Call the Midwife: Tainted

98534Previously on Call the Midwife: Barbara and Tom started edging towards dating, and Julienne offered Delia a place to stay in the city.

JVO tells us that, while some people were moving into skyscraper tower blocks, others preferred to stay in their fairly crappy old flats, mostly because they were completely surrounded by family there.

A bunch of kids gather in one woman’s place and she makes them jam sandwiches for snack. She then goes upstairs, where her granddaughter’s in labour, being tended by Patsy. This woman does not look old enough to be a great-grandmother. Marrying young was clearly a thing in this family. Which is pretty typical of the time. The granddaughter, Jeanette, delivers a girl.

Great-grandma, Meg, delivers the news to the neighbours, all of whom seem really pleased. She stops by the flat of an elderly man named Stan, who jokes with her in the way of people who’ve known each other forever and admits he’s been a little off his feed lately. He’s got one of her bread with jam snacks beside him.

Meg’s next stop takes her to a niece, who immediately asks what the baby looks like, gesturing to her head in a way that indicates she’s kind of a jerk. Meg firmly says the baby’s beautiful and shoves Stan’s uneaten bread at her.

Patsy’s clearing up while the new parents cuddle their baby. Niece’s comment, by the way, was in reference to the fact that the father is Asian. He moved to the East End when he was 6. Meg reports everyone’s good wishes and there’s some chat about how nice it is to have so much family nearby. Jeanette tells Meg that the baby’s middle name will be Margaret. Aww.

Barbara runs into Tom as she’s returning from a delivery and he mentions that he’s won a meal at an Indian restaurant in a raffle. She says she loves Indian food, so he invites her to join him. Then she sees Trixie heading out for her day off and looks guilty.

Winifred is teaching some schoolchildren first aid. The bell rings, they thank Winifred, and take off. The teacher, Miss Whitmore, compliments Winifred on her handling of the kids. Apparently Winifred used to be a teacher. While Winifred’s talking, Miss W collapses.

She’s brought back around and admits her periods have been irregular lately, and she’s been vomiting. Winifred gently asks if it’s possible she’s pregnant and Miss W bursts into tears.

Patsy returns to Nonnatus and finds MJ bewailing the fact they’re nearly out of Fred’s wife’s homemade jam.

Delia is shown to her new room by Cynthia. Patsy rushes in and they have a cute moment.

Turner checks out Miss W and tells her she’s doing well. He writes a prescription for iron tablets and leaves. Miss W starts crying again and Winifred tells her to buck up, because surely the guy will step up and do the right thing! Miss W says he might, if it weren’t for the pesky fact that he’s already married. Ooooh, yeah, that’s a problem. Also, that guy’s an asshole.

Patsy and Delia finish unpacking and are adorably happy about being together at last.

Barbara pins up the hem on a new dress Trixie’s wearing. Trixie says she couldn’t resist buying it, then bemoans how rarely she goes out now. Barbara asks Trixie if she regrets breaking things off with Tom and Trixie, after a brief hesitation, says she doesn’t, because they’re better off as friends and will hopefully find new partners soon.

Miss W’s got a nosy landlady who bugs her while she’s in the bathroom, throwing up.

Patsy has been called to Jeanette’s, because the new mum is seriously ill. Patsy checks her out and thinks this might be an infection.

To get him out of the way, Jeanette’s husband is sent to bring some food to Stan.

Patsy tends to Jeanette and finally notices some nervous plucking at the sheet Jeanette’s doing, and a disturbing rash on her chest. She sends Meg to call an ambulance.

Miss W breaks the news to her jerkass boyfriend, who basically says, ‘maybe you’ll miscarry!’ He then moves on to suggest they find an abortionist, which was tricky back then because it was illegal. Anyway, neither of them have the money for that sort of thing. He excuses himself, telling her his class has an exam. So, he’s a teacher too? That’ll make work awkward.

Turner checks out Jeanette’s baby, which is perfectly healthy, and reassures the father his wife will be checked out and he’s sure the doctors at the hospital will find out what’s wrong. In the meantime, he has Meg to help out.

Miss W returns to her boarding house and is promptly thrown out by her bitch landlady, who went through her things and found the ante-natal tablets and basically calls Miss W a slut. So, now this poor woman is alone with no money and nowhere to live. Great.

Turner and Patsy talk about what’s going on. They both suspect typhoid, which she saw while she was in the prison camp. Wow, I’d almost forgotten about that. Turner hopes it’s not that, but says they need to be ready, just in case.

Miss W tries calling her boyfriend, who just pretends she’s got the wrong number, then hangs up on her. What a winner.

Barbara babbles a little to Crane about the date that’s not a date. She’s worried about Trixie finding out and getting upset. Crane urges her to tell Trixie everything. Also, how does she know it’s not a date? Barbara babbles a bit more.

