Call The Midwife: 2016 Christmas Special

I had been planning to write a few different things about Call The Midwife during the break but after the fears about Patsy being MIA from the promo pictures, fears that Helen George would be leaving and Miranda Hart not coming back, then coming back, then not coming back again I decided I would just wait and see what the Christmas Special had to offer.

And I am so happy this show is back. Yes, there was a lot of the things I don’t really like (looking at you, Tom) and very little of some of the things I like very much (Delia didn’t even have a line) but overall this was a good episode. Little weird for a Christmas Special but whatever. Let’s get into it.

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We open at Nonnatus but only spend a few minutes in Poplar. It was quick and just gave us enough information to push us forward. Trixie (Helen George) has been working at The London and witnessing a lot of c-sections. Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) and Shelagh (Laura Main) are still torn up about the thalidomide stuff from last season. Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) and Tom (Jack Ashton) are still very much in love, but more importantly Delia (Kate Lamb) hasn’t become a midwife yet and Patsy (Emerald Fennell) is working at the Turners’ surgeon. Patsy is left in charge of Nonnatus and most of the cast drives through the archway.

Then we’re South Africa. Being South Africa in 1962, I thought the episode would focus on apartheid more but there was a lot going on in this episode. There were apartheid era elements sprinkled throughout but not as much as I was expecting.

I bring this up because the group, which is Trixie, Barbara, Tom, Fred (Cliff Parisi), Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett), Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates), Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) and the Turners, is first greeted by a road block of cold government officers and then by an excited group of nuns, residents and Dr. Myra Fitzsimmons (Sinead Cusack) at the Hope Clinic.

Everyone gets settled in and adjusts to the minimal equipment, stark conditions and the weather. There are quite a few shenanigans with the nurses and Tom and Fred. So much so that I was hoping to get some part at Nonnatus, but alas we didn’t. Tom’s there to assess the clinic and see if they can keep it running. He and everyone else is slowly realizing access to clean water is an issue.

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Our mothers of the week are Rosa and Constance. They both used to work in Capetown, as a secretary and a baker but came home to have children. Rosa also said she now needs a pass to live and work in the city, but she can never get one. Dr. Myra clashes with our characters a few times because of the differing conditions and way they do things. She also seems sick but is refusing to listen to Dr. Turner’s concerns.

Also somewhere in here, Nurse Crane and Fred go driving into the wilderness to help a man who left his wife giving birth under a tree.

Anyway, the nurses and Sister Winifred, who really seemed like she’d rather be with them than the nuns, are hanging out around the fire. Rosa and Constance come and join them as The Turners, Tom and Dr. Myra are discussing the future of the clinic. The government guys come back and break up the party at the fire. Blacks aren’t allowed to gather with whites. Trixie looks like she about to beat up the officers and then tells them to go away. They  go to the discussion table and tell them they have to get the truck (it broke down coming back from the tree birth) out of the road. And they have to push it.

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But enough of the shenanigans, let’s get serious. Tom and Fred are trying to find a way to re-route the water pipes and having problems with a landowner with a grudge against Hope Clinic who won’t let them put the pipes through his land. Everyone else goes around and holds clinic in different villages. In one, Dr. Turner has to explain to two young boys that the Polio vaccine cannot cure the younger one’s Polio. They are still having a rough time.

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In another, Trixie and Barbara are called to Rosa’s house because she’s gone into labor. Only she hasn’t because she isn’t actually pregnant. Trixie slowly realizes it is a phantom pregnancy. She has to explain it to Barbara and realizes Rosa needed to have a child so badly  because she thinks it is her only worth that she tricked herself into thinking she would. Barbara offers to tell Rosa as Trixie hangs back.

Then everyone takes a day off and goes to the beach, which was probably just an excuse to put Helen George in a bikini (I’m not complaining) and Barbara in a super awkward bathing suit (also not complaining).

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I am going to complain about Tom a bit. He and Trixie sit back and watch Barbara being a dork. Trixie is talking about how impressed she is by Barbara sometimes and how she is not the sheltered little girl that arrived at Nonnatus. They were really playing up the big sister-little sister relationship between Trixie and Barbara this episode. I really like that dynamic between them and for the story they wanted to tell about Trixie it made more sense for Barbara to be there than Patsy. Sorry, Patsy.

Tom says similar things about Barbara. Trixie tells him that if/when he proposes to not give his grandmother’s ring (the ring he also gave Trixie) because Barbara deserves something new and nice and that is only her’s. I bet he would have if Trixie hadn’t told him. Also he proposes to Barbara later in the episode basically fulfilling exactly what Trixie said. Overall there needs to be less Trixie in their relationship.

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Barbara says yes obviously. I really hope they get married really quick and we can stop spending so much time on their relationship and focus on a different one.

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Anyway, Dr. Myra is getting sicker. She thinks it is liver cancer but Dr. Turner doesn’t. Sister Julienne goes and talks some sense into the landowner and he agrees to allow them to put the pipe through his land after he sees they are rationing water and can’t give babies baths.

The Turners take Dr. Myra to the hospital three hours away. We have been saying multiple times that Dr. Myra was the only doctor for 30 miles. So while she and Dr. Turner are gone Constance goes into labor. Trixie realizes she needs a c-section.

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Sister Julienne says they aren’t doctors and they can’t do it without one. Trixie knows they have the supplies and knows she can do it. Sister Julienne agrees and everyone assists Trixie.

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Despite some complications, Trixie is able to successfully deliver the baby via c-section. She goes outside still freaking out a bit and Helen is really great in this scene.

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Barbara comes out and tells her she’s proud of her. It was really cute. It was really making me think this possible break Helen might be taking from the show would be Trixie going off to medical school to become a doctor, which would have been awesome.

In the end this is still a Christmas Special so Dr. Myra gets treated at the hospital. Constance’s baby is fine, Tom proposes to Barbara, Dr. Turner and Shelagh find the two boys from the clinic and give the younger one Tim’s old leg braces, Hope Clinic gets a clean supply and Rosa gets hired as the clinic’s administrative manager.

In the middle of the ending voice over, Trixie says she is going to stay and run Hope Clinic until Dr. Myra recovers.

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Overall, I liked it. There might have been a bit too much going on but with the location change and about double the number of one-off characters, I’m not surprised. I am more excited to get normal, in Poplar with all the characters Call the Midwife back. I am glad this episode had a lot of Trixie since we will be missing her for a while I’m guessing.

 

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