This was not a very plot heavy episode and I feel like it can be best summed up with this photo of Nurse Crane and Val:
That is them saying goodbye to Trixie (Helen George) as she goes to visit her aunt in Italy for a while for rehab/Helen George’s maturity leave. But I feel like this gets to the deeper issue of why this season has felt strange so far. We seem to have lost our close knit, large cast of characters and have been left with an odd splitting of characters into groups. Only two people come outside to say goodbye to Trixie! Everyone lined up for Patsy.
As the with beauty contest in 7.3 and the Poplar picnic this episode, the show is trying to increase the scope by having these community wide events but only Fred and Violet are really included in them. And there needs to be a deeper and character level connection to really have those events make for meaningful story, like the Rose Queen Festival in 4.3. That included the entire community, dealt with our parents-to-be of the week, Trixie’s insecurity about her relationship with Tom, Patsy’s internalized homophobia, and numerous character’s views of sexuality.
This was a fun, but overall pretty forgettable episode.
After Trixie gets a a ride to the airport from Christopher (Jack Hawkins) as a friend, we cut over the docks for an incredibly uncomfortable scene. A group of white sailors are forcing a black sailor, who is covering his face, off the boat with brooms and shouting at him. The sailor, Ade as we later learn, struggles to get anyone to help him but eventually finds the Seamen’s mission.
He hides out there praying under a blanket until a drunken sailor messes with him, sees his marked face, and starts shouting about smallpox. That then leads to everyone freaking out that a sailor brought smallpox over from Sweden. The Nonnatans, the Turners, the board of health, and the police are looking for him.
In our other story line, Eunice Dobson has not been attending her clinic appointments. Her husband, Kenny, is concerned and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) agrees to go visit her at home. Eunice didn’t want to see her or talk about anything and tells Lucille to leave, which she does. The plotting really didn’t work well in this story line About four different times Lucille went to see the Dobson, was sent away, asked someone for advice, returned and had a brief conversation with Eunice. Last week, the story was perfectly relieved slowly. This was just repetitive story telling and there wasn’t even that good of character moments within those repeats.
One time Lucille is hanging out with Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) and Val (Jennifer Kirby) but even with that all we get is a story about Jamaican coffee. And Lucille adorable nightgown.
With the success of the beauty contest, Violet (Annabelle Apison) is charged with taking care of the Poplar picnic. She and Fred (Cliff Parisi) go through planning and collecting donations. Reggie (Daniel Laurie) comes for a visit and gets roped into helping. While running one of the chores for Violet, he sees Ade in an underground tunnel. He is the first person who isn’t afraid of him and offers him the bread he was supposed to bring home.
Ade tells Reggie he is sick so to not come close to him. That doesn’t stop Reggie from bringing him food numerous other times. He eventually tells Fred and Violet that he has been bringing his new friend food but doesn’t tell them his location because Ade told him it was a secret. Violet freaks out like all the other parents of Poplar and runs Reggie to Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) to get checked for smallpox. He doesn’t have any of the symptoms.
Reggie eventually tells Nurse Crane where Ade is. She takes him to Nonnatus, which he sees as an answer to his prayers. He has been praying throughout the episode on a wooden cross. Dr. Turner examines him and sees he has leprosy. With all the religion around, Ade is as concerned about leprosy as he was about smallpox. But, Dr. Turner tells him it is curable nowadays and called Hanson’s disease. Also, there is a hospital in Surrey that can cure him. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) says he can stay at Nonnatus until a space is available.
He bonds with Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) in the chapel and she is sad when he has to go even through he is going to get treatment. She gives him her book of prayers and he gives her his wooden cross.
Through the repeats with the Dobson, we find out forceps had to be used in Eunice’s last pregnancy and she is terrified of giving birth again. She tried numerous ways to get out of having a baby and now is in a denial about having to go through it again. When her labor starts, Eunice has locked herself in the bathroom saying she is not having her baby. Kenny calls Lucille and she, Dr. Turner, and Shelagh (Laura Main) head over. Lucille is able to get her out of the bathroom.
Shelagh helps with the delivery and allows Lucille to comfort Eunice and talk her through it. Everything goes perfectly and Eunice thanks Lucille. I still feel like Lucille is being a bit underused. This was her first delivery with Shelagh and nothing really happened. Same with Shelagh too, she assisted in a delivery and it didn’t really seem like that big of a deal.
Then we get to the goofy Poplar Picnic, where the dialogue got all awkward. It seems like our characters don’t know each other that well. Like remember the senior’s luncheon at the start of 5.6 that is how these characters should be. Anyway, the main point to this event is that Barbara (Charlotte Richtie) and Tom (Jack Ashton) return and are back for good.
Overall, this was not that great of an episode. Thankfully, Barbara is back. She can hopefully pick up the comedy torch. But there is still so much missing from this season, I don’t even know if superfluous bananas can lift this season above an average score.
Once a season Call the Midwife seems to have an episode where every character is used perfectly. I could say this is a Trixie and Sister Monica Joan episode, but Nurse Crane, Sister Julienne, and Fred were so amazingly woven in that seems unfair. This episode covered a lot of dramatic themes and it earned all of it, unlike last week. That might be because Heidi Thomas (and Laura Klee) wrote this episode.
