'Call the Midwife' Recap: Series 5 Episode 4

Trixie and Linda Lanyard Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015)
Trixie and Linda Lanyard Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015)

As the sisters of Nonnatus House prepare for a special service honoring Sister Hildegard, the first of their order to serve in Poplar, it was a week of upheaval. A young man’s dreams are shattered only to be given a second chance. Tears are back full force as Sister Julienne struggles with a tragic birth made even more horrendous by a hospital’s clinical treatment of the newborn. And finally, our love triangle that’s been simmering for weeks -is an amicable resolution at hand? Read on to find out!

Ian Bulmer and Linda Lanyard – Oh the idealism of youth! Young Ian Bulmer(Ted Reilly) has just learned the best news of his life. He’s been accepted to study English at Durham University. His mother Sadie (Hayley Carmichael) is quietly proud. She tells Trixie, who happens to be in her flat to dress a bad burn she got at the paint factory where she works, that Ian is the first on the street to go to university.

Ian finds Tom Hereward to thank him for help getting into what appears to be the vicar’s alma mater. Ian wants a better life than the hard manual labor his parents have had to endure.

Linda (Chloe Harris), Ian’s girlfriend since primary school, is pleased for him as well. She asks him to recite his favorite poem for her. Only it appears she’s just trying to find a way to gently rain on Ian’s parade and tell him that she went to the doctor that morning and she’s “in the family way.”  Ian doesn’t take the news very well so Linda has to remind him that he said he loved her and now as a result this has happened so he has to take responsibility for his actions.

More discussion is necessary about the future for Linda and Ian and Trixie finds herself uncomfortably in the middle of it as she is still changing dressings for Mrs. Bulmer. They ask her opinion to which she cautiously replies that feelings run high at first, but as everyone calms down the answers will become clearer. Who knew Trixie was so tactful?

Things move quickly ahead when Linda has to fill her dad in on what she and her boyfriend have been up to and how reluctant Ian is to make an honest woman of her. With Rev. Hereward at the Bulmer’s to referee, the father-to-be argues that if he can attend university he will be able to provide for Linda far better than their parents ever could have.

Alas, Ian’s dreams are just that and next time we see the young couple, Linda is giddily showing off her engagement ring (bought with the money from Ian’s dad’s service watch) to Tom and then Nurse Franklin. Trixie congratulates the couple while sending a pointed message Tom’s way telling Linda the ring isn’t just jewelry but proof that a man has put her first which is a rare thing. Burn!

Linda’s father throws an engagement party announcing that he’s pulled some strings to get Ian a job at the inescapable paint factory. Ian goes AWOL from the festivities and Tom finds him hiding in a store room.  He asks the despondent young man if he loves Linda to which he replies not more than other things in the world. So Tom rephrases asking if he loves her enough to do the right thing. Tom tells a story of a job he loved but had to leave for National Service followed by his calling from God. Sometimes enough love is enough, it has to be.

Unfortunately this little heart to heart isn’t enough to get through to Ian. He shows up at work on his first day and just can’t bring himself to clock in. Meanwhile Linda is at the clinic for her first pre-natal checkup. Trixie realizes pretty quickly that something is wrong and before you know it, Linda is having a spontaneous miscarriage in the bathroom.

Tom learns from Mr. Lanyard that Ian never showed up to work and so heads over to the Bulmers’ flat to talk to him. Once there, he smells gas and busts in the door with Linda, Trixie and Sadie, on their return from the clinic, close behind. Tom pulls Ian from the oven where he has tried to end his life. Fortunately, it’s not too late as Ian is still breathing.

After all the drama has subsided, Linda releases Ian from their engagement so he can go to university. At first he refuses as he still has responsibilities to his mum but Sadie absolves him of any duties and Linda insists that he go since there is no baby to stand in his way. They will wait until he has letters after his name and a good future in front of him.

In the end we see a beaming Ian surrounded by his books and trying on his robes with Linda and his mother happily celebrating with him. Things have apparently ended up as they should.

Sister Julienne and Ruby Cottingham – We meet Ruby (Becci Gemmell) at an information session at the clinic. She is the experienced mother of a brood of active boys. She hopes for a daughter this time and plans to have her at home so she can keep her chaotic household under control. She trusts completely in the Nonnatus midwives and Sister Julienne tells her she is a model patient.

Meanwhile Sister Julienne has been seconded to St. Cuthbert’s Hospital for a week. She’s looking forward to the assignment since she would like to see for herself why so many women are starting to choose hospital deliveries over home births. Nurse Crane has been left in charge to administrate in her absence.

Julienne’s first experience is with a frightened young Indian woman named Jamila (Dinita Gohil) who has gone into labor early. The nurse on duty, Sister Knowles (Teresa Banham), leaves the bewildered and laboring mother to take her break. When she returns, she disapproves of Sister Julienne’s methods and complains in front of the patient that Indian women panic when approached by a man. Julienne in her ever discreet way says Indian women are very modest and it took a long time for the midwives to gain their trust in the district.

Finally Jamila delivers a baby boy and has the infant ripped out of her arms almost immediately by Sister Knowles to weigh him and put him in an incubator. At 4 lbs. 7 oz. he is underweight, but Sister Julienne assures the new mother that her son is fine and the hospital will provide exemplary (if not patient-centered) care.

Meanwhile back in Poplar, Mrs. Cottingham is struggling to deliver her baby. Nurse Crane discovers the infant is in a difficult brow presentation and advises Ruby be taken to hospital to finish her labor. Once she arrives at St. Cuthbert’s, Ruby spots Sister Julienne in the corridor and calls to her. The patient is scared and Julienne is obviously surprised to see such an experienced mother in distress.

