Call the Midwife: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Can_we_guess_what_s_going_to_happen_in_Call_the_Midwife_series_4_episode_2_Previously on Call the Midwife: Trixie and Tom got engaged, Chummy took off to take care of the mother and baby home for a bit, and Sister Evangelina started having ‘women’s problems.’

Sister Julienne plants some bulbs while JVO natters on about how spring can be rather volatile, as seasons go. Unlike, uh, every other season, Jenny. It starts pouring rain and Julienne seems confused for a moment, casting about, until she finally thinks, oh, yeah, get inside! But inside, it’s not much better, because there’s a small waterfall coming through the upstairs ceiling. Man, you guys have a massive roof leak there!

Sisters Evangelina and Winifred are boarding a bus as a heavily pregnant West Indian woman comes barreling down the street, calling for them to hold the bus up, because the driver’s her husband and he forgot his lunch. I’m loving the mustard-yellow coat this woman’s rocking. That’s a tough colour to pull off, but she looks great. Winifred warns the woman (Mrs B) that she shouldn’t be running, but she’s determined to get Terence his lunch. She hands it to him through the window and he affectionately tells her to go home and put her feet up for a bit.

On the bus, Winifred asks Evangelina what the doctor told her, but she refuses to say.

At Nonnatus, Trixie returns after a delivery, having had to bring the placenta back with her to incinerate. Ew. The phone rings and Barbara reports it’s Claridge’s calling for ‘Beatrix’, who’s been phoning around venues for her engagement party. Trixie goes to the phone while Patsy takes the placenta.

Evangelina reports that she has fibroids to Julienne, which she views as a hassle. A hysterectomy has been recommended, but she said no, because she’d be out of commission for too long. Julienne urges her to get the surgery she needs, saying they’ll be fine because they’ve got someone coming to cover Cynthia’s spot. Evangelina reluctantly agrees to ‘have herself seen to’.

Clinic. Barbara hands out orange juice while Trixie shows off her engagement ring. When she tells two ladies it belonged to Tom’s grandmother, one of them responds, ‘you mean it’s secondhand?’ Heh. Winifred is telling a bunch of pregnant ladies, including Mrs B, what they should buy in terms of nappies. Sister MJ knits some booties nearby. Mrs B asks if she can just use her washing machine instead of boiling the nappies, and one of the other ladies bitchily does the, ‘well, look at you, miss la-di-dah!’ thing. Mrs B smiles that she put her government maternity grant towards it, and Winifred chimes in that this seems quite a sensible purchase. Seriously, a washing machine is the best thing ever when you have a baby. MJ warns them against washing woolens, and the bitchy mum sniffs that knitted stuff is old fashioned and she wants her baby all modern. ‘I want my baby warm,’ Mrs B flings back. Go, girl!

Trixie meets Tom on her way out and immediately starts talking about the massive and expensive engagement party she’s planning. The scouts burst in, interrupting the moment.

In the hall, Fred introduces Patsy as their new leader, and she wastes no time getting the kids in formation so they can start learning firelighting technique. Awesome thing to practice indoors, folks!

Terrence gets home and finds his wife knitting away. She hauls herself to her feet and he tells her she’s magnificent before turning on the radio and inviting her to dance. Apparently the baby likes music (and both of them are sure it’s a girl). They dance, and it’s sweet, so we know something terrible is going to happen to them.

Patsy and Fred see off the scouts, some of whom have burned themselves. Nice job, guys.

The new arrival, Nurse Crane, arrives and immediately shows us she’s no fun whatsoever when she gives poor Barbara attitude for having the audacity to say ‘hello’ instead of ‘good afternoon.’ Jesus, lady. Inside, over tea, she informs everyone she’s a vegetarian and will just eat bread and butter and greens. Nice, she’s one of those vegetarian martyr types. Julienne offers to get her a uniform that matches the others’, but Crane prefers to stick with her own clothes, since this is a temporary posting.

