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Fall has arrived, and wow are we thriving. Knit sweaters, fall festivals, pumpkin lattes (well, for some of us), ghosts and ghouls. As if it couldn’t get any better than that, we have something even more exciting in store. Hint: it involves your fave bicycle-riding midwives, a friendly neighborhood doctor, and the wholesome shopkeepers down the street. You guessed it. Season 10 of “Call the Midwife” is here, and though the frights and scares might look a little bit different in Poplar (replace haunted houses with circus fires), it’s still packing all the drama, romance, and medical mysteries we know you’ve been craving. Also, Halloween costume inspo, anyone? We call dibs on Fred.
When we last encountered the crew during the 2020 Holiday Special, they were in the midst of their Christmas festivities and celebrated the successful deliveries of not one but two babies following two complicated pregnancies. The episode had its ups and downs (when does it not?), and now, with the arrival of spring, the midwives are back to the grind with new patients and new problems.
First up: Audrey Fleming and Glenys Winch. Next door neighbors and friends, the two women have helped each other through their pregnancies with daily cuppa catch ups and frequent girls’ outings to Tuesday clinic. They’re both in their third trimester, and while Glenys is expecting her third child after delivering twins during her first pregnancy, Audrey is excitedly anticipating the birth of her first after five years of trying with her husband Derek. Though Audrey admits to Sister Frances that it was difficult to see her friend’s family grow when her own did not, she’s overjoyed to welcome her newborn into the world and for the chance to experience motherhood alongside her pal.
Changing with the Times
While antenatal clinic is underway at the Iris Knight Institute, Sister Hilda catches Sister Julienne in a panic as she attempts to put out a slow burning fire at Nonnatus House. Not a real one, though it might as well be. Last season, the midwives went head-to-head with the Department of Health, which threatened to raise their rent and cut their budget due to fierce competition from nearby hospital maternity wards and rising location costs. Semi-victorious, the women received a year-long extension to their stay at their original rent, but with only months until that window ends, they’re now scrambling for ways to stay afloat. In a shocking move to her colleagues, Sister Julienne recommends that the order send some of their midwives to a private maternity hospital to help raise finances. GASP.
Though it’s not ideal, she expresses that the affluent patients at the maternity hospital in nearby Mayfair might just be what they need for their survival. Mother Mildred comes to her support on one condition: Before the order begins working with the new doctor at the Lady Emily Clinic the establishment has to be fully vetted by another party. So, who else would she turn to for assistance in observing one of the smartest clinics in London with garden parties featured in “Tatler”? Well, let’s just say that if Sister Julienne hadn’t asked, Trixie would’ve been quick to volunteer. After being offered the opportunity, Trixie agrees to work at the hospital for six weeks to observe its practices, enthusiastic about the new experience and not to mention the new uniforms.
The Search for a New Home
As the midwives desperately do what they can to keep their home and their livelihood, Cyril has found himself in a tough housing situation of his own. He reveals to Lucille that not only is their church still struggling to find a new space for their members to meet, but on top of that, his rooming house has been condemned. Lucille recommends the vacant apartment above Fred and Violet Buckle’s shop, but unfortunately, even with the promise of a discounted rent, the couple’s unit is too much for Cyril to afford, and it’s back to the drawing board.
Dr. Turner’s Competition
Despite Trixie’s excitement to bring her midwifery expertise to Lady Emily Clinic and to learn from a new team, Dr. Turner is not so thrilled about the recent changes. He realizes that a move to a private hospital could take away valuable resources from his own practice and the local community, whose circumstances are typically more dire than those of the clients being seen to at Lady Emily. Shelagh attempts to be the neutral party (bless her) and acknowledges that the order needs to be more inventive if they’re going to survive their ordeal with the Department of Health, but Dr. Turner still isn’t convinced.
While the doc not-so-subtly fumes away (see: giving Sister Julienne major attitude), at Nonnatus House, the midwives are all smiles as they prepare Trixie for her posh job. Most of them are in awe of her new uniform, a much modern take on the blue dresses they’re so used to wearing, and the pink frock flips a switch for Sister Hilda. In an attempt to keep up with their local competition in more ways than one, she suggests that the women take Nonnatus House’s wardrobe in a new direction as well, recruiting her colleagues to help her with a fashion forward mission.
Sister Monica Joan’s Spiritual Crisis
Excitement for new possibilities overwhelms the house, but as everything shifts, Sister Monica Joan still finds herself in limbo and her faith shaken. Following a nasty fall that resulted in a broken leg - and spirit - during the winter holidays, she isolates herself from the others in this episode. Typically the social butterfly of them all, she seeks solitude over the daily chatter with her friends, and even rejects prayer with her sisters. From Sister Frances to Phyllis, everyone tries to reach out to her to encourage her, but she continues to ignore them.
Fred senses there’s more to her recent bout of gloom than a broken leg and pushes her to open up with a little tough love. Sister Monica Joan reveals how lonely she has felt in her doubts over her faith. Despite this, she asks Fred to keep her secret, claiming that she must cope with it on her own, hoping that if he exists, God will help her find her way.
