Call the Midwife Season Five Episode Three Recap
By comparison to some of the other period drama offerings BBC airs, one of the most startling things about PBS’ beautiful drama, Call the Midwife is its gritty realism. The latest episode of Call the Midwife season five was all inner-related: the obvious theme being prejudice.
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Reminder of the Past
Patsy’s new patient introduces us to a young woman married to an immigrant. Living in a tight-knit community, Jeanette Su knows nearly all of her neighbor’s by name. This is fostered by her grandmother, who is a kind of respected “mother” to everyone in the open-door policy. Today, her grandmother Meg (who means the world to Jeanette) is most excited about meeting her first great-grandbaby.
Jeanette’s delivery is without incident and the young family couldn’t be happier. But in a few days’ time, Nonnatus House receives a call from Jeanette’s husband, Bernie, to report a decline in her health. As Patsy pedals to their home, her exam turns up a pink rash on the new mother’s chest, which is indicative of one thing: typhoid. This is a personal battle for Patty who lost a mother and sister to the illness.
The community immediately points fingers at Bernie as the outsider. As Jeanette fights for her life in the hospital, Dr. Turner performs tests to discover the source and hopefully keep the disease at bay. The source is an unlikely one (Meg) that sends a shock through the community.
In another part of Poplar, Sister Winifred is treating another burdened patient. Enjoying a return to the days she was a teacher, Sister Winifred spends a day in the classroom with its teacher, Dorothy Whitmore. As she gets to know Dorothy, she discovers she’s been suffering from minor health ailments, and furthermore, the young woman is pregnant. To make matters worse, Dorothy is unmarried and conducting an affair with a married man.
All of these facts line up, hitting Dorothy as a series of bad luck plagues her. She’s turned away by her lover, dismissed as a teacher, turned out of her flat and furthermore, she feels shunned by Sister Winifred, the one person she thought would help her. Desperate but unable to pay for it, she undertakes a self-inflicted abortion procedure. When Sister Winifred learns of this, she visits Dorothy in the hospital to set right the wrongs of her prejudiced actions, even asking Sgt. Noakes to look the “other way.” Even still, Dorothy’s actions come with consequences of the deepest kind.
Barbara’s Secret (and a Romantic Moment)
Barbara and Tom continue to grow closer. Their friendship is the one thing she looks forward to even as she carries guilt over keeping this from Trixie. Phyllis (Nurse Crane) advises her to confess for if she doesn’t she’ll deeply regret it.
Following the date, the two return home, carrying milk bottles to help wash away the spicy Indian food they dined on. Tom walks Barbara home, the tension building between the two. Just as Barbara walks past Tom, he reaches out and clasps her hand, turning her to him one last time. Pausing in her walk to the steps, Barbara turns and gives Tom one last smile before she leaves. But in the shadows (returning from a house call), Trixie watches as they say goodnight.
Theories, Thoughts, and Questions
What’s so brilliant about Call the Midwife is the fact that though some of these cases are familiar (because the writers have used a similar arc before), each is a unique piece of writing.
One of the aspects of this show I find most interesting is how little of the characters’ pasts the writing reveals, just deep and interesting tidbits thrown in from time to time. This is all the more ironic since I feel like this is a character driven show. But as I’m writing this, thinking back on what we learned about the characters, I often felt as if the writers gave us very little actual fact. Even this week, as nice as it was to learn more about Patsy, we still don’t know a great deal about her aside from basic facts.
Barbara’s romantic entanglement with Tom continues to play a small but significant role in season five (next week’s preview reveals Barbara is worried because Trixie knows about them). I’m still finding its development perfectly charming, but would as always be curious to know what you think? Are you curious or did you like the Trixie and Tom coupling best?
The preview also finds Sister Julienne undertaking a hospital rotation, during which it would seem something goes wrong with her patient’s baby.
What did you like best about this week’s episode? Comment down below with your theories, thoughts or insight into Call the Midwife Season Five.
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