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Worldly Distractions: Call the Midwife 3.2 - Episode Two





After last week's diagnostic clusterfuck (sorry, still not over that), can the nuns possibly redeem themselves? And can we convince Chummy never to leave Nonnatus again? Please?

We're down at the docks. Old Jenny narrates about primal instinct while Noakes chats with his acquaintance, Cyril. His wife Doris is - you guessed it! - about to have a baby. Apparently it's the first after a long gap, too, and Cyril doesn't look so happy.

Trixie, Jenny and Cynthia have been summoned to Sister Julienne. They ruminate on what they could possibly have done. Trixie is sporting a foxy new Jean Seberg-style hairdo. Rrrowl. Anyway, it's pretty much a promotion contest - Sister Julienne thinks that with all their new business, they need a sort of figurehead. She takes a moment to fake everyone out with praise, then chooses Jenny as Acting Boss Nurse in the clinic.

While she preens, the other nurses bitch about it, though Cynthia's gracious as usual. Trixie not so much. Jenny goes crazy trying to make the clinic perfect. Everyone rolls their eyes. Also, apparently Sheila is back as their receptionist, which is fabulous. Over the afternoon, Jenny turns into a bossy twat, and Trixie is just short of killing her. We've all had that coworker, haven't we?

A young woman goes to see Cynthia. She seems super stressed out about everything. Cynthia tries to reassure her, but it doesn't really work. It turns out the woman's mother has recently died, and the woman is having a hard time coping with not having her mother there.

Dr. Turner advises Doris to slow down, because she's approaching anemia. She's a hairdresser and can't stand to lose business. Once she's gone, Jenny and Dr. Turner totally gossip about what nerve she has, to possibly value her career! Back in the kitchen, dearie. They condescendingly agree to "make sure she's prepared at home", even though it's her fourth baby.

Chummy confesses that her life currently feels like a mess, and she needs to get things much more organized. Trixie assures her that she's awesome.

Jenny goes over to Doris' house to remind her she's a bad mother bring her the delivery pack. Doris goes out for a moment, and comes back to get umpteen lectures from Jenny about being ready for the baby. Not surprisingly, Doris gets pretty pissy. She openly confesses that she prefers Trixie. HA. Take that, Miss Perfect Boss Nurse.

Doris continues to assure Jenny that she's fine. After Jenny leaves, she stares at the delivery pack with a look that could only be described as ambivalent. Filthy secret to be revealed in twenty minutes, max.

The nurses head to a midwife's lecture. Trixie dresses up and looks like Don Draper's runaway secretary. And man, wouldn't that be an amazing crossover. Jenny begs off the event to go on a date, and the others head for the magical world of medical diagrams and elderly gynecologists.

Doris looks after her unruly sons, who beg her for a sister. Her husband comes home and bitches at her for daring to work. Didn't you know that working outside the home = cheating whore.

The lecture turns out to be part of the Childbirth Without Fear movement, which sparked the modern "natural birth" drive and was just beginning to take off at this time. The word "patriarchal" comes up, as the man suggests that women should be allowed more agency over their bodies rather than a battery of drugs. I approve of this doctor. Sister Monica Joan ignores him, knitting through the whole thing. Having trouble concentrating, she begins to shout things at him, embarrassing the crap out of Sister Julienne. "Women's suffering is not confined to childbirth alone!" she shouts, and I want to give her a high five.

Jenny, looking for all the world like a brunette Betty Draper in a blue-and-white striped dress, goes for wine and crisps with Alec. He mentions that he's joining some sort of student march, and introduces her to his comrades. Okay, okay, they're not communists, but they are "ban the bomb" campaigners, which probably amounted to the same thing in many people's eyes. One of them has a most fetching turtleneck.

