Every season, the Drama After Dark team gathers ‘round the (yes, still online) conference room table to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. As summer fades into autumn, we have more than just the metaphorical birth of a new season to contend with: it’s also time for the return of PBS favorite, Call The Midwife. Between our scrappy nurses, sassy nuns and gut-wrenching emotional trauma that somehow keeps you wanting more, there’s a lot to be excited about. Need a refresher on what happened last season? Check out our Season 9 and 2020 Holiday Special recaps here. Ready? Take a deep (Lamaze) breath, and prepare yourself for Season 10!
Episode four kicks off with two, to my mind, equally exciting things: England is moving ahead in the World Cup, and Lucille is wearing a truly incredible hat.
But alas, we don’t have time to talk millinery, because Team Nonnatus is busy going over the logistics of taking on a bunch of pupil midwives. For instance: how should they balance practical experience with enough studying to pass challenging exams? Why were all the new student records sent to the Turner surgery? That question, at least, has an answer: because Shelagh is in charge of this program, and she for once isn’t shy about pointing it out to everyone else.
Phyllis and Trixie, reacting to this newfound confidence:
Across town, at Cyril’s apartment/church, the congregation, led by church lady Mrs. Wallace, congratulates Cyril: he’s passed a recent Civil Engineering exam with such flying colors that he won a cash prize in the process. Honestly, I'm not surprised, because Cyril rocks, but he graciously thanks everyone for their support anyway, particularly the part where the church is renting this apartment and letting him live on site.
Down in Vi’s shop, Fred's excitedly sharing that they’ve turned a massive profit this week due to the World Cup, when the family is interrupted by a friend from the neighborhood who’s here to buy sweets for her visiting son (a fun coincidence, since Reggie is also in town for a visit this episode). Proud Mama Hen (the friend) pulls out a picture of her kid, decked out in a VERY fancy bellhop uniform, to show Vi, and then orders what feels like the entire candy selection.
Over at Nonnatus house, two nuns chivvy along a young lady who they seem pretty keen to drop off.
Nun 1: Hurry up, you’ll be late!
Newbie: My first day is tomorrow, so in actual fact, I’m VERY early.
Nun 2, serving Sister Evangelina vibes: UGH, can we hurry up and get rid of this kid already?
Inside, they explain further: Newbie has been living at one of their houses while she finished the first part of her nursing training. She was raised in the convent system, arriving there at the age of seven after her mother died. The nuns do appear to be proud of Newbie’s progress while in their care, though I’m not sure Newbie thinks they should take any credit. They’re also jazzed about their new habits, which are quite a lot more casual than our Nonnatan friends.
In the hall, Trixie picks up the phone and finds a surprising voice on the other end of the line: it’s A for Effort, who we’ll remember as the recently widowed new dad she met whilst working at the Very Posh Maternity Hospital at the start of this season.
Trixie: OH, how are you!? And how’s baby Jonathan?
A for Effort: He’s actually doing great — I took my mom’s advice and hired my former nanny, and everything’s been taken care of pretty well! I’d been sort of procrastinating on his christening, but it’s finally happening in a few weeks and well… my mom and I wondered if you might like to come?
Trixie: I would be honored. Your wife was a wonderful person.
A for Effort: Thank you. Well I’ll send you an invite!
Two thoughts. A: inviting Trixie is really thoughtful. B: this is Call The Midwife, and I can’t help but worry that we’re going to witness some horrible further tragedy with this family since they're still on our screens. I sure hope I'm wrong!
Upstairs, Newbie surveys her room with the kind of excitement that tells us she probably hasn't been allowed her own space in the past. Revelling in her newfound freedom, she immediately throws some clothes on the floor and kicks them under her bed, a triumphant slob.
Across town, Proud Mama Hen’s bellhop son is home to everyone’s delight. Sure, he works in a fancy hotel, but he’s still happy to be back! His dad, who’s apparently an undertaker, takes a second away from polishing his shoes to tease his son: if Undertaker Dad leaves his shoes in the hall, will Bellhop Boy polish them overnight?
Bellhop Boy: I happen to be very good at shoe shining, thank you very much! I learned it from watching you!
Proud Mama Hen: Hey, why are you sitting weird?
