Call the Midwife: Frailty

Can_we_guess_what_s_going_to_happen_in_Call_the_Midwife_series_4_episode_5_Previously on Call the Midwife: Trixie and Tom broke up; Cynthia decided to become a nun.

It’s July, and super hot. Julienne coaches a woman through her birth while the woman’s husband prays with some other guy in the living room. She gives birth to a son. Her husband, Mr Prendergast, looks like he can’t quite believe it. It’s all very sweet, as always.

Doc Turner’s surgery is crowded. Bernadette brings him a cup of tea and the news that another doctor wants him to cover so the guy can go on holiday for two weeks. Turner agrees, even though he’s already taken on patients from yet another doctor. Bernadette doesn’t think this is such a good idea, since Turner’s being run ragged already, but it’s not really up to her.

Trixie’s tending to the depressing task of boxing up and sending back all her engagement presents. She’s putting a brave face on all of it, but Patsy notes that both she and Tom seem miserable. Trixie interrupts her to show off a new lipstick. Retail therapy, I guess.

Julienne tells Barbara that Mr and Mrs P’s new baby isn’t settling. She’s off to check on them. As they prepare to go on their rounds, Barbara notices a heavily pregnant Silheti woman clutching her lower back over near the school. She approaches and asks if she can help. The woman’s young son comes over and tells Barbara that his mother doesn’t speak English. He acts as a translator for a bit, but the bell rings, pulling him away before Barbara can tell her that she’s a midwife and might be able to help her. The woman smiles nicely but a bit helplessly and goes on her way.

Evangelina goes to fetch Cynthia, who’s now Sister Mary Cynthia, to send her on her way back to Nonnatus. Cynthia admits she’s looking forward to getting back to midwifry, but she’s nervous about the nun bit, because there’s so much to learn. Evangelina reassures her it’ll all come, if she just trusts in God’s guidance.

While posting some things, Trixie sees Tom down the road. She hastens away as fast as her bike’ll take her.

Julienne can hear the Prendergast baby screaming from down the hall. A neighbour comes out and says that none of her kids yelled like that. We also hear Mr P yelling and the sound of glass breaking. Neighbour lady says that whenever it isn’t the baby, it’s him. Nice. I can’t imagine why the kid’s crying all the time. Mr P comes out with a broken milk bottle and tells Julienne the baby cries night and day and it’s making it hard to do a day’s work. He takes off and Julienne goes into the flat, where she finds Mrs P mopping up the spilled milk while her baby wails in her arms. She apologises for not being more together, but Julienne tells her to go get a little rest while Julienne checks the baby. She examines him and notes that he appears to have a broken collarbone, which happens during some births. Mrs P bursts into tears and thinks this is her fault, but Julienne reassures her it’s not, it’s just something that happens, and they’ll get it taken care of.

Cynthia arrives at Nonnatus and goes right to Julienne’s office, where she’s joyfully greeted, of course. Julienne asks her to spend her first few weeks back on the district rota, instead of doing midwifry, because she thinks the midnight call outs will interfere with her studies. I never really thought of nuns having to take some sort of exam. Cynthia is disappointed but accepts it.

On the stairs, she meets Trixie, who welcomes her back and doesn’t seem to quite know how to act with Cynthia now. She goes to answer a call and Julienne takes Cynthia upstairs.

As Trixie gets ready to go out on her call, Barbara asks if they have an Indian lady registered with them. Trixie doesn’t think so. Barbara was afraid of that.

Winifred shows Cynthia to her new room. Cynthia thanks her and starts to get settled in.

Next morning, Crane hands out tasks and mentions that they have to look after some guy who may have diphtheria. She hopes it’s an isolated case but warns the ladies to be extra vigilant about handwashing and such. She blames complacency on the part of the non-nurses for spreading diseases like this, and it’s all vague enough that I’m taking it as a jab (if you will) at anti-vaxxers. They need more jabs (if you will).

Outside, Fred hands Cynthia her bike, all cleaned and oiled and ready to go. She wonders how to ride in a habit and he mimes hiking her skirt up. Barbara glances towards the school and tells the others she’ll catch them up.

She goes to see the headteacher, who tells her the woman she’s looking for is named Ameera and gives her the woman’s address. Handy! She tells Barbara she’s glad she’s going to see the woman, since she seems a bit isolated and it seems her husband works long hours.

