Screens: BBC

And The Seasons, They Go 'Round And 'Round

An uneven Season 4 comes to a close with the return of Chummy! And...some other stuff that Al Lowe is pretty mad about.

  • Previously

    Things may be getting better in the East End, but we still felt a lot of pain this season. Chummy was gone. Trixie drank to hide her pain. Babies died. Nuns cried. Hearts were broken. But there were so many lovely moments as well! Cynthia came back. Babies lived. Mothers were healthy. Patsy fell in love. Fred put a ring on it. Ah, let's sit back and enjoy this last episode and bask in the sweetness. I mean, what could possibly go wrong now?

  • Symbolism

    You Should Have Brought A Potted Plant, Yeah

    The Scene: The nuns have invited Fred and Mrs. Gee to tea to celebrate their engagement. Violet suddenly finds herself nervous that the sisters will think she's uppity for bringing cut dahlias.

    The Symbol: Dahlias.

    The Meaning: In the Victorian language of flowers, dahlias are meant to indicate an everlasting bond of commitment. In other traditions, they are portents of change, even doom. Greeaaaat.

  • Awkward

    Because You Can't Spell "Betrothed" Without "D'Oh"

    Situation: Nonnatus House is great at throwing engagement parties...

    What makes it awkward? Trixie is harshly reminded of her own when she sees the same silver cake board under Fred's engagement cake.

    How is order restored? By Barbara not getting it, really, and being all, no prob, I'm sure the board won't bring the happy couple bad luck!

  • Alert!

    Hello, Old Chum!

    Alert Type: YAAAAAAY Alert.

    Issue: Chummy is back! Chummy is back! Chummy is back!

    Complicating Factors: On a break from the Mother & Baby Home to take a two-week course at The London, Chummy is staying at good ol' Nonnatus with her friends, unfortunately bringing along some sad baggage: her mother's ashes.

    Resolution: With help from Sister Monica Joan, she finds a way to say goodbye to Mater.

    Spoiler: After all this time waiting for her, Chummy is woefully underused, and her presence merely underlines how painfully her absence has been felt.

  • Snapshot

    Please Be Sweet And Take The Seat

    Oh, man. I have missed Chummy. This right here is the story of my life. Moments too late, as Peter drives off with Master Freddie on the way to visit the grandparents, Chummy realizes she is still in possession of Freddie's potty seat.

  • Passages

    Ashes To Ashes, Cake To Cake

    It's definitely the third-tier story in the finale, but I can't help calling out this moment of Chummy's return. When Sister Monica Joan realizes she's carrying not cake but her mother's ashes, Judy Parfitt's face...just...this actress is a treasure and this tiny moment cut me to the bone.

  • Character Study

    Let Me Tell You All About The Mayonnaise On My Fried Lard Sandwich!

    Name: Maureen Gatsby.
    Age: Early 30s.
    Occupation: Wife and Mother.
    Goal: To take care of her ADORALE toddler son, Neil, while gestating her second child. She (brmpf) seems to be (frmph) having more (pmfgh) morning sickness than is usual (bllaaaaaarrrrrrggggGHHHHfffuuurrrrrgh).
    Sample Dialogue: "YAAAAAAACK."
  • Family Matters

    Here Comes Trouble

    Oh, look! Fred's daughter, Marlene, has arrived in town just in time for her dad's wedding. How lovely.

  • Meeting Time

    Egg On Your Face.

    Who called the meeting? Chummy.

    What's it about? To chat to Trixie as she gives herself a "protein mask" made of egg whites in order to stave off encroaching age.

    How'd it go? Chummy is alarmed that Nonnatus has finally thrown over Horlicks for Bournvita, but is game to try this egg mask if it gets her any closer to deciding what to do with her mom's ashes. It doesn't. "I haven't the first idea where to put her," Chummy says. "She floated through life like a beautiful scarf or a trace of perfume."

