Every season, the GBH Drama staff sit down to watch the latest and greatest in British dramas. And now, just a few short months after the last season, we have the springtime 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 10 and 2021 Holiday Special recaps here. Ready? Take a deep (lamaze) breath, and prepare yourself for Season 11!

You know that thing where you wake up before your alarm clock and it’s super annoying? Well that’s how this episode starts, but unlike you and I, Sister Frances is SMILING about missing out on those extra seconds of precious slumber. I honestly don’t understand her, but I sure do appreciate her sunny disposition. Anyway, all around Poplar, our friends wake up and go about their morning routines, which for Lucille includes a visit to her first patient of the day, who lives in a building with a LOT of nosy neighbors. Inside, Lucille chats with maybe the most unbothered mum we’ve seen in all these 11 seasons of Call The Midwife.

Unflappable: Look, let’s make this quick, I just got back from work and haven’t had breakfast yet. Don’t see what the fuss is about: I’ve had three already, I kinda know what’s going on.
Lucille: Well, sure, but it’s always better to be prepared. For instance, I don’t see a cot or a pram anywhere, and the baby could arrive any day — do you need to borrow anything? And is your husband around to help?
Unflappable: Nope. To both. I’m managing fine, and a drawer worked great for my other kids.
Lucille: Your blood pressure is a little high, and I’m not super worried, but I do want to come back later this week to check.
Unflappable: Whatever you say. Seriously, once you’ve had one, it’s like falling off a log. I’m good with babies.

At the clinic, it’s pelvic exam day. Trixie is chatting with her patient, a woman who, unlike many of the ladies we’ve seen before, is quite aware of anatomy and medical procedures. Across the clinic, Sister Frances’ patient is all smiles, but not because of her exam: it’s because today is her first wedding anniversary, and she’s so excited to celebrate that she’s purchased special green underwear for the occasion.

A man leads an audience in saying "awww" and then thanks them

Vernal: After this I’m going to go get a haircut, and then we’re going to a fancy hotel for the night. You might even see me in the antenatal clinic soon! Anyway, should I get bangs?
Sister Frances: Hilarious that you’re asking me. Anyway, just try to relax.

Vernal might be relaxed, but Sister Frances isn’t: she quickly notices that the swab she’s used to get a sample of Vernal’s cervical cells is quite bloody, and goes to get Dr. Turner to take a look.

Vernal: Is anything wrong?
Dr. Turner: I’m hoping not, but your cervix is inflamed, so I’m going to refer you to St. Cuthberts just to be sure.
Vernal: Well that just shows how important these tests are! Glad to get everything fixed before we start having kids.

And things aren’t super rosy in Trixie’s exam area either — she’s noticed that her patient, Well Informed, has a pretty gnarly rash, so she grabs Dr. Turner on his way by. Pretty quickly, he deduces the problem: poor Well Informed and her kiddos all have scabies.

Trixie: I know it sounds bad, but don’t be upset: it happens all the time and it’s perfectly treatable. If you don’t have a good washroom you can take your whole household to the cleansing station.
Dr. Turner: You’ll take a hot bath and then a nurse covers you with a lotion — it’s no big deal, promise.

Easier said than believed. I get why Trixie and Dr. Turner are trying to keep it casual, but I also completely understand why Well Informed looks fully horrified. After getting her the info for the cleansing station, they also make a plan to follow up with her kiddos’ school just in case the infection spreads to other children. Later, Phyllis explains the plan to the other midwives: if anyone finds a case, tell Miss Higgins so she can contact anyone who needs to get treated. All pregnant or recently pregnant people will be treated by a midwife, and in general everyone needs to prepare in case there is a serious outbreak. Weirdly, getting in touch with Miss Higgins might be tricky, because she’s mysteriously absent from the surgery. Given how consistent she is, the Turners and Sister Frances are surprisingly chill about her conspicuous absence.

Across town, a very tired Unflappable submits to an assessment from Lucille.

Lucille: So, who’s gonna look after the new baby when you go back to work?
Unflappable: Thankfully I won’t have to go back for a while – the landlord suspended rent.
Lucille: Because of that giant hole in the ceiling?
Unflappable: Yup. I knew he wouldn’t be able to afford to fix it, so I gave it a bit of a nudge with a broom handle. Problem solved!

