Previously on Call the Midwife: Chummy had a baby, Jenny got a boyfriend, and the nuns found out they were going to have to leave Nonnatus House.
JVO talks about how important Christmas traditions are, as young Jenny cycles through the neighbourhood, greeting people by name and enjoying the holiday cheer. Fred’s selling mistletoe, and Noakes gives him a bit of a hard time over not having the proper license to do so, which nets him some mistletoe at a discount.
Jenny arrives at the clinic with a couple of kids she’s collected. It’s polio vaccination day for the 4-6 crowd. Inside, Sister Evangeline scolds Cynthia for buying a pick and mix instead of barley twists, because the whole line’ll be held up by kids trying to find their favourite flavour. She tells Jenny to take out all the jujus, because everyone likes them. Turner sticks around long enough to exposit that they’ve had several polio cases in the district already, and he’s going to be tackling the 8-11s after the New Year. He heads out and the girls giggle about his upcoming wedding and how happy he looks. ‘Men generally do when they’ve got what they want,’ Evangeline grumps. To be fair, Evangeline, women generally look happy when they’ve got what they want too. She stomps to the door to let the kids in and immediately drops the grumpy attitude. It’s cute that she seems to genuinely love all the kids.
At Nonnatus, Sister MJ spots Noakes hanging a bit of mistletoe over the phone. He and she exchange a smile before he goes upstairs to greet his wife and son. Like any relatively new mum, she’s relieved to see him. He hides the mistletoe behind his back and tells her she won’t guess what he has. Wearily, she says that if it’s a steak and kidney pie she’ll love him forever. I’m with you on that, Chummy. He produces the mistletoe and she says that’s sweet. He kisses both her and the smiley baby.
Downstairs, Jenny finds Trixie running a blowdryer over some hyacinths Sister MJ planted, which aren’t blooming anytime soon. They talk a little about the poor condition of the place and Jenny says that she’s heard through the boyfriend, Alec, that building works are behind, so it’ll be a little while before they get around to demolishing Nonnatus. On the subject of Alec, Trixie hands over a message from him for Jenny.
Upstairs, Chummy asks if there’s any movement on the ‘getting our own place’ front and learns there’s nothing much around that would be suitable for a family home. Trixie comes in and tells Noakes the station called and he needs to go check out an incident at a nearby building site.
Jenny meets up with Alec at a phone box nearby, holds up a sprig of mistletoe, and they start to adorably kiss.
Julienne, out on her rounds, runs into Bernadette, who’s toting a large, pink box. Bernadette explains that she was just going to help her future stepson with his homework. Julienne sweetly asks what’s in the box and Bernadette, almost defensively, says it’s her wedding dress, but it’s really simple and not at all flashy. Julienne tells her she’ll be exquisite in it, and she and the other nuns hope to see more of her. Bernadette tells her she doesn’t want to be any trouble and Julienne reassures her they’re never too busy to see her or remember her in their prayers. Bernadette thanks her and moves along. Julienne looks a bit worried.
Jenny’s checking out a patient, who’s hugely pregnant and a couple of weeks overdue already. Jenny promises it won’t be long now and finishes her exam. The woman calls her husband, Alan, in. Jenny tells him all is well and, noting he’s still in PJs, asks if he’s been ill. He explains that he’s had a bout of malaria, which he picked up in Korea. He’s quite sweet with his wife, Yvonne, and clearly a little worried about her, like most good husbands about to become first-time fathers.
That evening, the girls drop by Chummy’s room with baby cham before they go on their traditional carol singing trip to the maternity ward. They ask Chummy to come with them, but she demurs, saying there are some things worth staying in for and looking lovingly over at the baby in his cot.
Bernadette’s showing Tim the dress, and he doesn’t understand why she’s bothering showing him, since he’s not a girl or anything. She just wants a second opinion. He wonders why the dress is gray, not white and she explains she wanted something understated. He says he overheard a woman in the neighbourhood describing Bernadette as being like a divorced person, because she’d been previously married to Jesus. That upsets Bernadette and she snatches the dress box up and hurriedly closes it.
At the maternity ward, Julienne and Turner attend to a labouring mother while outside the delivery room, the midwives and other nuns sing a carol. They all smile happily when they hear the baby’s cry from the delivery room. The mother is handed her daughter and she happily calls it the best thing anyone ever got for Christmas.
Turner reports the whole thing to Bernadette as soon as he gets home and also tells her he ordered her bridal bouquet. He gently brings up the possibility of inviting the nuns to the wedding and she admits she feels a little awkward around them, as well as guilty for having rejected them. He reassures her they’ll figure this whole thing out.
