Call The Midwife Piles A Crisis On Top Of Magda's Trauma, Making Us Wonder When Life Will Ever Get Better For Women
A family is shattered and Trixie falls back into the embrace of an old love in Allison Lowe Huff's EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP.
It appears that, finally, Poplar is beginning to thaw. No doubt because everyone heard the latest voiceover from Old Jenny, and the collective heartwarming reached all the way into the past and melted everything. To wit: "What is a family? Is it the tie of flesh and blood? Our facial features and the traits we inherit and pass on? Or is it the rhythm our hearts beat out marking out the days we share? Family is our touchstone, our haven. Family is the place where life begins." Four seconds in and I'M ALREADY CRYING.
Nurse Crane is making a call on an expectant mother. Things in the home...well, things don't look good. The scene calls to mind the very first season of this show, when everyone was recovering from the war and living in squalor. Somehow, these people are still in that situation -- besides being filthy, the place looks like it is likely to collapse any second, and so does the mom. Phyllis is immediately concerned.
At the Turners', Shelagh is beaming at Magda as she coos over Teddy. Dr. T remarks that everything seems to be working out rather well with the au pair. "Yes," says his wife. "I don't know what you were worrying about, Patrick!" Dr. Turner: "Me?!" Ignoring him (as she nearly always should), Shelagh asks Magda what she plans to do with her evening off. To Shelagh's surprise, Magda says she is planning to help Tim with his French. AW, DAMN! Nah -- Timothy wishes! Apparently, he plans to return the favor by teaching Magda to bat an absolutely stinging square-cut. We have some channel on our cable suddenly that shows cricket all the time, and my husband has become obsessed with it. If you're one of those people who likes to meticulously score 17-inning baseball games while sitting in the stands for eight hours (in other words: an old man), cricket might be the pastime for you. Anyway, Shelagh is probably right when she says she's sure Magda has limited interest in picking up these skills, and should be out socializing. She suggests that Magda go and pay a call to the girls at Nonnatus. "They always seem so busy," Magda demurs. "And I have my best friends here, already!" Timothy blushes down to his socks.
Nurse Crane is assessing the overall dinginess of her patient, Mrs. Lunt, and her surroundings. Both are extreme. Gently, Nurse Crane goes through some general questions trying to figure out what's up here. The lady is twitchy and anxious and just generally not behaving normally. She says she's on her own all day, since her husband is working in the paint factory, and she's gotten "a bit behind" in her housework. Uh, yeah. Her nightgown, hair, and face look like they haven't been washed since 1938, so...it's bad. Phyllis says she'll give Mrs. Lunt a hand doing a bit of a tidy-up before her husband gets home, before noticing a lovely bit of framed "Home Sweet Home" cross-stitching on the wall. Mrs. Lunt says she did it herself. "I sew all sorts and I knit," she says. "I used to make all the kids' clothes." Phyllis has a look of such sympathy for this woman who has clearly fallen into a deep depression. She says she wants to book her into the maternity home so that she won't have to worry about anything but the baby for a while. They are interrupted by the arrival of Mr. Lunt, who looks, like his wife, a bit rough around the edges. When Phyllis repeats this business about the maternity home, he doesn't hesitate to shut it down: "I'm sorry but that's not happening." Phyllis politely protests, saying that things just seem a bit much for his wife at the moment. Mr. L, sternly: "She's going nowhere." Nurse Crane, for once, is speechless.
Violet and Fred are having breakfast and trying to figure out the best fundraising idea for the WVS, which Violet has volunteered to organize over Whitsun. She suggests a jumble sale, pointing out that Fred loves to dig around in other people's garbage, but Fred's not feeling it. Glancing over the paper, he sees a story about the recent Miss United Kingdom pageant winner. "We could do our own beauty competition Whit Monday," he says. "Miss Poplar 1963. They're all the rage now, you know, beauty contests." Violet is hesitant, but Fred sees the possibilities. Combining their efforts, they could sell tickets and raise a bunch of money for the WVS and his Civil Defense Corps. Hey! Get your own fundraiser, dude. Violet remains skeptical: "You just want to see all the local girls in their smalls!" She's probably right, but Fred says, no, he want to see his "lovely lady wife" put her talents to something better than a blinking jumble sale. Suddenly, Violet recognizes the all-round potential of this idea: they could have a Best Homemade Dress category for the contestants. She excitedly runs out to order new fabric stock for the store, pronto.
In the street, Val runs into Shelagh, who was just on her way to Nonnatus to speak with Val about including the ever-so-glam Magda in some social life around there. Some might call it pushy -- but, really, this is how communities should work. Magda knows no one and hasn't seen her family for years. Anyway, Val suggests sending Magda to Keep Fit that night. I'm so glad Keep Fit is still going!