Julienne returns to the Prendergast home and admires the fancy new pram. The baby is still crying, one arm immobilised to help his collarbone heal. Julienne frowns that the paracetamol should have helped with the pain. Mrs P (to her credit, looking a bit guilty) says she hasn’t given him any, that they’re praying for the pain to go away instead, because they’re Christian Scientists and don’t believe in modern medicine, essentially. Oh, screw these people. Seriously. I don’t tend to judge other people’s religious beliefs, because hey, live and let live, believe what you like, and as long as you’re not harming anyone else, it’s cool. But my forbearance ends right where your infringement on others’ rights begins. You, as a reasoning adult, can go right ahead and refuse medicine because it’s the devil’s work or because God wants you to suffer or whatever, but your infant did not make that choice. Your baby does not subscribe to your religion. He doesn’t even know what religion is. He is in pain and you have the ability to lessen that pain. My God. That’s just child abuse. Julienne clearly feels the same way I do, but she’s a lot nicer about it than I am and offers to give the baby the medicine, to save Mrs P from having to dirty her hands with it,

Barbara goes to see Ameera, who’s living in what appears to be a sort of Silheti group home. The little boy translator is, thankfully, around. Barbara is offered a chair while Ameera and her son sit on the floor. Barbara explains that she’s a midwife and asks if Ameera has anyone to help with the birth. Through their translator, they manage to communicate. Barbara urges her to come to the clinic and get checked out.

Patsy tries to get Trixie to join her on a girls’ night out, but Trixie declines. Barbara swirls into the room and happily reports that she found her Silheti lady. Patsy gives her a verbal pat on the back and they’re off. Trixie sadly looks at a picture of her and Tom at their engagement party and then eyes a bottle of something alcoholic on a nearby table. She also finds a picture of her and Cynthia back in the day and goes to show Cynthia the picture, but finds her at prayer.

Clinic! Pregnant ladies fan themselves while they wait. Ameera sadly interrupts her son’s playtime with the local kids to get him to accompany her. Barbara shows her to a bed, where Trixie listens to the baby’s heartbeat and tells Ameera the baby will be there soon. Trixie takes Barbara’s ear and whispers that she can’t do an internal exam without asking, which is super awkward, considering the translator is a pre-pubescent boy. Trixie asks Ameera if she has any female friends who speak English. She does not. The boy explains that most of the women stayed behind while the husbands came to England to find work, but his mother couldn’t bear to be apart from his father. Trixie has a sad moment and Ameera sweetly reaches over and takes her hand. Trixie gives her a grateful smile and provides her with a back brace to help with her lower back pain.

Later, Trixie steels herself and goes to talk to Tom. She apologises for avoiding him. He offers to go talk to the bishop and see about avoiding Newcastle, but she firmly tells him he needs to go wherever he needs to be. She says he deserves a girl who won’t let him go without her and that he’s a wonderful man. She kisses him on the cheek and goes on her way. Oh, come on, you can work this out!

Mrs P takes the baby to the clinic and finds Patsy, telling her there seems to be something wrong with his leg. Turner checks him out and says baby Raymond is going to need another trip to hospital, because this might be another fracture.

The midwives literally chill out in the back garden with footbaths and popsicles and discuss some of their patients. Crane thinks it’s totally inappropriate to have a young boy at his mother’s exam and wonders what they’re going to do when the woman gives birth. Fred suggests the daughter of some Silheti guy who lived in the neighbourhood before passing away.

Fred takes Barbara to the dead man’s former shop to ask the new proprietress if his daughter still lives in the area. She does. Barbara goes to find her and Fred gets a little flirt in with the proprietress.

Rosie, our possible new translator, tells Barbara she’s not sure she can pull it off, since she hasn’t spoken Silheti since her dad died. Barbara says that even a lousy translator is better than none. Rosie agrees to help however she can.

Raymond has, indeed, suffered another fracture and is now being cared for at the London while his bewildered parents wonder how this happened. Turner has a word with the doctor, who says there’s no way this was an accident. Turner goes to Raymond’s cot and says the doctors are baffled and do the Prendergasts have any idea how this could have happened? They do not. He tells them this is a serious fracture, very unusual in such a young child. Mr P flies off the handle, shouting that Turner thinks this is all their fault. I’m sure yelling in a children’s ward will do wonders as far as convincing everyone you didn’t lose your temper with your kid, Mr P. Mrs P tells Turner that they love their baby.

Turner shows Julienne the baby’s x-rays and tells her that this is like something you’d see after a serious trauma, like a car accident. She looks stunned. He asks her if she’s convinced the first fracture was a birth injury. She admits that it seemed like the most likely scenario at the time, but now she’s not so sure. She warns him to be wary of jumping to conclusions. He is, but the evidence is really stacking up here. He needs to call child services.