Lucille isn’t particularly impressed by that, but frankly I think it shows some good ingenuity! Before they can get into it further, there’s a knock at the door, which Lucille answers. It’s a policewoman, who’s escorting Unflappable’s teenage son.

Police Officer, not beating around the bush: Your son was caught shoplifting.
Unflappable: This kid? Gotta be a mistake.
Contrite Teen: I regret to inform you that you’re mistaken. Sorry ma.
Unflappable: What were you thinking!?

And with that she chucks a shoe at him, and TBH I can’t blame her. As he flees the scene, Lucille finds out from the cop that he’s only taken some baby stuff, and tries to smooth things over: yeah, shoplifting is bad, but he did it for a good reason! Unflappable offers to pay for the stolen goods, but Contrite Teen will still get referred to the court system. It seems like this won’t be a massive deal, but it’s still not great, especially given their clearly precarious situation.

And speaking of precarious, at the surgery, Sister Frances carefully brings a tea tray in to Dr. Turner, who appears to be on the edge of a breakdown that only a cuppa can fix. Still no news of Miss Higgins, but Dr. Turner seems weirdly ok with it because Sister Frances has nicely given him TWO biscuits instead of the one he normally gets from our stern administrator. While Sister Frances drops off the tray, she also asks after Vernal, who’s apparently at St. Cuthberts that very day for some follow up tests.

Later that afternoon, while Shelagh and Sister Hilda search the local school children for scabies (9 kids have it so far, which means they are an inch from a full on outbreak given how contagious the disease is) Sister Frances and Dr. Turner finally start to get properly worried about Miss Higgins. But just as Dr. Turner shares his intention to drop by her house on the way to rounds, the woman herself appears, and she’s NOT in a good mood. Ignoring Dr. Turner’s question about her whereabouts, she glares at Sister Frances until the nun relinquishes Miss Higgins’ desk, and then sits down, still looking miserable.

Sister Frances: Is everything alright?
Miss Higgins: No, obviously. I was burgled last night. I just got back from the police station, but I woke up to find my home destroyed this morning.
Dr. Turner: Well definitely don’t worry about work at all! You should go home!
Miss Higgins: Absolutely not! I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back into that building.

Thankfully, the gang has room at Nonnatus, so Miss Higgins packs some things into Phyllis’ car and moves in. That evening, they try to ply her with ham, but she’s just not feeling it, even when Phyllis offers to make something different for her friend. Millicent is very obviously quite rattled, and startles easily when Boots pulls back her chair to go into the kitchen.

Sister Monica Joan: Miss Higgins has clearly had one hell of a day: maybe some quiet relaxation is the answer?
Phyllis: I made up the spare bed in my room – I’ll show you the way.
Miss Higgins: Yeah, I am pretty out of sorts.
Trixie: You’ll feel better in the morning.

Once the friends leave, everyone talks about how upsetting the whole situation is! Who would rob an old lady, wonders Boots?

Sister Julienne: Ok, first of all, Miss Higgins isn’t old! She’s mature.
Sister Monica Joan: People used to respect their elders.

A man says "I'm sorry! I fudged up, guys."

Meanwhile, at St. Cuthberts, Vernal calls her husband from a hospital bed.

Vernal: Hey babe! Sorry to bug you at work, but I just bumped into a friend who’s gone into labor, and I said I’d stay and watch the kids. I won’t be back until tomorrow morning, is that ok?
Vernal’s Husband: Oh, of course! Totally understand. Love you!
Vernal: Love you too!

Oh no :( I know this has got to be super scary, but that’s literally what husbands are supposed to be for, Vernal! Let that nice man support you!

At Unflappable’s house, she offers Lucille tea in a pretty gnarly mug.

Unflappable: Oof, sorry, Contrite Teen’s on dish duty. It’s his idea, he just wants to help.
Lucille: I’m sure no one will press charges, he’s clearly a good kid.
Unflappable: No, it’s going to be bad: that fancypants social worker will think crime runs in the family.
Lucille: Pardon?
Unflappable: My oldest son is in prison — he took after his dad, my first husband. He came back from the war and swept me off my feet, but he was abusive. Never knew if he was just like that, or if it was because of the war. Anyway, he went to jail too, then I struggled with alcoholism until I met my second husband, who helped me sober up, but needless to say, social services knows who we are.
Lucille: Look, you’re in a good situation now, and all anyone wants to do is to help your family.

