Winter is here (allegedly — as a snow loving Boston resident, I’m miffed) and so is a drama fan favorite holiday tradition: the Call The Midwife Holiday Special! I’m here to recap the show just in case you missed it, or just couldn’t get enough of our favorite nurses, nuns, and other assorted denizens of Poplar.
What’s better than Fred dressed as Father Christmas at the Poplar school? Fred attempting a quick change out of his Santa suit so he can be ready to get into crossing guard mode for the same kids literally 10 minutes later, that’s what. Similarly adorable? Colette getting to go home with Nancy. That’s right: the girls are moving into a tiny suite inside Nonnatus house! Nancy is staying!
On to the less cute front, later that night Cyril finds Mr. Trixie (we used to call him A for Effort, but now that they’re hitched it’s only right he gets a new recap name) outside an apartment building. Why? Well, this is one of the blocks that’s getting relocated, and one of the residents REALLY does not want to leave.
Cyril: Well he’s got to; those basement flats aren’t structurally sound!
Mr. Trixie: We all know I’m not an evil slumlord like my dad; I just found out about this building recently. Ah, here’s our second to last resident.
Reluctantly Moving, being escorted upstairs: Look, I’m not leaving without Nigel.
Mr. Trixie: I’m happy to help locate him! Do you have a phone number?
Reluctantly Moving: He’s a cat, you ingrate.
Lucky for her, one of the police officers who’s on scene to evacuate the residents has located Nigel, but for some reason he’s not moving with her. Reluctantly Moving asks Cyril to give her cat a tin of fish when he’s able, which he weirdly agrees to. This is some 1960s nonsense, folks: just bring the cat to the new house! And since Cyril is just preternaturally nice and helpful, Mr. Trixie delegates the eviction process to Cyril. At least he’s got a non-terrible reason: this has taken way longer than expected and baby Jaunty is in the car. Heading downstairs, Cyril knocks on the door of the basement flat occupied by the final resident, You Can’t Make Me Leave.
Cyril: Please, sir, you have to come out or we’ll force the door.
You Can’t Make Me Leave: No! This is my home.
Cyril: I know that, but it’s not safe to live here. There’s no electricity or water!
You Can’t Make Me Leave, opening the door: You were polite enough to call me sir, so back at you, sir: I’ll leave, you don’t need to force me.
Cyril: Do you at least have somewhere to go?
You Can’t Make Me Leave: Sure do!
Reader, I’m 100% sure he does not, but honestly even the Nonnatus shed that happens to be conveniently nearby and might end up becoming his temporary home would be an upgrade to a flooded basement full of roaches, which is the situation he’s leaving.
Back at Nonnatus, Phyllis calls Sister Julienne up for her nightly check in (for those, like me, who forgot: Phyllis has been on a required training course away from Poplar). Phyllis is super annoyed because her ill-timed training has meant that Trixie’s returned from her honeymoon early, but the extra credentials will come in handy: we’ve got new trainees coming next season, after all!
At the shop, Vi, Reggie, and Fred are busy packing up Christmas Club Boxes — the highlight: tinned asparagus — when Shelagh and the kids pop in for a paper. Why? Well the kids, Angela in particular, are obsessed with Apollo 8, and they want the latest news so Angela can update her space scrapbook. And if that wasn’t classic Call The Midwife enough, we get the following exchange.
Fred: Adorable. Paper’s on the house!
Vi: But the glue will be a shilling.
God I love them. Anyway, after the Turners leave, Vi starts in on Fred for giving away too much stuff. Look, as a business owner she’s probably right, but this is the holiday special, sister: you don’t want a bunch of ghosts squiring you around Poplar all night, do you? Fear not, I spoke too soon: Vi’s already printed up a notice for the shop window. For every 10 Christmas boxes they sell, she’ll donate one to a family in need. Ghosts canceled!
Back at Nonnatus, the gang gathers for some good ol’ fashioned Christmas fun. Jaunty hands the star up to Mr. Trixie to cap the (frankly gigantic) tree. Colette puts her letter to Santa out (new address carefully visible, so Santa can find her). Speaking of Santa lists, Timothy, calling the Turner home collect, tells his little sisters that he wants driving gloves, having passed his test, and the latest record from the Kinks.
