Previously on Call the Midwife: Chummy’s horrible, horrible mother turned up, acting as dreadful as ever and apparently suffering from cancer; Jenny briefly moved over to The London before realizing how much she missed being in Poplar.
Hi everybody. I know this recap is crazy late, but I think I have a pretty good excuse: I gave birth to little Anglophile Junior (or, Apprentice Anglophile, if you will) at the crack of dawn on Monday, which kind of put my recapping on hold. Babies don’t worship themselves, you know? But as he’s happily cozied up in his vibrating napper cradle, I think we can give this a go.
Jenny’s attending a birth. The mother, Norma, has had a boy and her mother’s proudly cradling him while Jenny examines the placenta. JVO talks about how, in birth, when all goes well, the room is full of joy and the pain is soon forgotten. Having gone through this process myself, I can categorically say that that is NOT universally true. I definitely remember how horrifically painful all of that was. Totally worth it, of course, but I can’t help but feel that natural childbirth is a bit overrated.
Anyway, seems all is not well with that placenta, and Norma’s now bleeding heavily. Jenny gives her an injection and sends the mother to call an ambulance. Looks like the rest of the placenta is delivered. Norma thanks Jenny.
A little later, Norma’s placed in an ambulance while Jenny prepares to head home. One of the neighbours tells her she’s got a bit of blood on her face. Jenny wipes it away and stares at herself in the compact mirror for a moment.
Chummy returns home, looking bummed, and tells Noakes that her mother’s discharged herself from the hospital and is apparently heading to some private hotel called Pinehurst Lodge.
Turner arrives home to Bernadette desperately trying to play the happy housewife, offering up a choice of puddings: apple Charlotte or some peaches and cream. Kind of douchily, he just flops onto the couch to watch TV and tells her to serve whatever. Tim, being the world’s most amazing kid, picks up on his dad’s dickish behavior and swiftly covers, telling him he should really go for the Charlotte, because Bernadette’s been working on it all afternoon. Turner rouses slightly and agrees to the Charlotte, and poor Bernadette just beams.
The Nonnatans are having Tom over for dinner and complimenting him on how well he’s fitting into the neighbourhood. He mentions a men’s club he’s started, where they discuss issues pertinent to men’s lives. At the next meeting, they’re covering pregnancy and birth. Evangeina scoffs, because heaven knows men shouldn’t be knowledgable about the process of bringing their children into the world. Ignorance is clearly preferable there. Tom was hoping to have some of the midwives come speak. Patsy will, along with Trixie.
Later, Evagelina rails against the notion of men knowing anything about birthin’ babies because that’s supposed to be a women’s only club. She goes on to say, a little randomly, that it’s really a time for a woman to be supported by her mother, although we’ve seen numerous examples of women on this show having their babies without their mothers present. She continues that there’s this amazing bond between mother and daughter, and Chummy bursts into tears and rushes out of the room. Wow, when did this show starts subscribing to the Selfridge School of Subtle Dialogue?
Sister MJ follows Chummy out to the garden and gently suggests she join the nuns at compline for some comfort. Chummy agrees and admits she has no idea what to think at the moment. Sister MJ understands all too well but says that, in chapel, one doesn’t need to think for oneself. Chummy asks MJ when her mother died and MJ shuts down a bit, saying that’s not of any consequence. But she looks terribly depressed throughout compline, which Chummy does, in fact, attend.
Later, Chummy cycles home and finds her adorable husband waiting with tea, a hot water bottle, and news of where her mother’s actually gone: a private nursing home, where her way is being paid by a charity that helps support ‘distressed gentlewomen’. Chummy’s horrified, because her mother doesn’t need charity, as she has family.
Fred arrives at Julienne’s office with Sister MJ, who’s a mess—hair all over the place, sobbing, practically incoherent, unaware of what day or year this is. He found her wandering like this out on the commercial road. She doesn’t know either Julienne or Fred. She starts talking about her mother, who used to call her stupid, and Julienne asks Fred to fetch said mother’s jewelry, which MJ brought to the convent when she joined. She places the pearl necklace in MJ’s hands and MJ examines them, remembering they were her mother’s as she runs a hand over them.
