Call The Midwife Puts Trixie Back In The Bottle (But She's Still The Best)
And: Sister Monica Joan finally sees the light. (Not the eternal light! Don't freak out!) Allison Lowe Huff takes you through in our latest EPIC OLD-SCHOOL RECAP!
The year is moving on at rocket speed. No, literally: the world in 1963 is consumed by the Space Race, and the Nonnatans are no different, especially since the news of the day revolves around the first female cosmonaut getting ready to launch into the stars. By contrast, looking firmly weighted down by gravity -- dragged down by it, more like -- is Trixie. Rolling up to Nonnatus, she sighs to Fred, the alleged bike repairman: her chain's come off, the brakes are slack, and even her bell has stopped ringing. Dumb Fred, not picking up on her sad face NOR on all these anvil-shaped metaphors, cracks, "But the bike's all right, though?" Lucky for those floating above, Trixie's eyeroll could likely be seen from the moon.
Elsewhere, a very smartly dressed Pakistani lady, Mrs. Gani, is overseeing the labor force sewing away in her garment factory, instructing one bespectacled worker not to get her hand too close to the needle. "I don't want you hurt, or a machine put out of action," she says, "and neither does Mr. Gani." At the mention of the mister, the woman asks where "the boss" is that day. "One boss is away, attending to a family matter," Mrs. Gani says. "And the other one? Is standing right in front of you." YEAH, GIRL. One gets the feeling that when it came to Mrs. G, all she had to do to break the glass ceiling was give it one no-nonsense glance.
At Nonnatus House, the crew is finishing a meal with some lovely strawberries and cream, much to the disgust of Sister Monica Joan. Give her cake or give her death. "Strawberries again," she snits. "The torments of Prometheus are summoned to my mind." Valerie suggests that she try pretending she's at Wimbledon. Hee. Sister Julienne asks everyone their plans for the evening. Lucille is going to hear a gospel choir at her church. Nurse Crane, to my great delight, is going out with her Spanish class for an evening of "sangria and Iberian snacks!" She couldn't find any chorizo, she says, but she's "made shift with some spicy luncheon meat." Thoughts and prayers to the en fuego bowels of the Spanish students. (I hope this means Phyllis's gentleman friend is still in the picture -- as a friend, of course.) Sister J turns her kindly gaze on Trixie. Helen George is looking gorgeously maternal AF, btw, in her casual striped top and braided hair. Forcing a smile through her obvious emotional pain, Trixie says she thought she might sort out her nylons drawer or manicure tray. She might even get out the ol' Keep Fit manual and finally master the half-clam scissor-lift. Setting aside the inappropriate imagery that has just sprung to mind, my heart breaks for Trixie along with all the nurses' as they see how sad she is about Christopher. "There really is no end of things one can do with a whole free Friday night," she says, and gives her best trouper smile, convincing no one.
Mrs. Gani has arrived home to find Mr. G back from his "family matter" business, as well. Apparently, he was gone all day to pick up Mrs. G's young teen cousin, Parveen, who has come to visit them. Mrs. Gani, smiling, is excited to see he's back, and calls out for the girl as her husband nervously says he has something he needs to discuss with her. By "something," he means that Parveen is pregnant. By him. Because he married Parveen nine months ago when he went home for his father's funeral. Sooooo...surprise?! To his very, very minuscule credit, Mr. Gani looks stricken at having to deliver (ha ha) this news. He also was at least unaware of the pregnancy, though I guess he was aware that he had sex with this chick a while back after their WEDDING, so...if ever there was a moment to Boy, Bye someone, NOW'S THE TIME.
Because Balvinder Sopal, who plays Mrs. Gani, is an absolutely superlative actress, I can read the whole story in the stillness of her shoulders and the anguish of her face: Mr. Gani -- who is practically crying because he knows how much this hurts her, and yet still deserves to have his weave ripped straight out -- has taken a second wife, arranged by their families, without her knowledge; that wife now bears his child which the first Mrs. Gani has never been able to do. The utter betrayal she feels is coming through loud and clear. The useless Parveen (yes, she's a victim in all this, I know, I know, I DO feel bad for her) talks uselessly in their native tongue, but even that does not help Mrs. Gani absorb this horrible, shocking turn of events. "I feel sick," she says, running past them. "Leave me!"