May: I don’t think Father Christmas does records.
Dr. Turner: You’d be surprised how modern he is; records, roller skates for you, a telescope for your sister… that shouldn’t be a problem.
Teddy: How do you spell tortoise?
Shelagh, fully panicking: Santa doesn’t do reptiles. Too cold.
And what’s in Colette’s Santa letter? Nothing. She doesn’t want anything, because she’s already got everything she wants.
The next morning, Cyril runs into You Can’t Make Me Leave waiting outside a shop. Cyril tries to get him to come in somewhere warm while he waits, but no luck. Why? Because You Can’t Make Me Leave is a shockingly accurate recap name by me, and the man in question is just hanging out until the coast is clear so he can break back into his flat.
At the surgery, Shelagh and Dr. Turner lightly roast Miss Higgins for being so type A, but honestly, they’re lucky to have her, because she’s out in town looking for their new clinic space, and type A is exactly what you want when searching for real estate. They also mention a patient who’s pregnant with twins, who I assume will be our main case this episode. It turns out that this couple tried to conceive for several years before expectant mum Brenda finally fell pregnant after receiving fertility treatments. They’ve moved back to town to be near family, and she wants Dr. Turner to deliver her babies. Dr. Turner thinks it’d be better for Brenda to stick with her current doctor, as annoyingly research focused and clinical as he is, and for Team Nonnatus to be responsible for her care otherwise. But let’s be real: this is the first pregnant person we’ve seen in the episode, and it’s the holiday special: SOMEONE is having a baby with our friends, and odds are, it’s Brenda.
Back at Nonnatus, the midwives chat over tea about Christmases past, while Sister Monica Joan gets that look on her face that means something bonkers is about to happen. And, right on schedule, she announces to the table that this will be her last Christmas. Sister Julienne tries to talk her down, but Sister Monica Joan is convinced, and tells them that God told her, which makes it pretty hard for anyone to argue. Anyone, that is, except Nancy.
Nancy: You’re acting like you’ve got nothing to live for!
Sister Monica Joan: I mean, I wasn't going to say it, but… yeah dude.
Sister Veronica: What about your sisters! And your friends!
Sister Julienne: What about the moon landing! You love that space stuff!
Colette: Apollo 8 is going to be so cool — it’ll circle the moon!
Sister Monica Joan: Apollo 8 is boring, kid. The moon circles us all the time! I’m at the end, and this will be my last Christmas.
Sister Julienne, familiar with Sister Monica Joan’s whole deal: Well, we’ll pray for you.
Sister Monica Joan, just has to have the last word: Pray that it’s a good holiday then. Bye!
Across town, Trixie prances into the sitting room in adorable nightwear and then gets annoyed when Mr. Trixie is easily distracted.
Not so fast, Mr. Trixie: there are thank you notes to write! He tries to weasel his way out of the task, because it’s traditionally a bride thing, but Trixie’s a modern woman, so they’re writing them together. They trade lists, and then start hashing out the age old challenge of newly blended family holiday logistics.
Trixie: Look, like I said, I don’t mind going to your mom’s house if we can get to Nonnatus in time for dessert!
Mr. Trixie: I just wanted something for ourselves!
It’s like you forgot you’re on an ensemble drama with over a decade of holiday specials, Mr. Trixie! Also, apologies if you were hoping to get anything fun done after thank you notes, because guess who’s back: Trixie’s fabulous brother Geoffrey! He was supposed to spend Christmas with his “friend” Bernard and Bernard’s aunt, but the aunt is sick, and here we are. I get why Mr. Trixie is annoyed by the surprise house guest, but I quite liked the style of dramatics Geoffrey brought with him last time, and am pleased to have him back.
Back at Nonnatus, Colette hangs out with Sister Monica Joan and talks about the upcoming Christmas. Colette, a wee child who’s only just now gotten to live with her own mom full time, could not be more excited, and TBH is probably the one who will eventually snap Sister Monica Joan out of her funk.
Colette: I hope Phyllis takes a group picture — this is going to be my best Christmas and I don’t want to forget it!
Sister Monica Joan: Don’t worry about that; I haven’t forgotten my best Christmas.
