Call the Midwife – why that Trixie and Matthew moment is so important
"I'd swim with you on my back until we were safe in a harbour."
Trixie and Matthew were cruelly separated in tonight's episode of Call the Midwife following an E coli outbreak in the maternity ward. On Dr Turner's orders, its doors were firmly shut to the outside world in an effort to stop the spread, with the surgery also on lockdown. No one in and no one out.
As one of the midwives on duty when the infection took hold, Trixie was forced to remain on site "for four or five days", during which time she provided round-the-clock care to ensure that the four newborn babies survived the ordeal.
At one point, Vinita Khatri's child stopped breathing, and for a moment it looked like the worst might happen. But Trixie sprung into action, with Timothy at her side, and together they managed to revive the infant.
Ever the professional, Trixie remained composed and competent throughout the exceptionally demanding and at times harrowing experience. But during a phone conversation with her husband-to-be, she was candid about the toll the past week had taken on her.
"I'm so tired it's as if I'm floating," she said, her dejection palpable. "I feel so far away I could be at sea, in a shipwreck, or on a lifeboat. And I don't know if I'm the captain or a survivor just waiting to be rescued."
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Midwives, doctors, nurses and the numerous other key players who keep us fighting fit, or attempt to, shoulder significant burdens on a minute-by-minute basis. Their patients demand answers to seemingly impossible questions. It's life-or-death, with one incorrect decision tipping the scales towards to the latter. The pressures are acute and the stakes exceptionally high, and in that fleeting conversation with Matthew, Trixie lays that bare.
Like so many healthcare professionals, she's passionate about the work that she does, but there are moments when it weighs heavily on her. The push and pull between the pride being a midwife instills in Trixie and the exacting demands it places on her is a reality for those doing the job right here, in the real world – and it would be remiss of Call the Midwife to ignore that.
It's also an important moment for Trixie and Matthew.
"I'd rescue you if I could. I'd swim with you on my back until we were safe in a harbour," he says.
"I feel safe in a harbour now just being reminded that you're out there," she says, smiling for the first time in a long time.
Following Matthew's proposal, it's been all systems go, their relationship somewhat business-like as life rattles along at a frantic pace.
With the wedding top of the agenda and Trixie hellbent on mastering the art of gourmet cooking in preparation for married life – the less said about that, the better – there's been very little affection to speak of. Quiet moments in which they can truly appreciate once another have been non-existent.
But that phone call stripped away the chaos. It was a fragment of calm in the midst of the storm, centring them both once again and giving viewers a much-needed and understated reminder that their partnership extends far beyond dinner parties and surface level signifiers.
That scene also takes on further significance when you consider what was happening between Sandy Talbot and her husband in their private moments. Love and mutual respect are paramount.
It also gave viewers a moment's respite. It was only a few scenes prior that Mrs Khatri's baby almost died before being taken to St Cuthbert's for further examination. We needed to feel safe, just as Trixie did.
It's yet another prime example of Call the Midwife creator Heidi Thomas knowing what her characters need in any given moment, and also what the audience requires over the course of an episode.
With four more weeks to go before season 12 wraps up, expect plenty more where that came from.