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Worldly Distractions: Call the Midwife 4.4 - Episode 4





Halfway through! And more importantly, it's HOOKER NIGHT! How will our intrepid midwives deal with Poplar's working ladies? Find out here.

Everyone rides on bikes while Jenny drones on about routine. Phyllis is apparently in bitch mode again and bosses everyone around. There's also a vaccination clinic planned, because people in the 1950's were way smarter than us. Trixie and Tom argue about whether or not she should meet the Bishop. As the daughter of a Bishop, I can tell you that any one of them would be delighted to meet Trixie. The mothers at the clinic bitch and moan as usual. Nurse Crane chews Trixie out despite Trixie being technically senior. Sr. MJ lectures to the children about Henry VIII's wives, complete with graphic descriptions of beheadings, because that's how MJ rolls. The mothers do not appreciate this because they are ungrateful pigs.

One of the mothers is a Miss rather than a Mrs, but the nuns are not judgmental,which seems weird for the early '60s, a decade that ran on judgment of others. We find another patient, Mrs Robbins, overseeing things at her husband's shop. The husband really wants a boy and tells the midwife to guarantee it. Someone give this guy his PhD in biology.

Barbara, the daughter of a priest, advises Trixie on meeting the bishop. (CFK's rules for meeting a bishop: Treat them like a human being and never assume.) Acting like a clergy wife in advance, Trixie proceeds to get roaring drunk at the thought. Sr. Winnifred winds up in a whorehouse, visiting the unwed mothers (though the others assume she's here to save them from their sinful lifestyle). She's distressed to find that the woman is still, er, working through her pregnancy and intends to continue. The mother protests that she will be loved and cared for always, just as another hooker walks through some glass. The older woman is terrified of all medical care, so Sr. Winnifred is sent outside. From her behaviour and some telltale lesions, the nun diagnoses syphilis. She wants to bring in a doctor, but the young prostitute refuses.

Barbara visits Mrs Robbins, who is hiding all the pink clothes in the house and terrified of letting down her husband with a two X-chromosomed kid. Barbara is shocked and rants to the nuns about that boorish man. Sr. Winnifred throws in some whorehouse stories, and everyone sighs about women's role in this sad society. Phyllis even has some good points about the war, and how they have done nothing but regress since.

At a parenting class, Trixie notices that Mrs Robbins is still upset. Dr. Turner turns up some bad test results for the young hooker, Bridget. She has syphilis, and they have a chance of saving the baby from harm, but only with immediate treatment. Barbara tells Mrs Robbins that all will be well with her husband, but Mrs Robbins insists that in the event of a girl, he will turn her out. Later, she runs into Mr Robbins, who blathers on about having boys to carry on the business, especially since all his brothers died in the war. He lays a wreath at the war memorial in their memory, promising that he will bring his son one day. Things are not looking good. I must say, Sr. MJ's history lesson was rather apt.

Trixie begs Tom to invite the bishop. Naturally, Tom is as eager as possible to avoid his boss, but he tells her that when the day comes, she must relax and leave everything to him. Fair enough, considering he actually knows how the church works.

At the maternity home, Bridget tells Sr. Winnifred that she tried to have the pregnancy terminated, but it didn't work. Now that she's committed to the pregnancy, she is determined to be as good a mother as she can. Sr. Winnifred assures her that they are doing all they can. After, Winnifred complains to Shelagh that no one uses sheaths anymore, completely failing to understand the pressure the women receive from their clients.

Booze in hand, Trixie picks out a bishop-meeting outfit. She and Barbara plan a fun night. Sr. Winnifred asks Noakes about the local hooker population, which numbers in the hundreds. She hopes to meet them for some good old-fashioned sex ed. With permission from Sr. Julienne, the cop and the nun head out into the dark side of Poplar. The women are scared of losing business, while the men simply ignore it. Looks like syphilis is here to stay.

Barbara shares some bishop-y gossip with Trixie, accidentally making a jibe about her drinking habits (finally!) in the process. Sisters MJ and Julienne go through old photos while Sr. MJ wistfully reminisces about her days with the suffragettes. Sister Julienne tries to assure her that she's still valued, but MJ knows better, comparing herself to a relic.

Bridget worries about how tough it will be to start a new life, so Patsy suggests sending her to Chummy's House of Shame. Meanwhile, her friend from the whorehouse arrives and tells her that Dora, the older woman, has gone completely bonkers without her.

Trixie and Tom finally receive the Bishop, who looks picture perfect. He has some news - he is sending Tom to Newcastle. Trixie protests that she wanted to leave city life, which is clearly not helpful. It's also no use - everyone must follow the word of the Diocese. Later, Tom chews her out about it, telling her that she overstepped her bounds. She says it's because she's a woman, and she's half right. They have a big blow-up, she stomps out, and Tom follows her and describes how much his profession means to him. "When you marry me, you marry the Church," he says. From the looks of it, he's been having his doubts. Trixie is mortally offended.

