Call the Midwife: Not Right in the Head

Call the Midwife title cardPreviously on Call the Midwife: Jenny dumped Jimmy for not being her married lover, and Chummy started dating Constable Noakes, adorably.

So, you know how you find yourself in this sort of dead period, so you pick up something to fill the time until other things start back up again, and then about 15 things start up and you totally neglect that other thing you were doing earlier, even if you really enjoyed it? That’s me and this show. I started recapping it to fill the time before the fall costume drama season got started, and then it started and suddenly I was swamped in shows and I completely neglected to recap the finale of this one. And I only just realized that, so I’m really sorry. Here it is.

Jenny VOs that all newborns are beautiful, which is not a sentiment I completely agree with. I’ve always found newborns to be on the ugly side, at least at first (not babies, though. They’re adorable). I’m not a parent yet, so I’m sure I’ll feel differently someday. We move from Jenny sponging off a newborn to Sister MJ, standing by the water in her nightgown, looking out. Jenny’s VO continues that she’s always found beauty in old age, as well as youth.

Back at Nonnatus, the nuns are at prayer, and MJ’s absence is noted.

Elsewhere, Jenny returns as the phone rings. Trixie answers, gets Noakes, and immediately starts teasing him abut his giiiiirlfriend, because she’s apparently 14 years old. He’s not in a joking mood and tells her he found something out on his beat and he’d like to speak to Sister Julienne. Trixie sobers up and tells him Julienne’s away, so Bernadette’s in charge. The thing he found is Sister MJ, of course, who grabs a poster off the wall and walks off as Noakes drops the phone and chases after her. Trixie and Jenny exchange alarmed looks.

Noakes drives MJ home and everyone rushes out to meet her and bring her inside. Bernadette dispatches Cynthia for tea but MJ’s already had tea, and it was lovely, though the blanket she’s draped in does not meet with her approval. Bernadette thanks Noakes for finding MJ, as MJ stumbles going up the stairs and falls flat on her face.

Inside, MJ is in bed while Evangelina and Jenny tend to her feet. Evangelina notes that MJ’s breathing doesn’t sound too good, so Jenny goes to ring for the doctor.

The doctor’s aghast that she was able to go out dressed as she was and Bernadette explains that they can’t lock her in her room, because that wouldn’t be right. But letting her wander the neighbourhood all addled, catching her death of cold, that’s fine. Bernadette’s not sure if MJ’s got dementia or if she’s just ‘willfully eccentric.’ Um, ok, so if she’s willfully eccentric, she can go about killing herself? Ok, fine, but maybe it’s time you got a real diagnosis, then. Surely they could diagnose dementia in the 50’s. And to be honest, I think that getting up in the middle of the night to wander around the East End of London in your bare feet and nightgown goes a bit beyond just eccentricity. That’s kinda crazy.

Anyway, MJ has pneumonia, and considering her age, it might not end well, so Doc suggests sending for her family. Bernadette explains that MJ’s been estranged from her family for years, and another nun, Mother Jesu Emmanuel, is pretty much her next of kin.

Sister MJ, of course, is turning out to be a lousy patient. Evangelina is trying to administer penicillin, but MJ won’t have it. Later, Evangelina grouses to Bernadette about it and says that Jesu is going to be pissed off when she hears about MJ’s refusal to take her medicine. Bernadette defeatedly says that Mother Jesu’s coming to say goodbye, but Evangelina’s made of much sterner stuff than Bernadette and she won’t have anyone dying on her watch.

Jesu shows up and sits beside MJ, telling her she’s ill and needs her drugs. MJ admits she misses her mum, which she thinks is cruel at this point in her life, because her mother made her fairly miserable. Jesu says all this can be remedied. So, MJ agrees to take her penicillin, administered by Jenny. Everyone takes turns caring for MJ, and eventually she’s back up and about.

Annnnd Julienne’s back too, so some time has passed. She hands Chummy a letter and observes that MJ’s up. MJ happily chatters about planets being in alignment and everyone now being exactly where they should be. Chummy opens her letter and notes that it’s from her mother, who’s on her way to London and wants a visit at Nonnatus. Julienne seems chipper about the possibility and promises to roll out the red carpet for her ladyship.