Oh Lucille, that seems a bit naive, but I sure hope you’re right! Meanwhile, at the surgery, the team finds out that Vernal skipped her appointment at St. Cuthberts this morning, and is actively dodging their calls.

Sister Frances: Want me to check in on her? Just finished my shift.
Dr. Turner: If you have time, that’d be for the best: she needs to come into the surgery asap. If you’re up for it, you can even deliver her results — you had a good rapport with her and that can help in these cases.
Sister Frances: You’d trust me to do that?
Dr. Turner: Yeah, of course! We’ll go over the biopsy report together so you’re comfortable explaining everything. But it’s not going to be an easy conversation.

I don’t like the sounds of that, and clearly neither does Vernal, who’s not exactly thrilled to see Sister Frances later.

Vernal: I don’t have any symptoms though! It can’t be that bad!
Sister Frances: When I was a kid, I was scared of needles, so I hid in the closet to try and avoid my smallpox jab and ended up stepping on a clothes hanger. Needed a bunch of stitches, a tetanus injection, and STILL had to get the smallpox vaccine, and by that time it was during school holidays. Totally ruined the vacation. Anyway, that’s how I learned the importance of facing my fears. I’m sorry to have to tell you that the test confirms that you have significant cervical cancer. But because you were so good about getting your pelvic exam, we caught it early enough that we can treat this: you’ll make a full recovery.
Vernal: What kind of treatment?
Sister Frances: It’d be an operation to remove the cancer.
Vernal: And then I’d be cured?
Sister Frances: Yes, almost certainly.
Vernal: And then I’d be able to have children?
Sister Frances: I’m so sorry, but no. They’ll need to perform a radical hysterectomy.

Well that’s truly awful news. What a bummer of an episode this has been so far! And it’s only getting more upsetting: that night, over at Nonnatus, Phyllis turns over to check on Miss Higgins, only to find her friend terrified and brandishing a candlestick. Turning on the light, Phyllis reassures Millicent, and even offers to lock her things in a trunk for safekeeping.

Miss Higgins: It’s not the stuff; they only took a few small things and some cash. It’s that I’ve worked hard to make an independent life for myself: will I ever be able to feel safe again?
Phyllis: Shall I lock the door?
Miss Higgins: Yes please!

Want to enjoy the apparent high point of this episode? For a hot second we get to see Shelagh and Sister Hilda basking in the spring sunshine while handing out leaflets about scabies. But don’t get cozy: it lasts 2 seconds and then we go immediately into a meeting between Lucille and the Unflappable family’s social worker.

Lucille: Oh, hello. If you’re here about that mixup with the son, he just had Unflappable’s best interests at heart!
Social Worker: Of course, as do we all. Anyway, do you think she’s struggling?
Lucille: I think she’d benefit from any support we can offer.
Social Worker:

A woman asks "So you agree?"

Social Worker: I’d like to suggest we add Unflappable to a test group for a contraceptive solution for problem families.
Lucille: Hold up, what?
Social Worker: We’ve been asked to refer large families for contraceptive advice, that’s all.
Lucille: Unflappable might be challenging, but she’s making the best of a bad situation.
Social Worker: Well, maybe her situation would be better with fewer kids! A lot of the moms I work with are very grateful for the option to limit their family size.
Lucille: Yeah dude, I bet, but Unflappable is already at full term!
Social Worker: Yes, and the months after giving birth can be prime time fertility-wise. She hasn’t wanted to listen to us before, would you talk to her?

Look, in theory I agree with this social worker, but something about the way she’s positioning her argument feels like a hop skip and a jump into eugenics-driven forced sterilization. So, hate that! And speaking of sterilization (unfortunately), at Dr. Turner’s office, Vernal discusses her options with the doctor. Is there any chance if she just doesn’t have the operation she could still have children?

Dr. Turner: I can’t be 100% sure, but even if you got pregnant fast enough to beat the spread of the cancer, it would put enormous strain on your body. The sooner you can have this operation, the better.

Absolutely heartbreaking, and even more so when Vernal stumbles into the waiting room for some space, followed by Sister Frances. She tells the nun that she’s always taken good care of her body: she doesn’t smoke, never gets sick, and eats well. It just feels very unfair. She’s also worried about how she’s going to tell her husband. Meanwhile, across town, Lucille has her next visit with Unflappable, whose blood pressure is still high. Unflappable, as per her recap name, lights up a cigarette and dismisses Lucille’s polite suggestion that she quit due to the health risks.