Trixie is just getting started on her evening routine when she spots her old pal -- Gin, that bitch -- in the mirror. She doesn't hesitate to pour herself a slug and knock it back with a satisfied sigh.
The next morning, in the ready room, Trixie's upset to find that Phyllis has assigned her "an easy wicket." Sister Winifred and Lucille quickly make themselves scarce so that, when Trixie strongly protests that she doesn't want special treatment, Nurse Crane can tell it like it is: "Maybe not, but in my view, you need it." Trixie has had a bit of a setback in the romantic department, says Nurse Crane, and no doubt Christopher is over there drilling and filling in a similar state of bereavement. Trixie tries to argue that staying busy will be the perfect cure. "Nursing is about curing patients, Trixie," Phyllis reminds her. "Not our own broken hearts. And I am not going to overstretch you 'til you can give 'er your best again." I strongly believe that Trixie could nurse rings around everyone, even half in the bag, but of course Phyllis is right.
The new Mrs. Gani is having her first exam with Dr. Turner and Sister Julienne. She looks scared, as any child would. Oh, yeah, she's not just young -- she's an actual child. Fifteen. "That is below the legal age of marriage here," Dr. Turner says, quickly reassuring the man that it's actually none of his concern. Uh...it isn't? No one seems too worried about it, honestly, nor with the fact that Mr. Gani is married to two women. Well, aren't we all just terribly open-minded all of a sudden? Dr. Turner is mostly just worried that Parveen will be a very young first-time mother.
That night, the nurses are very generously pitching in on their off hours to sew new kneeling cushions for the chapel. "Just think how grateful the knees of the faithful will be," says Sister Winifred, hoping to inspire them. Phyllis points out the issue faced by church leaders throughout all time: "If the fingers of the faithful were doing their share, we wouldn't have gotten roped into this!" She and Valerie being benighted heathen and Lucille not even attending this same church makes the whole thing a bit rich. Lucille piously says that they're all members of one congregation under God. Trixie, who has been around long enough to know how to get out of participating in such, is reading in the paper about the upcoming rocket launch. She feels sorry for the poor lady cosmonaut who will have her bouffant ruined the second she puts on her helmet. "Where immortality is concerned, the coiffure is an irrelevance," says Sister Monica Joan, worked up. Trixie's face reminds everyone that in no situation on Earth or above it is the coiffure irrelevant, but Sister MJ goes on. "Valentina Tereshkova's name will echo through the centuries." Valerie is amazed by the idea that a woman will go into space and do all these important things, noting that her gran can recall when people threw stones at a female bus conductor. Wait 'til you see what they do to a female presidential candidate across the pond in fifty-three years, Val. Phyllis is reflecting on this when she notices Sister MJ rummaging around her seat in frustration, trying to find something. Flustered, the nun says there are extra needles in her room, and makes a quick exit.
At clinic the next day, Lucille greets her patient, Mrs. Campbell, who is furtively taking a quick bite of something -- a piece of cake? -- she has wrapped up in her handbag. Oh, you know these pregnant ladies and their sweets! They do get peckish. Except, judging by the dusky smudge Mrs. Campbell's fingers leave across her cheek, Lucille can tell it's not cake. "No," Mrs. Campbell admits, clearly ashamed. "It's...coal. I can't help myself...." Bless.
Fred, also, is dealing with something unusual in his allotment. Hearing rummaging from his shed, he shouts to the would-be intruder that they're on private property. I mean, it could be a raccoon, not a robber, and Fred probably wishes it was either of those instead of who it really is: Sister Monica Joan, charging out, enraged that he has stored her precious magnifying glass. "When I find a device that belongs to me secreted in your outhouse amongst your dibbers and your trowels and your long toms," she says, in a state, "it would appear to me that it is not I who requires a reminder of proprietary rights!" Fred feels terrible and says he didn't realize the thing belonged to her. Sister MJ claps back, asking if she must have everything monogrammed. Why would he put a magnifying glass in a shed, anyway? Still, Fred didn't mean to, and seeing her distress, Fred sits down to console her, nearly crying himself.