We set up our two main story lines right off the bat. Trixie (Helen George) is not having a good time. I have always criticized the alcoholism story line because they never seem to put enough effort into it, but that seemed to change this week. Trixie was actually displaying alcoholic behavior for the first time.
Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is reading with a magnifying glass and it takes her a moment to recognize strawberries. The issue with her eyesight was revealed rather slowly and I greatly appreciated that.
Elsewhere in Poplar, Saddiq Gani returns from Pakistan. His wife, Mumtaz, has just got home for the sewing shop they run together. She is confused to see he was brought someone back with her, a pregnant someone. He is clearly nervous and upset as she tells her Parveen is his second wife. Their families decided it without even telling them. Mumtaz runs out angry at the both of them.
Over at the clinic, Lucille (Leonie Elliott) sees Mrs. Campbell. She catches her quickly eating something out of her purse. Lucille makes a joke about it being cake before she realizes it is not cake, but coal. We quickly explain Pica. Lucille says it isn’t that strange or uncommon and then we move along. Nobody seems concerned enough about Mrs. Campbell eating coal. That has to be dangerous. Also, Lucille and Val (Jennifer Kirby) are a bit underused in this episode.
At the Gani’s, Saddiq is trying to apologize to Mumtaz again. In some incredibly well written and delivered dialogue, we realize they couldn’t have children together making Parveen and her pregnancy even worse. Saddiq said he really didn’t want this and it was already arranged when he got home for his father’s funeral, which seemed oddly specific and like a reference to a character who has only appeared in photos so far this season. But more on missing main characters later.
Trixie attends to Mrs. Campbell’s birth. It went so smoothly we didn’t even see it, which is an odd new thing this season. But the Campbells seemed more like set pieces than characters so maybe it was okay. Mr. Campbell offers Trixie a brandy, which she accepts despite being on duty.
Through some simple observation by Fred (Cliff Parisi) and medical advice from Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), everyone realizes Sister Monica Joan has cataracts. Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) goes to see her but she is not having it. She doesn’t want his advice or his help. She has come to terms with whatever God has planned for her and she tells Sister Julienne she should know to respect that.
Val goes to visit Parveen and we find out she is Mumtaz’s cousin. Ouch. Also, I appreciate Val’s East End confusion about there being two Mrs. Ganis, Lucille’s utterly religious based disapproval, and Nurse Crane’s western feminist disapproval.
Then a few quick plot points happen at once. Nurse Crane visits the Campbells and is told about Trixie accepting the brandy. She returns to Nonnatus and calls her out for relapsing and not attending AA. Shelagh (Laura Main) convinces Sister Monica Joan to see the eye specialist with her. He suggests surgery, but she doesn’t want it and runs out. Sister Julienne visits Mumtaz and tries to convince her to come around to fact that the child she doesn’t want will be part of her life, but Mumtaz is not having it and tells her off.
Trixie goes to an AA meeting but leaves before it begins, goes back to Nonnatus, locks herself in the bathroom, and drinks from the bottle of vodka in her purse. Christopher (Jack Hawkins) comes around Nonnatus later looking for Trixie but only finds Nurse Crane. She tells him that Trixie can’t be with someone who is basically married – why is nobody respecting his divorce? –but she could use a friend. That is a good god damn point because remember oldest-friend Sister Mary Cynthia, let’s-have-fun-and-not-talk-about-our-problems Patsy, and little-sister Barbara are not here!
Christopher ends up creeping in front of Nonnatus waiting for her. They then go have a talk in the garden, where everyone has serious talks. She admits she needs help and he says he wants to help her, as a strictly platonic friend. Later, he drives her to an AA meeting and waits for her outside. She thanks him and tells him she needed his friendship but that they can’t go on seeing each other like this. They say goodbye and Trixie gets out of his sports cars.
Back at Nonnatus, Fred finds Sister Monica Joan in the chapel. He tests her eyesight and it is the first time she doesn’t seem angry about someone trying to help her. I’m so glad Heidi Thomas wrote this episode. Fred’s relationship with Sister Monica Joan is so much different than it is with Sister Julienne, Dr. Turner, or Shelagh. And I don’t even exactly know how. But he convinces her that God created the world, so he created the medical advancements that allows for the surgery she needs. He even uses the example of the first women in space, which she has been particularly interested in this episode.
Sister Monica Joan then excitedly goes into Sister Julienne’s office and tells her she is getting the surgery while comparing herself to the astronaut. Sister Julienne was side-eyeing in confusion so hard that I laughed out loud multiple times. It was the funniest moment of the episode and it was just an eye movement. Jenny Agutter is amazing.
Sister Julienne takes over the Gani birth. Mumtaz is there for Parveen, who is only 15, during it but stops being so supportive when her husband says the baby is “his son” to Mumtaz but “our son” to Parveen. Parveen isn’t interested in feeding the baby later on. Sister Julienne goes to Mumtaz for help and she eventually agrees, knowing they are all going to have to adjust to this situation none of them chose. They are all being nice and familial during the ending voice over.
