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Worldly Distractions: Call the Midwife 3.5 - Episode Five





Well, rather than binge-watching House of Cards, I am continuing these recaps and forcing myself to sit through shows which don't involve Evil!Kevin Spacey slowly taking over the world. Are you happy, FJ?

That is not to say that Call the Midwife is without its dramatic moments. Since Alec kicked the bucket sadly passed away last week, it's pretty natural to wonder what the heck is going on with Jenny and the people around her.

Old Jenny narrates about grief and renewal while we watch the nuns and nurses make up a care package for her. Everyone seems more solemn than ever, including the unflappable Sr. Julienne. While Present Jenny opens the package, Old Jenny reminds herself that she was never forgotten. Another package makes its way to a home for adults with disabilities (though rest assured they probably call it something way more offensive), where we are introduced to Jacob, who has cerebral palsy. Since we saw him in last week's preview, I'm sure he'll figure in this episode.

Over at Nonnatus, Sr. Evangelina turns up her nose at quiche Lorraine. They all talk about Jenny's sorrow, and how much they miss her. Just as Sr. Julienne tries to segue from "we all miss Jenny" to "we worked Jenny like a packhorse and need a replacement pronto", Sr. Julienne faints. Everyone rushes to her aid.

Public service announcement: Throughout these posts, I have been referring to a certain ex-nun as Sheila, when I am told that it's actually Shelagh. My apologies to her. The Turners are having lunch, where Shelagh and the doctor-whose-first-name-I-can-never-remember upbraid Timothy for daring to play with boys his own age when he "can't keep up". Shelagh suggests that she take him to the science museum as expected, and this goes over about as well you'd think. Fortunately, this riveting discussion is interrupted when Dr. Turner is summoned to have a look at Sister Julienne. He then brings Timothy in the car with him and has him sit there, staring longingly at some kids playing cricket. I swear, his parents are well-meaning but sometimes they're as dumb as a bag of rocks.

The home-for-disabled-adults is planning a giant dance, which the residents are all pretty excited about, and it turns out that the nuns have sent a few boxes of party clothes for the occasion. Jacob breaks up a fight between two women, who want the same dress. It's pretty clear that one of them, Sally, is either the object of his crush or his girlfriend. Judging by the way she looks at him, probably the latter.

Dr Turner orders blood tests and bed rest for the head nun, who is suffering from severe stress. She immediately gets much more stressed wondering how Nonnatus will function without her. He ignores her protests, tells her to stay in bed or else, and heads outside - to find the car empty and Timothy happily running around with some other boys. He beams when he sees it. Shelagh, however, is less amused, telling him that something terrible could have happened and - well, you've heard a version of this speech before when you left your mom for a few minutes, so I'll skip it. Dr. Turner wisely advises her to let the kid be. With a child nearly grown-up, Shelagh wonders what she'll do. Her husband has a suggestion...

...aaaand then we cut to Shelagh in Sister Julienne's office. Looks like the former nun is the current Queen Bee!

Meanwhile, tensions are running high in the Noakes household, for perhaps the first time ever. Chummy has taken on some extra shifts due to the midwife shortage and they're all horrendously busy. Furthermore, Freddy has pissed all over Chummy's uniform. What ever shall they do?

I don't know, this series feels lacking with no Evil!Kevin Spacey in it. Maybe I'll just skip out for an hour and watch one more episode...


Okay, I'll stick with Poplar and nuns. Fred moves a handsome vicar into his new home while Sister Evangelina yells at him to come over and help already. Sister Evangelina is about to have a jubilee (anniversary of her vows), and Sister Winifred's in charge of planning it - a service and a sedate tea party. Trixie is sorely disappointed when her roulette wheel idea is rejected. The problem is, Sr. E doesn't seem to have much in the way of family, and it's difficult to track them down. The sister herself walks in and brings it to a halt. I have to say, this could be interesting, as Sr. Evangelina has long hinted at having a Dark Past. What one earth could these young nurses uncover?

