It’s hard to believe we’re already up to the penultimate episode of this season’s Call the Midwife! When last we were in Poplar, our friends were dealing with arty squatters, a reclusive clairvoyant with a serious health issue and Dr. Turner was trying to get a measles vaccination trial off the ground. If your memory needs refreshing, all the details can be found in this recap.
This week the neighborhood is preparing for Bonfire Night, so we know we’re in early November. You may recall that last time, a raven had found its way into Nonnatus House and Sister Monica Joan was sure it was an omen of death. Well, she and her new spiritual advisor Mrs. Greenhalgh may not have been wrong. More on that later…
Let’s begin with Sister Frances and her patient Carole Reece (Ellie-May Sheridan), a teenage foster child with a baby boy of her own. Her son Dean is suffering from eczema and Frances is determined to give the struggling new mum a little extra support; particularly since Carole is set to move into her own council flat as soon as she turns 16.
Carole’s foster mum confides to Sister Frances that boys have been coming around at all hours to lead her young charge astray. She’s concerned what will happen when there’s no one there to chase these eager lads away. Frances informs Carole that she can have a contraceptive coil (IUD) fitted, but the teen is having none of it. She says she’s done with boys, but Frances doesn’t really believe her.
Turns out the nun’s instincts were correct. After offering to babysit Dean, Carole is extremely late in picking him up from Nonnatus House. The girl is clearly upset and rather impudent when she tells Sister Frances she won’t be asking her to babysit anymore.
The next day Sister Frances goes to see Carole at her new flat with Dr. Turner in tow. Not only is she concerned about her patient’s ability to cope, but also she’s been scratching her arms raw recently as well. When no one answers the door, they find Dean wailing in his cot and Carole passed out on the floor. She said she felt dizzy and the floor went out from under her.
At the hospital, the doctor reports to Sister Frances that they’ve drawn blood to determine why Carole is itchy and jaundiced, but it’s rather common for pregnant women to be faint. Sister Frances is stunned to learn that her young patient is not only expecting another baby but she’s likely heading into her third trimester!
Carole goes into pre-mature labor while still in the hospital. Sister Frances stands up to the ward nurse and is given permission to be an emotional support for her distraught patient in the delivery room. It’s not too surprising, but once Carole gives birth to her baby girl, the infant is whisked away for oxygen. We have to wait until next week, however, to learn about Carole’s diagnosis and the fate of her child.
The rest of this episode’s plotlines are interwoven into a big Poplar-wide cliffhanger story. This is basically how it breaks down:
Tim Turner (Max Macmillan) returns home from Edinburgh with a persistent case of glandular fever aka mononucleosis. When Dr. Turner urges his son to rest, Tim argues he doesn’t understand the pressures of modern medical school training. Patrick is stung by his son’s insistence that he must be allowed to make his own mistakes.
Meanwhile, preparations are being made for a couple of the midwives to join Dr. Turner at a midwifery and obstetrics conference in Chelmsford. When Shelagh has to drop out, Sister Julienne taps Nurse Corrigan to fill the spot as a show of confidence in her increased job responsibilities. At first, Nancy is torn because the conference takes place on a Saturday, a day she faithfully reserves for her daughter. When she expresses her frustration to Sister Hilda, the nun generously offers to trade her day off so that the young midwife won’t miss time with Colette.
At the conference, Nancy is an enthusiastic pupil. As she marvels over epidurals and ventouse suction things, it’s obvious that Sister Julienne was right to choose Nurse Corrigan to attend.
We also meet the Corbetts who are eagerly anticipating their second child. There is a ten-year gap between their daughter and this baby and the couple frequently discuss how their age has caught up with them.
Edina Corbett (Maya Saroya) has been suffering a lot of pelvic discomfort so the decision is made to admit her to the maternity home where her pain can be better managed until the baby is born. Once she’s in active labor, Edina is informed that her husband Lionel (Marc Elliott), a train driver, should be pulling into Liverpool Station soon.
Yep, alarms should be going off right about now. Mr. Corbett has been experiencing frequent headaches and he’s the one driving the train carrying the Nonnatus crew back to London.
There’s a party atmosphere on the train journey home – the passengers on board include a large contingent of spirited football fans. Sister Julienne is recognized by the train’s tea lady who had all nine of her children with the Nonnatus nuns. They have a lovely chat about motherhood and Nancy excuses herself to use the loo.
Things really escalate from this point. We see Lionel having a seizure. With its driver incapacitated, the train picks up to a dangerous speed as it enters the Poplar area. The passenger train sideswipes what appears to be a freight train of some sort. There is an explosion and the compartment where Dr. Turner and Sister Julienne are seated is mangled.
Nancy emerges from the restroom, but she can’t get to her companions. She frantically calls out to them but is directed away from the dangerous wreckage. The doctor and the nun are both unconscious and appear to have suffered some injuries.
Unfortunately, the damage isn’t limited to the train itself. The explosion/fire has shattered windows in the center of Poplar and it seems that the Robinsons’ congregation has been shaken up quite a bit. Mrs. Wallace apparently has a piece of glass in her eye!
The neighborhood jumps into action with Civil Defense Corps leader Fred Buckle calmly taking the reins. Sister Monica Joan welcomes the injured into Nonnatus House. In the meantime, we wait to learn the fate of Patrick, Julienne and the others on the ill-fated train.
So how’s everyone holding up? With one very consequential episode to go in this season, the fate of many friends and neighbors are yet to be revealed. I’m sure the midwives will respond with the empathy and grace we've come to expect, but admittedly Poplar could be a very different place next Sunday. Until then, the comments section awaits your thoughts.