Me: You fool. Now she’s got you right where she wants you.
Colette, a feels-seeking missile: Tell me about it!
Sister Monica Joan starts spinning a story of what sounds like a pretty amazing Christmas from her childhood. One of her favorite parts was a tableau, which Colette asks just enough about to make me think it’ll be significant later. It’s bittersweet, because of course this is quite an old memory, but honestly that just makes it even more holiday appropriate.
Later, at the Turner house, Timothy returns to much rejoicing from the rest of the crew. He also brings a pile of mail, including a package from Hong Kong which sends Shelagh into a tiny tailspin. Before she can think about it, she hides the parcel in a drawer.
At Trixie’s place, Geoffrey wakes up for tea time, in both the literal and figurative sense: Trixie hands him some Earl Grey, and then asks what actually happened with Bernard — is his aunt actually sick, or did they fight?
Geoffrey: Bernard is engaged. To a hairdresser from the cruise ship salon. She’s very nice.
Trixie, searching for a silver lining: Maybe he can bring her to visit you in Malta?
Geoffrey: No, I can’t stay there. The expat community is shrinking, and nobody needs an osteopath on vacation. I might have an opportunity here in London.
Geoffrey: I just need somewhere to stay while I apply. I can pay rent!
Trixie, not consulting with her husband, who’s just walked in: You stay here as long as you like.
Is this a perfect sitcom setup that shouldn’t be squandered? Yes! Is it going to be messy as hell? Obviously, especially since Mr. Trixie was already hoping for more time with his nuclear family (and that cute nightwear of Trixie’s) this holiday season.
Meanwhile, Cyril is feeding Nigel that Cat in a way that makes me think Nigel the Cat is going to end up living with Cyril before the end of this episode, when he spots You Can’t Make Me Leave returning to his home.
Cyril: I won’t say anything. But I don’t think this is the best place for you to be living.
You Can’t Make Me Leave: I’ve made up my mind.
Back at Nonnatus, Dr. Turner pops in to check up on Sister Monica Joan. He says she’s extremely healthy, and might outlive them all (given the way this show is written, I’d buy it). Sister Monica Joan isn’t having any of it, and kicks him out. Dr. Turner explains the obvious to her sisters: she’s depressed. Sister Veronica wonders if they should get in a psychiatrist, but Dr. Turner thinks they can handle it in house: they just need to give her space to share her memories and feel like a valuable member of the community.
Colette: Well guess what, nerds: I shared memories with Sister Monica Joan last night and she loved it. And stopped talking about dying!
Colette for the win! Meanwhile, Miss Higgins supervises setup at the new clinic, where we see Brenda, from earlier, and another expectant mum who gets recognized by Brenda’s mum despite trying to keep a low profile. Brenda tells her mum to cool it, but to no avail: Brenda’s Mum keeps talking at the gal until Nancy finally calls her back.
Brenda’s Mum: I KNEW I recognized her! Poor kid had a rough start.
Brenda: Poor kid!? She bullied the crap out of me when we were kids!
Brenda’s Mum: Well in that case I’ll give her the cold shoulder when she comes out. I mean, she’s obviously not married, so.
Whiplash, thy name is middle-aged mom who can’t remember your elementary school classmates anymore! Anyway, the subject of their gossip is named Antoinette, and Nancy tells her that everything looks great. Overdue by a day, but nothing to worry about in a first pregnancy.
Nancy: Hey, are you ok?
Antoinette: I’m fine when I’m by myself, but when I’m out in town people are so happy… I lost my whole family in the war, and I’m worried that just having a mum won’t be enough for the baby.
Nancy: Look, I know a little something about that. It’ll be ok, I promise.
Out in the main room, Sister Julienne checks in on a distracted Shelagh.
Shelagh: Ugh, sorry; May’s mom sent a present, and I hid it. I didn’t even tell my husband.
Sister Julienne: Why?
Shelagh: Normally she doesn’t send anything, and May’s used to that. But when I open the package it’ll remind us all that May has an actual mother out there.
Sister Julienne: Look, you won’t know what’s in that thing until you open it, but either way you have to tell Dr. Turner. Marriages can’t handle secrets.