"I require this," Sister Monica Joan says of the magnifying glass. "And I require that it is not moved, when I place it somewhere for safe keeping." When she became a nun, she says, she promised to "relinquish the world of the senses." But some, she adds, are harder to give up than others. Fred promises that they'll figure something out.
Back at clinic, Lucille is assuring Mrs. Campbell that lots of women crave different foods when pregnant, and that she's seen it all. "When an expectant mother feels compelled to keep eating certain things, it's called pica," she says, and even that is not uncommon. I have had a few friends experience this, and it's wild. (None of them ate coal, thank goodness.) The good news, Lucille says, is that when mothers give birth, the cravings go away. Mrs. Campbell is worried that it will harm the baby: her sister-in-law couldn't stop eating strawberries, and her child was born with a red birthmark on her face. Lucille says this was just a coincidence, and that Mrs. C won't be suffering for much longer.
Speaking of suffering: nobody is doing that more than Mrs. Gani. At their home, she and her husband are in agony. She knows he didn't choose the situation they're in with Parveen, but it doesn't help the pain she feels that she has nowhere to focus. "I cannot blame you," she says. "I cannot blame her. What can I feel? What can I do?" She wanted to have her husband's child, but was never able to. Still they had a good life, she says: "The business became our child. It grew, it cost us sleep, it made us proud." He agrees. What they've been through together through the years has shown him the meaning of love -- the meaning of marriage. Tearfully, he says that when they met and married, they didn't know what those words meant, but then they learned to share everything. Mrs. Gani shakes her head with deep sadness: "We cannot share this."
Fred is fixing a cabinet in Sister Julienne's office when he takes the opportunity to bring up his concerns about Sister Monica Joan's failing eyesight. He tells Sister J that he reckons the problem is far worse than her sister is letting on -- that she's practically blind. There follows a very weird convo where Sister Julienne blandly observes that Sister Monica Joan must just be fearful that nothing can be done and, like, goes to shrug it off? I don't understand what they're doing -- or more to the point, NOT doing -- with Sister Julienne so far this season. I need her back in the game. Still, I'm sure it's no picnic dealing with Sister Monica Joan, especially with her fears of modern medical intervention. Sister Julienne says that Fred's concern for Sister MJ does him credit, and that she must do what she can to get her sister the help she needs. As much as I love all these other gals, this only serves to remind me what a loss Sister Evangelina was for Sister Monica Joan. You know there's no way this would have gotten past her.
Trixie arrives at Mrs. Campbell's to look her over. The lady is, as usual, stressed about her ironing pile and the potatoes she's still got to peel for tea. Trixie says she'll get her settled, and then see about getting a neighbor in to help. It would be a very good neighbor indeed who would take on those jobs for you. Trixie notices Mrs. C's bedside coal stash. "Nutty slack on the chest of drawers is never a good sign," she says, with sympathy. Poor Mrs. Cambpell says she's sick just thinking about it, and tired of all the sneaking and shame of it. "I try not to give in, Nurse, I really do," she says. This is something Trixie fully understands. "When you do give in," she sadly asks, "do you feel better?" Mrs. Campbell says she feels bloody brilliant, but only for a minute, "and then it all begins again." Soon she will be free, I guess, because she goes into labor.
Sister Monica Joan is sitting two inches away from the TV as she watches Valentina Tereshkova's famous flight. The rest of the Nonnatus crew is excited, too, but they can barely see the screen with Sister MJ blocking it in her zeal. Valerie wonders if Tereshkova got lonely in space. "She would have had no time to feel lonely," Sister Monica Joan says, through tears. "She is a fearless adventurer, fulfilling her destiny!" Siiiiiiigh. Something might be wrong with me, but I burst into tears when I saw this, thinking of Election Night 2016. If I could be Tereshkova now, I would just stay up there.