Bellhop Boy: Oh, I just hurt my back carrying bags upstairs, that’s all.
Me, a person who has watched this show before:
Proud Mama Hen: Well, you can have a nice rest while you’re here.
Back at Nonnatus, Sister Hilda is trying to persuade Lucille that the betting pool she’s setting up for the World Cup *isn’t* gambling, when Newbie runs in for dinner wearing an eye-searingly psychedelic 60s frock. Sister Hilda makes introductions, and Newbie excitedly takes her place at the table, explaining that while her actual name is Ann, she goes by Nancy, after Nancy Sinatra.
Trixie: As in, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’”?
Me, reassigning Newbie’s recap name to Boots, and Boots herself:
The next day, Shelagh gets her bike adjusted in preparation to take the new kids out for rounds, whilst Boots welcomes 3 other trainees into the house. As one might expect from a girl living in a house full of nuns, she is extremely excited to meet her fellow youths. The excitement is catching: outside, our entire crew of midwives poses for a picture before pedalling off for a day of training and work, delighted smiles all around.
Across town, Bellhop Boy isn’t doing great. He’s laid up in bed, feverish, and when Proud Mama Hen pulls his blanket back, he yells in pain. Of course, he tries to insist he should just go back to work, but Proud Mama Hen isn’t having any of that, and heads off to call Dr. Turner. Once our doctor pal arrives, he quickly develops a hypothesis about the kid’s back pain, and when he has Bellhop Boy turn over, we get to see one of the more… gooey... costume elements ever to grace our screens (and given that this is a show about midwives, that’s really saying something). The verdict? Bellhop Boy has a pilonidal cyst: it’s probably caused by an ingrown hair, and it’s extremely painful, badly infected, and will need to be drained, excised, and packed at the hospital, so, uh, content warning for that if you’re squeamish. Dr. Turner fills in Proud Mama Hen and then uses the family telephone (yes, they have their own due to Undertaker Dad’s job) to call for transport to the hospital.
Out on rounds, Boots’s larger than life personality isn’t quite winning Trixie over. Boots hasn’t read their patient’s co-op card, so she glosses over Nervous Mom’s concerns, which are based on her previous experience of pre-eclampsia.
Boots: Oh damn, so you were in the hospital for 7 weeks? You’d get less for murder!
Nervous Mom: Well, I feel like they took pretty good care of me?
Trixie: Totally, and it’s also great that you want to do a home birth this time.
Boots: You know what, babies gonna baby! The hospital is cleaner, but home’s comfortable… though I guess you do have to clean up after.
Nervous Mom: Wait, I do?
Trixie: No! We have an arrangement with the council laundry.
Boots: Well, that’s a new one on me! Neat!
Outside, Trixie gently chastises Boots: Nervous Mom is, well, nervous. Boots should have read the notes in advance to prepare, but most importantly, she should have listened to what Nervous Mom was saying.
Boots: The hospital was SO focused on speed, I feel like that’s all I know how to do. I'll work on it. Anyway, speaking of which, race you home!
And off she goes, not even noticing her hat flying off or Trixie’s less than impressed reaction. This should be fun! At St. Cuthberts, Proud Mama Hen brings her son the paper, assuming he might want to read about the World Cup.
Bellhop Boy: Mom, you’ve known me my whole life, I’d think you’d know by now I don’t care about footie?
Proud Mama Hen: Well sure, but this isn’t regular football, it’s the World Cup! And I figured it might distract you from your problem.
Bellhop Boy: I don’t want to talk about that at all! They’re gonna send me home soon, it’s no big deal.
Look, do I get why someone might want to pretend they don’t in fact have a large painful wound right above their butt? You bet. But do I think Call The Midwife is going to let this poor kid forget about it? Definitely not. The next day, at clinic, Lucille is in the process of explaining to one of the trainees that some of their samples will be contaminated with jam (reuse, reduce, recycle!) and will thus give inaccurate sugar readings, when Cyril appears. Does he have a sample for her, she jokes, adorably?
Cyril: No, but I have good news. My boss is closing the garage.
Lucille: I’m sorry, how is that good?
Cyril: Because he’s buying a much larger garage and he offered me a job as a partner. But I have to buy my way in.