Later, Evangelina gathers the girls to hand out afternoon tasks. Naturally, Crane has all sorts of opinions contrary to Evangelina’s plans, and it gets so Evangelina starts to look like she wishes there were a placenta handy to smack the woman across the face with. Later still, Evangelina complains about the woman to Julienne, who gently says that Crane is very experienced, having worked in a lot of different places, though temporarily, which you’d think would be a bit of a red flag.

Barbara arrives back at Nonnatus that night and finds Crane in the other bed in her room, which throws her. Crane again gets pissy with her for her ‘hello’ greeting and points out the coloured tape that’s been run down the middle of all the furniture, to designate Crane’s side and Barbara’s side. Oh, man, she’s that roommate.

Barbara goes to Patsy’s and Trixie’s room and tells them how weird it is having to share a room with this woman. They cheer her up with a (presumably super low-alcohol) drink.

Julienne tells Winifred that they’re to go meet with a potential benefactor.

The girls come down in the morning and Crane tries to take command, but Evangelina steps in instead. She starts handing out orders, telling Crane she can do it when Evangelina goes for her surgery, which has been postponed.

Winifred wonders why this benefactor wants to give money to the east end, when he lives way over on the west side of London. When they get to the man’s home, Winifred notes the Rolls Royce out front and declares all this very smart. The door is opened by the man’s adult son, who cheerfully greets the ladies and invites them in, thanking them for coming on such short notice. In the course of their chat, he reveals that his dad and Julienne are friends from way back. She further explains, for Winifred’s benefit, that they knew each other when their families were posted abroad. The son explains that his father, Mr Newgarden, has heart trouble and hasn’t been well, hence the reason he’s planning legacies. He shows them into the sitting room, where Mr N, a very sweet man, greets them and invites them to sit. It’s been nearly 30 years since he and Julienne saw each other.

Barbara checks on Mrs B and notes that her blood pressure’s a little high. Mrs B mentions that the baby hasn’t been moving much for the past couple of days. Uh oh. Barbara advises drinking a big glass of cold water and they’ll check movement and heartbeat.

Winifred compliments Mr Newgarden’s home and garden. He made his money in the manufacture of spectacles and he wants to share his good fortune. He sends Winifred off to fetch some biscuits and cinnamon toast so he and Julienne can have some time alone. He fondly remembers her when she was young, and how she stood him up at a movie. She aplogises and he says he’s sorry too, because he still hasn’t seen City Lights and he heard it’s really good! She apologises for breaking up with him through a letter but he reassures her it’s fine, because he treasured that letter, and he saw it coming anyway. He respects her for making that decision and sticking with it. Winifred comes back, reporting that there is no cinnamon toast, but there’ll be some drop scones soon! Julienne’s all teary by this point, so she hurries both of them out of there. Mr N’s son, Anthony, follows her out and says that she and his dad haven’t discussed the legacy. She knows, but she thinks his dad should be spending his time with his family, not strangers. Although, she isn’t really a stranger, so…

Barbara tries to find the fetal heartbeat but can’t, so naturally Mrs B freaks out. Barbara goes to phone the doctor, but he’s not available, so she does the only other thing she can think of and calls for an ambulance. Mrs B is helped in, and the ambulance driver gestures to Barbara’s bike. She grabs her coat but is sure the bike will be fine until they get back. Uh huh.

Winifred tries to keep up a cheery line of conversation with Julienne on the bus, but Julienne’s a million miles away.

At the hospital, a nurse tells Barbara that they found the fetal heartbeat no problem, but she’s been admitted for bedrest because of that elevated BP. Barbara’s relieved but hurries away to finish her work. The bike is gone, of course, but it’s been returned to Nonnatus, thankfully. And Crane gives her shit for it.

In the dining room, Evangelina reams Barbara out for calling for the ambulance. Trixie agrees, telling Barbara that a doctor should always be consulted first before transfer to hospital. Ok, but what if the doctor isn’t available? Crane cuts in that that isn’t a universal rule. There’s a moment involving sausage rolls, which disgust Crane. MJ talks about Crane’s derangement of appetite, and Crane sort of nods at her before guessing that Barbara’s pinnard technique was probably lousy, so she and Crane are going to go practice after tea. Evangelina instead orders her to go to the clinical room with Trixie to be reschooled on the rules. Poor Barbara looks like she wants to cry.