The Prendergasts are taken to speak with Turner and an inspector with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. They panic and swear they would never harm their child. Mrs P rushes out of the room to go find her baby, with Turner in pursuit. She gets to the ward, but he’s been moved. Turner tells her they need to find out what happened to him, and until it can be proven that her home is safe, the baby will be removed from her care. She collapses in tears.

Ameera has another exam, this time with Rosie as translator. Barbara asks to do the internal exam. Ameera’s really kind of adorable, saying the bed’s comfy and she’s pregnant, so she might just go right to sleep.

Later, Ameera and her son come to Nonnatus to give Barbara some thank-you samosas. Mmmm, samosas. She says it’s not just to thank Barbara for the medical help, but also for providing her with the company of other women, which she’s really missed since leaving home. Barbara smiles at her and shares the samosas with the nuns and midwives.

The Prendergasts sit in the dark in their sitting room, shocked and tearful. Mrs P finally asks her husband if he hurt the baby. He stares at her like he can’t even believe she would ask that. She apologises and starts to sob.

Turner looks down at little Angela, sitting up in her cot. Bernadette joins him and sympathises with him for having an awful day. She tries to make him feel better by reminding him the baby’s safe that night, thanks to him.

Julienne goes to see Mrs P. The apartment’s a mess. The pram is still parked in the middle of it, and Mrs P says they’re keeping it, for when they get Raymond back. She asks if he’s being well cared for and Julienne replies that he is. Mrs P, clutching one of her son’s jumpers, says she’s been praying so hard for him to come back. Julienne gently says that they need to do a bit more and try to explain how he was harmed. Mrs P says she has no idea, that she’s gone over it again and again in her mind. And to add to the stress, her husband’s out fighting every night. Well, that should help matters.

A woman arrives at Turner’s surgery with a pram and an urgent need to see the doctor. She’s Raymond’s foster mother. He’s got another fracture, and this one can’t be blamed on abuse. The foster mother’s well known and respected. Turner checks him out, then goes to look up something in a book. He thinks Raymond has osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bone disease. Oh, God, that poor child. Turner can’t believe he didn’t guess this sooner. Yes, Turner, why didn’t you guess that this child had an extremely rare bone disorder, instead wondering if his prone-to-violence father had gotten too rough with him, a far more likely explanation for his injuries?

Raymond is taken to hospital yet again.

The nuns, now including Cynthia, sing one of their services while Bernadette waits for her husband to come home. But after the hospital Turner has decided to go to the middle of nowhere and have a smoke. His hands are shaking.

Trixie pours herself a drink, after thinking about it for a bit. We all have our weaknesses.

Very, very late, Turner returns home and flops into bed, unable to sleep. Bernadette wakes, but he turns on his side, unable to talk about whatever is on his mind.

Mr P, looking a mess, vents some rage on Turner for failing to diagnose this earlier. I repeat, this is an extremely rare disorder. It’s often misdiagnosed now, let alone back in 1960. Julienne, who’s come along on this unhappy little trip, tells Mr P that Turner was the first person to even figure out what was wrong with Raymond, which means the Prendergasts get their baby back. So, maybe a little calm and gratitude, Mr P? Turner offers to drive them to the hospital, but Mrs P coolly tells him they’d rather take the bus. Ouch, Mrs P.

Fred goes to Turner with a complaint of back pain. Turner’s not looking so good and has some sort of panic attack. Fred goes out to reception and tells Bernadette she might want to go see what’s up with her husband. She goes into the exam room immediately and Turner starts stressing about baby Raymond, worrying that he’s missed other diagnoses. He tries to play it all off, telling Bernadette he’s fine, but she tells him he obviously is not, and that the practice is closed for the day.

She sends Turner home and plants him in bed to get a rest. The next morning, she gives him a kiss and gets ready to go to the office and see to patients herself. Turner pouts that he’s letting people down again. Heavens, Turner, can you please try not to make the Prendergast situation all about you? Bernadette says he isn’t well and needs to rest for a while. He sulkily turns onto his side and observes that she’s probably a safer pair of hands.

Julienne goes back to the Prendergast home, which is back in order. The guy who was praying with Mr P at the beginning—I guess the leader of their church—is there, just on his way out, after praying for Raymond’s recovery. After he leaves, Julienne goes to see Raymond, who’s cozied up in his pram, surrounded by blankets and towels to protect him. Mrs P hopefully says he looks a bit better. Julienne gently reminds her that this is not a curable condition, no matter how hard you pray, and that Raymond will probably need a wheelchair. ‘He made the cripples walk, sister,’ Mrs P replies. Oh, for God’s sake. Lady, you cannot PRAY THIS AWAY! I’m all for faith and all, but I can’t help but be a little horrified that this poor kid is now with parents who don’t believe in painkillers. Yikes!