That evening, Magda arrives to be greeted by Val and Trixie. The number of methods they had to use to hide Helen George's pregnancy (she is in a relationship with TOM in real life, if you didn't know) is pretty funny. At Keep Fit, they have her carrying a stack of 45s to conveniently cover the considerable bump. As Val and Trixie talk to Magda about her travels -- Magda prefers London to Paris -- Violet swoops in to recruit for the beauty pageant. Trixie, no doubt shocking everyone, must decline now that she and Christophah are rah-thah serious. I love Trixie. Inspired by Magda's good-natured willingness to enter and the five-pound prize, Val throws her name in as well.
Were you missing Sister Winifred? Neither was I, but she's over at the school giving a hygiene lesson, which includes instructions on using water, soap, and talcum powder every day. (I guess we'll have to wait for a future reboot of this show to learn the NIH's views on talc as a possible carcinogen.) In any case, she discovers, using her considerable powers of observation, that something is off with one of the students, Wendy. Maybe it's because Wendy is visibly filthy? With nits in her hair and unclean clothes and mottled skin? And she can't walk right and has a flat affect? When Wendy stumbles to the floor, the teacher is like, "There she goes again!" or whatever, as if a horribly bruised, dirty child falling on her face while in her care is a mere inconvenience...to her. Sister Winifred, charged with keeping the community healthy and with extending the healing ministry of Jesus, sees this possibly battered and neglected kid and is basically, "Well, bye!" I mean, she later informs the crew at Nonnatus, but...huh? In seasons past, they'd be storming the council office, getting Wendy's family a new flat, opening the cleaning stations, crying in the chapel, calling in the police, taking her straight to the doctor. What the hell with this? Even Phyllis CRANE is all, "Hmm, maybe something's up. Oh, well, see her at clinic."
Later, as the nurses enjoy some tea and biscuits around the dining table, they discuss the upcoming crowning of Miss Poplar. Phyllis says the whole thing reminds her of the Great Yorkshire Show with all those prize jerseys being paraded in their ribbons. Lucille, knowing her mother would die of shame if she ever entered such a contest, has volunteered to assist behind the scenes (which is lucky for all involved, because she is very definitely the prettiest resident of Poplar right now). Phyllis wonders why these girls don't have anything better to do than to be gawped at in their unmentionables, and is tsked a little by Sister Julienne, who says she is sure Violet is planning a "family-minded" event. Val is clearly starting to feel a little queasy about the entire enterprise, but Sister Monica Joan is, as usual, there to gleefully put things in perspective: "This is naught but a modern rendering of the May Queen," she says. "These young girls are offerings to the fertility gods. Once, they would've been sacrificed to them!" Val, reaching for a comfort chocolate, all but has her hand slapped by Trixie. "A moment on the lips, Valerie," she warns. "If you're hungry, have a slice of Nimble." Val's face says it all: this is bullshit.
Mrs. Lunt comes into clinic after all, with her very dirty children...and Shelagh gives them a biscuit and literally nothing else. WTF with these nurses today?! During her exam, Phyllis asks if Mrs. Lunt's anxious, and whether everything is all right at home. Mrs. Lunt flatly tells her that Wendy's been helping her with the laundry all day, since they haven't had clean clothes in a while. They still don't appear to have any, but in any case, she says that her husband wouldn't want her talking to Phyllis about any of this. Nurse Crane gives her whole game away and says she's going to have Dr. Turner stop in and see Mrs. Lunt while she's there, so as soon as Phyllis turns her back, Mrs. L bolts.
Clinic is long over when Trixie walks through the break room to find the Lunt children, still sitting quietly at a table. She covers her surprise at seeing them by asking if they're having their afternoon tea: "Quite as good as Claridge's, wouldn't you say?" Phyllis doesn't do as good a job playing the situation off. "Oh...I'm afraid your mother had to go home," she says, before pulling Trixie aside to put her fully in the picture. Trixie -- who is, as we all know, the best -- is deeply stirred and says she will walk Wendy and Kevin home herself. WHY WON'T SOMEONE GIVE THEM A BATH FIRST, THOUGH? This is stressing me out. I mean, hell, let the ding-dang children come unto me and all that -- shouldn't someone say, "Listen, these kids can stay at Nonnatus House tonight and we'll give them Horlicks and some sandwiches and A BATH and let them sleep in clean beds"? What is happening?! Trixie, to her credit, almost dies when Kevin and Wendy basically ask why their mum doesn't love them anymore. When Mr. Lunt informs Trixie, at the flat, that his wife is asleep, and rudely tries to shut the door in her face, Trixie sticks her foot in, gives him her most pointed Trixie eyebrows, and says she'll wait.
