Call the Midwife Season 3 Episode 7 Review

With one episode left to go in season three, Call the Midwife took some unexpected turns in its penultimate hour. The episode delved into how disruptive change can be to our lives, even a welcome change like the birth of a new child or the start of a new job. Season three has been about these characters, both the midwives and Sisters, evolving. We have seen Sister Evangelina and Patsy grapple with accepting the love of their communities, while Shelagh and Chummy discovered married life has its downs as well as its ups, and Jenny face a pain so great she could not deal with its weight. Even Trixie, always so protective of her independence, has opened her heart to the idea of a solid relationship. However, even as they adjust to the changes in their lives, the ground beneath their feet begins to shift once more in episode seven.

The return of Jenny found her quickly shuffled off again. This time she left Nonnatus House for a job at a hospital in London where her duties would be far less emotional. While Jenny may feel her grieving is complete, it is evident by her choice of vocation– a position that requires her to see pregnant women as patients not as people –that she has not fully recovered. Her efforts to escape her emotions are quickly thwarted by a woman who comes to the hospital early in fear she will have a second stillborn child. With the hospital unwilling to treat the patient’s emotional concerns, Jenny was left battling the confines of her new position and her desire to comfort the woman. By the episode’s end, our Jenny was fully back as she broke hospital regulations to bring the woman her son, so that she could see with her own eyes he was alive. His birth was a rebirth for Jenny, who rebounded back to Nonnatus House in time for the finale. However, I expect her journey still has another bend left in it yet.

It was the twin stories of Shelagh and Chummy that were the most shocking. Both women have struggled with the traditional roles of being a wife and mother this season, with Chummy in particular having a hard time settling into domesticity. While it has felt like the series was building toward Chummy and Peter separating, Chummy’s story took a sharp turn this week when her mother came for a visit. Her mother remained as brusque and disapproving of Chummy’s choices as ever. As Chummy’s need for her mother’s approval returned, so did the solidity of her relationship with Peter. All she has ever wanted from her mother is love, but her mother struggled to offer it, while Peter loves Chummy just as she is. Unfortunately, Chummy’s realization that she could no longer live her life ashamed came at the absolute wrong moment. She told her mother off…and promptly discovered the woman she has such a contentious relationship with is dying. No matter how difficult their relationship has been, Chummy is not prepared to let go of her mother, but the finale sets the stage for Chummy to face one of life’s most difficult losses all the same.

Last week, the series introduced the idea that Dr. Turner was hiding a horrible secret from Shelagh and the story payed off in a way that thematically linked it not only to this week’s case, but to several other cases dealt with over the course of season three. After the birth of her child, a mother Sister Julienne and Cynthia was caring for suffered a mental breakdown that put both her and her baby daughter at risk. Spending time in an asylum and undergoing electroshock therapy were her only options if she wanted to return to her husband and child. The stigma associated with mental illness was and is so great many people try to hide it, while others simply cannot comprehend it.

Dr. Turner’s secret was he spent time institutionalized after the war. It is a part of his life he has compartmentalized and denied in order to continue on. When the adoption agency discovered his secret they denied their application on the grounds that they did not want to place a child in a home where there were secrets and a lack of communication. The act of Dr. Turner hiding such a painful secret left Shelagh both hurt and angry. She has shared so much with him, it is unfathomable for her that he would keep something so important to himself, but from his perspective, not talking about that part of his life is key to his survival.

With so many truths faced in this hour, all we have left is the fallout. Given how many heartbreaking stories have been set up, the finale will be a tearjerker of an ending to a wonderfully dense season of television.

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