Cynthia’s on hyacinth duty, because heaven knows these girls don’t have anything better to do, when suddenly all the lights go out and someone starts hammering on the door. It’s Noakes, telling her they have to clear out of Nonnatus immediately, because there’s an unexploded bomb in a nearby street. They cut the electricity because there were also exposed wires nearby. It’s the middle of the night, so everyone’s roused from their beds for blocks around, including Yvonne and Alan. Alan looks a little freaked out by the mention of a bomb and begins sweating and splashing water on his face. He and Yvonne and the rest of their neighbours, as well as all the Nonnatus residents, head out into the night, making their way to the community centre, which is now going to be a refugee centre. Fred, in his capacity as a civil defence volunteer, is directing traffic. Bernadette’s evacuating as well, but instead of going to the centre, she shows up at Turner’s doorstep and impishly asks if there’s any room at the inn.
At the centre, Evangelina immediately gets to work directing everyone there how best to set the place up for all the displaced families. Outside, it’s chaos. Trixie emerges and lays down the law, telling everyone they’d better behave, or else. In they flood, and Jenny spots Yvonne. A car backfires and Alan jumps, which Jenny notices.
Bernadette’s ready to bunk down on the Turner sofa while Tim prepares some tea. This kid’s pretty awesome, isn’t he?
Jenny checks Yvonne’s blood pressure and tells her it’s fine, despite the stressful experience. Alan notices a poster for highland dancing classes for kids on the bulletin board, which leads to some reminiscing, because that’s how he and Yvonne met when they were children. They’re in the kitchen, and Jenny suggests they go to the hall, but Yvonne asks if they can just stay where they are, and Jenny allows it and goes to find a camp bed for them.
Everyone settles down to try and get a bit more sleep. Noakes comes in and Cynthia directs him towards Chummy and the baby. She admits this isn’t how she hoped her baby’s first Christmas would go, but she’s just happy to have him.
Yvonne’s clearly having a lot of trouble getting comfortable, so she’s awake when Alan starts having a terrible nightmare and wakes himself up, screaming. She soothes him back to sleep.
The nuns prepare to say lauds, but Sister MJ doesn’t want to, because it’s just not the same without Bernadette. She’s worried that Bernadette’s making a mistake.
In the morning, Tim surreptitiously goes into his father’s bag, takes a pill out, swallows it, and returns everything to its proper place. Hmmm.
The street where the bomb is has been cordoned off, and Noakes is walking through with Alec, telling him how devastated the area was during the Blitz. Some army man asks who Alec is and Noakes explains that he’s with the council. The man tells Alec that, if this thing blows, they may very well be building the whole street from scratch.
At the shelter, Chummy finds an old sheet and a bunch of hockey sticks in a closet and sits down to get to work on something. Meanwhile, the nuns and the midwives are serving up breakfast in the increasingly chaotic hall. Chummy emerges with her guides hat and whistle and calls for her scout troop to fall in (and the call apparently isn’t ‘quack, quack, quack,’ as I originally thought, but ‘pack, pack, pack,’ which makes marginally more sense). The kids obey immediately and she hands out some scarves for them all to wear, explaining that they’re going to treat this as a badging opportunity, and everyone who thinks of others before himself gets a star badge. Before they get started, Chummy makes one little kid remove the reindeer antlers he’s wearing, which seems a little mean, to be honest.
Some guy tries to find out from Noakes whether they’ll be able to go home in time for Christmas. Fred quickly sends him on his way.
An army man is below the street level, looking at the bomb in horror. He comes topside and tells Noakes this is a complicated bomb and they need to send for some semi-retired man who lives in the Scottish borders. He won’t be able to arrive until the next day, at the earliest.
The crowd at the centre is not happy to hear they’ll be spending yet another night at the shelter, but there’s nothing that can be done about it. After Noakes announces it, Trixie and Jenny go to check on Yvonne, who tells them she’s having some pains in her lower back. They guess this is the beginning of labour, and Trixie suggests Alan step out while they do an exam. He wants to stay, which surprises the girls, but Yvonne says they have no secrets, and he can just look away.
Outside, the kids are enjoying a rowdy game of hockey, but the noise is seriously starting to get to Alan, who’s squeezing his head and clearly just trying to hold himself together. Jenny tells Yvonne she’s starting the very earliest parts of labour. Yvonne’s hoping to still have the baby at home. While she and the midwives chat, the hockey ball comes crashing through the window and Alan loses it completely, screaming and fleeing the room as fast as he can.
