Call the Midwife: The Change

Nurse Barbara Gilbert marries Tom Hereward in season 6 episode 8 of Call the MidwifePreviously on Call the Midwife: Barbara and Tom got engaged and The Pill arrived in Poplar.

Let’s start with a happy story, shall we? It’s time for Shelagh to have her baby! She has a bit of a freakout, which Crane realises is down to her being terrified, as pretty much any mother-to-be is. Crane, being her amazing self, talks Shelagh down and Shelagh starts to get excited about preparations. Those preparations include choosing her own midwife (Sister Julienne!), opting for a home birth at which her husband will not be present, and hanging some seriously ugly wallpaper in the new house. That house, by the way, is amazing. It is such a perfect snapshot of mid-century middle class living, warts and all. You just kind of want to keep pausing the show and staring at it.

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Call the Midwife: Wrecked

Previously on Call the Midwife: Patsy went to Hong Kong to be with her ailing father, Trixie began dating Christopher Dockerill, and little Susan Mullucks became the first baby in Poplar to show the tragic effects of thalidomide.

Let’s start with the B plots.

Trixie thought things were going well with Christopher, but then he started cancelling dates. Because he thinks it’s 1892, he’s cancelling them by leaving a note on the front door of Nonnatus House. WTH, Christopher? You know this place has a telephone. What a strange way to go about cancelling.

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Call the Midwife: Scars

Strap in, everyone, because this is the episode many of us have been dreading. But you know what? The writers did an excellent job, here. This could have been a relentlessly harrowing episode, but it wasn’t. Believe it or not, it even had a moment of (slightly questionable) female empowerment. From a woman who’s undergone female genital mutilation. Now, one might argue about just how ’empowered’ her whole stance and rebuke to the midwives really were, but she was taking the opportunity to tell them that she wasn’t just a victim here, as they assumed. She was standing up for herself and for her culture, even if it is a part of a culture most people outside of it find horrifying and repulsive.

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Call the Midwife: Bite Point

Previously on Call the Midwife: It turns out Cynthia wasn’t over her trauma after all, and she was sent away to deal with it. Patsy also went away to tend to her dying father in Hong Kong, so Valerie was hired to fill the void.

It’s Valerie’s first day! She arrives at Nonnatus and is given a bed in Trixie’s room. She soon discovers that Trixie has taken over the entire wardrobe, so she takes out a handful of Trixie’s things so she can hang up her own. When Trixie finds out, she makes it seems like she’s annoyed by it, but turns out she’s totally kidding and everyone’s super welcoming. Love Nonnatus!

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Call the Midwife: Holding On

Previously on Call the Midwife: Sister Ursula showed herself the door and gave Julienne her old post back, Shelagh was put on hospital bedrest due to spotting, and Trixie returned with the baffling news that Cynthia’s not at the Mother House at all.

First: the thing with Cynthia. Julienne’s not stressed at all, because she made inquiries and found out that Cynthia’s been sent to ‘a place of greater safety’ (great book!) Trixie’s still a bit hesitant about that, but that’s where things stand there.

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Golden Armchair Awards 2016

 

You voted and here are the results of The Golden Armchair Awards 2016! See if your favourites took the prize!

Best New Character

Readers’ Choice: Bertie Pelham (Downton Abbey)

He’s sweet! He’s adorable! He loves and appreciates Edith, nurtures her talents, and mucks in when necessary! He’s probably better than the entire Crawley family put together!

My Choice: Lyanna Mormont (Game of Thrones)

This girl is my goddamn hero. Not only did she not take any shit from Jon Snow, but she stood up in a room filled with some of the toughest men in the whole of the Seven Kingdoms and verbally handed their asses to them. She’s ten. Can we just end the show with her on the Iron Throne? Because I’m pretty sure she’s the only one who would actually make a good leader at this point.

 

Worst New Character

Readers’ Choice: Edith’s Editor (Downton Abbey)

Seriously, was this guy useless or what? Not only did he just not do his job, he constantly argued with his boss. It didn’t help that he made Edith look pretty spineless. Poor showing and good riddance.

My Choice: The Dolly Sisters (Mr Selfridge)

Oh, God, these two. They were just embarrassing to watch. The only thing that saved it is the fact that everyone on the show was just as disgusted by them and their drunken antics as I was.

 

Best Villain

Readers’ Choice: Edward VIII (The Crown)

What a dick. Seriously, in real life and in this programme. What. A. Dick.

My Choice: Ramsay Bolton (Game of Thrones)

What a psycho. Any scene with him became a game of, ‘Oh, God, what insane thing is he going to do to the character sharing the screen with him now?’ And, horribly, he never disappointed.