Once Trixie's in there, Mr. Lunt breaks down. Somehow, Trixie divines in a moment that the problem in the household is not that Mr. Lunt is an abuser: it's that something is genuinely off the rails with his wife. Apparently, the house used to be her pride and joy, but now she doesn't do anything to keep it clean. Y'all, the walls are GRAY and BROWN. It looks like they live inside burned Kleenex that is also somehow wet? Just how long are we to believe this has been going on? Trixie asks whether Mrs. Lunt has seen a doctor, obviously thinking it's pregnancy-related depression. Mr. Lunt tells her, no, it's been going on since before that, and it's rough: "She don't eat. She don't wash. She don't lift a finger 'round the house...." He says it's like something bad is stuck in her head. Mrs. Lunt hasn't seen the doctor because her father died, as Mr. Lunt says, "in the nuthouse." He's frightened that they'll take one look at her and cart her off there, too. "So you've been trying to manage on your own?" Trixie asks. Mr. Lunt says that they've been living off scraps. "The kids' clothes are filthy," he adds. "We ain't been doing too well, Nurse." Okay, but why can't you wash the kids' clothes on your day off? Why can't you make them some food? Even though I am definitely crying -- don't get me wrong -- I am confused and upset by this story. Trixie is also upset -- especially when Wendy staggers over and asks if Trixie will help her mum get better -- and promises that she will do whatever it takes to help them all, but that Mrs. Lunt has got to see the doctor for a checkup.
Across town, Fred cruises into the living room in a tux he borrowed from a bingo caller, prepping for his emcee turn at the pageant. Violet cannot suppress a giggle.
Things are not so funny at Dr. Turner's office, where Mrs. Lunt -- still unbathed -- has come in for her exam. Look, I'm not making fun of this woman for whatever is causing her to feel like she can't wash herself. I'm just feeling furious that none of these medical professionals are giving the whole family the old Poplar spa treatment and making sure at the very least that the children are deloused. Anyway, Mrs. Lunt seems to be struggling to control her arms and is making weird facial expressions when she talks. Dr. Turner gives her the crack diagnosis of "fidgety," but is clearly concerned that something else is going on.
Back at Nonnatus, Val is in Sister Julienne's office putting forward the idea that she could be sponsored by Nonnatus House for the beauty pageant, since all the contestants are representing their workplaces. "There's Miss Tate & Lyle Typing Pool, Miss Weights And Measures Office, Miss Frith's the Confectioner," Val lists, nervously. Sister J asks if they'll all be in their swimsuits. Val reminds her that, of course, there's also an evening gown portion and the famed homemade dress component. "So," she asks with borrowed confidence, "I was wondering if I could go as Miss Nonnatus House." Sister Julienne smiles, and helpfully and passive-aggressively suggests that she go as Miss Black Sail Public House instead. Well, that's decided, then.
In the ready room the next morning, Phyllis is handing out assignments. She gives Lucille a word of warning about her assignment for the day: Mrs. Norman. "Her husband has an Alsatian and he can be rather amorous," Phyllis explains. Trixie makes the worst Dad Joke of 1963, asking if she means the husband or the dog. Their tittering is short-lived when Dr. Turner comes in with a report on Mrs. Lunt, who he is certain has some sort of neurological problem -- possibly a brain tumor. "Poor Mrs. Lunt," says Phyllis, sincerely sad. Trixie saves some sympathy for poor Mr. Lunt, who she says is barely managing to hold the family together as it is. I mean, he's not holding them together at all, honestly, and neither is anyone else? Justice for Wendy and Kevin and the Soon-to-be-Born Lunt!