Terence goes to see his wife at the hospital. She hates being there.

Julienne and Winifred arrive home and Crane immediately tells them she just saw a rat in the bathroom. They’re both like, ‘eh, whattaya gonna do?’ Crane insists that these premises are not fit for purpose. Julienne goes to her office to have a moment. It’s been a helluva day, having to see her childhood sweetheart in such a depleted state. She opens a copy of Revelations of Divine Love to a page marked with a photograph of a young couple, and prays.

Mrs B tries to get up to go to the bathroom, but a nurse says she’s on bedrest and will be using a bedpan. Mrs B’s basically like, ‘oh, hell no!’ and once the nurse goes away she gets up to find the bathroom. But out in the hall she’s treated to the horrifying sight of a heavily bleeding pregnant woman being brought in after trying to self-terminate. Eeeek! The woman weeps that they said the baby might still be alive, but how is that possible? Yikes! Mrs B freaks out again and rushes home, throwing herself, weeping, into Terence’s arms.

The next morning, Turner goes to see her, notes the BP is still raised. Mrs B insists she not go back to the hospital. She didn’t feel safe there. Despite having been booked for a hospital delivery, she now wants to stay home.

Turner goes to Nonnatus and tells the others what Mrs B has decided. Crane makes the change to the Rolodex she’s working on, in place of the logbook Evangelina loves so much.

Patsy and Barbara head out on their rounds and Patsy notes that Barbara seems pretty down. Barbara thinks she’s making too many mistakes but Patsy says she’s doing fine and she just needs to put on her brave face and crack on. Man, I love Patsy.

Fred reports to Julienne that they do, indeed, have some rats. Also, they essentially have no roof left. Yeah, that’s a problem. She looks stressed.

Trixie starts to get engagement cards and presents.

Julienne looks at the photo, which is of her and Newgrass back in the 20’s. She calls his home and presumably asks for a second meeting.

Patsy’s got the scouts again and introduces Nurse Busby, who’s going to teach them about dealing with burns.

Trixie and Tom open cards and she talks about going to pick out china patterns at Selfridges, showing him one that’s undoubtedly pricey. He’s trying to be a good sport about this, but it’s obvious his patience is wearing a teensy bit thin.

Busby and Patsy head back to Nonnatus, Busby wondering if it’s ok for them to go into a convent to eat their fish and chips. What, eating in convent isn’t allowed? Is it Lent or something? Patsy says it’s preferable to eating in the street.

Meanwhile, inside, things are getting tense between Trixie and Tom, because now she’s insisting on a professional photographer for the wedding. He tells her he wants her to be his wife, not a professional fiancé. She talks about the party, snapping about canapés, and he begs her not to bring this up right now. Busby and Patsy arrive home, hear the ruckus in the kitchen, and go to eat in the chapel. Tom stomps off and Busby and Patsy exchange a bit of an ‘oh, dear.’

Crane starts arranging the rota the following morning, and of course Evangelina doesn’t approve. Evangelina says the next person who calls is likely to be a girl who’s only 16 and needs an experienced hand, not Barbara, who’s next on deck. But it turns out it’s Mrs B who calls first, so off Barbara goes, with Patsy. At Mrs B’s, they find the heartbeat easily, and things seem well on their way.

Julienne goes to see Mr N again, in the midst of a birthday party for one of his eight grandkids. They talk about his wife a little (much loved, much missed).  She says she’s sorry for rushing off last time and he admits he was acting a little selfishly in summoning her, because he could have just written a cheque. But he wanted to see her. She confesses she wanted to see him as well.

Mrs B pushes and pushes and delivers a girl. But the baby is evidently stillborn. Barbara is horrified and calls Patsy’s attention to the infant. Patsy’s ‘joyful over delivery’ face turns to devastation immediately and she quietly tells Mrs B that it seems the heart stopped beating several days ago. Mrs B can’t believe it, because they heard it beating earlier that day. She begins to wail in despair and Patsy wraps up the infant and takes it out of the room. One tiny foot dangles from the towel, for maximum heartbreak.