Jenny and Trixie cautiously go looking for him and find him in a quiet, empty room filled with billiard tables. Trixie, clearly understanding what she’s dealing with, gently coaxes him out of a hiding place under one of the tables, reassuring him it’s safe now. She checks his hand, which is bleeding, and manages to get him to a better lit room so she can remove the glass from his hand and tend his wounds. She bandages him up and says that her father fought in Mesopotamia. He opens up and tells her that he saw some truly horrible things while he was in Korea, and he’s been so horribly affected by it he can constantly smell the blood. Yikes! Yvonne comes in to comfort him and he apologises to her for losing control. Trixie tearfully snaps at him never to say that again.
She gathers Jenny and Cynthia and tells them what Alan said, adding that she’s never seen a man so broken and messed up. As gently as she can, Jenny says that Alan needs professional help and they should talk to Turner after Christmas. Trixie doesn’t think that’s enough. Chummy picks this inconvenient moment to pop up and announce she’s managed to pilfer enough milk to make them all some Horlick’s. Trixie yells that Horlick’s can’t solve everything before running off.
Jenny, armed with two mugs of Horlick’s, finds Trixie smoking on a staircase. Trixie accepts the peace offering and starts talking about how horrible it is to watch someone with PTSD trying to deal with it. Her father came back with it, and during the day, she had to try and manage him. She did it by basically cranking up the Shirley Temple routine as high as it would go, just to make him smile. Jenny says how sorry she is and that it’s a terrible burden for someone so young. Trixie agrees, but says it’s made her the person she is now, and it helped him. Starting to tear up, she tells Jenny that they have to find a way to give Alan hope.
Chummy heads to Turner’s to ask Bernadette if they can sort of borrow the house to play musical chairs with the scout troop. Actually, I think what they’re doing is holding the kids’ holiday party, which was alluded to a little earlier. Bernadette evidently agrees, because the seriously jacked-up kids are soon running around to the sound of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree while Turner and Bernadette look on, smiling benevolently, and Chummy works the record player. Tim shares some red juice or soda with one of his friends, Jack, who’s taking care of Chummy’s baby.
Jenny, the naughty thing, is sneaked into Alec’s room, against the landlady’s rules. He offers her some Nescafe and a Garibaldi biscuit. She accepts, just happy to be out of the rescue centre and into somewhere a bit quiet. She stretches out on the bed, groaning gratefully and he takes a seat beside her. They talk a bit about Christmas dinner—he’s been invited to join the nuns since his parents live in Ceylon. They’re quite cute together, which is nice to see.
Chummy gathers all the kids so they can go back to the centre. Turner’s going to lead them, promising the boys a detour past the bomb site, which gets an enormous cheer. Boys. Jack, now half propped up by the wall, complains that the party gave him a headache.
Tim, oddly, is staring at his tongue in the mirror. It’s been turned red by whatever he was drinking. Bernadette asks him what he’s up to and he says he’s looking at his tongue. Then he feels his glands.
Jenny comes upon Yvonne out in the hallway, unable to sleep, and asks how she and Alan are both doing. Yvonne says she’s fine, but Alan’s terrible memories are typically brought on by his bouts with malaria, or bad things happening. Oh, man, all of this seems terrible for someone who’s about to become a father. Inability to handle sudden noises? Extreme anxiety? This is going to be a tough road for these two. Yvonne tells her that they do most things together and always have, except Korea, of course. She wishes she’d been there too, so they could share their pain and she could understand it better.
Chez Turner, Bernadette eyes the dress box, then gets up and tries it on, climbing onto a chair so she can see herself in the mirror over the mantelpiece. She wasn’t lying, it’s super simple. Rather, well, nun-like, it must be said.
The bomb expert, a Major, arrives and immediately goes to see what they’re dealing with.
Jenny and Trixie have gone to Evangeline and Julienne with a daring plan: to allow Alan to be present in the room during the birth of his child. Evangeline’s shocked by the idea, and Julienne gently suggests it may not be for the best, considering how emotionally delicate the man is. Trixie insists that seeing his child being born could really help him, but the nuns don’t think he belongs in there. Jenny firmly says the man feels weak and out of control and he needs to know he has the strength to support his wife and child. Evangeline says they really need to think of their patient first, and Julienne suggests they go and look after their other patients for a while.
Over breakfast, Tim takes a couple more pills, swallowing them with the help of that red drink.
At the centre, the kids are singing O Little Town of Bethlehem, but the carol singing is quickly halted when Jack unexpectedly throws up.
