Previously on Call the Midwife: Jenny befriended a young prostitute with a really depressing story; new midwife Chummy showed up and did a bang-up job with her first (complicated) delivery.
Jenny bikes through the neighborhood and VOs how sheltered she used to be and how much bolder she is now. She arrives home and hands over a gift from a grateful new father: quite a lot of beef (she just delivered a butcher’s baby). Bernadette tells her Fred’s got a new moneymaking scheme, but he’s not telling them what it is. Sister MJ starts quoting Virgil out of nowhere, like she does, and Evangelina moans that it’s too early for Virgil. “Only if you’re ignorant,” Sister MJ replies sunnily. Heh. Jenny barely has time to sit down with her cup of tea before Julianne comes in and tells her she’s needed. The others head out too, leaving Fred to unwittingly chat to himself.
Jenny’s being sent out to take care of an elderly man who’s got leg ulcers. Julienne tells her the man’s interesting and she should enjoy herself.
Outside, Evangelina impatiently calls for Chummy, who emerges and explains she may have overdone it taking her slip in. They set off and she almost crashes into Constable Noakes, the man she accidentally ran down in the last episode. They’re kind of cutely awkward in their back-and-forth, while Evangelina rolls her eyes in the background.
Jenny reaches the old man’s flat—his name’s Joe—and he greets her pleasantly and shows her inside, telling her he’s got the boiling water ready. His flat’s rather cramped and filled with books, every available space cluttered. Jenny gets that slightly horrified look on her face that we’ll remember from the first episode, but he seems unperturbed, telling her to just shift a few things out of the way to lay out her instruments. Jenny cleans his legs as gently as she can and he offers her a cup of tea. Jenny takes it and looks into the cup, noticing that apparently he’s forgotten to add tea to the water. She covers by asking for a cold drink instead, but all he has is a bit of whiskey. She says it’s fine, she’ll do without. He explains he got the wounds in the Boer War, and he shows off some pictures of his family, which included two sons until the Great War came along. And his wife died in the Blitz. Jesus, how is this guy not totally depressed? He shrugs off her sympathy and says that they loved him and he loves them. Aww. He offers her some more refreshment and she demurs, but when he looks sad, she realizes how lonely he is and offers to drop by later that evening. His face lights up like a Roman candle. Awwww!
Clinic time! A woman shows up with her husband, who’s so over the moon about being a dad that he announces it excitedly to everyone in the waiting room and attempts to join his wife for her exam. The midwives tell him he has to wait outside, so he settles down with the other mums and keeps talking about how happy he is. He also mentions his first wife died of cancer.
His new wife, on the other hand, is not delighted. Trixie and Cynthia measure her belly and guess she’s due in a month, which is a bit odd, because she apparently only found out that day she was pregnant. Hmmm. The mother, Mrs. Lawson, says it was all a bit of a shock, because she thought she was too old to have a baby.
Jenny’s back at Joe’s, having a wee nip now she’s off duty. He admits he thought she wouldn’t come, which is so sad, though he says it in his usual chipper way. He talks about how great he thinks his flat is and how when he was young he never dreamed of such luxury. Wow. Jenny manages a slightly fake smile.
Trixie goes to Mrs. Lawson’s to drop off the delivery pack and answer any questions. The pair sit down for a chat and Mrs. Lawson tells her that her first husband walked out one day, leaving her with three kids, so she took a job in a shop and met her new husband. Trixie thinks it’s terribly romantic, but Mrs. Lawson admits she didn’t marry the man for love, she did it for her kids. It seems she’s become fond of him, though. She starts to tear up and Trixie asks her what’s wrong, but before she can answer Mr. L returns home with a stack of books and gets worried when he sees Trixie there. She says everything’s just fine and he shows her all the baby and childbirth books he went out to get. Oh, this man is so sweet.
Joe’s telling Jenny all about his wife, whom he met when they were both 16. She waited for him to come back from the war and she was the reason he came back. He asks Jenny if she’s got a beau of her own and she says she doesn’t and changes the subject by offering to fetch some biscuits. When she lifts up the plate, she reveals a whole bunch of bugs, and she freaks out and quickly excuses herself. Christ, Jenny, I would have thought you’d seen worse and could handle yourself a little better than that. So much for not being so sheltered anymore.
