Shameful Secrets Won't Stay Hidden On Call The Midwife
And Al Lowe wonders why we even need men around at all.
Call The Midwife taught us with heart-crushing clarity that shame can lock you in a hellish prison of your own design. Guess what? That was just a warm-up!
Remember back in the Good Old Days when men thought it was a jolly good lark to put their hands on women any time they felt like it? Ah, yes, when it was supposed to be some kind of compliment to pinch the ass of passing ladies -- even the ladies who literally kept your community alive and fed through all kinds of turmoil and strife. Remember that?! What a time to be a white guy, right? Ha ha! Some old pensioner grabbing the bottom of one of these pretty gals never hurt anybody! No. Screw that. Hillary for President.
Advanced Maternal Age
Name: Mrs. Hills. Age: Late 40s. Occupation: Fishmonger. Goal: Oh, just to have this baby she's totally pregnant with. Yes, that's her, the elderly pregnant lady, having a totes normal pregnancy, planning to deliver at the hospital! Soooo pregnant, right? Erm, her teenage daughter, Diane? She's just um, eating a lot of donuts lately, that's all. Sample Dialogue: "Diane, you've brought this all on yourself."
It's A Date
Whistle Down The Whaaaaat?
Who's on a date? Tom and Barbara, who have the opposite of chemistry.
Where has he taken her? To the pictures to see Whistle Down The Wind, a movie in which Hayley Mills and a bunch of other brainless children convince themselves that an escaped criminal hiding in their barn is Jesus Christ.
Are things headed in a horizontal direction? Barbara is quite stirred by a wool-and-germ-encrusted sherbet lollie Tom had just been carrying unwrapped in his coat pocket (gross), but these loveless lovebirds are interrupted by Lizzie, a staggering, wounded prostitute calling for help. So: no. (Not that they probably would have been anyway.)
Mom On The Job
Name: Lizzie. Age: Early 30s. Occupation: Working girl. Goal: To feed and clothe her children after their father has run off and left her with no other choice. And, now, to survive this latest indignity: being brutalized on the street by some crazy piece of shit who battered her face and tried to take a bite out of her shoulder. Sample Dialogue: "It could have been worse."
Everyone Is Going to the New Forest!
Timothy and Shelagh have sneakily and adorably arranged to surprise Dr. T with a week off! They are taking him on a family camping trip! With Patsy's help, scout supplies and tents are procured, and the gang gets prepped, super-excited.
New Forest FAQ
Q: Bless their hearts?
A: I know. Sometimes English people forget what the weather is like where they live.
Q: Tent camping with a toddler?
A: I know. Sometimes parents like to challenge themselves.
Q: What's so New about the New Forest, anyway?
A: Absoluetly nothing. It was proclaimed a royal forest in 1079 and continues to feature one of the largest remaining tracts of unenclosed pasture land, heathland, and forest in the southeast of England. It has a lot of wildlife, including ponies and pigs, and is the setting of many famous English mystery, fantasy and historical fiction novels.
Someone's Slicing Onions In Here
Trixie returns from her "art history class." Delia wonders if it got bit emotional talking about ol' Vermeer as Trixie's mascara has run halfway down her face. She brushes this off, saying she was on the top of the bus coming home and the smoke made her eyes water. Sounds legit!
Narcing For A Good Cause
Who called the meeting? Barbara.
What's it about? Since Lizzie refused to report her assault to the police, Barbara tells Sgt. Noakes about the incident.
How'd it go? He says yeah, you know, both the attacker and Lizzie are in the wrong -- quickly adding that the animal who BIT her was, you know, slightly more in the wrong, maybe -- but that there's not much he can do unless he gets a detailed description of the dude. Barbara says Lizzie won't do it because she's afraid she'll get arrested for soliciting, and Sgt. Noakes basically shrugs and says she will.
Plot Lightning Round
Sister Julienne notices that Sister Mary Cynthia doesn't sing loudly during chapel, despite having a lovely voice. Sister Mary Cynthia says she's afraid she'll draw attention to herself and seem prideful, both no-gos for nuns. This is why I can't be a nun. Y'all should hear me in church. It's on blast from Alpha to Omega.
Mrs. Hills's daughter, Diane, is -- surprise! -- the member of the family who's actually pregnant. They're hiding it from the world in order to conceal the fact that she had sex, preserve the family dignity -- all the usual stupid shame boulders that have been piled on women and girls for generations. Diane is near her due date and sick of the whole thing, particularly nauseated by her mother's pregnancy performance art and the fact that she's going to have to watch her child be raised as her sibling.
The Turners celebrate their upcoming holiday with a fancy dinner -- including, Timothy hopes you'll notice, ornamental serviettes! Dr. Turner couldn't be more excited about his break from work.
Another Poplar woman, Mrs. Coleman, is stressed to the gills by her colicky baby and takes him for a walk in the night air...only to be attacked by the same dirtbag that went after Lizzie, complete with the signature bite mark.
Get The Look: A-Camping We Will Go!
The Turners are ready for a week in the woods!
Smart kerchief and cardigan combo: Shelagh's ready!
Listen, he's on vacation: "I keep wanting to avert my eyes, but they're just too compelling!" Trixie snickers, unable to control herself. Sister Winifred: "I'm not looking! Really, I'm not!"
Heeeeee: Okay, Sandals.
Dingbattiness Is Close to Godfreyness
Name: Dr. Godfrey. Age: Late 70s. Occupation: Retired GP. Goal: Ostensibly to cover Dr. Turner's patients while he's out, but actually to chill in comfort and style at Nonnatus House and have a vacation from his retirement. Also, not even to bother disguising his mild to moderate senility. Sample Dialogue: "I have heard such enticing things about the midnight larder at Nonnatus House!"