Unflappable: Eh, whatever, if these were really so dangerous they wouldn’t be so easy to get!
Lucille: Ok? Well have you thought about what kind of contraceptives you might use after the baby is born?
Unflappable: No, I haven’t! Why are you asking me that? I’m exhausted, and in my free time, I worry about whether my one kid is going to be sent to jail, and if the other will ever get out. I’m worried about paying the bills and feeding my family, not the pill.
Lucille: I get it. But that social worker came to see me.
Unflappable: Oh great, so now you think I’m an unfit mother too! If you must know, it’s not an issue, because my husband left us as soon as he found out I was pregnant because he didn’t want to compete for my attention.
Lucille: I wish you’d told me!
Unflappable: Why would I? It’s none of your business, and if that social worker found out she’d be here all the time. I don’t want the neighbors to even think for one second that I can’t take care of myself and my kids.

I get it! But also I wish she felt safe enough to accept some offered support. Unfortunately, her worry about appearances has rubbed off on Lucille, who Cyril finds scrubbing the floors after he does a Lucille-mandated self scabies check.

Cyril: Is this all really necessary?
Lucille: Yes. I don’t want people thinking less of us.
Cyril: Scabies isn’t anything to be ashamed of, you know that! What gives?
Lucille: Ugh, you’re right. I listened to a social worker and pushed contraceptives on a patient who didn’t want it, and now I’ve lost her trust.
Cyril: So win it back: you can do it!

I ALSO believe unequestioningly in the power of Lucille, but her job just got harder: the next morning, Unflappable wakes up to discover the telltale signs of scabies on her hands.

A man covers his face with his hand as if to say "oh brother"

Ok, we need a bit of levity. And we get it in the form of Miss Higgins, who’s back to her persnickety self just in time to drive everyone at Nonnatus crazy. First, she criticizes Phyllis’ morning calisthenics, a beloved habit that isn’t going anywhere, because it’s interrupting her reading. Then, she cuts the bathroom line, and has the audacity to suggest that they should create some kind of organizational rota (which of course we know already exists). Can’t wait to see the inevitable battle royale, not gonna lie!

Across town, Vernal serves her husband breakfast, and when she doesn’t have any for herself, he notices something is wrong. Unfortunately, he draws the worst possible conclusion based on her lack of appetite and moodiness, and assumes she must be pregnant. Before she can correct him, he happily bounces off to work to tell all his friends.

Meanwhile, at Vi’s shop, Unflappable is out doing some shopping when our eagle-eyed shop owner/councilwoman notices her scratching, and insists Fred get the door to hurry Unflappable on her way.

Vi: OH MY GOD, FRED: didn’t you see the scratching?
Fred: Yeah, so?
Vi: We’ve got a business to worry about, man! People won’t want to buy anything from us if they think we’ve got scabies.

On her way home, Unflappable’s water breaks. But does she call Lucille? No, and she won’t let her son do it for her either! That night, at Nonnatus, Miss Higgins continues her return to form, turning up her nose at the frankly very nice looking soup Phyllis has made everyone for dinner.

Miss Higgins: I think I’ll just go make myself a sandwich.
Sister Monica Joan: But… we have cold food at tea time, not dinner.
Phyllis: I’d be happy to make you a sandwich if you like?

And of course, Miss Higgins says yes, and then proceeds to give Phyllis the most specific and complicated sandwich order of all time. Because Phyllis is a very good friend, she somehow restrains herself from losing her crap on Miss Higgins, but it’s clearly a close thing. Before we get to see this magnificent sandwich, Sister Julienne arrives and tells Lucille that Unflappable is in labor, and Lucille better get over there quick. At the flat, Contrite Teen cracks the door open even as his mom tells him not to let Lucille in: Unflappable is serious about not trusting our midwife friend.

Contrite Teen, through the crack: I wasn’t sure what to do, but I’m worried.
Lucille: How often are the pains coming?
Contrite Teen: I don’t know.
Lucille: I know you love your mom, and you’re trying to respect her and her wishes, but it’s really important you let me in. It’s for her safety.

Once inside, Lucille immediately notices that Unflappable is trying to clean the house because of the scabies situation, and apologizes.