Lucille: That’s amazing! Can you afford it?
Cyril: Well, I think so — I’ve got my prize money, and savings, and I might be able to get a small loan from the bank.
Yay Cyril! Let’s all hope this is just good news and not the bait and switch we sometimes get around these parts, huh? Later that night, the couple talks about Cyril’s finances in more detail.
Cyril: This prize money is huge: more than I’ve ever had before, and I didn’t have to break my back to get it.
Lucille: Don’t sell yourself short — you studied hard to do well on that test! And this could be a new life with a lot less back breaking work.
Cyril: Except I’d have to take on a loan, and that doesn’t feel like progress.
Fair enough, but I hope he doesn’t give up on a good thing prematurely! Back at Nonnatus, the crew prepares for their World Cup betting game that definitely isn’t gambling. Everyone picks a country out of the bag, and whoever wins will get a sweet prize (literally: the cookie-based reward is how they get Sister Monica Joan to participate). Boots draws her slip (England) but the excitement is cut short when Shelagh rather sharply pulls her aside for a chat in the telephone room. Trixie, curious to see how this will play out, follows.
Shelagh: Here’s the deal: Nervous Mom didn’t show up to her appointment earlier even though she’s full term. She just called me.
Trixie: Is she in labour? We’re supposed to do her home delivery.
Shelagh: Well, that’s the thing: she doesn’t want a home delivery anymore, and is transferring to St. Cuthberts. Because of her last appointment.
Trixie, loyally: I think she was already on the fence.
Shelagh: She literally said it was because Boots here made her nervous.
Trixie: She was already nervous! It’s right there in her recap name!
Shelagh: Regardless, this happened RIGHT after we started this new program. It’s not going to look good.
Shelagh’s not wrong, but yikes, most new projects like this have some early challenges! As the two midwives leave the meeting, Trixie apologizes: she could tell the appointment was off to a rocky start, and she could have said something. But Boots makes a good point: she wouldn’t have known what the problem was without this experience; it was a valuable learning opportunity, which tbh is kind of the whole point of this venture. We’ll just have to see how it all shakes out.
Back at Proud Mama Hen’s house, Phyllis checks in on Bellhop Boy. She’ll be in daily to change the dressing on his cyst, and she makes sure he’s got enough antibiotics. Honestly, he seems more worried about whether he’ll get a scar, which I guess is fair, but when Phyllis reads his prescription, we get some ominous music, and she says Dr. Turner will be back to visit. I haven’t the foggiest clue why, but I’m now a bit worried about poor Bellhop Boy!
Back at Nonnatus, Shelagh and Sister Julienne have a chat about Boots.
Sister Julienne: Her exam results are all over the place: some are amazing, some she barely passed.
Shelagh: Well maybe that’s why those other nuns wanted her to stay here? Stability might help her study.
Sister Julienne: I think it’s more like they’re afraid to have her fully leave the nest — they seem to genuinely care about her. Anyway, don’t worry too much about Nervous Mom — one of our other trainees turned in some really great notes, and the other’s doing great but hasn’t been to a twin birth.
Shelagh: Great, we’ll have her work on the one we have at the maternity home this week!
All systems go! Back at Vi’s shop, Fred is in the midst of excitedly explaining the upcoming World Cup matchups to Reggie when his bookie friend arrives, loudly.
Bookie: Chill out, gambling is legal!
Fred: Yeah, but not with Vi it isn’t! Anyway, Reggie, grab me a pencil, these bets are about to get complicated!
And speaking of complicated, we finally find out what’s up with Bellhop Boy. Apparently, whilst the docs at St. Cuthberts were doing surgery on his cyst, they also happened to note an extensive case of genital warts. In addition to the obvious discomfort factor, Phyllis and Dr. Turner can also glean from the location of his infection that Bellhop Boy is having sex with other men.
Dr. Turner: And he’s only 17. He probably waited so long on the cyst because he was worried it was linked to his sexuality.
Phyllis: Which obviously isn’t true, but the poor kid is clearly keeping a lot of secrets.
I mean, I can understand why he'd want to keep some of these secrets: the UK is still a year away from making homosexuality legal, and there’s still a lot of stigma around genital warts today despite their relatively high prevalence and transmisison rates. Later, Dr. Turner looks in on Bellhop Boy at his parent’s house to explain that they’ll need to arrange treatment for “his other problem.”