Over tea, Shelagh announces that she's found a new, permanent midwife, who will stay with them even after Jenny gets back. This is met with much relief, and I bet the new woman will be quite the character. Trixie accuses one of the present company of having stepped in "dog dirt", as the room has begun to stink. Sr. Evangelina loudly accuses everyone else, only to find that she's the culprit. More storming off in a huff, which is what Pam Ferris does best. Oh, yeah, and she washes the shoes in the kitchen. Gross. Shelagh notices that they're her only shoes, and they're falling apart. Over Evangelina's "poverty vow" protests, Shelagh confiscates the shoes to have them mended, and tells her to take a pair from the charity box.

While she gets surprisingly fascinated with the process of shoe selection (as so many of us do), Sally and her friend get ready for the dance. Cynthia has been brought in to chaperone, as head of the Girl Guide-knockoff troop that helped plan it. Sally dances solo, utterly carried away by the music, while Jacob stares at her adoringly. Cynthia's Girl Guide-knockoff assistant comments that she feels sorry for them - but Cynthia says she really doesn't.

Chummy steps out of the house, having left a screaming Freddy with a neighbor, only to find her husband coming up the walk. They're both frustrated, because Chummy wanted to work part-time, Peter supported this, and now they've figured out that midwifery isn't exactly compatible with such a notion. Gee, you think?

The new nurse arrives, sporting beautiful golden locks and a very assertive personality. In fact, she's somewhat of a control freak. Her name is Patience Mount (seriously), but she goes by Patsy. The nuns stare in awe at her sheer efficiency. Sister Evangelina still finds fault, but is defeated by the Patsy Machine.

The nurses try to make friends, but she's a little frightened of frivolous Trixie. And also possibly gay. It's just a vibe. Plus this show is about as subtle as a brick. Anyway, after a few drinks they have a glorious time. Hula hoops are introduced, because it's 1960 and nurses gotta have nice waistlines.

While Sr. Evangelina patrols the corridors, someone starts banging on the door. She ignores it, for no apparent reason. Huh? Aren't you supposed to be a nurse? What if that's someone calling with a serious situation? Oh, right, it's the Dark Past coming up again.

The residence gets a visit from Sally's mother, who is told that her daughter is "under the weather". We all know what that really means. When her mother asks if it's "her monthlies", Sally mentions she doesn't have them anymore, and well, let's just say Mummy figures it out right quick. Her mom drags her from the residence, wondering just what kind of outfit they're running, though Sally is confused and heartbroken to leave her home.

Chummy and Patsy prove to be immediate buddies (duh), and the nurses happily sit down with Sr. Winifred to plan the damn Jubilee. They immediately come up with the least Evangelina-like party possible, while Patsy proves herself to be very earthy and not at all distressed by the phallus (three years in men's surgery apparently does things to the mind). The conversation shifts to Evangelina's family, who are all dead except for the youngest brother, Vincent - presumably the mysterious visitor of before. They resolve to find him.

Sally is brought to Nonnatus House, where her delicate condition shocks even the implacable nurses. Cynthia recognizes her right away. They wonder if it might be a tumor (and weirdly, that almost seems preferable in their eyes), but an examination by Chummy reveals that she's in her third trimester. Over a cup of tea, Sally's mother laments that she sent her to the residence precisely for safety reasons, as she was worried about keeping track of her in the chaotic Poplar.

Meanwhile, Dr. Turner reams out the head of the residence for a) allowing Sally to wander unsupervised long enough to get pregnant and B) neglecting to treat a UTI that left her very ill indeed. She stammers about saying "Down Syndrome" rather than "Mongolism", which seems to be rather missing the point, but Dr. Turner is not fazed, and tells her to question every man who possibly had access to Sally. Though really, I doubt that would lead to anything - is anyone really going to admit to it even if they were responsible? And even though it's totally Jacob and we all know it, the characters all speculate wildly. Noakes wonders how much jail time the guy will get. Chummy tells him not to be unfeeling. Not being familiar with British law at the time, I wonder what would actually happen if the father of the baby turned out to have cognition issues himself. Would he go to prison anyway?

