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Worldly Distractions: Call the Midwife 4.6 - Episode 6





Welcome back! As always, British television does not stop for anything as silly as the Oscars (though Stephen Hawking won), so we're catching up. Sit down, grab a cup of tea, and have a lovely visit with your friends in Poplar.

Sister Mary Cynthia writes letters while Jenny talks about the religious life, and how it cuts you off from others. Sister Julienne fixes the younger woman's wimple most tenderly. Those two are so going to be BFFs. Sr. MJ doesn't seem very well, down with a fever and convinced that the antibiotics are killing her. She's going to be dead by the end of the episode, isn't she?

The nuns and nurses will be run off their feet, while Sr. Evangelina is about to return and make our lives just that much better. Trixie complains about the number of diabetics who have popped up lately. Nurse Phyllis discovers that her hubcaps have been stolen, and predictably blames "Gypsies" (and Fred and Noakes). She winds up with a really demanding mother-of-a-diabetic, Mrs Rowland, whose child Paulette appears to have come down with Type 1. Phyllis explains that she can inject herself with insulin now, at which both mother and daughter balk. However, Phyllis will not be dissuaded. It's the modern age, guys.

Noakes goes out with a colleague to see the travellers, who are understandably not very forthcoming. They ask about the hubcaps but don't get very far. We do get a glimpse into their culture, which I'm sure will pop up again by the end of the episode. Meanwhile, Patsy plans a charity jamboree. Her paramedic girlfriend approves. Evangelina arrives in full form, complaining about a baby with a septic pierced ear. Phyllis and Evangelina debate how to treat a girl with Lego up her nose (long story). They're obviously enemies for life.

The diabetic girl, Paulette, goes out to meet her boyfriend. Judging by the way they carry on, she'll soon be a pregnant diabetic. Also, her boyfriend's on probation. Brilliant!

Man, Patsy's hair is so fake-looking. I get she's a ginger but geez. Evangelina is bummed to be served quiche at dinner, instead of real food. Noakes has been invited for dinner and recounts his encounter with the travellers. This piques Sr. Julienne's interest. She recommends that they send a nurse out. Meanwhile, Paulette's boyfriend finds some young boys playing with - guess what - the stolen hubcaps. I guess his probation won't last.

Fred trains some new Civil Defense recruits. He has an incredibly disorganized new member, the shopkeeper from last episode, who is enthusiastic but a tad sloppy. She also worries about the quality of his shoes. They'll be married in two episodes, tops. Shelagh has to take Angela to work, which will probably cause all kinds of hilarious mishaps. Timothy thinks he should be allowed to wear long trousers. Wait, this was still a debate in the 1960s? I'd think more 1930s. Dr. Turner delivers the time-honoured response of "ask your mother".

Trixie and Sr. Mary Cynthia go to visit the young mother, Breda, and are met with a frosty reception. However, Breda is okay with letting them examine the baby, so they are reluctantly let inside. Breda's aunt, a midwife, is pregnant herself. She has warmed up to the two nurses and even offers them tea.

Trixie, Patsy and Barbara drink and smoke and discuss the merits of poodle skirts. A hipster before her time, Trixie insists that you have to wear them with irony. There's a big square dance coming up, and even Phyllis wants to join in. Apparently she's an excellent dancer. This sends the girls into giggles - which unfortunately, Phyllis hears. As awful as she can be, there's something in her expression that cuts you to the quick.

Timothy is heading off to grammar school. The entire neighbourhood is proud of him. Fred shows up at the shopkeeper's, where they flirt outrageously. They discuss very romantic topics, like nuclear weapons. Sr. Mary Cynthia visits Breda and her aunt. The older woman has become to open up to her, telling her about her midwife grandmother, who is going "out with the tide" soon.

To no one's surprise, the diabetic girl turns out to be pregnant. There's a super awkward conversation with Mom, who is in total denial. Once she realizes, though, she is quick to throw around the word "slut". Phyllis helpfully recommends a cigarette to calm her down.

And is it just me, or does Paulette kind of look like Taylor Swift?

Sister Mary Cynthia returns to the traveller aunt and dying Grandma, bringing something to ease her pain. The aunt is actually grateful. Dr. Turner explains to the Rowlands that Paulette's diabetes will complicate the pregnancy, and thus he believes she's a candidate for a rare legal abortion. The mother immediately latches on to this, but Paulette is not willing to consider it. The aunt explains to Sister Mary Cynthia how important that her grandmother is extremely important to her. The nun offers to help out, within the context that is allowed to her. The aunt gratefully accepts.

Paulette and the boyfriend agree that they want the baby, and even want to get married. Even with her diabetes, he wants to stand by her. They get engaged on the spot. Sr. Mary Cynthia examines the aunt, whose pregnancy is going well. It's the eleventh child, so she suggests going to the maternity home. This idea is quickly shut down. However, the aunt does not want to be alone. Guess who's going to be attending.

Phyllis starts to arrange the abortion, but Paulette is convinced that they made up the health reasons to get her out of a troublesome situation. Phyllis explains, very gravely, the health implications involved. The boyfriend arrives, which earns him a tongue-lashing. He explains that he was "brought up proper" and wants to do right by Paulette. He also shares Paulette's conspiracy theory. They'll elope in a scene or two, I'm sure.