Back at the Campbells', the family is gathered around the new arrival: a perfectly formed, angelic baby girl. Mrs. Campbell is relieved that the coal didn't hurt the baby, after all. "See?" says Trixie. "Nothing to feel guilty about." Mr. Campbell (who straight-up looks like a British cartoon character) jokingly asks his wife if she'd like a bit of coal to munch on with some sherry to "wet the baby's head." She says she absolutely does not. "Now that's worth toasting, isn't it?" he asks, offering Trixie a drink as well. She attempts to demur, but when he presses a little, saying it's only a tipple, she easily concedes.
Sister Julienne and Dr. Turner interrupt Sister Monica Joan's spiritual reading time to ask for a little chat. "I am a stranger to the artifice of chatting, Doctor," she snips, "and so are you." Sister MJ may not be all there all the time, but she is no dummy. Desperate to avoid any talk of her eyes, she flimflams around a little and tries to throw them out, but they call her on her magnifying glass dependency. Dr. Turner kind of condescendingly tells her that he's pretty sure she has cataracts, and that there are measures they can take to improve her eyesight. She is hella stressed by the whole exchange.
Later, alone with Sister J, Sister Monica Joan puts her foot down. "I shall submit neither to the knife, nor Dr. Turner's mountebank mould pills," she declares, all a-fluster. Sister Julienne tells her that penicillin is not even on the table, her eyes not being infected but merely clouded over with age and needing surgery. "Milton lost his sight at 43, and the verse he wrote upon the topic is pitiful indeed," says Sister MJ. "'Blind among enemies, O worse than chains, dungeons, beggary, or decrepit age.'" Sister Julienne says she doesn't doubt the ol' boy would have leapt at the chance of surgery, but Sister Monica Joan tries to say she can do without it. "I am a far greater age than he," she cries, pitifully clutching her teddy bear. "I have curated and collated in my mind an entire library of books, into which I can retreat when the light deserts me." Nearly in tears herself, Sister Julienne softly brings down the hammer: "And if you could rely upon your mind, I would willingly let you go there. But you cannot. And I will not abandon you to darkness."
At tea time, Val reports on the Gani family situation. Everybody seems shocked about the bigamy of it all, but Val explains that in Pakistan a man can take up to four wives if he has a mind to. Sister Winifred says she feels sorry for the first Mrs. Gani. Trixie, for reasons I can't figure, remarks that "first wives are often stronger than you think." Like, what is she even referencing? Herself being the first one engaged to Tom? Christopher's first wife? I can't tell, but in any case, Sister Monica Joan sees her opening to do her own bit of Vaguebooking. "The world would be a far more harmonious place were we less concerned with the imagined strengths and frailty of others," she says primly, to which Sister Julienne responds that if we weren't alert to the frailties of others, there's a great deal of caring that wouldn't get done. In your face, old woman! Juuuust kidding -- I love Sister MJ and feel terrible for anyone dealing with the slings and arrows of time, as we all will have to someday.
The next day, the Turners also discuss the situation. Dr. Turner says they'd better get her in to see Mr. Greswell, the ophthalmologist, "before she decides to flee Nonnatus House disguised as a washerwoman." Shelagh says her former sister needs to be accompanied to hospital by someone she can trust, "and it sounds as though Sister Julienne is in her bad books." She says she'll take her, if Sister Monica Joan doesn't come around to the notion, which they both know she won't.
The two Mrs. Ganis, Mumtaz and Parveen, are having a tense standoff in the kitchen of their home. "I don't want this," Parveen says. "You hating me, your husband to be my husband." Mr. Gani nervously interrupts to say that the midwife has come to see Parveen. "Obviously she has come to see Parveen," Mrs. Gani retorts, and who can blame her? I mean, I don't want to tread on any cultural practices, or whatever, but forced multiple marriage is some bullshit?