Chummy visits her mother, having brought along Lady C-B’s favourite robe, which Chummy has repaired (but not with silk thread, so we know she’s already struck out there). She gently recommends Lady C-B go to a hospital, where there’s some pain relief, but Lady C-B is clearly not on board, so Chummy turns her attention to producing a couple of pictures: one of little Freddie, and the other of her and Noakes on their wedding day. Lady C-B horribly says she can’t possibly set out the wedding picture, because Chummy’s not in white and Noakes is wearing a lounge suit. After all, there’s a baronet’s widow staying across the hall, so appearances must be maintained. At this point, Chummy’s clearly had her fill of her mother’s bullshit for the day, so she irritably snaps up the photos and gets out of there.
Cynthia’s trying to get MJ to eat lunch, but MJ pushes the plate away and says it’s no use, because she’s been reminded her mother is dead. She’s wearing all the jewelry, using the necklace as a bracelet. Cynthia compliments it and MJ explains that her mother’s and her relationship wasn’t great at any point, but MJ’s call to the religious life ruined it entirely. Nice.
Bernadette’s got the choir together for rehearsal, because they’re entering a choral competition. As they get ready to practice their Mozart, Tom, Turner, and a group of men barge into the community centre for the men’s group meeting. Bernadette tells them they can’t have the hall and sends them on their way. Off they go to Newnattus, where they find some guy standing at the door. They sweep him inside, only to discover he’s not actually a member of the men’s club but a Scotsman named Philip Worth who’s dropped by to get some milk of magnesia for his pregnant cousin. While he’s taken away to get it, Turner commences his ‘Conception for Dummies’ talk.
Trixie and Philip find Jenny in the dispensary and the two of them chat a bit so we can learn he’s in the barristers’ chambers at Lincoln’s Inn and that he’s originally from Edinburgh.
At the Turner home, Bernadette fusses over her husband before he goes out, while Timothy goes to fetch a letter that’s just arrived. Turner opens the letter and shows it to Bernadette. They’ve been accepted as adoptive parents by the Children’s Society, as the Society is sure they could offer a kid a happy home, and they’ve apparently decided to overlook Turner’s white lying. Bernadette’s initially overjoyed, but then wonders if they really do have a happy home, because things have obviously been tense. Turner leaves before addressing the matter.
Jenny’s attending a heavily pregnant young woman named Mrs Heckford who mentions her husband’s away at a post in Gibraltar for three weeks, but she has her cousin staying with her. Couple that fact with her Scottish accent and we can all guess who that cousin is. Jenny reassures her things look great and then checks out the modern art paintings on the walls. Those are the work of the cousin, who’s currently inspired by the music of Mussorgsky, whom Jenny loves. She also really likes the paintings.
Noakes goes to pay a visit to his mother-in-law and finds her screaming in pain. The woman who runs the place says she’s not equipped to deal with this and says Lady C-B really needs to be in hospital. He packs Lady C-B up in a cab and takes her away to the Noakes home. When Chummy arrives home, accompanied by Jenny, she’s surprised to find her mother there, on the sofa, being tended by Noakes. They call in Turner, who gives her something to presumably ease the pain and tells Jenny he wants the woman visited three times a day until a bed at The London comes free. She’s to be given morphine as needed. Lady C-B asks Turner how long she has and he admits it’s not long at all now. Weeks, possibly, but probably more like days. She chuckles about how afraid everyone is of calling this disease by its actual name and wonders why that is. Turner thinks it’s because it’s something that they all fear so much. Lady C-B doesn’t hold with fear, though.
That evening, Turner watches Bernadette doing some mending and remembers her sewing that baby’s nightdress. He asks what happened to it and she tells him briskly that she gave it to Julienne for someone else’s baby. He admits he should have told her about his breakdown, but he didn’t really know when to bring it up. He begs her to forgive him and she reassures him he did nothing wrong. Not true, really, Bernadette, but all right, your relationship. She thinks she was a bit wrong not to have been more sympathetic to him when he needed it. So, it looks like things are on the mend here.
Unfortunately, Sister MJ’s not doing any better. She paces, refuses to knit or wind wool, and just fingers the pearl necklace, then weeps, wishing she and her mother had made their peace sooner.
Chummy wakes in her sitting room to find her mother cuddling Freddie on the sofa. Aww. Lady C-B tells her daughter that she’s made a decision.
Jenny explains that decision to Julienne: Lady C-B wants homebased hospice care, and Jenny’s decided she wants to provide it, because she thinks everyone should have a chance for a good death. Julienne refuses, because Jenny’s a midwife and is supposed to bring life into the world, not help it depart. Jenny things that both are equally important, and she wants to try something new anyway. Julienne thinks the mothers and babies of the district would suffer if they lost a midwife and asks Jenny to take charge of some student midwives who will soon be visiting the district.