And now back to Trixie. Trixie at first berated Nurse Crane for butting in on her business but then thanks her and says she needs to take some time to figure everything out. She then goes to Sister Julienne’s office. Sister Julienne grants her six months of leave so she can figure everything out. She then holds her as she cries.
That was beautiful. But six months?! Jesus, characters are dropping like flies this season. Obviously, Helen George needed some maturity leave. I’m glad first-time director Rebecca Johnson went with the who cares approach to covering up her pregnancy because we all know so why hide it.
Overall, this was an amazing episode. I’m not really sure if the Campbells were needed and the Ganis overshadowed them. It looks like Barbara and Tom are back next week, hopefully they can make up for Trixie’s absence.
Well that was a whirlwind of an episode. We started out with a lot of clunky dialogue and actions, swung wildly between drama and comedy, made Magda one of my favorite new characters, then seemingly wrote off two characters, blew up a major relationship, and had a relapse.
This episode did not start all that well. Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) heads to the Lunt’s for a home visit. The place is dirty, the kids have scrapes and bruises, and the dad is kind of an asshole. It seemed like we were hitting abuse right on the head there, but it ended up not being that at all. I get subverting our expectations, but that was a little weird. Nurse Crane books Mrs. Lunt in at the clinic.
Over at the Buckle’s, Fred (Cliff Parisi) and Violet (Annabell Apison) are cooking up a scheme to have a beauty contest. The dialogue clunks around, attempting to be flirty. After Fred convinces Violet he doesn’t just want to “see the local girls in their smalls” — ew, first time writer Kelly Jones –, Violet agrees to help out because they could make a homemade dress portion.
Over at the Turners, Shelagh (Laura Main) has totally come around to Magda (Nina Yndis). She saves her from having to learn about cricket with Tim, but asking Valerie (Jennifer Kirby) if she could hang out with the nurses sometime. Val tells Shelagh to send her to Keep Fit that night. Violet brings the beauty contest sign up sheet to Keep Fit. Magda quickly agrees to sign up and Val also agrees, seemingly because she really wants to be friends with Magda. Maybe it is Patsy and Delia’s absence, but I am fully behind the gay Val theory now.
Sister Winifred (Victoria Yeates) is giving a talk at the school and the Lunts’ daughter, Wendy, falls and is covered in bruises. Sister Winifred brings her concerns to Nonnatus. Nurse Crane is seeing Mrs. Lunt the next day and Lucille (Leonie Elliott) asks if they need to be concerned about abuse. They aren’t sure yet. At clinic, Mrs. Lunt says her husband wouldn’t like her talking to Nurse Crane. Mrs. Lunt then runs off her and leaves her children there. Trixie (Helen George) ends up taking them home. She forces her way inside when Mr. Lunt tries to turn her away.
This is when we find out his isn’t an asshole and something is wrong with Mrs. Lunt. Her father was taken to a “nut house,” so they don’t want to see Dr. Turner (Stephan McGann) at first but Trixie convinces them.
Back in our comedy plot, Val asks Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) if she can be Miss Nonnatus House in the contest. That gets shot down and she is Miss Black Sails Public House instead. Magda comes over because she needs help making her dress and I guess Val offered. They then hang out with Trixie and Lucille and we get some backstory for Magda. She escaped out of communist Hungary, spent some time in a refugee camp in Austria, and had an abusive boyfriend in Paris. She is happy to be in Poplar now.
A specialize sees Mrs. Lunt and Dr. Turner and Trixie break the news to them that Mrs. Lunt has Huntington’s Disease, which causes nerves in the brain to break down over time. They aren’t sure what to do but Dr. Turner and Trixie try their best to help them. Mrs. Lunt has her baby, which is a seemingly health girl. That is almost a forgotten detail in their storyline, so I thought I would just get it out of the way.
Speaking of things to get out of the way, I’ll mention this bit with Trixie here because it seems unimportant until it is incredibly important at the end of the episode. Christopher (Jack Hawkins) tells Trixie that his daughter, Alexandra, is having trouble in school, having nightmares, and wetting the bed. Trixie seems more concerned then she let on. Alexandra goes to a psychologist, who suggests that Christopher only sees her on set days and she doesn’t see Trixie if she doesn’t want to. Trixie reminds him that she told him she didn’t want to meet his daughter if it would be bad for her. It didn’t seem like he thought that through enough.
Let’s focus on Magda for a bit here. I was getting really invested in her story line and was getting all excited about a new young character being added to the cast who isn’t a nurse. It would have been really interesting, but more on that later I guess. Magda goes to a family planning clinic, not the one ran but the Nonnatans. She is trying to get birth control, which already felt like a scandalous element. But when she gets examined, the nurse tells her she is two months pregnant. This was when the writing started getting good.
Magda naively asks about an abortion, which are legal in Hungary. She is shot down and sent away crying. She is still freaking out a bit at the beauty contest practice. Val keeps looking to her for confidence. Val is seeming rather unsure about this whole thing and also called Magda glamorous earlier. Magda seems to notice and takes charge of the practice, while Val trips over her heels.
