Previously on Call the Midwife: Jenny started to settle in a bit and Chummy got a date with Constable Noakes.
A frantic young man bursts out of his house, races around the corner to the phone box, and rings Nonnatus House where…
…Sister Evangelina wakes Jenny and tells her that a mother’s gone into labor and she’s going to be coming along for the delivery, because it’s best not to take risks “under the circumstances.”
At the young man’s home, Jenny and Evangelina efficiently set up the bedroom for the birth while the father-to-be hovers in the doorway nervously and the laboring mother begs her mother to stay with her, which, of course, she will. They send the dad outside to wait for the birth with his little dog, while inside the mother asks for reassurances this baby won’t be born dead like the last one. Ooof. Gonna be one of those episodes, I see.
Dad paces and smokes nervously while the labor intensifies inside. He finally can’t wait anymore and runs in, just in time to see his newborn daughter, who’s very much alive. Smiles and joy all around! The mother—Shirley Redmond—cuddles the infant and marvels at how much sound she can make while the now doting dad joins her. Aww!
Jenny cycles home in Evangelina’s wake, both of them just managing to avoid being run over by a rather nice car being driven down the street by a pleasant-looking man in, maybe, his late 30’s and his wife. These are the new additions to the neighborhood.
The wife marvels at how much space they have in their new home, as she moves a potted plant in, and her husband agrees, then jumps to help her, because she’s, of course, pregnant and he doesn’t want her lifting things. The two of them are adorable and clearly crazy about each other. They make out and tease/flirt and as things progress, we depart to give them a bit of privacy.
At Nonnatus, Trixie bursts into Jenny’s room, asking if she’s naked and indecent. She’s not, which is good, because she’s wanted on the phone. Trixie’s waaay too excited by the fact that it’s Jimmy on the phone and she and Chummy follow Jenny to the room with the telephone. Chummy, though perhaps the most socially awkward of all of them, quickly realizes that it would probably be polite to give Jenny some privacy, and off she goes, but Trixie, who’s decided to be kind of an annoying jerk this episode, just stands there until Jenny glares here off, and then she stomps away like she can’t believe Jenny wouldn’t want her around to listen in on her private conversation.
Instead, she scuttles around the corner, where Cynthia’s eavesdropping, and they listen in together to Jenny’s fairly innocuous conversation, even dragging in poor Sister Bernadette. Jimmy wants to take Jenny to the cinema for the new Elvis Presley film. Jenny overhears the world’s worst eavesdroppers, all of whom really need to get some lives of their own, and she calls them all terrible spies (true) and scolds Bernadette for being part of it.
Jenny goes to Shirley’s to give her a checkup and Shirley says she’s never felt better or been happier, so now we know something bad’s going to happen to this poor woman before the end of the episode. There’s a little talk about how she “wasn’t herself” after she lost the last baby, which is totally understandable, but she’s all better now. Her mother comes in with the baby and Jenny admires the little hat and sweater set grandma knitted for her infant granddaughter.
Date night! Jenny and Jimmy run for the bus and get on just in time.
Meanwhile, new lady neighbor is playing her violin as her husband comes down the stairs, smiling fondly. He tells her she’s amazing and she finally gives him a name—David. She stands and staggers but dismisses it as just a quick bout of lightheadedness. Later, he’s getting ready to go out and hang with his cricket buddies, though he worriedly offers to stay with her. She says she’s fine; it’s just a headache. He suggests she go to the doctor but she says there’s no need. If she still feels out of sorts later on in the week, she can go to the Nonnatus clinic.
Trixie and Cynthia catch up with Jenny and ask how the movie was. She’s not an Elvis fan, it turns out.
Neighbor lady—her name’s Margaret Jones—arrives at the clinic and is immediately thrown by the noise and chaos. Cynthia approaches her and Margaret asks to speak with someone in charge. Cynthia crisply introduces herself and Margaret explains that she’s registered with a doctor south of the river, but her next appointment isn’t for another week, and she thinks she needs to see someone. Cynthia asks for her name and Margaret gives it, emphasizing the Mrs., and Cynthia asks her to take a seat.