She returns to Nonnatus House, where everyone’s having dinner. She tells the others about her horrible, horrible experience seeing bugs in someone’s house, and hilariously, they all respond with blank stares. Sister Evangelina, who, let’s recall, grew up really poor and Jenny should remember that and maybe be a bit more sensitive, shrugs; Trixie’s like, yeah, whatever, bugs happen; and even Chummy doesn’t care. And when the girl who grew up with an ayah and has had a tipple with Princess Margaret isn’t fazed, you really need to chill the heck out. Bernadette mentions there’s been a lot of talk of closing down the tenements and Cynthia pipes up that they should, because the places aren’t that hygienic. Sister MJ wistfully says she wishes she could be an insect sometimes, because wouldn’t it be cool to have a thorax and wings? Jenny sniffs that she can’t possibly go back to that awful place and Julienne awesomely tells her to get the hell over herself and do her job. I love her so much.
At night, Jenny lies in bed, apparently dreaming she’s covered in insects, because she keeps scratching at her skin. She hears a noise outside and goes to the window to investigate. Below stands a young man she recognizes—Jimmy. She opens the window and asks what he’s doing there. He admits he’s in a tight spot and asks to come in. After some protest, she allows it, showing him into an alcove downstairs. He tells her he’s only just arrived in London a few hours earlier and we also learn that he’s known her their whole lives. She asks why he’s there and instead of answering he asks her to let him stay the night. She once again briefly protests, and then agrees to stash him in the boiler room, where they find a small cage with some quails or something in it. She has no idea what the story is there, so she just leaves Jimmy for the night.
The next morning, she wakes and runs downstairs, finding Jimmy and the birds gone. Fred surprises her by wryly saying her guest left early. He promises not to tell on her, since he’s got his own little bird-shaped secret. Turns out they are quails, and they seem to be his latest moneymaking scheme. Jenny couldn’t possibly care less, because this is something that doesn’t involve her and she has little time for things that don’t involve her directly.
Mr. Lawson’s busily reading his books and taking his wife’s temperature to make sure it’s not spiking or anything. His wife impatiently goes to do the washing and he tries to help her but she yells at him to just leave her alone and stomps off, leaving him totally crushed inside. Poor man! After a minute, though, she comes back in and apologizes and he forgives her immediately. I’m guessing he read that mood swings are pretty common in pregnancy.
Jenny drags herself back to Joe’s and meets his seriously unpleasant next-door neighbor, who bitches about him being a “smelly old man” who stinks the place up. And then she spits at Jenny’s feet and Jenny doesn’t bother in the least to hide her disgust. The woman responds with a: “What?” face.
Inside, Joe says he thought Jenny might not come back. As it’s the end of the day, he offers her a drink and as she reaches for the bottle, she notes an invitation to a reunion of the Scots Guards. He says he used to love going to the reunions, but he can’t anymore because of his legs. Jenny offers to take him, because she doesn’t think it’s right that he should have fought for his country and now doesn’t get to go to the parties. He’s utterly over the moon at the prospect.
Jenny’s cooling her heels at the waterfront with Jimmy, telling him all about Joe and how she hopes she’s so cheery when she’s old. They talk a bit about adventures and she shares the oh-so-daring story of how she once snuck out of the house and hitchhiked to London to see a concert a few years back. He teasingly asks her what else he doesn’t know and offers to buy her some hideous earrings as a bribe before asking if he can stay in the boiler room again. He wails a bit about how expensive rooms are and how he can’t ask his mother for any money because she doesn’t have any. Jenny agrees.
Trixie and Cynthia are setting up for the clinic when Mr. L shows up and asks them for advice on the nursery. Trixie correctly guesses he doesn’t really want to talk about the nursery and he settles down and tells the girls that his wife’s been acting differently lately—angry, emotional, you know how it is. The girls tell him that there are a lot of hormonal changes just now and he needs to support her.
Jenny arrives at Joe’s and finds him all dressed up in a suit, with his regimental medals pinned to his chest. Jenny tells him how nice he looks and calls Jimmy in to help them. Jimmy obligingly pushes Joe in his wheelchair to the dinner and charms him. As soon as Joe arrives at the dinner, all the guests raise a glass to him as a distinguished old soldier. It’s quite sweet. And then everyone sits down and Joe gets a bit teary as he thanks Jenny for getting him there. He also observes that Jimmy’s sweet on her. Jenny pretends not to know what he means, but Joe’s no fool. Jimmy joins them at the table and urges Joe to tell them stories, which he does.