As the girls set up the clinic, Trixie wonders why Chummy doesn’t meet her mum in the West End so she can go to Fortnum’s. Cynthia figures Mum knows about Noakes and wants to inspect him. Chummy admits to having added a PS to her last letter, telling mums she’s walking out with a man in uniform. Oh, dear, mums is going to be expecting a lieutenant or something, isn’t she? Chummy remembers to hand over a letter that came for Jenny, and Trixie, being nosey, notes Jenny’s not too delighted expression as she leaves to open it in privacy. It’s from her married boyfriend, of course, whose whining a bit about her long silence and asking her to see him. He extends the invitation after he reminds her that their affair could have had long-ranging heartbreaking consequences for lots of people, not just for them, so I’m inclined to think that this guy’s kind of an asshole. Hey, you know how us getting together could have absolutely crushed several people and ruined their lives? How about we get together again?

Clinic. Jenny calls up a very heavily pregnant woman named Catherine, who admits her back’s been killing her. Jenny gently advises flat shoes instead of the pink heels she’s got on, but Cate insists that the shoes were the first thing her fella noticed about her. I kind of doubt that. Catherine’s a newcomer to the neighbourhood. Her guy’s not so great about writing, so she thought she’d just pop on up and give him a surprise. Oh, I’ll bet she gave him one hell of a surprise. Except he wasn’t there. She figures he’s away at sea and just made herself at home at his place. In case anyone’s wondering, they’re not married. I hope he at least knows she’s pregnant, otherwise he might die on the spot of a heart attack when he does return. Jenny starts running through the procedures, including due dates. Cate says she’s exactly seven months two weeks. Jenny says she looks like she’s a bit further on, but Cate insists she met Billy on her birthday, and that’s when this all happened. Um…yeah.

There’s some ruckus outside and Trixie fetches Jenny to help with a fainter. While Jenny’s tending to her, Cate up and leaves.

Sister MJ’s wandering around a market nearby, picking up things like ribbons from the stalls and sticking them in her pocket. A woman at a fruit stall greets her and says she’s glad to see she’s feeling better. She offers up some fruit on the house and MJ picks up some pears and asks her to deliver them to Nonnatus. The woman looks a tiny bit put out, which I can’t blame her for. MJ’s got two hands and a pair of apparently working legs, doesn’t she?

Chummy and Noakes pick up lunch from a stall and are completely adorable together. He’s excited about meeting her mum, though Chummy’s not. Not because she’s ashamed of him or anything, but clearly because her mother terrifies her. He firmly tells her that he loves her and he wants to meet her mother. She blushes and says he’s never said that and he volleys back that it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been thinking it. These two are totally one of my favourite couples ever.

Cate returns to the flat, stopping to fix her hair before climbing the stairs.

Chummy’s trying to get ready for mum, sort of freaking out in the kitchen while Fred gets underfoot. Cynthia offers to take over and tells Chummy to go sit with Noakes, who’s just arrived. The bell rings, Chummy steels herself, and goes to answer it. On the doorstep is…Aunt Agatha, basically. The woman’s completely frigid, barely able to scrape up a smile for her own daughter as she sails past her.

Commence the Uncomfortable Tea Scene. Julienne tries to make small talk, but this woman’s about as pleasant as a porcupine. And, just as I thought, she was under the impression Noakes was in the forces. I’ve never heard anyone coat the words ‘police constable’ with so much distain before. How the hell did Chummy turn out as well as she did, under this woman’s tutelage? Cynthia looks horrified, and Julienne tries to save things, but to no avail.

After tea, Mommie Dearest heads to Chummy’s room to dump on her wardrobe, her job, and her life in general. She says she’d rather Chummy be a missionary than work amongst such people and walk out with ‘a man like that’, because at least then their friends would be understanding. And here we have it, the real problem: whatever will we say to our snotty asshole friends if our daughter works with poor people and hooks up with a policeman? The horror! We’ll be banned from the yacht club for life! What a crazy bitch.

And, horribly, it works. Chummy walks Noakes to the door, looking deflated. In a roundabout way, he tells her he wants to marry her, but she, near tears, tells him she doesn’t want to hear him say it, because it’ll make her uncomfortable. She goes on to say that she’s hardly ever been comfortable anywhere in her life, and when she has, it’s been with him. She starts to cry, telling him how happy she’s been and how she finally felt like she was in her proper place, but suddenly she doesn’t feel that way anymore. So she breaks up with him, and he looks crushed. She turns and runs back inside. I commence HATING her mother with a passion.

