Everyone was hormonal this week. Everyone. Remember back when you lived in a dorm and after a while everyone’s cycles synched up? That’s what happened this week on the finale of Call the Midwife, Season 6. This episode saw Sister Monica Joan take a moral stand over someone leaving the toasted crumpets out in the rain, random characters burst into tears before you could say boo, and while a certain song may say “love is all around,” the voice of Jenny Lee traveled back through the years to remind us that it is actually change that is all around, always. Oh yes, and I’ve finally come to the realization that, if you really listen to Jenny Lee, what she is essentially saying is, in the end, life is all a crap shoot. Am I right?
Anyway, let’s break it all down with the thirteen essentials of Call the Midwife, episode 8…
- One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Shelagh’s Secret Love Is No Secret Anymore.
Shelagh is about to pop and is bursting into hysterics at the slightest provocation. Trixie takes no offense, and Nurse Crane uses the opportunity to call her into a private room for a consult about an expectant mother who isn’t doing what she should: Her! It turns out she’s been dodging her routine checkups and pre-natal classes. She’s afraid she’ll hear bad news. And she’s still got decisions to make; where will she deliver and who will do the honors? Choosing her midwife is the one perk of being one herself and she hasn’t chosen. Nurse Crane also tells her it’s time to give up work and put her feet up till it’s time to push.
The next day, she stops by Nonnatus House with an announcement: she is now off the clock, and she chooses Sister Julienne to be her midwife. From Nurse Crane’s face we can see she is disappointed that she wasn’t chosen for the honor, but only Barbara, with her kindness radar, notices this. One thing Shelagh doesn’t want is Dr. Turner to attend her birth. She’d rather him be her hubby, not her doctor; to be cheering her on, not diagnosing her. He doesn’t understand; they make such a great team, but he won’t argue.
- Labor Day.
Sister Julienne gives Shelagh the great bit of information that, because of the baby’s position, she’s going to be in labor longer. Gee, thanks, sis. She asks Shelagh if she’s had time to read that relaxation pamphlet Sister Winifred left with her. But no, she only used it as scrap paper to write down her to-do list. No matter; Sister Julienne reminisces about how she was always a busy bee, even back when she was a postulant. She mentions singing to relax during labor, but the problem Shelagh has with that is most of the songs she knows belong to her old life in the convent. Could part of her reluctance to follow her late-term pregnancy protocols have been a lingering inner conflict between who she is and what she was? That this love that brought her a baby also took her away from her life vows?
All that is set to the side for now as Shelagh begins to sing Secret Love, with Dr. Turner, who can’t stay away, doing the chorus from the other side of the door. In the end, she gives birth during what I’ve got to say was the nuttiest karaoke night I’ve ever seen! She calls Dr. Turner in off the bench just in time to act as third base coach – and it’s a boy! In seeing former nun Shelagh so ecstatic after giving birth, might Sister Julienne be conflicted herself, thinking about what she gave up by choosing the life path she did?
- I Had a Dream, a Dream About You, Baby.
The postman who brings no news for Delia, brings decidedly bad news for Nurse Barbara: Her missionary father is being dispatched to New Guinea for three years. Sister Monica Joan supports her in her tears for fears, telling her she is correct to be upset. But, that’s not why Babs is upset; it’s that she had always dreamed he’d be the one to conduct her wedding, passing off the baton to the man she would marry. Now she’s got the man, but she doesn’t want to wait three years to marry him! For his part, Curate Tom doesn’t want to wait either. As fate would have it, her dad will be passing through London on his way to this new assignment – in three weeks! What is there to be done? Only one thing: Sprint to the alter!
- Sixpence None the Richer.
Planning a wedding in three weeks is a tall order, even if it’s a small one. In the meantime, Poplar doesn’t stop; there are bedsores, and diabetes, and hemorrhoids, (oh my!) to be dealt with. As they plan their big day, Tom mentions how relieved Barbara’s dad is that they are saving him money by downsizing. Barbara smiles and supposes that being poor is part of his line of work. She reminisces about a time when she was little and the fair came to the bomb site across from the church where her father worked; of how she begged to go and finally her father relented, but allowed her just one ride. That was the first day she noticed her father’s clothes were a bit shabby, but he handed over his six pence so she could have her one ride on the carousel and waved at her every time she went around.
At the clinic, Nurse Barbara preps for her wedding night by subjecting herself to using the side door to get herself a diaphragm. She practices wearing it and, being the thrifty gal she is, uses it to play handball as well. Next on the to-do list: A bridesmaid. Barbara asks Nurse Crane for a favor, she wants it to be her (maybe as a consolation prize for not being named Shelagh’s midwife?). Are you sure, Nurse Crane asks, saying she should choose one of her friends, presuming that only the young ones are her friends. But, Barbara insists that she is her friend, and more than that, she’s taught her more about living with a persnickety hubby than anyone else ever could.
- Say Yes to the Dress.
