Call the Midwife: Ep. 3

“There’s always need for cake.”

Call the Midwife

Call the Midwife is back on form for episode three. After a disappointingly trite second episode, this one feels remarkably nuanced and ambiguous, although this may simply be the effect of contrast. In any case, it’s an episode that tackles the admittedly difficult subject of homosexuality; difficult because this was still illegal in the Fifties, and because the show clearly tries to strike a balance between being about homophobia without being homophobic.

So when the husband of one of Nunnatus House’s patients is arrested for gross indecency, I was quite prepared for all the various occupants of the House to be, in the grand but generally unsubtle tradition of Call the Midwife, anachronistically accepting and horrified by the arrest. (To be fair, the whole thing is mildly horrifying – talk of a “cure” especially put my teeth on edge.) Surprisingly, however, there are a whole range of views represented around the tea table, from Sister Winifred’s religious intolerance to Nurse Mount’s suppressed anger, and Trixie’s reaction in particular is well done: although her general philosophy is “live and let live”, she’s not necessarily willing to admit this in public. That, I thought, was a really authentic touch, which doesn’t allow us to valorise our favourite characters as we might like to.

The subplot is a success as well, dealing with another kind of discrimination, as a pregnant Irish woman is unable to find lodgings. Nurse Crane proves a continuing success, intractable in every day life as she is calm in a crisis (even if the gruff-exterior-with-a-heart-of-gold stereotype is a bit hard to swallow). And we even get a bit of politics, as the Cold War and the possibility of a nuclear attack enters Poplar’s consciousness. All in all, it’s an engaging, sensitive episode, hopeful as ever but aware of its own inability completely to solve its society’s problems.

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