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First: Are all of you ok out there? If your answer is no, we don’t blame you, and if you’re weeping within the first five minutes of this episode we’re right there with you. To be honest, our tears haven’t even stopped since Episode 7. Last week ended with a major cliffhanger when a train derailed in Poplar, leaving the fate of Dr. Turner, Sister Julienne and Nancy unknown and our hearts totally shattered. Now, as we return for the Season 11 finale the community is in turmoil and the “Midwife” crew is thrown into action to care for those injured in the accident.
Left In the Dark
As chaos ensues in Poplar, Sister Frances and Sister Hilda remain with their patients, Carole and Edina. The women have yet to learn of the disaster that has unfolded only minutes away from their home or to hear the news about their friends as both of their patients go into labor. Sister Hilda takes Edina through a painful delivery while Sister Frances stays by Carole’s side to help her cope with the loss of her baby, who was born prematurely during her second trimester.
Though word of the crash has quickly spread through the media and found its way to Shelagh and Timothy, they too remain largely in the dark about the train and the passengers who were onboard. Timothy assures Shelagh that his father was likely on another train, but as her calls to Nonnatus House continue to go unanswered, she begins to panic… understandably.
Finding Strength in Friends
Despite Timothy’s optimism, his father is in a fight for his life. Sister Julienne is the first to wake up amidst the wreckage followed by Dr. Turner. Though Sister Julienne has broken ribs from the crash and Dr. Turner has suffered a broken wrist and blunt head trauma, they do their best to remain calm and quickly realize they are not alone. They hear the cries of pain from one of the train’s employees, Mrs. Carnie, and don’t hesitate to come to her aid.
A former patient of Sister Julienne, Mrs. Carnie has suffered significant burns from scalding water on her tea cart and a wound to the femoral artery. The duo does all that they can to stop Mrs. Carnie’s bleeding and in a rare moment, Sister Julienne even removes her wimple and coif to use as a tourniquet. Despite their best efforts, however, Mrs. Carnie soon succumbs to her injuries and they must face a new challenge: survival.
Extra Hands at Nonnatus House
While the pair hopes and prays that someone will come to their rescue, Nonnatus House is busier than it’s ever been. The midwives’ home has been converted into a temporary medical station and everyone jumps in to help the injured and scared community members. Cyril, Lucille, Shelagh and Sister Monica Joan tend to the wounded while Fred takes on his role leading the civil defense corps. Even newcomer Matthew dives straight in, helping to report major injuries to the midwives as he comes across them thanks to his medical experience during his time as a serviceman.
A Team in Shambles
Though there’s barely time for the group to take a breather, Shelagh rings Nonnatus House one more time and manages to catch Cyril’s attention. She hopes her friends will have more answers about the crash, but when Cyril informs her of the mass hysteria taking place at Nonnatus House and the extent of the accident, she heads their way to lend a helping hand. She tells Timothy to stay home, but of course he secretly follows after her (after all, he is an adult now). With Dr. Turner’s medical bag and doctor’s coat in hand, Timothy wants to make sure his father is fully equipped to help the disaster victims.
A Family’s Trauma
While Shelagh and Timothy search for Dr. Turner and anyone who might have more information about his whereabouts, Edina continues to ask for her husband Lionel, the train’s conductor. Still unaware of what has taken place, Sister Hilda helps Edina through the delivery of her child though she too puzzles at the delay in his arrival when she realizes his train should have been at the station hours prior. It isn’t until she runs into Miss Higgins, who’s collecting medical supplies from Dr. Turner’s surgery, that she learns Lionel has died in the train crash.
Despite this, she refuses to tell Edina about his death until after she has given birth to her baby. Edina is able to push through the excruciating hip pain she has been suffering through her pregnancy to give birth to her son, but his arrival is soon overshadowed by tragedy. Though she should be celebrating new life, finding out about Lionel’s passing is absolutely devastating and the future she envisioned for her family is broken.
Showing Bravery in Unusual Circumstances
Near the railway bridge, survivors of the incident continue to trickle in and Fred encounters Nancy disheveled as she approaches Nonnatus House. He’s stunned when he realizes she was on the train and his fears, like the others, are confirmed when he learns she was forced to leave Dr. Turner and Sister Julienne behind. The others are overjoyed to know Nancy is safe, but the young nurse realizes she won’t be getting rest anytime soon. Sister Monica Joan encourages her to help her peers as soon as she’s shaken off the fact that she was involved in a fiery train wreck mere minutes ago. Frustrated by the request, Nancy questions whether or not Sister Monica Joan’s recent conversations with a local clairvoyant about her future had anything to do with Nonnatus House’s misfortunes.