Patsy goes into the living room, where Terence is waiting. He happily asks if it’s a boy or girl, and she starts to tear up, saying it was a little girl. She lays the bundle beside the sink and tells him she’s sorry, but she needs him to telephone Nonnatus and tell them they’ve had a stillbirth and they need a more senior midwife and the doctor. Uh, Patsy, can’t you call, maybe? Terence goes to make the call and she bursts into tears.

Crane, wearing her ‘sad but getting on with business’ face, packs up her bag to go to Mrs B’s. MJ wanders into the room, saying she can’t sleep, basically, but notes that Crane is upset.

Mrs B is wailing and groaning in pain. Turner arrives and Patsy says she thinks the placenta may be trapped in the cervix. Of course, because what else can go wrong for this poor woman?

Evangelina finds MJ praying on the stairs. MJ tells her what happened to Mrs B.

Turner examines Mrs B and says she has undiagnosed twins and will deliver the second very shortly. Barbara goes to boil more water, weeping a little hysterically, and Crane arrives. She sees the state Barbara’s in and embraces her, which is sweet.

Terrence is waiting out in the hallway as Evangelina comes barreling up. Oh, come on, folks. I know you don’t like being stepped on, Evangelina, but there’s clearly no need for you to come rushing out here, making it look like Crane can’t be trusted. She offers to make Terence a cup of tea, but Crane’s on it, delivering one up immediately.

Inside, Mrs B delivers a healthy son, who is handed to Terence, who clearly can’t quite deal with all this mood whiplash. Understandable. He admits he wants to be glad, but he doesn’t know how, having gotten one child, but also having lost one. They urge him to try holding the baby’s hand and he does so and smiles. Crane offers to go help Patsy with the mother and Evangelina quietly says, ‘it’s never easy, is it?’ Crane agrees, but replies ‘we can show them (the younger midwives, that is) how it’s done’ before processing into the bedroom. Nice little moment there.

Evangelina returns to Nonnatus and meets Trixie, who offers to make a cup of tea. Instead, Evangelina asks her to find out which undertaker is on call for stillborns. Oof, what a depressing job that would be.

Patsy parks her bike outside the Nurses’ Home and goes up to Busby’s room. Patsy, exhausted, is already sobbing. Busby is asleep, but Patsy wakes her and cries that she’s only ever seen this situation once, but she had to take charge and pretend like she was in control, when in fact she really wasn’t. Busby embraces her and asks her to start from the beginning and tell her what happened.

The nuns sing in chapel.

Patsy spends the night spooned up in bed with Busby. She wakes early enough to slip out. ‘No one will see anything at all,’ she reassures Busby. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but are we moving towards a ‘Patsy is a lesbian’ plotline here? I dunno, maybe Busby’s just a really, really good friend and Patsy seriously needed some comforting, but I think I’ve mentioned getting this vibe from her in the past, and there have been frequent mentions of her not having a boyfriend, which doesn’t seem to bother her in the least, so…maybe?

Evangelina tries to sneak out for her surgery, so there’s no fuss, but MJ catches her and helps her into her coat. MJ wishes her godspeed there and back again. Aww. I like that we’re moving away from ‘MJ is so impossibly addled she’s basically a useless drag’ thing that was happening last series.

Anthony rings Julienne and tells her that his father wants to take her to the pictures. Does his dad not know how to use the phone? Or is his breathing so bad it makes it difficult for him? Because it seems a teensy bit strange that he’s making his son act as intermediary here.

Patsy and Barbara go to check on MRs B, who’s looking pretty depressed. They ask if the baby has a name. He does: Terence Jr. Terence notes that the baby hasn’t slept and seems to be crying for two, as is Mrs B.