Fred loads Tom up with some fresh produce and Violet’s strawberry jam. Fred talks about how awesome it is being married and how surprising it was, finding love again.

Miss W, now with nowhere to go and nobody who seems to care about her, staggers through the streets of London as night closes in. She has the sense to go to Nonnatus, where Julienne reaches out to a women’s hostel and finds Miss W a place. Winifred has a brief interaction with Miss W during which Miss W clearly picks up on Winifred’s disapproval, though Winifred does seem to be trying to be her usual cheery self. Miss W heads back out into the night while the nuns go to compline.

The midwives talk about the potential typhoid outbreak and Delia notices that Patsy seems kind of upset. She tries to reassure her, but Patsy just gets snappish. Delia goes upstairs and Trixie tells Patsy that was mean, and she needs to chill out and go apologise.

She does so, and Delia immediately forgives her. They have a talk and Patsy tearfully admits she’s been thinking of her mother and sister all day. She wanted Delia to comfort her, but she didn’t know how they could do that with the others around.

Jeanette is doing really poorly, thrashing around in her bed at the London while her husband watches sadly through the glass.

Miss W’s boyfriend shoves an envelope through the door of her former lodgings, then drives off. Of course the bitch landlady finds it.

Jeanette’s typhoid diagnosis has been confirmed. Since Patsy’s been exposed, she’s being taken off midwifery duties and put to work with Turner, trying to minimise the spread.

Winifred goes to Julienne, who asks Winifred if she’s doing ok, because she seemed subdued the night before. Winifred admits she can’t help but judge Miss W, not for being an unmarried mother, but for being an unmarried mother who’s also a teacher. This just hits a little too close to home for Winifred. Julienne tells her that Miss W is paying a heavy price for this error of judgement, and also she’s being unfairly targeted while the man in the equation gets to walk away Scot free, because things suck for women, generally. Julienne tells Winifred she needs to put these feelings aside and just look on Miss W as another mother, not as a wayward teacher.

Miss W arrives at school, slightly late, and is immediately yanked out of class by the head teacher, Miss Dawkins.

Cynthia goes through Jeanette’s tenement flat, handing out information on typhoid, presumably. She steps into Stan’s flat when he doesn’t answer the door.

Turner, meanwhile, has Jeanette’s whole family gathered so he can answer their questions. Patsy steps in and reassures everyone that there are good treatments for typhoid now. Turner then says they’d like to run a blood test so they can identify the carrier. That nasty niece accuses Jeanette’s husband of being the carrier, because racism. Meg tells the woman to shut the hell up and treat him well or get the hell out. Niece sulkily apologises.

Cynthia fetches Turner, because Stan has died. His body is removed as the neighbours all watch, sadly. Turner quietly tells Patsy the man had telltale spots on his abdomen.

That hellbitch of a landlady has, of course, gone to Miss W’s head. Jesus, what a hateful person. What kind of a bitter, nasty creature do you have to be to be so determined to ruin someone else’s life?

The head is nice, but under the circumstances she can’t keep Miss W on. Miss W begs to be allowed to stay until the end of term, but apparently that’s not even possible. Damn, they’re pretty hardass about this. She can’t even say goodbye to the kids who love her so much.

Patsy quizzes Meg about what Jeanette ate, because they suspect she was infected by food or drink that was handled by the carrier. Jeanette’s husband, Benny, asks if he really could be the carrier, because that’s clearly what all the neighbours think.

Poor Miss W sits in the park and reads the note from her boyfriend, which just says he hopes the few pounds he stuffed into the envelope will help. Yeah, that should go really far now that she’s lost her job and will be virtually unemployable, with no references.

Turner takes blood from all of Jeanette’s family so he and Patsy can test for the carrier. Patsy delivers the vials to the hospital and stops by Jeanette’s room to ask after her. The nurse says it’ll be 24 hours before they know whether she’ll make it or not.

Miss W sits in her room, shaking and drinking, then reaches for a wire hanger and slowly begins to unravel it. Ok, time for all of us to go sit in a corner and rock back and forth and think happy thoughts! Rainbows and puppydogs, everyone!

Barbara stresses over what to wear for her date-that-isn’t-a-date. She’s never been on any sort of date, real or otherwise. Patsy comes in to hang out and asks what’s up. Barbara tells her about the date and Patsy’s like, ‘Ooh, complicated!’

Miss W lies in bed. There’s a smear of blood on the windowsill in her room.

The next day, looking like absolute death, she stumbles up to the bus stop and asks one of the staring women if this bus goes past the London. The woman tells her it does, just before Miss W collapses, bleeding like crazy. The woman tells someone to call for an ambulance. Her daughter recognises Miss W as her teacher.

At Nonnatus, everyone wonders where the infection came from. Turner comes by to grab Patsy, because they know who their carrier is.