Bridget leaves the maternity home only to find Dora, in advanced dementia and dancing for a crowd of pervy spectators. Trixie mopes over the curate. She also gets tanked because why the hell not. While Barbara's at another birth (this one featuring a doom-and-gloom mother-in-law ruining the whole thing), Bridget Cole goes into early labor. Phyllis and Sr. Winnifred are called out instead. She's going to have to deliver in the whorehouse, plus the syphilis is still possibly contagious, so they call Dr. Turner.

Meanwhile, a woman pounds on the door of Nonnatus begging for a midwife. Unfortunately, Sr. MJ is the only one at home. Seriously, could you imagine having a baby with Sister Monica Joan entirely in charge?  Especially since it's complicated - her waters broke and they were green (MECONIUM). Trixie is too wasted to help, the mother is hysterically crying for a proper midwife. Sr. MJ recognizes that she should probably get some help, and takes her somewhere else. Who thinks they'll wind up at the Tower of London?

Bridget has a baby girl, who seems to be okay. Sr. MJ escorts the new patient through the rainy streets while quoting Lao Tzu. Because everyone in Poplar has to have a kid by the end of the episode, Mrs Robbins goes into labour too. Since Barbara is exhausted after two births, Sr. Julienne asks her to send Trixie. BAD IDEA. Barbara, good hearted soul that she is, steps up to the plate, sneaking out when Sr. Julienne can't see.

Sr. MJ has the sense to take the woman to the maternity home. The baby is in distress, which terrifies the poor young mother despite Shelagh's reassurances. Bridget's baby seems to be having trouble breathing, and is starting to turn blue. Dr. Turner is gravely concerned. Barbara arrives to find Susan Robbins about to deliver. Of course, it's a girl, and though her mother is happy, she's terrified of having to share the news.

The clinic woman is relieved and grateful to have a healthy girl (seriously, no boys in the neighbourhood?) and promises to give her a better life than she had. She credits Sr. MJ with saving her life and decides to name the baby Monica. I don't have to tell you how MJ feels about that.

Susan is having trouble delivering the placenta, so Barbara gets her husband to call for Dr. Turner, who is being run off his feet tonight. After all that, all he wants to know is the baby's sex. When Barbara tells him the truth, he can't even look at his wife and child. Barbara has had enough and starts to yell at him for his sheer heartlessness, but Dr. Turner stops her from what is surely an epic rant. She comes home only to be lectured by Sr. Julienne, who has found out about the deception and is not pleased. However, she will keep it quiet, telling Barbara to get some rest.

The nuns have pulled off a record ten deliveries in a day, where Sr. MJ is hailed for her quick thinking and Barbara for an exhausting three deliveries. Sr. Julienne prays for them all, covers for Trixie, and sends them to their beds.

Shelagh tells her husband about the clinic delivery with excitement. Dr. Turner praises her skills and wonders if she would be better off as more than a receptionist. They have some happy family time with the kids.

Trixie is brought in to Sr. Julienne's office for a talk, which turns into a detailing of Trixie and Tom's relationship problems. Turns out there's alcoholism in Trixie's family, and she's terrified of telling Tom. Sr Julienne advises her not to keep any secrets. Mrs Robbins is healthy again, but concerned about her husband's distance from the baby. She's worried about being turned out.

Tom and Trixie talk things out, and it's totally going to end with Trixie leaving Poplar and the show, isn't it? He asks her if she's sure she wants to be a curate's wife. Trixie is indeed having massive doubts. She gives back the ring. Ouch, my heart. She then ugly-cries all the way home.

Sr. Winnifred goes to visit Bridget, whose baby is apparently okay now, and tells her not to continue in the "family business". Bridget is rightfully annoyed by this. Sr. Winnifred has a different suggestion - see, she wants to stop the other girls from suffering Bridget's fate, and she could use an assistant.

Dr. Turner goes to try to bring Mr. Robbins around, telling him about the demise of the first Mrs. Turner and Timothy's polio. No matter how much the doctor pleads that his father would want him to be happy, and the world is changing for women, the new father is still stubbornly against her. However, that night he lies awake thinking. And the next time the baby whimpers, guess who picks her up?

The baby is brought to the ropemakers' business, where she is treated to pictures of her dead relatives and details about ropemaking. Mrs Robbins smiles at the sight. Barbara is photographed with "her" three baby girls, all the hookers have to go to condom class, and Trixie cries in the church.

Next time - we have a non-English speaking patient from South Asia, Dr. Turner is ill, someone is assaulted, and Sister Cynthia Whatever-her-new-name-is comes back! Yay original cast member!

So. What did I think? Well, Trixie's breakup with the curate was entirely predictable and probably best in the long run, mostly because we don't want yet another beloved character running for the hills. Phyllis and Barbara are growing on me, though, I must admit, as long as Phyllis continues to be as awful as possible. I found it interesting how feminist the story was, probably quite realistically for the era it takes place in. Strength comes in unexpected places. I'm honestly quite happy with the trajectory this season is taking. Now that we're entering the second half, what might they have for us now?

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