Sister Knowles, Ruby Cottingham and Sister Julienne  (Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015)
Sister Knowles, Ruby Cottingham and Sister Julienne  (Photo: Courtesy of Neal Street Productions 2015) 

Once the obstetrician has examined Ruby, he calls for an emergency C-section. Ruby pleads with Sister Julienne to look after her baby since she’ll be asleep when her daughter is born. Of course, Julienne agrees but when the procedure is performed and the doctor exclaims “Oh, God, another one!” nothing goes as expected. The child is born alive but without any limbs whatsoever. They can’t even determine its sex. A nurse is directed to take the child away and the doctor turns his attention back to Ruby.

Later Sister Julienne goes looking for Ruby’s baby but finds it has not been admitted to the nursery. She roams the halls and comes upon the sluice room with a hand-written “Do Not Enter” sign taped to the door. Ignoring the warning, she steps inside to find a horrifying sight. Ruby’s newborn has been left alone, lying on a counter next to a wide open window. Sister Julienne rushes to the infant, closes the window and gathers it up in a blanket, holding it close and praying over it.

Soon after, Sister Knowles comes in the room and tries to justify why the baby was abandoned in this manner. Julienne recites a blessing over the child but is concerned that she failed to baptize it before life leaves its body. Sister Knowles tells her the child will have a decent burial, but an autopsy will have to be performed since this is the third baby born with such deformities in the past year. Julienne asks if she can tell Ruby what has happened. Her colleague tells her labor nurses are not allowed on the post-natal ward, but “sometimes rules are best broken.”

Sister Julienne arrives back at Nonnatus House in a very troubled state of mind. She tells Sisters Monica Joan and Mary Cynthia what happened at the hospital. She then seeks their counsel on whether it’s ever acceptable to lie. Sister Monica Joan says that lying is all right if it is the kind thing to do. Sister Julienne counters that the truth would be cruel.

The next morning Julienne visits Dr. Turner to inform him about the possible cluster of birth deformities. He hasn’t yet received any directives or other information from health authorities so for now they must treat these occurrences as a local problem.

The sister then makes the dreaded visit to Ruby at the hospital. She tells Mrs. Cottingham that her baby was born very unwell and was not able to be saved. She omits the details of the child’s condition, but as she knew it would comfort Ruby somewhat Sister Julienne tells her the baby was a girl. Ruby wonders if she is being punished for wanting a girl too much but Julienne assures her that is not the case.

Meanwhile the Turners have gone into high gear trying to track down any commonalities they can find between the cases of these mothers of deformed babies and their pregnancies. Patrick finds few promising leads and but continues to work into the night until Shelagh insists he take a break for the evening. She reveals that him she loves him most when he is driven this way. We know when the truth is discovered, Patrick will need Shelagh’s love and support even more.

Finally at the Sister Hildegard service, Sister Mary Cynthia gives solace to Sister Julienne when she says they are challenged by their work as midwives and nurses when there are babies born broken and lives they cannot heal. At those times they must remember Sister Hildegard who chose her name from St. Hildegard who said, “God hugs you.”  

The Tom/Trixie/Barbara Triangle – Nurse Gilbert has continued to wuss out when it comes to telling Trixie that she is being wooed by her ex (even though it’s obvious Nurse Franklin is well aware of the situation). She almost dares Barbara to admit it when she can’t commit fully to joining her co-workers at the pictures. Rather than saying she might have a date, Barbara invents a cousin Mabel who is coming down to London and might need someone to show her the sights.

Next time Barbara sees Tom she informs him that Trixie is aware of their “relationship” for lack of a better word. Tom concedes that, despite the fact it’s been a year since their breakup, he too is still struggling with the aftermath. Barbara is surprised by his disclosure and tells him that it isn’t enough that he loves the time they spend together if it causes others pain. She also bristles at his assertion that she is such a sweet girl.

Just then, Trixie bikes by and greets the couple who are obviously in mid-tiff. Nurse Crane exits the convent nearby, notices an unhappy Trixie and then seeks out Barbara who is set to assist her with a delivery. She rescues Nurse Gilbert and diffuses the tense situation by asking if her obvious tears are the result of hay fever. Good old Phyllis – kind but not intrusive.

In the course of Ian and Linda storyline already mentioned above, Tom and Trixie are thrown together on several occasions and seem to still have warm feelings evidenced by the exchanging of orange juice for Babycham. After the two put a stop to Ian’s suicide attempt, the discussion inevitably comes around to their unfinished business. They call an end to holding on to a failed relationship though Tom confides that Barbara has broken off whatever they had because of Trixie and him.

Trixie goes off to find Barbara in her room mending fuzzy felt apostles. Barbara confesses there is no Cousin Mabel and apologizes to Trixie for hurting her with her secrecy about seeing Tom especially since it’s over anyway. Trixie compliments Barbara on her niceness (which is becoming rather annoying to Barbara that she has this reputation). She suggests she might have mean, terrible thoughts inside to which Trixie replies, “I wouldn’t blame you and I’m not going to stand in your way, or Tom’s.”

So flash forward and we see Barbara dressed in a lovely shift dress, Trixie helping with her bracelet clasp and smiling warmly. Not surprisingly Nurse Gilbert steps out on the street to meet her handsome vicar. Love is in the air and here’s hoping Trixie finds her Mr. Right next!

So ends another touching episode. Did you catch that quick cameo of Timothy Turner delivering The Lancet to his father? The quick thinking Sister Mary Cynthia requesting Sister Monica Joan help her plan the Hildegard service to avoid hurt feelings? The coincidence of Sadie Bulmer’s admiration of the Queen and Ian’s love of Shakespeare so close to the birth and death days of the corresponding luminaries?

Anyway it’s time to talk Midwife. The comments section is now open for your opinions and speculation!