That evening, Val is sneaking some chocolates hidden under the ergometrine in the medical fridge when she is busted by Magda, arriving to get some hemming help with her homemade dress. Not only does Magda seem to support this very important treat, she makes Val another when they're upstairs working on the dress -- a Soixante Quinze, which she learned to make in Paris. Ah, yes, the drink for when you're wondering, "How can I be sure my Champagne hangover tomorrow is worse than it was going to be to begin with? Add gin to it." It looks like dirty bathwater and is delicious. Don't drink one, ever. Magda shakes up the cocktails for the midwife crew, but Trixie, painting her nails, declines, using the excuse that she doesn't want to smudge. Magda relays that, back in Hungary, they were taught that nail varnish was the worst kind of Western decadence. "They're quite wrong," Trixie laughs. "It's the very best kind!" Magda continues with her tale of Communist oppression: they used burnt matches for eyeliner and beet root juice for rouge, so crossing the Iron Curtain was a pretty big culture shock. She's being fairly light-hearted talking about it, but the girls are intuitive to how painful that experience must have been. Val asks gently if Magda was ever in danger when she came to the West. "We went at night," says Magda. "Had to lie flat on the ground every time the searchlight of the watchtower came 'round. Then we dug a hole to get under the wire. Six weeks in an Austrian refugee camp; then I managed to reach Paris." The unspoken "yikes" hangs in the air, but the nurses try to lighten the mood. Trixie asks if a handsome Frenchman swept Magda off her feet in Paris. "Something like that," says Magda. "He was a student at the Sorbonne. Very clever, very charming. We planned to marry." Val wonders why, then, she would leave Paris to come to Poplar. Magda matter-of-factly sweeps aside her signature side-pony to show a rather large, still vivid scar on her neck. "After he thought I was flirting with his friend," she explains, almost shrugging as Val blanches. "I am glad I left: it leaves me free to meet Sean Connery." They toast to Paris (though I can't imagine why, since Magda just said how much it sucked), to London, and to the best homemade dress. I like Magda.
Trixie, looking stunning in a green cape coat, meets Christopher in front of Nonnatus for a date. She jokingly admonishes him for being late. "I'm so sorry," he says. "It was Alexandra." Trixie wonders if the little girl's rabbit escaped again. In fact, Christopher says, Alexandra wet herself at school that day, and it wasn't the first time. She's also been having nightmares for a month. Trixie's face shows her sincere concern. Christopher says his ex-wife wants Alexandra to see a psychiatrist, though he wonders if that's an extreme step. "Children have these phases, don't they?" he asks. "She'll probably be fine by the time she sees him." Trixie, clearly taking it seriously, still gives Christopher a comforting smile and says, yes, probably. That seems to be enough for Christopher, who whips open the door, saying they're going to see The Birds at The Rialto. He implies that this won't be the first time they're seeing it and, I know back then you pretty much had to go see whatever was on, even if you'd already seen it, but...keep it. I'm sorry! Once is enough on that one AND Psycho, and you can fight me but I'm not here for Hitchcock's Abuse A Blonde With Winged Demons, Motherboys, And Inner-Ear Disorders Period (though I'm down with the rest of his films, absolutely).
So, the good news about Mrs. Lunt is that she doesn't have a brain tumor! That's great, right? Wrong. She has a disorder called Huntington's chorea, now referred to as "Huntington's disease." It is very, very bad: "Huntington's disease is a fatal genetic disorder that causes the progressive breakdown of nerve cells in the brain. It deteriorates a person's physical and mental abilities during their prime working years and has no cure. HD is known as the quintessential family disease because every child of a parent with HD has a 50/50 chance of carrying the faulty gene." It's a complete nightmare. Of course the Lunts have never heard of it, because it is quite rare. Dr. Turner, always the very picture of sympathy, can barely hold himself together trying to make Mr. L understand what this all means. "We will support you both, and the children, every way we can," he says. Mr. Lunt, clinging to hope, says that surely something can be done. "This ain't like when her dad died," he says. "They can do all sorts, now. They put a man in space, for Christ's sake." I mean, he's right. Shouldn't we be better at curing diseases like this? And cancer? Don't get me started. Anyway, the sad truth is that not only could we do nothing for HD in 1963, we still can't, though we're getting closer. "There are some things we just don't understand well enough to treat," says Dr. Turner, and adds that it's unlikely Mrs. Lunt will be able to live at home for more than a few years. Suddenly, Mr. Lunt has the worst kind of revelation. "...and the kids?" he asks. Dr. T cringe-whispers that there's a 50% chance they'll have it, too.
To my great relief, we go now to Violet, who is slaving away on her beauty pageant supplies when Fred rolls in at least two sheets to the wind! "What time do you call this?" she snips. "Tea's in the oven. The chops'll be like shoe leather." Fred, all but cartoonishly hiccupping, says not to worry, he may have had a pickled egg or two. Violet is about to get sassy, but ah -- Fred has been doing more than throwing back pints in the Black Sail, the Waterman, and the Admiral. The man, a true hero, has sold ALL the pageant tickets, and makes it rain all over her sewing table. Violet -- who had been worried they'd have an empty house, since Poplar's married women didn't want their husbands to see the young ladies in their swimsuits -- is thrilled.
At the Lunts', things are heartbreakingly sad. As they reminisce about happier family times, Mr. Lunt tells his wife he's going to look after her and the kids and take care of them. With perfect timing, Mrs. L goes into labor.