As they are leaving, Magda is strategically asking Val questions about a boyfriend. Interesting, Val doesn’t really say anything more than “men are more trouble than they’re worth.” Well that sounds an awful lot like, “Trixie, having a boyfriend isn’t the be all and end all.” Val pieces together that Magda is asking her about how to get rid of a baby.
Val tells her she isn’t allowed to see any of the women who can help that she has read about. Magda cries and Val holds her. I ship it.
Also, what was this?!
The set designer just hung up a random photo? Trixie secretly knows and supports this relationship? Val and Pupcakes had an off-screen bonding session and they left their photo with their new gayby for inspiration?
Wendy Lunt also has Huntington’s. Trixie tries her best to help but they aren’t taking good enough care of the new baby. Her brother and sister are put in foster care. Trixie takes Wendy to a residential home for children. While there, Trixie stops for a moment while looking at a girl that looks a lot like Alexandra. It isn’t but the camera lingered for so long, I thought it was going to be.
Magda tells Shelagh she wants to enter nurses training after she is done working for them and they quickly offer her all the medical books she needs to read about how to bring on a miscarriage. On the day of the competition, Magda tells Trixie she isn’t feeling well and leaves to go to Nonnatus. Only Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parifitt) is there. Magda has been taking a bunch of pills she got out of Dr. Turner’s bag and injects herself with something. She stumbles away and collapses in the garden.
Thankfully, Sister Monica Joan calls Shelagh at the contest and she leaves. Val overhears and chases after her, while wearing her first-place homemade dress. At Nonnatus, Val tells Shelagh Magda is pregnant. They find her in the garden and call an ambulance.
At the hospital, Shelagh is rightfully a bit freaked out with Dr. Turner. Magda is going to be fine, but Shelagh partially blames herself for not noticing, making Magda feel like she couldn’t tell them, and giving her all the resources to find out how to do it. But, importantly they don’t seem mad or disappointed. Neither do the Nonnatans. Only Sister Winifred, because of course, asks if they are going to report her. Sister Julienne tells everyone Magda has suffered enough.
So with all of that and all the time dedicated to Magda this episode, I really thought she was going to stay. But, she doesn’t. The story is that she is going back to Paris and going to study to be a nurse, but worryingly I don’t believe that. The Turners ask her to keep in touch, but it doesn’t seem like she is going to. The last we see her, she is getting a last glimpse of Poplar outside the train station.
Now to the other character seemingly written off, Christopher and Trixie are talking in the garden. And Trixie oddly tells Christopher he should go back to his wife for Alexandra’s sake. Christopher is shocked and confused – me too, Christopher – and points out its his ex-wife and he doesn’t love her, he loves Trixie. But, she gets up and leaves him in the garden. Um Trixie, this doesn’t make any sense.
And then what seemed like a silly story line that we have basically had before takes an important and dark turn. Trixie goes into her darkened room alone, eyes the drinks tray and…
…I don’t know if the episode deserved to do this. I’ve never liked Trixie’s alcoholism storyline because I feel like the show never put enough effort into it. And again, her BIG drunken moment is because she broke up with a guy. I know Helen George can act the hell out of whatever this show throws at her, I only hope the writing can match the potential.
Overall, this was a weird episode that I really liked. It started like a nothing episode and by the end it shook up a lot of things. Nina Yndis was amazing this episode and I’m sad she’s gone now. Trixie has kind of been taking a backseat for this season so far, so I’m glad she is going to get some more screen time. I really hope it’s good.
I got too excited about Call The Midwife after the 2015 Christmas Special and could not wait until the American airings to write about it. So, I have seen all these episodes already. I have also written full length posts about each of them. This is my American Recap, which I am using as an excuse to write about the Trixie-Tom-Barbara love triangle episode twice.
Missing Moments from the American Broadcast
As with 5.3 last week, I am going to have to start this with the missing moments. Because what the hell, PBS? You cut all the Patsy and Delia’s scenes?!
Well, time marker 6:50 to 9:15 in this Patsy and Delia complication video for the missing scenes from this week’s episode. Patsy and Delia are only in two scenes in the full length version of this episode and both were cut. And I love the porch steps scene.
The porch steps scene starts with Patsy and Delia sitting on the steps on Nonnatus looking at movie times in the newspaper. Delia is excited about the new Anita Ekberg movie that is coming out, because she finds her attractive and so does Patsy. Delia knows Patsy isn’t working next Friday and asks her to a date.
Trixie then walks out wearing shorts, which was a perfect 1960s touch. She is also excited about the film. Patsy politely invites her, but looks guilty about it after Delia scolds her for inviting a third wheel to their date. Barbara then comes out. Delia invites her too but she fumbled to think of an excuse since everyone knows she has a date with Tom. Trixie is rather mean about it and then storms off, leaving Barbara looking guilty beside an uncomfortable Patsy and Delia.