In the kitchen, Sr. MJ calls for help, which sends the Nonnatus staff running. She wails about broken glass and intruders and stolen pie. Evangelina is sure she staged a burglary to cover her pie-pilfering tendencies (this particular treat was meant for a charity raffle). Shelagh moderates. She's not too successful. However, Noakes interrupts. He wants a midwife to go with him to interview Sally.

Sally is edgy about the policeman. They are gentle and assuring, but Sally's dad keeps ruining things by making angry, downright comments about the man who "knocked her up". The scene winds up with Sally in tears and no suspects. Fortunately, Cynthia takes her into the bedroom and calms her down in her usual Cynthia manner. They couldn't have picked a better midwife for this case. Sally takes issue with the suggestion that someone might have hurt her, and when asked if anyone wanted to "be close" to her, she says it was her boyfriend. She's also desperate to go back to St. Gideon's. Mystery solved.

At clinic day, Sally is stared at and whispered about in the waiting room. Fortunately, Dr. Turner works well with her. After the appointment, he bemoans the lack of cases in medical literature, which leaves him in the dark about possible complications. This tells me it might be a rather intense episode. They all just hope that she'll hang on long enough to bring the baby to term, which pretty much guarantees labor next week.

Sister Winifred chats with Sister Evangelina, and accidentally lets news of the party slip. Evangelina goes nuts, as you might predict. She immediately goes running to Shelagh, who protests that they had good intentions. When Shelagh tries to claim tradition, Evangelina burns her about her ex-nun status. OH NO SHE DIDN'T. So the party's off and everyone's upset. When Sister Evangelina finds Patsy, she yells at her for no reason, then begins to cry. Yes, you read that right.

Cynthia has brought Sally's "boyfriend" story to the matron at the residence. Unbeknownst to them, Jacob is listening outside the door. Once they're gone, he breaks into the office and goes through the matron's Rolodex. Soon enough, he's hopped on a bus to Poplar in pursuit of his true love. Good on you, Jacob.

He arrives at Sally's residence just as Chummy and Cynthia are examining her. Sally's mom is about to flip out, but stops when she sees how desperately Sally cares for him. Sally, meanwhile, keeps repeating to Jacob that she didn't tell anyone, proving that she is not confused in the slightest about how babies get made. Mrs Harper is upset, sure he forced himself on her in some way, and the nurses try to defuse the situation. Jacob reveals that he intends to ask for Sally's hand. When her mom starts to get violent, Sally insists that Jacob be left alone. He says he can leave, as long as he knows that Sally is cared for and loved. It's heartbreaking.

Cynthia brings him back to Nonnatus. Trixie, in her usual chatty manner, quickly makes him feel welcome. The curate - who clearly has a thing for Trixie - shows up to drive Jacob home, but Trixie insists that he stay to finish his tea.

Over at the Harpers' home, Mrs Harper and Chummy discuss the fate of Sally's baby. This depends on whether the baby will have Down Syndrome, as well as the personal feelings of everyone involved. Mrs Harper blames herself for putting Sally in the residence and possibly driving her to feel neglected and thus have sex. Chummy, as usual, is a champion of reassurance. Meanwhile, Jacob begins his long journey home. At her own home, Chummy cuddles Freddy, telling her husband "I want him to know how much he's loved."

On duty late at night, Noakes thinks he sees Sister MJ running by, but it turns out to be Evangelina. She shows him a little room off the street, filthy even by Poplar standards and occupied by her brother Vincent. A longtime alcoholic, he's hit rock bottom. Having heard about her Jubilee, he has finally found her and come looking for help. Oh, and he stole the pie, incidentally. And Sister Evangelina's name is Enid. They are completely different and loathe each other's lives, but they are still family. In fact, his birth was what prompted her to seek midwifery. She will stick by him no matter what.