Derek’s Mysterious Illness
Over at the Flemings’, Audrey and Derek eagerly await the arrival of their baby but are faced with an unexpected problem when Derek begins coughing up blood. As if a pregnancy isn’t enough to deal with. Known for regularly suffering from stomach problems (and only able to eat rice pudding most days), Derek’s symptoms are concerning to Dr. Turner who sends him to St. Cuthbert’s to see a specialist for ulcers.
Fiona and Matthew Aylward
While Derek is treated at St. Cuthbert’s, Trixie makes her way to Lady Emily Clinic where she meets her first patient, Fiona Aylward and her husband Matthew. The expectant mother has been admitted to the hospital for anemia, allowing Trixie to bond with her during her shifts. After shadowing Mr. Scarisbrick during his initial check-ins with Fiona, Trixie asks to be more involved in her care, arguing that expectant mothers need and trust their midwives to help them through their pregnancies and to instill confidence in them. Seemingly eager to observe Trixie’s one-on-one attention with his patient, Mr. Scarisbrick agrees to let Trixie take over Fiona’s case through to her delivery.
A Family in Mourning
Like Fiona, Glenys and Audrey are not far off from meeting their babies, and when we return to Poplar, both friends are in labor. Hearing word from the hospital, Derek makes a break for it to be with her. Lucille and Sister Frances assist with Audrey’s labor while Sister Julienne helps deliver Glenys’ baby next door. Though the birth of both women’s children goes without complication, it’s quickly apparent that something is amiss when Audrey and Derek’s son, Christopher, is born without legs. Dr. Turner arrives, but he’s unable to do anything for the newborn, who’s too weak to survive. It’s a terrible loss for the couple who don’t have an explanation for their son’s condition and are left reeling when he passes.
Dr. Turner’s Secret Mission
After a few days of mourning and spending time with Christopher, Audrey and Derek decide that they’re ready to let Dr. Turner and the midwives take him. Following this traumatizing event, Derek’s friend Bobby Delamore appears at their home for their usual pub night together, unaware of the events that have unfolded. Though Derek is still coping with the loss of his child, he joins Bobby hoping to confide in him about Christopher.
When Derek explains that his son was born without legs, Bobby makes a shocking revelation of his own that his daughter Tracey was born without three fingers. The coincidence is too great for him to ignore, and when he returns to Dr. Turner’s office to follow up on his stomach ulcers, he asks if mercury poisoning could be to blame. Citing some bad fish that he and his fellow servicemen ate right before they all fell ill with similar stomach issues, he worries that it could have led to the deformities that surfaced in both Christopher and Tracey’s births.
When Dr. Turner digs deeper into Derek’s service, he learns that Derek, Bobby and their comrades were in the South seas for Operation Grapple testing a nuclear bomb. With Miss Higgins help, he also learns that Derek’s medical records with the Ministry of Defence from that time are marked confidential, and as it turns out, his documents are not the only ones missing. Miss Higgins' detective work reveals that the records of another soldier who served with Derek and who had been to Dr. Turner’s practice for leukemia are nowhere to be found. Dr. Turner begins to suspect that something fishy is going on, and it’s not mercury poisoning.
Success on the Job
While Dr. Turner sleuths to get to the bottom of his patients’ missing medical records, things are much more lowkey at Lady Emily where Trixie has taken Fiona safely through her labor. The new mother delivers a healthy baby boy and Trixie sends the overjoyed couple on their way. The occasion marks just one of hundreds of births during her time as midwife but it’s her first successful delivery on the new job and receives praise from Mr. Scarisbrick.
Home At Last
Following an unsuccessful tour at the Buckle’s rental unit, Cyril is back to his house hunt.
Over at St. Cuthbert's, Lucille pays a visit to another member from her church, Mrs. Wallace, seeking her help. She knows that Mrs. Wallace has been looking for a new space on behalf of their church and Lucille proposes that the church sign the lease on the Buckle’s flat instead, giving their congregation and their pastor, who just so happens to be Cyril, a place to live and gather.
The Traumas of War
When Dr. Turner is unable to meet with his former patient who also had ties to Operation Grapple, he turns to Derek’s friend Bobby instead. He and Shelagh meet with the war veteran, and he reveals a collection of footage he smuggled back to England of the nuclear bomb that was tested off Christmas Island. Hearing his side of the story, they learn that while Bobby was on shore watching the bomb go off, Derek was on a ship much closer to it.
It’s not long after they make this horrendous discovery that Derek’s symptoms worsen. He begins hemorrhaging and at the hospital is forced to receive a partial gastrectomy. When Dr. Turner visits the Flemings at St. Cuthbert’s during his recovery, he lets Audrey know his suspicions that Operation Grapple exposed all of its soldiers to radiation. He’s concluded that from all the stories he’s heard and what he’s been able to piece together from his patients, the soldiers who were part of the secret assignment and now their children are all suffering from it. Though Audrey recognizes that taking on this battle will be difficult, after already losing her son, she vows to take a stand in his honor to make sure the military answers for what they’ve done.
Forgot how we got here? Catch up on “Call the Midwife” with the 2020 Holiday Special GIF Recap.
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