‘Call the Midwife’ review: Season 5 Episode 7 sees the contraceptive pill arrive

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In this episode, the arrival of the contraceptive pill splits opinions within Nonnatus House in a very neat divide between the older midwives and the younger ones.

It would be easy to suggest that this argument is one of religious and moral principles being ignored by those that don’t worry quite as much about them, but with Barbara and Dr Turner both highlighting the statistics and the good that the pill could do for single women, it becomes more clear that any worry stems from a concern over old-fashioned values not being as important, making it somewhat similar to Sister Julienne’s clash with Trixie back in the season premiere.

Save for a brief moment when it seemed like Trixie might move into the lead role, Call the Midwife has essentially been an ensemble show ever since Jenny departed. That quality and depth to all its characters is on display here in an episode where almost all of the characters have key roles to play.

This is an episode that is structured in such a way that it builds to a point where a storm hits and numerous births or emergencies are happening all at once. Patsy is required to head over to a barge to help with a delivery there, Trixie is required at the nursing home, and Phyllis ends up helping a patient with a rare condition that has occurred after she gave birth.

Call the Midwife 5 Nurse Phyllis Crane (LINDA BASSETT)

During the gale, then, everything is especially tense as the show manages to create a lot of worry about whether everyone will make it through this experience in one piece. Elsewhere, the episode is calmer than last week’s and provides an opportunity to reflect on the changing world and how it might be slowly becoming better for young people.

Gina (Grace Stone) has her first child but worries that her husband might not have wanted this as much as she does, even if he does find it in himself to take on responsibility before the end of the episode. Patsy and Delia are also becoming more comfortable together, and even find that they can now go to a bar where they’re able to be themselves, free from the fear of being judged by others.

The main procedural subplot here is that of Daisy (Kathryn O’Reilly), who lives on a barge. She’s giving birth to a new baby and finds herself needing to rest at a hospital but becomes uncomfortable with the experience because she feels like it’s changing her and her family into something that they’re not. What makes this story interesting is how little change occurs here, she wants to remain on a barge and is fine with her children having less of an education as long as everything remains the same for them as a family.

Call the Midwife 5 Nurse Trixie Franklin (HELEN GEORGE)

The centrepiece of the storm gives this episode its tension and the ability to pull off its strongest emotional moments, and there are beats like Trixie talking openly about her experiences with drinking at Alcoholics Anonymous that are moving. The episode also brings back Sister Evangelina – who we of course hear before we see – and it’s clear that her experiences have changed her. She suffered a stroke while she was away too, and it has changed her perspective on life.

It’s certain to be something we’ll see focused on in next week’s finale, as she attempts to settle back into life with the other midwives.


Aired at 8pm on Sunday 28 February 2016 on BBC One.

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