The nurses discuss it the next day, and we realize that Evangelina has gone crazy over the shoes because she felt that her impromptu food donations were like "stealing" from the order. They all cluck about how heartbreaking it is. Halfway through the day's service, Cynthia and Chummy are called out - Sally's baby is on the way, much too early.

At the maternity home, Sally is upset and wants to go home, while her parents wait anxiously outside. They've been told that the baby will die. Mrs Harper finds Sally's cries unbearable and goes in to join her, offering the comfort only a mother can give. The scene is brilliantly done, and I'm in tears by now. Outside, Sally's dad sits, alone and feeling helpless. Sally gives birth to a stillborn child. Chummy takes the baby away and struggles to compose herself, while Cynthia deals with Sally. Mrs Harper is there through it all.

The curate (who I'm pretty sure is the dude from the jail a few episodes back) arrives at the residence, where he takes Jacob aside and gently gives him the bad news. He then speaks with the matron, who is willing to take Sally back and wants to move Jacob elsewhere. The curate argues that they were truly in love. I like this guy. The matron, for her part, thinks him hopelessly naive - and it's beyond her control anyway. Jacob goes without any input into his own fate.

Shelagh informs Evangelina that her brother has been taken to a mental hospital. The sister accepts this with resignation, as she does with everything else in life. They talk about fate and family, which leads to Shelagh's infertility. Since Timothy is now Shelagh's child in so many ways, Evangelina takes Shelagh aside and tells her the story of Timothy's birth - she did the delivery, all those years ago. "It's impossible to love too much," she concludes. God's plan is also mentioned, leading me to yet again suspect an end-of-season conception.

Jacob has basically staged a sit-in, refusing to leave St. Gideon's, though the matron argues with him vehemently. He manages some very hard-hitting lines in the process, and the look on her face shows that she, too, doubts this choice.

Shelagh takes Timothy to a polio clinic. Sally and Mrs Harper are moving on with their lives. Jacob prepares for his big move. Dr. Turner walks into the clinic just as Timothy takes his first steps without braces. In tears, the family has a group hug. Sally arrives back at St. Gideon's just as Jacob is leaving, because the matron has utterly no sense of timing. She goes running after the car. However, they're already gone, and she is heartbroken.

In the midst of frenzied Jubilee preparations, Sister Evangelina is called away. She is stunned to find the entire neighborhood waiting in front of Nonnatus, applauding madly, and a throne decorated with flowers to celebrate her. Despite her earlier chagrin, she happily takes her place. Sister Julienne has turned up and gives her a gift - brand-new shoes. Many of the neighborhood's inhabitants talk with her. It turns out that she delivered most of them, and their children to boot. They all present flowers, and soon her arms are overflowing. Old Jenny narrates about praise.

Back at St. Gideon's, Sally returns to her room to find a package on her bed. It's a beautiful dress, with a note enclosed - "Love you, Jacob".

Vincent turns up at the party, with flowers for his sister. He tells her "well done" without ever revealing their connection. She's having none of that, though, and brings him into an embrace. The celebration continues. Closing credits.

Next time - Trixie treats a woman in an abusive relationship, Patsy handles a sick dad, Timothy makes a new friend, and I think the curate finally makes a move on Trixie.

This one was a standout. I liked having a non-Jenny episode (her brief appearance notwithstanding) - you must admit she can be dull on occasion - and Patsy is an interesting new character, full of possibilities. The story involving Sally and Jacob proved to be quite fascinating, exploring an area of disability rights rarely discussed, let alone seen on television. It was expertly performed by the actors involved, especially Mrs. Harper. Best of all, though, was getting to see Sister Evangelina, who is usually relegated to buzzkill and/or comic relief, and finally got some of her hinted-at backstory fleshed out. It was a great showcase for the talents of Pam Ferris, who will always be one of my favorites. Great job this week - let's see what they've got for the remaining three.

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      1 hour ago, duggerme said:

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