Previously on Call the Midwife: Alec died, and Jenny went to nurse her grief at the mother house in Chicester.
Julienne and Cynthia are packing up a donation box. Trixie hands over a cardigan to add to it and a letter for Jenny.
Jenny receives her parcel, which includes a cake with a big slice taken out of it. Thanks, Sister MJ. She checks out her letters while JVO says that knowing she was remembered made her pain endurable.
The donation box goes to St Gideon’s, which you may remember from last season is the home parents sent children considered ‘abnormal’ to. Jacob, the sweet kid with cerebral palsy, is still there, helping out the woman in charge. She pulls out Trixie’s cardigan and asks Jacob if he’s up for some crowd control after lunch.
Back at Newnottus, everyone’s having lunch. Evangelina turns up her nose at the quiche Lorraine while Trixie reads a letter from Jenny, in which Jenny a little passive aggressively says she hopes Sister MJ enjoyed the cake as much as Jenny did. Though I guess I can’t totally blame her. I’d be pissed off if someone took a huge chunk out of my cake. Julienne, seeming rather tired, says that Jenny’s absence is being felt across every department. Then she stands up and faints.
Bernadette serves up a steak and kidney pie. Tim starts in on both parents for keeping him cooped up inside during his summer holidays instead of letting him actually go out and be a kid for a while. Bernadette won’t hear it, because she’s sure he’ll fall and hurt himself, though he insists the other kids would slow down so he could join in. Bernadette tries to distract him with a trip to the science museum, because what kid doesn’t love to go to an educational venue during the holidays? Before the debate can go further, the phone rings, summoning Turner to Newnottus.
Tim’s so desperate to get out of the house he accompanies his dad, who makes him wait in the car. Tim stares longingly at some kids playing cricket nearby.
The St Gideon’s residents are all lined up. The lady in charge calls them to attention and tells them that the party clothes for the Founder’s Day dance are all laid out and they can pick one outfit. She lets them in and the excitement begins. Jacob makes rounds around the room and breaks up a tug-of-war between two girls with Down Syndrome over Trixie’s cardigan. He tells one of them to give it to Sally, because she’s older, and then tells Sally to find something pretty for the other girl. Quite the diplomat, this young man. Peace is restored.
Turner can’t find anything wrong with Julienne aside from total exhaustion. He prescribes a fortnight at the mother house. She says that’s not possible, because they’re already down a midwife, and Evangelina’s jubilee—the celebration of when she first took her vows—is coming up and needs organizing. I think you can trust at least a few of the people in this place to come up with a party. Winifred pipes up that those plans are already arranged, so there’s not too much to do there.
Turner leaves and finds Tim’s abandoned the car and joined the cricket game. Sure enough, the other kids are totally fine with him playing, even though he can’t run.
Back at the Turner house, Bernadette tears her husband a new one for leaving Timothy alone so he could get mixed up in the incredibly dangerous sport that is cricket. He reminds her that this is an 11-year-old boy they’re talking about and they need to let him spread his wings.
Bernadette’s going to take over the administration over at Newnottus while Julienne’s away. She’s arranged for Chummy to take on some extra shifts, so they’re at least part covered. Julienne, who’s showing her the ropes, mentions that the gait assessment clinic is going to be coming to the community centre, but Bernadette shuts the conversation right down.
Things are a bit chaotic chez Noakes. Noakes’s uniform is still wet, the baby’s crying, Chummy’s desperately trying to steam dry said uniform, and her husband’s getting a tad snippy.
A new reverend, who’s both young and very cute (same one from the prison?) is moving in across the street from Newnottus.
Inside, the girls talk about the upcoming jubilee. Trixie thinks they should make it a casino night, because apparently she’s never met Evangelina before. Winifred mentions she’s trying to track down Evangelina’s family but having little luck there, so Chummy suggests she reach out to the curate of Evangelina’s home parish.
At lunch, Bernadette announces that she’s engaged a new midwife from The London who’ll be joining them shortly and will stay on after Jenny gets back. Trixie notices that someone’s stepped in dog mess and it turns out it’s Evangelina. She stomps off to clean up.
