‘Call the Midwife’ review: Season 5 Episode 3 is another emotional story

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That any given episode of Call the Midwife will be emotional is a given.

This show churns out a resonant tearjerker week after week by both showing life’s cruel realities and allowing for glimpses of hope. But, in this episode, the aim is more to stir up feelings of rage and exasperation, as a young teacher in a relationship with a married man finds herself pregnant and is subsequently treated unfairly by all around her, including the midwives we know, the school she works for, the woman she lives with, and the man she loves.

Her experience here is upsetting, sure, but it’s also infuriating because you can see how easy it would be for those around her to help her out.

The story of the teacher, Dorothy (played by Hannah Morrish), isn’t necessarily even the main plot of the episode, but it is the most powerful. Throughout, though, a storyline that gets just as much focus is that of Jeanette and Benny Su (Claudia Jessie and Andrew Koji), a couple who have just had their first child.

Call the Midwife 5 Nurse Patsy Mount (EMERALD FENNELL)

Patsy soon realises that Typhoid is spreading through their close-knit community, though, and she knows that it could have devastating consequences. This story isn’t just another one of a rare disease and its effect, but also one that shows how an undercurrent of racism against Benny can have people blaming those close to them for something they’re not responsible for.

What makes this whole story so impactful is what we know about Patsy’s own experience with the disease in the prison camp and what she saw it do to members of her family. It makes for a complex dilemma for her as she tries to save those affected while bottling up her emotions about what they’re going through. And, to make matters worse, she can’t even let Delia comfort her the way she wants to without knowing how her colleagues would react when they learn that they’re more than mere friends.

It’s Dorothy’s plight, though, that is the most memorable of the episode. It’s shocking and appalling to witness so much judgement directed towards one woman, as she’s unnecessarily disadvantaged and excluded when she’s at her most troubled. And it’s distressing to see the choices she makes and the repercussions they have. It’s especially worrying to see that it’s Sister Winifred and Sister Julienne who fail to do enough to help her, especially after we’ve always seen the midwives be able to assist anybody in need.

Call the Midwife 5 Nurse Barbara Gilbert (CHARLOTTE RITCHIE)

The remainder of the episode is mostly devoted to Barbara’s worry about an imminent dinner date with Tom, as the episode confirms any suspicions of a romance brewing between these two characters. The two of them both spend a lot of time thinking about the meal they’ll be sharing throughout this hour, and Barbara finds that she’s not able to get a chance to tell Trixie about the date.

Considering Trixie’s shocked expression when she sees them return at this episode’s end, there’s certainly going to be some kind of reaction to her seeing Tom move on from their previous relationship!

This all makes for another strong episode of Call the Midwife, providing enough development for our main characters while exploring the injustice directed towards a woman who never planned to be pregnant. It’s a situation that continues to be desperately relevant.

For once, this series is telling a story that, while traumatic, is designed more to make us as angry as we are sad about the position too many can find themselves in, and the lack of necessary help and care they receive.


Aired at 8pm on Sunday 31 January 2016 on BBC One.

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