Solid advice, as always! Later, Cyril grabs a Christmas Club Box from Vi’s store and brings it to You Can’t Make Me Leave.
You Can’t Make Me Leave: Why are you always bringing your cat with you?
Cyril: That’s not my cat, he just likes me.
Me: Cyril, I have such bad news for you; that cat has chosen you.
Cyril: Hush. Anyway, just came to wish you a happy holiday and bring a gift from the community.
You Can’t Make Me Leave: I can resist a lot, but I can’t resist a pineapple. Come on in.
Once inside, You Can’t Make Me Leave cuts up the pineapple and hands some to Cyril, telling the younger man that pineapple is what he missed the most when he first came to Poplar, but that you could only get it in a tin.
Cyril: For me it was papaya.
You Can’t Make Me Leave: Too many seeds!
Cyril: But I brought this for you?
You Can’t Make Me Leave: You’re a guest in my home. Please.
Cyril: I see that you have some more… insect type guests. I have something that could help?
You Can’t Make Me Leave: I don’t want to help them, I want to kill them.
Cyril: Yeah, that’s what I mean — I work for the council, so I can get some chemicals for you.
At Nonnatus, Sisters Julienne and Veronica talk about doing a Victorian Christmas tableau to try and cheer up Sister Monica Joan. It’ll be a challenge, so they’ve pulled in a big crew: Shelagh, Fred, Vi, Nancy, and Colette.
Fred: So we need to get an ox and an ass?
Shelagh: I don’t know if the vicar will be good with animals in church.
Sister Veronica: I got him to agree by saying we’d raise money for charity… which I’m assuming you can help with, councilwoman?
Vi: I’m not doubting that this would be good for her, but it’s a hard project, with very little time.
Fred: Yeah, but what if she’s right? What if this is her last Christmas and we don’t try and make her happy while we can?
Before anyone can think about that too much, the phone rings: it’s Phyllis, with her nightly call. The subject today? Enemas! Sister Julienne quickly pivots, asking Phyllis to knit a Victorian style Christmas stocking, big enough to fit all the gifts Sister Monica Joan remembered from all those years ago.
Later that night, Dr. Turner and Shelagh sit down at the table to open the package from May’s mom.
Dr. Turner: She wouldn’t hurt May deliberately. And this may be hard for her, but she’s got loving parents who will comfort her if it is.
They open the box to find an absolutely adorable note, and a super cute dress. The problem? It’s way too small, and Shelagh is worried that the fact that her mother doesn’t know her size will hurt May’s feelings. As the recipient of many wrong-sized gifts over the years, I think Shelagh might be overthinking this, but it’s not hard to see why. What will they do?
Before we can find out, we have to check in on everyone else. The Nonnatus crew busily plot their tableau. Sister Veronica sends in Colette as a spy to find out more details about Sister Monica Joan’s childhood. Honestly, even if the tableau is a hot mess, the time spent talking with the youngest resident of the house is clearly doing Sister Monica Joan a world of good. Meanwhile, Mr. Trixie feels like a third wheel in his own home, as Trixie and Geoffrey hang out without him, and his patient pouting finally get to Trixie, who has a word with her brother.
Geoffrey: Oh god, I’m trying too hard and I'm getting in the way, aren’t I?
Trixie: Nooooo. It’s just that my mother in law has been so difficult, and I was so happy to see you, that I’ve been neglecting to make holiday traditions just for my new family.
Geoffrey: Well, I won’t have you jumping through hoops for other people; you’re too good at that, and it will hurt you in the end.
True to his word, Geoffrey soon departs, telling Trixie that he’s got friends and a plan and that he’ll see her again “at some point.” Charming and delightful to a fault!
Meanwhile, Shelagh’s attempting to alter May’s dress when Antoinette arrives at the surgery in labor. She’s freaking out, and worries that she can’t do this alone. Naturally, Shelagh tells her that she’ll be there the whole time, and helps get her patient comfortable. Shelagh tells Antoinette that she’s fully dilated, and this is when Antoinette shares her tragic backstory: she was part of the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster, a horrifying and devastating crush disaster that happened during the war. Antoinette was the only one in her family who survived, and she was raised by a family friend, who died when Antoinette was a teenager. While she’s explaining all of this, Shelagh listens for baby’s heartbeat, and then leaves the room for a moment. We all know what that means: trouble. She calls her husband to get down there asap: the heartbeat is irregular, and she’s not sure why. Once Dr. Turner arrives, he grabs forceps and tells Antoinette to push NOW. Despite some trouble with the umbilical cord, Antoinette’s son is born safe and sound.
