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.

Indeed, she barely has time to pull together a decent outfit before her husband’s receiving a notice in the mail. The maternity home is in danger of being shut down, in favour of the patients just being sent to large hospitals to give birth. But this is Turner, and he’s not going down without a fight, so he pushes back and is told an inspector will be coming by.

After publicly supporting the closure of the maternity home, Sister Ursula doubles down on her awfulness this week by informing all the midwives they will only have 20 minutes for each appointment. When they all protest that that simply isn’t enough time in district practice, where they have to deal with a lot more variables than in the hospital, Ursula practically sticks her fingers in her ears all, ‘I can’t hear you! Efficiency! Make it happen!’

It happens, but it’s predictably problematic. Poor Barbara takes the brunt of it, because one of her patients, Lucy Chen, invites her to sit down for supper during the appointment, and Barbara can’t say no. Lucy lives with her husband, who’s Chinese in origin but seems to have been born or at least raised in Britain, and her very traditional mother-in-law. To everyone’s credit, it seems like Lucy and the MIL get on, though that may be mostly because Lucy’s fairly easygoing. She’s not hugely excited by the idea of a month-long confinement (a Chinese custom) post-birth, but she’s going with it, to keep everyone else happy.

Lucy gives birth to a daughter, and her MIL helps her thorough it and then looks sad for a bit. Between that and an earlier freakout she had over a lock of baby hair Lucy found, you know you’re going to get an ‘I had a daughter, but she died’ story by the end of the hour, so brace yourselves now.

Lucy’s confinement begins, and it doesn’t take long before she (understandably) starts to get tetchy. Despite the fact it’s summertime, her MIL has the heat jacked way up, and she keeps foisting some fish soup on Lucy that Lucy can’t stand. Lucy comments to Barbara that she has a headache all the time but Barbara, trapped under the ticking clock, doesn’t have time to go into that further or to examine the baby, who’s fast asleep. This comes back to bite everyone in the ass when Lucy wakes from a nap and discovers her baby isn’t moving.

She races downstairs to fetch her MIL, who finds that the baby’s still breathing, but unresponsive. She grabs the baby and hauls ass to the maternity home, followed by Lucy, in her nightie and bare feet. They burst in while the inspector’s there and Turner and Shelagh immediately hop to and start working on the poor kid. Barbara arrives and reports the symptoms Lucy had earlier, which tells Turner the baby has carbon monoxide poisoning. She and her mother are both taken to hospital, where it looks like Lucy will be fine but it’s touch and go for baby Lin.

Barbara, understandably, feels absolutely awful. Nurse Crane reassures her that this wasn’t her fault, it was because she simply wasn’t given enough time to do her job properly, and she was being bullied by Ursula on top of it. Crane, being her amazing self, offers to have a word with Ursula. And she does, and Ursula clearly feels kind of like a jerk for causing all this. It turns out she was once matron at a health clinic that was shut down, and her response to that was to… give everyone here impossible timelines that would compromise care. Yeah, I’m thinking she’s not really firing on all cylinders here.

Happily, Baby Lin is ok. She fights through. And MIL and Lucy have a sweet moment where MIL tells the story of how she lost her daughter, who was born in the freezing cold as the family was fleeing the Japanese. She cries that she was just trying to keep Lucy and the baby warm. Yikes! But like I said, it’s going to be ok.

For them, at least. It looks like Baby Turner is not ok. Shelagh ominously grabs her stomach a few times, and then notices some serious spotting. She’s checked into the hospital and put on bedrest. Her doctor gently tells Turner that they’ll do all they can, and the bleeding has stopped for now, but she could still miscarry at any time. Oh, come on, show!

At least the maternity home will stay open for the time being. The inspector, impressed by Turner’s handling of the Chen baby emergency, tells Crane he won’t recommend the place be shut down. But, he warns her, it will be closed eventually, because the march of progress dictates women in labour get themselves to a hospital.

Sister Ursula has come to a decision: she’s going to leave Nonnatus. First, she goes and apologises to Barbara for putting her in such a difficult position, which is nice of her, and then gets a ride to the station from Crane. Julienne’s back in charge. So, that was all pointless, then? Julienne’s demotion, the insertion of Ursula, and then she’s just gone? Seriously, what was the point of that?

She’s gone, but Trixie’s back! Yay! And judging by that cute dress she’s wearing, she did some shopping on the way. She commiserates with Barbara, then slaps on her uniform and goes to talk to Julienne. Seems Trixie stayed at the Mother House on her way home, and while there tried to get some information on Cynthia, but no one would tell her anything. She actually strongly suspects Cynthia’s not there at all.

Dun dun DUN!

Cuteness alert: Sister MJ has located her television. Ursula donated it to the seamen’s mission, which is a male-only club. But every evening, MJ goes over there, and the guys adorably bring out a bench for her, set it in front of a window, draw the curtains, and let her watch TV with them. Awwww!

2 thoughts on “Call the Midwife: Stay of Execution

  1. Love your armchair reviews! I am catching up on this show…
    I am not sure what the point of the Ursula story was either. Does it not seem odd that they would put someone who was not successful at managing another health clinic in charge of one that seems to be running just fine? A better story line IMHO would have been to put Ursula under the supervision of Sister Julienne to learn how to be compassionate *and* effective, and because Ursula believes she has all the answers, that situation would have resulted in some friction and newly-acquired humility on the part of Sister Ursula.

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