Previously on Call the Midwife: Alec trotted out the ‘l’ word, prompting Jenny to completely freak out and Bernadette found out that motherhood isn’t in the cards for her.
JVO talks optimistically about how, when you’re young, it seems like everything’s possible. Jenny bikes through the neighbourhood, passing Alec, who waves and smiles at her.
At Newnottus, Winifred’s drawing some cartoon teeth for the children’s dental programme. Jenny arrives and asks if she can go spell Cynthia at a prolonged labour. Winifred’s reluctant to go, but she kind of has to.
Turner comes upon Bernadette folding up that baby nightgown to donate. He urges her to just put it in a drawer, like that’ll make things easier, and she says she’s tried that and just needs the thing out of the house. Poor Bernadette is clearly still wrecked over her bad news, which I totally understand.
Winifred arrives at the laboring mother’s house. The mum’s about at the end of her rope, kind of panicking. She asks for her teddy bear, Frankie, and Winifred fetches him so she can hold the toy. Hey, whatever gives you comfort. Winifred’s not coping all that well with this, keeping her distance and looking a tad peaky. At last, the baby’s born, and like most new mums, the woman’s elated. She laughs at how silly she was, asking for her teddy, but Cynthia says that if it helped her, that’s the important thing.
Clinic day. A heavily pregnant woman named Leah anxiously asks Bernadette if it’s going to be much longer. Bernadette apologises for the wait and says she’ll be up soon.
Leah sees Jenny, who notes she looks tired and her ankles are seriously swollen. She goes to check Leah’s urine, to make sure this isn’t a pre-eclampsia situation, but on her way out of the cubicle she’s waylaid by Turner, who needs an ashtray.
Back at Newnottus, Cynthia and Winifred discuss the recent birth. Cynthia’s delighted, Winifred a bit more subdued. Cynthia asks if Winifred enjoys the medical side of things and Winifred says she does, but she doesn’t feel the same joy Cynthia does. Cynthia advises her to think less and feel more, because a new mother’s happiness is catching.
Jenny finally gets back to Leah’s cubicle, only to find her gone.
Leah returns home, where she finds her elderly mother crouched on the ground in the bedroom. Leah goes to help her up, but her mother gasps that she just needs a minute. It’s clear that this is something that happens frequently.
Evangeline is trying to play Cluedo with Sister MJ. Why would they even attempt to play that with MJ? She, of course, follows her own set of rules and takes a completely random guess that somehow turns out to be right. Game ruined.
Alec meets Jenny as she’s coming home and asks her to accompany him to Brighton that weekend—all nice and proper. He’s adorably eager, and Jenny finally agrees.
Inside, Jenny grabs Cynthia and asks her to come dress shopping with her the next day. She notices that Cynthia’s distracted and Cynthia admits that Winifred seemed really uneasy during the birth. Jenny suggests they offer her more support, and remember what it was like to be new at all of this.
Leah’s mother, Mrs Rubin, is asleep when Leah’s husband comes home with some treats from the shop where he works. Aww. He’s also got good news: he’s been offered a manager job at a shop that comes with a flat and a little garden outside of the East End. Sounds great, but Mrs Rubin’s a problem, because apparently she’s such a shut in it’s been 12 years since she left the flat. Jesus. While Leah’s not happy about that, she doesn’t see what she can do.
Bernadette brings the nightgown to Julienne.
Cynthia and Winifred pay a visit to Leah’s house to drop off the birth kit and find Mrs Rubin. Mrs Rubin’s really sweet and welcoming and points Cynthia towards the bedroom, where Leah’s flipping a mattress. Cynthia helps her finish up and tells her the urine test was clear, so she’s ok, but they’re going to do a routine check up.
Julienne and Bernadette are having tea and Bernadette’s unburdening herself, admitting that she had a clear vision of how her life would be, and now she doesn’t know what it’ll be like. She briefly castigates herself for wanting more, when she already had so much, but Julienne immediately tells her not to look on her childlessness as some sort of punishment. Bernadette admits she needs something to occupy her mind. Julienne remembers that Bernadette has a lovely singing voice and suggests she join the local choir.