Bellhop Boy, attempting to bluff: What problem?
Dr. Turner: I got a letter from the hospital when you were discharged.
Bellhop Boy: Do we need to talk about this?
Dr. Turner: Well, you’ve been referred to the STI clinic, so we need to get you sorted there. It’s going to take a while but I might be able to fast track that, if you like?
Bellhop Boy, overcome: I don’t know what I want! I don’t want to be into what I’m into, sexually, I know that much.
Dr. Turner: Why not?
Bellhop Boy: Because I don’t want to be gay, dude!
Dr. Turner: There’s nothing wrong with being gay. It’s just how you’re made.
Bellhop Boy: Then why is it illegal, smartass?
Dr. Turner: The law is wrong, and it will eventually change.
Bellhop Boy: Well I do it for money, Dr. Turner, and we both know that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
Later, Dr. Turner debriefs with Phyllis. It seems that he came to the same conclusion that I did: that the fancy hotel where Bellhop Boy works is functioning as a procurer. They may not be forcing him into sex work, but they are setting up “opportunities.”
Phyllis: So we can’t go to the police in that case.
Dr. Turner: Right. That won’t help anyone.
Miss Higgins, entering the chat: So you’re referring this guy to the STI clinic? Ew!
Dr. Turner: If you’re going to be judgmental I’ll type up for the forms myself.
Miss Higgins: No, I’ll do it, keep your tie on.
At that Phllis gives Dr. Turner a look. A look that says "Yikes, and she works here, so I guess that really does tell you something about the sexual mores of this era, huh?" Later, Phyllis visits Bellhop Boy to collect samples for the tests.
Bellhop Boy: So… what if those tests come back positive?
Phyllis: There are treatments available. But real talk, whatever those tests results say, you’re putting yourself in danger by engaging in sex work. You should quit working at that hotel!
Bellhop Boy, rather missing the forest for the trees: I can’t disappoint my parents. They wanted me to get out of this neighborhood, and my proximity to the rich and famous makes them feel better.
Phyllis: Yeah, because they don’t know the whole story!
Bellhop Boy: And they aren’t gonna!
Phyllis: They want the best for you; they would rather have you safe than be able to brag about your cushy job! They love you!
Bellhop Boy: They love who they think I am.
This plotline is stressing me out, so let’s check up on a family with significantly fewer challenging secrets. Over at the Turner house, we get our first appearance this season by the one and only Timothy Turner. He’s done with school, and ready to enter medical school assuming he gets good marks on his upcoming exams. He’s also advocating that Shelagh burn his old school uniform, which is, frankly, hilarious.
At Cyril’s place, Lucille arrives to bring special cleaning supplies to dust up a glass fish ornament furnished by Mrs. Wallace, but Cyril has a surprise: a very fancy record player. Lucille seems kind of fixated on the fish, which probably says more about Mrs. Wallace’s impact than anything else, but it also means that she takes a minute to realize that this new record player wasn’t cheap.
Lucille: Wait, hold on: what about your share in the garage?
Cyril: I decided against it. I’ll still work there, but I thought that since I got the prize in engineering I should keep focusing on that career path instead of going into debt on the chance I can make money.
Lucille, less than thrilled: Oh, ok.
Cyril: Wait do you disagree?
Lucille: It doesn’t matter, you already spent the money. Anyway, hand me that fish.
Cyril, you know I’m a huge fan, but this wasn’t a great call: you have to talk big life decisions like this over with your partner before you make them! Back across town, at Bellhop Boy’s folks’ house, everyone’s gathered around for the World Cup.
Proud Mama Hen: It’s too bad you aren't going back to work until after the finals, it’s probably super exciting there.
Bellhop Boy: I’m thinking of not going back at all, actually.
Undertaker Dad: Wait, but it’s a solid job, right?
Proud Mama Hen: Yeah, and you’ve got a future there, and respect!
Bellhop Boy: There are things about it that don’t suit me, and I need to get away and make a fresh start.
Proud Mama Hen, could not be more wrong: Did you get someone pregnant?