As they pass Jenny pamphlets, we move to the lecturing Dr. Latham, who has some pamphlets of his own. Cynthia asks him about her anxious patient with the dead mom, and he says some condescending crap about the East End being "matriarchal", which we all know is not true in the slightest. Sister Monica Joan shows up to take the piss out of him some more. She lives up to the occasion, telling him he's plagiarizing Hippocrates. Cynthia invites him to lecture at her Mothercraft classes. His response is more blather about the unique East End "society". Trixie makes a few cutting remarks. If anything, the haircut has made her even sassier.

Jenny chastises Alec for turning their date into a political meeting. He tells her that his work is super duper important, and her hotness has been distracting him from it. This mollifies her enough to let him carry her home.

Doris sends her sons off to their aunt's, cries a bit, grabs a suitcase and leaves. Something is seriously fucked up here. At the clinic, Cynthia pontificates about the natural childbirth ideals. Sheila hands Jenny some blood test results and asks her to take them to Doris. Cynthia is practically peeing her pants about how sooper dooper famous Dr. Windbag is, and hopes the patients will be similarly bowled over. I predict mayhem. The conversation turns back to Doris. Chummy reveals that her husband has a bad temper, and has had a few run-ins with Noakes. Suddenly everything comes clear. However, Trixie promptly jumps into a complaint about Bossy Jenny, they begin to snipe, and the possibly-abused wife is lost in the shuffle.

So Jenny goes to find Doris, and of course she's not at home. She catches up with her at a bus stop, where she cheerfully manages to piss off the woman in about five seconds. Oh, and of course she doesn't pick up on why Doris has a gigantic suitcase. Is it just me or did everyone grow an Idiot Brain this season?

Anyway, Doris reveals that she's going away, because she's afraid having the baby around her crazy husband will "finish her off". Jenny offers to take her to the maternity home. That's when Doris drops the bomb - the baby's not his. SHOCKER! Or it would be if it hadn't happened in Series 1 with the super-ambivalent mom who turned out to have a black baby (which her white husband accepted). Let's hope they don't copy it as far as that.

Sister Julienne is empathetic and compassionate, as usual, as Doris explains that she was going to go to Brighton and give the baby up for adoption. This plan is incredibly half-assed in about eight different ways (how's she going to explain up and leaving, and then mysteriously not returning with a kid?). The good nun cuts to the heart of the matter - how the hell would her husband even know? Yeah, that's a good point - if it just looks like a generic European kid, won't she be able to pull it off? He clearly believes he was responsible for the pregnancy.

Aaaaand the mom admits that the baby's going to be "colored". What the FUCK, writers. Doing this plotline once worked okay, if stretching credibility a little. Twice? That is just plain lazy. If it weren't for Trixie's haircut, I'd wonder if I accidentally streamed the wrong episode. Holy crap, get some new ideas, guys. You've only been on for three years - there's no Simpsons excuse yet.

So she tells her Repetitive Story of Woe, and Jenny and Sister Julienne assure her they're totally not judging. With her husband being a much bigger jerk than Season 1 Lady's, it's too risky to let him see the baby, so they'll find her a secret place to give birth and set her up with an adoption.

Trixie is still giving Jenny the silent treatment, despite Jenny's attempts to butter her up. Jenny hasn't the slightest idea why. It's hilarious.

Sister Winifred brags about English roses, while Sister Monica Joan wonders why "the English are so very good with plants, and so very bad with people". Sr. Winifred explains the meaning of the rose she's planting, which was called the "Peace Rose" in honor of the end of WWII. Sr. Monica Joan points out, in her roundabout way, that in the atomic era, peace is far from a given. I officially vote for her as Coolest Person on the Show. Sr. Winifred looks confused and pretentious.

Fred (the handyman, not baby) and Chummy set up the natural childbirth lecture, while Cynthia continues to act like a total ditz about it. Chummy is creeped out by a knitted model of a fetus, which is hilarious.