At Nonnatus, Trixie takes the call, and she and Phyllis lament the sad state of affairs. Phyllis -- the best kind of nurse -- has been reading up on Huntington's in case it is something that will affect Mrs. Lunt's delivery, and has discovered the awful genetic truth. "One wonders if she'll be able to manage with a new baby," Trixie says and...I don't know why they're even wondering but, first things first: the baby must be delivered.
Lucille is biking to work when Violet waves her down in the street to share the news that all the tickets have been sold. "That's wonderful, isn't it?" Lucille asks. Violet says yes, but there's still so much to do, and since everyone is coming, they really have to do it. Instead of saying, "Good luck with that," and zooming away, Lucille says she'll be happy to take on a few extra jobs. Conveniently, Violet has already made a list for her. Lucille! This is what happens when you're nice. The list is an ever-unfolding accordion of jobs. I'm all for community involvement and pitching in and having spirit and all that, but hello, Lucille already has a job -- literally saving lives? PSA: single and/or childless people shouldn't be asked to take on all your extra shit. Having agreed to, I guess, never sleep again, Lucille rolls away to literally bring life into the world.
Speaking of babies, Magda is making a visit to Poplar's rarely-seen female gynecologist...for birth control. Isn't it great how this is every woman's right? OH, HA HA IT ISN'T! "You're aware that both the Pill and the Dutch cap can only be prescribed for married women," the doctor tells her. Magda nervously responds that she is getting married in a few months. The doctor is pleased to believe this, and has Magda hop up on the table for an exam. I am about to get furious that she can't just do a sister a solid, but clearly it's good that the internal exam is required, because it turns out Magda is two months pregnant. Her face is a mask of horror. She asks the doctor what she needs to do to get an abortion -- which, in Hungary, is legal up to twelve weeks. This earns nothing but smugness from the alleged women's health professional. "This is not the Communist bloc," she says. "This is England. We do not give out abortions to any woman who demands one." Let's hear it for the First World. Magda is terrified: "But I cannot have a baby. I have no family, no friends, no money. Please, there must be some way you can help." The doctor shakes her head. "What about your fiancé?" the dummy asks. Magda begins crying in earnest, and the stupid doctor somehow catches on and I guess is like "BYE" because she offers no help whatsoever.
The opposite is occurring at the maternity home, where Nurse Crane is helping Mrs. Lunt give birth to her new daughter. All Mrs. L wants, she says, is quiet, and Phyllis, with the face of true motherly compassion, is more than obliging. She gently encourages Mrs. Lunt, in a sitting position, all the way through. Teeeaaars. "Is she really mine?" Mrs. Lunt asks, and though she is experiencing various muscle tics and possibly some confusion, she adds, "I love you, baby."
Rehearsals have begun for the Miss Poplar pageant, and it's clear that poor Magda has already perfected her perfect pageant smile-through-the-pain. She's certainly better at this than Valerie, who -- instructed by Violet to glide across the stage like a swan -- moves with as much grace as someone running to catch the cross-town bus. Magda gives them all an example of how to glide through this bullshit, having had too much practice her whole damn life.
On the way home, arm in arm and laughing, Magda casually quizzes Valerie about her past boyfriends. "Men are altogether more trouble than they're worth," says Val, TRUTHFULLY. "So you have had boyfriends?" Magda asks, zeroing in. Val, laughing: "I might've done!" Suddenly very serious, Magda asks if Valerie took precautions. Val is scandalized, but Magda presses on: "If you were to get into trouble, is there somewhere you would go? A lady who might help you?" It actually takes Val a minute, but she gets it. Magda breaks down. "Please," she begs. "I know it is not legal, but I've read about women who I could go to." Valerie says that's not a road Magda wants to go down: "If you'd seen the things I've seen, you wouldn't even be asking." She asks whether Magda has told the Turners, and says that she's got to -- that they can help. "Promise me," Val pleads. "No more talk of finding one of 'those women.' Promise me." Magda just cries, because...how could she possibly promise that? And why would Valerie expect her to? Is it me or is the Nonnatus gang falling down on their jobs this episode?
Poor Wendy Lunt -- still unbathed -- has gone to see Dr. Turner for a burn she's suffered by dropping something. Dr. Turner congratulates Mr. Lunt for the new baby and is generally all smiles until he (finally?!) notices Wendy's really stiff way of walking.
Later, Dr. Turner discusses it with Shelagh, fairly certain Wendy has the very rare juvenile form of HD. They are interrupted by Tim -- in an apron -- and Magda serving up some delicious Hungarian pörkölt stew for dinner. Smelling the fragrance of paprika and caraway seeds, Shelagh asks if this is one of Magda's mother's recipes. "My grandmother's," Magda says. "My mother was usually too busy nursing." Speaking of nursing, she adds, she'd like to borrow Mrs. T's nursing books sometime, since she plans to study to become a nurse one day in the future. The Turners practically leap into the air at the thought that they've inspired this idea, and Magda offers up another of her dazzling fake smiles when Timothy offers his enormous library of Lancet back issues.