Lucille: Scabies is nothing to be ashamed of. And I’m sorry: what I asked you was presumptuous and insensitive, and I broke your trust. Please let me help you deliver your baby safely.
Unflappable: You know what, fair enough. And you can call me by my first name: if you’re gonna deliver my baby we’re going to get very close before the night is out.

Awww! While they get to work, Trixie and Boots visit a local cafe to hang some more of their scabies signs when Trixie spots A for Effort, who’s weirdly trying to be incognito in the corner.

Trixie: Hey buddy. Can I interest you in one of our alarming flyers?
A for Effort, holding up his scabies infested arms: A little too late, I’m afraid.
Boots: LOL I didn’t think fancy people could get scabies too!
A for Effort: I feel like the Queen after the palace got bombed: now I kinda understand the East End experience a bit.
Me: The fact that you said that makes me think you really don’t, but good try.
Trixie: You better get your butt to one of our cleansing stations for treatment.
A for Effort: I was actually just heading to a private clinic.
Boots: Oh, do you get a posh type of mite if you pay for it?

A woman laughs so hard she spits out her drink.

Trixie: BOOTS.
Boots, not letting up: You know they have to treat every INCH of your bod right? The whole thing.

And then she gives him such a cheeky look that he literally flees the cafe.

A woman holding a wine glass puts her hand on her heart in profound gratitude

Back at Unflappable’s house, she insists that Lucille promise not to tell the social worker about the scabies.

Unflappable: Seriously, if she finds out about this and the fact that I’m on my own they will take this baby away. I’m freaking out: I haven’t slept in days.
Lucille: She won’t. Now try and stay calm so you have energy to manage your contractions.

TBH if anyone can calm Unflappable down at this point it’s Lucille, so I think she’s in good hands, but also her fears are very understandable! Meanwhile, Vernal’s husband has returned from work early, with a giant bouquet of flowers for his lovely wife.

Vernal: Listen, there’s no baby.
Vernal’s Husband: Oh. I’m sorry. But don’t worry, we’ve got time!
Vernal: We don’t. I’ve got cancer. The doctors need to cut out my uterus.
Vernal’s Husband: But… once you get better —
Vernal: If I get better. And the operation isn’t reversible.
Vernal’s Husband: You will get better. And I guess we can’t have kids.
Vernal: If you want to leave me, I understand. No one would blame you; this is what women are supposed to do, and I let you down. The doctors who took my biopsy were horrible: they treated me like a specimen. That’s why I didn’t tell you: I couldn’t bear for you to think of me that way too. I want you to think of me as special.

It’s a lot of information to digest, and while I think Vernal’s Husband would disagree with her self assessment there, it’s not surprising that she’s struggling! While they process, at Unflappable’s house, Lucille reminds her patient that she’s a strong woman who’s been ably handling a very challenging set of circumstances, and that she’s very good at childbirth.

Lucille: You are brave and resourceful. No one is going to take this baby away. Contrite Teen, your mom is amazing, right?
Contrite Teen: Right!
Lucille: Now push that baby out!

Lucille tries to get Contrite Teen to leave at this point, because, ya know, imminent childbirth, but he refuses. Soon thereafter, Unflappable gives birth to a lovely baby girl, and everyone in the flat is all smiles. Back at Nonnatus, Boots spots Miss Higgins feeding birds in the garden and decides to go have a chat with our persnickety pal.

Boots, taking a seat: Did you want to be alone?
Miss Higgins: When I’m alone, I want company, and when I’m with people, I want to be alone. So ridiculous.
Boots: Sounds like me when I’m PMSing.
Miss Higgins: Not gonna lie: I am thrilled to be in menopause. Look, I’m so grateful for everyone’s kindness but it’s hard to be grateful all the time. It makes me grumpy.
Boots: Well don’t feel bad about that; have you talked to Sister Monica Joan before breakfast?
Miss Higgins: I mean look, it’s a nice change to be cared for, but I’m at an age where I’m used to being independent, and it’s really hard to adapt to other people.

Anyone else now desperately want someone to get Sister Monica Joan a novelty mug that says “don’t talk to me before I’ve had my coffee,” or is it just me? Later, across town, Vernal’s Husband shows up at the surgery to talk to Dr. Turner. Despite not having an appointment, Dr. T and Sister Frances quickly usher him in, knowing how serious Vernal’s medical situation is.