Everything about that scene was great: the dynamic between all four of the young nurses, Patsy and Delia being a secret couple, Patsy managing spending time with her friends and her girlfriend and the start of Trixie and Barbara’s weird dynamic of dating the same man. Also, the dialogue, the costumes, the facial expressions. This is one of my favorite scenes of the whole season and I am pissed it was cut.
Though I am mad the second scene was cut, I knew it was going to be. It was cute and in a very broad sense is important to Patsy and Delia’s arch this season. It had no baring on the plot this week. Patsy gets home late from a delivery and Delia has waited up for her, so they can be alone and flirty. She also makes her a drink and jokes about how perfect her hair always is. Patsy also makes a lighthearted comment about how no one has ever waited up for her, which is really sad knowing Patsy’s background. But most people probably forgot about it since they cut all the references to it last week.
Two additional things about these cut scenes. 1) Delia has had three scenes in the PBS edited version of season five so far. So, the focus on her next week is going to seem really out of place.
2) Why with the homophobia, PBS? This is two weeks in a row now that all but one of the five scenes featuring the lesbian couple were cut from the episodes. This is really making me start to think this is a homophobia thing and not just a really terrible editing choice.
I have been wanting to comment on the behind the scenes segments for a while and this is the perfect opportunity. PBS has been playing about a minute and a half of behind the scenes segments during each episode. I like them, but I would rather have that minute and a half of the episode. But, this week after cutting all the gay stuff from the episode PBS fucking played this segment:
What?! Who is making these decisions for PBS? Also Emerald Fennell and Kate Lamb got more scene time during the behind the scenes than they did during this episode.
Five Things I Loved
1. Surprise thalidomide
That might be a crass way to word this but first time seeing this I was not expecting a continuation of the thalidomide story line in this episode. Everything with St. Cuthbert’s seemed to be playing up the modernization theme and I was just as shocked and devastated as Sister Julienne was. Call The Midwife has never done this much of a season-long medical issue and it plays well with the fact that we are not expecting it.
2. Jenny Agutter
I get excited any time Sister Julienne gets to help with a delivery or assist with a case. I could watch Jenny Agutter sitting behind a desk and say administrative things for hours, but getting to see her get more involved is always fantastic. So she was fantastic in this episode. Also she had me nearly in tears about three different times.
3. This love triangle is not about one person
Love triangles are a common troupe, but the Trixie-Tom-Barbara one put a different spin on it. It is not about one person and the two people they are in love with or who are in love with them. It is not even about one relationship. The relationship between Barbara and Tom is just as important as the relationship between Trixie and Tom, as is the relationship between Trixie and Barbara. I like that when the show finally decided to tackle its love triangle it was mostly about Trixie and Tom getting over each other than it was about Tom and Barbara’s feelings for each other. It could have turned rather catty between Trixie and Barbara but it was sweet and a little sad and I really liked it.
Everything about Trixie in this episode was great. We got emotional Trixie, silly friend Trixie, awesome at her job Nurse Franklin, maturity gained through her damage Trixie and slightly heartbroken but moving on Trixie. Also, I don’t know if it is the haircut or the 1960s fashion, but damn Helen George looks gorgeous this season.
5. This framing shot
The ceremony for Sister Hildagard was one of the most overtly religious things this show has even done. And the show, despite half its characters being nuns, is usually rather secular. So, while Sister Mary Cynthia is talking about love encompassing everything, Sister Julienne is flaked by Delia and Patsy, who didn’t need to be in focus at all but they are.
There has not been a lot of Delia. With the scenes cut in this episode, Delia has had three scenes so far this season. I have a lot of issues with 5.5, which I will get into next week, but the sudden strong focus on Delia seemed a bit out of place the first time I saw it. And I had seen the full versions of these episodes. Also without the porch steps scene, we haven’t gotten anything about Delia being a bit of a film/television buff, which comes up later. Overall, Delia hasn’t had that many scenes because during season four and the early part of season five she is just Patsy’s girlfriend and doesn’t get much of her own character moments until this episode.
Ah God, Patsy/Damnit Delia
It was cut! Again!
My first choice was cut. But Barbara and her fuzzy felt apostles were pretty funny.
I got too excited about Call The Midwife after the 2015 Christmas Special and could not wait until the American airings to write about it. So I have seen all these episodes already, I have also written a full length post about each of them. This is my American Recap post, which I’m using as an excuse to write about Call The Midwife twice.
Five Things I Loved
1. Recovered Trixie
The Christmas Special only skated over a few topics, one of those was Trixie’s season four story arch being summed up by one line about alcohol being bad for the complexion. This episode threw that out the window and devoted a whole lot of time to Trixie. At first it seems like the heavy focus on her Keep Fit class was avoiding her alcoholism story line but we eventually are told that AA and Keep Fit are what has helped her recover and I love that the show as was able to work in her recovery elements in such a perfect way.
2. The tackling of thalidomide
The show told us in a simple moment in Season 4 Episode 8 that it would be tackling the issue of thalidomide in the future. This episode did a great job of introducing it and I’m excited for now it continues.