After the exam, at which Mr. Gani has conveniently made himself scarce, Sister J discusses options on where the birth can take place and, honestly, rather thoughtlessly asks if Mumtaz has any children of her own. Mumtaz shakes her head, but can barely speak, and when Parveen says the baby is kicking, she chokes out a translation before quickly leaving the room. This woman is being asked to bear too much.
Nurse Crane is visiting the Campbells, whom she finds to be doing well, except for Mr. Campbell's celebratory hangover. "He was down the Black Sail all hours," Mrs. Campbell says, jovial, "and he kicked it off with that sherry he had with Nurse Franklin!" Damn, snitch!
Phyllis's face goes cold.
Soon after, at Nonnatus House, Phyllis pays a call on a tired but upbeat Trixie, who offers her some chocolate given to her by a grateful patient.
"A box of Milk Tray isn't the only thing you were offered, is it?" asks Phyllis. "Or the only thing you couldn't resist?" She busts Trixie on the sherry. God bless Trixie and all who struggle in recovery, she actually attempts to get defensive: "A little brightener now and again isn't the end of the world." Phyllis sternly asks if she's stopped going to her meetings, to which Trixie snaps that she's not a child. Girl, you tried it. "No," says Phyllis. "You're a nurse, and a midwife, Trixie. And there are rules. Rules you've broken. As well as the promises you've made to yourself." Phyllis says she's not going to report Trixie this time (though Lord knows why not), but that Trixie must keep attending her meetings. Trixie: "I'll go back, I promise." Phyllis: "You did stop going, then?" Busted AGAIN, Trixie nods.
Sister Monica Joan is receiving condescension now from yet another Turner: Shelagh. Look, I know it's annoying, but there are times a person needs prodding. Shelagh encourages Sister Monica Joan to take her black veil so that they can stop for lunch at the Black Kettle Café. Sister MJ seems annoyed to be spoken to like some helpless child, as anyone would be, but Shelagh seems to be trying her best to do a good thing.
At the garment factory, Sister Julienne has come to talk to Mumtaz. "I'm familiar with the strain a baby can bring in a family," she says. "Not every baby is welcome or wanted. I have seen confusion, and distress and heartbreak, in my time." Sister Julienne is always so wonderfully straightforward when she needs to be. Mumtaz says she has many feelings, but doesn't feel like she should speak of them. Except then she speaks ALL of them. Parveen's child is not her child, she says, and the wedding was not her decision, and was carried out without her knowledge and then kept from her for a long time. "Everything was decided by others, and done by them. I am forced to accept, and accept, and accept," she says. "Just as I had to accept that I would never have a baby." I know we've seen a lot of very sad stuff on this show, but damn, this has to be one of the saddest when you think about it. Sister Julienne does what she does best, and provides gentle and heartfelt sympathy as Mumtaz breaks down: "I am so very sorry that you are in this situation."
Later that morning, Phyllis opens the door to none other than Christopher, who has come to...well, who even knows? Trixie's on her rounds, as it happens. "But please be advised that what that young lass doesn't need at this precise moment in time is a romance with a man who is effectively married," Phyllis tells Christopher, and...wasn't Christopher divorced? In any case, Trixie is the one who sent him back to his (ex?) wife, so his being married or not is not the point. It's that he received a Boy, Bye and is showing up unbidden when he should be cleaning teeth. Christopher says he would never do anything to hurt Trixie, whom he loved. Phyllis says that's good, because what she needs is a friend.
Mumtaz, who didn't want to say anything, is now giving Sister Julienne her full backstory. The layers of pain for Mumtaz are endless. She looks at Parveen, who is only fifteen, and can't help being reminded that she and her husband, Sadiq, were both that age when they married so many years ago. The two of them grew up together, but Parveen is still a child. "She has been forced to lie with a man more than twice her age," Mumtaz says, anguished for herself but still able to spare a thought for her cousin. "Sadiq is a good man, and gentle. I know him. She does not. I feel rage and grief for myself, and my marriage. And I do not see the child in front of me, with an infant in her belly. I think only of the children that I can never have. And I despise myself!" Sister Julienne is fully understanding of this very sad, very complex situation. With pure generosity, she says she does not despise Mumtaz, and that she will make the arrangements for the birth to take place in the maternity home so that Mumtaz can have time, perhaps, to come to terms with the whole thing. "I will never come to terms with it," Mumtaz says, wiping her eyes. "And yet, I must try."
