Will Call The Midwife Help Sister Julienne Swallow The Pill?
Metaphorically speaking, of course. When the birth control pill comes to Poplar, Dr. Turner is thrilled by the implications, while Sister Julienne must grapple with her moral qualms about it.
As The Barges Go By Silently
Name: Daisy Blacker. Age: Late 30s. Occupation: "Bargie." Mom of several and counting. Goal: To live her life as a gypsy bargewoman and raise her children according to their ways, as have generations before her. Sample Dialogue: "Locks are women's work; always have been."
Sister Seeking Sister
Me: SWF (but not really S if you count my man JC). Saw you in chapel. You left with a brief goodbye. Said you'd be back. Haven't heard a word in six months.
You: Ruthlessly efficient, secretly soft-hearted. Left me with our batty friend and the rest of the squad. I miss you.
Situation: Gina Matlin is heavy in the nesting phase at her flat as she prepares to welcome her first child.
What makes it awkward? Her husband, Leslie, could give less than two damns.
How is order restored? When Gina has rare postpartum complications, Leslie must choose whether or not to rise to the occasion as a husband and father.
A Miracle with Moral Implications
Who called the meeting? Dr. Turner.
What's it about? The Pill has been licensed for distribution.
How'd it go? While both Turners are excited about the benefits of widely-available contraception, Sister Julienne is less enthused. Even though she knows every statistic about unwanted pregnancies and has seen firsthand the damage done to women and children in these situations, Sister Julienne is afraid the availability of the Pill will lead to, I guess, rampant banging of unmarried people with no regard for the consequences. Dr. Turner stops short of asking Sister Julienne what she thinks has been going on so far in Poplar, and Shelagh swoops in to offer a lemon puff to smooth things over. Sister Julienne, now in Full Nun Mode, winces at the frivolity: "Isn't there anything...plainer?"
It's A Date
A Little Dab'll Do Ya
Tom arrives at Nonnatus House Brylcreemed to the gills after a funeral ("people expect a certain level of grooming").
Who's on a date? Barbara and Tom, though Lord knows why.
Where has he taken her? Well, Barbara's on call, so they're just hanging out in the parlor of Nonnatus.
Are things headed in a horizontal direction? I MEAN, DAMN, IT SEEMS LIKE IT. First of all, Barbara puts on what is possibly the most embarrassingly suggestive song possible for them to dance, and my face has not un-cringed since hearing it. And, secondly, for all his feeding soup to the homeless and performing funerals and whatnot, Tom's A LITTLE HANDSY. In fact, these two nerds start macking down so heavily, they don't realize Tom's Brylcreem is leaving an enormous grease stain on the wallpaper in exactly the shape of his square head. When discovered, THIS ALLEGED MAN OF GOD tells Barbara she'll have to lie and say she tripped into the wall with the butter dish! Tom sucks, but that did make me laugh.
Alert Type: People Are Different Alert.
Issue: Daisy really doesn't want any help from the midwives or anyone else, preferring to keep to her own ways.
Complicating Factors: Whether she wants it or not, she needs help. She needs to go on bed rest for her own safety and the baby's. Patsy and Sister Winifred, well-meaning busybodies, also note that none of the Blacker children has ever been to school.
Resolution: They talk Daisy into going into the maternity home and allowing her kids to go to school in the meantime.
Spoiler: People like to make their own choices in life, whether or not a bunch of nurses approve.
How Do You Like Them Apples?
The Scene: Nonnatus House has been gifted an endless supply of apples in the charity box, much to the chagrin of Sister Monica Joan, hater of fruits. ("I suggest you hear the opinion of my bowels!")
The Symbol: Apples -- russet, crab and otherwise.
The Meaning: Fertility, Original Sin, S-E-X.
Girls Just Wanna Have Some Time To Be Girls
Name: Lou Blacker. Age: 11. Occupation: Daughter of Daisy. Barge kid. Goal: To maybe have a chance to be a kid before she has to spend the remainder of her life opening locks and taking care of her own kids, and not being the "right hand" to her less-than-well mom during childbirth. Sample Dialogue: [bug-eyes].
'Cause Now I've Got The Pill
Dr. Turner comes to Nonnatus to chat about the Pill to the rest of the gang. Tom is brought in by Sister Julienne to "give a Christian perspective," and of course he's dumb and weirdly bloodless about it. Meanwhile, Nurse Crane gives her own perspective -- one of reason and sanity.Listen, I've spent quite enough afternoons in family planning clinics rolling sheaths onto a wooden -- excuse me, Sister, may I say "penis"?...By all means.-- a wooden penis, trying to convince mothers of five or six children that barrier methods are the way ahead. Time and again, you get the same response: "My Eddie won't." "My Ted can't." "My Billy says, it's like going for a paddle with your socks on."
Because this is some kind of filler episode giving us a break between the tears of last week and what I assume will be a nearly unsurvivable flood of sobs next week, the writers give Trixie a rather long speech in which to wax fond about her drinking days -- the lipstick red of maraschino cherries, the community of boozing -- and celebrate how far she's come.
For Fun And Recreation
Situation: Sister Julienne is extremely concerned that everyone at Nonnatus House, as medical professionals, not "promote recreational intercourse." Heeee. She is sure Tom feels the same. RIGHT, TOM?