At the Turner home, Doc’s telling Tim they’re going to hit up the barber’s together later, so they can get pre-wedding haircuts. Tim, looking pale, picks at his food. Turner goes to answer the phone and tells Tim he has to go to the rescue centre. Tim’s not happy, because he was promised Brylcreem at the barber’s. Turner says they’ll go the following day, and then go out for a fry-up as his stag do. Tim’s confused by this, and Turner says he was hoping Tim would be his best man. He’s just asking the kid now? A day or two before the wedding? Tim’s delighted to be asked.
The major checks out the bomb and goes topside to report that this type of bomb was run on a clock that sometimes jammed, which meant the bomb didn’t detonate. He says he once saw one go off so badly and quickly all they found of one sergeant was his tunic button embedded in a door two streets away. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Turner examines Jack and asks him to wiggle his toes. He can’t. Turner goes to arrange an ambulance, because apparently we have yet another polio case.
Back at home, Tim gets to work excitedly polishing his and his dad’s wedding shoes and ironing their shirts, which is adorable.
Bernadette’s back at the bridal salon, trying on dresses, but she’s not sure what to do. She asks the saleslady if it’s normal for a bride to go off her dress suddenly. The stupid woman says it happens, but usually it means the bride’s actually gone off the groom. Who the hell says that? Who the hell says that to someone they’re trying to sell a wedding dress to? Bernadette asks to have the original dress boxed back up.
Turner tells Julienne they may have another polio case, which seriously worries her, since lots of the kids still aren’t vaccinated and overcrowded conditions like they currently have at the centre are the worst for something like this. Turner agrees and says he’s trying to get everyone back in their homes and the vaccinations expedited.
At the salon, the idiot saleswoman keeps digging her grave by telling Bernadette she should have brought her mum, like most women do. Bernadette informs her that her mother died when she was a child. ‘That’s a shame, most brides need their mothers. How else are you going to get your veil on straight?’ My god, this woman’s unbelievable. Bernadette shortly says she’s wearing a hat, not a veil, and the woman impertinently asks if she has any sisters. Jesus, lady, shut up!
Turner’s on the phone, trying to tell whatever idiot is on the other side that he’s trying to avert an epidemic. He’s put on hold.
Bernadette returns home to find Tim unconscious on the sofa. She tries to get him to sit up, but he’s totally unresponsive. And he can’t wiggle his toes either.
She gets him to the hospital, where he gets a lumbar puncture. Bernadette’s freaking out, thinking she should have seen the symptoms earlier, being a nurse. She lets it slip that she’s not the boy’s mother, and the nurse tells her she has to leave, then.
Turner, having evidently gotten word of what’s happened, comes tearing into the hospital and finds Bernadette in the hall. She weepily apologises over and over. He rushes into the ward, where poor Tim is now in an iron lung. Eeek! The nurse recognizes Turner as the man who sent in Jack, who apparently had a really mild dose and is going to be just fine. The same can’t really be said of Tim, here, though. Turner strokes his son’s hair with his hand, cries, and tries to get him to respond to his voice. Timothy’s out cold.
Bernadette seeks refuge in the only place she knows: with the other nuns. She joins them just as they’re saying one of their lovelier services. Julienne reaches over and takes her hand comfortingly.
Later, she’s found Bernadette a camp bed and the two are having a heart-to-heart. Julienne, like a mom, says she’ll inform the church the wedding has been postponed and take care of all the necessary cancellations, which will be few, because the plans were pretty simple to begin with. Bernadette says she kept everything as small and quiet as she could and Julienne asks if that’s what she really wanted. Bernadette breaks down and admits it isn’t, but she felt guilty for wanting more. And now everything’s going so pear shaped. Julienne tells her the marriage will go through, because it’s meant to, and they’ll pray for Timothy. She continues that they’re glad she came to them and Bernadette’s surprised to hear that, after she walked away from them. Julienne doesn’t see it that way, saying Bernadette found joy, and they’d never hold that against her.
Everyone shakes the major’s hand before he goes down to try and defuse the bomb.
Bernadette joins Turner at the hospital, where he’s holding vigil at Timothy’s bedside.
Yvonne’s labour is progressing really slowly, and she wishes it would go a tad faster. Jenny says it’s all fine, and that they’re hoping to get her home soon, so she can have her baby there.
The major gets to work, carefully unscrewing something or other and removing it. But as he’s working on that, he accidentally drops it, and some ominous ticking begins. He rushes up the ladder and yells for everyone up top to get down. They all hit the dirt behind some sandbags as he rushes to get away from the bomb himself. It detonates, rattling cups at the centre and bringing down some plaster dust and the telephone at Nonnatus. The major is thrown to the other side of the sandbags, but seems fine. In fact, the whole street seems fine. It wasn’t nearly as bad as they all thought. At the centre, Sister Evangeline says that that brought back some memories, then goes to makes some tea. Chummy silently freaks out, not knowing where Noakes was or if he’s ok.