Meanwhile, exhausted Barbara works her fingers to the bone trying to save a shekel sewing her own wedding dress and nodding off in the process. She really has no choice. Into the breach jump her sister midwives who give her the money she needs to get a seamstress to turn that scrap heap of fabric and lace into a gown.
Fred takes it upon himself to organize a stag party for Tom. It involves a pub crawl and a win on the dogs (that leaves Tom with a hangover and a fist full of cash). Fred advises him to use it to get the Mrs. something nice, and boy does he ever!
Barbara’s dad arrives just and before the wedding, and she wants his advice on how to have a happy, successful marriage, however he has nothing to say on the topic. Her father reasons that she has no need for his advice because she finds joy in the everyday simple things of life, so she has got the keys to a happy love life already in hand.
- Carousel Waltz.
Barbara looked lovely coming down the aisle. Afterwards, as the newlyweds are heading back home, Tom asks her to get out of the car early and trust him as he walks her, eyes closed, toward home. He’s got a surprise: A big, gorgeous carousel is pitched right in front of Nonnatus House! This begs the question, how the heck did they get that carousel in there through the underpass? Why was the carousel so special? Not because it was a big, expensive gesture, but because it showed that Tom listens to her – and in case she missed that point, he wants her to know everything he does is for her.
- Such a Pill: Everything Old is New Again.
There’s a new contraceptive at the women’s clinic, though the women who’d like to utilize it have to do the walk of shame, though the side door. The door the single mothers must use, segregated from the normal upstanding breeders. This is all very unlike men (as Trixie points out) who have been able to pick up their contraceptives from the barbers for years (or so she’s heard). The nurses then take turns around the table pronouncing it all unfair until Sister Julienne brings the hammer down, reminding us that as nice and seemingly liberal as she maybe be, do not forget she’s a nun.
- Another Week, Another Pill.
Wilma Goddens already has her three daughters, and with the youngest now old enough to spend days with a sitter, she wants to get back to work. She’s got a new job as a corsetiere with Constanza, and a new mother’s little helper that will help ensure there are no more ‘surprises’ (ie; whoops babies).
Husband Trevor doesn’t know about her visit to the contraceptive clinic or this pill she’s taking. He’s still hoping for son (and if you watched Wolf Hall, you know how touchy husbands who want sons can be). Wilma momentarily panics that she’ll need his permission, like if she wanted to open a bank account, but she is assured she does not. She has a right to her own healthcare (even if she has to go through the Scarlett Letter door to get it). But just to be safe she hides her new pills in her handbag, where she knows Trevor will never dare look. And she’s done her research. She knows she needs to take one every day and she does.
- Working Girl.
Wilma loves her new job, and she is good at it. She has quickly become the highest grossing sales person in the East End. She uses her first big check to replace the stinky settee that Trevor is sentimental about, with a modern one she saw Diana Dors sitting on in a magazine. At first, Trevor pouts over being the man of the house and how that means he should be the one buying the furniture. Then they christen said new settee by getting busy on it, and all is forgiven. They’re all shagged out following a prolonged squawk till they are rudely awakened by the BBC signing off with God Save the Queen. Time to jump up, take two pills and start another frantic day.
FYI: Diana Dors who Wilma saw in Photoplay sitting on a Scandinavian settee, was sort of the British Marilyn Monroe. She didn’t die as young as Marilyn did, however in her latter years her life became a sensationalized tabloid train wreck. Before she died she claimed to have left a two million pound fortune for her son, hidden in banks across Europe, with the code keys to the location of the accounts left with her husband. But her husband committed suicide shortly after her death and subsequently that fortune has never been located.
- All the Queen’s Horses and All the Queen’s Men: Some things Can’ Be Put Back Together Again.
Wilma is taking those pills like clockwork, and when she feels odd pains in her leg and then side, she ignores them, while continuing to pop those pills (and smoke), and stress out over having and doing it all. We can see where this is going, but even so don’t expect the tragedy that eventually occurs. One frantic morning while trying to get everyone off to school and work, she collapses in pain so bad Dr. Turner is called and she is rushed to the hospital. Though she can barely speak, she tries to say ‘handbag’, but Trevor doesn’t understand what that means.
At the hospital it is left to Trixie to break the bad news to Trevor: Wilma has a pulmonary embolism. They will try to treat it with heparin and a tracheotomy, but it doesn’t look good. She asks about bringing the children in to see her, but Trevor worries it will scare them. Trixie gently lets him know that they, and anyone else important in her life, should be called in to see her.
Curate Tom performs (what I think were) last rites. Trixie gets Wilma ready for her daughters’ final visit with her, going into her handbag to get her makeup and comb, and that is when she finds the pills. But it is too late. Would it have helped if they had known sooner?
FYI: The contraceptive pill became available in the UK in December 1961 and became an instant hit. But, by 1962 there were reports of serious side effects including blood clots and strokes. Doctors and women were left uninformed by the drug company, and the FDA assured doctors that there was no conclusive evidence the pill caused the problems. Are we sensing a theme here? It wasn’t until journalists started reporting on the issues in the late 60’s, and feminists started demanding that women be informed, that it was taken seriously. Here’s more info from PBS, A Brief History of the Birth Control Pill.
