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!

But oh, writers, you are disappointing me a little. Because you’re working waaaaay too hard to make us hate Sister Ursula. Look, we already resent her for replacing Julienne; you don’t have to actually make her into a monster. And yet, here she is being a bitch to Sister MJ, a kind, elderly woman who has dementia, let’s not forget. And here she is banning flowers from Nonnatus because arranging them sucks all of about five minutes out of someone’s day. And here she is telling the nuns and midwives that, from now on, their assistance to the community is not to extend even the slightest bit past their remit as medical professionals. Which means they’re not allowed to assist a new mother in dire financial straits with a gift of food. It’s kind of ridiculous, actually, because it’s making her seem really one-note, which is not necessary. I think I get what they want to do with her: that she’s not evil or anything, she’s just a really strict, hard-liner. But honestly, she’s starting to come across as unnecessarily petty.

We’ve got a pair of sweet mums this week. The first one is Penny Reed, who is so, so happy to be pregnant. Penny and her husband, Derek, are both little people, which makes Penny’s pregnancy particularly high risk. Patsy, who’s on her case, gently tells her this, but Jessie already knows and is choosing to be optimistic. Fair enough. After all, this pregnancy was a bit of a miracle: she was always told she’d never conceive or carry to term.

Speaking of miracle babies, Shelagh is battling some serious morning sickness, which briefly brings up the spectre of Distaval. She’ll be relieved when it passes in a few weeks (here’s hoping, for her sake, it does pass and doesn’t end up dogging her all nine months, which sounds like absolute hell). Meanwhile, she and Turner decide it’s time to let the kids in on their happy little secret. Of course, Timothy, being the sharp little medical mind he is, has already figured it out. But he’s happy, of course, because he’s St Timothy after all. Angela’s too young to understand she’s about to be displaced to middle child status.

Our other mum in the spotlight is Jessie Marsh, who is also so happy to be pregnant. She lives rather blissfully with her mother, Ada, and husband, George, who’s just as excited as his wife about the new arrival. Everything’s great, until one day, while George is at work by the docks (and Jessie’s at home giving birth to a healthy son), there’s a terrible explosion. Shelagh just so happens to be nearby, having recently wrapped up a measles vaccination clinic (and she narrowly avoids being a victim in the blast, by the look of things. She immediately starts calling for help and water, aided by Valerie, a young woman who works in a nearby pub and used to serve as a nurse. Lucky! Valerie’s great and I hope we get to see more of her. And we probably will, what with the Patsy situation (more on that later).

Valerie and Shelagh do some good work, but George is very badly injured and may be permanently blinded. Both women are outraged by the lack of any sort of first aid equipment or even water at the site, and they try to get their point across at the official inquest, but the officials don’t seem to care. It’s up to George to make an appearance and make them care by showing them, quite graphically, the human face of the blast, if you will.

But that’s a long time coming. George responds to his injuries with a fair bit of rage, lashing out at his wife, who steps right the hell up and is there at the hospital with him as much as possible, reminding him that he’s loved no matter what. She even brings the baby at one point, but George refuses to touch his son. And at that point, Jessie decides she’s done, for now, and stops visiting, which reminds George how important she is to him. He starts to come around, and attends the inquest. As a result, the most modest safety measures are put in place. It’s a start, I suppose.

The Marsh family’s situation spurs the Nonnatuns on to do what they do best. Winifred accompanies Jessie to the hospital, for moral support, even though this falls right in with the ‘extracurricular activities’ that Ursula has banned. Without George’s income, the family is falling on very hard times indeed, so Julienne and Winifred try collecting food Nonnatus can spare. When Ursula puts the kibosh on that (because it’s not like women who have just given birth need to eat or anything), Julienne clearly thinks

and gets Fred to donate some veg from his garden to these poor people. It’s a bit sad that she has to do all this secretly. Where’s Ursula’s sense of Christian charity?

They pull through, and when George finds out his blindness is likely to be permanent, he manages to accept it, embrace his family, and snuggle his son. Yay!

Penny remains super optimistic, despite even her husband, Derek, kind of freaking out and admitting he’s terrified he’s going to lose both her and the baby. But then he calms down and puts the pram together. The mere sight of it is enough to send Penny into labour a little early. She’s sent to the hospital for a c-section, but first gets treated like some kind of scientific specimen by the doctors, to Delia’s disgust.

Patsy completely ignores Ursula’s insistence they not be human towards their patients (I must say: the writers are pretty prescient, putting in all these protests against an absurd dictator) and goes to the hospital to comfort Derek. She gets to break the news to Penny that she has a healthy baby girl. And apparently the child was a miracle in more ways than one, because she utterly defied genetics and has come out normal size, or ‘big’ as Penny puts it.

Penny worries that their daughter will reject them for being small, but Patsy reassures her that kids love their parents, if their parents are loving in their turn. This makes her finally stump up the courage to telephone Hong Kong, after spending the episode pretending her father was not dying by simply ignoring his letters. Denial: it’s a great cure-all!

Ursula runs into Patsy as Patsy’s getting off the phone and, in a moment of extremely terrible timing, snippily informs Patsy that she’ll be docking her pay for going to the hospital. Patsy has no patience for this crap, takes out her purse, and slaps some coins on the table to save Ursula the trouble, and informs the woman she’ll be leaving for Hong Kong. You go, Patsy!

Delia and Patsy are both sad to be separated for a really long time, but they know they’ll be ok, because they love each other, and this is important. So Delia bids Patsy farewell, along with everyone else. And Crane, who caught a moment between the two ladies earlier that clued her in to the fact that they were much more than just friends, comforts Delia with some Spanish poetry. Aww!

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