Call The Midwife: “Season 5 Episode 8”Posted: March 6, 2016
This was the second time this season I have gone into an episode terrified that a character might die. Though, it was only a speculation and a rumor for Episode 6 it was a certainty for Episode 8. And again the speculation, guesses and that photo, left me thinking it was either going to be Trixie or Sister Evangelina.
I had no outbursts of emotion or jumps of fear this time around. Everything was just a sinking feeling that something was about to go wrong. While Episode 6 was scary and shocking and upsetting, Episode 8 was emotionally draining and sad.
Mature Jenny (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave) did scare me with her opening voice over. She is talking about the mark women leave on the world saying the most common view is their children and who they leave to carry on their legacy. She also talks about women not getting to. During this we are watching Trixie (Helen George) cycle down the street.
Over at the surgery, Dr. Turner (Patrick McGann) and Shelagh (Laura Main) are annoyed that birth control didn’t become as readily available as they thought it would. Still only married mothers can get it. We then cut over to the clinic as one mother is commenting on how wrapped up another baby is. It seemed weird and out of place and then I noticed the mother was Rhoda Mullock (Liz White), from Season 5 Episode 1.
I’m pretty sure this is the first time a baby of the week mother has returned for another episode and it makes sense that it is for the thalidomide story line, the largest medical issue the show has ever tackled. Susan has been doing well and is able to hold a rattle and a spoon. Rhoda is still having some problems and Shelagh tells her everything will be all right. Dr. Turner then prescribes her a sleeping medication.
Later on, Fred (Cliff Pairsi) and Violet (Annabelle Apsion) run into Tessa, who is a relative of Violet’s, and her son, Mitchell. He just got back from Australia and his fiance is on her way. Tessa and Mitchell go to see Tom (Jack Asthon) because they need to plan a wedding, quickly because Noelle, Mitchell’s fiance, is pregnant. Tom agrees to help.
Next we see Tom, Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) is over at his place. They are planning a date. He wants to go to a movie, but she wants to talk with him and maybe dance. As soon as they kissed, I was thinking, ‘alright very cute, but can we cut to the cool couple.’ And then we cut to Delia (Kate Lamb) and Patsy (Emerald Fennell) in a coffee bar. I love you, Call The Midwife.
We join them mid-conversation talking about Delia getting a passport. She needs her birth certificate, which her mother is bringing when she comes to visit. Patsy doesn’t look too happy about that fact. Then Delia notices the lady that always comes in and puts gin in her coffee is back. Patsy thinks she looks familiar but doesn’t know where she knows her from.
Back at Nonnatus, the nuns are going through storage boxes that were sent over from the Mother House. One of them contained the wedding dresses each of them wore when they took their vows. That practice has since changed, which is why we didn’t see Sister Mary Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) in one. Sister Evangelina is grumbling about hers and how she looked like a sideshow freak in it.
Barbara is about to get called out to deliver a baby for a family that live in a cramped flat with fleas that doesn’t have running water. She asks Sister Evangelina, who told her earlier she isn’t doing anything with newborns because of her arm, to come with her. She says she will go but she is only doing the grunt work. Sister Evangelina goes to get water in the hall tap when the baby is born. She looks sad thinking about what she can’t do anymore. When she gets back upstairs, Barbara asks her to give the baby a bath because she is worried the water will get too cold before she is done with the mother. Sister Evangelina doesn’t agree until the power goes out, further proving Barbara’s point. She agrees and is able to do more than she thought she could.
Sister Evangelina is all happy when they get home. She tells Barbara to find the cake she hid in one of the cabinets. It is missing and Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) wanders in with a plate blaming the mice. Sister Evangelina gets a little annoyed with her but goes and sits on the chair by the fire. Barbara goes and puts a blanket on her. Sister Evangelina thanks her.
With all the build up and small character moments and Sister Evangelina being rather nostalgic, it was not hard to guess that she was going to die in her sleep on that chair. The next morning, we see Fred coming in from the garden, talking to himself and making jokes while kind of upbeat music plays. It was a touch that made this episode so sad, but it a completely different way than Episode 6. The levity stops when she doesn’t wake up after he knocks over the fireplace tools.
When then cut to the Turners. Shelagh answers the phone and walks back into the living room and cries as she tells Dr. Turner he has to go to Nonnatus. I’ll just let the show speak for itself for a moment:
Dr. Turner tells Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) and Sister Monica Joan that it was probably an aneurysm cause by another stroke in her sleep. He says since it was a sudden death, a postmortem will have to be done. Sister Monica Joan then launches into a tearful monologue about how she will not be able to be resurrected like the Lord and have her eyes in the afterlife if her body is cut up. Sister Julienne nearly losses it and tells her they will discuss that side later because they have a lot to do. She ends up not needing one.
Dr. Turner gets home and finds Shelagh crying at the kitchen table. He assumes it is because of Sister Evangelina but that is only part of it. The surgery received a notice to stop prescribing the sleeping medication that he has given to Rhoda Mullock and multiple others. There was also a letter to the editor in The Lancet, the medical journal they are always reading, linking thalidomide, which is in the sleeping medication, to birth defects.