Hey, remember how Geoffrey said he had friends and a plan? Those friends are OUR friends, and his plan is to rent out a room at Nonnatus house for two weeks. All of the nuns are delighted by this, as are Nancy and Colette (and me, let’s be real). The only one who isn’t thrilled is Trixie, who I guess has a right to be annoyed that her sibling has rocked up to her work and former home and settled right in.
At Vi’s shop, Shelagh arrives to buy extra fabric to enlarge May’s present.
Vi: That’s not going to be enough for the costumes.
Shelagh: Exsqueeze me? Costumes? I’m in charge of the carols, not the wardrobe.
Vi: Sister Veronica said otherwise.
Me: Sister Veronica is a LIAR.
Shelagh, nicer than me: Oh, Vi, couldn’t you help? You’re the best seamstress in Poplar!
Vi: I see what you’re doing, and no: I’m already making all the other costumes! I’m scared to answer the phone lest I get more tasks.
Yeah, that sounds about right. Thankfully, Vi doesn’t take things like this lying down, and marches right over to Nonnatus to have a word with Sister Veronica.
Vi: Look, this is a nice idea. But Sister Monica Joan won’t enjoy it if it all falls apart, and people will ask for their money back.
Sister Veronica: This is just like when I was a Girl Guide and failed my lifesaving badge. I’m in too deep!
Geoffrey: Well I DID earn that badge, and since you’re helping me, I can help you!
Geoffrey to the rescue! Across town, Cyril’s finishing disinfecting the walls in You Can’t Make Me Leave’s flat, when the man himself asks if Cyril can leave the disinfectant. For his legs.
Cyril: Explain please?
You Can’t Make Me Leave pulls up his pant legs to reveal some frankly horrifying open wounds. Cyril, one of our few non-medical professionals, offers to get Dr. Turner to make a house call, or take his new friend to the surgery. Unfortunately, You Can’t Make Me Leave is adamant that he won’t see a doctor.
While Cyril probably tries to figure out a way to dress Dr. Turner up in a nurse uniform or something, Apollo 8 launches. The Turner kids? Delighted! The folks outside Vi’s shop? Also delighted, excluding Sister Monica Joan, who tempers Fred’s enthusiasm by saying that it’s a good thing it launched this year, given that she will be dead soon.
Back at Nonnatus, Cyril fills in Sister Veronica, who correctly points out that if You Can’t Make Me Leave won’t see a doctor, he might be ok with a nurse. Their plotting is interrupted by Geoffrey, who swans in with some beautiful fabric samples from Mood (jk, they’re from Vi’s shop) for the show, and then flirtily suggests that Cyril might be willing to help with the carpentry setup for this tableau.
Sister Veronica, also low key a confidence (wo)man: We also need a science person to be a magi, and you’re an engineer!
There isn’t a great defense for this type of charm offensive, so Cyril kind of nods along. Meanwhile, at the surgery, Brenda with the twin pregnancy staggers in accompanied by her mum and husband. She feels like she’s “about to burst” and not just because she’s super pregnant, because her limbs are swelling up. Not a doctor, and I don’t play one on tv, but I’ve seen enough of our dramas to know that’s a possible sign of trouble, and our pals need to check on Brenda ASAP. The Turners jump into action and are able to confirm that while Brenda’s blood pressure and urine are normal (a good sign) she can’t lie down (not good). She doesn’t think she can handle another six weeks of pregnancy. Dr. Turner suggests that she stay at the surgery with them overnight, and that he call her fancy doctor for an update.
Over at the Buckle’s house, Vi tries to get Reggie to agree to be measured for a shepherd costume, but Reg isn’t interested. He doesn’t like sheep!
Fred: Look, dude, I also hate sheep, but I’m doing this for Sister Monica Joan, and so should you.