Mrs R and Winifred are having a chat too. Mrs R tells her it’s an amazing thing that she does, bringing new life into the world. Cynthia and Leah join them, and in the course of the conversation, Leah admits that Mrs R has dizzy spells, which leads to the further revelation that Mrs R never goes outside. Winifred looks concerned. Cynthia suggests having the doctor swing by, but Leah insists all her mother needs is rest and quiet. Leah, she’s had 12 years of that, with no improvement. Also, you’re about to have a baby. None of the people living in that house will be getting much rest or quiet for a number of years, so clearly some other intervention will be necessary.
Alec’s been sneaked into Newnottus somehow and is telling Jenny all about this place they’ll be staying in Brighton. He turns on the radio and dances with her, and it’s totally sweet. He’s the best. Jenny says she didn’t think she could dance, but when she dances with him, it’s like she’s in a film, like Debbie Reynolds. He asks if that makes him Gene Kelley.
Later, Jenny’s showing off her new dress to the girls. Trixie teases her a little about going away with a man and Jenny starts to get uptight and insists Alec would have arranged for two rooms, of course. Trixie warns her that he may have made assumptions, as she’s a fairly modern girl in many ways. Cynthia’s sure Alec wouldn’t be like that.
The next day, Jenny arrives at some derelict building Alec’s been working on and finds Alec’s co-worker there. The guy’s kind of a creep and smarmily tells Jenny how he’s had some memorable weekends in that hotel and he’s sure Jenny and Alec will have all sorts of fun, if you know what I mean. Poor Alec shows up and Jenny clutches her pearls a little harder and goes over to yell at him for…well, nothing, really. She assumes he only got the one room and basically tells him to just enjoy it all by himself before storming off. Alec, you poor man, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: YOU CAN DO BETTER!
Winifred’s giving Leah a checkup when Mrs R has one of her dizzy attacks. Winifred tells Leah they’re sending for a doctor immediately, no arguments.
Bernadette’s decided to rope Timothy into the choir, and for once, he’s not going along with something without question. They run into Noakes, who admits he always wanted to sing in a choir, but sadly, he’s on duty.
They arrive at the community centre and find she and Timothy basically comprise 50% of the choir. The others decide to go to the pub instead. No more choir.
Turner has given Mrs R a sedative and checks on Leah before asking her a few questions about her mother’s symptoms. Leah panics a bit, begging them not to take her mother away. She explains that during the war, she and her mother were in a ghetto and managed to escape, but when they returned home, all their family and friends were gone. They then moved to London and the attacks started. Turner gently says they’re not going to take her mother away, but they have to get to the bottom of what’s ailing this woman. He thinks it’s more physical than psychological: Meniere’s disease, which he describes as a form of vertigo. Happily, there are meds she can take for it.
Alec’s up on a rickety platform, checking out a ladder going to an upper floor and yelling at his coworker for being an ass. He starts tugging on a beam, and then the boards he’s standing on gives way and he plummets at least a full story, smacking his head on the concrete floor.
His friend rushes out into the street and finds Noakes, dragging him inside to help. Noakes sends him to fetch the doctor and call for an ambulance.
Turner rushes to Alec’s side and checks his vitals. He’s unconscious, which is probably for the best, because it looks like he’s got a shattered femur and a seriously messed up foot. Poor lad comes to just as Turner’s trying to remove his shoe to get a better look at the foot injury. It’s not good. Turner notes that there’s no blood supply, and the whole leg’s at risk now. He and Noakes get to work doing whatever they can.
Back at Newnottus, Jenny poutily unpacks.
Turner uses his, Noakes’s, and coworker’s ties to affix a splint as Alec comes to again and starts screaming in pain. Turner tells him to lie as still as he can just while he affixes the splint. Alec somehow manages, and thankfully the ambulance arrives.
Mrs R’s happy to hear her problem can be managed, and with that now a possibility, Leah and her husband tell her about the proposed move to northwest London. Mrs R looks a little freaked out but puts a happy face on it and says they’ll start packing. She and Leah cover their heads and Leah lights some candles so they can say their prayers.
Alec’s loaded into the ambulance while the three men who attended him look on sadly.