After a little while, Bernadette finds her scrubbing the shoes in the dispensary. Evangelina warns her to stand back, because there’s all kinds spraying everywhere. Then, maybe you shouldn’t be doing this in the room where you keep and sterilize your tools and equipment, Evangelina! Bernadette notes that Evangelina’s shoes are in a really sorry state, but Evangelina won’t hear of them being replaced. Bernadette prepares to send them to be mended and tells Evangelina to find something in the second-hand clothes box. Evangelina goes through a few pairs before finding some plimsolls that work perfectly.
The St Gideon’s crowd is getting ready for their party. Sally helps a friend with her makeup. Cynthia’s there with the girl guides, serving up punch and smiling at the happy dancers. Jacob’s DJ’ing. The lady in charge asks him to put on a slow song to calm everyone down and he readily obliges, settling back to smile fondly at Sally as she sways to the music. One of the girl guides comments to Cynthia that she feels sorry for the St Gideon’s kids, but Cynthia says she doesn’t.
Noakes returns home just as Chummy’s leaving for work. He gets annoyed, because she’s only supposed to be working part time, but she reminds him that babies aren’t a part-time business. ‘No, they aren’t,’ he says, not quite quietly enough. Poor Chummy looks like she wants to cry.
The nurse arriving from The London is none other than Patsy, the young woman who befriended Jenny last season. This episode’s full of callbacks, isn’t it? She finds MJ running a dustcloth over the banister and MJ greets her with the usual slightly addled but exuberant confusion. Patsy tells her she should probably put a spot of polish on that dustcloth and goes on her way.
By the time Evangelina and Trixie show up, presumably after a birth, Patsy’s changed into her uniform and scrubbed down the whole dispensary because she thought she caught a whiff of dog dirt. She also cleaned and packed up two sets of instruments and replenished the dressings. Trixie’s slightly in love. Evangelina, of course, needs to assert herself by finding fault, so she scolds Patsy for wearing her nurse’s hat indoors. Patsy says she wanted to make sure it stayed on during vigorous activity. I think I kind of love her too.
That night, the girls are relaxing in Trixie’s and Jenny’s room. Trixie’s working out by twirling a hula hoop to shape the waistline, and Patsy’s doling out scotch she smuggled in. Good girl. While the girls party, someone starts knocking on the front door. Evangelina goes to check who it is and kind of cringes.
Mrs Harper, Sally’s mother, arrives for a visit with her daughter and is told she’s a bit under the weather. She goes to Sally’s room and asks to see where it hurts. Sally shows her belly and her mother kind of freaks out a little.
Cut to her dragging Sally down the hallway. The lady in charge, Miss Molynaux, I think, intercepts them and asks what’s up, and Mrs Harper angrily says she’s taking her daughter home. Sally insists that this is her home, but Mrs H won’t hear of it. She bundles Sally out the door.
The midwives meet with Winifred in the kitchen to admire a lemon meringue pie that’s been dropped off for a raffle and discuss the menu for the jubilee party, which is pretty much all food we know Evangelina will never eat. Well done, ladies, you’ve officially made this party all about you. Trixie shows off a dessert she wants to make, called a banana coronet. ‘It looks a bit like Stonehenge, only made of penises,’ Patsy notes. HA! I really do love her. Let’s definitely keep her on permanently. Chummy asks if the curate of the parish has come back with any family members. Apparently there’s only one, Evangelina’s youngest brother, who’s with the merchant navy. They’ve sent a letter along, so hopefully he’ll get it.
The doorbell rings and Chummy and Cynthia answer it to find Mrs H and Sally on the doorstep. Mrs H tells them she thinks her daughter’s pregnant, which floors both midwives. It’s pretty rare for people with Down Syndrome to reproduce—only about 15-30% of women with it are even fertile. They usher mother and daughter in and check Sally out. She is, in fact, pregnant. Chummy guesses she’s six and a half months along. Holy crap, how’d they miss that at the home? You do have a noticeable bump at that point.