 

Most Improved Character

Readers’ Choice: Thomas (Downton Abbey)

Good choice, everyone! Yes, Thomas, our favourite sociopathic under-butler really turned around this series, didn’t he? Several episodes of fully reaping what he has sown showed him the light, and now we can all go out liking him.

My Choice: Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)

Holy. Shit. Winterfell’s dainty little princess is no longer a delicate little flower. Turns out, if you traumatise someone enough, they may just dig deep and find their inner badass. And man, did she ever. Playing politics, demanding a seat at the table from Jon, summoning the knights of the Vale, and sending Ramsay to be eaten by his own dogs?

 

Character Who Needs a Good Slap

Readers’ Choice: Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey)

I think this one speaks for itself, no? If not, let’s have a look: she takes over management of the estate and does absolutely nothing, repeatedly and snobbishly insults Branson without even seeming to realise it, jerks around several men, dumps her boyfriend right after he’s just seen his best friend die, insults and railroads Mrs Hughes over wedding plans, dismisses Edith’s every success and then destroys Edith’s engagement purely because she can’t bear to see anyone happy when she’s…just dumped her boyfriend. These are just the things she did this season.

My Choice: Claire Fraser (Outlander)

Good Lord, this woman. She gives absolutely no thought to the impact her actions may have on other people or on history, for that matter, behaves incredibly selfishly, fails to consider consequences ever, does not take responsibility for her own actions, is condescending, and thinks she’s a total genius even though none of her plans ever work because they are ludicrous. Argh!

 

Best Couple

Readers’ Choice: Edith and Bertie (Downton Abbey)

SO CUTE! She loved him, even before he became a marquess. And he helped her marathon publish an issue of her magazine and was just too adorable. Edith and Bertie 4 eva!

My Choice: Dr Enys and Caroline Penvenen (Poldark)

I can’t help it, these two melted my heart. Yes, it seemed they were ill matched, but it turns out Caroline was made of tougher stuff than we thought. Their reconciliation just before he goes off to war was one bright spot in an otherwise fairly horrifying season for this show.

 

Worst Couple

Readers’ Choice: Mary and Henry (Downton Abbey)

These two bored me. Really. They were pretty to look at and all, but Mary’s snobbishness (despite the fact they totally came from the same social class) got in the way. Why Henry kept coming back for more, despite the fact she treated him horribly, is anyone’s guess.

My Choice: Pierre and Helene (War and Peace)

Hoo boy, were these two ill matched. The cheating and the lying and the obvious loathing. This is why marrying for looks or money alone isn’t a good idea.

 

Most Welcome Returning Face

Readers’ Choice (Tie): Benjen Stark (Game of Thrones) and Lady Mae (Mr Selfridge) (also my choice)

Hi, Benjen! How’ve you been? Nice to see that there’s at least one other member of the Stark family still alive (kinda). And MAE! I thought she was gone from Mr Selfridge forever, and that made me sad, because Mae was amazing! And she got to come back and be twice as amazing as before! Hurrah!

 

Character Gunning for Sainthood

Readers’ Choice: Edith, when she forgives Mary (Downton Abbey)

Apparently a lifetime of emotional abuse, culminating in Mary destroying Edith’s happy engagement completely out of spite wasn’t enough to keep Edith away from Mary’s wedding. Not only did she attend the wedding (after, I repeat, Mary destroyed Edith’s chance for a wedding of her own), but she actually had nice words for her sister beforehand. Nobody in this family deserves Edith. Seriously.

My Choice: Sonya (War and Peace)

Man, Sonya. Not only do you willingly give up the man you so desperately love because his mother told you to (so he could become a golddigger, essentially), but then you stuck around, smilingly taking care of the children he had with his rich wife, watching everyone around you enjoy the happiness you never got to have. I don’t know how she does it, but I feel like this character is ripe for a spin off.

 

Sweetest/Most Hug-Worthy Character

Readers’ Choice: Lord Merton (Downton Abbey)

By a landslide. And what’s not to love? The man’s sweet and adorable! Totally huggable!

My Choice: Theon (Game of Thrones)

Poor Theon! Every season since he wound up in Ramsay’s hands, I’ve just wanted to reach into the TV and give him a big cuddle. Helping Sansa escape, nearly sacrificing himself, and then totally going all-in to help his sister become Queen of the Iron Islands? Aww, hug-worthy!

 

Moment That Should Have Been Shocking but Wasn’t

Everyone’s Choice: Mary spills Edith’s big secret at the breakfast table.

I mean, really, we all saw this one coming a mile away, didn’t we? We watched every last happy moment Edith and Bertie spent together, cringing because we all knew what was coming. Sigh.