Cue musical montage of how hopelessly useless those three students are. They can’t figure out how to get their packs stashed on their bikes, one can barely even ride a bike, they look confused by urine samples, can’t weigh babies properly, and look entirely nauseated by a pelvic exam. Ladies, you are all in the wrong business. Seriously, what’re they so grossed out about? It’s not like there’s a bunch of gore. If they can’t manage to watch a woman getting a basic exam, how will they ever be able to attend an actual birth? Because that is pretty gross. Also, that was a completely pointless interlude.
Back at Newnattus, Jenny’s shocked to find an uncut Victoria sponge in the cake tin, which just goes to show how upset Sister MJ really is. According to Cynthia, it’s also because MJ’s at Chummy’s all the time now.
MJ, Chummy, and Patsy get the bedroom at the Noakes home ready for Lady C-B to inhabit. Patsy suggests Chummy change out of her nurse’s uniform but Chummy wants to cling to her armour. Noakes gently helps Lady C-B up the stairs.
Bernadette and Tim arrive home from choir practice, she all aglow over how awesome they are at their song and Tim clearly a bit bored with the whole business. Naturally, the letter waiting for her is news that the choir can’t do their chosen song, because someone else is already singing it. Damn you, East Ham!
Jenny’s back with Mrs H, giving her a checkup. Philip comes in and is introduced before offering coffee. Mrs H tells him Jenny likes his paintings.
Noakes is playing a card game called Strip Jack Naked with Lady C-B, who invites him to finally call her by her first name: Artemis.
Bernadette tears through records, looking for something else for the choir to sing at really short notice. Turner looks on fondly as she puts on May the Good Lord Bless and Keep You. He adorably starts slow-dancing her around the room.
Lady C-B is pretty out of it, talking about how she feels like the princess in the Princess and the Pea, with all her pillows under her. She reaches for Chummy’s hand, but Chummy pulls it away, almost instinctively, so Lady C-B recalls how she used to have a manicure every week at one posting, with Nivea cream sent over by diplomatic bag. She would like to have another one now, but Chummy says she shouldn’t bother with all that fuss and nonsense. She almost instantly looks a bit guilty at that, and Sister MJ seems concerned. Lady C-B wonders if she ever read The Princess and the Pea to Chummy, or sent it to her when she was away at school.
Sister MJ returns to Newnattus on a mission. Fred finds her tearing Trixie’s room apart, looking for a manicure set. Fred finds it on the bedside table and hands it over and is told he’s slow to see what’s right in front of him for his pains.
Bernadette’s meeting with Tom, begging him to help her swell the numbers of the choir, now they’re singing such a simple song. Of course, he agrees to help out.
Jenny’s back at Mrs H’s (and her name’s Jeanette), because the woman’s finally in labour. While Jeanette paces, Jenny helps her distract herself with crossword puzzles. Philip busies himself preparing toast just as another contraction comes.
Chummy can’t bring herself to do her mother’s nails, claiming there’s too much to do. Sister MJ says there’s nothing else to do, really, and Chummy admits that she can’t touch her mother’s hand unless it’s something nursing-related. MJ desperately tells Chummy that she and her mother didn’t touch enough, but she really regrets that now. Chummy looks tearfully down at the manicure set, then takes it upstairs and starts doing her mother’s nails. For perhaps the first time ever, Lady C-B looks down at her daughter’s handiwork with pride. At one point, she reaches out and runs her fingers through Chummy’s hair. Chummy notes that her mother’s never done that before, but Lady C-B says she has, when Chummy was really small.
Jeanette’s starting to despair that the baby’s never coming, because she’s been at this all night and is exhausted. See, this part was pretty surreal for me to watch (and yes, I was actually watching this while I myself was in labour), because I was experiencing just what this woman was: a very slow, very painful labour that left me thinking the baby was just never, ever going to arrive.
Time passes. Jenny helps Jeanette pace the sitting room, work through contractions, drink tea. And she looks really ungracefully bored the entire time. Nice work, Jenny.
Day breaks, and Sister MJ tells Chummy gently that her mother’s on her way out, and she needs to be a daughter now, not a nurse.
