Every Call the Midwife Season Ranked
Ask any fan to pick their favorite Call the Midwife season, and you may be in for a long wait. Each season has been lauded for touching performances and compelling storylines by fans and critics. Here’s our ranking of the best seasons and episodes (SPOILERS AHEAD!).
This season is one of change. The characters of Jenny Lee and Cynthia Miller are written out, and new characters arrive at Nonnatus House in Episode 2. New nursing graduate Barbara can’t seem to do anything right. Experienced nurse Phyllis clashes with Sister Evangelina over nearly everything. The heartrending Episode 7 has Sister Evangelina unknowingly switching newborns between two couples, and the mistake affects her deeply.
This season is bookended by superb episodes. In Episode 1, Sister Julienne has been demoted, and the stern and rigid Sister Ursula is put in charge. Sister Mary Cynthia’s mental health deteriorates, and she is sent to the order’s motherhouse. Her story threads through all of this season. The last episode is one of joy as Shelagh gives birth to a boy and Barbara marries Tom.
This season has as much conflict within Nonnatus as without. In Episode 2, Sister Evangelista sees no merits to Cynthia’s proposed new methods of pain relief until it helps a patient through a difficult delivery. Trixie is unhappy with Jenny’s promotion. Episode 5 deals with issues of sexual consent and the treatment of adult disabled people living in an institution. A young woman with Down’s Syndrome is found to be pregnant, and the father has cerebral palsy. The case shocks the woman’s mother and the midwives.
The very first Call the Midwife season sets the tone for the rest of the series. Earnest but gawky Chummy arrives in the second episode. Jenny’s attempts at helping a pregnant runaway Irish girl end in tears. An ill and wandering Sister Monica Joan has the spotlight in the season finale. She endures a trial and faces imprisonment. Chummy’s mother comes for a visit, and her mother’s disapproval of her suitor Noakes weighs heavily on Chummy’s mind.
The Thalidomide baby plot line runs through this season, carried over from the fourth season. Episode 6 illustrates the danger, literal and figurative, of keeping secrets. Prostitutes are violently assaulted but refuse to report the incidents out of fear that they themselves will be arrested. Sister Mary Cynthia is beaten up, causing a crisis of faith. Episode 8 brings the ongoing Thalidomide storyline into the open. Dr. Patrick Turner is guilt-ridden over prescribing the drug to so many pregnant women. Grief overwhelms the community when Sister Evangeline passes in her sleep.
This season is uneven, but several episodes still stand out. Episode 6 shows how pervasive tuberculosis was in that time period and the efforts of medical professionals to stamp it out. Sister Bernadette contracts the disease, but the discovery brings her and Patrick closer. The final episode of this Call the Midwife season is a joyful one. Chummy and Noakes plan for their new baby while Sister Bernadette chooses between the order and Patrick.