 

Fridge Horror Moment

Readers’ Choice: The Drewes have been forced to leave their farm right in the middle of a major agricultural depression. How’s that going to work out for them? (Downton Abbey)

This was not Edith’s finest moment by a long shot. Her whole interaction with the Drewes was just so, so wrong, and this was its culmination: a moment of extreme celebration of privilege, where she walked away with her daughter, whom they had nurtured and loved as their own, and never looked back at the family she left in pieces. The Drewes are in for a very, very hard time of it on many levels.

My Choice: Carson is facing a long, terrible decline due to Parkinson’s (Downton Abbey)

This was pretty glossed over in the finale, where it was used as a way to bring Thomas back into the fold and the ramifications of what was going to happen to Carson were never considered. But holy crap, this is awful. Carson is a jerk, yes, but he’s also a person who has dedicated his life to service and to being useful. He’s terrible at being idle. Anyone who’s ever known someone with Parkinson’s knows how cruel a disease it is. It takes vibrant, active people and renders them helpless. This is not going to go well for him or for Mrs Hughes. It’s horrifying.

 

Storyline with the Most Wasted Potential

Readers’ Choice: Baxter’s uncertainty about facing the man who landed her in jail (Downton Abbey)

Ugh. This just went on and on and on and then went…absolutely nowhere. The guy just pled out in the end. Off screen. Come on! Is it that Julian Fellowes doesn’t know how tension is supposed to work, or does he just not care?

My Choice: The Army of vengeful women Dorian and Lily built up that just…disappeared when Dorian got bored (Penny Dreadful)

What was up with this? I honestly thought we were moving towards something really amazing here. Lily empowered these women, whipped up their frustration against the worst of the patriarchy before she herself was taken by a bunch of men whose sole aim was to tame her. If this wasn’t a situation ripe for those women to go absolutely apeshit on all three of those men, I don’t know what was. I was seriously expecting that to happen. And then I thought they’d end up being an important weapon in the fight against Dracula and his vampires. In a show that was pretty clearly into women’s empowerment, that all would have made sense. Instead, Dorian just told them to go home and they…did. WTF?

 

Saddest Moment

Readers’ Choice: Sister Evangelina dies (Call the Midwife)

I still tear up just thinking about it. Nonnatus’s resident ballbreaker was not without her faults, but we still loved her, as did all of Poplar, from the look of things. RIP, Sister E.

My Choice: Faith (Outlander)

About 80% of this episode was gut-wrenchingly sad. Maybe it’s because I’m a mother that I’m super sensitive to situations involving the loss of a child, but man, watching Claire snuggle her stillborn daughter, and seeing Louise gently take her away, and then later hearing Claire tell Jamie all about it… I was ugly crying all over the place.

 

Sweetest Moment

Readers’ Choice: Bertie rolls up his sleeves and helps Edith publish an issue of her magazine in one night (Downton Abbey)

Adorable!

My Choice: Isobel and Merton get back together and find out he’s not going to die after all

I’ve always liked these two, so seeing them get to be happy (for much longer than they anticipated!) was lovely.

 

Most Shocking Moment

Readers’ Choice: A baby affected by thalidomide is left to die in the hospital (Call the Midwife)

I know things like this happened back in the olden days, but you hope that they weren’t still happening in the 20th century. The poor baby was probably going to die anyway, but sticking it in front of an open window to speed things along by freezing it was unnecessarily cruel. Inhuman, even. Apparently, Sister Julienne agrees with me.

My Choice: Cersei wipes out the entire court with wildfyre, watching calmly from the Red Keep while sipping wine (Game of Thrones)

GoT is full of shocking moments, and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by anything Cersei does anymore, but even so, holy crap, this one took me by surprise. I didn’t actually think she had this sort of brutality in her. We’ll see how far it takes her once she’s up against an actual Targaryen.

 

Stupidest Subplot

Readers’ Choice: Denker vs Spratt (Downton Abbey)

Uggggh. Yet another go-nowhere plotline on Downton Abbey that took up far too much time, added nothing, and was just plain annoying. Not to mention servants who behaved this ridiculously would never have been tolerated in an aristocratic household.

My Choice: The whole situation with Baxter maybe testifying against Cole, which goes…nowhere. Offscreen.

This last season of Downton was full of stupid subplots (like the hospital takeover!), but this one really did it for me. All it was was endless dithering on Baxter’s part, and ultimately it went nowhere, leaving me to wonder what the hell I just wasted all that time on.