Jenny coaches Jeanette through a contraction, as Jeanette weeps that she can’t face another night like this (my words exactly, several times) and begs Jenny to tell her how much longer this will go on (again…) Philip pokes his head in and asks what he can do. Jenny tells him to telephone Newnattus for gas and air and a different midwife.
Chummy gently bathes her mother’s face.
Patsy and Evangelina arrive at Jeanette’s. While Patsy goes to Jeanette and tries to get her to eat something to get her blood sugar up, Evangelina kicks Philip out and scolds Jenny for neglecting to give Jeanette her enema. Apparently enemas are magical baby producers or something.
Philip offers to walk Jenny home, but she says she’s fine. He notices she’s upset and she admits she’s never crapped out like this. He again offers to walk her home, but she turns him down and says there’s somewhere she needs to go first.
She immediately reports to Chummy’s, makes some tea, and urges Chummy to put on her mother’s favourite robe. Chummy’s initially reluctant, but finally takes off her nurse’s uniform and puts it on over her slip before climbing into bed beside her mother and embracing her. And maybe it’s the hormone soup I’m currently swimming in or the fact that this is all really beautifully done, but I’m in absolute floods of tears right now. Excuse me, I need to go snuggle my son, and possibly my husband and the dog as well.
JVO kind of repeats her opening dialogue, replacing ‘death’ with ‘birth’ as Lady C-B dies.
And then we suddenly and jarringly skip over to Newnattus, where the choir is gathering to leave for their competition. Tim, who had to run home for the sheet music, arrives and tells Bernadette that the adoption agency called.
He and Bernadette go to fetch Turner, who’s carrying out the formalities at the Noakes’. Once he’s out the door, Bernadette hurriedly tells him the adoption agency has a baby girl for them. The mother, a teen, was meant to take her home, but at the last minute the girl’s parents decided against it. Even Tim understands how horrible that is. The family piles into the car and takes off.
The choir is now under the direction of Trixie and Tom, who try to wrangle the crowd.
Bernadette and Turner are directed to the baby’s cot at the hospital. Turner asks if she wants to go in alone at first, but she says she needs and wants him at her side. They approach the cot, but Bernadette can’t quite bring herself to go all the way to her. Turner goes, picks up the newborn, and carries her over to his wife. Oh, heavens, floods of tears again.
The choir performs. The Turners sign the paperwork. Chummy kisses her mother, who’s laid in a coffin in her and Noakes’s sitting room. Noakes follows her. I cry some more. Jenny goes to speak to Sister Julienne. The choir wins. On the way home, Trixie comments that it’s an amazing thought, the idea of two souls who have never met coming together, as the Turners have with the baby that day. Tom comments that that’s a deep thought for a Saturday night, and then he and Trixie kiss.
Jenny and Julienne find the girls and Evangelina in the dispensary and Jenny breaks the news that she’s given her notice, because she now wants to take up a position as a staff nurse at the Marie Curie Hospital. I know they were looking for a way to write Jessica Raine off the show, but this seems a tad clumsy. Her sudden interest in palliative care is really out of left field. I mean, just last week she was talking about how desperate she was to get back to midwifery in Poplar.
Jeanette sends Philip to deliver some flowers to Jenny, who thanks him and waves to Jeanette, who’s beaming at her from a little ways away, while cuddling the baby. Inside Newnattus, there’s a goodbye party underway for Jenny. Everyone hugs her, and the Turners worship their new baby. Julienne gives Bernadette back the baby dress she donated. JVO tells us that she eventually married Philip and had two daughters. As Jenny leaves Newnattus, she’s given a balloon-bedecked bicycle. She climbs on and cycles off, with Philip accompanying her, carrying her suitcase, with all the Newnattus extended family waving her off.
End season 3. I have to admit, I was surprised by the loss of Jenny, and also surprised by how much everyone panicked and wondered if the show can go on without her. Yes, yes it can. In fact, I think it might be somewhat improved. I have to admit (and I’ve never made a secret of this fact), I’ve never been much of a Jenny fan. I’ve found all the other characters far more compelling and more well rounded. As a main character, she was curiously blank. We never really learned anything about her. We know more about Sister Monica Joan’s relationship with her mother than we do about any aspect of Jenny’s life. Does she have family? Interests? Who knows? I’m actually looking forward to seeing where the show goes and how the other characters develop in the next series (which has already been confirmed), but maybe I’m in the minority here. What do you think, readers? Will the loss of Jenny ruin the show, or make it better than ever?