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This is it. The big finale. We’ve made it to the end, and of course, it just simply wouldn’t be the “Midwife” way to go out without a bang. When we were with the midwives last week, Trixie joined a BBC panel to voice her support for England’s abortion reform bill and Nancy made a shocking reveal about her daughter who lives in an orphanage in London. Now, with the arrival of our Season 10 conclusion, you better believe there are even more twists and turns for the midwives to navigate, and as Sister Julienne leaves for a conveniently timed Mother House retreat, Sister Hilda is in charge. Let the chaos commence!
Unfit Conditions for Mother and Baby
At Nonnatus House, the women receive word that one of their former patients, Doreen Noris, is in labor. Sister Frances rushes to her flat at the Lisbon Buildings only to find that there’s no running water and that her home is in such poor condition that she’ll require additional help to safely deliver her baby. Trixie arrives to assist with the delivery of Doreen’s second daughter, but after seeing the state of the building she assures Doreen that they’ll find her a bed at their maternity home.
A Sibling Pact
While Sister Frances and Trixie find Doreen and her children a comfortable place to stay, Lucille covers clinic duties where she leads an informational class for first time mothers. There she introduces Sylvia Potts, who’s making final preparations for the child she plans to adopt. After 10 years of marriage and many attempts at conceiving, Sylvia has received an extremely generous offer from her older sister Blanche to legally adopt her next child. At 42 and with four girls of her own, Blanche claims she and her husband Walter no longer feel that they can raise another and as Sylvia’s older sister she wants to look out for her and help her achieve her dreams of becoming a mother. Though the gesture is more than considerate, Phyllis has some reservations about the siblings’ agreement.
Baby Crib Infestation
Following Doreen’s delivery, Sister Frances spends the night at her flat to help with baby duties. In the middle of the night however, she wakes to Doreen’s daughter fussing, and is startled by a disturbing, furry surprise in the cupboard drawer. A rat. A giant rat has been crawling through baby’s bed and Sister Frances acts quickly to kill it. The event leaves her distraught but beyond the fright of finding a rodent where Doreen’s baby was sleeping, Sister Frances is angered to know that so many of her patients are forced to live in squalor with no help from the landlords nor the building owners.
Out of post-rat-exterminating rage, she leaves Lisbon Buildings to dispose of the creature, but not before making a quick pit stop at Violet’s shop. In dramatic fashion that is very uncharacteristic of her, Sister Frances lays the dead rat down on Violet’s store counter to make a point to the councilwoman about the unfit housing accommodations Poplar’s residents must cope with every day.
Calling Out the Enemy
Unsurprisingly, this incident does not go down well with Violet, and it’s not long before Sister Hilda hears about it. Though she warns Sister Frances that parading dead vermin around town is not a good look for the order, she does agree to discuss the cause of Sister Frances’ concerns with Violet. When the women eventually meet, rat not included, Violet informs them that Doreen’s building is owned by a company called Hale, Woods and Sons and that a member of their board has agreed to meet with a spokesperson from Nonnatus House about the matter. Sister Hilda takes the lead and invites Trixie to join her when they meet with the board member at Lisbon Buildings so he can see the decay of his property for himself.
Nancy Takes Control
As the midwives prepare for their housing discussion with the representative from Hale, Woods and Sons, Nancy takes on a different battle at Fatima Lodge Orphanage. She meets with Sister Terence, who’s perturbed by her unannounced drop-in, and things get heated. Nancy threatens to bring in a social worker to enforce her right to see Colette, while Sister Terence threatens to take away Nancy’s visiting privileges if she doesn’t agree to their original terms (i.e. pretending she’s Colette’s sister and only visiting once a month).
Despite this, Sister Terence allows her to proceed with her visit. However, Nancy makes a shocking discovery when she finds Colette in the playroom and sees an enormous hand-shaped bruise on her arm. Sister Terence blames the bruise on rough play between the children but Nancy claps back and tells her that Colette said one of the nuns did it. When Nancy realizes that she and Sister Terence have very different views on how to care for her daughter, she makes a drastic decision to take Colette from the orphanage.
A Mother-Son Bond
When we return to the maternity home, Blanche gives birth to a baby boy with Sylvia by her side. Though delivery day goes without much complication, Phyllis’ concerns about the sisters’ arrangement are confirmed when Blanche holds baby Justin for the first time. She’s emotional when she exclaims that she loves him like an aunt would love a nephew, but it’s clear that the look in her eyes is a mother’s love. As it turns out however, a battle between the sisters is not the only thing Phyllis has on her mind.
An Uncomfortable Reunion
Later, Violet, Trixie and Sister Hilda meet with a Lisbon Buildings’ representative. As if cupboard rats aren’t enough of a surprise, they’re further shocked to find that what they thought was Hale, Woods and Sons was actually Aylward and Sons. As in Aylward and his son Matthew. THE Matthew. When he arrives, he’s surprised to see Trixie there almost as much as he’s surprised to learn that all of the building tenants share a single stovetop cooker on the landing amongst other problematic building issues. Awkward.