Chummy brings the shocked mother some tea and Mrs H says she didn’t ever want to send her daughter away, but they thought she’d be safer at St Gideon’s. They’re at Turner’s surgery, so Sally can get a prescription for antibiotics, because apparently she’s got a UTI.
Once Sally’s been ushered out, Turner gets on the phone to Mrs M to give her what-for for apparently not noticing or preventing a pregnancy in a teen with ‘Mongolism’ and also totally failing to get her infection diagnosed and treated. Seriously, do they not have a doctor attached to St Gideon’s? Or a nurse at least? Mrs M foolishly tries to get some of her own back by tartly informing Turner that they don’t call it ‘Mongolism’ anymore. Lady, now is not the time to hide behind being PC, mmmkay? You have screwed up on an epicscale here. Turner reminds this woman that a girl has been molested under her care and she’d better find out who the culprit is.
Chummy and Noakes are having a candlelit dinner together and discussing the Sally Harper situation. Noakes tells her that it’s actually a criminal act to have intercourse with someone with a mental defect. They switch the conversation to something less upsetting, as Noakes takes his wife’s hand and suggests they snuggle up on the sofa and listen to the radio. Chummy regretfully says that she has a date with the laundry machine that night.
Sister MJ screams for help, bringing Trixie and Evangelina running into the kitchen. MJ reports that someone broke in—there’s a broken windowpane in the back door and the pie is gone. Evangelina wastes no time blaming MJ for staging the whole thing so she could eat the pie herself, but MJ says she doesn’t eat citrus. Bernadette tries to mediate and says they’ll just ask for another pie to be made. Noakes interrupts to ask if a midwife is available to accompany him to the Harpers’ so he can get a statement from Sally.
Cynthia goes with him and he gently tries to get some information out of the girl. Her mother sits anxiously nearby, and her father quietly seethes in an armchair, finally demanding to know when the man that did this will be brought in. He goes on to angrily say that, if his daughter were normal, he could force the guy to marry her, but she can’t get married. Sally bursts out that she is normal, at St Gideon’s. Cynthia calms her down and takes her to her room. Noakes tells Mr H that there’s not much they can do if she won’t make a statement. In Sally’s room, Cynthia quietly explains that fathers just get upset when their daughters get hurt. Sally says that nobody hurt her, that she had a boyfriend at St Gideon’s.
Mrs H takes Sally to the antenatal clinic. Some of the other ladies stare and gossip amongst themselves as she goes in to be examined by Turner, who tells Mrs H they’ll have to monitor Sally very carefully, because pregnancy’s fairly dangerous in this situation. He says they’ll admit Sally to the maternity ward at the first sign of labour, and then switch her to the hospital. Sally doesn’t want to go to the hospital, she wants to go back to St Gideon’s.
Later, Turner tells Cynthia and Trixie he’s having trouble finding any literature on this particular subject, and he thinks an early birth is likely. Trixie suggests they just continue as normal and hope she carries to term, a hope that Cynthia seconds, because it’ll give them time to prepare the girl for what’s about to happen to her. Turner agrees to keep monitoring her and not to send her to the London if they don’t have to.
Back at Newnottus, Winifred finds the pie dish in the garden and, when reporting the solved mystery, mentions the upcoming party to Evangelina. Evangelina goes right to Bernadette and tells her in no uncertain terms that there will be no party for her whatsoever.
Patsy gets off the phone with the cobbler, who’s got a quote for fixing Evangelina’s shoes. Evangelina says they don’t need to be fixed, because she’s got her plimsolls.
Cynthia goes to St Gideon’s so she can collect Sally’s things. Jacob listens in as Cynthia discusses Sally’s case with Molyneaux. As Cynthia leaves, he sneaks into the office and gets Sally’s address from the rolodex.
He gets on the bus and manages to get himself there, with the help of a bus conductor and one of Sally’s neighbours. Chummy and Cynthia are at the Harpers’, giving Sally a checkup when Jacob arrives, asking to see his girlfriend. Mrs Harper looks shocked, but Sally hears him and comes running out to hug him and tells him she didn’t tell anyone anything.
