Season 3 (2014)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
Jennifer Worth's Call the Midwife book trilogy are stirring, heartfelt, faith-filled insights into life during the 1950's for the midwives of Nonnatus House. For the first two seasons, the episodes closely followed many of the cases from the memoirs but in season three start creating their own plots based on other midwife stories and events from the same era.
Christmas in the East End is full expectation and pregnant mothers awaiting the delivery of their children. The nuns and midwives are kept busy running to and fro, reassuring anxious mothers that the long-awaited delivery date will arrive. One expectant mother is married to a young man undergoing post-war-stress. Jenny (Jessica Raine) and Trixie (Helen George) try to figure out how to help him overcome his traumatic wartime experiences so he can assist his wife in parenting. But all their lives are further complicated when the entire block is evacuated days before Christmas due to the unearthing of an unexploded bomb in a local basement. Everyone is forced into cramped living conditions at a local shelter, forcing Chummy (Miranda Hart) to do some fast thinking on how to keep the children entertained.
Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter) is concerned that Shelagh (Laura Main) is rushing too quickly into her marriage. Having given up her habit and life of celibacy to get married and find another calling, the "former" sister Bernadette is going out of her way to avoid interacting with any of her former friends at Nonnatus House. Her fiancé, Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) is also concerned, and tries to convince her to reconcile with the nuns and invite them to the wedding. But her secretive marital plans are put on hold when a tragedy strikes, postponing the wedding indefinitely. It is the first hint of major changes in all their lives, as the nuns and nurses relocate to new holdings, welcome new faces into their midst, and deal with life-altering decisions that will shape all their lives forever.
As the show's lead will not be with us next season, Jenny disappears for several episodes midseason to test the waters without having her present... and she leaves a noticeable void in her wake. Despite this, there are some excellent episodes, some dramatic plot twists, and the usual hilarity and heartwarming moments fans have come to expect from this series. Trixie entertains a new boyfriend in the form of a local cleric. Sister Julienne intervenes for a female prisoner and delivers a "mermaid"! (It's not as absurd as it sounds.) We get to know secondary characters a bit better, as well as reach the end of some stories. My greatest disappointment is that the series waits until the finale to introduce Philip Worth, Jenny Lee's future real-life husband. That we won't get to see their romance unfold is unfortunate, but the new faces are interesting. Sister Winifred is good-humored but a bit wet behind the ears, and the new nurse has a very forward, brash way with her patients. Shelagh discovers the trials of motherhood and goes through her own emotional journey.
It does tend to be melodramatic, but for every frightening
delivery there is a moment of beauty and often sadness. One of
the more controversial but also touching episodes involves a
young woman with Down Syndrome facing the trials of pregnancy.
Each character gets a chance to shine. We travel inside prisons, up
side alleys, and encounter mothers from all walks of life with
all manner of marital and birth complications. It is, as always, a stirring series
that is both melancholy at times and ultimately triumphant,
because each episode concludes on a profound thought of hope,
grace, or love. It lacks the budding spirituality
of the first book but its message is one of grace without limits,
forgiveness without hindrances, and unconditional love.
Jenny's boyfriend invites him to spend the weekend with her in a hotel and she is upset when others imply they might not have separate rooms; some pregnant patients are unmarried. A doctor starts to give a sex-education talk before he is interrupted.
One or two mild profanities, an exclamation of "Jesus wept!"
An abusive husband tries to hit his wife repeatedly when finding out the baby she just gave birth to is not his child; a woman becomes hysterical and paranoid, and is subjected to electro-shock-therapy.