What makes it awkward? TOM, OF COURSE. Instead of being like, "Yes, exactly, the Bible is against it," when Sister Julienne puts him on the spot he awkwardly asks, "Well...what are the government guidelines?" Dude. Aren't you a curate?! Caught between Sister Julienne's holiness and Barbara's glares, Tom mumbles that he'd be obliged to counsel self-restraint when faced with parishioners on the verge of fornication.
How is order restored? With a fight.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Barbara vs. Tom
Barbara can't believe Tom would even suggest self-restraint in others when his Brylcreem spooge (I'm so sorry) is written all over the walls of a convent! He claims he was taken off-guard, since everyone was talking about "medicine and menstruation," subjects about which he knows nothing. Lord. Barbara suggests maybe Tom look into some of it before he goes around counseling anyone, especially since he should know how passions get out of hand. Seriously, Tiger.
Plot Lightning Round
Mrs. Matlin goes into labor, and it's not exactly an easy one. After a long night, Phyllis must take over for Barbara.
Daisy checks in to the maternity home and is blown away by both the large room and the largesse on display. She finds it particularly off-putting that the complimentary robe has property marks in it.
After delivering her beautiful baby boy, Mrs. Matlin breaks down, saying she figures her husband, Leslie, doesn't want "any of this," meaning the baby or her. They had only been courting three months before they were knocked up and forced to get married.
Much more kindly than it sounds, Phyllis tells her "it's far too late to be crying about that now."
Carpe Diem, Phyllis Crane!
When Barbara laments the Matlin situation, Phyllis reckons that some of these folks make a go of it and do all right. In any case, it's far better than what Phyllis's own mother had to go through. Plus, she is supportive of seizing the moment, as she herself did in 1941 with an Air Force Sargent on his way to die in the war. When Barbara professes shock, Phyllis is unruffled. She did the necessary research (procuring a medical douche called "the Omega Strain," ha haaaaa) and GOT IT ON. Yes, girl. Yes.
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
There's A Place For Us
Under the light of the full moon -- while Patsy frets about Daisy's children not fitting in at school because of their clothes and their, well, smell -- Delia suddenly says she wants them to go to the Gateways Club together the next time they have a night off. Patsy...is not into it: "I don't want to be with 'women like us.' I just want to be with you." Deels is understandably disappointed.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Bargies vs. Nurses
Mrs. Blacker is not taking so well to being pampered. I guess when you live in what is basically a floating coffin, you don't so much appreciate the frills on offer at the Kenilworth Road Maternity Home. When she sees her children washed and lotioned and wearing townie school togs, the deal is off. Patsy and Sister Winifred were just trying to help, but their help was not necessary or welcome to someone who has been doing things one way for three generations and sees no need to alter the direction of her children's lives, whether they can read or not. And when she demands that Patsy bring out the kids' original clothes -- "FETCH 'EM" -- it's a mother-bear message that needs no interpretation.
It's a Nor'EastEnder!
Alert Type: Inclement Weather Alert.
Issue: Suddenly, a gale force-9 storm blows in. "An Autumn high tide," Fred says, "straight out of Whitaker's Almanack."
Complicating Factors: I hope no babies need to be born while parts of buildings are flying around and the power's out. JK of course they will.
Resolution: The midwives, ONCE AGAIN, overcome every barrier to help the citizens of Poplar.
Spoiler: The storm blows in one other unexpected treat....
Wrap It Up
Trixie fights her way to the maternity home to deliver an infant IN THE DARK. On her way there, she finds ANOTHER pregnant lady and drags her in! Even when the wind messes up her hair through all that hair lacquer, Trixie will not be stopped!
Mrs. Matlin starts feeling very bad, with body pain and a severe headache. At first, her husband is like, "Uhhhhhh," but when his wife starts seeing stars, he realizes she is in distress and resolves to SACK UP. Racing to the phone, he calls Phyllis, who makes it there in the car, finds the elevator out of order, and must climb eight flights of stairs to rescue poor Mrs. M, and then lead the whole family BACK down the stairs in the dark to a waiting ambulance. Turns out Mrs. Matlin has the very rare and dangerous condition of postpartum preeclampsia. But she recovers and comes home with her now proud and competent husband and cute baby.
Poor Lou has been drafted to help her mom through her labor as the rest of the family bunks off to the pub. With the storm is raging and her mom screaming in pain, Lou is finally like, "Nah," and runs to Nonnatus for Patsy. Having learned her leasson, Patsy sits respectfully by and takes her lead from Daisy, who pretty much handles the birth of her new baby daughter on her own. It's a girl! When the Blacker family leaves, they agree to have the children's school lessons sent on to them by post. It's something.
Fred is clearing the rubble the next day when one complaining voice rises above the mess. Sister Evangelina is back! She doesn't make it home before berating Fred for not cleaning up fast enough and requisitioning the post office phone for Nonnatus House.
Sister Monica Joan is overwhelmed with joy to be reunited with her sister and drops some Genesis 28:15 on her: "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land...." Sister Evangelina smiles and continues: "For I will not leave thee." Is anyone else nervous that she left out the very end: "Until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of." No leaving, please! Now or until or any time!
Somewhat reluctantly, Sister Evangelina admits to Sister Julienne that, while she was lodged with the silent order, she had a stroke. She can no longer use her left arm, which means she can't midwife anymore. "Nothing stays the same," she tells Sister Julienne, who's still troubled by the birth control issue. "We don't stay the same, ourselves."
Patsy, also, is acknowledging the importance of living in the moment and goes with Delia to the club where they dance together, at last.