  • That Quote
    "'Camilla, look after your face. The other end's for sitting on. Nobody will ever see it.'"
    - Chummy, quoting her mother giving her some basically brilliant deadthbed advice -
  • Snapshot

    Attack Of Fred's Fifty-Foot Daughter

    Shout-out to whoever set up this shot, creating the illusion that Marlene is dominating the entire room with her looming presence. Which is exactly what she IS trying to do, as she sets about hectoring her dad about how he can't possibly move out of this beloved flat where she wants him to stay forever being a sad bastard remembering her dead mom.

  • Character Study

    Sounds Of Silence

    Name: June.
    Age: 20s.
    Occupation: Mother-to-be.
    Goal: To basically be adorable with an adorable husband and have an adorable baby. She's Deaf, and the younger nurses use her situation as a platform to allow fathers to be involved in the birthing process.
    Sample Dialogue: "I want to met my baby. Will we understand each other when he's born?"
  • Fight! Fight! Fight!

    New Nurse vs. Old Nurse

    Trixie announces at dinner that she is going to allow June's husband to participate in their child's birth, not only because she needs him there to communicate, but because "he seems frightfully keen!" Sisters Evangelina and Winnifred are shocked and appalled, and Nurse Crane gives testimony of a birth in "an artistic family in Leeds" where there was a father fainting episode.

    Winner: Trixie, on strength of will

  • That Happened

    "Lots Of Girls Share Flats!"

    Delia and Patsy are moving in together! Yay! They look so happy!

  • Hell No!

    Even Mentholated Cigs Won't Cover The Smell Of Sulfur

    Marlene visits Mrs. Gee at the shop and, not satisfied just to plant seeds of doubt in Mrs. Gee's mind about Fred -- by implying that he's just after her money -- manages to act like Birmingham's biggest bitch to boot.

  • Alert!

    Barfing Like A Future Queen!

    Alert Type: Duchess of Cambridge Alert.

    Issue: Clearly, Maureen's "morning sickness" is more than morning sickness.

    Complicating Factors: Barbara gets it, but everyone else thinks this poor woman, whose husband is not "at sea," but in Wormwood Scrubs, just has "nerves."

    Resolution: Nurse Barbara Gilbert never quits! She gets Maureen a bed in a council nursery space for Neil, and gets Dr. Turner on the case. He diagnosis her with hyperemesis gravidarum, just like the D of C.

    Spoiler: I don't have the heart to tell you.

  • Love, Hate & Everything In Between

    "We're Too Old To Make Mistakes"

    Aw, hell. Marlene's snakey routine worked perfectly. Mrs. Gee is afraid that Fred just wants to marry her so that he'll have someone to take care of him. While he insists that's not the case and that the codswallop Marlene is talking is not even real codswallop, Mrs. Gee breaks it off nonetheless.

  • That Quote
    "I shall be eternally glad when I am transmogrified. The burden of the flesh is so heavy. It is no marvel that the soul feels trapped."
    - Sister Monica Joan, advising release for Chummy's mummy -
  • Alert!

    Get. This Thing. Out.

    Alert Type: Pregnant Lady On The Edge Alert.

    Issue: June thinks she has gone into labor, but,'s not quite time, yet.

    Complicating Factors: I have been present when a medical professional told a pregnant woman who thought things were about to finally happen that, ha ha, no, it's not actually time to have the baby yet! I had to save that doctor's life by shielding him from my friend's palpable death glare. It's a level of frustration I've never known before or since, and poor June breaks down and signs, with agonizing emotion, that she just wants her baby in her arms so that she can, whether he is Deaf or hearing, tell him that she loves him.

    Resolution: Well, there's only one way to resolve this.

    Spoiler: The baby makes his move on his own time.

  • Plot Lightning Round

    Have there ever been two cuter ladies ready to hitch up a U-Haul than these two over here, preparing to live the dream?! Delia, in particular, is about to come apart at the seams with joy. Isn't it great that Patsy -- so strong, so resilient after her difficult childhood -- will finally have a sweet and comfortable home life? What could stop them now?