Filling Big Shoes
Even so, Nancy does what any of her mentor midwives would and puts her patients first, and she isn’t the only one who joins the growing list of medical volunteers. When Timothy arrives at Nonnatus House, he finds Miss Higgins (who happens to be the bearer of bad news for everyone this episode) dropping off medical supplies. She explains that his dad is still on the train but that no one knows the status of his or Sister Julienne’s health. Shocked by the news, Timothy decides to join the emergency responders at the wreckage to search for him.
He’s distraught when he sees the extent of the damage but working fast and with emergency responders in tow, he finally finds the train car that Sister Julienne and his father are in. His arrival comes at a crucial time as both Sister Julienne and Dr. Turner’s injuries wear on them. Sister Julienne begins to display signs of a heart attack just as Timothy arrives, but thanks to his help in drawing the emergency responders to their location, they’re able to pull her and the doctor from the train just in time. They bring them to the hospital where Dr. Turner learns he has a Colles fracture and Sister Julienne gets tested by a cardiac specialist.
A Missing Piece of the Puzzle
Though news of their friends’ rescue is a massive relief, when the group learns about the extent of Sister Julienne’s injuries it’s a huge blow after an already draining day. They know that a heart attack could cause major complications for Sister Julienne’s life down the road and that it might impact her ability to lead Nonnatus House. Vulnerable and at their breaking point, they wonder how they’ll be able to go on without their leader.
When Miss Higgins witnesses how defeated they are, she makes an important call that she hopes will bring some normalcy back to the house. The next day, Phyllis returns from what should’ve been an extended European vacation to help lift up her friends. As the most organized of the midwives, she’s dismayed to see the house’s state in the aftermath of the accident, but she’s not about to let that stop her from restoring order as soon as she’s in the door. After all, there are still patients to care for.
Getting Back to Normal
As Phyllis brings routine back into Nonnatus House in Sister Julienne’s absence, the women receive a surprise visitor. Mrs. Carnie’s daughter, Pauline, arrives at their door with Sister Julienne’s belongings, which had accidentally been delivered to her amidst her mother’s clothing following her death. Though the loss is difficult, she shares her joy knowing that her mother was with one of the Nonnatans in her final moments. When she tells the women she wishes she could do more to thank Sister Julienne for what she did, Sister Frances chimes in on Carole’s behalf. As is tradition when a mother in their care loses a child, she asks Pauline if they can lay Carole’s baby to rest with Mrs. Carnie during her burial. Sister Frances later introduces Carole to Pauline, who welcomes the young mother with open arms, and a new bond is forged.
Closure for Lionel and Edina
As everyone in Poplar attempts to return to life before the crash, everything has changed for Edina. When she goes home with her newborn son Benedict and her daughter Roberta, she struggles with the new life she must make for her family following the train accident. What’s worse is that she feels a great sense of guilt and shame believing that Lionel’s carelessness was to blame for all the trauma and loss that was thrust upon the community. When Sister Hilda and Miss Higgins visit her, she expresses her anger at Lionel for leaving the family and leaving their plans unfinished.
In hopes that she can provide some comfort to Edina during this tragedy, Miss Higgins informs Edina that Lionel isn’t at fault for what happened. She reveals that after speaking to a friend from the coroner’s office, she learned Lionel was actually suffering from an undiagnosed brain tumor. This caused him to have a seizure during the trip, and he ultimately had no control when the train derailed. Learning that her husband was not responsible for the train crash puts Edina at ease, but even so she must find a way to help her family carry on.
A Major Recovery
Like Edina, the midwives must also find a way to continue their work in the wake of one of Poplar’s biggest tragedies. Fortunately for them (and for us), Season 11 ends with a bit of good news and zero cliffhangers 🙏. Though Dr. Turner is on bedrest, he’s slowly but surely recovering, and despite their friends’ fears, Sister Julienne has learned that she’s also on the mend. Her doctor informed her that she was suffering from chest trauma on the train, and that it caused her to go into shock, mimicking a heart attack. She has a speedy recovery and is cleared to leave the hospital much sooner than expected, leaving the midwives in disbelief and ecstatic that their fearless leader is finally back in charge.
Forgot how we got here? Catch up on “Call the Midwife” with the Season 11, Episode 7 GIF Recap.