The following morning, Jenny shoos Jimmy out of the boiler room, just missing Julienne as he goes. Later, while she’s heading out on rounds, Chummy passes Noakes and they smile cutely at each other.
On her way to Joe’s, presumably, Jenny runs into Fred, who informs her he’s now going to be making toffee apples to sell. Whatever. I can’t say I’m any more interested in Fred’s moneymaking schemes than Jenny is, and Lord knows she couldn’t care less. At Joe’s, Jenny observes that his ulcers are improving. She also notices that he’s been really quiet and he hands her a notice that tells her he’s being evicted, because they’re tearing down the building. Jenny can’t believe it, and honestly, I don’t buy her indignation considering how disgusted she was just earlier in the episode. Did one regimental dinner really make her so ok with this man’s home? I get she’s fine with him, that makes sense, but it seems strange for her to be so upset about the tenement being taken down. In fact, she’s so upset he ends up having to comfort her, which makes me want to lean through my screen and slap the hell out of her. Get over yourself, Jenny.
Back at Nonnatus, Jenny complains about the destruction of the building to Julienne, like she can do anything about it. Julienne says it is what is is and all Jenny can do is ease the transition for Joe. Jenny whines that it’s not fair. Well, neither is life, Jenny. Bernadette comes out to the garden, asking if Fred’s around, because there’s a clattering noise in the boiler room. Jenny runs inside after her and distracts her long enough for Jimmy to sneak out of the room. I’m kind of distracted by the fact that Jimmy looks a lot like the guy who played Cato in The Hunger Games, and I keep expecting him to beat someone to death or break their neck.
Jenny finds Jimmy and asks him what he’s still doing there. He tells her he accidentally overslept. Their chat’s interrupted by the arrival of Julienne. Jenny introduces him and it’s clear from Julienne’s face she has a notion of what’s going on here, probably because these two are the worst liars on earth. She invites Jimmy to stay for lunch.
Mrs. Lawson’s hanging up the washing when her labour pains begin. Mr. L runs out, realizes she’s in labour, and runs off to call the midwives.
At Nonnatus, everyone’s having lunch and Jimmy’s being rather charming. Chummy arrives a bit late, catches sight of Jimmy and is entertainingly awkward. Julienne asks how he knows Jenny and he says they go way back, and Jenny even used to let him stay in the drying room at the nurses’ home. Way to put that idea in their heads, Jimmy. How long before one of these ladies starts keeping a really sharp eye out for you in their rooms later? Julienne and Evangelina remember when four young men were found in the broom cupboard at another convent. Apparently it was quite the hilarious story. Sister MJ breaks in and asks when Jenny and Jimmy are going to get married. Jenny protests that they’re just friends, but Sister MJ really doubts that. Jimmy jokes that he thinks Jenny wants to be a nun and, for some reason, Jenny gets really, really offended at that. Thankfully, the phone rings and breaks up the awkward moment.
Trixie and Cynthia arrive at the Lawsons’, where they find the Mrs. in the bedroom in labour. Why are they both there? They’re both pretty experienced to be working in a team. Maybe because it’s an older mother, although Chummy was on her own with an older mother last episode. The girls listen to the foetal heartbeat, observe that it’s slow, and go to call the doctor.
Jenny’s back at Joe’s, passing by the gross neighbor, who asks if they can do something about the building being torn down. Jenny says she can’t, and if she could, it wouldn’t be to help this awful woman. Jenny lets herself into Joe’s flat and finds it empty and him gone.
Trixie observes that the baby’s heartbeat is still weak and tells Mrs. Lawson that she needs to start pushing and get this kid out ASAP. Mrs. Lawson wails that she can’t have this baby and starts freaking out. Trixie asks what she’s so afraid of and Mrs. Lawson squeals that she’s afraid it’s going to be black. That’s a good reason to be nervous all right. Trixie says she doesn’t care what colour it is, they need this kid born now. Mrs. Lawson pushes and as the baby emerges the girls see that the cord’s wrapped around its neck. As they cut it, Dr. Turner arrives and lends a hand. The baby’s fully born and Cynthia and Dr. Turner set about reviving it. It finally cries, to everyone’s relief, but just as she feared, it’s black. Oh, poor Mr. Lawson. Dr. Turner pastes on a smile and says he’ll go give her husband the good news. Mrs. Lawson can hardly bring herself to look at the baby.