You know, I’m rather curious about these Joneses. It’s fairly clear they’re a slightly higher class than the patients we’re used to seeing on this show—Margaret’s got her hair nicely styled, her clothes are clearly more fashionable and expensive than the others’, they’ve got the car, and obviously she’s used to a private doctor’s office. It makes me wonder how they wound up in this neighborhood?
She takes a seat next to Shirley and admires the baby. Shirley laughs that she wouldn’t find her so charming first thing in the morning and asks how long Margaret has to go. A few months yet. They both glance over when they overhear some mother smacking her kid around. One of that woman’s other kids comes over and fingers the beaded necklace around Margaret’s neck. Margaret smiles sweetly at her, but then the kid’s mother angrily calls the little girl away. Margaret briefly gets a: “geez, lady,” look on her face, and the woman pounces on it, demanding to know what Margaret’s turning her nose up at. She turns away and Shirley i.d.’s her as Eileen Blake, who lives on her street and seems to be quite the piece of work. Unfortunately, Eileen can hear them talking and comes over to yell a bit more, calling Margaret a stuck-up bitch, and at this point, Margaret’s had enough. She gets up and leaves and I honestly can’t blame her. And as soon as she’s gone, of course, Cynthia calls her name.
Noakes meets up with Chummy outside the home of one of her patients and admits he’s been waiting there for half an hour so he can ask her out again. Aww. Stalker-ish, but aww nonetheless. Chummy, of course, agrees.
Back at Nonnatus, Trixie takes it upon herself to give Chummy dating advice. This girl seriously needs a date of her own. Though the way she tries to make ordering food erotic and the manner in which Chummy makes fun of her by breathily asking for fish and chips is pretty hilarious.
Chez Shirley, she’s outside washing the windows while inside her husband, Ron, dances around the sitting room with their daughter. So cute. She invites them outside for a bit of fresh air and he comes out long enough to tell her that he and his little girl are having a dance to themselves. The exchange is watched by some woman whose face we can’t see.
Margaret’s not doing so well, so her husband’s loading her into the car and getting ready to take her to the doctor. They don’t get very far before she has a full-blown seizure right there in the front seat. David screeches to a stop, unsure what to do, and then gets out of the car and yells for help. Luckily, Cynthia and Trixie are cycling down the street at just that moment and they stop. One look and they tell him she needs to get to a hospital immediately. Cynthia asks for the woman’s name, and when David gives it, she clearly remembers Margaret from the clinic and seems to feel guilty, though it’s not her fault the poor woman ran into the local hellbitch and decided not to stick around. She tells David she’ll phone the hospital and tell them he’s on the way.
At the hospital, Cynthia runs into a doctor, who tells her Margaret had eclampsia and the baby didn’t make it. She goes to find David, who’s sitting all alone on an empty bed, looking wrecked. He sadly says the baby was a girl, but her lungs weren’t developed enough. Cynthia offers to call someone for him, but he says there’s nobody else, it’s just the two of them. He’s not sure how to tell Margaret what’s happened. Cynthia carefully asks him if he fully understands the situation. It turns out Margaret’s actually dying. Jesus. This really is one of those episodes.
Cynthia decides she wants to see this case through to the bitter end, and she asks Sister Bernadette to speak to the hospital on her behalf. Bernadette asks if she’s prepared for this sort of case, and when Cynthia says she is, Bernadette agrees to help.
Later, while the girls are gathered in the kitchen, Chummy returns from her dinner and movie date (fish and chips and High Society) and the girls eagerly ask for details. She says they talked about horses and Grace Kelly. Trixie can’t believe things didn’t get any juicier. Bernadette takes it upon herself to play den mother and warn Chummy that things may progress to…well, you know. Jenny cuts this off and asks if there were any other developments. Chummy admits she asked Noakes to the dance that weekend, though she’s a bit terrified of going. Trixie and Cynthia agree to go along for support, but Jenny demurs because she and Jimmy are making plans. The girls urge her to bring him to the dance and she agrees. Par-tay!