Mutual of PTV's Animal Kingdom
Angela Turner is a smart kid. She knows that the thing to be scared of when camping is not bears. What are there -- like, a couple of bears in the woods? And this is England, where they probably don't even have any bears. (I'm not a zoologist.)
I'm just saying, as far as woodland creatures go, you want to look out for the ones that can unionize and gang up on you. If they weren't so stupid, the biggest danger for this would definitely be the squirrel, that rat of trees. About, oh, six thousand of them live in my yard and they are the fattest, most brazen, laziest jerks in all of nature, torturing my cat by the hour with their nonstop rooftop conga. Anyway: they tried, but between the squirrels and the rain, the Turners decide to finish their miserable holiday in a hotel down the road.
Plot Lightning Round
Poor Diane goes into labor, sending Mrs. Hills into frenzy of preparation. She slings her three young sons into bed, and puts Diane in a warm bath.
The poor girl must labor in near silence, which is, of course, impossible. Her mom makes her bite down on a rag as she screams in agony. I've said it before: this show does not play with the truth. Women throughout history have had hard damn lives. I can't even think about how hard sometimes without getting very angry.
Bless all the hearts in this scenario, Mrs. Hills successfully delivers Diane's baby boy. The placenta, however, won't seem to come, and Mrs. Hills is rightly worried.
Mrs. Hills calls Nonnatus to try to get Nurse Franklin to ask what to do about the placenta, but Dr. Godfrey patronizingly confuses the call as having COME from a nurse. He tells her to pull on the cord to get it out. This doofus. Holy Looooooorrrrd.
Odd Girls Out And Twilight Lovers
Situation: Patsy comes back to their shared room to find Trixie still there, having not yet been called out.
What makes it awkward? Patsy has about the worst case of bedhead a girl could get.
How is order restored? "Where were you?" Trixie asks. Patsy: "Delia's room. She was teaching me a new card game." Ha HA! Yes, the game of hearts, am I right? Trixie has that awkward feeling that she knows something, but doesn't know what.
Mrs. Hills, having received Dr. G's "expert advice," goes home and does what he says: pulls the cord. Except she pulls it too hard and YANKS OUT DIANE'S UTERUS. Okay, I'm done. I seriously...I cannot. It's literally too much. The screams. Trixie, thank God, had heard the doctor on the telephone, realizes no nurse had called from Mrs. Hills's house, and takes Sister Mary Cynthia to find out what's up. Then, because she is a completely capable, unquestionable badass, Trixie manipulates Diane's womb BACK INTO HER BODY, saves her life, and gets her to the hospital, all while poor Mrs. Hills is literally vomiting from guilt and anguish. Don't let me hear a bad word spoken about Trixie. She is the best of all of us.
Alert Type: This Show's Gonna Kill Me Alert.
Issue: After the harrowing night with the Hills family, Sister Mary Cynthia cleans up their kitchen and walks home, stopping to watch the sunrise and say a prayer of thanks.
Complicating Factors: She is grabbed from behind, beaten, and left for dead beside the docks.
Resolution: What resolution could there be to such an outrage?
Spoiler: We are about to see what the littlest nun is made of.
Life In The Open
At the hospital, Trixie counsels Mrs. Hills to put this horror behind her. With dawning recognition, Mrs. Hills accepts that she can't let shame and secrets control her life. And, at long last, Trixie realizes she needs to come out from her AA closet.
Wrap It Up
Sister Mary Cynthia staggers back home, where she is seen by Trixie in what has to be the most heartbreaking moment of all.
Sister Mary Cynthia can't stand to be touched or comforted, but reveals that she was not raped -- "only" brutalized and battered and bitten, like the other women. "I thought my habit would protect me," she says, and if I wasn't already crying, I guess I would die? "The worst thing is that I had actually stopped to pray. All I can think about now was this morning when I thought God was at my shoulder, and it was someone else all the time."
The entire household goes through the stages of grief as Sister Mary Cynthia works through her extreme anger. I have never heard her talk so loud in five seasons. Even Sister Julienne is at a loss to help.
Poor Patsy and Trixie cry outside Sister Mary Cynthia's bathroom, begging her not to lock the door. Finally, the beautiful, sweet Sister Monica Joan is able to hold, help, and comfort her traumatized Sister. "There is a time to mortify our flesh," says Sister Monica Joan, as she bathes her. "And a time to cherish it and marvel at its strength." I've watched it twelve times, and sobbed through every one.
Sister Mary Cynthia is strengthened by this, changes her mind: she will speak to the police, because the other women can't: "They're afraid they'll get the blame. Afraid of what other people will think of them. And I'm afraid of so many things. But not that." She says she thought at first that this was a test of faith, but it was only a test of strength. And she can use her strength to help others.
Sister Mary Cynthia's gathered sisters and friends nearly burst with support and admiration. My heart literally explodes.
Because of Sister Mary Cynthia's excellent description of the tattoos on her assailant's hands, Sgt. Noakes is able to determine -- with the help of a very saucy tattoo artist (I guess) -- that the offender is "a convicted brigand" and probably a Soviet merchant marine. He is arrested with extreeeeeme prejudice.
Mrs. Hills brings Diane's baby to her and states quite plainly that all of this lying was wrong and will stop. The world, she says, "can take a running jump."
Trixie, inspired by Mrs. Hills and Sister Mary Cynthia, sheds her own shame, confessing blithely to Patsy and Delia that she attends not an Art History class, but AA. They declare this to be "splendid," but, sadly, cannot share their own truth with her.
And, in chapel, Sister Mary Cynthia no longer hesitates to raise her beautiful voice in chapel.