Trixie delivers the news to the other girls and Cynthia tells them how horrible the tea party was. Jenny says a little snottily that some people do care what their parents think and Cynthia says she doesn’t mind her caring, she minds seeing her cowed and scared away from something that makes her happy. Jenny gets that look on her face that she always gets when something hits home and once again becomes all about her.

Letter in hand, she goes to the telephone, checks to see if anyone else is about, closes the door, and dials Gerald the married man’s number. Of course, his wife answers, so Jenny claims to have misdialed and quickly hangs up.

Sister MJ is now perusing a silver stall. She picks up a spoon and pockets it, observed by the stallkeeper, who tells her to put it back. She claims not to know what he’s talking about and another shopkeeper chimes in that she’s known to go about stealing things. Hasn’t anyone mentioned this, say, to the police? The silver guy is a bit rude, but he finds the spoon on her and she applauds his slight of hand delightedly, clearly quite out of her head. She takes the spoon and wanders off, and the stallkeeper finally goes to call the police.

Noakes and another policeman report to Julienne that this was not an isolated incident. I have to wonder at the nuns for not keeping an eye on MJ in the first place. I know they’re all busy, but she’s already known to go wandering off and has been acting kind of crazy lately, so why wouldn’t they be watching her more closely? Aren’t they at all worried that she’s tottering about on her own for hours at a time? As a result of their carelessness, a whole slew of shopkeepers have joined together to make a complaint. Julienne agrees that this is a serious accusation and they may go search her room as long as MJ’s agreeable. She asks MJ if there’s anything she wants to say, and MJ’s response is, ‘Poo to you.’ Yes, clearly the actions of a right-thinking adult.

A little later, the police leave with a whole box of stolen nonsense. Julienne reads the list aloud to the others and Fred says it’s her age and she doesn’t know what she’s doing. All the more reason she should be watched, people! Make Fred do it, he never seems to have anything else to do. Evangeline thinks MJ’s as wily as ever, which seems a bit sinister. Doesn’t matter, though. MJ is going to court and Doctor Turner will have to testify for her mental faculties.

MJ wanders about, trailed by Jenny, so at least they finally seem to be watching her. Chummy, meanwhile, listens to the nuns singing their masses and cries. Jenny VOs that they all seem a bit out of sorts.

Cate wanders about her awful little flat and tells the baby to chill out and stop kicking.

The phone rings at Nonnatus and Jenny picks up, which is lucky, because it’s Gerald. I can’t bring myself to give a crap about this whole plotline, so I’m going to rush it a bit. He knows she telephoned and calls her his darling girl, Jenny says she shouldn’t have, since he’s still married. He tells her he’s always going to be still married. Asshole! He asks her to write if she still wants to see him and she says she will. Julienne wanders by at that moment to invite her to join them for handicrafts and she slams the phone down.

Jenny goes up to fetch MJ, who starts talking total crazy, and then falls to pieces when she realizes she’s not making much sense. Jenny goes to fetch her a handkerchief from the bureau, and in doing so finds a stash of rather valuable looking jewelry. Uh oh. MJ yells at Jenny to stop going through her things, but Jenny tells her these aren’t her things, and this makes things a whole lot worse for her, because these are valuable, whereas the other things were just cheap rubbish. MJ wonders aloud why she does it: is the devil tempting her, or is she really ill? I think if you genuinely believe the devil’s making you do it, that’s a sign that you’re pretty ill. She wonders what she’ll do next and starts to cry again. Jenny closes the door and goes to comfort her.

At the clinic, Jenny weighs a baby.

Later, she goes to MJ’s room and opens the drawer where the jewels were, but they’re gone. She admits to the girls later that she had been hoping to hide them to protect MJ, but she must be moving things around. They’re playing Monopoly, and Trixie ends up in jail. She jokes that she’s there with MJ, because she’s turned pretty heartless, but Jenny tells her this isn’t funny, because these were seriously valuable things. Jenny says she just cares about MJ and Trixie says they all care about her, and maybe Jenny should just keep her trap shut about all this. Jenny, who, just a few moments ago, was talking about hiding stolen goods for someone, is shocked at the idea of lying, because God forbid her character make sense from one minute to the next.

At crafts time, the nuns talk about how sad Noakes looks these days. MJ seems to be having trouble remembering how to knit. Julienne suggests they focus on their handicrafts, so Evangeline goes back to stuffing her rather racist (though, sadly, period-appropriate) dolls and notes that the crotch of one needs mending. She asks MJ for some wool from her knitting bag, and when MJ won’t hand it over, she grabs the bag and ends up spilling out the hidden jewelry. Busted. MJ claims not to know where they came from and Julienne just looks tired.

