Call The Midwife: “Season 5 Episode 1”

I loved the Christmas Special of Call The Midwife, so much so that I decided I’m going to blog about this season now because I can’t wait until the American airings. (Though I might still do shorter posts during those). If I wanted to get really nitpicky about the Christmas Special, I would say it lacked two things: Trixe and a continuation of the thalidomide story line that was introduced in “Season 4 Episode 8.” This episode made up for that beautifully.

We are dropped back into Poplar shortly before Easter, as Trixie (Helen George) is getting her instructor certification from her Keep Fit class. In a perfectly Trixie way, she talks about how she found the class at a rough time in her life and it helped her make it through and it also helped her loss weight and go up a cup size. So you know, the important things.

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Our baby of the week couple is introduced by a kid wearing a spaceman helmet coming to Dr. Turner’s office asking for the morning sickness drug from Shelagh (Laura Main). She gives it to him and he goes home to his mother Rhoda Mullocks. As with the brief introduction of this story line, its continuation was perfect in the most heart wrenching sort of way. Everything was done so subtly and everyone is just trying to help while we know they are all making it worse.

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Back at Nonnatus, the nurses are all excited about their new uniforms. All four of them actually bond a bit over it and we get to see a bit of the group dynamic that isn’t shown very often. Also Trixie is trying to push her Keep Fit class on everyone. Patsy (Emerald Fennel) and Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) reluctantly agree to go. Down at lunch, Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is mad that the nuns are forced to have only bread and butter and they had to give up cake for lent.

Barbara and Tom’s (Jack Ashton) flirtation fest from the Christmas Special is continuing. He left making the Easter bonnets for the Easter parade to the last minute and asks Barbara to help him. I’m not sure how I feel about this story line. I like the idea of Barbara having a love interest. But seriously, Tom? Of all the women in Poplar, you had to go for your ex’s friend? Anyway, they have a lot of cute scenes of making Easter bonnet’s together. Trixie makes faces at them a few times and Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) is forced into a few awkward situations of asking the nurses if it is all right if Tom comes to lunch. This will probably create a fun little story line, but logically I’m just annoyed with Tom. But, Trixie did break up with him, so I’m not sure how I feel.

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Everyone is sent out for their rounds. Trixie and Barbara run into a freelance photographer, who follows them around for the day. Patsy is called to the maternity home to deliver Mrs. Mullock’s baby. We know where this is going, but I loved the characters it chose to make a part of this. There are a lot of problems with the delivery and Dr. Turner is out, so Shelagh comes in to help Patsy. Much like the first stillborn we ever saw, Patsy is the first to see our first thalidomide baby. She is better at being a hard-ass this time but still doesn’t know what to do and Shelagh takes over. The baby girl almost dies but Shelagh gets her breathing. She then takes her to the nursery, without saying anything to her mother. I could do a reaction shot of everyone involved because they were all so great. Here are a couple:

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While the Turners end up dealing with each other, Patsy is back at Nonnatus alone in her room. Then she has what might be her first one-on-one scene with Sister Mary Cynthia (Bryony Miller) ever. I’m not even sure she ever had one with Cynthia. The way the characters are paired in this episode is great. Sister Mary Cynthia is able to comfort Patsy and tell her everything isn’t going to be as bad as it seems in the moment. She then asks if she is going to Trixie’s Keep Fit class. She does because she thinks it will be for the best. The class goes great and Trixie is pleased.

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Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) stays with the Mullock baby overnight because he thinks she is going to die. She doesn’t and there is a super cute scene of Shelagh coming by to check on him with Angela and finding him reading a medical journal to the baby like a bedtime story. They realize the baby is going to live and they have to break the news to her parents. The dad sneaks away from Dr. Turner, finds his malformed daughter and flips out saying he isn’t going to let “that thing” in his house. With some help from Sister Mary Cynthia, Shelagh is able to introduce the baby to Rhoda much more smoothly. This is also the first Sister Mary Cynthia and Shelagh one-on-one scene despite their character arches mirroring each other.