Vernal’s Husband: Here’s the problem: we had an appointment with the surgeon this morning, but when we got there, she refused to get out of the car.
Dr. Turner: She’s really having a hard time, right? Makes sense, it’s a lot for both of you!
Vernal’s Husband: I just want to look after her and she won’t let me. I told her I don’t mind about not having kids, but the truth is I DO mind. A lot.
Dr. Turner: You know, you can always consider adoption later. And I would be happy to talk to you about my personal experience there. But not right now: everything is too intense, we just need to focus on her care. Just be there for her. You’re doing better than you think.

Reassured, Vernal’s Husband heads back outside to the car, but Vernal has done a runner. Worried, Sister Frances goes with him to help look for his wife. They soon find her in a cafe, where she’s watching a young family.

Vernal: I acted so weird: I followed these people in. I can’t stop thinking about the experiences I won’t ever get to have. I don’t want to end up all sad, and the only women I know who are ok with not having kids are feminists and nuns. I barely know the bible! I just want the basics.
Sister Frances: Maybe just focus on the things you can do? You’ll still have options.
Vernal: But it’s not the same. You’ll think I’m less of a woman.
Vernal’s Husband: I won’t. You’re more than a collection of body parts: I love you. Kids are great, but you’re the main thing. We can still have some amazing adventures, just not what we’d imagined.

I just hope Vernal can believe her husband! At Unflappable’s place, Lucille arrives to check on her patient, but the door is answered not by a family member, but by Social Worker.

Lucille: What are you doing here?
Unflappable: She wants me to get on birth control!
Social Worker, rudely: I came to check on the baby and to tell her that the shopkeeper her son stole from isn’t going to press charges.
Unflappable: And?
Social Worker: And I just suggested she come to the clinic! I’m happy to come back when her husband is here so we can all talk about it together.
Lucille: I’d like you to leave now. I need privacy to do my job.

After she’s gone, Lucille asks Unflappable what she’ll name the baby. Her sons have some ideas, but she just doesn’t know yet.

Unflappable: Maybe Social Worker is right and I’m a bad mom. I’m so tired, my milk hasn’t come in yet — I had to ask Contrite Teen to get a bottle and some formula so he can feed his sister when he gets home from school.
Lucille: First of all, that lady is wrong: you’re great. Just take what she says with a grain of salt: for her it’s just a job. Second, stressing will only make the milk situation worse: be patient, and I can help too! It’s normal to be feeling down after the birth, cut yourself some slack.

Meanwhile, at the shop, Vi is still on scabies patrol. She’s got Fred hiding parcels in the back to try and prevent cross contamination, and when Lucille comes in to buy some pink wool (presumably to make something nice for Unflappable), Vi won’t let her reach into the bin. She’s also got the cookies on lockdown, but that’s mostly because they’re for her council office hours later that evening. Lucille must have an idea to help Unflappable, because she makes sure she can drop in at said office hours later. Can’t wait to find out why!

At clinic, Dr. Turner checks in with Sister Frances: has she heard from Vernal?

Sister Frances: I think she knows what she has to do, she’s just having a hard time with it. Can’t help thinking this should have happened to me instead: I’m not using my uterus, after all.
Dr. Turner: This shouldn’t happen to anyone.

Damn straight! The good news is that we now have the HPV vaccine, which prevents most cases of cervical cancer, especially when kids are vaccinated early. Anyway, now that I’ve climbed down off my soapbox, we return to Nonnatus house, where Miss Higgins has decided to pull out her recorders to do a concert for her new roommates.

Sister Monica Joan: But it’s quiet time? This is really not necessary??
Miss Higgins: It’s the least I can do to thank you for your support!
Sister Hilda, attempting to escape: Oh no, I forgot my envelopes upstairs!

Alas, she’s stuck: Sister Monica Joan gives her a look that would probably kill a lesser woman, and so everyone settles in, resigned to their fate. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait to see how that all plays out, because first we’re watching Lucille and Cyril visit Vi’s council office hours.

Lucille: Hey, so you know about this new test the social services people are trying, right?
Vi: Yes! The idea is to help women make good choices, right?
Cyril: We’ve got some concerns.
Vi: But it seems like a good idea? These women have limited resources to care for more kids. Often these families create a drain on our limited rcollective resources, and if it can be avoided, that’s a good thing.
Lucille: I think you’re missing the human cost here: one of my patients is in that category, and it’s deeply hurtful. Why should her kids have a worse time just because she struggles to pay rent? Women from every class benefit from better access to contraception, but it should be their choice.
Cyril: No one should be deciding who’s worthy to be born, you know?
Vi, chastened: Yeah, that makes sense.