Dr. Turner goes and tells Mr. L that it’s a boy, but he might want to wait for a bit before visiting. Mr. L’s just overjoyed. This is going to be a hard, hard fall.
Upstairs, Mrs. L tells the girls that she went out and got drunk one night and made a serious mistake. She’s sure her husband’s going to leave her, which wouldn’t be surprising, considering the times. A baby that’s not yours is bad enough, but one that’s so visibly not yours—and black in the 1950’s to boot—would be something of a disaster. Mrs. L finally gives in to the inevitable, takes the baby, and says they might as well get this over with.
Cynthia sends Mr. Lawson up, and Dr. Turner wisely goes with him. He bursts into the room, all smiles, takes a look at the baby, and after a fairly long pause, asks to hold him. He cuddles the baby cutely, brushes its little fingers, and says it’s the most beautiful baby in the world. He asks his wife what they should call him and she asks him to choose the name. He offers up Edward, his own name. Wow. It’s nice, but a totally unlikely resolution to this plotline. I know that racial tensions weren’t quite as bad in Britain as they were in America at the time, but they were still there, and it’s really, really unlikely that a man of that time would have been willing to keep and father a child that’s extremely obvious proof that his wife was stepping out on him. But whatever, we’ll just go with the fairytale.
The girls take the story back to Nonnatus, where Chummy can’t believe what she’s hearing. They figure he was either in shock or really loves his wife a lot. Further conversation is put on hold by the arrival of Noakes, who’s there to see Fred. Seems some of his toffee apples have been sold with feathers stuck to them. Ew. And some have blood on them as well. Who was buying these things? They didn’t notice blood on the apples before they paid? Noakes knows that Fred’s been slaughtering quails and making toffee apples in the same place, which is disgusting even in those slightly more permissive times. He’s willing to look the other way for a bit, but Fred’s got to shut the businesses down.
Now that’s done, Noakes can act awkward around Chummy for a bit, until finally Evangelina’s had enough and plays matchmaker, setting up a movie date between the two of them on Friday. Hee!
Jenny emerges from Nonnatus and finds Jimmy, who’s brought chocolates and apologies. Jenny, who clearly doesn’t understand the concept of a joke, is still all offended by his jest about her becoming a nun. Man, she’s uptight. What’s her problem? He apologizes and promises not to come bothering her anymore. He hands over the chocolates, kisses her on the cheek, and takes off. Jenny looks like she’s going to follow him, but then thinks better of it and continues on her way to visit Joe at the old folks’ home where he’s now living. She finds him snoozing in a chair and wakes him with a kiss on the cheek. He’s so happy to see her it’s actually heartbreaking. She asks after his legs and he admits they get itchy now and then, but he’s fine, really fine. His only complaint is that he can only smoke outside and he can’t find anyone to help him out. Jenny, of course, does it and he puffs away contentedly on his pipe. He asks after Jimmy and says he misses his family all the time, but if you open yourself to love, you inevitably open yourself to heartache. Lessons, Jenny!
And now we get our weekly does of churchy nun music. Hey, there are more than four nuns living at Nonnatus House! I had no idea!
Jenny VOs that Joe declined terribly, not having district nurses to look after him anymore. His wounds turned gangrenous and his legs had to be amputated at the knee. She goes to visit him in hospital, but he seems pretty out of it and doesn’t recognize her. He tells her that his legs itch and asks her to scratch them for him. She says she will and bursts into tears. Once again, he comforts her, reassuring her he’ll be all right. But he dies soon after his operation, and Jenny goes and lays flowers at his grave. He even remembered her in his will, leaving her a bottle of whiskey and the glasses they used to drink out of. She opens the box containing all of it at the gravesite and is mysteriously joined by Jimmy. She smiles and hands him a glass.
Ted Lawson wheels the baby proudly into the clinic and tells the nurses the kid’s got a bit of a cough, so he thought he’d have him looked at. Trixie and Cynthia smile beatifically at the scene and Jenny VOs that Ted never asked any questions, and neither did anyone else. Really? Really? Well, I guess they didn’t really have to ask any questions, did they? The story was fairly self-explanatory.
Jenny and Jimmy raise a glass to Joe.