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!
There’s a very nice dressmaker in the neighbourhood who has an adult son named Reg who has Down’s Syndrome. She’s also a relative (cousin, it seems) of Fred’s and Fred helps her out around the house, since she’s a widow. When she dies right in the middle of the Sunday service, Fred is the one who has to go and break the news to Reg, along with Tom. Poor Reg says he understands what’s happening, but it’s clear that he doesn’t, really. Not for a while.
He goes to live with Fred and Violet, and Violet is, rather uncharacteristically, unwelcoming. At first I thought she was just thrown because Fred had sprung this on her, but that’s not the case at all–she knew Reg was coming and agreed to house him. Mostly it seems she’s worried that they don’t have any experience with ‘people like him’ but I don’t know, this seems really out of character for her. She’s always been a very warm and kind person and hasn’t let others’ situations bother her, so her coldness to this young man, who’s just suffered a serious tragedy, is odd and off-putting.
She gets really worried when one day Reg, not knowing how ovens work, turns the gas on in an attempt to make toast, and then has no clue how to proceed, so now the flat’s just filling with gas. Fortunately, he then winds up locking himself out of the house, so we’re spared a serious tragedy. He wanders the neighbourhood, is stared at by every jerk in Poplar, and harassed by a couple of assholes. He eventually makes his way home, hoping to find his mother, and that’s where Fred finds him. Clearly, something needs to be done here.
Speaking of ‘something needs to be done’ situations, there’s a woman, Crystal, who’s expecting her fifth baby and has some serious dental hygiene issues. It’s clear this woman has never seen a toothbrush in her life, and, unsurprisingly, she’s now got a terrible abscess. Her solution is to ask her poor husband to just yank her tooth out with pliers, and when he can’t do it, she asks Trixie to take on the task. Trixie’s solution is to get her to Turner ASAP, and Turner tells her she’ll have to go see a dentist at the hospital.
The ‘D’ word sends Crystal into a panic, and when it’s time for her appointment, she just doesn’t go. Fortunately, she does go to the midwives’ clinic, where Winifred and a visiting dentist, Christopher Dockerill, are teaching kids just how important it is to brush. I think it’s worth noting the dentist is very cute and adorable with the kids and nice to Trixie even when she’s a total bitch to him for no reason at all. She drags him in to take a quick look at Crystal, which he does, in an incredibly friendly and non-threatening manner. He reassures Crystal that dentistry is not about chopping people’s mouths apart, but she really, really needs to come see him at the hospital to get sorted. He then offers to let Trixie come along to literally hold her hand. Trixie’s face says, ‘I have so many other things to do, you know!’ but she goes along nevertheless.
Crystal has to have all her teeth pulled (brush and floss every day, kids!) But she’ll then get a lifetime of no pain and some lovely dentures, so yay! Said pulling takes place, and it’s really gross. Thanks, CtM, for showing us every damn rotten tooth as it’s removed from this woman’s mouth. Totally needed that to cap off the weekend! Though it is a little hilarious that they intercut that with scenes of Fred and Reggie weeding.
Afterwards, Crystal’s sitting in the hallway, waiting for the bleeding to stop in her gums, when she goes into labour. Trixie hustles her up to delivery, accompanied by Dockerill, who insists he needs to keep an eye on the gum bleeding. Crystal delivers a son in about five minutes’ time (good thing she was already in a hospital!) and Dockerill’s all, ‘Wow, this is amazing!’ mostly talking about Trixie. Trixie’s like, ‘Yeah, this is not my first rodeo, friend.’ He’s so amazed, he asks her out to dinner and she accepts. Go Trixie! We find out he has a car as fab as he is. Go Trixie!
Meanwhile, Fred’s got Reggie working in the gardens, and Reggie’s really into it, but Fred realises this isn’t a permanent solution. He starts making inquiries and finds out that there’s a mental hospital that can take the young man, but Fred’s not quite sure about it. He confides his reluctance to Sister MJ, who has also gotten to know Reg a bit, and she decides to go along with Fred to check this place out.
The verdict is not a good one. It’s grim, to put it mildly. GRIM. Like, everything you ever thought of in your nightmares of what living in a mental hospital in the 1960s would be like. MJ’s horrified. Fred’s horrified. No way is Reggie ending up here. But guess who has ended up here? CYNTHIA.
MJ spots poor Cynthia during their tour of the asylum and her reaction (and the audience’s) is essentially
Cynthia! Cynthia is in this horrible place! MJ and Fred both freak out and immediately go to Julienne, who freaks out (as much as Julienne ever does) and immediately goes there to yank her young sister out of there and bring her home. But apparently it’s not as simple as all that, and she’s turned away at the door.
Inside, the same nurse who turned away Julienne (and I’d like to say that, while the woman seems stern, she does not appear to be a monster or anything. She’s just a woman doing her job as it was seen fit at the time. This doesn’t seem to be a Nurse Ratched situation.) sits down with Cynthia and tells her that the doctors don’t really see her making progress. So, they think it’s time to step it up with some electroshock therapy. To help this young woman get over the trauma she received by being brutally assaulted.
All together now:
Seriously. This. Can. Not. Happen.
But things are looking a little brighter for Reg. Fred goes home and tells Violet the place is a horrorshow, and since Reg has now grown on Violet considerably, she’s totally fine with him living with them indefinitely. But, it turns out there’s another solution. See, Shelagh has been channeling her extreme boredom into house hunting, because she’s realised that a two-bedroom flat is really not ideal for a family of five, including a 15-year-old boy. While sifting through the papers, she sees an article about a residential home for people like Reg.
Fred and Violet pay the place a visit, along with Reg, and the place is so nice I want to live there. Reg is happy to see that there are gardens, and the people in charge are really kind and it’s basically an ideal solution. Violet wants to hate it, because she likes Reg and now wants to keep him, but even she has to agree it’s fantastic. Reg now has a place to live, and he’s left a little gift of bulbs in Violet’s handbag. Aww!
And the Turners have a place to live as well! Shelagh’s found a pretty huge house for only £3000 (!!) and she’s super excited. Turner seems bizarrely reluctant, complaining that their furniture will be ‘lost in there’ which is probably the stupidest excuse I’ve ever heard someone use to not buy a house. Turner, you know they have these things called ‘shops’ right? That sell things like ‘furniture’? Anyway, because Shelagh wants it, and probably because even he’s realising it’s weird and pretty mean to make a teenage boy sleep in the same room as his toddler sister, he agrees.
And? Winifred has decided she wants to learn how to drive, and Crane is the one who gets to teach her.