Through the window, we see Shirley happily rocking and cuddling her baby.
In a less happy room, Cynthia gently helps turn Margaret and asks David how the two of them met. He was taken by friends to a concert where she was playing (Swan by Saint-Saens, for those who are curious. Interestingly, this piece is frequently called “The Dying Swan” after a Tennyson poem. So, its inclusion here is quite appropriate, really. Even if it is a piece for the cello, not the violin.) He admits that he was too shy to ask her out right away, but he eventually managed and they’ve been madly in love ever since. He starts to break down at the end, just remembering.
Back at Nonnatus, the girls are listening to music, having a little tipple, and getting ready for the dance. Jenny takes a moment to ask Cynthia if she’s ok and she manages a tight smile and a nod while she’s fixing Chummy’s hair. Trixie hands her a drink and says it might help her stop being so “bloody miserable.” Wow, what a bitchy and insensitive thing to say. It’s not like she doesn’t know that Cynthia’s dealing with a really rough case, either. And considering the fact that Trixie has been shown to be quite sympathetic and compassionate (commiserating with Jenny soon after she arrives, sticking up for Chummy with Sister Evangelina), this strikes me as being terribly out of character.
Bernadette comes in and announces the arrival of a young man, so off they all go, meeting Noakes and Jimmy at the door. Bernadette watches them go, a little wistfully.
After they’re gone, she goes to her room and, in front of the mirror, takes off her wimple, brushes down her hair, and removes her glasses. Oh, the sacrifices one makes for a life of service.
The others, meanwhile, are rocking out 50’s style at the dance. It’s like a scene from Grease. Jimmy fetches drinks, and Noakes invites Chummy for a dance. Cynthia’s trying—and failing—to look like she’s having a good time. Poor thing. Chummy and Noakes are terrible dancers, but they’re having lots of fun, so it doesn’t at all matter.
Late that night, Cynthia makes her way to Jenny’s room for a chat. She admits that Margaret came into the clinic and says she was a bit short with her. Jenny says that wouldn’t have made a difference in a case like this. Cynthia knows, but she still feels a bit guilty, and really, really bad for David. She thinks it’s brave for people to fall in love, even if they know their heart may get broken down the line. What she says seems to be hitting home with Jenny, but she knows this is Cynthia’s time, not hers, so she keeps her thoughts to herself.
Ron returns home with some milk and notes the empty baby carriage outside the house. He goes in, chats with his wife, and asks where the baby is. She cheerfully says she’s out having a nap in the fresh air and he immediately freaks.
The two of them run outside and start grabbing neighbors, asking if anyone’s seen the baby. One of the neighbors starts knocking on doors, others call for the police, and Cynthia just completely falls to pieces right there in the street.
The police arrive en masse it seems and get to questioning passersby. Noakes goes to Nonnatus House and, as gently as he can, asks about Shirley’s mental state, because apparently there have been a few questions raised about her fitness for parenting. Evangelina immediately knows that awful Eileen Blake is behind this and starts spitting some vitriol. Julienne cuts her off and says that Shirley was depressed after her first baby died, but that’s natural, and she’s a fine mother. Noakes mentions that someone overheard Shirley joking about how she could throttle the kid in the morning (harking back to that conversation with Margaret in the clinic) and damn, but that Eileen Blake must be a hideous bitch to mention that and actually make it seem like Shirley was serious, because anyone with a brain would know she wasn’t. All the midwives tell him this is completely ridiculous.
Nonetheless, poor Shirley is dragged to the station for questioning. She’s a mess, as you can imagine.
Cynthia heads back to the hospital and David asks if she could go and fetch his razor and a few other things from the house, because he doesn’t want to leave his wife. Cynthia agrees and, accompanied by the Piano Music of Impending Tragedy, she goes to the Jones home, where she sadly notes the half-peeled potatoes in the kitchen and the violin sitting idle on a chair.