At the maternity home, Trixie is presiding over Mrs. Lunt, who is admiring her "little darling" of a new baby. Trixie reports to Dr. Turner that Mrs. Lunt barely wants to put the baby down, but seems to have little interest in changing or feeding her. Dr. Turner agrees that it could be the HD making her behave this way, or it could just be the exhaustion of a new mother: "Let's just give her time?" Hold up. Even exhausted new mothers feed and change their infants, and when they don't, there's no argument that it's "just" exhaustion. Something ain't right regardless of whether or not there's an underlying neurological disorder. WTF is going on in Poplar this week? Damn. Trixie asks for news of Wendy, and learns that she is with the neurologist today.
Later, Trixie asks after the health of another little girl -- Christopher's daughter -- while out with Christopher and Alexandra in the park. The psychiatrist has called for the very reasonable measure of a more rigid schedule. "We need a very fixed set of rules," Christopher relays, grimly watching Alexandra attempt to jump rope. "I should only see her on fixed days of the week." I'm wondering why he's acting like this is a death sentence when he adds: "[The psychiatrist says] I shouldn't meet her from school anymore, because it...singles her out and emphasizes the stigma of divorce. And that she shouldn't have to see you if she doesn't want to." Okay, this psychiatrist has clearly never met Trixie, who is literally the best. Christopher says that Alexandra loves Trixie, of course, almost as much he does, but.... Trixie interrupts, saying that if he really does love her, he'll stop right there: "I said at the very beginning that I didn't want to meet her if it wasn't going to be good for her." Christopher is quick to say that Trixie is not to blame for any of this. She knows that, she says, but Alexandra is not to blame either. Truth. Christopher assures Trixie -- not very convincingly -- that they'll work this out: "There's a way for us all to be happy, and we're going to find it." Alexandra, having given up on the jump rope, comes over and says she wants to go home. She doesn't look at Trixie.
Outside Nonnatus, Val runs into Magda, who is out with Teddy, a certified country ham of a baby. She asks, worried, if Magda has told Shelagh about her pregnancy. "You must tell her," she insists, again, but Magda says that she started bleeding in the night and, thus, the problem seems to be resolving itself. Val shakes her head: "A bit of blood can be normal. It doesn't mean you'll lose it." I'd like to pause here and have a moment of gratitude that I've never hoped and prayed to have a miscarriage. Women's lives are too hard. Val implores Magda again to tell Mrs. Turner what's going on.
Turns out, it has been confirmed that Wendy has juvenile Huntington's. If there is anything sadder than this, I don't want to know about it. Hat in hand, Mr. Lunt arrives at the maternity home to, as Trixie says, "see his tew lovely gulls." Trixie steps away from Mrs. L for a moment to get the update on Wendy, and I barely know what they're saying because all I can do is worry that Mrs. Lunt is going to drop the baby on her head while Trixie's back is turned. Mr. Lunt is generally losing it, saying that they're going to send Wendy away because the doctor knows they won't be able to manage her condition between her mom's state and the new baby. Trixie wonders, if Mr. Lunt can just get the house in working order, would they be able to make things work with the resources available through social services? "No, no as soon as they get their foot in the door, then we're done for," says Mr. Lunt. "But you could help us, Nurse. You promised. You said you'd do whatever you could. Please. Help me help my kids." Trixie, realizing that the guy does need it, says she will help him if he promises to get the proper support once they have the place shipshape. He says he will. Seriously, why does Trixie have to be the one to do this? And shouldn't the nuns throw some elbow grease at the utter shambles of the Lunt home? I'm over here ready to file suit against the council on behalf of this family.
Day after day, Trixie comes in with cleaning supplies and baby bottle sterilizers, walks past the clearly unclean Lunt children, and gets to scrubbing, before going back to Nonnatus to basically pass out. At the end of it all, Phyllis congratulates Mr. Lunt on getting the house ready for the new baby. Has the world gone mad?!
In her room at the Turners', Magda feverishly begins going through Shelagh's books. She starts by looking up the definition of "abortion." Yikes. I know this lady is smart and efficient, but the learning curve here is scary. Somehow, she pieces together that ergometrine is used to make the uterus contract, and I guess she figures that will be enough to get the job done, because her life as a drug thief begins now. Finding ergometrine in pill form in Dr. T's bag, she swallows her first dose of many. The contractions eventually begin, leading Magda to groan in the bathroom on the toilet and wait for the worst. Shelagh overhears and comes to ask Magda if she's feeling unwell. It looks for a moment as if Magda is ready to tell Shelagh the truth, but then, of course, Teddy starts crying, and Magda -- somehow? -- rushes up to see to him.