Meanwhile, the bomb seems to have accelerated Yvonne’s labour. Jenny and Trixie rush in to help her and she clings to her husband and begs them not to send him out of the room.
Noakes arrives at the centre and announces that everyone can start heading home. They all cheer, and Chummy looks immensely relieved to see him. Still covered in dust from the explosion, he goes over to her and they kiss. I still love these two.
Jenny and Trixie and Alan help Yvonne home.
Back at the shelter, Sister MJ pouts that her bulbs aren’t doing well.
Julienne and Evangeline are coming home to an unwelcome surprise: Alec putting up a Keep Out sign at Nonnatus House. Apparently the explosion compromised the building’s foundations, and it could come down any moment, so they can’t go home. The ladies go and take refuge on the church steps and Evangeline observes that it’s been a while since she’s wanted Hitler’s guts for gaiters. Julienne sighs that Poplar was doing so well, rebuilding and everything, and now this happens. Evangeline stoutly responds that it’ll keep on doing just that, and maybe there’s a reason all this has happened.
At the hospital, Tim finally comes to. His first word: Brylcreem. Heh.
Yvonne labours and wails that she can’t do this. Alan, sitting right beside her and holding her hand, tells her stoutly that she can. One big push and the baby’s head is born. Alan tells her how proud of her he is. One more push and the baby comes out, wailing. Yvonne rests her forehead on Alan’s, he smiling deliriously. Trixie hands the baby to Alan, whispering that this is his baby, and this blood is beautiful. And yes, I’m totally crying at this moment. But I’m seven months pregnant myself, so it’s hormones, I tell you! The two parents marvel at what they’ve created.
Tim’s out of the iron lung, breathing on his own, draped over both Turner’s and Bernadette’s laps. They happily tell him he’s breathing.
JVO chimes in that the midwives and nuns were taken in at various homes in the neighbourhood. Sister MJ and Julienne go to Fred’s. Aww. Looks like Alec did Christmas dinner for the girls, which is cute. And after the holidays, Chummy and Noakes finally got a home of their own and happily and proudly step inside. While the nuns pray, they hear Nonnatus finally come down once and for all.
The wedding’s finally happening, and the girls are getting Bernadette ready at Chummy’s. She’s gone ahead and gotten another dress, but wonders what to do about the grey one. Chummy suggests she use it as a ‘going away’ dress. Bernadette’s so happy it looks like she could burst as she gets her very first nail polish application and Trixie does her makeup. Someone rings the doorbell and Chummy goes to admit Sister MJ, who happily comes in with her hyacinths, which have finally bloomed. And she’s brought them by for Bernadette’s bouquet, which is so utterly sweet.
At the Turner home, Timothy looks down balefully at the leg braces he now needs to wear. Ooof, the poor kid. Can you imagine what that would be like? Knowing you’ll probably never run or play most games with the other kids or dance when you get older? How awful. His dad comes in and Tim admits that he’s scared people will laugh. They’d have to be unbelievable assholes to do so. Turner tells him that weddings are about love, which is serious and beautiful, and if people are smiling, it’s because they’re glad. He asks Tim if he’s got the rings, and Tim says he has. As a gift, Turner produces a pot of Brylcreem. Awww!
The church has an actual congregation for the wedding. The nuns are there too. Turner and Tim take their place at the front. Bernadette gets ready to walk up the aisle and is accompanied to the door by Julienne. At the last minute, Bernadette thinks that Julienne should give her away. Julienne takes her hands and tells Bernadette that she belongs to no one but herself, and therefore nobody can give her away but herself. She leaves her and goes to join the other nuns in the first pew. Bernadette, wearing a really lovely traditional wedding dress and veil, walks toward the groom, smiling delightedly, trailed by Trixie, Cynthia, and Jenny, acting as bridesmaids. Turner beams, Timothy beams. There’s a ridiculous amount of joy coming out of this one scene. Turner lifts her veil, takes her hand, and they get started.
Well, I’m a puddle of goo just now. It wasn’t a particularly tense episode (but then, I’m fine with that at Christmas), but it certainly was a heartfelt one. I appreciate that it wasn’t all saccharine (PTSD and polio? Happy holidays!) because frankly that sort of thing makes me want to vomit, but it wasn’t too harshly hard hitting either. Just right. Though if I had to quibble, I’d say that the PTSD plotline was sewn up a bit too simply. I’m pretty sure seeing your child being born isn’t really a cure for that, but then, I’m no expert. And presumably he did get professional help after the holidays, so I’ll just let it go.
See you all in 2014!