Reggie: Uh, no thanks: it might make her happy, but it’ll make ME miserable.
Hard to argue, honestly. While they figure that out, Sister Veronica accompanies Cyril to visit You Can’t Make Me Leave. She dresses his wounds and tells him that they’ll have to be extra careful to prevent infection. She also thinks he might be diabetic, which means he really does need to see a doctor, but You Can’t Make Me Leave is adamant: no doctors! Clearly something horrible happened to him in the past, and I’m not sure even our friends will be able to cut through that trauma to help. Unfortunately, You Can’t Make Me Leave may not have a choice. Later that day, as he waits for his neighbor to bring him water, he collapses in the street.
Need cheering up? Imagine, if you will, what Miss Higgins would say about being asked to hide a live tortoise at the surgery. You see, reader, young Timothy has procured a pet for his brother, and Dr. Turner agrees the thing should live at the surgery until Christmas! First of all, Shelagh is going to freak (and she’s right to: you can’t go buying animal gifts without both parents on board, AND tortoises live FOREVER). Second of all, Miss Higgins is NOT interested in babysitting! That is not in her job description! Tim’s working on charming her around when Brenda’s fancypants doctor swans in.
Tim and Miss Higgins, shoving the box under her desk:
Inside the surgery, Fancypants Doctor does his best to look like a jerk, talking down to Dr. Turner, using mostly jargon that Brenda obviously doesn’t understand, and getting her name wrong. The gist? It definitely does look like she’s at full term, but sometimes people carrying multiple babies just swell up extra.
Dr. Turner: We wondered if she might have more than two babies in there…
Fancypants Doctor: Oh, don’t be SILLY. You can’t believe everything you read!
Me: Well now I’m SURE there’s at least 3 babies.
Fancypants Doctor then invites Tim to do an external exam on Brenda, barely getting her consent first, before saying they’ll have an ambulance over tomorrow to pick her up since she’s carrying important science babies. It’s like this clown hasn’t even seen the show; there’s no WAY Brenda isn’t having all 12 of her babies before she makes it to Fancypants Doctor’s hospital. No way in hell! In other news, Antoinette and Brenda seem like they might be about to mend fences, which is great, at least until Brenda’s mum shows up and acts real snooty to Antoinette. To be fair, she kind of promised she would, but yikes guys, can’t we all just get along?
At the Buckle house, Cyril and Fred have just about finished the manger construction when Reggie comes in to ask for the Nonnatus phone number.
Vi: A of all, it’s way too late to call — you should be asleep! B of all, why do you want to call a bunch of nuns anyway?
Reggie: I want to tell Geoffrey I don’t want to be a shepherd!
Cyril, asking what someone should have done way earlier: What do you want to be, Reggie?
Reggie: An angel!
Vi: Angels are played by children!
Reggie, did his research: There are grown up angels in the bible. AND they have the best costume!
Back at the surgery, Antoinette is really struggling, and, hearing her crying, Brenda shuffles over to see if she needs a nurse. Or a handkerchief. They reminisce, and Antoinette explains that she was mean because she was jealous of Brenda’s big happy family. Brenda, for her part, assumed that Antoinette was very loved because she was always so neat and clean; when you’re scruffy, cleanliness can look like affection. Brenda also confesses that she’s been unable to hold a baby since she was little, because she felt so much jealously when she couldn’t conceive. Antoinette immediately offers to let Brenda hold her baby, which is exactly as cute as you think. Nancy returns to help Antoinette nurse, and as Brenda leaves, she does the telltale Call The Midwife “I’m in labor” face: it’s on.
While the Turners head to the surgery to keep an eye on Brenda, You Can’t Make Me Leave wakes up in a hospital, terrified and furious. A nurse tries to offer him breakfast and confirms the diabetes diagnosis, to which You Can’t Make Me Leave responds by saying he doesn’t consent to this and wants to leave. The nurse dismisses this, saying she’ll go get toast, but I have a bad feeling You Can’t Make Me Leave is about to sneak out of this hospital.