Bernadette tells the patients at the clinic that she and Patsy will be tending to most cases, and that she’ll find a doctor who can take the more serious ones. One total bitch, who’s brought her daughter in for sunburn, for heaven’s sake, snots that she doesn’t want her precious snowflake being seen by the receptionist. Wasn’t Bernadette a fairly well known nurse/midwife in this district for a decade before marrying Turner? How have all these people just forgotten that? Bernadette tells the woman that she’s a nurse and the woman further snots that Bernadette doesn’t look like one. Another patient refuses to be seen by her, preferring to wait for Patsy.

A bouquet of flowers is left at the Turners’ and taken inside by Tim.

Bernadette goes to Nonnatus and asks Julienne if she can borrow a nurse’s uniform, so the patients actually take her seriously. That’s just sad that she has to do that. The people of Poplar suck. She confesses she’s afraid her husband’s war neuroses are cropping back up. Julienne tells her that lots of people believe in him, and that will bring him back.

Bernadette puts on the nurse’s uniform and goes out to deal with patients. They’re now only too willing to be seen by her. She and Patsy move through patients. Back home, Tim brings Angela to his parents’ room and lays her on the bed next to his father. Thank God they have such a competent kid. Bernadette returns home and finds yet another package. Tim reports that his dad is sleeping again. She thanks him for holding the fort down that day and he says it’s no big deal, he’s just glad to help.

Ameera’s son rushes to Nonnatus and tells Cynthia and Barbara his mother’s very sick.

Turner finally manages to get himself out of bed and finds that his entire sitting room is filled with flowers and gifts. Poplar loves Turner!

Barbara and Cynthia arrive at Ameera’s bedside. The woman’s coughing up blood which smells foul, a sign of diphtheria. Cynthia goes to call an ambulance while Barbara sends the kid to get someone to fetch his dad.

Tim runs his dad through all the gifts. Adorably, some of the local kids even drew him pictures and sent those. Turner says they shouldn’t do this and that they can’t afford it. Tim says that they want to because they care, and whether or not his father wants to believe it, he does good work there. ‘If I’m half as good as you one day, I’ll be proud,’ says St Timothy.

The ambulance is taking too long to arrive, so Cynthia runs for Turner, who’s now all cured of his stress-induced guilt spiral. He goes to collect his bag from the surgery and then hurries to Ameera’s bedside. She’s now in a seriously bad way and Barbara can only urge her to stay alive just a little while longer. Turner checks her out and says he needs to give her a tracheotomy right away. The nurses are shocked but help get her into position. Turner successfully performs the procedure. Ameera is saved!

The damn ambulance finally shows up and she’s taken to the hospital. Cynthia approaches with Ameera’s husband and Turner tells the man that he and everyone else in the house need to vaccinated. That’s right, people, VACCINATE. Otherwise, you’ll be complicit in pregnant women choking to death. Or infants dying. You really want that on your conscience? As he sends everyone inside, Bernadette arrives with the vaccines. Turner administers them. Once he’s done, he apologises to his wife for leaving her in a terrible position. She tells him he did no such thing, he was just ill. He admits he was a little afraid the old daemons would come back, but he knows now that won’t happen, because he has her. Aww. They hug and then head home.

Mrs P tickles little Raymond’s tummy while her husband prays with that guy in the background.

Trixie and the girls go out for the evening.

Ameera brings her newborn baby to the clinic, where there’s another Silheti woman, so I guess some of the other wives have started coming over.

4 thoughts on “Call the Midwife: Frailty

  1. I really enjoy your thorough recaps! Thanks for taking the time. Sister Bernadette now goes by Shelagh, her given name. I think it’s pretty and had never seen it spelled that way before.

    1. Glad you’re enjoying the recaps! I did know about Bernadette/Sheilagh’s name change, but I kept it Bernadette to keep things a bit less confusing, since that’s what she’s been known as since the beginning. I’ll be honest, it’s also a little easier to spell 🙂

  2. Hi, I love your recaps and I’m glad I’ve recently discovered your blog, since I love Call the Midwife. About Shelagh/Sister Bernadette, though, I have to say that from my perspective, I think it’s more confusing to keep calling her Bernadette, since she hasn’t gone by that name since series 2 and probably won’t ever use it again. Your recaps are great to read, but whenever you mention “Bernadette” I have to change it to “Shelagh” in my own head.

    That’s just my 2 cents, though, for whatever it’s worth. Thanks for your write-ups of this show! I really enjoy reading them!

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