Call The Midwife: “Season 6 Episode 5”

I liked this episode but I feel like it got caught in the same weird boat that 6.3 did. That one had a few big plot points it wanted to get us to. This episode had two things it needed to accomplish: introducing Trixie’s new love interest and telling us what happened to Sister Mary Cynthia.

And the story surrounding that was a little weak. I remember the show getting some criticism during season four when it stopped being “based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth” and started being “inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth” for being too much like a television show. And yes, there was an alcoholism story line, a lesbian in a car accident, two broken off engagements and an amnesia story line but I never felt the show was written like an average television episode. But sadly, I kind of did this week.

So, I’m going to do this review by character because character moments were what was important this week.

Fred, Violet and Reggie 

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Early in the episode as Mature Jenny (Vanessa Redgrave) is talking about letting children grow into adults, we see Fred (Cliff Parisi) stop by his cousin Ivie’s house to fix the sink. She also lives with her adult son Reggie, who has Downs Syndrome. Ivie leaves him home alone, reading a comic book as she goes to church. At church she collapses, Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) and Tom (Jack Ashton) try to help but she dies.

Fred and Tom go to explain the situation to Reggie. He doesn’t really understand at first. Fred decides he is going to take him home and have him stay with him and Violet (Annabelle Apsion). This is where this story line started feeling very tv show for me. Violet is reluctant to have Reggie stay with them, saying they have no idea how to handle him because “he’s simple.” It felt out of character for Violet, but it seemed the episode wanted to do a formerly close-minded person seeing past the disability and accepting them story line and that position feel to Violet.

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Fred starts taking Reggie to work in the garden at Nonnatus with him. He scores points with Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) by bringing her the weeds he dug up with Fred to her so she could replant them. He bonds with Violet as she fits him for a suit for his mother’s funeral and helps him grief for his mother.

Just when I was thinking, the show was going to keep Reggie around as Nonnatus’ second handy man, Reggie watches all the nurses ride away from Nonnatus and says he wishes he could go to work and make friends. Fred says they are friends but Reggie calls him old.

Fred goes to Shelagh (Laura Main) about possible homes he could go to be with people his own age and like him. He decides to go to the place he knows as a loony bin. Sister Monica Joan invites herself. This show always handles disabilities and mental health and institutional perfectly. While they get out of the van in front of what looks like a prison, Sister Monica Joan comments that there are no gardens.

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Shout out to Cliff Parisi this episode. He, a lot like Charlotte Richtie recently, is usually the comic relief but his acting was amazing while he was getting more and more horrified as he walked through the mental hospital. He and Judy Parfitt were both amazing when they see the most horrifying thing at this hospital, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

When Fred gets home, he tells Violet they are not sending Reggie to that place. Later on, Shelagh finds out about a community for people like Reggie. She and Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) tell them about it. Violet is reluctant at first but they agree to take Reggie. He likes it and there is a greenhouse he can work in. Violet and Fred watch him go like parents dropping off a child at college.

Sister Mary Cynthia 

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While Fred and Sister Monica Joan are going through the hospital, she spots a tiny nun being led down a hallway. She wanders after them. Fred sighs and then follows her. He finds her outside of Sister Mary Cynthia’s locked room. The sisters touch hands through the glass.

They are both crying in the van as Fred drives them back to Poplar. The nurse at the hospital is giving Sister Mary Cynthia (Brynnoy Hannah) unhelpful advice and telling her she hasn’t been improving. She tells her she doesn’t know how. The nurse suggests ECT, which Sister Mary Cynthia doesn’t want done because she will be asleep and when she wakes up she won’t know what has been done to her, which is the episode’s most heartbreaking moment.

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The nurse doesn’t listen to her though and gives her ECT anyway. And I am really glad the CtM showed ECT as a terrible, horrible thing, because it sort of seemed for it back in 3.7, which was really weird.

Back at Nonnatus, Fred and a pacing Sister Monica Joan tell Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) what they saw. She says she’ll have to speak with the Mother House, because remember this is stupid Sister Ursula’s fault. She also tells them to not tell anyone else at Nonnatus.

She then goes to the hospital to try and get Sister Mary Cynthia released into Nonnatus’ custody. The nurse disagrees and tells her compassion and kind words are not going to work. Sister Julienne storms away defeated.

Trixie

Remember how episode five last season was an anti-smoking PSA. This episode was a dental care PSA. Trixie (Helen George) is helping mother of the week, Crystal, who has really bad teeth and is eight months pregnant. With the British people with bad teeth, a fear of the dentist, someone actually breathing into a brown paper bag and a man and women getting off the wrong foot and then going on a date, it felt very tv show.

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Maybe I just didn’t enjoy this story line because it was kinda gross and my dentist is a family friend and I like visiting his office. But, whatever. Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) is hosting a brush your teeth class with kids at clinic. Trixie goes over to complain about the noise and tells off handsome dentist, Christopher Dockrill (Jack Hawkins).

And because they get off on the wrong foot, they then work together on Crystal’s case and learn to appreciate each others work. When it is finished, he asks Trixie out to dinner.

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It does led to a very cute scene of Trixie and Barbara getting ready for dates together. We then go outside and Barbara gets picked up on foot to go to the movies with Tom and Trixie gets picked up in a very nice sports car to go to a French restaurant with Christopher. This guy already understands Trixie more than Tom ever did.

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I really wish we had a shot Delia (Kate Lamb) sadly watching them happy go off to their dates because there was no reference to Patsy this episode.

Valerie Dyer

Speaking of no references to Patsy, Valerie Dyer has moved into her bed and side of the room. Is it sad to admit the perfectly straight line of photos of female celebrities not being over Patsy’s bed broke my heart a bit?

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After having a few missteps, Valerie ends up fitting in fine at Nonnatus. She had a very cute scene with Sister Monica Joan, who recognizes her and remembers every detail of her birth that she attended to with Sister Evangelina.

The Turners

Shelagh goes back to work and is instantly awesome in helping Fred and Violet. Dr. Turner sets up a dental clinic. Tim complains about how crowded his and Angela’s room is. Shelagh then starts circling property ads in the newspaper, finds a house for them and gets Patrick to agree to move. It was all very cute. And I am getting more and more nervous about their happiness. It’s getting close to the end of the season, you guys. Be careful.

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