At the surgery, Dr. Turner calls Fancypants Doctor and explains that Brenda’s blood pressure has shot up, and he’s concerned that it isn’t safe to move her now. Fancypants Doctor doesn’t care, because these are very important science babies, and also ignores Dr. T’s very good point that the roads are getting snowier by the minute. Fancypants Doctor insists that they put Brenda in the ambulance. Now. Everyone bustles to get her ready to go, and Dr. Turner tells her family that he’ll follow behind the ambulance by car to make sure she gets there ok.
On the less medically stressful side of things, Sister Veronica and Geoffrey continue to be a terrifying duo. Vi calls them up, and then passes the phone to Reggie so he can explain his vision.
In the ambulance, Brenda’s water breaks.
Brenda: It’s like I want to push something out.
Sister Julienne: NO! Not until we can be sure your body is ready.
Sister Julienne begins an exam in the VERY bumpy ambulance, and confirms that she can feel baby’s head, so… I think we can be sure that things are happening. She tells the driver to pull over, and baby number one slides right out.
You Can’t Make Me Leave, meanwhile, has indeed escaped the hospital and is stumbling through the snow back to his flat. He’s disoriented, and in the road, so a car swerves around him and… fishtails right into the ambulance. You Can’t Make Me Leave falls on the ground, and then staggers away, but everyone in the ambulance and car are ok.
Dr. Turner jumps out of his car and knocks on the back of the ambulance to ask for an update, before hopping inside. His plan? Change course and head for St. Cuthberts, which is closer, and have Nancy call ahead so the obstetric team there is waiting for them. Tim says the car in front can’t move, which is a problem that Nancy straight up ignores, telling him to fix it while she heads for the phone booth.
Inside the ambulance, Brenda’s having a harder time with baby number two, who is breech. Finally, the second kiddo emerges, but she’s got some meconium in her airway and needs a little help before she cries. No sooner has a relieved Brenda grabbed the second baby than she tells us all that she’s feeling funny: she’s got low blood pressure, and may be internally bleeding. And it gets worse: Sister Julienne confirms that there is definitely another baby in there. Thankfully, the road has just been cleared, so they start moving toward a hospital again. The third baby comes out pretty easily, but despite heavy blood loss, Dr. Turner doesn’t want to give normal medication since they’re still not 100% sure what’s up with Brenda. They pull up to St. Cuthberts and start handing over babies before rushing Brenda inside to deal with her hemorrhage. Timothy and Nancy arrive just in time to hear that Brenda is in surgery, having her placenta manually removed, and that she had a FOURTH baby in there. YIKES.
Back out in the storm, Cyril hops into Mr. Trixie’s car. You Can’t Make Me Leave hasn’t answered his door, and Cyril’s worried that his neighbor thinks Mr. Trixie is there on official business.
Mr. Trixie: I mean, I kinda am. He’s squatting illegally! I have to help him find somewhere else.
Cyril: He just needs the basics, is that so hard?
Mr. Trixie: Yeah man. I am selling ALL of these buildings, because I hate everything about my father’s business.
Understandable! Just then, they notice You Can’t Make Me Leave approaching. I hope he’ll allow them to take him to get some help! First, they all head inside, where Mr. Trixie starts working on a fire and Cyril passes over a hot drink. You Can’t Make Me Leave has just explained that he was a navigator in the RAF, and that’s why he could get home in a blizzard, when he notices the fire and flips out. No fire! He’s trained himself not to feel cold! He tells the younger men about his experiences in the war, and they listen to his reminiscence until Cyril sees an opening to FINALLY convince his friend to see a doctor.
Back at the hospital, Fancypants Doctor gives Brenda and her husband the update: all four babies are still alive, and thankfully so is Brenda. Unfortunately he cares more about the press coverage and his breakthrough than their human emotions, and runs off pretty fast. Later, he struts around in front of some reporters, mansplaining over Brenda’s responses to the journalists’ questions. Thankfully, Nancy rolls up to save the day, by actually treating Brenda like a person. She also has a practical solution to Fancypants Doctor’s concern that Brenda isn’t producing enough milk for four babies… Antoinette, who’s got a heck of a supply.
And speaking of happenings back at the maternity home, the secret tortoise is about to get a tasty lettuce snack from Miss Higgins, the sucker, when she’s interrupted by a call from Phyllis, who’s on her way back later today!
