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As Call The Midwife's Birth Defect Count Increases, Sister Julienne Performs Poplar's Saddest Duty

And when it comes to Tom, Trixie must take the high road once again.

  • That Happened
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    You Learn Something New Every Day

    Apparently, you can "freshen up an oil painting" by blotting it down with bread. I will file this away should I ever become lucky enough to own art that doesn't come in poster form. Anyway, Sister Mary Cynthia is so excited about the upcoming commemoration of Sister Hildegard, the first sister of their order to come to Poplar, she touches up Sister H's portrait and volunteers to work with Sister Monica Joan on the service planning.

  • Character Study
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    College Try

    Name: Ian.
    Age: 19ish.
    Occupation: Would-be College Man; boyfriend to his nursery school sweetheart, Linda.
    Goal: To be the "first in the street" to get into university so that he can study English and become a teacher, or write for the newspapers, or "make programs for the BBC about poetry." Bless his heart.
    Sample Dialogue: "It's William Shakespeare, mum."
  • Health
    From the desk of

    Nurse Shelagh Turner

    Patient

    That rare thing: a first-time mother in Poplar

    Diagnosis

    This dummy thinks Nonnatus midwives provide pain-relieving gas "through the cooker." God help us.

    Prescription

    Education on how the world works, and I hope it sinks in before this chick's poor baby is born.

  • Character Study
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    Model Patient

    Name: Mrs. Cottingham.
    Age: Mid 30s.
    Occupation: Mother of three and pregnant again.
    Goal: To have a healthy baby (preferably a girl), in her own home in her own bed near her own toilet. And to keep her boys' fingers out of mangles.
    Sample Dialogue: "You'll be all right with the Nonnatans."

  • That Happened
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    Whatever! This Won't Make Me Like Tom!

    Okay, fine, so he counseled Ian through his application to University and helped him with the train fare and gave him some books I GUESS TOM'S OKAY.

  • That Quote
    "I know I'm meant to say 'I don't mind as long as it's healthy,' and I do love my boys. But lads, Sister...they egg each other on. I wish I knew where you buy lassos. I'd keep one in me handbag."
    -Mrs Cottingham, hoping for a girl-
  • J. Walter Weather­man Lesson
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    Nice Try, Egghead

    Ian's big excitement about getting into school is cut short when Linda informs him that he'll soon be walking her down the aisle. "I'm in the family way," she tells him. The blood drains from his face. "You said you loved me when we did it!" she reminds him.

    God. Surely this is the last stop on the Ways Pregnancy Ruins Lives Express? Ian looks like he wants to die.

    Fox

    Fox

  • Bad Habits
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    Sunshiney Day

    Patsy and Delia are trying to get their legs brown as they ogle the unquestionable blazing hotness of Anita Ekberg in the newspaper's La Dolce Vita ads. And who can blame them?!

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    "I'm doing all right," Delia quips, "but poor Patsy's struggling, what with her being a 'redhead,' and everything." Patsy asserts that she had shins like milk bottles even when she was a blonde. Oh, how Trixie laughs at all this joshing between two gal pals, missing the opportunity to ask how Delia KNOWS Patsy isn't a REAL redhead. "Damn, Al Lowe, you went there!" I did. And while I have your attention: wear sunscreen.

  • That Happened
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    Called Up To The Big Leagues

    Sister Julienne is seconded to St. Cuthbert's Hospital, where more and more babies are being born. Nurse Crane worries that the work will be too grueling for her. "I'm sure St. Cuthbert's will provide a bath chair, if I can't take the pace," Sister J claps back, which is at close as it gets to a burn from a nun.

  • Awkward
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    My Cousin Mabel From...Canada!

    Situation: Patsy messed up and invited Trixie to ladyblock her trip to the pictures with Delia, so now they have to invite Barbara, too.

    What makes it awkward? Barbara's busy that day. Trixe very snittily asks why. Oh, well, it's uh, her mother's cousin who...um, is visiting London and erm, she can't disappoint Cousin Mabel!

    How is order restored? This lie is so pitiful -- fattier even than the kitchen drippings she's put on her legs to roast them in the sun -- that Trixie, knowing Barbara's covering about a date with Tom, storms off to put mayo on her face, because who needs lotions of any kind when you have a fridge around?

  • Plot Lightning Round
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    At the hospital, Sister J is realizing that institutional birthing is not the most nurturing experience for mother or baby. She helps a nice Sylheti lady give birth, providing tea and sympathy where able.

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    Ian's mother is furious to hear about the grandchild she has on the way, but no one is more miserable about it than Ian. Poor Trixie is caught in the room when this bombshell is dropped, and counsels them to chill.

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    No one chills. Not even when Ian brings Tom in to help break it to Linda's dad, Mr. Lanyard. In fact, there is bodyslamming, and Mr. Lanyard demands that an immediate engagement take place.

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    Ian swears he could support Linda wonderfully if he could just get his degree. He only needs three years. "You haven't got three years, Ian," his mom says. "You've got seven months."

  • It's A Date
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    Bournvita And Bourbon

    When Patsy comes back to Nonnatus after a long day of work, she finds Delia waiting up in the kitchen with a nightcap.

    Who's on a date? Delia and Patsy.

    Where has she taken her? Well, It's the Nonnatus House kitchen, not exactly The Ritz, but it may be the closest our gals get to a date for a while. "Do you know, Deels," Patsy says delightedly, "in my whole life, I never once had anyone wait up for me."

    Are things headed in a horizontal direction? "While you were out," Delia says, "I was thinking: I'm going to unpin her hair, let it fall down to her shoulders, and run my hands through it." I'D SAY YEAH, GIRL.