The boyfriend returns the hubcaps to Nonnatus. Phyllis assumes he stole them, though he explains that he didn't. However, she is mollified when the boy offers to use his mechanical training to re-attach them. He explains how much he wants the baby to be born, in wedlock. Phyllis again tries to explain the diabetes. Okay, maybe it was different in the '60s, but surely there were successful pregnancies with diabetic mothers even then? Sure, it's risky, but I've never heard it in quite this doom-and-gloom manner. Phyllis admits to the boyfriend that she was a bastard, and though it wasn't pleasant, she still had a great life. And in finest crabby-English-lady tradition, she haughtily orders her car "restored to glory".

Fred finally asks the storekeeper out. She accepts with a coy smile. I think they're in the running to replace Chummy and Noakes as Cutest Couple ever. Paulette has somehow been talked into the abortion, probably because she's a minor and doesn't have any real choice. She asks Phyllis what her real opinion on the manner is. Phyllis replies that she'd probably behave differently, but Paulette and the baby's health are still the bottom line.

Shelagh is getting ready to send Timothy to grammar school, but is feeling overworked between nursing and parenting. Dr. Turner encourages her to ask for help, because he is a big fat hypocrite. Also Angela is stinkin' cute.

She gets the nuns to do the name tags, which Sr. MJ has a lot of difficulty with. They talk about their nun numbers, which is a new thing to me. Yeah, they all get assigned numbers, which means they MUST be cyborgs. (Hey, "cyborg nun" has Google results.)


Sr. MJ remembers things wrong, which embarrasses her. She stomps off. Evangelina and Winnifred have a little moment about how great - and difficult it is to be a nun and nurse. Paulette is to be transferred to the London for her abortion. She balks at this. Some kind of confrontation is going on at the travellers' camp. Apparently, they've been evicted and have to leave. Sr. Mary Cynthia is heartbroken at the though, then panicked when she realizes that the aunt (Attracta) has gone into labour.

Vaughn the boyfriend shows up at the maternity home and finds Paulette packing to leave. Despite his interview coming up,  he is eventually persuaded. Sister Mary Cynthia, showing ovaries of steel, commands Noakes to hold off on any transfers until she gives permission - basically, until Attracta gives birth. She is eventually delivered of a healthy boy, which prompts cheers from everyone listening outside the caravan. Sr. Mary Cynthia is gentle and kind as always. And the baby is adorable. Dying Grandma even gets up and leaves her caravan to see her great-grandson. Sr. Mary Cynthia hands her the boy without question. Like you didn't tear up when you saw that.

The young lovers make a break for it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Rowland shows up to find her daughter gone. Sr. Mary Cynthia holds the hand of the grandma while she bathes her tired face. Shelagh returns to find a bunch of clothes with freshly sewn tags. Dr. Turner, however, has one last item for her - a pair of long trousers. Sr. Mary Cynthia returns to the caravan to find that Grandma Pegeen has died.

Paulette and Vaughn have apparently decided to go live in the woods, evidence of their great decision-making. Meanwhile, Paulette has fallen into low blood sugar, and they don't have the supplies to help her. The ladies get ready for the square dance, including Phyllis and Delia. Barbara offers Phyllis cream soda, for which she is offered the chance to temporarily call stern Miss Crane by her first name. Despite the early tension, they seem to be getting along well.

Though she is getting sicker, Paulette insists that they can't give up, otherwise they will lose the future they've planned. "Sometimes what's best for you isn't always what you want," Vaughn says, and goes to hotwire a car. For all that he's going to go to jail over this, it really is the first adult decision he's probably ever made.

Every non-religious adult attends the square dance, which goes great. Vaughn escorts his sick girlfriend to the stolen car and hightails it back to Poplar. Sr. Evangelina is on duty at the maternity home. She quickly begins treatment and sends Vaughn to fetch Dr. Turner. Delia and Patsy, stuck in a corner, sigh over the fact that they can't dance together properly. Unfortunately, they will have to content themselves with dancing together in their heads. My personal headcanon? They're still together in 2015 and have just gotten married, because dammit, they deserve better.

Grandma Pegeen's funeral takes place, which includes the burning of the caravan. Attracta is obviously devastated. The police have tracked down the stolen car, which immediately lands Vaughn in a cell. He misses his job interview. His first phone call is to Nurse Phyllis. She promises to fight for him, whatever it takes to get him free. Terrified at the prospect of losing her daughter, Mrs Rowland has come around to Vaughn and to Paulette's pregnancy. She has decided to go ahead with the abortion for now, but in a year or two, who knows what will come next?

Sr. Mary Cynthia arrives to find the traveller camp gone. Breda is still hanging around. She has a gift from Attracta - a teacup from Grandma Pegeen's wedding china. The nun is overcome. The Turners send off Timothy in his absurd uniform.

So? I LOVED that this episode focused on Phyllis. She has been painted as a demon so much that it's really good to get to know her a person. I'm also enjoying Sister Mary Cynthia and, of course, the return of Evangelina. The gypsy plot easily could have been cliched, but ultimately turned into the strong point of the episode, thanks to the growing friendship between Attracta and Sr. MC. Not sure if I bought the young lovers thing. However, it did give Phyllis a chance to shine. We had some moments with Patsy and Delia - but will the next couple of episodes have the courage to really bring them to light? We'll see.

Next episode - Fred still has a girlfriend, they have a conspiracy theorist for a patient, and there's a baby. All in all, nothing unusual - yet.

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