At Shirley’s, Jenny and Julienne are finishing up some laundry while Shirley catches a bit of sleep on the couch. Jenny seems pretty upset, and Julienne says she’ll have to stay strong if she’s going to stay there and comfort the parents. I’m not sure Jenny’s the best person for this job, sister. She showed in the last episode that she’s not good at remaining calm and collected in highly emotional situations. Nonetheless, Jenny says she’ll be fine, and Julienne says she has every faith in her. Julienne goes to leave, just as Ron comes back and Shirley wakes up, asking pathetically if he’s found the baby. She adds that she knows the baby’s alive, because her milk’s still coming. Jenny goes to her and gently leads her out of the room.
In a total hellhole somewhere, a woman hums to the baby and urges it to take some milk. But the baby can’t seem to drink and the woman loses her patience, yells at it to just take the milk already, and throws the milk bottle against the wall, shattering it and spraying milk everywhere. The woman has an Irish accent—holy crap, is that Mary?
Chummy returns to Nonnatus, where she finds Sister MJ acting even more out of it than usual and Julienne fixing up a bunch of food to serve to all the people out searching for the baby.
Shirley stares out her front window, musing that everyone’s talking about her, thinking she’s done something to the baby. Poor Ron begs her to hold it together. Jenny arrives with some food and sympathy, both of which I’ll bet these people sorely need.
Cynthia’s at Margaret’s bedside, sitting with her while David goes to shave and clean up a bit. He returns and quietly says Margaret doesn’t like him all stubbly. He leans down and kisses her on the cheek, tenderly asking if that’s smooth enough for her. Man, this plot’s just a constant string of gut punches, isn’t it? Cynthia says the doctors want to take Margaret’s wedding ring off, but he won’t give permission because Margaret would never forgive him. Cynthia bites her lip and tells him the doctors don’t think he understands the situation. Margaret, despite his faith in her strength, is going to die. He doesn’t want to believe it, but Cynthia’s clearly decided it’s time for the awful truth. He says Margaret’s his soulmate, and that’s why she’s still here with him. Cynthia tells him the woman’s suffering and sometimes we need permission to die from those we love most. God, am I going to need about three hours of comedy therapy after this episode. David leans down, kisses his wife’s cheek, and finally tells Cynthia to go ahead and cut the ring off. She does so.
In the dirty street, someone finds a knitted baby bonnet and brings it to Jenny, who recognizes it as belonging to missing baby Jillian—it was from that set the grandmother knitted for her. Jenny and Noakes take it to the parents and grandma reluctantly identifies it, probably figuring this means the baby’s dead.
She’s not, but she’s in quite a bit of distress. Her kidnapper puts the crying baby into a trunk or something, telling her to stay there, because mommy has to go to work. And now we see that this actually is Mary, who’s clearly taken a one-way trip to Crazytown since we saw her last. I did not see this coming, but I guess I should have, because it does play into the old cliché of the woman who loses her baby and goes completely insane as a result. Which is really insulting because it goes hand-in-hand with the completely outdated notion that women are frail, unstable creatures who fall apart under any significant emotional strain.
Anyway, Mary hits the street and is now so far down the prostitute totem pole she’s just trying to grab random men walking past. She gets no takers.
Margaret has died. Cynthia leads David into her room, where she lies on the bed, her hands folded over her chest. He sits beside the bed and Cynthia gently places Margaret’s wedding ring in his palm.
Back to Nonnatus she goes, where Jenny expresses her sympathy over the case and asks after the husband. Cynthia says he’s not doing so well, because he and Margaret were soulmates. Trixie scoffs at the very idea in a really rude, unfeeling manner and makes fun of Cynthia for believing in such things and Cynthia finally tells her to be quiet already. She looks a little guilty afterwards and glances back over at Trixie, who’s all sulk and attitude after having been (rather gently) told off. Cynthia, don’t you dare apologize to her. You were totally in the right and she was being a bitch. She needs to learn when to keep her mouth shut and her opinions to herself.