Back the police come, to collect the evidence. Noakes starts up the car and sees Chummy cycling up to Nonnatus. She can’t even look at him.

Julienne has apparently gotten wind of Jenny’s knowledge of the jewels and tells her she could have ruined her career or faced charges. She refuses to hear Jenny’s excuses.

Chummy finds solace in the chapel, where Jenny joins her. Jenny talks about how she admires MJ, but she’s lonely. Chummy observes that it’s a lonely life, or maybe just a peaceful one, with everything all mapped out for you. Jenny asks Chummy if she’s thinking of taking holy orders, and Chummy admits that it does seem like a solution. Jenny tells her that it’s not a solution, it’s a hiding place. And she should know, because she came her to hide from a love affair, but it didn’t work at all. And just like that, it’s all about Jenny again. What a self-centred little cow she is. She starts to cry and Chummy hands over a ‘magic hankie’, though she admits it hasn’t been working lately. Jenny tells Chummy she can have Noakes, and that there’s nobody standing in her way. Yes, there is, Jenny. As you said yourself, some people care about what their parents think and say.

MJ’s in the dock at her trial. Doc Turner’s up first in the witness box. It takes all of five seconds for MJ to disrupt things and basically start making the defense’s case for them, prattling about pneumonia and how the doctor wouldn’t have prescribed it if she was crazy. She doesn’t even know who her barrister is. The poor man keeps trying to question the doctor, who finally manages to say that MJ doesn’t understand the charges against her. She speaks up again, annoying the shopkeepers who are all assembled to give evidence, and Julienne gently tells her to let the barrister speak for her. MJ says none should presume to speak for another and all judgment comes from God. The judge asks if she understand the charges brought against her and she says she does. He adjourns the court until the morning, probably already in need of a drink.

That evening, at Nonnatus, MJ, in her bare feet and nightgown, comes into the kitchen and tells Jenny and Evangeline that she remembers where the jewels came from and they need to speak with Mother Jesu.

Jenny hurries to the phone, but it’s ringing, and Chummy, who’s on call, picks up. It’s Cate, who’s in labour and doesn’t know what to do. Through her pains, she manages to gasp out the address. Chummy rushes off and Jenny starts dialing Mother Jesu.

Cathy’s having a rough time of it. She can’t even get back up the stairs.

Jenny can’t get through to Mother Jesu, which means someone’s going to have to drive up to Chichester and fetch her. Oh, but where will they get a car?

On her way to Cathy’s, Chummy’s delivery pack flies off her bike and gets run over by a car.

Speaking of cars, Jimmy’s shows up to pick up Jenny, because he’s always ready to be used by her. She’s sent off by the nuns with a thermos of coffee and advice to get Mother Jesu to the court by 9 am.

Chummy and Cathy finally make it up to her flat, which is a complete hellhole. No lights, no water, leaky roof, absolutely nothing for a baby. Chummy observes that they’re a bit unprepared, but no matter, it’ll be fine. Chummy talks about fetching an ambulance, but it seems this kid’s coming hard and fast, so there’s no time. Chummy gets to work and as the head emerges, Chummy says she guesses this one’s going to be a whopper. But then it’s born and is surprisingly dainty. Also: a boy. Cathy cuddles him and is surprised he’s so small, since his dad’s a big’un. Cathy suddenly starts feeling contractions again and Chummy realizes she’s having another one.

Mother Jesu’s place is all locked up, rather like Jenny, as Jimmy says. Jenny seems a bit hurt at being called out on how she jerked him around.

Baby two is another boy, and Chummy wraps him up in her cardigan, having completely run out of blankets. Cathy cuddles her kids, just as the last candle burns out. Chummy rushes outside to fetch her bike light, which won’t come off the bike, so she wheels the whole thing upstairs, where Cathy is in labour yet again. Chummy listens to her stomach and realizes we’ve got a triplets situation here. Cathy is not delighted by that, as you can imagine. Out it comes, and it’s yet another boy. Christ, three boys in one go. I think I’d kill myself. The only thing they can find to wrap him in is Chummy’s dress. She quickly strips and wraps the kid up while Cathy talks about how awesome her absentee boyfriend is and how much she loves her babies.

Morning comes, and when Jimmy wakes Jenny apologises for having hurt him. He tells her he’ll live.