Speaking of crying babies, the youngest Lunt is going off when Trixie comes in to check on mother and baby. Poor Mrs. L is upset and crying, and Trixie discovers that the baby has not had her diaper changed for hours and has a livid rash. Exhausted, Trixie goes back to Nonnatus clearly coming to a resolution in her mind.
The next day, Trixie returns to the Lunts' with Dr. Turner, who (very kindly) lays it on the line: he knows how Mr. Lunt has been trying -- that no one could have tried harder to keep his family together -- but that this just isn't working. Sadly, he says that the baby will likely need to go to a foster carer, and that the residential home is the best place for Wendy. Mr. Lunt is falling apart, begging Trixie to help him. All she can say is that she's so sorry, as Mr. Lunt cries and his wife stares blankly ahead.
Violet and Fred are in preparation mode as Lucille arrives -- in the rain, no less -- with all the materials they need. She's even brought a microphone, on loan from her church. Violet thanks her, calling her heaven-sent. Everyone is excited about the pageant, no one more so than Shelagh -- who, when she finds Magda "studying" another one of her books, happily says that she should stop and get ready. Magda picks up her very chic homemade dress and heads out.
The community center has never looked so glamorous as Fred launches into his routine. "Take your seats, folks -- and prepare to be dazzled by the most gorgeous girls, the finest fillies, and stunned by the loveliest ladies you are ever likely to see," he says. "Truly the flower of womanhood in full bloom. And I count my lovely wife amongst them." Aw.
Arriving in the audience, the Turners are all smiles. The babysitter is taking care of Teddy and will bring Angela shortly so that she can give out flowers. Even Timothy is involved in this thing: he's responsible for the night's music. "Remember," his father reminds him as Poplar's hottest chicks prepare to prance behind the curtain, "focus on the piano." Backstage, everyone is bustling around when Val finds Magda. "Have you spoken to Shelagh?" she asks, concerned, and though it is clear that the answer is no, Val allows herself to get swept off to line up. Quickly, Magda tells Trixie she has a bad headache, and asks her to tell everyone she's sorry. I can only put it down to the extreme circumstances of this pageant that Trixie does not divine the true situation immediately and jump into action. She does tell Shelagh, eliciting a bit of concern. Mrs. T is thinking about going home to check on Magda when Angela arrives and distracts her.
The dumb thing proceeds, with Fred introducing them as "homegrown, luscious ladies," ugh, to the cheers of all.
Meanwhile, Magda is on perhaps the most dangerous mission of her life, including escaping a Communist regime, living in a refugee camp, surviving domestic abuse, and just generally living in the world as a woman, alone. While the whole neighborhood has fun at the pageant, Magda's sneaking around Nonnatus House, stealing ergometrine from the ready room fridge. The pills weren't working well enough, see, so she has to figure out how to inject it. This is, understandably, nervewracking, and she drops bottles and syringes and is basically a mess. No one is there to hear it but Sister Monica Joan -- who, no doubt wanting to avoid the fertility ritual going on at the center, is reading.
Back at the pageant, Fred asks Contestant Val what she would do to achieve world peace. Val doesn't hesitate. "I'd put a Poplar woman in charge," she says. "Anyone who's seen my auntie at closing time on a Saturday knows we don't put up with any messing." This earns a "hear, hear" from Sister Winifred and myself.
At Nonnatus, Magda -- shaking -- is finally able to inject herself with the ergometrine, but not before dropping one more glass bottle. Sister Monica Joan, compelled to look into it, finds her hurrying, hunched over, from the house, and recognizes her. The drug must be kicking in because, as Sister Monica Joan is dumbfounded to see, the back of Magda's dress is stained with blood. Magda staggers into the street and eventually into the garden, where she collapses.
Sister Monica Joan, meanwhile, has called the community center phone in concern. The pageant is just ending, Miss Weights & Measures Office having taken the grand prize. I mean, whatever. Everybody knows about her! Nothing but respect for my Miss Poplar, Valerie, who at least won the Best Homemade Dress category. As the celebration ensues and cutie Angela passes out the bouquets, Shelagh and Valerie receive the news that Sister MJ has called.
Arriving back at Nonnatus, Shelagh is alarmed to find blood on the floor and empty ergometrine vials. Valerie is forced to tell her that Magda is pregnant. Sister MJ blanches and says, "I believe she may have sought solace among the seedlings in Fred Buckle's allotment." You know, sometimes it would be okay if Sister Monica Joan just said it straight, Lord. Shelagh is out the door at a flat run and finds Magda, passed out. Val, devastated, calls an ambulance.