- Hot Flash Dance: The Ovaries, They Are a Changin’
Violet Buckle is going through The Change: Menopause. She spends most of the episode having her own personal summer and being quite upset about it. When Wilma sees one episode, she lets her know there are special corsets for women of her age, all explained in delicate language in her sales brochure for the menses-impaired. They are specially ventilated for personal freshness (though Vi would rather jump into her refrigerator’s salad crisper for freshness). She’s had enough. When Fred comes home and tries to get frisky, she smacks him away with a fly swatter and finally has to blurt out all about it, crying that she can’t help thinking back to when she was a young mother, and now feels like she’s nothing anymore. Being the supportive husband he is, he feels her pain and is not content to simply fan her with palm fronds and peel her chilled grapes. No, he brings Reggie around for a surprise visit, to remind her of how much she’s still got – not to mention, Fred clearly thinks she’s still got it and all!
- Meet & Greet: Trixie Meets the Little Woman.
Mr. Dockerill tells Trixie he has something he’s been wanting to ask her. Her eyes get wide and you know what she’s thinking (we are all thinking the same thing) – but then the actual question is a bit anti-climactic. It’s not THE question. Instead, he wants to know if she’d agree to meet his daughter, Alexandra. Trixie is not so sure it’s a good idea. She explains that little girls are delicate creatures who are easily hurt. So that’s a no. However, knowing Trixie as we do, we understand that this is her fear of rejection talking.
On the way home from tending to Mrs. Godden in the hospital, Trixie has a moment with Tom, who mentions how funny it is that it could have been the two of them getting married instead of he and Barbara. She says it’s not funny at all, that he and Barbara are a much better match. Tom does have high hopes for her and Mr. Dockerill, says how wonderful she is with children. Was that the push she needed to agree to meet Alexandra? Maybe. When Trixie actually does get to meet little Alexandra, over a fancy tea, they hit it off straightaway, bonding over nail varnish and a planned trip to Boots (a trip to Boots would do it for me too!). And we can see a mini-me in Trixie’s future. She was worried for nothing.
FYI: We All Scream for Ice Cream.
The dessert that Trixie mentioned, The Knickerbocker Glory, is a fancy ice cream sundae served in a tall cone-shaped glass dish. Its origins are a bit lost to history. Some say its goes back to the 1920’s, some say the 1930’s, (though it had a bit of a revival after J.K. Rowling mentioned the treat in her first Harry Potter novel). It is considered to be a British dessert, even though the name Knickerbocker is more closely associated with New York City and the fictitious author of Washington Irving’s History of New York. And then there are some who say that because of the red stripes it usually has, from layering ice cream and jam, it refers to actual knickers, (red and white striped undies). Anyway, who cares about all that anyway? The main ingredient in the Knickerbocker Glory is ice cream! What else do you need to know? And it’s sweet so you just knew Mary Berry of The Great British Baking Show would have her own version. You can find it here.
- The Hunt for Red-Headed October: Patsy & Delia Reunited (and it feels so good)
There is still no word from Patsy, and Delia is at loose ends. Delia sits in a random bar, lamenting to the bartender about how someone once knew who she was, and now that she’s gone, she doesn’t even know who she is anymore. But at Barbara and Tom’s carousel wedding reception, suddenly, out of the mist, there she is! Right there in the distance…it’s Patsy!
Delia quickly moves toward her but is looking serious, rather than giddy. Despite being happy to see her, she was hurt by the lack of communication. She tells Patsy she didn’t know if she was ever coming back. Patsy assures her that she was always coming back. Maybe Delia didn’t know it, but she (Patsy) knew she was always coming back to her. They pull each other in for quite a bold kiss (considering), in the daylight, sort of in a corner, but in full view of anyone walking by. Anyone could have seen them. And Patsy promises “whither thou goest, I will go;” that if she ever goes anywhere again, Delia is coming with her.
Bonus: The Circle Game
As the carousel goes round and round, snow begins to fall and the courtyard in front of Nonnatus House looks like a big snow globe, just waiting for someone to shake. What will go tumbling when that someone does? In the UK, this episode was the season finale, with the Christmas episode then presented months later, at holiday time. I’m not sure yet when that Christmas episode will air here, but it’s good to know we’ve got another Call the Midwife episode in the bank, so to speak! Look forward to that coming to THIRTEEN sometime soon. And more good news: the next season of Call the Midwife is already filming in the UK.
It’s all ending too soon, isn’t it? It seems the great ones always leave us feeling this way, doesn’t it? What are you going to think about until the Christmas episode (and all of next season) airs? Will Trixie and Christopher get down the aisle? What about Patsy and Delia? Will there be acceptance or tsuris in their future? And Chummy! Will we ever see her again? Lots to ponder in the off-season!
What did you think of this episode and season? Join the conversation below or tweet using the hashtag #MidwifePBS.
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