Previously on Call the Midwife: Barbara started getting chummy with Tom, and Nurse Crane was both determined to overhaul the Nonnatus organisational system and learn more about other cultures and languages.
JVO talks about how all the products coming through the London docks gave the locals a glimpse of what they could have, which made some envious and unhappy.
A young woman, Mrs Beckett, goes to the clinic and hears her blood pressure’s higher than is advisable. She’s clearly unhappy with pretty much her whole life. Barbara suggests some breathing exercises, which Mrs B scorns.
In the main clinic area, a woman’s giving a presentation about a brand of baby formula. Evangelina comes in and is outraged to see this. She loudly tells everyone, including the woman giving the presentation, that babies have the best: the breast. She says formula is nonsense. The presenter points out that women have a lot of reasons to want options, but Evangelina calls the woman a charlatan. Oh, right, Evangelina’s one of these assholes. Sorry, but I know so many people who struggled with breastfeeding and felt like total failures when they couldn’t make it work, that when I hear these sorts of ignorant evangelists spouting off about how everyone can do it and if you can’t manage it’s because you’re just not trying hard enough, and you’re damaging your baby with your laziness, I seriously just want to slap them.
Evangelina, as it turns out, is working with a mother-to-be named Connie, who’s having trouble because she has inverted nipples. Connie admits to being tempted by the formula but Evangelina pooh-poohs that.
The young midwives have lunch by the docks. Barbara’s concerned about Mrs B, because she’s clearly struggling but won’t confide in Barbara. Trixie says that Barbara’s the newest face, so it’s going to take time to build trust.
Mrs B has dinner with her husband, who seems sweet. She shows him a catalogue with prams in it, which kicks off an argument about how he’s not making much money because there’s not much work at the docks.
Crane has developed a new system to help them track their patients. Each nurse has her own coloured pin stuck into a map, so they can easily see who goes where. The other girls are unimpressed, though it seems a fairly decent idea. Crane adds that she’s starting Spanish lessons, since they have so many people from around the world settling in the neighbourhood and that’s the only foreign language class she could find.
Mrs B yells at her husband, Johnny, for snoozing half the day away instead of going to find work. Barbara comes in for a checkup and quickly notes the tension. Mrs B spies some tramps sitting around across the street and yells that a decent man doesn’t live on charity, he goes and finds work.
Johnny goes to the docks but misses getting any work. He’s not looking so good.
Barbara checks Mrs B out and the woman begins crying and admits she’s not sure they’re going to have a home for much longer. Barbara suggests they apply for National Assistance, but Mrs B says they won’t beg. She insists there’s work out there for men who want it, but Johnny doesn’t seem to care anymore.
Connie delivers a son. Evangelina is pleased with the young woman’s performance. Connie’s husband bursts in, unable to resist another moment. He’s permitted a look at his son and declares him perfect, kissing his wife sweetly.
Crane arrives for her Spanish class, which is led and attended by some very cool looking 60’s-era young people. As they get underway, a man closer to Crane’s age arrives and is greeted as Tommy by the rest of the group. We on the blog know him better as Mr Mason from Downton Abbey. He takes a seat beside Crane.
Back at Nonnatus, the girls relax with lemonade. Barbara’s writing a letter home, asking her dad for help with the National Assistance Board, for the Becketts. Trixie thinks that sounds rather unsentimental for a letter home, but it sounds like Barbara has a pretty chilly relationship with her dad, who tends to introduce her as ‘his parish assistant.’ That’s…strange.
Crane bids Tommy good night at the end of class and he asks to walk her home. She thanks him but points out her car. She offers him a ride and he says he’d miss the night air. He adds that he hopes to see her at the next class. She seems adorably tickled.
Johnny has gotten his wife that pram she wanted, because apparently he’s suddenly picking up shifts. Mrs B is all a-glow, happy and feeling like everything’s going to be all right.