  • Dialogue

    I Told Y'all Tom Sucked!

    Barbara confronts Tom with the revelation that Trixie knows all "about us." Oh, all about your private Bible studies? Yeah, she knows. Anyway, Barbara is shocked to learn that Tom's not really over his breakup with Trixie, either. What, now?! Since when? Anyway, Barbara is now justifiably pissed. All this out-of-character lying and awkwardness she's been dealing with and Tom's still got a candle lit for his ex?!

    I'm sorry that I made you tell the truth. Because telling the truth is sometimes harder than telling lies. Which is something I've had to do rather more than I would like. And I would've had to do far more in the future, if we'd carried on.
    Who's to say we're not going to carry on? Barbara, I love and I value every single minute, every hour I spend with you.
    That's not enough, Tom. Not when we're causing pain to someone else. And certainly not when it's causing pain to us.
    You really are the sweetest, loveliest girl I ever met.
    I'm not. I'm twenty-three! I'm a nurse. And what nurses do when they see pain is try to stop it.
  • That Happened
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    Not Exactly Over Easy

    Mrs. Cottingham is laboring at home, just like she wanted, but Barbara and Phyllis determine that, unfortunately, her baby is in what is called "brow presentation," or sunnyside-up. It's not as cute as it sounds. They call an ambulance and she is taken to hospital.

  • Plot Lightning Round
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    Ugh, remember up there when I liked Tom? Forget that. Now he's congratulating Ian for selling his dad's retirement watch to pay for an engagement ring for dumb ol' Linda and it's all just too terrible and sad that young people were subjected to this multi-layered shame spiral for generations.

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    Trixie rides by in time to be forced to congratulate the "happy" couple as well. Is there no limit to the indignity she must face in front of and because of stupid Tom?! At least she sticks it to him by saying, in front of Tom, that Linda's ring is proof she's found a man who will put her first. YEAH, TOM.

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    As Mrs. C is being wheeled into the hospital, she is relieved to see the familiar face of Sister Julienne, who accompanies her to the operating room, where a C-section is performed...

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    ...and where she watches in horror as Mrs. Cottingham is delivered of a severely deformed baby. "Oh, God, another one," says the doctor, mortified. "It's alive. Somebody take it."

  • Bad Habits
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    That Precarious Wagon

    Celebrations are underway down the pub for Ian and Linda's engagement. Trixie is dragged in and poured some Babycham, which she holds gingerly until Tom arrives, all weirdly flirtatious smiles, and trades her for some orange juice, since she's in uniform and all. I mean, I am glad he saved her from it, but it was a total accident so he can still shut up.

  • Fashion Show
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    Get The Look: Painted Into A Corner

    As an engagement gift, Linda's jerk dad gives the sadsack Ian a sack sad enough to enrobe even his sadsack ass: a Hayward's Paintworks coverall just like the one both of his parents lived and died in for thirty years, with nothing to show for it but a tarnished old watch, a picture of the Queen, and imminent death from painter's lung. Everyone celebrates while Ian dies inside.

  • Passages
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    R.I.P. Baby Cottingham

    Sister Julienne finds the poor Cottingham baby in the hospital Sluice. It has been left by an open window, alone, to die. Traumatized by this inhumane practice, she doesn't hesitate to snatch up the baby and pray over it.

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    Say what you will about organized religion -- and there's plenty to say -- but the poetry of comfort is the best part of it: "Can you hear me, little one? And the Lord who created you said, 'Don't be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the flames, you will not burn. You are precious in my eyes.'" (Jenny Agutter should be eligible for sainthood, so delicate and perfect is her interpretation of a nun's inner life.)

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    The hospital nurse has more sympathy for Sister J than the baby and kindly tells her that the child was too sick and malformed to live. "We couldn't even tell whether it was male or female."

  • Wrap It Up
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    Tom finds Ian in the loo and gives him a dumb speech about how he understands that it's hard to give up your dreams -- because he had give up his record store job to do his national service IN SCOTLAND, boo hoo -- but that you have to what's right. ...I mean, Tom is right about that, but still.

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    Sister Julienne, faced with having to tell Mrs. Cottingham about the death of her baby, seeks solace in the sisterhood of Sisters Monica Joan and Mary Cynthia. Knowing Mrs. C will want to know whether the baby was a boy or girl, she wonders if it is acceptable to tell a lie. She is assured by Sister MJ that there can be no virtue in telling a cruel truth.

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    Poor Linda, unaware that she has already started bleeding, has a miscarriage during her first exam at the clinic. Trixie is there, steadfast, to help her through the horrible situation.

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    Ian, unaware that -- I hate to say it like this -- all his problems have been solved, attempts to take his life. Jeez. He is saved by Tom and Trixie, barfing on only Trixie's shoes, NATCH.

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    Sister Julienne, with all the strength a human being is capable of mustering, tells Mrs. Cottingham about the death of the baby, who she kindly says was a girl. Poor Mrs. C wonders if this is a punishment from God for saying she wanted a girl. She is reassured by Sister Julienne and they cry together. But not half as much as I'm crying.

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    Tom and Trixie finally and poignantly face the music and admit that they should let each other go. I have no idea how they have been holding each other back, but Trixie is sad about it all over again and I am worried about her.

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    But she is once again present at Ian's house, this time to see grace in action: Linda sets Ian free from their engagement, so that he can go to school.

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    Trixie goes back to Nonnatus and, in her way, gives Barbara her blessing. Why does Trixie always have to be the bigger person? Siiiiigh. I blame Tom for everything!

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