Ok, I’m instituting a new rule: do NOT watch the Call the Midwife Christmas Special on Christmas, unless you want to spend the rest of your evening making this face:
I kid you not. You know how CtM celebrates Christmas? With sexual abuse and a stillbirth. My God, CtM, who hurt you?
Just…don’t say you weren’t warned.
Ok, so everyone has themselves a merry little Christmas, and then on Boxing Day a massive snowstorm and sub-arctic temperatures roll right across the country, paralysing almost all of Britain, ruining Trixie’s very chic-sounding skiing getaway with Christopher, and making life just generally difficult for everyone. I mean, they can’t even get milk for their tea! Also: it’s frigging cold.
So cold, in fact, that a certain Mr Tillerson is found frozen to death, having apparently become disoriented in the blizzard. We met him, earlier, after he visited Turner to have a burn on his leg seen to, and he seemed a nice chap, so we’re all sad about this tragic demise. But then Julienne goes to the man’s home to tell his wife what’s happened, and she finds the woman very nearly dead from hypothermia, and suddenly a very different picture of this man emerges. Apparently he was the absolute worst sort of person imaginable, engaging in every kind of abuse you can: physical (his wife and both their son and daughter) and sexual (the daughter). The daughter wound up pregnant at age 15, and this prize for humanity responded by kicking her out and beating his wife to within an inch of his life. So, yeah, when Mrs Tillerson hears that her husband froze to death and essentially says, ‘Served the bastard right,’ those of us watching are all:
With some difficulty, Julienne tracks down the daughter, who’s turned into some sort of amazing supermom. She’s married, is expecting her fourth child, and has also fostered 30 other kids. Damn. Give this woman a medal. I mean, getting kicked out of the house by the father who raped you and got you pregnant at 15 and then not only managing to survive, but taking that and deciding your life’s work will now be: ‘make sure this doesn’t happen to another kid, ever’ is pretty damn impressive. Girl, you deserve some Rupaul:
Julienne tries to persuade her to go to her father’s funeral, to which I respond: ‘Why? So she can piss on his grave?’ Frankly, I feel like freezing to death was too good a death for this bastard. Too bad he didn’t set himself on fire with that paraffin heater he was apparently so careless with and then slowly, agonisingly roast to death. It would have been good practice for burning in hell.
The daughter is not interested, though she does, apparently, not entirely blame her mother for everything. Seems her mother managed to pass her £10 before dear ol’ dad threw her out of the house, and the daughter kept it, as a reminder that her mother did, in fact, love her. Really loved her: that £10 was all Mrs T had in the world. All the money she’d managed to stash away, in the hope of someday using it to make her escape from this hell she’d found herself in.
On to other things for a moment. There’s a new patient at the clinic named Linda. She’s young, and within seconds of attending her first appointment she unloads on Valerie the fact that she’s not actually married to Selwyn, the man who accompanied her. He met her after she got pregnant and is so devoted, despite her seeming disinterest, that he wants to marry her and be this baby’s dad. He seems amazing. And she’s lovely too, she just knows that she doesn’t really love the guy and feels badly about it.
She goes into labour early, and Valerie attends the birth. She gives birth to a boy, but something’s not right, and though Valerie does all she can, it’s clear the baby’s stillborn. At this point, I just lose it, because, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I simply can’t cope with dead baby/child storylines ever. And for God’s sake, CtM, it’s CHRISTMAS!
Selwyn and Linda are, understandably, devastated. Linda can’t even look at the baby. Valerie gently places it in her bag and prepares to take it back to Nonnatus, as Trixie arrives and takes over attending to the grieving parents. Before Valerie goes, Selwyn makes up a tiny hot water bottle and asks her to tuck it in with the baby because he can’t bear the thought of him going out in the cold, it just doesn’t seem right.
Valerie heads home, seeming just as torn up as the parents. And then someone on the writing team apparently remembered what day this episode is airing, because there’s a whimpering sound from within the bag and Valerie realises the baby’s actually alive. We’ll ignore the fact that it’s been fairly oxygen deprived for a while and will almost certainly be brain damaged, ok?
She races inside, screaming for help, and the whole thing is so delicate Tom is summoned just in case a baptism needs to be performed stat, but apparently the baby’s ok. He’s loaded into an incubator in an ambulance and taken to his parents’ caravan, where for some reason Trixie takes forever to tell them their baby is, in fact, alive. Trixie, I love you, but this is not the sort of news that needs to be broken delicately, k?
So, the baby’s going to be ok, but still…a stillbirth scene? That was a wrecker, that was.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much business as usual, though a very cold business it is. So cold that toilets are freezing and everything. There’s some new constable, Wolff, in the neighbourhood, and his whole role seem to be ‘obnoxious, hateful, asshole.’ The fact that, in an episode with a father who raped his own child, I still managed to drum up enough extra hate for this dickhead should tell you a lot about how insufferable he is. He’s a condescending jerk to Crane! He forces the poor cub scouts to destroy the igloo they spent hours building, under her careful tutelage! He prevents mothers from accessing milk!
That last bit is kind of baffling. There’s a milk shortage, because of all the snow, but apparently the local dairy managed to get some but…isn’t distributing it? The idiot who owns said dairy almost has a riot situation on his hands, and bleats that they can’t just dispense milk into buckets and things, they need proper bottles, all of which have apparently gone AWOL. So, Crane gathers the scouts and Reggie and has them dig through snowdrifts until they get enough bottles for everyone to get their milk. The tea is saved! And finally Wolff acknowledges her. Kind of. I guess we’re being set up for some sort of romance here, and I already don’t like it.
Off in C-plot land, Tom’s been offered a curacy in Birmingham for the next six months, but he isn’t sure whether or not to take it. I know the suspense is killing you, so I’ll just tell you: he takes it. He and Barbara will be off north for a little while. They both continue to be charming and adorable.
(Also charming and adorable? Christopher. So adorable. Playing musical chairs at Nonnatus? Helping to unblock a frozen toilet while dressed in a frilly pink robe? Agreeing to be a pantomime cow’s bum? Adorable. He’s a keeper, Trixie.)
As one last gesture to the community, Tom plans a belated Christmas dinner for the elderly folks who have taken shelter from the cold in the community centre, followed by a performance of the Christmas pantomime that had to be postponed. It all goes off well, and Mrs Tillerson’s daughter arrives with her entire family (including newborn daughter) in tow to start building bridges with her mother.
So, it ended on an up note, and I have to give a zillion props to the actress who plays Valerie because she did an amazing job with that storyline and the sort of devastation that must come over a medical professional in a situation like that. Well done, there.
But seriously, show. A horrible abuse storyline and a dead baby? This must have been one of the most downer episodes ever, even with the baby coming back to life. That’ll be a hard one to shake off.
So, uh, happy new year? May 2018 be a little more hopeful!