Miss Higgins: It’s a blizzard outside! You’ve got winter tires, right?
Phyllis: Heck yeah, Millicent. I’m coming home.
Huzzah! One small issue: right before she’s due to leave, she throws out her back. But this is Phyllis we’re talking about: she gets a hot water bottle and leaves anyway, stubborn as ever. She finally has to pull over for a few minutes to sleep, but then continues on her way. She finally arrives back home quite late, in the middle of a storm. Crawling into the foyer, she yells for help, and thankfully Sister Monica Joan answers the call. Never a dull moment!
Over at Violet’s shop, Geoffrey rolls up with a library book that contains the actual painting that Sister Monica Joan’s tableau was based on all those years ago. And the angels in the painting? They look like they might have Down Syndrome, just like Reggie. It’s fate!
At the maternity home, Antoinette’s very happy to help feed Brenda’s babies. The problem? She’s feeling very lonely, and her boyfriend (if he exists at all) is out at sea. Miss Higgins pins up a note at her flat so if he turns up he can find her at the surgery. Even better? After Brenda tells her mum that Antoinette is family now, Brenda’s Mum bustles over to the maternity home to look in on her, bringing a VERY nice home cooked meal, a bunch of compliments for the baby, and a standing invitation to Sunday dinner.
Even better: You Can’t Make Me Leave has thankfully agreed to let Dr. Turner come see him. He explains that he was too ashamed to return home after the war because he was discharged for cowardice, which Dr. Turner is NOT having: that charge hasn’t existed since WWI, and wasn’t even fair then. The army doctors who diagnosed You Can’t Make Me Leave with low moral fiber just needed him to fly more than they needed him to be well. You Can’t Make Me Leave explains that he finally broke after a plane he was in limped back home on one engine, on fire, and the pilot died on landing. He blames himself for surviving. After that, he couldn’t fly again, and that’s why he doesn’t like doctors. Dr. Turner, of course, tells You Can’t Make Me Leave that his reaction was completely rational. Cyril explains that he’s been talking to the British Legion, who will help all former servicemen, and Dr. Turner says he’ll also find a therapist for You Can’t Make Me Leave, because he’s dealt with something similar.
At the Turners, the adults prepare all the gifts from Santa. Shelagh has reconstructed the dress from May’s mum, so it’ll fit, and says that once they re-wrap it in the original packaging May will never know. This sweet moment is rather spoiled by Timothy, who runs in and informs everyone that the tortoise isn’t moving: it’s either hibernating or dead.
Shelagh: I am NOT giving him that unless you are 100% sure it’s alive!
Tim: Ugh, remember the dead rabbit? It’ll be worse than that.
Dr. Turner: Pets teach life and death?
Shelagh: Not at Christmas they don’t!
Thankfully, no one needs to confront mortality today: the tortoise starts moving… just in time for the kids to come downstairs shouting about how Father Christmas came early. Shelagh, quick on her feet, says that’s just for animals, and other gifts will come later. All in all, about as good as you can hope for given how this conversation started!
Later that day, Dr. Turner and Cyril check in on You Can’t Make Me Leave, who’s doing much better, and has a place at a British Legion home lined up. He’s worried about socializing, given that he’s been such a loner of late, but Cyril has a solution for that too.
Cyril: Come be a learned man with me at our nativity tableau!
You Can’t Make Me Leave: Isn’t that a Christian thing?
Cyril: Technically these men weren’t! And they knew about stars! It’s fate!
Back at Nonnatus, Geoffrey proves that there really is nothing he can’t do by realigning Phyllis’ back. What have we done without him all these years? At the maternity home, Antoinette’s boyfriend rocks up and is very excited to meet his son, who’s about to be whisked off to star in the tableau as the baby Jesus. Brenda and her husband name their babies. And, later, Colette escorts Sister Monica Joan to the tableau, dressed as Sister Monica Joan’s former childhood self. It’s picture perfect and absolutely adorable. Sister Monica Joan is amazed, and honestly so am I because they REALLY nailed it. Everyone celebrates the holiday together, full of joy: it’s a perfect Call the Midwife special. Oh, also, I totally called it: Cyril fully adopts that cat. Happy Holidays, midwife fans, and see you all back here in March for next season!