Now that that’s out of the way, are you ready for a prolonged scene of Miss Higgins going full Careless Whisper on a bass recorder?

A man with a mullet and sunglasses plays the saxophone seductively

I promise you that no matter what you’re picturing, this is better. It really speaks to the skill level of these performers that no one broke character throughout the whole scene. Anyway, as soon as they find a break in the song, Miss Higgins’ captive audience starts asking when she’ll be going home. Does she need help packing? A car to help move her stuff? Sister Hilda even offers to go out and BUY a car, if it’d help.

Miss Higgins: That’s so nice of you all, but actually, I told my landlord I’m moving out.
Everyone else:

Slow zoom on a sad looking man, captioned "hello darkness my old friend" with musical notes

As she starts in on another tune, Trixie places a call to the one and only A for Effort, who’s been successfully de-scabies-ified (despite the fact that he’s apparently very ticklish and thus struggled with the medicine application).

Trixie: And how is Jonathan?
A for Effort: He’s good! Thankfully he’s too young to be super bothered. You should come by sometime and visit us!
Trixie, suddenly realizing that we’re getting into potentially romantic territory: Oh — yes, I could do that.
A for Effort: Well he’d love to see you. We both would.

A woman closes a door, shocked but into what she's seeing

In the parlor, Miss Higgins finally wraps up her recital and heads to bed. The second she leaves, pandemonium breaks loose.

Sister Hilda: Someone has to tell Sister Julienne!
Sister Monica Joans: We need to find her somewhere else to go ASAP.
Phyllis: We can’t! She’d be so hurt.
Boots: Don’t be a softie! I know how hard it is to start over, but the longer you coddle her the more she’ll get used to it. Get her out of here before she forgets how much she likes her independence.

Well said, Boots! Later, at the surgery, Vernal shows up with some donations for the waiting room.

Vernal: These were some of my favorite toys. I was saving them for my own kids.
Sister Frances: You know you can still adopt, right?
Vernal: Yes, and I promised my husband I’d consider it, but these just have too much baggage. I need to think about my future, like you suggested. I’ve decided that if the operation goes well I’m going to be a hairdresser. It isn’t fancy, but it makes people feel better!
Sister Frances: Well I think that’s great!

Reader, so do I! I’m rooting for her! Back at Nonnatus, Sister Julienne approaches Phyllis with some good news: the rector has agreed to let Miss Higgins stay in the cottage.

Phyllis: Wait, Tom and Barbara’s cottage? It feels weird to imagine anyone else living there.
Sister Julienne: It does, but we can’t live in the past, right?
Phyllis: No, and this is perfect!
Sister Julienne: Great. Now you just have to tell her!

Right on, Sister Julienne! Who better to deliver the good news than Miss Higgins’ bestie?

Across town, Lucille drops in on Unflappable. Everyone’s doing better, and the whole family is scabies free. Unflappable is delighted by the cute lil booties Lucille has made for her daughter, and even more delighted by the letter Lucille passes over from Social Worker, informing Unflappable that she’s been removed from the social services list.

Later that night, Phyllis sits down to break the news to Miss Higgins. Honestly, the way she describes this cottage makes ME want to move in, but when Miss Higgins starts crying, Phyllis backtracks: if Millicent really wants to stay, she can!

Miss Higgins: No, no, these are tears of relief! I think I jumped the gun getting out of my lease, but I didn’t want to sound ungrateful: you’ve all been so sweet. But you’re all impossible to live with!
Phyllis: Us?
Miss Higgins: Yeah! Boots is messy, Sister Hilda listens to too much crap on the radio, you talk in your sleep, and Trixie’s perfume gives me a headache. I thought I could never live alone again, but staying here reminded me how happy I was before.
Phyllis: Well. I guess then you’re welcome?

And later, when the whole crew helps her move into the cottage, it seems that there are no lingering hard feelings. I just can’t help but wonder if they’ll regret this situation when they hear the strains of Miss Higgins’ recorders floating across the road. Either way, a relatively happy ending to what I thought was going to be a VERY upsetting episode, and here in Call The Midwife land, you really can’t ask for more! Fingers crossed that next week turns out much the same!

Episode 1 recap: keeping up appearances