Call the Midwife Episode Four: Jenny Lee is shaken by a difficult birth while Sister Bernadette plays matchmaker in an episode in which Jason Watkins and Dorothy Atkinson shine
Last week I claimed that Miranda Hart’s temporary absence had caused a rise in quality in the new series of Call the Midwife and I still stick by that theory despite some of you being very fond of Chummy. A case in point is this week’s episode in which Chummy’s replacement, medical orderly Jane Sutton, is given more prominence as we learn why this woman is afraid to speak to people and how she came to be appointed in the first place. The shame is that Jane’s storyline is treated like the subplot as Jenny Lee is back on her rounds and delivering babies and home truths to the women of Poplar.
This week Jenny assists Sister Evangelina as she visits Ruby Roberts who is having her third baby with husband Doug who is a friend of Fred the Handyman. Before the birth we see Doug portrayed as heavy-drinking gambler who loves his family and Ruby as a woman who sees herself as better than the other mothers in the area as her husband has recently received a promotion. As Evangelina and Jenny attempt to deliver the baby Jenny notices a problem with the baby’s spine and this causes her to act differently as she has never seen this before. Eventually Dr Turner diagnoses the Roberts baby with spina bifida and he is taken off to the London Hospital for treatment. As is always the way on Call the Midwife Jenny ends up popping around to the Roberts household everyday where she discovers that Ruby doesn’t want to hold her baby while Doug reacts to the situation by getting into a fight with a gaggle of Teddy Boys. Sister Julienne later suggests that the Roberts baby may well be better off at St. Aidens’ Home for disabled children however the woman in charge of the establishment tells Jenny to try and get the Roberts to interact with their new child. Meanwhile Sister Evangelina tells Jenny what I’ve been thinking all series namely ‘we’re here to deliver babies, not bring them up’ before adding that Jenny helping out the Roberts won’t alleviate her guilt. It eventually takes a shock to the system for the Roberts to come round to having a child with a disability though I’m sure as always Jenny Lee will think that she helped in some way.
As I previously mentioned the storyline involving Jane was much more compelling as we learn early on that this quiet and timid woman has never been kissed and reacts as you would when the other nurses are busy reminiscing about their first loves. It in fact takes the arrival of the Reverend Applebee-Thornton, who became friends with Chummy while they were both in Africa together, to coax Jane out of her shell. The Reverend, played by Trollied actor Jason Watkins, is initially presented as a talkative bore who none of the nurses want anything to do with however Jane takes a shine to him after he helps her feed the fish she won at the fair. Sister Bernadette sees that Jane and the Reverend are bonding so suggests that he accompany her as she goes out to help the community of Poplar. Later Trixie suggests that the two go to the local dance together however the nervy Jane bottles out however not before she sees the Reverend break up the aforementioned fight between Doug and the Teddy Boys. Eventually Jane opens up to Jenny that she wasn’t an orderly at St Aidens’ Home but rather a patient and that is how she came to know Sister Julienne who eventually offered her the vacant position. Through her relationship with the Reverend, Jane opens up a lot more and admits her past to him while he also tells her why he needs to fill the silences. As the relationship between Jane and the Reverend is the prominent one this week it appears as if Sister Bernadette’s affections for Dr Turner remain intact as was witnessed in her care for his son.
To me this was another worthy episode of Call the Midwife thanks in part to the secondary storyline involving Jane and the Reverend. Dorothy Atkinson was so good at playing the timid Jane and you really did believe her when she revealed her past and how it was hard for her to overcome the stigma of being from the home. Atkinson really inhabited the character down to the way she walked behind the other nurses when they came back from the fair. Atkinson’s performance was perfectly balanced by that of Jason Watkins who is an actor who can perfectly balance comedy and drama as we saw here in his portrayal of the Reverend. While the Reverend initially seemed like a comic cliché he soon developed into a more complex character as he commented on how the elderly were treated in Poplar and later why he felt the need to talk all the time. My only issue with this story was the fact that the two weren’t allowed to go off into the sunlight together and if I’m honest I’d rather have this pair replace Chummy and Peter on a permanent basis. Those of you who read my Call the Midwife reviews know that I’m not a massive Jenny fan and once again she sticks her awe in to a domestic situation but at least this time her contribution is more valid. I did like the fact that Jenny’s motives were more guilt-ridden than anything else and also I thought Pam Ferris was very good portraying Sister Evangelina as the voice of reason by telling Jenny not to get too involved with the Roberts situation.
While not as good as last week’s instalment of the show, this week’s Call the Midwife was another solid episode thanks this week to Atkinson and Watkins whose storyline really made this episode what it was. Despite the emotional aspects of the baby with spina bifida I really couldn’t get into the main storyline partly because I find Jenny a little irritating and partly because it felt like something that had been done before. Meanwhile the relationship between Jane and the Reverend was pitched just right though I felt the ending of their courtship was a little flat. It appears as if Call the Midwife is currently running on all cylinders, mainly due to the performances of the guest stars, however I think that will all sadly end with the return of Miranda Hart and Chummy’s comedy subplots.
What did you think to tonight’s Call the Midwife? Did you enjoy Jane’s storyline as much as I did? Leave Your Comments Below.