At one time or another most parents have experienced the pain of seeing their kids bullied or excluded, but the families featured in this week’s episode of Call the Midwife have got long-term struggles on their hands. In a related story, one of our most committed midwives undergoes a serious crisis of confidence. And Trixie learns that caution can be mistaken for dishonesty.
As always, if you want to peruse last week’s events before moving on, you can find that recap here.
The Antoines and Nurse Crane
Carrie Antoine (Melody Grove) is expecting her fourth child and is concerned it may arrive at an inconvenient time – meaning while her three boys and husband are all at home. Nurse Crane suggests she go to the hospital or maternity home this time around to afford her some privacy and quiet. Carrie rejects the idea as she wants to avoid stares and whispers. When her sons burst into the room, we can guess the reason for Mrs. Antoine’s concern – her boys are bi-racial. Phyllis is aware of the names they have been called at Cubs and has cracked down on the practice even though she knows it’s just what the boys are hearing from their parents.
When Carrie does go into labor, Phyllis arrives and confidently sends Mr. Antoine off to work. For a fourth child, however, this delivery is slow moving and the mother is in a lot of pain. Nurse Crane has a call placed to Nonnatus House to request more gas and air and an extra pair of hands. Sister Winifred is ready to hop on her bike but finds it’s out of commission for routine maintenance. The nun hoofs it to the Antoine’s flat and arrives just in time to witness the birth of Carrie’s fourth boy.
Not long afterwards the Antoine men are allowed entry and the family celebrates their new addition. In fact, Mr. Antoine insists on giving Phyllis some sherry despite her request for tea only. The boys are sent out to play with the express direction from their mother to stay in the playstreet (pedestrian area) only.
On the way to the car, Phyllis scolds Winfred for her tardiness and its contribution to Mrs. Antoine’s unnecessary pain. She insists that the Sister get behind the wheel and get some driving practice in. Already intimidated by Nurse Crane’s teaching style, Winifred’s short attempt is very rough indeed. When she pulls in front of a lorry and then stalls in the intersection, Phyllis orders her out of the driver’s seat so that they may switch places. In an agitated state, Phyllis is mid-lecture and adjusting her rear-view mirror just as young Lenny Antoine appears out of nowhere in the middle of the street and is struck by the car.
While Phyllis sits stunned, Winifred jumps into action, attending to the injured boy and telling bystanders to call for an ambulance. The police constable who arrives first on the scene questions Nurse Crane about what happened and she admits to being the one who hit the child. She is taken to the station where Sgt. Noakes needs takes her statement to assess if there is a case to be brought before the magistrate. In the meantime, Marcus Antoine has run to the station in a panic over where his son has been taken. When he sees Nurse Crane there, he accuses her of drunk driving, but she denies drinking the sherry he offered her. A urine test is ordered and the midwife finally breaks down, sobbing in the bathroom.
As a result of the accident, Sister Julienne has to report Phyllis to the nursing and midwife boards and asks her to step down from her duties until the police investigation is resolved. For a time, Phyllis stays away from the others, sick over what has happened. Meanwhile Sister Winifred is prepared to testify that Lenny ran out in front of them. She thinks his brothers witnessed the accident and may know why they ran off.
Later we see Sgt. Noakes at the Antoines’ home calmly convincing the boys that it's okay to tell him what happened to Lenny even though it means they strayed beyond the play street. One of the boys blurts out that Lenny just ran out in the road without looking. Both Carrie and Marcus want Sgt. Noakes to let Nurse Crane know they don’t blame her and think she’s a good woman.
Alas, Nurse Crane is still having problems coming to terms with the accident. Regardless of the fact that Lenny will make a good recovery and that the harm she did was inadvertent, Phyllis still questions what her life has come to stand for. It sort of reminds me of the torment Sister Evangelina went through last season when she insisted a young mother should breastfeed. With the case resolved, Phyllis is back on the roster, but it isn’t until she is forced out on a call that she has to put the accident behind her. Seeing how hesitant she is to respond, Sister Monica Joan offers to come with her in the car as Nurse Crane may be unsure of the route.