Back inside, Chummy serves up some tea while Mrs H vents her spleen all over the place over this situation. Jacob asks when Mr Harper comes home, because he wants to ask to marry Sally. Mrs H asks him how that would work, exactly, since he lives in a home and has no discernable method of making a living. Chummy urges Mrs H to calm down and Jacob says he just wanted to see that Sally’s well taken care of.
Cynthia takes Jacob back to Newnottus and leaves him in Trixie’s hands while Cynthia asks the new reverend, Herewood, if he can give Jacob a lift back to St Gideon’s. Trixie settles him in the kitchen and serves up tea and scones, chattering about food that seems to be going missing. Jacob looks down at his teacup and admits he needs help with it. Trixie sits right down and holds the cup for him so he can sip. Curate Cutie shows up and watches from a doorway for a while as Trixie patiently helps Jacob and talks to him about tea. He finally politely interrupts and Trixie tells him he’ll have to wait a bit, because Jacob’s still having his tea.
Back at the Harpers’, Chummy sits down with Mrs H, who asks what’ll happen to the baby. Chummy says it depends on whether or not the baby’s born with Down’s. Mrs H tells her she hates the term ‘Mongol’, which she associates with some foreign tribe, not with her daughter. She wonders if she didn’t love her daughter enough, and if that’s why Sally turned to Jacob.
Curate Cutie opens the car door for Jacob, who pauses for a bit to watch Timothy Turner playing with some other kids nearby.
Chummy returns home that evening and immediately takes baby Freddie out of his crib so she can cuddle and kiss him. It’s really sweet, and I feel the need to say two things here: one, the casting of that baby is bang on, because he looks EXACTLY like Noakes. I actually sort of wonder if it’s the actor’s actual child. Two: the little PJs they have baby Freddie in are totally adorable.
Noakes walks his beat and sees one of the nuns fleeing through the streets. Thinking it’s MJ, he pursues, but it’s Evangelina, bringing some pilfered food to her youngest brother, Vincent, whom she has stashed away in kind of a rathole. Now we know where all the food’s been going, it strikes me as kind of shitty that she so vociferously accused Sister MJ of having stolen that pie. Vincent’s apparently a major alcoholic and isn’t very well. She tends to him and tells Noakes she’s tried to turn her back, but she just couldn’t. He disappeared for a while, but then got the letter about the jubilee and came back. And she can’t turn him away, because he’s the first baby that she saw being born and who set her on the path toward becoming a midwife. Vincent tells her she sees the good in everything, and that’s her curse. ‘And you don’t, and that’s yours,’ she returns.
The next morning, Chummy catches the girls up on what’s been going on. Trixie figures this is why she didn’t want the shoes mended, because she felt so guilty about stealing from them in the first place. Chummy thinks the whole situation is terribly heartbreaking. At prayers, Evangelina can’t bring herself to join in, and Sister MJ looks on in concern. Chummy comes in to tell Cynthia, who’s at the back, that Sally’s gone into labour.
Sally’s in the maternity home, screaming in pain and refusing to try the gas and air. Chummy coaches her through some breathing and Sally admits she’s scared and wants to go home. Her parents are waiting outside, listening to her cries. Mrs H says they doubt the baby will live, because it’s coming too early. Mr H can hardly stand to hear his daughter in pain. Mrs H agrees and goes into the birthing room and takes her daughter’s hand. Sally says she doesn’t want a baby and her mother soothingly tells her not to worry, gently stroking her forehead. Cynthia delivers the baby and hands it off to Chummy, who takes it behind a screen. There’s no cry. Chummy cradles the baby for a moment, and then shakes her head at Cynthia, who silently relays the message to Mrs Harper. Behind the screen, Chummy takes out the cross she wears around her neck and begins to pray. If this were a lesser show, the baby would miraculously start crying about now, but CtM has proven numerous times in the past that it’s not about to pull its punches, and it’s not pulling them now. Sally looks up at her mother and asks if she can go home now, and it’s totally heartbreaking.