He’s stunned to see the condition of the flat Doreen lives in and to learn that she has to share the single, decaying bed with both of her children. Sister Hilda also goes on to describe the state of the water situation throughout the building and that its constant leaking has resulted in a terrible mold issue. Also, let’s not forget about the rats and other creepy crawlies, because Sister Frances sure won’t.
Startled by Trixie’s presence and perhaps unaware of how bad his property would truly be, he assures the women he’ll speak to the tenants’ landlords for any fixes and gets the heck out of there. Naturally though, Trixie isn’t about to let him get away without a word first. She makes it known that she’s appalled by the state of his company’s properties and that action needs to be taken to make them habitable for its residents.
A Change in Plan
When we return to the maternity home, things take a turn, and fast. After observing Justin while with Blanche and Sylvia, Phyllis tells Dr. Turner that she believes Justin has Down syndrome. Dr. Turner confirms this by the single palmar crease on each of his hands and the gap between his first and second toes. They inform both women and Sylvia is shaken by the news. Blanche is angered by her reaction and when Sylvia says Justin will have to go to a home for his condition, she refuses to let this happen. Instead, she decides to take her baby, who she renames Robert, back with her family.
Meanwhile, knowing that her status at Nonnatus House is still up for discussion, and fearful of what the women will think, Nancy uses the rest of her money to take Colette to a hotel. Back at the house it’s not long before the women discover that she’s gone missing. Sister Hilda phones Fatima Lodge for answers but receives no leads from Sister Terence other than to hear about a very obviously strained relationship between Nancy and the orphanage.
Later, Matthew attempts to make amends with Trixie over the phone, but she reminds him that he needs to apologize to his own tenants. And it probably doesn’t help that Sister Frances accidentally bringing back bed bugs from Doreen’s building to Nonnatus House only further validates her argument.
Realizing the error of his ways, Matthew visits Nonnatus House to make a proper apology to Trixie face-to-face. During their conversation, he explains that when his family’s business first began to purchase properties way back when (as in, when Queen Victoria was still alive), warehouses along the river had always been at the forefront of their work and that purchasing the nearby tenement blocks had just been part of a strategic investment. Yet he acknowledges that times have changed and that his company needs to stop allowing its tenants to live in nineteenth century accommodations. He vows to do better for Trixie and his residents and hopes that this new forward-looking project will also help distract him from his grief over Fiona’s death.
Extending a Helping Hand to All
While Matthew works to improve his properties, when we return to Nonnatus House, the women are frantic over Nancy’s disappearance. At the hotel with Colette, Nancy runs out of money and is forced to leave when she can’t pay. Not to mention, the hotel keeper turns out to be a total creep. With nowhere else to go, she finds herself back with the midwives. Phyllis and Sister Hilda are quick to scold her for being careless, but in a surprise twist, Sister Monica Joan has her back.
She argues that as midwives, their work has always resided in the margins of society and like Nancy, they have always helped unwed mothers and women with unplanned pregnancies without questioning it. So she instead challenges them to ask Nancy what it is that she wants and needs without judgement. Nancy tells them that she still wants to become a midwife, to care for Colette, and to have a life where she has no secrets. Following her emotional appeal, Sister Hilda informs her that after speaking with Sister Julienne, they’ve agreed to let her resume her midwife training and to openly support her in her career path. They also agree to find a foster home in Poplar for Colette so that Nancy can more easily visit her while she continues living at Nonnatus House.
Looking Forward to the Future
At the maternity home, Blanche’s youngest daughters visit baby Robert for the first time. While the girls are thrilled that they’ll finally have a little brother in the mix, Blanche’s husband Walter still struggles with the new addition to the Dellow family. He’s overwhelmed not only to learn that they will in fact be raising Robert now, but he’s unsure how they’ll be able to care for a child with Down syndrome.
His troubles bring him to the pub where he eventually runs into Fred and Reggie. He’s overcome by emotions and leaves, but Fred pursues him, knowing when he sees a friend in need. Walter opens up to him about his worries and Fred acknowledges that while there are still many misconceptions about children with Down syndrome, they can’t allow ignorance to keep them in a bubble of fear. He also goes on to tell him that he’s learned a lot from his time with Reggie, including how to love more, and that Robert will teach Walter the same. Though he knows it won’t always be easy, Walter returns home knowing that ultimately things will be ok. In the end, Sylvia also comes to terms with Robert's diagnoses, and though she knows she won’t be his mother after all, she makes amends with Blanche.
Long Live Nonnatus House
As the apologies make their rounds across Poplar, Matthew goes beyond his vow to Trixie to make things right with his tenants and promises to support Nonnatus House as well. He pledges £1,000 to the order on an annual basis to keep their work going for the community, both to make up for his company’s past and in memory of his wife. After a long fight to prove their value to Poplar and to be there for their patients, the midwives can finally breathe a sigh of relief with their future secured.
Forgot how we got here? Catch up on “Call the Midwife” with the Season 10, Episode 6 GIF Recap.
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