The nuns have set Doris up with a Moral Welfare worker, which sounds like an awfully judgmental title. The stupid woman berates Doris for having a mixed-race child, then talks about "collecting" the baby when the time comes. When she starts in on "abandoned" babies, Doris says she doesn't have a choice - to which the evil snake replies that it's more like consequences, right? Fortunately, Jenny and Sister Julienne don't fall for this crap; the former grabs Doris's hand, while the latter makes an icy comment about compassion. ROCK ON, NUNS AND NURSES.

How they are going to explain the Disappearing Baby to her husband is never mentioned. I assume it will be a tragic stillbirth.

Cynthia has invited her neurotic mum-to-be to attend, where Dr. Latham immediately succeeds in making her feel two inches tall. It's pretty clear he views her (and the rest of the mothers) as an experiment and not much else. The lecture begins.

We finally learn that Doris is planning to tell her husband that she's getting treated for anemia, and will claim a Tragic Stillbirth to cover it up. Glad that's been addressed.

Back at the clinic, the women tell their stories, while the doctor assures them that they didn't need forceps, because if they'd relaxed, they totally could have imagined their cervixes open. I'd hate to give this guy a glimpse of the future, where he's been replaced entirely by mommy blogs. When the nervous mom asks what forceps are, the other women refer to "medieval torture", displacing exactly none of her fears. Cynthia tries to reassure her, but still doesn't explain what the hell they are. Midwife fail. The doctor assures her she'll be fine if she lets nature take over, virtually guaranteeing a complicated birth later in the episode.

Trixie's hurt that Jenny hasn't confided in her about Adopted Babygate. Jenny points out that she's had no opportunity to tell her, since Trixie hasn't been speaking to her all week. BOOM. You get what you give, honey. Trixie mentions that she helped out with Ted and Winnie Lawson, the couple from Season 1, totally forgetting that Doris and Cyril are not the same thing in the slightest. They snipe at each other, Jenny storms off, Trixie smokes angrily. Sister Monica Joan shows up and says something opaque about peace roses. Subtle.

Dr. Latham asks Cynthia to lead the relaxation class, because he believes the women will trust her far more easily. Fair point there. So she starts in on the relaxation exercises, but it's a struggle to get Nervous Mom to calm down. She's so wound up that she's even scared about relaxing the right way. Still, the class goes well, and the old doc nods approvingly.

Doris is back home, with her husband none the wiser. She tries to sell him the anemia story, which he is not buying. Somehow, she manages to convince him. Kinda.

Cynthia sends off her class with encouragement, and a special reminder to practice for Nervous Mom. Dr. Latham compliments her on her rapport and skill. He shakes her hand and asks her to keep in touch, telling her that her embrace of his ideas gives him hope. Cynthia's stunned, but is quickly brought down to earth by the skeptical and snarly Sister Evangelina - always a welcome sight. Cynthia's reaction? Some deep breathing, of course.

At home, Nervous Mom practices while her husband makes jokes. You can see that his presence really makes a big difference. Whatever happens, something tells me Hubby is the key.

Doris wakes up in the middle of the night to find that - her water's broken! And she's still at home with a hot-tempered husband! Oh, no, how will she ever get out of this one?

In the morning, she pretends nothing's wrong and sends her husband and kids off without a hint of a problem. Nonnatus House gets the call, Jenny is dispatched, and the Moral Welfare worker (I just love that title) is called in for a home pickup. The labor goes along quickly, so they can't move her. It's a race between the baby's birth and the husband's return from work. A girl is born, just what the family wanted, but there is no mistaking who her father is. Doris is all wrapped up in her new daughter. When Jenny broaches the subject of the adoption, Doris tells her that "I've got till they come" and refuses to take her eyes away from the baby. It's truly heartbreaking. I can't snark it.

Meanwhile, Cynthia also gets a call. Nervous Mom (Mrs Short) has gone into labor, and demands that Cynthia be the one to attend her. Sister Evangelina grumpily brings her along.