3. Odd pairings
This episode had a lot of odd pairings; all four of the nurses, Sister Mary Cynthia and Patsy, Shelagh and Sister Mary Cynthia, the young nurses and Sister Monica Joan, Shelagh and Patsy. They were all great. This show has gradually become more of an ensemble drama over the years and hasn’t paired its multiple characters up in unexpected ways in a long time.
4. Patsy’s amazing dress
I was just going to make this the young nurses’ costumes between their Easter outfits and the few bits of non-uniform time they get, because they all look fantastic this episode. But, I had to give a mention to that amazing and maybe I have been watching too much period drama lately, but rather revealing dress that Patsy wore on her date with Delia. Emerald Fennell looked fantastic this episode.
5. Trixie vs. Sister Julienne
At first the rivalry between Trixie, the unofficial head nurse, and Sister Julienne, the official head nun, made me a bit uncomfortable. Nobody is allowed to question Sister Julienne. But, Trixie does this episode a lot. They eventually reach an understanding after Trixie defends herself and points out the women of Nonnatus need to look out for all the women of Poplar.
Tom. Tom is the problem I have with this episode. I touched on this (a lot) during my longer posts for this season, but Tom really annoys me in this episode. Of all the women in Poplar you have to go for your ex-fiance’s co-worker/friend that she lives with, Tom? More specifically his dialogue with Barbara with the Easter bonnets before Keep Fit all sounds like some sort of weird insult to Trixie, which how dare you Tom? But, also it felt a bit out of character. Or he might just be that oblivious.
Ah God, Patsy
Ah God, Patsy is going to be the shout out to the moment when Patsy was so god damn gay, I can’t do anything but smile and groan to myself, ‘Ah God, Patsy.’ I’ll probably be adding a Damnit, Delia section later in the season.
This week is was the little gay smirk when Patsy told Trixie she was spending her day off “just seeing a friend.”
I’m temped to say any time Sister Monica Joan was on screen. But, everything about her reaction and dialogue after Patsy brings home doughnuts is the funniest moment.
Missing Moments From the American Broadcast
This didn’t go as poorly as I thought it might. Two of the cut moments had no baring on the plot, one had a bit and one had a lot.
The first missing moment was a few lines of dialogue Sister Winifred says to Sister Mary Cynthia as they watch the nurses run upstairs to try on their new uniforms. Sister Winifred jokes about their “uniforms” never changing. I like this little moment because Sister Mary Cynthia seems to look a bit sad about not being with the nurses. It doesn’t effect the plot of this episode too much, but it adds a nice element to Sister Mary Cynthia’s story line later in the season.
The second missing moment was just a montage of Danny, the photographer, taking photos of Trixie and Barbara throughout Poplar. No barring on the plot and the episode was fine without it. The third was Rhoda Mullocks telling Patsy she wished she got one of the old nuns so she didn’t have to be embarrassed about her butt. It made me like Rhoda much more but also no baring on the plot.
Same can’t be said about the fourth missing moment. After Mr. Mullocks refused to let Rhoda and Susan back into his house, Sister Mary Cynthia is sewing baby clothes from the charity box to fit Susan with Sister Winifred. Sister Winifred is a bit of a jerk about children with disabilities, then Sister Mary Cynthia tells us she had a brother with disabilities who died when she was a child. That is a great little bit of character building for Sister Mary Cynthia. She has always been great at handling cases with people with disabilities and now we know why.
Also, Sister Winifred tries to speculate and make connects about what happened to Susan, which is important to the plot throughout the season, and she is a bit of a dick, which is also important to her plot line later in the season.
So I have been wanting to do a post about these two shows for a while. I decided to do it now between the British and American airings of Call the Midwife. Season five ended last week and will start airing on PBS in the US on April 3.
I will be writing short posts after the American airings of the episode, but in the meantime I would like to plug one of my other favorite shows. Because if you like Call the Midwife, you will like Bomb Girls.
I have mentioned Bomb Girls a few times in my CtM posts because it is basically the same thing just following a group of bomb factory workers in Toronto in the 1940s.
Both shows have an excellent ensemble cast of mostly women, feminist overtones, a focus on female friendship, not in your face religious themes and vintage lesbians.
To try and get my point across the best, I am going to do a character comparison.
The Matriarch: Sister Julienne and Lorna Corbett
In both shows, the focus is on a group of work colleagues and their boss — and very often stand in mom — is the matriarch of their place of employment. But these shows aren’t exactly the same so while Sister Julienne is an incredible wise nun, I don’t want to do too many spoilers so let’s just say, Mrs. Corbett is not.
The Party Girl Blonde: Trixie Franklin and Vera Burr
Through most of the first season of Call The Midwife, I called Trixie Vera in my head. Both these characters start as party girl blonde archetypes so the show can turn that on its head. Call the Midwife does it slowly over the course of multiple seasons. Bomb Girls does it in the first episode and then builds onto it throughout.
The character that forces me to tolerate religion: Cynthia Miller/Sister Mary Cynthia and Kate Andrews
Despite me being a Catholic-raised atheist, my two favorite shows have a lot of religion in them. Both of the shows portray the positive and negative sides of religion and force me to realize it might not be all bad because it is rather important to characters I really like.