Poor Connie’s really struggling with feeding the baby and begs Evangelina to let her try formula. Evangelina urges her to keep trying, telling her she can’t give up, because the first milk is super important and she doesn’t want her baby missing out on that, does she? Poor Connie shakes her head, clearly feeling trapped.
Barbara swings by a pub with some teething powders for the publican’s granddaughter. On her way out, she spots Johnny, just sitting at the table with an untouched pint. The publican makes it clear he’s been there for quite some time and Johnny begs Barbara not to say anything to his wife. She answers with a nod and close-lipped smile.
Evangelina returns to Nonnatus and Julienne asks how Connie’s baby is doing. Evangelina says he’s still having trouble with latching but it’ll be fine. Julienne suggests they move on to formula if things don’t improve in a day or so, but again, Evangelina won’t consider it.
Crane returns to her class, only to find out it’s been cancelled due to illness. Tommy suggests they grab a cup of tea and slice of cake. It’s worth noting, he also mentions that he ‘lost his wife’ several years ago.
On her way home, Barbara spots Tom cleaning up after feeding some of the tramps. He tells her he makes soup for them every night, because he thinks everyone deserves a hot meal. She admits she’s concerned about Mrs B, whose husband is lying to her about working. She doesn’t feel she can just stand by. Tom admiringly observes that she’s quite a warrior.
Crane and Tommy chat over their tea and cake. He urges her to travel to the Spanish coast, which is lovely. She claims that the Great North Road on a fine day, with a picnic, is just as nice.
Johnny returns home to his affectionate wife, who snuggles him and purrs that they’re back on track. She then starts talking about buying a cot for the baby, which is sort of a necessity.
Crane returns home, practically walking on air. This does not go unnoticed by MJ and Patsy, who are delighted to see it.
Mrs B goes to the docks to delivery Johnny’s lunch. She gets the owner, Mr Gibson, and asks where Johnny is. Gibson tells her Johnny’s not working there and hasn’t for some time. She starts to freak out and then collapse, and Gibson catches her and calls for someone to fetch one of the midwives.
Connie’s baby is losing weight, and poor Connie is panicking. Cynthia reassures her it’s not unusual for a baby to lose some weight after birth. She then gently asks if Connie’s still struggling with the feeding, telling her that feeding doesn’t always work out for everyone. But Evangelina’s clearly gotten to this girl in a bad way, and Connie starts manically parroting all the stuff about how milk is where the goodness is and where her baby will get the best start in life. Cynthia tells her that she’s available, if Connie needs more support.
Barbara returns to the pub and tells Johnny that his wife has collapsed at Mr Gibson’s. She’s ok, but he really needs to go home. He insists that he tried to get work, that he worked hard for Gibson but got tossed out.
Back at the Beckett home, Johnny tells his wife he just doesn’t have any energy. Mrs B tearfully accuses him of having pawned his docker’s hook and using the money to buy the pram. He kind of needs that hook to work, so now they’re screwed. Barbara intervenes and tries to get Mrs B to calm down. Mrs B responds by kicking her husband out of the house, saying she can’t take care of two babies and he’s no good to her right now.
Barbara goes to Gibson and begs him to give Johnny some work. Gibson tells her he’s running a business and that Johnny had become a pretty terrible employee, constantly sleeping on the job. She reminds the man that his employees give him their lives and deserve some respect.
Crane approaches Patsy and Trixie and asks if they can borrow their gramophone and listen to a record of Spanish love songs she’s acquired. The girls readily agree. The three ladies chill in Patsy’s and Trixie’s room and listen to music. Patsy admires Crane for living life as she wants to, without anyone hassling her about boyfriends or anything like that. Crane says they should all live as they please, as long as no one gets hurt. She pauses, then asks the girls to give her a little makeover. Now you’re speaking their language, Crane!