Jenny’s whining to Trixie, who reminds her that she has no idea what Alec’s intentions even really were, because she didn’t let the poor man get a word in edgewise. Jenny mentions how nauseating the other guy was, which is hardly Alec’s fault. Trixie suggests Jenny be a big girl and actually go talk to Alec. You know, like functional adults do with their loved ones. Cynthia knocks on the door and tells Jenny there’s been a call about Alec.
The two of them go to the hospital, where Cynthia finds out that Alec’s broken quite a lot of bones and lost his foot. They saved the rest of the leg, though, thanks to Turner’s good work.
Leah and her husband quietly and happily discuss the future, while Mrs R lies in bed, looking anxious.
Jenny sits at Alec’s beside until a nurse sends her home so he can rest.
Early in the morning, Fred makes himself a proper fry-up, but before he can dig in, Jenny comes stumbling down. He immediately asks how she is and she starts to cry, so he goes and hugs her and asks if she’s slept or eaten. She has not. He offers her his breakfast, and she protests for about a second before digging right in.
Leah’s trying to get her mother out of the flat to have her tests run, but Mrs R keeps making excuses. Leah’s clearly getting fed up, and I can’t really blame her, because having to tend to a shut-in for more than a decade would be utterly exhausting. But in Mrs R’s defense, she clearly doesn’t really want to be like this, she’s just terrified. Leah urges her to try, but the woman can’t even step over the threshold onto the porch.
Turner gets word of Alec’s condition and beats himself up for not being able to save the foot. Bernadette tells him he did everything he could. She changes the subject by telling him she’s going to take over directing the choir.
Winifred visits Leah’s and learns about the unsuccessful attempt to get Mrs R out of the house. She doesn’t really know what to say. Leah’s husband says he already told the guy he’d take the job and his wife snaps that he can now tell him that he’s not.
Alec’s awake, and Jenny’s at his side. He wonders what he’s going to do without a foot and she reassures him that they’re going to do just fine.
Winifred’s rather cutely teaching some kids at the clinic about dental hygiene. Three young mothers, one of them the woman who gave birth at the top of the hour, are having a little song time, which attracts Bernadette’s attention. She compliments their voices and invites them to join the choir. They wonder what to do with the babies and Bernadette says they can just bring them along. Winifred wanders over and asks about this choir and Bernadette explains. Winifred asks if she’s ever done anything like this before, and Bernadette confesses she hasn’t, but sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands. That clearly strikes a chord with Winifred, who goes to see Mrs R and tries to get through to her with a story about a horse she knew when she was a kid. Mrs R doesn’t respond well, so Winifred brings it home, telling Mrs R that she’s a hero for saving her child. Mrs R doesn’t think she’s so brave, for having left her family and friends behind, but Winifred won’t hear it and tells her she’s a warrior and can fight this. She urges Mrs R to take her arm and leads her over to the door, but Mrs R still won’t go out.
Alec’s doing better and is so terribly happy to see Jenny there it’s kind of heartbreaking. Jenny tells him they’re going to Brighton as soon as he’s better. He fairly good-naturedly says they probably won’t do much dancing, and Jenny puts a hand over her heart and says they’ll be dancing in there. He jokes about getting 50% off shoes from then on. Jenny laughs and promises to come back the following day.
Bernadette’s now recruiting some of the Newnottus ladies for the choir. Jenny arrives and reports that Alec’s doing better. She also volunteers to join the choir. The phone rings: Leah’s in labour, and Winifred’s next on call. Jenny offers to go along with her, and Winifred’s clearly relieved.
Leah pushes, and Jenny notes that the baby’s heartbeat is not as strong as she’d like. Mrs R comes running in and tells Jenny that there’s something wrong with Alec and she needs to go to him immediately. Jenny can’t believe it, because she was just there, but she swiftly excuses herself, leaving the laboring mother and Winifred, who looks pretty freaked. Nonetheless, she gathers herself, listens to the baby’s heartbeat, and notes that it’s a tad slow, so she ropes in Mrs R to help her and coaches Leah to push hard to get this kid out ASAP. Leah pushes and pushes and delivers a girl, with Winifred’s help. Looks like Winifred’s finally found her baby birthin’ mojo.