The knight is shining gay armor: Patsy Mount and Betty McRae
These are my two favorite fictional characters of all time. I have a soft spot for queer characters in period dramas and actresses who can make me cry with facial expressions.
The innocent fool with good intentions: Barbara Gilbert and Gladys Witham
I love both of these characters because their naivete about the world and tendency to make fools of themselves makes them both incredibly endearing and I just want good things to happen to them.
The one guy: Tom Hereward and Marco Moretti
This one is a bit of a stretch but Bomb Girls has one guy main cast member while Call the Midwife really doesn’t, save for Dr. Turner. I decided to pair Marco with Tom because they both date multiple members of the main cast and are the same age as the nurses/factory workers. Marco starts as a jerk but becomes one of my favorites. I have always been indifferent about Tom.
The awesome doctor-nurse couple: Dr. Patrick and Shelagh Turner and Dr. Nerendra Patel and Sheila Corbett
Sadly Dr. Patel and Sheila are featured even less than Dr. Turner and Shelagh but they are both great and I would watch spin-offs about them just being awesome medical professionals together.
I left Nurse Crane out go my character comparison because I didn’t know who to compare her with, though from what we seem to know about her background she could have been a character in Bomb Girls. She seems to have either been a war worker or member of the women’s army core the war.
So all that character stuff was because I like character driven dramas, which I feel like both of these are. Bomb Girls is a bit more serialized but making bombs doesn’t create as many different stories as delivering babies does. Bomb Girls is also a bit less ensemble than Call the Midwife, focusing mostly on Gladys, Lorena, Betty and Kate with Marco and Vera being more side characters.
So yes, these shows are not exactly the same, but wouldn’t it be boring if they were? I’m just saying they are similar enough to capture the attention of the same audience. And we do have to wait until December for more Call The Midwife. As a warning for all you complaining Pupcakes fans, prepare yourselves.
As a warning this post might be absurdly long because there was so much going on in this episode and all of it was great. All the story lines were fantastic and both had twists I was not expecting. Also every member of this cast from Emerald Fennell to the toddler that plays Angela can say so much with only facial expressions something is going on all the time. I could probably write an entire post about the porch steps scene and it barely had anything to do with the plot of this episode.
Anyway let’s get into this. The episode starts with Trixie (Helen George) treating a woman with sores on her arms and a rather bad cough. She is a long-time employee at the local paint factory. Her son, Ian, runs in excited with his acceptance letter to university. Over at the clinic, Shelagh (Laura Main) is giving a talk about home vs. hospital births, which are becoming more popular because modernization theme. This is the introduction to our first baby of the week with Mrs. Cottingham saying she is having her baby at home. It’s her fourth and she doesn’t need any of that fancy hospital stuff.
Ian meets his girlfriend, Linda, who works at the paint factory along with her father. Ian says he is going to get them out of Poplar with his education but she is pregnant. They have a bit of a freaking out fight through the docks as they try to figure out what this means for them.
Meanwhile, the nuns and midwives of Nonnatus have a long conversation over dinner about home vs. hospital births. St. Catherine’s had asked for someone to help out for a few weeks. Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) sends herself despite Nurse Crane (Linda Bassett) saying it might be too strenuous and Patsy (Emerald Fennel) being a bit jealous because St. Catherine’s is a nicer version of The London.
Also in this Sister Mary Cynthia (Bryony Hannah) is charged with planning the ceremony in honor of Sister Hildagard, the founder of Nonnatus House. Sister Monica Joan (Judy Parfitt) is annoyed that she wasn’t picked but willing to help Sister Mary Cynthia when she asks her.
So to this porch steps scene. Delia (Kate Lamb) and Patsy are sitting on the front steps of Noannatus looking at movie times in the paper. Delia has been looking through the roster and knows Patsy can see a movie with her on Friday. They are having a conversation about how attractive the actress is and Trixie joins them with the perfect straight girl response. Patsy politely invites Trixie and Delia looks annoyed that she invited a third wheel to their date.
Barbara joins them and Delia invites her too, since Patsy has already ruined her plans. Barbara awkwardly makes up a story about cousin being in town because she totally doesn’t have a date with Tom or anything like that. Trixie storms off and Barbara is left looking defeated on the steps.
This is one of only two Patsy and Delia scenes. Later on, Delia stays up to meet Patsy when she gets home from work late, like they had planned to in their flat. They flirt and hug and Delia is making them spiked tea.
This scene almost swayed me away from a Patsy and Delia rant I have been planning for a while but it still fits. I have been wanting to comment on the fact that Patsy and Delia are the only long standing couple on this show that we haven’t seen kiss yet. It would have made sense in their second scene together. My feelings on this are exactly the same as Delia getting hit by that stupid car: this isn’t the BBC being homophobic, it fits with the show that they haven’t.
Delia’s big fantasy in that scene was to make Patsy tea and play with her hair. Patsy has had pretty good indications from Nurse Crane and Trixie that they already know but she is still too scared to even let Delia take her hand to comfort her in front of them.