Sister Monica Joan is submitting to an eye exam with Shelagh by her side. The eye doctor confirms that she does have cataracts, and that they will require surgery. Thinking he is saying something to put her mind at ease, he tells her that she'll be under general anesthesia and won't know a thing about it. (Would they put this ninety-something-year-old lady under for this? I don't know.) Anyway, fairyland via anesthesia or no, Sister MJ won't be put off that easy. "If you assume that an enforced visit to an imaginary realm will reconcile me to your butchery, sir, you are mistaken," she says, and bounces.
Later, Shelagh recaps the appointment (leave it to the professionals) for Sister J and Fred, and they all resolve to double-down to help her, whatever that looks like.
Phyllis is seeing Trixie off as she heads out (in a fabulous coat) to her meeting. Phyllis offers to drive her there, but Trixie says the bus ride is part of her routine: "If I can bag the top deck, front seat, left-hand side then it sets me up for my entire evening." Phyllis is understanding of the need for the ritual, but a bit nervous. Turns out, she is right to be concerned. Trixie makes it to her meeting, but before it can even begin, she peaces out the door without a glance behind her.
At the maternity home, Parveen is finally in labor. As she struggles, Sister Julienne suggests that Mumtaz help the poor girl by speaking to her in Punjabi. Mumtaz takes her cousin's hand and, though it is obviously difficult, she translates Sister Julienne's instructions, with encouragement, through the birth of the newest Gani -- a son. "He's so beautiful," says Mumtaz, longingly, before turning back to Parveen. "And you are very, very clever. Look at what you have done." Parveen says that Mumtaz did it also, by helping her. It's the sweetest, saddest thing. I want to go back to the coal-eating lady, because this is too much.
Speaking of too much, Trixie arrives home and sweeps past Phyllis, who was clearly waiting there to check up on her. "Looks like you dodged the worst of the rain, then. Yes?" Phyllis asks. Trixie's like "yep"...
...and zooms to the bathroom, where she pulls out a fifth of who knows what and drinks it straight from the bottle, sitting in the dark.
Back at the maternity home, Mumtaz is in awe of the little baby, holding him gently as Parveen looks on and smiles. Of course Sadiq has to choose this moment to barge in and ruin it. Mumtaz, with love in her eyes, passes the baby to him. "A son," he says, not looking at her. "My son."
And then, turning his back on his wife of twenty-plus years to face Parveen: "Our son." Mumtaz slowly fades from the room.
At Nonnatus House, Shelagh is gently trying a new tack with Sister Monica Joan. If she is determined to go forward without the surgery, Shelagh says, Sister Monica Joan will need to start preparing for a life without sight. She may want to consider a white stick, and then there's Braille. "You love books so much. Many of the great works are printed in Braille, so once you've mastered it, you can read them in translation," she says, hopeful. Sister MJ, sad, says that it seems she is the one in translation now. "Transmuted. Altered. Metamorphosed," she whispers. "There are other words for my condition, but I can't recall them now." Shelagh's crying, and so am I.
Outside, Trixie is walking her bike to the door when she runs into Christopher. To her surprise, he kisses her cheek. "I was about to remind you there are rules about kissing in the vicinity of this doorstep," says Trixie. Christopher: "Well, it can't matter, surely, if we're just friends." Trixie asks after Alexandra; Christopher says she's doing well, with a bit of the old sparkle back. Trixie is thrilled. Christopher says he doesn't want to do anything that will contribute to Trixie's unhappiness. With that old Nurse Franklin smile, Trixie asks where he heard she was unhappy. A little bird told him, he says, admitting that it was maybe a slightly bigger -- and concerned and caring! -- bird; Trixie figures out right away that it was Phyllis. "She had no right discussing my personal business with anyone," says Trixie. Christopher, nearly in tears, says that he cares, too.