Undertaker Dad: If you did, you’re not abandoning this girl. You support her.
Bellhop Boy: A pregnant girl isn’t the problem. And never will be.
Proud Mama Hen puts that together a little faster than Undertaker Dad, and immediately tries to insist that her son go back into the closet.
Proud Mama Hen: You can’t be gay, you’re my son.
Undertaker Dad: You have to be careful what you say, kid: once it’s out there it’s out there.
Bellhop Boy, sticking to his guns: Well, I’m saying it. I’m gay.
Unfortunately, Bellhop Boy's parents initial reaction is, in a word, bad. Proud Mama Hen pounds her fists on the wall, crying, and insists that her son is wrong: she just can’t seem to square her view that gay folks are deviant with her love her for him.
Elsewhere, the denizens of Poplar watch the footie, and we find out that Fred has made a rather disloyal bet, backing Germany. And over at the Turner house, Shelagh and Dr. Turner reflect on the fact that if Timothy does get into med school, as we all expect he will, he’ll never really live at home again. Our little boy is growing up! And even though Shelagh (and let’s face it, some of us at home) were a bit worried that he was just going into the family business out of obligation, the Turner parents conclude that Timothy really did choose this admittedly difficult career path. And then Dr. Turner says that nursing is just as challenging as being a doctor, a correct opinion that only further endears him to me.
Across town, Bellhop Boy, suitcase packed, sneaks out of his parents’ house early in the morning, destination unknown. But over at Nonnatus house, we know one thing: the squad will be dining on Portuguese snacks, because that was Sister Hilda’s team, and they got through to the final.
Sister Monica Joan: Let’s not get all braggy :(
Sister Frances: Look, I lost too!
Sister Monica Joan: At least we’re all brushing up on our geography.
Sister Frances: True. We missed you at prayers this morning.
Sister Monica Joan: I feel so separated from my faith, it feels like I could never get back.
Weirdly, even though that’s an incredibly upsetting sentiment, she seems almost at peace with it? No matter what, I just hope Sister Monica Joan comes out ok after all this soul searching. Meanwhile, Bellhop Boy’s parents have realized he’s gone, and called in Phyllis for reinforcements. They’ve confirmed that he didn’t go back to the hotel, but that does leave us all at a bit of a loss as to where he might have gone.
Undertaker Dad, fixated: Did you know?
Phyllis: Well, only what was medically relevant.
Proud Mama Hen: It took us a long time to have him, and he’s our only child. I keep thinking of hurting myself.
Phyllis: Woah, please don’t do that.
Proud Mama Hen: ... and then I wonder if he’s thinking like that too? If he is, it’s our fault! I’m contemplating self harm because mothers are supposed to love their children unconditionally, and I didn’t. He’s a criminal in the eyes of the law, but I need to be better than that. Show her the note.
Undertaker Dad: Ok… basically, it says “you raised me to be honest, and last night it backfired. I’m sorry to be what I am, and I’m sorry for telling you. If I can’t make myself be who you want, remember me as how you thought I was. We were so happy.”
Proud Mama Hen: What if we never see him again?
Ugh, I really hope their change of heart hasn’t come too late. Back at Nonnatus, Sister Julienne teaches the pupil midwives a course on common complications, and how they can be treated in a home setting. When she starts quizzing the students, Boots fully cuts off her classmate in her haste to answer. Unlike SOME fictional know-it-alls, she unfortunately gets the answer wrong, despite sounding like she swallowed a textbook. It’s a great opportunity for Sister Julienne to note that sometimes, we learn the most by listening.
Back at Bellhop Boy’s folks’ house, Proud Mama Hen hugs the package of his belongings delivered from the hotel, and cries. Later, she finally unwraps her son’s stuff and starts looking for clues that might help them find him, and turns up something promising: the card for a doctor at a private psychiatric clinic. They phone up Phyllis, who gets Miss Higgins to help figure out what this doctor actually does, and unfortunately, it’s as Phyllis suspected: he runs an aversion clinic. Of course, they loop in Dr. Turner, who is furious: this doctor is extensively qualified, even though what he does is barbaric and damaging. It’s basically torture.