So, I perfectly understand why we haven’t seen Pasty and Delia kiss yet. It is because Patsy and Delia aren’t ready to let us see yet and I am fine with waiting until they are ready.
Where was I? Oh right, our love triangle. Barbara finds Tom (Jack Ashton) outside of Nonnatus and breaks off whatever is going on between them because Trixie isn’t over him and he isn’t over Trixie and she doesn’t want to be with him if it is going to hurt Trixie. She then gets call to deliver Mrs. Cottingham’s baby with Nurse Crane. There are a bunch of complication and Mrs. Cottingham is sent to St. Catherine’s and into Sister Julienne’s care.
Trixie and Tom both get entangled with Linda and Ian. Trixie is still taking care of Ian’s mother and acting as Linda’s midwife. Tom had helped Ian with his university application process and provides some counseling when Linda’s father finds out she is pregnant. Ian and Linda don’t seem to have a lot of options so Ian buys a ring and proposes to Linda.
Trixie and Tom have a cute moment together at the engagement party. Tom gets into a debate about doing the right thing and acting out of love. Ian says he loves Linda but he isn’t sure if he loves her enough to give up his dream of university. Starting to sound familiar, Tom?
Over at St. Catherine’s, Mrs. Cottingham is having more problems and the doctor calls for an emergency c-section. And just when I was thinking how great of a modernization story line this is and the fact that we have never seen a c-section before, the doctor gets the baby out and says, ‘oh god not another one.’
I was nearly crying along with Sister Julienne because I was expecting to see a continuation of the thalidomide story line about as much as she was expecting to see another Susan Mullocks. Sister Julienne offers to hold the baby after nobody else will, but it is quickly taken away.
Much like how Rhoda Mullocks feared, the baby is left in a room alone to die. Luckily, Sister Julienne finds the baby. She promised Mrs. Cottingham she would take care of her baby, who she was hoping would be a girl. The baby, which was so disfigured the doctor couldn’t determine sex, dies in her arms. Sister Julienne nearly loses it and starts relying religious facts to the nurse she had made friends with. She could have baptized the baby herself but she didn’t think to.
Back at Nonnatus, Sister Mary Cynthia and Sister Monica Joan are working on the ceremony in the chapel when Sister Julienne gets home. I loved this little scene. Sister Mary Cynthia is just hanging out with the older nuns, which is great to see. And Sister Julienne asks Sister Monica Joan for advice and if it would be a sin to lie to Mrs. Cottingham about her child. Sister Monica Joan says a lie with the intention of protecting someone can’t be a sin. Sister Julienne ends up telling Mrs. Cottingham that her daughter died in her arms, but she doesn’t have any answers for her about why.
Over at the clinic, Trixie is treating Linda when she starts to miscarry. When she is talking her and her future mother-in-law, Ian’s mom, home they find Tom trying to break into their flat. Ian is inside and the gas is on. Last we saw Ian, he was trying to go to this first shift at the paint factory but couldn’t force himself inside. Tom and Trixie run in and are able to save him from committing suicide.
This is was a great reminder of all the things I used to like about Tom and Trixie, when they were working together as equals and were helping people just in completely different ways. But, they only loved each other enough. They start to have a conversation about what their relationship is now and why Barbara is causing such a problem for them. But, Trixie gets too uncomfortable, and there is vomit on her shoe, and runs inside.
She is treating Ian’s mom when Linda breaks off her engagement with Ian because she doesn’t want to stand in the way of his happiness. His mother keeps the ring so it will be there when they need it. Trixie realizes what she has to do and goes home to talk to Barbara
Trixie tells Barbara she isn’t going to stand in their way anymore. She and Tom weren’t right for each other and she wants both of them to be happy. Their contrast in this scene is great. Trixie tells Barbara she is too nice, which Barbara said to Trixie when they first met. Also, Trixie is dressed all cute and Barbara looks like a fricking church lady. The episode ends with Trixie helping Barbara get ready for a date with Tom and their new big sister, little sister dynamic is amazing.
Sister Julienne reports to the Turners about what she saw at St. Catherine’s. They go into research mode trying to find a connection between Rhoda Mullocks and Mrs. Cottingham. Despite us knowing it is their morning sickness drug, the Turners make it some god damn compelling. They work late at the office, with brief interruptions from Tim and Angela.
They then go home and keep working into the night after their children have gone to bed. Shelagh tells Patrick (Stephan McGann) they have to call it a night because they have patients in the morning. She also says she loves him the best when he is turning himself into a disheveled mess to help someone. He says his least favorite thing is admitting he doesn’t know something, which is currently where they are in the thalidomide story line.
Mature Jenny (Vanessa Redgrave) is much vaguer this time about how there is still so much to uncover and they still have so much to learn. I really liked this episode. It was a great way to continue the thalidomide story and we don’t get a lot of sole Sister Julienne. I’m also really glad the resolution of the Trixie-Tom-Barbara love feud was mostly about Trixie and Tom sorting out their problems. Hopefully, we get more of the Turners doing their Sherlock and Watson thing this season.