David returns home and I really hope Cynthia packed away the violin and music when she was there last.
Ron, meanwhile, runs to Nonnatus house and fetches Evangelina, telling her Shirley’s basically gone walking catatonic. Evangelina accompanies him home, sits Shirley down at the table, and tells her Ron’s not strong, which is why he chose to marry Shirley, and she really, really needs to be strong now. Because Evangelina’s awesome and has one of those voices that demands obedience, Shirley starts to come around.
Mary stalks a milk cart, and as soon as the milkman’s gone making a delivery, she runs up to it and grabs a bottle. The milkman sees her and gives chase, and instead of just running with the milk she needs, Mary stops, turns, lobs the milk at him, and then runs. Why’d she do that? Why not just keep running with the milk, instead of wasting time throwing it at the guy and totally wasting it? She really has gone nuts, hasn’t she? Milkman manages to chase her to the warehouse where she’s been hiding.
Jenny heads back to Shirley’s and yells at the reporters gathered outside. Would this many reporters really be after a story about a baby’s disappearance in the East End? One or two, maybe, but there are at least half a dozen here.
Once inside, Jenny offers to stay with Shirley while Ron takes the dog out. When he’s gone, Jenny says she can’t imagine what Shirley’s going through. Shirley says she didn’t realize how much her mother loved her until she had her own child. She also didn’t realize how painful love can be, but we keep going out and loving and bringing on the pain.
Milkman finds a couple of constables and tell them where Mary’s holed up. They take off and find her and the baby, which she’s now calling Kathleen and talking to like it’s actually her own baby.
Noakes goes and fetches Jenny, who accompanies him back to the warehouse and quickly realizes that she knows this young woman. What luck Noakes happened to grab Jenny and not one of the other midwives. Jenny very slowly approaches Mary, who’s paranoid and yelling for everyone to stay back. Jenny agrees to stay back but asks to see the baby’s face, so she can determine whether it’s alive or dead. Mary finally obliges, and the baby’s alive, but, as Jenny says, she’s getting dehydrated and needs to be taken care of. Mary says she can take care of Kat’leen better than anyone, and that she just wants to be a mommy, because she’s sure that’s the one thing she can be good at. Oh, sad teen mums. Jenny tells Mary that the baby isn’t hers and reminds her how awful it was when Kathleen was taken away. Jillian’s mom is going through the exact same thing. Jenny reassures Mary that Kathleen is well looked after and loved, but this baby could die soon. She seems to be getting through to Mary at last, because she asks about the baby’s mom and, after learning that she has a decent husband with a good job, she cries that this woman has everything. She adds that she knew all along this baby wasn’t hers, because hers was prettier. Jenny comes a little closer and once again asks Mary to hand the baby over. Mary asks for just one more minute with the baby, kisses her on the forehead, and hands her over. Jenny backs away with the baby in her arms, says goodbye, and leaves. Mary starts to sob.
The police go and pick up Ron and Shirley and take them to get their baby.
Some days later, presumably, Jenny goes to visit Mary in jail. Well, at least she has a roof over her head now. I wonder what happened to her after she left the place where she gave birth? Surely they didn’t just kick her back out onto the street? She must have run away from wherever she was sent. Now, she’s completely unresponsive.
Jenny pleads on Mary’s behalf to Sister Julienne, telling her that jail’s the worst thing for Mary right now.
Julienne and Evangelina go to the Redmonds’ and ask them to ask the police for leniency for Mary. Ron’s not at all on board, but Evangelina lays a bit of guilt on Shirley, so she agrees to talk to the police.
Cynthia receives a package: a note and a record called Everything Musical (which, of course, includes The Swan). Cynthia’s so touched she weeps on Jenny’s shoulder, and then the two girls settle down to listen to the record.