In the chapel, Fred finds Sister Monica Joan sitting alone. He's come in to bring some flowers that were going spare in the allotment. "Not much scent for hybrid tea," he says, with a shrug. Sister MJ lights up a little. "They are roses?" she asks, and reminisces that her mother was intensely fond of her rose garden. "She taught me the name of every bloom," she says, listing a few, including the Souvenir de la Malmaison, which I have grown myself, with moderate success. Fred says that he isn't sure what these roses are, except kind of thorny and prone to mildew. "If I were in a more jocular cast of mind, I might say the same about myself," says Sister Monica Joan. Fred says he knows she's feeling a little out of sorts, before she adds that she can scarcely see that they are flowers at all.
Back outside, Trixie is breaking down. "I don't drink all the time," she tells Christopher, through tears. "I have rules, and -- by and large -- I stick to them. You know how self-disciplined I am." Yeah...it's just that "by and large" part that is worrying. Christopher says he knows how brave Trixie is and how much she wants to get better without asking for help, but that she actually needs help. "Yes, I do," says Trixie, sniffling. "Thank you for allowing me to say that."
None of these strong women has an easy time asking for help. Sister Monica Joan is expounding on the subject even now to Fred. When she first took the veil, she says, she resisted every rule. She could always hear God's voice; she just never wanted Him to have the last word. Fred thinks (wrongly) that he understands, and says that if she doesn't have the surgery, she'll go blind and God WILL have the last word. But what if what God wants, she wonders, is for her to accept her fate and go blind? Fred sighs, exhausted by the nun of it all, and does a 180: "If you submit to blindness then you'll be throwing all sorts back in to God's face!" Sister Monica Joan asks him to explain his meaning, if he can, which is such a funny moment in this lovely scene. Fred babbles, desperate to get through to her: "Well...people trying to help you. You're rejecting that! Medical science can help you. You're rejecting that, too!" Fred says that if he were the man upstairs, who made all these things possible, he'd be pretty mad at Sister Monica Joan right now. Sister Monica Joan -- a bride of Christ for, like, seventy years -- says that the man upstairs knows her reasoning. Fred, in a final push, says if that's the case, He also knows she's scared: "We all get scared, Sister. I was scared at El Alamein. I bet that lady astronaut was scared, when they put her in her rocket. Think of all the things that she's seeing now."
That tears it. Sister MJ bursts into Sister Julienne's office moments later to report that she's ready to go under the knife: "If an ingenue of twenty-six can travel through the earth's atmosphere at orbital velocity, then a woman as ancient as myself can face her fear of the scalpel." When Sister Julienne tries to throw on the wet blanket, saying that space travel and cataract surgery are not comparable things, Sister MJ gets her back up. "I look upon the astronaut, and myself, as Brides of Science," she declares to the wide-eyed Sister Julienne. "And courteously invite you to do likewise."
Christopher and Trixie roll up in his roadster to her AA meeting. "I'd come with you if it were allowed," he says. "But, instead, I'll sit right here until you're finished." Get you a friend like Christopher. That is an extremely generous show of support.
At the maternity home, Sister Julienne is excited to hear from Shelagh that Sister Monica Joan's surgery has been scheduled. All honor and glory now and forevermore to, of all people, Fred, for getting Sister Monica Joan across the line.
Sister J passes through to the ward to find Sister Winifred feeding Baby Gani. Things aren't going that well with Parveen, and Sister Winifred is worried. The mother shows no interest in holding or feeding him. Though she knows it's a very delicate situation, Sister J calls upon the closest thing to a mother poor Parveen has within thousands of miles: Mumtaz, who is stress-sewing back at the garment factory and doesn't want to hear about it. "Please go. It is not my child," she says, dismissing her. Sister Julienne says she knows how hard it is, but that the baby is so little and needs all the love he can get. Mumtaz is about to yell at her again when she puts her hand too close to the needle and is stabbed through the finger. Yiiiiikes. She's lucky this nun she was just shouting down is a nurse.
