Call the Midwife “We Are Family” Recap
By Caroline Evans
First off, apologies to my readers (and my editor) for submitting my weekly recap a day late. I have no excuse except a weekend roadtrip that included a visit to the iconic Gruene Hall and some pumpkin-flavored kolaches. So at least I have a good excuse.
Sunday night was the penultimate episode of the first season of Call The Midwife, but the series showed no signs of winding down. The show went as no-holds-barred as a PBS-distributed show can get, as Jenny confronted her past, the midwives confronted a moral question on incest, and, perhaps most alarmingly, no one confonted the fact that Sister Monica Joan’s dementia is worsening. I mean, seriously! How are people not noticing?
The main story this week revolved around Peggy, the woman who scrubs the floors at Nonnatus House, and her brother Frank, who is dying from pancreatic cancer. The two were sent to Dickensian workhouses when they were children, and never fully recovered. Peggy’s helpless, nearly childish whine that floor is dirty after a pig (more on that later) walks into Nonnatus House tells us this well. On a house call, Jenny is horrified to discover that Peggy and Frank sleep in the same bed, and is later caught gossipping about it to the other nurses by Sister Evangelina.
Evangelina, who grew up poor in the East End, chides the younger, privileged women for judging the couple without completely understanding the workhouses that broke them, and explains that once the two found each other again, they clung to one another. “There was nothing left of family once they went in,” she says.
Fortunately for the girls, Jimmy shows up with a new car he’s named “Lady Chatterly” to whisk them off to the countryside, to a house that has a swimming pool. Jimmy clearly has the hots for Jenny, who is still pining for an old flame we haven’t seen yet. In the pool, Jimmy tells Jenny he knows her better than she thinks, and tries to kiss her, but Jenny swims off and has an asthma attack. Guess which one of her friends didn’t know Jenny had asthma? I’ll give you a hint. His name rhymes with Bimmy.
But these two are all wrong for one another to begin with. When Jenny tells Jimmy about how the workhouses traumatized Frank and Peggy, Jimmy points out that the workhouses also provided a roof over their heads and food. “It’s about being good people,” he says. Jenny’s annoyed with his remarks. “Frank and Peggy are good people,” she says. The work is changing her, but Jimmy’s staying in his pretty public school bubble.
When Frank dies, Peggy commits suicide by overdosing on the morphine the nurses leave at the house. Jenny is horrified, saying she should have stayed with Peggy after Frank died. But Sister Julienne points out that even if they had been there every moment, Peggy would have still been alone.
Jenny, who jilts Jimmy after receiving (and hanging up on) a phone call from former flame Gerald, comes to the conclusion that there are not “versions” of love, there is just love, and it is “worth searching for, even if it takes a lifetime.” And then I called my mom and cried.
- Cynthia: “You look like you’ve had what Sister Evangelina calls a day of trials and tribu-bleedin-lations.”
- Fred gets a pig because “Bacon. It’s the future,” but gets more than he bargained for when he finds out the sow is pregnant. The nuns and nurses pull together to deliver the piglets (at least seven die, but at least one survives). It’s a funny but poignant part of the episode. Chummy even soils a new frock she was going to wear to meet PC Noakes’s mother to help deliver the piggies.
- On a visit, Noakes mentions to Chummy that shopkeepers have been missing some goods. In the next scene, Sister Monica Joan is picking coat pockets in a cloakroom. She even has a drawer full of knicknacks she might or might not have stolen. It’s also possible she stole the fabric with which Chummy made her dress. And in one scene with Chummy, she stops midsentence and asks Chummy why she isn’t with her mother. Once again, WHY AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO’S WORRIED ABOUT MONICA JOAN?
- Evangelina and Fred sipping tea and watching Chummy and Noakes interact. This is what people did before TVs were in every home, you guys.