She goes to her class and asks Tommy if he’d like to join her on a picnic on her upcoming half day off. He agrees on the condition he can get them tickets to the upcoming flamenco performance. It’s a pair of dates!
Connie’s husband rushes to Nonnatus and asks Cynthia to come see his wife, who’s in a bad way. Cynthia finds her holding the baby and sobbing that she’s a terrible mother and what sort of mother can’t feed her own baby? She moves her arm and Cynthia can see that the poor woman’s breast is actually bleeding. Jesus. Cynthia says they’re stopping this craziness right now. Connie’s already drunk the Kool-Ade and insists she has to keep trying. Cynthia then notices the baby’s seriously dehydrated and they really need to do something right now. Connie cries and cries. Cynthia tells her to stop beating herself up and focus on what her boy needs.
Apparently Gibson found a soft spot and gave Johnny a shift, but then Johnny collapsed, bleeding from the nose. Turner is summoned and orders up an ambulance.
Cynthia asks Evangelina for a word in private. As she goes, MJ bumps Crane’s chart, knocking off one of the pins, which she sticks back in at random.
Cynthia tells Evangelina that Connie can’t breastfeed. At all. She tells Evangelina about the poor woman bleeding and making herself a mess, all because Evangelina filled her head with ‘formula is evil’ nonsense. Evangelina offers to go set the woman straight, like that’s not going to be incredibly confusing right now. Cynthia says Connie refuses to give her baby formula now. Evangelina insists that’s not what she meant. Are you kidding me, Evangelina? That’s the only message you were giving that poor woman! She kept begging you to let her try something else and you wouldn’t let her! Cynthia says the baby was almost seriously dehydrated and Evangelina really needs to take care what she says to these mothers.
Turner tells Mrs B that Johnny’s in a bad way. He has pneumonia, and the doctors at the hospital think there’s an underlying cause. They’re going to run some tests. Mrs B wants to go to him and Turner suggests she go that evening, when they might have some answers. Barbara offers to go with her.
Evangelina, duly chastened, goes to see Connie, who’s finally been talked around to feeding her baby a bottle of formula. Connie insists she really tried, because she wanted to do this right. Evangelina starts to tear up and apologises for having put the baby in danger.
Crane is on her rounds and visits an elderly lady with dementia who thinks Crane is her mother. A neighbour sits with her, which is very nice of the lady. Crane sits down with the patient, and tells her they’re going to look into getting her some extra help. The neighbour says the lady has a husband who does what he can, but it’s tough. Patsy shows up, the confusion thanks to MJ’s clumsiness, and close behind her comes the patient’s husband: Tommy. Of course. He and Crane blanch as they catch sight of each other. He tells Patsy that he and Crane attend Spanish classes together and Patsy gets an ‘oh, I see’ look on her face. Crane grabs her things and hastens out of there.
In her car, Patsy gently offers to buy Crane a cup of tea. Crane declines, because they have too much to do. Patsy says she won’t ask about any of this. Crane admits she’s happy with her life, but for a moment she thought there might be something more, and she liked it. She thanks Patsy for the kind offer of tea. Aww.
Mrs B has seen the consultant and learned her husband is dying of leukaemia. She doesn’t know what to do or how to process that. Barbara urges her to go to her husband.
Mrs B does, crying and apologising for being mean to him. He barely has the strength to take her hand, and he croaks that he wants his family.
Back home, Mrs B says she won’t have this baby without her husband. She’s due in a week or so, but Johnny only has days, so she asks Barbara to induce labour. Barbara hesitates, because they don’t like to do that unless the mother’s health is at risk. Mrs B begs and Barbara agrees to see what she can do.
Evangelina sits in the chapel, praying.
Crane packs away her picnic things.