While Doris is cooing that she'll never forget her little girl, the door opens downstairs. Jenny thinks it's the doctor (who has been summoned for a minor complication), but we all know who it is. Yup, Cyril's home early, and before Jenny can stop him, he's walked in on his wife and the baby. He seems downright sweet right now, as he tells her he just had a feeling that he needed to come back for her. Apparently, he does not notice his wife outright telling him he shouldn't be there. She stammers an explanation, Jenny tries to steer him away, he approaches the blanket, and the secret is revealed.

He steps towards his wife in a rage, apparently about to do something to the baby. Jenny swoops in before he can hurt the child. Cruel names and racial epithets get thrown around. Just when it looks like he's about to unleash his full rage on Doris, Dr. Turner comes in and has an epic moment. He yells at Cyril to step away from his wife, go somewhere and calm down. The rage from Turner is unbelievable. Excellent performance, just excellent - and not something you'd expect from such a mild-mannered character. Cyril tells Doris to "get rid of it - or I swear I will", and leaves.

Dr. Turner thinks the baby needs to be moved right away, though Jenny thinks it's too soon. The chance of Cyril coming back is just too great. Dr. Turner says he and Sheila will foster the baby until there are suitable adoptive parents - and yeah, we all know where this is going. Temporary fostering, my ass.

They gently ask Doris to hand the baby over. She's reluctant, of course, and Jenny has to coax her into it, telling her of the risk to everyone's safety. Before they leave, Doris names the baby Carol. Dr Turner takes the baby, and once she's out of sight of the bedroom, Jenny sits at the kitchen table and weeps.

Mrs Short - Nellie - is well into labor, but her cervix isn't dilated enough to allow the baby passage, since it's in a weird position. Upon hearing this, Nellie immediately tenses up and starts wailing about forceps. Sister Evangelina insists that she should be taken to the maternity home. Cynthia thinks Nellie should be able to give birth the way she wants, and you can imagine what the sister's response is to that. Nonetheless, she agrees to keep Nellie at home a bit longer, with the caveat that any hint of danger will warrant a ring to Dr. Turner. Cynthia starts in on the relaxation routine.

Sheila is totally taken with little Carol, as is Dr. Turner. They agree that the next baby they hold should be theirs. Timothy even gives her his old teddy bear. Okay, tell me how exactly they're not going to adopt this kid?

Nellie's labor is still not moving along. Sr. Evangelina tries to talk some sense into Cynthia, so that they might possibly move her to a hospital before it's too late. Cynthia pleads for more time. She talks about "oxygen coming into the womb", and Sr. Evangelina and I roll our eyes. Surprise, surprise, the woman turns out to be fully dilated.

One of Doris's sons comes to see her. He asks if the baby's "in heaven", letting us know that Cyril is at least a bit discreet. He suggests that maybe they'll get a sister one day. Doris strokes his head and cries.

The baby's still reluctant to come out, which is a shame, because Cynthia's psychobabble is about to kill Sister Evangelina. Cynthia pulls out her trump card, asking Nellie what her mother would say. Oh, boy, the dead mother reminder, always a way to get someone to focus. It seems to work - she has a boy a few minutes later. Cynthia pronounces them both very brave. Everything's great, and Sister Evangelina even smiles. Back at Nonnatus, the nun tells Cynthia that she did a great job and it was a good thing she didn't listen. She is even inspired to try some breathing herself. They giggle together. Will wonders never cease.

Jenny goes to examine Doris, who is practically catatonic. Shakily, Doris asks for a favor. She doesn't want Carol to forget her, so she's written a letter. Could Jenny deliver it for her? Jenny promises, Old Jenny narrates about love, and everyone begins to move on.

At the Turner house, Jenny and the Moral Welfare worker (snicker) arrive to discuss the arrangements. They've found some nice parents for the baby. Sheila has trouble letting go, however, and tearfully bids the baby goodbye. Jenny brings up the letter, but Ms. Moral Welfare refuses to take it, as the adoptive parents have asked for no further contact. The baby is taken away.

