassett) room and she looks a little disappointed at how quickly Barbara was replaced. Sister Julienne isn’t sure when she will be arriving because of the weather. Then there is a fun gag about cake because the power keeps randomly going out and the butter cream might not keep outside the icebox.
A bit during the cake gag and then afterward, Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) seems to not be doing all that well. One of the reasons she states is that their numbers have “severely dwindled” and with Barbara, Tom, Patsy, Delia, and Sister Mary Cynthia all not around, she isn’t wrong.
Trixie (Helen George, and her pregnancy covering coat) spends the afternoon with Christopher (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter, Alexandra. Alexandra is not as interested in nail polish as she usually is and she tells Trixie it is because her mother said only “tarts” wear bright nail polish. Christopher says his ex-wife is difficult and conservative and he should have known better than to send her home wearing it.
He then expresses his disappointment that they didn’t get to go to Switzerland, specifically because he was going to book them a hotel room. One hotel room. Trixie sort of clams up and doesn’t know what to say.
I like everything about this story line because it directly addresses a seemingly contradictory part of Trixie’s personality. She loves fashion, fanciness, and pop culture. But she’s also a virgin. Because only one of the young nurses has ever been okay with extramarital sex and she had it a lot, sometimes in a convent.
Aw, I miss you guys so much. Canonically, they are travelling and currently in Botswana. And they sent a postcard specifically to the only person who knows about their relationship.
A little bit later, Trixie admits she is virgin to Valerie (Jennifer Kirby), who looks confused before the power goes out again.
It has been nearly five days since the new midwife was supposed to arrive so Nurse Crane files a missing persons report with Sgt. Wolff. He is standing in Sgt. Knoakes spot and is unhelpful without being compassionate about it.
Thankfully Lucille Andersen does finally show up. It seemed like the show was keeping her appearance a secret, which seems silly in two ways 1) we all know Leonie Elliott was joining the cast as the new West Indies midwife, and 2) none of the Nonnatans are racist about it. Sister Winifred, of course, does bring up if their patients will have an issues. She uses the word “colored” but everyone says they will put any racists in their place.
Anyway to Lucille’s adorable introduction. We see a very cold looking woman struggling toward Nonnatus in the snow. She trips and has a bloody knee. Valerie answers the door and starts asking her about medical attention and needing a midwife until Lucille tells her she is a midwife.
She and Val seems to instantly hit it off. Lucille’s train got stuck in the snow for five days and she had to leave her luggage on the train and walked there. That experience made her sick though and she collapses in the clinical room before her first shift. She sadly watches her new co-workers head off to work. She gets on Sister Monica Joan’s good side by quoting Keates and having been a librarian back in Jamaica. She also gets on her bad side by asking if she can organize her books using the Dewey Decimal system.
Nadine, the former stripper, arrives in Poplar. She is seen by Trixie at clinic. Trixie is worried about the baby having a blood disorder because of Nadine’s blood group and the father being unknown. Later on, Trixie goes to Nadine’s rented room when her labor starts. Everything is going well but Trixie realizes the baby is breach.
Nurse Crane and Dr. Turner have been tending to the Gelins. Mrs. Gelin has advanced cancer but didn’t want to bother anyone. They are trying to make her and her husband and daughter as comfortable as possible until she passes. Nurse Crane gets into it with a building crew and Sgt. Wolff. The Gelin are refusing to move despite their street being demolished. Sgt. Wolff starts being helpful after Nurse Crane basically calls him a Nazi.
The three of them assist the family until Mrs. Gelin dies. They then attend the Jewish funeral that is held for her outside their home.
With the small staff and freezing conditions, Lucille is called out to help. Valerie drops her with Trixie to help with the breach. Sometimes I am amazed that in season seven they are still creating new birth problems to freak me out. But, everything goes perfectly. The baby does start having medical issues later and has to be taken to the hospital. Nadine decides she isn’t giving her daughter up for adoption. She takes about the intense love she feels for her. Trixie says some people spend their entire lives waiting for that. Nadine says maybe they are scared.
Trixie tells her AA group that maybe she is practicing self-discipline but maybe she’s putting herself in a cage because she is too afraid to admit she loves someone that much. Again, the kind of love that only one character has experienced.
Everything warps up nicely. Nurse Crane shares her thank you gift from Mr. Gelin with Sgt. Wolff. Nadine takes over Valerie’s aunt’s dance school, which Valerie was poorly filling in as the teacher for. Sister Winifred passes her driving test. Trixie tells Christopher she would like him to book them a hotel room somewhere. Shelagh (Laura Main) decides they are getting an au pair because she doesn’t want to drive the kids into Poplar every day.
Overall, good episode and good new character introduction. I’m glad this show is actually back. See you next week.