Curate Cutie shows up at St Gideon’s and tells Jacob they need to have a chat about Sally and the baby.
Afterward, he goes to meet with Molynaux, who says that Sally will be welcomed back to St Gideon’s if her parents choose to have her returned. Furthermore, Jacob’s going to be removed to an all-male institution elsewhere. Curate Cutie argues for Jacob to stay, though I have to admit, I don’t know that that’s a good idea. Unless he and Sally are kept forcibly apart, what’s to stop this from happening again? And it seems like it was pretty traumatic for Sally once. Molynaux, who seems regretful of this whole situation, says the board has made this decision. Curate Cutie asks if they’ve asked Jacob what he wants and she sighs that she wishes she could be like him, all young and optimistic. This decision’s been made.
Bernadette finds Evangelina and tells her Turner’s arranged for a bed at a local mental hospital for her brother. Evangelina smirks that he’ll run rings around the psychiatrists there. Bernadette says she knows how much Evangelina cares for him and Evangelina observes that we can’t choose where we love. She then reveals that she knows about Bernadette’s infertility and reminds her that she already has a child: Timothy. Bernadette confesses that she’s afraid of loving him too much and Evangelina says there’s no such thing.
Molynaux has apparently broken the news to Jacob that he’s being sent to another home, all the way up in Ayrshire. Wow, they’re being really thorough about this. Jacob refuses to go, but it’s not up to him. She urges him to accept this with grace, because it’ll make it bearable. ‘For who? For you?’ he says. This young man is really knocking it out of the park, I have to say.
Bernadette takes Tim to the gait clinic, where his braces are removed so he can try walking with a pair of walking sticks.
Sally packs her bags, presumably for her return to St Gideon’s.
Jacob gets into the clothing closet at St Gideon’s and pilfers Trixie’s jumper.
Turner arrives at the gait clinic just in time to see Tim take two stumbling steps unaided.
And poor Sally arrives at St Gideon’s just in time to see Jacob get bundled into a car and driven away. Oof, if she wasn’t traumatised before, she probably will be now.
It’s Evangelina’s jubilee day and all she’s expecting is a quiet tea in the parlour. She’s summoned to the door and finds half of Poplar out there, applauding her. She’s overwhelmed as the other nuns (including Julienne) escort her to a chair set beneath an arbor of flowers and leaves. She’s seated and gets her first present: a new pair of shoes. Heh. A young woman comes over with a little posy of flowers and thanks Evangelina for having delivered both her and her baby. Others repeat the ritual, including Tim Turner, all of Evangelina’s babies thanking her and giving her flowers and gifts. It’s totally sweet.
At St Gideon’s, Sally finds a parcel on her bed and opens it to find Trixie’s cardigan and a note: Love, from Jacob. Excuse me while I tear up heavily.
The last person to greet Evangelina is Vincent, who hands her some flowers and says ‘well done, sister.’ ‘Well done, you,’ she tells him, before stepping down off her throne so they can get the party started.
This, my friends, was a ballsy episode, and I’d say it was probably one of the all-time bests this show has ever done. They dealt with some really delicate issues in a sensitive way that made it clear that nothing here was a black-or-white situation. The Evangelina subplot was a bit weak compared with what was happening with Sally and Jacob, but I’ll readily forgive them that. The two actors playing Sally and Jacob did amazing jobs—their relationship was tender and believable, their pain palpable, and their desire for dignity both poignant and striking. The fact that the whole story wasn’t tied up in a neat bow at the end was also a particular strength of this episode. I’ve complained numerous times in the past that the various plots often concluded in a simplistic manner. That obviously wasn’t the case here, and I applaud the show for not being afraid to go dark and not give everyone a happy ending.
Also great: Patsy. She’s made of awesome. Like a younger, less judgmental Evangelina. If they kept her and ditched Jenny (yes, I know, it’ll never happen), I’d be perfectly happy, because to be honest, I feel like Jessica Raine is really phoning it in these days and I didn’t miss her in this episode at all.