Good old Sister Julienne promises to keep the letter in case Carol ever comes searching. Sr. Monica Joan goes off on another strange anecdote about her childhood letters to Father Christmas. Sr. Julienne suggests that maybe it's the act of letter writing, not the receipt, which is most helpful to all.

Cyril comes back. She admits that she has done wrong, but tells him that the baby is blameless in all this. He asks if the other children are his. Charming.

Back at Nonnatus, Jenny is trying not to be bossy, while Trixie is back on friendly terms. They giggle and tease each other and all is well.

A van covered in peace signs drives through the neighborhood - was that even a thing in 1959/60? - and Alec asks Jenny to join the protest. She declines, but gives him a peace rose as a sign of support.

Doris has slipped into depression. Jenny begs her to stop hiding, stop punishing herself, if only for her other children's sake. She helps her clean up, and walks her out to the shop, thinking that if she gets out, it will only be a help. One of the boys comes along, hoping for sweets, and the three of them set out together. Along the way, a neighbor stops Doris and asks after the new baby, which devastates her and sets back all the progress they'd made. "You Always Hurt the One You Love" plays, Jenny and Doris and the boy walk on, and Old Jenny narrates about strength. End credits.

Next episode - everyone goes to see My Fair Lady. Alec gets increasingly political. The nurses do some work in a prison.

Well, I accused this show of getting repetitive multiple times, with both the adoption story and the it's-not-my-husband's story having been used before, but I think they actually got away with it. Much darker than the previous stories, with no happy ending, it offered something which does not often appear on this occasionally syrupy show. However, the show is increasingly creaky as the season wears on (see: the "peace rose" stuff), and the other stories were rather dull. Call the Midwife is not meant to be a groundbreaker, but its departure from its optimistic leanings tonight was a nice break. The prison story next week should prove to be interesting. I do hope, though, that one of these days Chummy will be given a decent plot...

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  • Posts

    • JermajestyDuggar


      My stepmom helped raise me. So she’s my stepmom. 

      I don’t think my mom will marry her boyfriend. At least I hope not. And it’s not because I dislike him. I’ve known him since I was like 7 years old. He’s an old family friend. But my mom is not the marrying type. She’s just too independent. It’s better that they not marry and always live separately. But if they did marry, I would just refer to him by name. I probably wouldn’t call him my mom’s husband though. And it wouldn’t bother me if my kids called him grandpa. Currently they call him by his first name. 

    • PopRox


      I also do the "my Mom and her husband" thing, because her husband is a scoundrel who doesn't deserve the dignity of a name. My aunts refer to him as "it."

    • Giraffe


      51 minutes ago, Father Son Holy Goat said:

      We believe in Texas with the Wallers. 

      Oh! I didn't realize they'd actually moved. I assumed they were still going back and forth from the Duggar compound. How sad. I hope Mac's still in regular contact with whichever aunt she was closest to. 

      • Upvote 2
    • JermajestyDuggar


      2 hours ago, Red Hair, Black Dress said:

      Much of Kendra's uber strict uber trad Catholicism is exactly the same as the fundies we follow.

      Kendra definitely believes she holier than the pope. Her hubris about this knows no bounds.

      She absolutely adored Pope Benedict (Best. Pope. Evah.).

      She seriously dislikes Pope Francis.  As I mentioned above, several years ago she wrote Pope Francis (and encouraged her readers to do the same,) because she said he was doing something/ said something wrong.

      She wanted him to know it was wrong and to stop it. Because she disagreed with him. She posted the letter in her blog for her readers to use as a template.



      Just imagine being Catholic and thinking you are a better Catholic than the pope. 

    • Father Son Holy Goat


      On 5/20/2024 at 12:26 PM, SassyPants said:

      Do we know where Anna and the M’s are living?

      We believe in Texas with the Wallers. 

      • Upvote 1

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