Trixie comes out of her meeting having had something of a sad revelation. As much as they still love each other, she and Christopher must go on with their separate lives, looking to their individual futures. "God willing, there's a lot of life left to live for both of us," she says. Bidding him farewell, she walks away.
Sister Julienne has called Dr. Turner to help Mumtaz with her sewing machine injury. Mrs. Gani is grateful to them both, and now that she is calm asks after Parveen's baby. Sister J says he's not unwell, just a little unsettled, "perhaps because motherhood isn't proving easy for Parveen." At this, Mumtaz sours. "How can motherhood be hard?" she grimly asks. "She's given birth. Her body has prepared her." Sister J says that motherhood is about so much more than a physical process, but Mumtaz shuts her down: "Well, I don't know any more about that than you do." Okay, lady. Let's not step to Sister J. Dr. Turner wades in, offering his own unsolicited but valuable perspective, explaining how his family was built in unexpected ways. A son with his late first wife, a daughter via adoption, "and a little boy who was born after my second wife and I had given up all hope of ever having a baby of our own." Really don't love the distinctions here -- all of these are children of "their own." Like, they adopted Angela together, and are both raising Timothy, but okay. Language matters, as is proven when Mumtaz latches on to that last point. "For you, the miracle happened," she says. She has A LOT of good reasons to be angry, but Dr. Turner tries again. "But the miracle wasn't that a child was born," he says. "It was that my wife and I had found ways to embrace what we were given. We built a family out of several disparate elements, and at least one major surprise." Mumtaz, seeking hope, asks if his is a happy family. As he and Sister Julienne share a smile, he says it's a bit chaotic, but happy. "So you are saying that I must embrace what I am given?" Mumtaz asks. They're asking a lot of this lady, but what choice does she have in 1963 but to stay and make the best of it? With encouragement, Sister Julienne says that perhaps if she can open her heart to Parveen, then maybe Mumtaz can find a way they can all thrive, "the baby most especially."
In the hallway at Nonnatus, Trixie finds Phyllis on the way to the bathroom and practices a little Step 8 action. She apologizes for putting Phyllis in a position to keep her secret from Sister J, and, she adds, "for not turning up for duty tomorrow, because I'm going to have to turn my attention to something very pressing, that means going away for a while." Oh, nooooo. Don't leave me, Trixie! Phyllis, genuinely feeling for her, brings her best Linda Bassett Face as she takes Trixie in her arms. "I'm not one for biblical quotations and well you know it, but my mother always used to say, 'Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof,' which is just another way of saying you can start afresh in the morning. And you can. I promise you." Trixie cries. Phyllis cries. We all cry.
Sister Julienne is at the maternity home looking in on Baby G while Parveen stares, depressed, at the wall with no interest in feeding him. To everyone's great surprise and relief, Mumtaz arrives with a covered dish. "I can remember my grandmother telling me 'To feed the baby, one must feed the mother,'" she says, with maternal affection for Parveen. "Let's get you something to eat, hm?" I'm still crying.
We come now to a scene that I think they originally intended to put before the scene with Phyllis in the hallway? Trixie comes to see Sister J, who says she was soon going to be forced to ask to see Trixie, anyway. "I can do better, Sister Julienne," says Trixie. Sister J says they both know that she must, which...is what Trixie just said? No need to rub it in, Sis. She grants Trixie a leave of absence for six months. "Once you are yourself again, you may return to your position," she says. "You go with our love, and our prayers."
Is Old Jenny right when she says a little generosity can unleash great tenderness leading to deep love, and that a single conversation can change your mind, a life?
For Mumtaz and Sister Monica Joan, who have both made the choice to face significant, justified fears to accept their unwanted fate, it appears she may be.