Julienne goes to Mr N’s, where she finds a screen and two chairs set up in the sitting room. Mr N points out the cushion that’s been placed on her chair, because with the original date, he had been intending to get the best seats in the house. Furthermore, there are choc ices in the freezer, because he had planned to purchase her favourite refreshments. This is so utterly sweet. She tries to apologise again for standing him up, but he brushes off her sorries, saying they both found a different kind of happiness. There’s a pause, and he asks her how she wants to be informed, when he goes. He offers to send his son, but she declines, saying the ‘old fashioned way’ (newspaper announcement, presumably) will suffice. The movie is fired up, and of course it’s City Lights. They laugh, they eat choc ices in tandem, they hold hands a little. My heart grows three sizes.

Mrs B admits to Tom, who’s come by to see her, that she feels afraid to love the baby she has and is guilty she didn’t know the other was in trouble. But you did know, Mrs B. It’s just that the second baby nobody knew was in there kind of covered things up. She wonders how a mother can’t know how many babies she’s carrying. Tom can’t answer that, of course, but does the sort of rote ‘god has all sorts of mysterious plans’ sort of thing. She asks how she’ll tell this child about his sister, and what sort of person she might have been. After all, she didn’t even see her little girl. Tom asks Terence if he saw the baby and Terence says he saw her foot, and that it looked cold.

Tom goes to Julienne and talks about how there’s no protocol for this, because in the church a stillborn child can’t have its own funeral or grave. That is so unbelievably shitty. I mean, I know there’s the whole original sin thing, but that just pisses me off. An innocent child who dies should totally be afforded the dignity of a damn funeral. The parents and others grieving the passing should be allowed that too. Tom thinks the parents deserve more than this and Julienne agrees. ‘After all, what is love if it cannot be acknowledged?’ she wonders tearfully before running inside.

She calls on Bernadette to console her, but Bernadette quietly says Julienne doesn’t really need her consolation, because she knows, ultimately, that she made the right decision. After all, the money the man left will be more than enough to repair Nonnatus and allow them to continue doing their good work in the community. But Julienne still has this nagging feeling that she might have taken the wrong path in life.

MJ and Winifred go to Mrs B to give her help finishing off a pair of booties. Mrs B is pretty depressed and observes she was a different woman when these were started. Still, she agrees.

Tom leads a non-funeral, attended by Terence and his wife and the nuns and nurses. He quotes the book of Isaiah: I have called you by your name; you are mine, and he announces that the baby has been named April, after the month in which she joined and left them. He goes on to say that the parents have brought something special with them. Terence hands over the finished booties, and Tom blesses them and announces that one will be placed on April’s foot before she’s buried, while the other will remain with Terence Jr, as a reminder of his sister. Oh, man, that is so sweet, sad, and perfect. Excuse me, I need a moment here. Damn you, CTM and your tearjerking! Also, how awesome is Tom to do this for them? Some curates would just shrug and be like, ‘tough luck, folks. Really sorry, but I can’t do anything here. Church rules.’ This is what true Christianity is like.

Afterward, Tom tells Trixie he’s going to take April’s bootie to the undertaker. She asks to come and admits she’s been spending too much time looking at him and seeing her fiancé, instead of the man she loves. She realizes now she doesn’t need a grand party to show how much she loves him and how great he is. They kiss. It’s adorable.

Julienne sadly picks a blossom from a bouquet of flowers on her desk.

Closing montage: Mrs B kisses Terence Jr’s bootie and gently places it in a drawer. She and her husband smilingly cuddle their son. Life goes on, healing begins. Julienne presses the blossom in her book, places the book back on her shelf. The Nonnatus roof is repaired, as she and Anthony look on proudly. Crane has evidently decided to stay for a while, and puts on the Nonnatus uniform, which pleases Barbara. Trixie and Tom celebrate their engagement with a little party and a cake at Nonnatus.

2 thoughts on “Call the Midwife: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

  1. I think Patsy is definitely getting the lesbian plot line. When she taught Tom how to dance (Season 3?) she made a comment to assuage jealous Trixie about how he didn’t appeal to her because he had too much of one thing and not enough of something else. It was so subtle it would be easy to overlook.

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