Once at the patient’s home, Monica Joan prepares the bedding and talks to the frightened mother until Nurse Crane’s instincts finally kick in. She focuses on what this woman needs right at this moment and the delivery ends up being a joyful experience for everyone in the room. In other words, Phyllis got her groove back.
As for the Antoine boys, at the “treasures from home” day Lenny, Wesley and Jerome bring their newborn brother to show to the other scouts. Lenny talks about how everyone looks a little like each parent. He invites boys to come closer if they like. Nurse Crane just beams, and we can be thankful she’s back in her element once more.
The Mullucks Family
This week saw the return of Rhoda Mullucks (Liz White). You may remember her as the mother who gave birth to a baby girl with severe birth defects caused by her taking the anti-nausea drug thalidomide early in her pregnancy. Little Susan is now almost a year and a half and Rhoda has taken her to the neighborhood nursery school in hopes of putting her name down for a place at the school when she's a bit older . Shortly thereafter she shows up at Dr. Turner’s surgery upset that they wouldn’t accept her baby because the teacher thought she was "ill". Still feeling responsible for Susan’s condition, Patrick makes a call to get the child an appointment at Roehampton, a center known for fitting people with artificial limbs.
Dr. Turner picks up the Mullucks clan (again with the chauffeuring) and this time father Bernie (Chris Reilly) comes along though it’s pretty clear he’s not keen on the idea. At the hospital, they encounter other thalidomide children and one of the mothers stops by to wish them luck as Susan appears to be another one of their little gang.
After the nurse takes Susan to join the other children, Rhoda and Bernie are escorted to a room where the staff explain the process of fitting the appliances. But when they are introduced to a little boy on “rockers”, Bernie bolts from the room. Dr. Turner comes out to check on him thinking what has upset him are the appliances themselves. However, Bernie admits it was seeing the child that made him feel sick and realizes other people might react the same way to seeing his daughter. As they leave the facility, Rhoda agrees to bring Susan back for a week of assessment.
What follows is a series of arguments between Bernie and Rhoda. Mr. Mullucks wants to shelter Susan and protect her from those who would think her a freak. Rhoda contends that their daughter needs fixing and if they do nothing Susan’s life is already over. Bernie points the finger at Rhoda for having taken the pills in the first place. Rhoda informs Bernie that she does most of the work with Susan while he hangs around the pub. They need to fight for their daughter, not just hide her away.
During Susan’s week at Roehampton, Rhoda comes across Lydia Timpton (Claire Price) the mother they met on their first day. She offers Rhoda coffee and they share the frustrations that only mothers of thalidomide children can understand. Afterwards Rhoda finds Bernie in the pub. He begins to tearfully apologize, but Rhoda instates a rule that they never apologize about this again because what happened to their little girl wasn’t their fault.
On a family visit to the center, Rhoda runs into Lydia once more. She tells them she is taking her son home, but she would like to stay in touch. Lydia also invites them to a thalidomide support group. Later we see a group of adults gathered around a table sharing the stories of their children. It is touching to see that Bernie finally has come to terms with Susan’s condition – just a proud dad telling the others how clever his daughter is and claiming her lovingly as their own.
Other Notable Events
Trixie is fuming that Christopher (or as Monica Joan has dubbed him, the puller of teeth) has stood her up three times with only a handwritten note left on the doorstep. Her wrath is further inflamed when, while delivering a toy to Lenny Antoine at the hospital, Trixie notices a scented silk scarf draped over the seat of Christopher’s convertible.
On the occasion of their next date, Trixie learns that the “other woman” Christopher has been seeing is his six-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. He didn’t tell Trixie because he was afraid of what she would think of him. That pretty much kills the mood for the evening so Trixie returns home to stew further. Finally after talking with Valerie about why people keep secrets (Nurse Dyer must have a doozy in her past), Trixie invites Christopher to the house to set things straight. She chooses to counter his honesty with her own secret about being an alcoholic which of course he has no qualms about. He’ll just stop bringing champagne around from now on.
Also it appears that Nurse Mount’s father has finally died in Hong Kong. Delia found his obituary in the paper, but no one has heard from Patsy yet. Will she make a return to Poplar for the season finale?
And last but not least, will Shelagh be breathing her way to more than serenity next week? Only time will tell. For now let’s chat about this week’s happenings in the comments section!