Stephen McGann as Dr Patrick Turner, Lucy Sheen as Oilen Chen, Laura Main as Shelagh Turner, Alice Connor as Lucy Chen
(In case you missed it: stream episode 3 online.)
‘Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.’ ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I find this quote fitting for episode three, as the latest installment of Call the Midwife on PBS was all about challenging our assumptions, starting with the assumptions we all made about mean Sister Grinch. Maybe she’s not the big meanie she appeared to be. Perhaps the damage she did was, in its own way, a result of caution and care from someone overcompensating for a past heartbreak. Maybe everyone is – or maybe not. We never know, do we?
Call the Midwife is very good at highlighting social issues or injustices of the past and tonight is no different. The story of the Chens included a passing reference to a page in British history I’d never heard of before. Despite the fact it took place over 70 years ago, in many ways it sounds like it could be torn from current events. Let’s break it all down with the Ten Essentials of Call the Midwife, Episode 3…
Time is on my side (No, it’s not, with all due respect, Sir Mick)
In an effort to further make Nonnatus House (and everyone in it) run spit spot, Sister Grinch has instituted a new policy: a 20 minute time limit on all pre and post-natal house calls. Despite emphatic protests from every nurse and nun that this is neither realistic nor healthy for their patients, she will not be moved. The new policy is, ‘because I’m the mommy, that’s why’, and she will not hear anymore back talk, (don’t make me come up there!)
As a result, Nonnatuns are now sprinting through Poplar at a frantic clip. And not only that, Grinch dares to touch Nurse Crane’s big Rolodex. Uh-oh. No one touches The Rolodex! Grinch says she’s trying to ‘make improvements’ on Nurse Crane’s appointment schedule. This does not go down well. Sister Winfred tries to mitigate the situation and reason with Grinch. She invites her to come out on calls to see what it’s really like in the field, which causes Sister Grinch’s motherboard to crash. Seeing this, Nurse Crane goes to Sister Julienne to tell her she doesn’t think Sister Grinch is fit, and we get the dish. It turns out Sister Grinch was in charge of another order that failed and she took it hard. Sister Julienne has sympathy for her (even though she stole her job), so for now they will continue rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. This is a disaster waiting to happen — and happen it does.
You are watching: Call the midwife season 6 episode 3
Lost Our Lease: Everything Must Go!
Things go from bad to worse. Sister Grinch hears about a meeting that Dr. Turner is summoned to attend about the future of healthcare in the area, and pushes in on it. Dr. Turner is as thrilled as he would be for a bad rash. What news does this meeting bring? In the name of progress and efficiency, the Board of Health wants to shut down the cottage hospital and move all patients to large centrally located hospitals, away from their neighborhoods. As he breaks the news around the table at Nonnatus House, everyone disagrees with this idea. Except Sister Grinch, she’s on the side of the enemy. A Spy among us, as it were (possibly without the hidden cameras).
Is there anything to be done? Shelagh and Dr. Turner say yes, there is: everyone should just keep doing what they’re doing. Sister Grinch pipes in to say that their resources are allocated elsewhere and helping to staff the cottage hospital can no longer be a priority – oh, and that Fred can help with repairs only on his own time. Harrumph! They await an inspection and scramble to get ready.
In this episode we see a part of Poplar we haven’t seen before, a neighborhood full of Chinese immigrants where we meet the Chens. New arrivals Cyril and his mum run a laundry. His wife Lucy is UK born and raised. Her mother is English, and with her Chinese father deported in 1946, she grew up assimilated in Liverpool. (Maybe hanging out in the Cavern Club??) She finds the old country customs of her mother-in-law from hell, well odd, especially the one about ‘confinement’ (new mothers and babies being locked inside for a month) but in an effort to get along she’ll go along.
For her part Mama Chen finds English ways just as odd. She bristles at Lucy’s baby name choice as bad luck, and has to be assured that the classic English dish ‘Toad in the Hole’ is not actually made from toads. (They’re not French, after all.) Lucy wants Cyril to stand up to his mother, but poor whipped Cyril is walking a tightrope. Mama Chen also has a secret (naturally), a lock of baby hair that makes her freak out when Lucy dares touch it.
When Barbara returns to Nonnatus House, fresh from a house call at the Chen’s, Sister Grinch admonishes her for being late for tea. She informs her that in no uncertain terms that Nonnatus House will not tolerate slackers, causing gasps all around the table. Later as they commiserate, Nurse Crane assures her that for the moment they have to do the best they can.