Call the Midwife: “Season 4 Episode 3”

This might be my favorite episode of television in a really long time. I’m going to try to do a regular review and recap about this episode and not just freak about how great Emerald Fennell and her facial expressions were the entire time. But I mean, look at her:

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So after the slow build up and subtle reveal last week that Patsy (Emerald Fennell) is gay and secret dating a nurse from The London named Delia (Kate Lamb), the show tackles homosexuality and how it was viewed in the 1960s for the first time.

Our baby of the week couple if first introduced by Tony (Richard Fleeshman), who a handsome, cheery and not-afraid-of-rats member of the Citizen’s Defense Core, a volunteer defense team headed up by Fred (Cliff Parisi) that will defend Poplar in case the Russians decide to drop a bomb on them.

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We met Tony’s wife Marie (Cara Theobold), who is rather pregnant, as she visit him at the car repair shop he works at that is owned by her father. She makes a quick comment about how clean he manages to stay. Patsy arrives and goes to do a home visit with Marie. They go into Tony’s parlor. Marie says he keeps it clean and he seems like a perfect husband, who likes art and music. Yeah, you picking up on these hints yet?

Over at the clinic, Shelagh (Laura Main) and Nurse Krane (Linda Bassett) are handing out soap because there is an outbreak of dysentery spreading through Poplar. This is also the introduction of our B plot through a poor Irish mother, Mrs. McAvory, and her twin boys. A couple more Nurse Krane character moments are carried over from the last episode, by her thinking she knows more about medicine and how to run the clinic than Shelagh and Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann).

Tom (Jask Asthon) comes up to Trixie (Helen George) and asks if she would be able to organize the Rose Queen Festival. This is the only thing I find strange about this episode. It sounds like some horrible small town Ohio thing to me, but knowing this show it is probably a truly historical British thing.

That night, Tony closes up the repair shop and walks past his house to an underground public restroom. There is only one other guy in there. The two of them make faces at each other and then Tony kisses him. The guy pulls back, blows a whistle and a bunch of police constables, lead by Sgt. Koakes (Ben Chaplan), storm in. Tony’s pleading goes unanswered and Peter arrests him for gross indecency.

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Trixie was fitting Marie for her Rose Queen dress — she is the out going one who has to crown the new one — when Peter arrives to tell her that Tony’s been arrested. Peter and Trixie don’t hash out their feelings until they are at Nonnatus. Patsy is there too. Trixie gets on Peter for his poor timing. One of the things I love about this episode is that we get almost every character’s view on homosexuality, which you’d think we wouldn’t get until if or when the show does a coming out episode for Patsy. Peter goes first and, much to be expected, he views it only through his job. Homosexuality is illegal.

Trixie wonders aloud if Marie will be able to forgive him. This is the start of Patsy’s fantastic facial expressions. Patsy ask Trixie if she could. She says no. Thoughts on that, Patsy:

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Patsy seemingly jumps to the worst possible conclusion, but Trixie then adds she couldn’t because he cheated. She doesn’t care who with. Trixie then tells as anecdotal story about how she pretty much acted as a gay doctor’s beard during training because if anyone found out he would have lost his job. Patsy says nurses were told the same. It is clear she has been remembering that fact in fear for years, while Trixie has forgotten and then jokes about it. Response, Patsy:

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Tony’s father-in-law posts bail, but also fires him from the repair shop. Patsy comes around to check on Marie. She tells her she can talk to her if she needs to. And Marie pretty much responds with saying Tony can’t be gay and a bunch of homophobic things. How we doing, Patsy:

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Back at Nonnatus, we get a lot more character’s views on the situation during dinner. Barbara (CharlotteRitchie) seems quiet innocent to the whole thing, commenting on how handsome Tony is. Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) says she thought someone had to be harmed for something to be considered a crime. Nurse Krane tells her to think of Marie. Sister Winfred (Victoria Yeates) says the Bible says sodomy is a sin. Trixie replies by saying telling people who they can and can’t love sounds fascist. Sister Winfred seems shocked that Trixie called it love. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) said it is not their place to judge, the courts will decide. Sister Winfred’s view was the only one I was shocked by. This is the character that was described as relentlessly good-natured just last episode. We pop over to the Turners’ in the next scene, they talk it out and realize maybe it is society’s fault that Tony and Marie are in their situation. As Dr. Turner says, “a man gets married, he has a family, there isn’t much room for a different way.”