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After Rhoda’s initial shock, which was nothing more than her saying what a mess — about the same thing she said to her son getting paste on the kitchen table — she decides she doesn’t want her daughter sent off to a hospital for tests that aren’t going to change anything and she isn’t putting her in a home. Sister Mary Cynthia gets a lot of great characters moments in this episode. She convinces Rhoda’s husband to stop being such a prick and sews special baby clothes to fit the baby, which Rhoda names Susan. We also find out Sister Mary Cynthia had a disabled brother, who died when she was a child. She tells that to Sister Winfred, who keeping with my season four feelings about her, is kinda a dick about it.

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The Mullocks end up all viewing Susan as just another member of the family and it is very sweet. Mature Jenny’s (Vanessa Redgrave) ending voice over about thalidomide seemed a little out of place. She outlined, I’ll admit vaguely, the entire thalidomide issue and what is to come. Mature Jenny has only told us more than what the characters could know once, with the Child’s Migrant Program in first episode of season four, but that story line was never mentioned again. So, it deserved that wrap up. But, this cannot be the last episode about thalidomide, because multiple characters said Susan Mullock was not Poplar’s first case. Maybe this was in reaction to not enough of the fans knowing about thalidomide but even if that was the case this episode was much less vague than the season four episodes about it.

So, to the other great character moments of this episode. Patsy uses her day off to have lunch with Delia (Kate Lamb), who is back in London for more tests. She meets Patsy, who is wearing an amazing dress, at a nice restaurant. Delia then tells her she got her job back at The London.

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Patsy voiced my statement, by saying this is too good to be true. And it is because then Mrs. Busby waltzes in and says Delia is still coming back to Wales because she can’t live on her own and her renting a flat, like Patsy suggested, is ridiculous. Patsy looks too nervous to protest further and Delia gives in to her mother’s demands.

Trixie gets in a bit of a stand off with Sister Julienne this episode. It seems the theme of tradition versus modernization is carrying over from the Christmas Special. Trixie gets into trouble when that freelance photographer sells a story about the nurses and Trixie’s Keep Fit class to the local paper. The three young nurses pretty much ignore the first warning. Patsy brings home donuts. Barbara, using her knowledge from being a pastor’s daughter, convinces Sister Monica Joan that the end date of lent can be seen in different ways so it isn’t a sin for her to eat cake. She does and then she goes to the class with the young nurses.

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During the class, Trixie helps one of the members who seems to be in serious need of vaginal reconstructive surgery. I’m not going to get into the details of what this lady was doing in terms of DIY care. This show is good at pointing out how long humanity knew nothing about medicine.

Trixies gets chewed out by Sister Julienne for going against Nonnatus traditions. Trixie points out that they are not nuns they are nurses and the world is changing and some women, like the one she helped, know nothing about their own bodies. Trixie gets amazingly feminist and stands up for herself when Sister Julienne almost talks down to her about attending AA and being so focused on Keep Fit. After Trixie tells her it is important to her recovering and educating the women of Poplar, Sister Julienne agrees that maybe a bit of modernization isn’t that bad.

Patsy invites Delia and her mother to Nonnatus’ Easter lunch because it would be the only way for them to see each other before she heads back to Wales. During lunch, the nurses and young nuns are commenting on how great it is that Delia got her old job back and ask where she is going to live. Delia says she can’t stay because she no where to live. Then Sister Julienne, this episode’s unsung hero, says Delia could stay at Nonnatus. This is another incident of my reaction perfectly meeting Patsy’s:

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Sister Julienne says, with a nod to Trixie, that it is important for women to look after each other. Mrs. Bubsy agrees and holy shit, Delia is going to be living in Nonnatus! I don’t know if I can express my appreciation for Call The Midwife‘s LGBT representation enough. This show seriously went from almost killing the lesbian to Lost Girl level awesome in the course of like three episodes.

I am so glad this is back. See you next week.

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