In a less happy storyline, Jenny arrives at the hospital, only to be told that Alec has died. An embolism from his breaks, apparently. Jenny can’t even absorb this and walks into the ward, where she sees the graying body for herself. She staggers out and goes to Alec’s rented room, where she wanders around, touching his things (and finds proof that he did, in fact, reserve two rooms, so now she gets to feel extra bad). And his suitcase is sitting on the bed, all packed for Brighton. Wow.
There’s a pall over Newnottus, so palpable that even MJ is aware of it. Jenny’s not eating, just sitting in her room, staring blankly. Trixie brings her some tea and sits silently with her.
Jenny finally rouses herself enough to go to Julienne and beg to return to work. Julienne refuses to send her out again until a little more time has passed. At least until after the funeral. Jenny hollowly says that Alec’s parents won’t even be there, because they’re abroad and his father’s at sea. Julienne still refuses to send Jenny out to laboring mothers and suggests she instead take some compassionate leave at the mother house in Chichester. Jenny seriously considers it.
Turner’s not taking the death terribly well. Bernadette asks him to look over some music she’s planning to have the choir sing at the funeral, and he tells her he can’t help with choral music anymore than he could save Alec’s life. She hurries to his side and tells him he’s not to blame for this. I know any death must be hard on a doctor, but I find it a teensy bit hard to believe that Turner, who went through a world war and serves one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city, would be quite this torn up. He’s had to have seen more than his fair share of tragic deaths, and at a certain point, he’d have stopped blaming himself for them.
Leah’s got her baby outside so she can visit with some of the other new mums. Mrs R looks down proudly at her, then gets a determined look on her face, opens the front door, and finally steps outside so she can scold her daughter for not wrapping the baby up well enough. Leah’s shocked to see her mother outside, and is even more shocked when Mrs R makes her way down the stairs and joins her. Well, we can now add agoraphobia to the list of things babies apparently cure on this show. Winifred, who was visiting, practically cries.
There’s a good turnout for choir practice. The new mum from the beginning of the show arrives with her friends and says it’s sad that Alec’s mother can’t make it to the funeral, so the other mums are there to represent. Cynthia and Trixie are there as well, and Noakes joins, apologizing on Chummy’s behalf that she can’t be there, as little Freddie’s teething. He asks the girls how Jenny’s doing and they admit she’s not doing very well.
Jenny bags up the new dress she bought and sets out to return it, even as Cynthia tries to talk her out of it. Jenny really doesn’t want it, though, so Cynthia agrees to support her. As they’re leaving Newnottus, Leah and her mother arrive to see her and offer their condolences. They’ll be moving after all, and Mrs R wanted to come and say a proper goodbye, since she’s missed out on a lot of those in the past. Jenny bursts into tears, because she never got to say goodbye to Alec. Leah suggests they leave Jenny in peace, but Mrs R, who knows of what she speaks, says Jenny will know no peace at this point. She turns to Jenny and tells her she’s going to basically feel like shit for a really long time, but she has to just keep living, until she actually starts to feel alive.
It’s a fairly full house for Alec’s funeral. Bernadette leads the choir in a really lovely song—Mozart, apparently, though I’m afraid I’m not sure which piece of his this is. Jenny’s sitting in the midst of the nuns and Sister MJ gently takes her hand.
Jenny’s apparently decided to take that compassionate leave after all, and sometime after the funeral she’s getting ready to leave. Everyone says goodbye in their own sweet way: Evangeline tells her to make sure she eats three square a day and take care of herself; Trixie and Cynthia hug her and make her promise to write; Julienne takes her hands and urges her to find peace. When Jenny steps into the cab, MJ comes to the open window and tearfully recites a bit of poetry and kisses Jenny’s hand. I wish I understood a little better why MJ is so utterly broken up about this. Of course it’s very sad, and I imagine reminders of mortality are quite difficult at her age, but I didn’t think she really knew Alec. She just seems so extremely upset over the whole situation, I can’t help but wonder just what’s going on in her head.
The cab pulls away as JVO says that her heart had closed and all she could do was take Mrs R’s advice.