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Dr. Turner agrees to stand up for Tony as his character witness during his hearing. Peter is the prosecution’s witness. Tony pleads guilty to the charge. Instead of two-years of prison time, Tony is allowed to stay out if he agrees to undergo treatment until he is cured. The treatment is estrogen. Being 1960, Dr. Turner and Marie both don’t see how horrible this is. Tony eventually voices his and the audience’s opinion but he is mostly ignored.

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A day or so later, everyone is prepping for the Rose Queen Festival. Patsy is helping Marie with her dress and tells her she is happy that everything was resolved for her and Tony. Marie then shutters away from her and goes to get someone else to help her. Later, someone walks in with the local newspaper that printed a story about Tony’s case. Marie gets shunned for being married to “a flaming queer” and everyone says they don’t want her in the festival. Patsy stands up to defend Marie to the head bitch lady. Patsy tries to comfort Marie, but she, unbeknownst of the real situation, cries to Patsy about how she can’t show her face in Poplar anymore after what Tony has done to her. Doing all right, Patsy:

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Tony tries to go to a Citizen’s Defense Core meeting, but Fred is forced to kick him out. He says it would be different if it was up to him, but he can’t be a member anymore because he has a criminal record. Marie and Tony both end up at home after being rejected from Poplar events. It leads to a fight. Tony starts to think Marie would be better off without him and tries to kill himself in the garage. Marie’s father stops him and says Marie still needs him to be a father to their child.

Back at Nonnatus, Patsy asks Trixie in their room if she is the only one who doesn’t hate the queers. Trixie tells her of course not, but the Rose Queen is important to Tom and it has to go well and without an uproar. Trixie asks her why she cares so much and Patsy mimics Sister Monica Joan’s all god’s creatures are equal comment from before and says someone has to stand up to defend them.  Two other things about this tiny scene: 1) I’m finally going to comment on the pajamas. Trixie wears sexy, tight, silk pajamas and Patsy wears oversized men’s flannel pajamas, like the prefect adorable little lesbian that she is. 2) The show does an excellent bit of foreshadowing by having Patsy not tell Trixie why she really cares so much. Trixie seems like she is just about to work it all out and then the lights dim and all we see is Trixie drinking alone.

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Patsy is called to deliver Tony and Marie’s baby. The only time Patsy looks mad, instead of sad and scared, about the situation is when she has to walk through their front door that has had “queer” painted across it. The labor goes smoothly and Tony agrees to stay and be the best father he can be to their daughter.

Marie decides to ignore what everyone has been saying about her and agrees to be in the Rose Queen pageant. After earlier saying he would stay away, Tony goes to the pageant to support Marie. He ends up in the very back row with Patsy. They share a moment of solidarity. When Tom announces Marie nobody claps at first. Then Tony does, followed by Patsy, Marie’s father, Fred, Sister Monica Joan, Nurse Krane, Barbara, Trixie and then the rest of the crowd. Interestingly, Sister Winfred is one of the last to stand with head bitch lady.

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The B plot is focused around Mrs. McAvory, discrimination against the Irish, poverty and homelessness. I liked the A plot much more, but the B plot was still good. Unlike the B plot from the first episode of the season, it was not as overshadowed by the A plot because it had Nurse Krane, Trixie and Shelagh and Dr. Turner being adorable as hell. It leads to Nurse Krane and Trixie being quarantined together. It is funny until Nurse Krane calls out Trixie for drinking too much. Trixie tells her it is none of her business.

Clearly there are a lot of reasons why I love this episode. But if I had to pick, I would say it is the episode’s subtly in regards to how it was subtly about Patsy. We are told so much about Patsy’s inner thoughts and how she feels about her sexuality without her ever really voicing it to anyone. The show could have had her say it all to Delia, but she doesn’t even appear in this episode. We have also been told how most of the characters and Poplar as a whole would react if or when they find out about Patsy and Delia, which is equally comforting and terrifying.


One Comment on “Call the Midwife: “Season 4 Episode 3””

  1. Love your reviews! Cheers!


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