Evangelina asks Julienne for permission to go away for six months, at least, and spend time with a very austere order that keeps silence all day. She needs to be somewhere she can only talk to God. She goes on to say that she got so wrapped up in her work that she forgot her calling, to do God’s work. She needs to start listening again, instead of always thinking she knows best. Ok, let’s just dial it back a little here, sister. Yes, you screwed up, and yes, you really need to stop and consider the words before they come out of your mouth, because you really are old enough to do that now. But this—taking off for six months at least to find yourself feels a tiny bit self-indulgent. There’s work that needs to be done, and obviously everyone’s pretty swamped here. I mean, Julienne was begrudging Trixie time off to attend AA meetings, for heaven’s sake. Pull yourself together!
Julienne says they’ll need permission from the head of their order and Evangelina asks her to seek it.
MJ finds Crane, sad and zoned out, and tells her that Tommy is there and wants to speak with her. Crane doesn’t want to see him, but MJ says we basically all have to deal with things we don’t want to from time to time.
Awww, he’s brought flowers and everything! Crane meets him and accuses him of having lied about being widowed. He explains that his wife has been lost to him for years and those classes have been his happiness. He adds that meeting Crane lifted him. She sympathetically says that she’s sorry about his wife, but the facts are the facts and they can’t escape them. She accuses him of having made a fool out of her and orders him to stay away from Nonnatus.
Barbara makes the case for induction to the other midwives and nuns. Winifred points out there’s no medical reason, but the midwives throw in on Barbara’s side. Julienne points out that, even if they do induce, Johnny could die before the baby comes, denying his wife those last precious moments at his bedside. But, if Barbara thinks this is for the best, then they’ll support her. Trixie offers to work with Barbara to bring this about.
MJ finds Evangelina packing and gets really upset, wondering what she’ll do. Evangelina asks MJ to pray for her. They tearfully embrace.
Mrs B is at the maternity home, getting ready for her induction, which does not sound fun. It involves an enema, caster oil, and a hot bath. Turner, meanwhile, is sitting with Johnny, so he’s not alone.
The induction isn’t working, so the midwives perform a stretch-and-sweep. Just go ahead and look it up.
Johnny’s fading fast. He talks about how much love he has for his kid, but the child will never know it. Turner fiercely urges him to hold on, because his child is coming.
Barbara has Mrs B up and moving around, trying to get things moving. At last, Mrs B gets a contraction. Yay! Trixie and Barbara look relieved.
Johnny asks Turner to tell his wife and child he loves them. Turner insists he’ll tell them himself. Johnny wonders what will happen to his baby. Turner says his baby has an amazing mother who’s moving heaven and earth to ensure he gets to meet his child. Johnny starts bleeding from the mouth and Turner summons a nurse.
Mrs B labours away and finally delivers a son. No points for guessing what this child’s name will be. The baby is wrapped and cleaned up and handed to his mother. Shelagh calls for an ambulance to take Mrs B to the London.
She gets there just in time and shows Johnny the baby. He manages to tell them both that he loves them and says he wants to stay. Mrs B presses her forehead against Johnny’s.
Patsy finds Crane by the phones and hears the Council is providing some new home helps. Patsy suggests she celebrate by going to her Spanish class, offering to cover the phones. She comments that it would take a long time to build the trust with someone to share such a painful and private truth as Tommy has.
Crane goes to the class, which is the Flamenco dance, and sits next to Tommy, who glows with happiness.
It’s Johnny’s funeral. Mrs B notes the tramps across the street but doesn’t seem to feel any animosity towards them this time. She admits to Barbara and Trixie that she was afraid of being on her own, but she isn’t, not really, not with the baby.
Gibson arrives and expresses his condolences, calling Johnny a fine man. He hands her an envelope full of cash, as well as the docker’s hook, which has clearly been in Johnny’s family for a long time. She places it back on the mantelpiece and Gibson leads a toast to Johnny. Tom whispers to Barbara that clearly a warrior was just what these people needed. Trixie notes this and tries not to look too upset.
Mrs B picks up a plate of sandwiches and takes them outside to offer them to the tramps.
The nuns see off Evangelina.