Later, at the hospital, Dr. Turner tells Shelagh that Magda has had a D and C and is unwell, but stable. Shelagh is terribly upset that she didn't see it. Dr. T assures her that none of this was her fault. "She was under our roof," Shelagh cries. "And I gave her the books, Patrick." She falls into his arms.
Some days later, at Nonnatus, the crew receives the news that Magda will be discharged from the hospital that day. Valerie says again that she should have told Mrs. Turner. "You respected her privacy," says Sister Julienne. "Without your prompt action, she would almost certainly have died. Sister Monica Joan's actions are to be commended, too." With great sadness, Sister MJ says that she, too, has often sought sanctuary in the allotment. Sister Winifred has to throw a wet blanket on an already-terrible situation: "But, an abortion on convent grounds. Not to mention the theft of drugs. Will the incident be reported?" Valerie is nearly panicked at the very idea, but Sister Julienne has been thinking about this herself. "Magda has suffered greatly," she says. "I cannot, in all conscience, inflict further pain." Now someone's acting like a Nonnatan!
Mrs. Lunt is sitting with her baby, staring ahead, when Trixie comes to take Wendy to her new home. Mr. Lunt, trying to hold himself together, tells Wendy to be a good girl and remember how much her parents love her. Looking at her mother, Wendy says, "Mum doesn't." Trixie's heart visibly breaks into a million pieces, as does mine. "You must never say that, you hear me?" says Mr. Lunt. "Your mum's not very well. She's not herself anymore, but she loves you very, very much." He tells his wife that Wendy's leaving, and Mrs. Lunt gives Wendy a grim nod as Mr. Lunt and Kevin openly cry. Trixie, with no other recourse, lamely says that they should make a detour past the sweetie shop, and starts talking about how great it is to take a bus ride on a sunny day. Just when I think I am truly going to die, Mrs. Lunt forces herself out the door, obviously using all her physical and mental strength, and gives her daughter a scarf, even managing to drape it around her. "I love you," she struggles to say, and does her best to look Wendy in the eye before she turns to stagger away. It's devastating.
Arriving at the lovely residential home, where children are playing and skipping outside, Wendy notes that everyone looks happy. "I'm sure they're all terribly contented little souls," Trixie says, overselling it by a mile. Wendy, flatly, asks, "Then why do they put 'em in here?," forcing Trixie to say it's for the best, and I guess I'll never stop crying, especially when Trixie sees one little girl just standing and staring at a wall.
The Turners, also, must perform a sad duty and say goodbye to Magda. Angela is taking it hard. "I am going to miss you, my darlink," Magda tells the little girl. "But I have to go back to Paris, to train as a nurse, like your mummy." Timothy gives her a stack of books, and Shelagh sincerely asks her to please write and let them know how she's doing.
Poor Trixie, who has been through too much with all of this Lunt business, has met Christopher on yet another bench. He says he wishes her job didn't hurt her so much. "So do I. Sometimes," she says. "But I wish it didn't hurt other people more." He tries to console her by saying she had to do an appalling thing, but that he knows she did it with the care and love everyone needed, as usual. "Thank you for understanding me," says Trixie. "And now I need you to understand something else." She proceeds to make the very controversial request that Christopher go back to his ex-wife, for Alexandra's sake. I mean, I know it's a crazy idea, but I am kind of with her? "If you don't do whatever you have to do to create a stable and secure world for that beautiful child," says Trixie, "then I won't be able to feel the same way about you that I do now." This is confusing dialogue, but Trixie had an insecure childhood, and she knows: if there are sacrifices to be made and it's possible to do it, maybe adults should be the ones to make them, not kids. Christopher tries with a bunch of "but our love!" business, but she shuts him down, telling him not to think of it as walking away from her, but walking toward someone else. In essence, it's a boy, bye, and she leaves him in shock.
That evening, Violet and Fred happily celebrate their success as Magda leaves town and Shelagh leans on her husband as she sadly reflects on what has happened. Old Jenny tells it like it is in the most painfully true terms: "Love is always deserved by everyone. But it is not always given, no matter where we search, or however much we long for it." We also see the Lunts say goodbye to Kevin and the baby as they are taken into foster care. "And families can be torn, as well as drawn together, by the tie of flesh and blood and the genes that define us, or which we inherit and pass on." In her room, alone, Trixie eyes the bar set, knowing there's probably some booze left over from the drinks Magda mixed a few days ago. Losing the battle of will, she pours one, and takes a drink.