In the less horrifying plotline, we go to Cyril’s place where he’s absolutely rapturous at the World Cup results playing out: England has advanced to the final. Fred is also excited: this puts him one step closer to a pretty massive payout. Of course, our friends are arranging a viewing party: at Vi’s direction, Fred sets up the Nonnatus TV at the clinic, which has already been festooned with UK bunting.
Across town, Phyllis and Dr. Turner roll up to the aversion clinic, ready for action. While they wait outside for someone to answer the door, they drop the historically accurate and abhorrent fact that if Bellhop Boy were being treated by the National Health Service, he would be chemically castrated. Inside, they’re met with some resistance: Bellhop Boy isn’t allowed any friends or family visitation during treatment.
Dr. Turner: Screw that, I’m his doctor!
Phyllis, possibly more effective: And I’m the nurse who’s responsible for what was meant to be daily aftercare of a significant surgical wound. Do you want infection? Because that’s how you get infection.
Dr. Turner, doubling down: Yeah, and he needs to be on specific antibiotics or he’ll get sepsis and die. Give me the notes.
Mean Orderly: The notes are confidential.
Dr. Turner: Well an INQUEST would be public, and splashy, and EVERYONE would read about it in the newspapers. I don’t think any of us want to talk to the coroner, do we?
Meanwhile, everyone else is off at the World Cup viewing party and having a grand old time, if only because the Turner children are all dressed as the Brittania, the World Cup trophy, and Willie the World Cup lion. I don’t care how adorable you think this is: DOUBLE IT.
Across town, Trixie attends baby Jonathan’s christening wearing a snazzy yellow outfit. A for Effort gives a really lovely speech about his son which manages to strike the perfect note regarding Can’t Have It All: how much she’s missed, but how they are moving on without her. Trixie tears up, and you better believe I do too!
At the aversion clinic, Mean Orderly escorts our friends back to see Bellhop Boy, who’s basically lying half naked in a puddle of his own vomit and puking continuously. You see, the way aversion therapy works (and frankly folks, I wasn’t sure where to put the quotation marks there, because “therapy” and “works” are both questionable) is that the patient is exposed to both an unpleasant stimulus and whatever they’re trying to develop an aversion to — in this case, nudes — with the expectation that when they encounter those images in the future, it’ll be associated with feeling miserable. Dr. Turner and Phyllis snap into action, giving Bellhop Boy medicine to stop him from vomiting, and sending Mean Orderly for Bellhop Boy’s clothes.
Bellhop Boy: Are my parents here?
Phyllis: No, they’re at home waiting for you, if that’s what you want.
Bellhop Boy: I don’t know.
Honestly, I get it, and there’s time to figure that out later, just as long as our friends can get this poor kid to safety! Meanwhile, at the christening, Trixie hears baby Jonathan crying. The nanny blithely says he’s just tired, but Trixie’s a dang baby professional, so she can’t help but sneak in to take a peek at him. Just as she goes to pick him up, A for Effort arrives.
Trixie: Oh, great, you’re here: pick up this baby!
A for Effort: The nanny says I was also like this as a kid, and that he’s just wanting attention. She says I should ignore him.
Trixie, for the second time this episode:
Well yeah, duh; why would him wanting attention be bad? He's a baby and he thinks it’s playtime.
A for Effort: Nanny won’t like that.
Trixie: Who cares! You’re his dad, and since you’re a single parent, your opinion counts double.
A for Effort: I still have that letter.
Trixie: She had so much to say, and she said it with so much love.
A for Effort: I haven’t opened it yet. I carry it with me, because I want her close, but I’m waiting to feel brave enough to read it. I just haven't yet.
Trixie: You will. There’s no rush. Unfortunately, I do have to rush though; gotta grab a bus. And I can recommend some books on baby stuff if you like!
A for Effort: Any books on nanny stuff?
Trixie, snarky: Well, it’s the same advice, isn’t it?
Man, this is a nice friendship. Not that anyone asked, but I approve! Hey, remember Nervous Mom from earlier in this episode? She, of course, goes into labor right in the middle of the World Cup final. It’s time to go to the hospital! Unfortunately for her, her husband is a die hard football fan, and isn’t interested in taking her anywhere just now. As the game ticks on, England pulls ahead, leaving everyone increasingly ecstatic (save Fred, who seems torn between love of country and love of winning a LOT of cash). Germany gets a goal, putting the game into overtime.
