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Worldly Distractions: Call the Midwife 4.2 - Episode Two







This week, while the show appears to be hemorrhaging characters, we join what few midwives are left for the usual life, death and '60s haircuts. What's up for the residents of Poplar this week?

(No recaps for Girls and The Simpsons until tomorrow - I'm only human and no one watches either of those at the moment.)

The opening credits tells us what we all were in denial about last week: CHUMMY IS GONE. Miranda Hart and Ben Caplan (Noakes) are missing from the credits. You guys, my heart is broken. We can do without the main character, but Chummy?


Come back, Noakeses - our time together was WAY too short!



Barack Obama


Heartless removal of our favourite characters aside, we do have an episode to watch. Jenny does her usual stuff, this time about spring, and reminisces about Nonnatus even though she's away being married to That Guy Who Had Three Lines. Then again, this show was flimsy to begin with.

Nonnatus has a leaking roof. We meet the Mother-of-the-Week, Mrs Bassett. Sr. Evangelina knows her diagnosis but won't tell anyone what it is, which probably means the flu. Trixie is busy arranging her engagement party, with the help of none other than Claridge's. In the corner, Patsy manhandles some placenta.

To everyone's relief, the Trunchbull only has fibroids, though it will warrant a hysterectomy. She wails that it will put her "out of commission" for a few episodes weeks, which is hilarious considering this is a nun, until we realize she just means work. Never fear - they're bringing in yet another midwife to replace characters we know and love!

Sr. Winnifred leads a motherhood class, where Mrs Bassett alienates everyone by complaining about the weather and bragging about her new washing machine. To be honest, she seems more awkward than unkind. Trixie's engagement party gets more and more elaborate, which will sorely tax Tom and his preacher's salary. Patsy takes over the Scouting troop. Apparently, there's a big Jamboree coming up, which should bring us this episode's filler subplot.

Mr. Bassett comes home from his job driving a bus. The couple are adorable together. Lots of dancing and chatter about the baby. Also, Mrs B is huge, which would suggest surprise twins or some such.

The new midwife, Phyllis Crane, arrives, and my god does she seem like a pill. She's slightly older than the other lay midwives and keeps bitching about etiquette. She's also vegetarian. Wait, was that even a thing back then?

In fact, Crane gets more insufferable every second, lecturing even the senior nuns on absolutely everything under the sun and refusing to conform to their philosophy or regulations. Gee, I wonder why she's always in temporary jobs. Sr. Julienne counsels patience, as usual.

Barbara (AKA Nurse N00b) is assigned to room with the nutjob. She has even gone so far as to tape up all the surfaces to mark which half belongs to which. Barbara commiserates with Trixie and Patsy, who really don't envy her. In light of all the chaos, Sr. Evangelina's operation is suddenly postponed. Sure it is, Trunchbull.

Also, the Mother House has summoned a whole bunch of nuns from the order for some reason. I assume we'll lose at least two more characters by the end of the episode. We learn more about Sister Julienne's past - it appears to have been wealthy and international. They go to a classy-looking house where Sr. Julienne feels quite at home. And is it my imagination, or are there sparks between her and the old guy on the couch?

Nurse Barbara (whom I keep mixing up with Jenny - seriously, ditch the haircut) goes to see Mrs Bassett, who has high blood pressure (ECLAMPSIA) and feels the baby is quiet (STILLBIRTH). Meanwhile, Sr. Julienne's ex is dying and up for sharing some memories with her. The good nun actually gets teary while talking about her past life. It also totally sounds like he'll leave his money to Nonnatus.

Barbara sensibly sends Mrs Bassett to the hospital. Fortunately, the baby is okay, but the mother is quite ill. To top it off, Barbara's bike is stolen and resurfaces at Nonnatus, where Phyllis lectures her for having the nerve to have her bike brought back by a black man. Sr. Evangelina chimes in about the precipitous transfer to hospital, which raises all the old hostility with Phyllis, and soon everyone's blowing up at each other.

Sr. Julienne is still depressed over her visit, barely paying attention to everyone else. When she gets home, Phyllis has the gall to lecture her on cleanliness. The nun locks the door of her office and weeps/prays for a bit over old photos.

Mrs Bassett hates the strict hospital rules. Eventually, she manages to sneak out, where she stumbles across the unpleasant scene of a terrified patient after a botched abortion. Her husband hears a knock on his door in the night, and finds her standing there.

Dr. Turner asks her why she has changed her mind about a hospital birth, to which she replies that she no longer feels safe there. It is decided that a home birth will suffice. Back at the nunnery, Evangelina and Phyllis are still hostile, with poor Barbara bearing the brunt of it. The girl's nerves are soon in tatters.