    When Patsy fears one of the Cub pack will see her not following safety regulations on her bike, Delia rides confidently off with the cleaning supplies for their new apartment (squeee!), safety be damned. OMG, how cute are they about this bike? Jeez, Pats, lighten up! It's just a bike ride!


    Meanwhile, Fred is...well, it's come to this.


    Chummy, like only she can, tries to talk sense into Fred. He's neglecting his duties at Nonnatus, leaving the nuns in the cold with a sooty chimney, while he mopes about his witch daughter who can't let go of the past. Chummy feels a bit less than tickety-boo all of a sudden.

  • Snapshot

    I Hate Everybody.

    Let's get this over with. Deels is running late for work.


    Patsy suggests taking the bike. Waves her off at the door practically with hearts in her eyes.


    Delia happily rides away from her true love. You can practically hear the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme playing.


    Promptly gets hit by a van. I absolutely hate everybody.

  • Meeting Time

    Tea And Empathy

    Who called the meeting? Chummy.

    What's it about? Marlene's insistence that Fred stay miserably alone forever just because she doesn't want him to move out of a flat that reminds her of her mother...even though her mother never lived there, having died in The Blitz years before they moved in.

    How'd it go? Marlene admits her true feelings, about the apartment and the changing landscape of London. Fred acknowledges how hard it is for them all. "Sometimes," he says, "I think it's only the river that stays the same." Chummy hears another bell of fate clanging in her head.

  • Wrap It Up

    Poor Patsy goes to the hospital to be treated like just another friend of Delia's. She learns from Delia's sweet but clueless mum that Delia's head injury is causing her to have seizures. She does not recognize Patsy or her mom. Her parents are taking her home to Wales to take care of her. Her mother suggests that Patsy...write to check up on her.


    Marlene, suitably shamed, apologizes to Mrs. Gee.


    Trixie delivers June's baby boy, who is born healthy and loud. He's beautiful, she's beautiful, Trixie's beautiful, they're all beautiful.


    Patsy grieves the only way she can: by cleaning the ever-loving hell out of the windows so that the sun can shine in on the flower jug, like Delia wanted, in their spotless would-be home.


    On her way home from June's delivery, Trixie runs into Tom, who tells her she looks tired. SHUT UP, TOM. He smugly smugs that he's going out to sit with a dying man. Trixie's like, "That's life, really," whereas I am like, "NOBODY CARES, TOM."


    Shaken, Trixie goes to her room and swigs some Scotch. Finally, in desperation, she calls the Samaritans. All she wants, she sobs, is to stop drinking.


    Thank God, Sister Mary Cynthia overhears Trixie and steps in to tell her she's not alone, and that she will help Trixie find healing.


    Having stayed up all night, Patsy watches the sun come up over the dahlias in the jug, and says goodbye -- seemingly for good -- to the flat and the life she and Delia would have had there. (If you were wondering, I still hate everybody. Everybody but Patsy.)


    Maureen is so much better! Yaaay! By the way, what IS in that anti-emetic?


    "The magic ingredient is called Thalidomide!" Goddamn this show.


    Trixie makes her AA debut. It's hard, talking about her father's own struggles with PTSD and alcoholism and how it shaped her life. Every time she delivers a baby, she says, she gets to be in the heart of a happy family for a while.


    Chummy says goodbye to her mother with a sendoff on the River Thames. Well, it's the only thing colder than old Mater, anyway.


    Fred and Violet are married and have a lovely walk back to Nonnatus, bringing the season to an abrubt end. Everybody seems happy enough. Except me. Season 4, you were hard on me. I say goodbye feeling rather unsatisfied. We needed more for Trixie and Chummy and, hell, especially Patsy, good grief. I'll start crying now to prepare for next season.

Readers liked this episode
What did you think?