It’s Meg. She’s confused, because she never had typhoid. Turner tells her she probably had a very mild case as a kid. Patsy reassures her it’s really easy to control the infection, but Meg starts to panic, insists Patsy take the baby, and goes to wash her hands. Benny comes in and Meg apologises for having made Jeanette sick. She then realises that Stan’s death is on her head as well. Poor woman.

Meg goes with Turner and Patsy while all the neighbours stare. At Turner’s practice, Shelagh explains that Meg will have to be added to the register of carriers, and it’ll be important for her to keep all the details up-to-date. Also, apparently having carrier status gave you priority for rehousing. I wonder why that was? To escape stigma? Meg worries about being forced to move and Patsy reassures her they won’t.

Back home, Meg starts freaking out again, washing her hands again and again.

Fred coaches Tom in this dating thing, suggesting he get a nice little bunch of flowers. Tom’s sure Barbara’s not after that sort of thing, she’s totally just in it for the Indian food and not the hot vicar on the other side of the table. Fred suggests milk, then, to counteract the curry.

Noakes—Hey, Noakes! We’ve missed you!—goes to Nonnatus and reports to Julienne and Winifred that Miss W tried to self-abort. She miscarried the baby in hospital and lost a lot of blood, because she’d been pierced with a sharp object. They had to perform a hysterectomy. Jesus. And she’s going to face possible prosecution for breaching the law.

Winifred weeps in the chapel and tells Julienne that she’s to blame for this, because she wasn’t a friend to Miss W, who sorely needed one. Julienne tells her that it’s not too late to be a friend to this woman.

Patsy’s clearly starting to be a bit disturbed by Meg’s obsessive handwashing and refusal to handle food for anyone. Meg sobs and admits she feels dirty. Patsy reassures her she’s no such thing and urges her to hold the baby. Meg says she can’t because all she does is think of Jeanette and Stan.

Benny goes to the hospital and finds Jeanette’s bed empty. But we’ve already had our depressing storyline for the week, so of course she rolls up to him in a wheelchair, already on the mend. Yay!

Noakes and Winifred go to the hospital to speak with Miss W. Winifred puts on a happy and compassionate face and holds up a little suitcase with some of Miss W’s things. She apologises for not doing more to help the woman. Miss W admits she’s frightened and Winifred promises to stay with her. Noakes approaches, his usual sensitive self, and says Winifred can stay for the questioning.

Barbara races home to get ready for her date. She’s missed her chance to talk to Trixie, but at least Nurse Crane’s already laid her things out, which is sweet. Barbara joins Tom, looking super cute, and off they go.

Noakes asks Miss W if she paid someone to perform the procedure. She says she didn’t have enough money for that.

Trixie returns home and Crane warns her that she’s going to have some night shifts coming up. Trixie says that’s fine, as long as she can still have her Tuesday nights. Crane delicately mentions that she knows what’s up on Tuesdays and she thinks it’s definitely a step in the right direction. I guess Tuesdays are the AA meetings?

Winifred urges Noakes not to go after the case, considering all the punishment this woman’s already endured. He says that isn’t up to him, but he doubts his superiors will pursue the case.

Benny tells Patsy that Jeanette’s doing better, but he’s worried about Meg now.

Barbara and Tom walk home, carrying little bottles of milk. Heh. She thanks him for a splendid evening. They bid each other goodnight, and as she passes him he reaches out and catches her hand. She beams, then floats on inside. Trixie, returning from somewhere or other, watches this from afar.

Patsy and MJ work in Fred’s garden, MJ bewailing the fact that Meg is not at all herself. She asks Patsy to hand her some flowers nearby,but Patsy says those are actually weeds that Fred’s pulled up. MJ pooh-poohs that, because she doesn’t believe in weeds. ‘A weed is simply a flower that someone thinks is in the wrong place,’ she says. Quite true, in some cases. She re-plants the weed and Fred comes out, sees it, and says nothing.

Patsy takes Meg to one of the new tower blocks and urges her to look at the flat there. She shows her the hot water that comes right out of the tap and talks up the glories of garbage chutes. She urges Meg not to cut herself off from her family.

Apparently the school has approached Nonnatus about having Winifred take over Miss W’s class until a replacement can be found. Oh, come on, they’re already a midwife down thanks to Evangelina’s need to go find herself, this seems…unlikely. Winifred feels badly about taking over the job Miss W loved. Yeah, that does seem terrible. But she has no choice but to obey, having taken a vow and all.

Miss W is not prosecuted, because going after a single, desperate woman is just unnecessarily shitty. She leaves the hospital, pauses by the school and waves to Winifred, and goes.

Meg moves into that new flat, washing her hands at the new sink. That thing’ll make her OCD much easier to develop now! But apparently she is a bit better, because she has the family around. Jeanette’s all better, rocking the baby and talking to her cousin and kids are running everywhere.



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