Fred reports that someone has stolen all the lead off the roof, which would account for the leak. Julienne mopes over her lost love. Trixie gleefully receives wedding gifts. (Marriage will be off in an episode and a half, tops.) Patsy continues to be Replacement Chummy, throwing around "old thing" like she went to Roedean and leading the Boy Scout Troop through a fire safety demonstration with a paramedic. Sr. Julienne calls up the old man's son. Tom and Trixie continue to have a difference of opinion about the wedding. It's kind of hilarious when you consider that her ideas are super tame by today's standards. Patsy and the paramedic eavesdrop with a knowing smirk. Okay, it was nicer than that sounds.

Mrs Bassett (Abigail) goes into labour. Since it's halfway through the episode, something awful will surely happen. Patsy and Barbara arrive to deliver her. Sr. Julienne visits her ex-beau, where they chat about their lives. He gives the old I ALWAYS LOVED YOU speech. Abigail delivers a girl, but unfortunately she isn't breathing, and the nurses can't save her. Everyone present dissolves into tears. Even Patsy and Barbara can't keep composed, though they try to be discreet.

Abigail continues to labor, which is obviously going to be a twin, since they heard a heartbeat before the stillbirth. I dunno, shouldn't the hospital have figured this out? Nurse Barbara goes off to boil water and uses the opportunity to cry. Phyllis arrives in the middle of this and surprisingly doesn't chew her out, giving her a hug (!) instead. A few minutes later, a delightes Dr. Turner presents Mr. Bassett with his son. Unsurprisingly, the man is feeling a whole whack of emotions. All four midwives on premises, plus Dr. Turner, rejoice and grieve for the couple. Sr. Evangelina brings the baby back to the convent in a doctor's bag, which seems really weird to me. Like, they mention an undertaker, so why wouldn't they bring her straight there.

Patsy goes to her parademic friend's room and cries over the loss of the baby. Though noting happens between them, the dialogue the next morning suggests they may well be an item. Sr. Evangelina leaves for her operation, wished well by the always-awesome Sr. MJ. Sister Julienne gets a phone call from her ex's son. The old coot wants to take her to the pictures, the date they never had. Over in the Bassett household, everyone is subdued. Sr. Julienne arrives for the movie, set up on a projector in his house. More chat about what could have been (he regrets, she doesn't). He even strokes her cheek. It's hawt in an old guy sort of way. The conversation then turns to his death. Worst date ever. They sit down to see City Lights, which she stood him up for all those years ago. In the dark, the two join hands.

The Bassett baby, Terrance Jr., is thriving, but Abigail is wracked with guilt over the loss of his twin. Tom the curate tries to console her. He arrives at Nonnatus, where he bemoans the fact that stillborn babies aren't counted as people in the eyes of the Church, and cannot be buried with a proper funeral. He also delivers a letter from Sr. Julienne. We all know exactly what it contains. He has died, and left everything to Nonnatus. She vents to Shelagh, who tells her that she took the right path.

The nuns continue to keep a close eye on the Bassetts, and Tom leads a very sensitive and personal service. In her memory, they place a pair of booties on the altar. Tom explains that one will be taken to April and buried with her, and one will belong to Terrance Jr. After the service, Tom and Trixie make up, obviously. Sr. Julienne takes a flower from the bouquet on the altar.

At home, Abigail places her son's bootie in the drawer. The couple appear to be handling their grief well. Julienne presses the flower in her book, where she keeps the old picture of the two of them. Th old man's money goes to fix Nonnatus, Phyllis becomes more adjusted to the Nonnatus life, and Trixie and Tom have their engagement party - in Nonnatus' dining room. Jenny rambles on about love that is never voiced while the camera lingers on Patsy and the paramedic who needs a name, so yeah, they're a thing. Cool!

Next week - there's some kind of beauty pageant in Poplar, a poor Irish family appears, and there's some kind of family conflict with people we've never seen before. Cool.

First of all, I am SO excited for Patsy finally being confirmed as gay, I am squealing. This has been pretty obvious for over a season but is still awesome. The question is, who will find out and what will happen next? (Oh, I'm not under any illusions, they'll all be cool with it, albeit with a harrumph from Evangelina and some whining from Trixie. Phyllis will turn out to have been a lesbian in nursing school and will be further thawed as a character.) The story was - yeah, pretty touching. I do wonder if the living twin was a bit of a cop-out, but then it might have been too depressing for viewers to handle. It could also have been in the books at some point, I suppose. However, the way it was handled was truly excellent - great performances, and a really palpable feeling of simultaneous joy and sorrow. Sister Julienne's story was sweet and sad, though with just enough of an edge to keep it interesting. Who knew that the lady had a past. Join me next week for more adventures in midwifery! That is, if any of the midwives are left.

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