Call The Midwife: “Season 7 Episode 2”Posted: January 29, 2018
I am tempted to start this episode with just a series of sort outs from the directing to the writing to Leonie Elliott to the focus on friendship to the subtle inclusion of Violet to Laura Main’s comedic abilities. This was an amazing episode. Five main cast members from last season are missing and I barely noticed. Also, I’m starting to ship Lucille and Valerie.
Anyway let’s get into this.
We start with Val (Jennifer Kirby) standing outside of a hairstyle while Mature Jenny (voiced by Vanessa Redgrave) talks about the changes in 1963. Val is sadly not getting an alternative lifestyle haircut, but she has known the owner of the hair salon and her pregnant daughter for years. While she is there, the daughter, Marge, goes into labor. Val calls Nonnatus and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) is set.
She instantly gets a few weird looks walking in but the full blown racism doesn’t hit until Marge’s mom, Mrs. Stanton sees her.
I am really glad Val got paired with Lucille for this story line. It makes specific sense later after her East End heritage is brought up, but for this early bit it seems to be playing off the fact that they seems to really hit it off last week.
The birth goes so smoothly it isn’t even shown, which just made it feel like something was going to happen afterward and it did. Marge starts complaining about her head hurting. Val runs downstairs and calls an ambulance. She thinks it’s post natal eclampsia, but Lucille doesn’t think the symptoms fit and thinks its a stroke. Mrs. Stanton starts to freak out and get even more racist, blaming Lucille. Val does her best to stand up to Mrs. Stanton as Marge and her mother go to the hospital.
Over in the Turners’ story line, their au pair Magda (Nina Yndis) is set to arrive. Shelagh (Laura Main) sends Dr. Turner (Patrick McGann) to go get her from the train station. She looks much more glamorous than her picture and Shelagh is shocked and a bit threatened. Shelagh spends most of the episode flustered and annoyed with Magda, who Tim (Max MacMillion) instantly takes a strong liking to.
The Barbara-shaped comedy hole is filled by Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) again this week. This week was much better. Shout out to writer Louise Ironside, whose only other writing credit is 6.6, so damn could she write some more? Sister Winifred’s story line starts with her knitting boobs for the breast feeding lesson of her mother craft class. Fred (Cliff Parisi) has a fun moment when he asks if he can carry the box for her.
At her class, eager mother-to-be Janet keeps talking about how great her husband is and gets a bunch of eye rolls from the other mothers. Janet says her husband is so dedicated, he’d even come next week. Sister Winifred likes the idea. She brings it up at Nonnatus that night. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) thinks it is a good idea, but asks for Sister Monica Joan’s (Judy Parfitt) opinion. Sister Monica Joan says they can’t let progress stop and maybe it is time.
Lucille is there during the discussion but doesn’t contribute because she is too busy dealing with racists this week. Mrs. Stanton specifically starts blaming Lucille for her daughter’s stroke. She brings her grandchildren to the clinic for milk tokens. Val and Lucille instantly descend on her to ask how everyone is doing. She yells at Lucille and tells her to keep her filthy hands off her grandchild. Obviously, the Turners are not having this and Val pleads with Mrs. Stanton to stop. Lucille quietly takes it, turns around, and gets back to work.
Once Marge gets discharged from the hospital, Sister Julienne and Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) decide Val should take over for Lucille as Marge’s nurse. Lucille goes and stands up to Sister Julienne — in her second episode, so damn — and says if she doesn’t let her continue to see Marge it is like she is saying Mrs. Stanton is right. Sister Julienne agrees and let’s Lucille continue to see Marge.
Rumors are starting to circular that the stroke was caused by Marge’s mom forcing her to continue to work during her pregnancy. Lucille loudly discredits that rumor in front of everyone at the hair salon. Mrs. Stanton then starts to allow Lucille, Dr. Turner, and Marge’s husband, Dennis help more.
Janet’s husband, Allan, does come to mother craft, but he is not as up for being at the birth as Janet thought he’d be. They have a bit of a falling out over the issue. She has a good talk with Nurse Crane and they seem to reconcile. She is helping out with Allan football team when she goes into labor. He helps her into the team’s van and they start driving toward Nonnatus. They don’t make it through and have to call from a pay phone, right around the corner from the site of Delia’s bike accident. I don’t know if it is limited sets or world building but I liked that I recognized it.
Sister Winifred decides her bike would take too long and opts for Nurse Crane’s car instead. There was a running joke through the episode that Nurse Crane and Fred both don’t trust her enough to lend her their vehicles. She makes it a bit later than Allan would have liked but he and Janet did a good job on their own. He almost faints when it is over. He says he wants to be at the next one and Janet says she wants him nowhere near it.
Now that that levity is out of the way, back to our racism story line. Val finds Lucille in the kitchen late at night and apologize for Mrs. Stanton’s behavior. Lucille tells her she doesn’t have anything to apologize for. But Val feels bad that an East Ender would treat her that way, especially because she was basically discriminated against in the army for being from a poor, working class neighborhood.
And let the air out of your Valerie’s a secret lesbian theories, everyone. Her superior didn’t like her not having a good upbringing and blamed her for a young soldiers death. She was found to have done nothing wrong but Val decided to leave the army after that and come home. Lucille told her she should have had to leave because of that.
So with that reveal and Tim’s crush on Magda, it seems our queer representation is officially at zero until Patsy and Delia come back. Or maybe Val is crushing on Lucille, who knows?
Anyway, after all the standing up Lucille has to do to Mrs. Stanton she gives Dennis the courage to stand up to his mother-in-law and convince her that Marge is on the mend and they all have to work together.
Trixie (Helen George) has a brief but fun story line in here. Shout out to first-time director Claire Winyard. Now that is how you cover up a pregnancy without it being distracting. Valerie and Nurse Crane tease Trixie for reading a book about home making. She spends some time with Christopher (Jack Hawkins) and his daughter, Alexandra. It seems they have also spent some sexy times together. She also attempts to cook for him, which goes poorly but he is sweet about it.
Overall, this was a fantastic episode. Everyone was used nicely, except for maybe Gruff McNewCop. I’m not sure how I feel about him yet. Leonie Elliott and Jennifer Kirby have clearly proven they can handle being the leads of this show for however long they need to be. See you next week.