 

WTF Moment

Readers’ Choice: Two years after Greene’s death, someone comes forward and confesses to having done it, magically exonerating Anna (Downton Abbey)

Don’t even get me started on the rest of the whole Greene murder plot, but the wrap-up to it was beyond stupid. This would never, ever happen. Why would it? Why would someone just come forward, years later, and basically put their head in the noose? And then, just to double down on the stupidity, the detective in charge of the case refused to believe this woman for a while. *eye twitches

My Choice: The village haunting was caused by…a time travelling car? (The Living and the Dead)

I know I shouldn’t raise questions in a show based almost entirely on supernatural occurrences, but seriously, WTF was up with this ending? The car of a descendent of the main character was somehow causing the village to be haunted in the 1890s? Even if you’re willing to suspend disbelief enough to believe in ghosts and things, this is pretty much impossible to swallow.

 

Hell Yeah! Moment

Everyone’s Choice: Edith and Branson both let Mary have it (Downton Abbey)

We’ve all waited years for this, right? Finally, FINALLY someone told Mary what a repulsive excuse for a human being she was. It was deeply satisfying finally seeing Edith have it out with the evil big sister, but seeing Branson, perhaps one of the nicest people on this show, let loose really drove it home that Mary had screwed up BIG TIME.

 

Most Badass Moment

Readers’ Choice: A woman delivers her own baby on the floor of her hall when the midwife can’t get there on time (Call the Midwife)

Even if you’ve never given birth, you had to know this was a major feat. This poor woman was alone, terrified, and had no idea what the heck she was doing. All she had was poor Delia on the other end of the phone (and let’s give Delia some badass credit here too, because she was pretty amazing, especially considering she’s not actually a midwife and was digging deep into past training to help this woman out). Bravo, lady. The maternal instinct is strong here.

My Choice (a tie): Sansa turns Ramsay’s dogs on him, Dany burns all the Khals to death and emerges from the flames, untouched (Game of Thrones)

Ramsay’s death had a certain poetic justice to it, and proved that Sansa is no longer the scared, delicate little girl she once was but is a STARK through and through. You don’t mess with the people of the North.

Meanwhile, down south, Dany calmly listened to a roomful of men talk about how they were going to rape her to death, and then said, ‘you know what? Nah. I’m going to take all your khalasars instead. Enjoy this little barbeque, boys.’ When she walked out of those flames, I almost wanted to bow to her.

Call the Midwife: Stay of Execution

Previously on Call the Midwife: Sister Ursula took away Sister MJ’s TV and then started instituting all sorts of rules that basically boiled down to: stop wasting time actually caring for your patients. Patsy took off for Hong Kong, and Shelagh found out she’s pregnant.

Shelagh is delighted to barely be able to button up her uniform now. You have never seen a woman so happy not to fit into her clothes anymore. And I want to be all excited for her, but on this show, really happy mothers seem to be somewhat ominous.

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Call the Midwife: A Little Hope

Previously on Call the Midwife: Sister Julienne was unceremoniously replaced by Sister Ursula who’s, well, not Julienne, that’s for sure. Also, Patsy got word from Hong Kong that her father’s in a very bad way, and she’s not sure what to do with that information.

I know this wasn’t intentional, but thank God that on this, an extremely bleak weekend for anyone with an ounce of human feeling or compassion in them, we got a CtM episode that was actually pretty uplifting, overall. Thank you, writers!

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Call the Midwife: Pain and Terror

Previously on Call the Midwife: Half the cast headed off to Africa to do some good there. Cynthia decided to become a nun, and was horrifically attacked by a man stalking women in the East End.

OMG, you guys, new credits! With colour and 60’s hairstyles and racial diversity! This is hint one that there’s change afoot. Hint 2: Timothy is shaving now. He’s 15, can you believe it? And at one point he’s also left to man the telephones at the doctor’s surgery, because Shelagh was taken ‘suddenly ill’. Anyone who didn’t immediately shout ‘Pregnant!’ either hasn’t been watching much television, or hasn’t been paying much attention to Shelagh’s character. No way would that woman leave her post for any petty, ordinary illness. She’d probably work those phones through a bout of bubonic plague. So, yeah, despite her previous diagnosis of infertility, she and Turner are having a baby. Yay! That African trip was magical! And how like this show to go back to the miracle pregnancy well on a fairly dire episode.

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Call the Midwife: Step Right Up

call the midwife 2016 christmas specialFor Christmas this year, the BBC decided to gift most of the cast of Call the Midwife with a really nice working holiday. It’s off to South Africa for everyone except for Patsy and Cynthia, who are apparently left behind to tend to every pregnant woman in Poplar while the others travel waaaay south for several weeks to work at a mission hospital.

Here’s what’s going on: the mission, which is supported by Nonnatus’s mother house, has recently lost its head nun, Sister Felicity, and is in danger of being shut down. The logical solution to this is to send Julienne, Winifred, Trixie, Barbara, the adult Turners, Crane, Fred, and Tom to remote South Africa to help out and hold a polio vaccine clinic. And Tom’s going to be carrying out an assessment of the place which will ultimately determine whether or not it gets to stay open.

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