Cathy and the babies finally get their ambulance, and Chummy, wearing her coat over her slip, goes to see Noakes at the police station. She turns herself in for criminal cowardice and says it’s time for her to be brave. He’s still hurt and tries to be a bit standoffish, but then she whispers that she’s practically naked under the coat, and seriously, what man can resist that? He cracks a smile, kisses her, and she says she loves him. Yay!

Back to the trial. Jenny rushes in with Mother Jesu and Jimmy, and Mother Jesu takes the stand. She explains that, when a nun takes holy orders, she hands over all her property. In their order, they only hold the property throughout a sister’s lifetime. In MJ’s case, the property was a legacy from her mother: the very jewelry they found in her room. By the way, the mother also had dementia. So let’s get this straight: dementia runs in MJ’s family, and she’s acting pretty crazy, even for her, and yet they still weren’t sure if she was just ‘eccentric’? These people are idiots. Mother Jesu handed the jewels back to her when she started talking about her mother, to help ease her mind. Unfortunately, her brain had gotten too frail for her to even recognize her own things. Jenny VO tells us that all charges were dropped.

Say what now? Ok, so she didn’t steal the jewelry, but she was still stealing regularly from those stalls. All those shopkeepers banded together to make a complaint—shouldn’t they get some compensation? These aren’t wealthy people; they’re probably pretty poor and just trying to make a living. I understand that she’s quite out of it, but come on. I hope the church is at least going to pay them back for what was stolen and keep an eye on this woman in the future.

Jenny, Jimmy, and all the nuns go climb into Jimmy’s car. Jenny thanks him, and then VOs that she couldn’t forget the man she loved, but she could refuse to see him. Yes, Jenny, that would be the best thing. She writes him a Dear John.

Cynthia answers the ringing phone and gets Chummy’s mum on the other end. Apparently mum has not only been informed of Chummy’s engagement, she’s fully reconciled herself to it which seems…odd, to say the least. She’s moved right on to Mother-of-the-Bride mode and has booked St. Margaret’s, Westminster for the wedding. Chummy says that’s not their plan, they’re getting married just up the road and have the reception at the parish hall next door. And the nuns will cater—sandwiches and trifle. Mum swallows her indignation and asks if she can at least take Chummy to Norman Hartnell for a wedding gown. Look, Norman Hartnell was great, but I’m having trouble imagining his rather fairy princess-like designs suiting Chummy. That’s no good for Chummy either, she just wants to get married in a suit. Chums, you know I love you, and I think your mother is a horrible person, but it does at least seem like she’s making an effort here, and I don’t think it would kill you to meet her at least a quarter of the way. Mum agrees to the suit, even though Chummy requests it be in the same awful fabric as her uniform, and says that’s fine as long as it’s white. Chummy can barely contain her glee as she informs her mother that she’s no longer entitled to wear white. Why, Chummy!

Cathy’s guy has apparently come home and was perfectly fine with finding his one night stand/maybe girlfriend with three babies in his flat, because now they’re all parading down the road, one big happy family. This seems a little fairytale for their ending, but I’ll go with it. It looks like the whole neighbourhood is turning out for Chummy’s and Noakes’s wedding. Bride and groom emerge from the church smiling happily, trailed by Chummy’s mum (guess her dad couldn’t be bothered to show?). She tosses her bouquet right at Trixie before getting in the car and driving off with her new husband.

Jenny VOs about all the things she’s discovered in the East End, including an actual purpose, and how she did it all for love.

So, that was Call the Midwife, series one. Overall, I liked it. I might have loved it, had it not been for one thing: Jenny. Man, I hated that character. I liked and was interested in everyone else, but she mostly seemed smug, priggish, judgmental, and obnoxious, right from the beginning. Her surprise at her surroundings made sense at the start, but then she kept being surprised by things long after she should have become accustomed to them. Wow, poor people with lots of kids? Shocking! Dirt and bugs? My God! Even Chummy wasn’t as put off by these things as she was, and we know all about Chummy’s posh background. Jenny mostly just seemed like a snot, and a self-centred one at that. Her romances were squibs, mostly just poorly developed, dull distractions from action I really cared about, and she was tiresome. Otherwise, though, good show. It might benefit from paring down the cast list a tad (Fred, for instance, seemed completely useless) but I’ll certainly tune in to the Christmas special, and probably for season 2 as well. We’ll see if things get better.



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