They both freak out for a moment. Dr. Turner says he has given the medication to numerous women and Rhoda wasn’t on it when she gave birth. Also, the letter said there have not been any cases in England, but a few in other parts of Europe.
They call Sister Julienne, who brings Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) with her. The Turners say they need to see if there is any truth to their theory and see if it is what caused the problems. Nurse Crane tells Sister Julienne to go home because she has too much to do and send Patsy to help. So, Nurse Crane, Patsy and the Turners search through all the records and try to find out how Rhoda, Ruby Cottingham from Episode 4 and the mother of the boy born without thumbs could have gotten the medication.
Them researching is cut with the sisters preparing Sister Evangelina for burial and Trixie, Delia and Barbara sewing a wedding dress. Noelle couldn’t find a real one, because she is nine months pregnant. Sister Mary Cynthia said she heard Sister Evangelina offer up her wedding dress for Noelle.
Sister Julienne agreed because of how determined Sister Evangelina was to keeping the vow of poverty, it was why she also refused free flowers and decided to have her layout in a smaller room in Nonnatus instead of a larger room that was offered for free by one of the funeral homes. There is a line past the archway outside of people waiting to see her.
Nurse Crane and Patsy go around collecting the sleeping medication from everyone. Sister Julienne goes to the coffee bar Patsy and Delia were at earlier and sits with the lady who always puts gin in her coffee because it is Ruby Cottingham. She says she couldn’t take being with her other children anymore and can’t get the thought of her daughter out of her head. Sister Julienne asks her if she ever took the medication. She did and hands her bottle over to Sister Julienne after taking one more and washing it down with gin.
Back at Nonnatus, Trixie runs into Nurse Crane in the kitchen. Patsy, Delia, Barbara and Tom went out to a pub, so Trixie stayed home. Nurse Crane tells her she looks lonely and asks if she is OK. Trixie starts to cry and then explains that she is and she isn’t even upset that she doesn’t have a man, that seeing Barbara and Tom together doesn’t even make her think about what she could have had. It just makes her realize that they found a place were they belong.
That is a better way of wording what I was trying to say about Trixie last week. It is not just that her three closest friends have been spending more time with their significant others: Delia, Tom and the church. It is that Patsy belongs with Delia, Barbara belongs with Tom and Sister Mary Cynthia belongs with the church. But, Trixie doesn’t know where she belongs. Nurse Crane tells her she will find it.
We then go to Patsy and Delia getting lunch with Mrs. Busby, in the same restaurant as last time. She is complaining about the cost of rent Delia is having to pay at Nonnatus. Delia says it is fine because if she wants to enroll in a midwifery program, she will have to be in hospital approved housing anyway. Mrs. Busby says she doesn’t understand how she could want to do such messy, personal work. Patsy sounds pretty annoyed when she points out it is what she does.
Mrs. Busby sounds about the same when she tells her she knows. In about the exact same way as in Episode 1, Patsy scoffs at her and then looks to Delia only to realizes she has given in. But, Patsy doesn’t back down this time. Patsy says Delia needs her birth certificate so she can get a passport because she isn’t going home to Wales for her holiday this year, she is going to Paris with Patsy. Mrs. Busby calls them “thick as thieves” with a mean bent but gives it to Delia saying she is a grown woman. She then tells her not to do anything to make her father cry.
Well, that didn’t go as crazily as I thought it would, but it seems someone has officially figured out Patsy and Delia. Mrs. Busby was barely on my list of first people to figure it out.
Back at Nonnatus, Shelagh and Tim are going to visit Sister Evangelina and run into Rhoda and Susan Mullock in line. They had gone away for a few days and don’t know about the connection between the sleeping medication and birth defects. Shelagh takes her back to speak with Dr. Turner and they explain everything to her. She wasn’t prescribed the medication but her sister was and she gave her a few.
Rhoda has a bit of a freak out realizing she did this to her daughter and her family. Dr. Turner tells her that isn’t true. I’m not sure she believed him and I’m not sure Dr. Turner doesn’t think it isn’t his fault.
Mitchell and Noelle have their wedding at the community center. Noelle goes into labor, still wearing Sister Evangelina’s dress, afterward. Sister Mary Cynthia and Trixie deliver the baby successfully. Noelle says the dress is ruined, but Sister Mary Cynthia tells her it just had the best day of its life.
The episode ends with Sister Evangelina’s funeral procession.
Sgt. Noakes (Ben Chaplan) says people have lined up on every street from Nonnatus to the cemetery and he has blocked off as much traffic as he can. Sister Julienne says the coffin looks sad and plain without any flower. Sister Monica Joan walks out of Nonnatus with Sister Evangelina’s shoes and says they have more of her spirit than a thousand flowers could.
Last episode, I said this one could not be as emotionally destroying as Season 4 Episode 8 was and it wasn’t. This was an incredibly sad episode, don’t get me wrong. But, it did have a bittersweet feel and ending. Yes, we lost Sister Evangelina but she died happy after spending an evening doing what she loved most. Her legacy will live on in Poplar and everyone will remember what she did for the community. And that is a much better season ending.
Season five will start airing on PBS in the United States on April 3. I’ll be posting different stuff about each of the episodes then because I don’t want to wait until December to write about this show again.