Fred: YES. Er… oh no!
Across town, Nervous Mom, realizing her contractions are getting awfully close together, leaves her husband at home and heads out to look for a cab. Regrettably, pretty much everyone is watching the game, including, apparently, cabbies. When her water breaks on the sidewalk, she changes course, finally arriving at Nonnatus. Reader, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that the only one on duty is trainee midwife Boots.
Nervous Mom: Is there a real midwife here? No offense.
Boots: Nah, you’re good, I get it. Come on in.
Inside, Boots works quickly, interrupting Sister Monica Joan’s afternoon nap to kick her out of bed and make room for Nervous Mom. This may not be the dream team Poplar wants, but you know what, it might just be the dream team Poplar NEEDS.
Sister Monica Joan: Hey, so that woman is just about to give birth — I can tell from the screaming.
Boots: Great. Go get my medical bag, will ya? And Nervous Mom, let’s do this thing. We’ve got this.
Nervous Mom: I can’t get the baby out!
Boots, to Sister Monica Joan: The baby’s hand is up by their face.
Sister Monica Joan: Oh, ok: just push the hand back while Nervous Mom pushes.
Boots: Have you seen this before?
Sister Monica Joan: Yeah dude: I’ve seen everything.
And with that advice dispensed, our ragtag crew successfully delivers Nervous Mom’s baby to everyone’s joy. And speaking of joy, across town, the rest of our squad is absolutely elated because England just won the World Cup. Well, everyone but Fred, who’s being very hard on himself for “trying to be clever.” Honestly, I’m sure others will do some moralizing at him, so I won’t join the chorus!
Later, at Nonnatus, Sister Julienne debriefs with Boots, giving her the praise she deserves.
Sister Julienne: Good job! And you did it single handedly!
But also I can’t take all the credit — just like you suggested, I listened.
Meanwhile, Sister Monica Joan is gazing lovingly at Nervous Mom’s placenta.
Sister Frances: Didn’t Boots already check that?
Sister Monica Joan: She did, but I’m just admiring it. Isn’t it beautiful and amazing?
Sister Frances: You know what, it is!
Sister Monica Joan, having a moment, FINALLY: When I see this, I see God’s hand. Long dark night of the soul over; I’m back baby!
Sister Frances: YAY!
Sometimes it just takes looking at a bloody temporary organ to get your perspective in order. Just ask this guy:
In all seriousness, I am SO happy to have Sister Monica Joan back in action. In so many ways she’s the beating heart of Nonnatus, and it’s been a real bummer to see her struggling so! Speaking of struggle, we have one last patient plotline to wrap up. Across town, Bellhop Boy has returned home for a much needed conversation with his parents.
Bellhop Boy: I need to stay the way I am. Trying to change almost killed me.
Undertaker Dad: You’ll never be a dad, and that only makes me sad because it means you’ll never know how proud you can be of your child.
Bellhop Boy: But how can you be proud of me?
Undertaker Dad: Because you’re a great kid! You’re smart, and athletic, and you met Sophia Loren! And you’re brave; brave enough to come out. You’re my son.
Proud Mama Hen: And mine too. Whatever you get up to sexually isn’t any of my business, but your happiness is; of course I’m going to worry about you, until you find someone who’s going to love you for a very long time.
Now that’s the kind of change of heart I’m here to see! Meanwhile, Lucille has also had a change of heart. She’s brought Cyril a present: a record for his new record player. But in real Gift of Magi fashion, that fancy record player is gone.
Cyril: When I bought that, I made a decision, and I didn’t discuss it with you. I’m sorry.
Lucille: It was just a record player.
Cyril: No it wasn’t; it was connected to the future. And I can’t picture my future without you, so I need to ask you something.
Cyril: From the first time I saw you I’ve only thought about now, and the future, not the past.
Lucille: Wait, what are you doing?
Cyril, pulling out a ring and taking a knee: This is where that money went. This is where I’m putting my heart. Will you marry me?
FINALLLY!! And on that absolutely delightful note, we end this week’s episode with a celebration of love: familial, romantic, and between friends. Bask in it, reader, and I’ll see you next week for episode 5.