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The episode commences with Jenny delivering a little girl, Gillian, to Shirley Redmond. As Shirley's previous baby was stillborn, Sister Evangelina is also in attendance. Jenny has now been working in the East End for some time, and feels privileged to share such a precious part of these women's lives. Soon after Shirley gives birth, a bombshell drops; the newborn baby has been snatched from her pram, outside the Redmond household. A full-scale search is launched, and the entire community becomes involved in the quest to reunite the desperate parents with their child.
Cynthia, meanwhile, finds herself involved in an equally traumatic situation as she witnesses true love and heartbreak when she meets David and Margaret during their time of need. A middle-aged headmaster, David and his young musician wife Margaret are expecting their firstborn when she suffers from eclampsia. It is a heart wrenching case, and Cynthia observes the strength of soul mates and tragedy of loss.
Just as the trail appears to have gone cold with Shirley's baby, she is found. She was taken by Mary, the Irish girl whom Jenny had befriended previously. Mary has been unable to resolve the grief she felt after losing her own child. The police want to prosecute Mary but, urged by Jenny, Sister Julienne and Sister Evangelina intervene and ask for leniency on Mary's behalf.The episode opens with Jenny (Jessica Raine) being awakened early one morning by Sister Evangelina (Pam Ferris) -- Shirley Redmond (Emma Noakes) is in labor, and Evangelina will accompany Jenny just in case there are complications, as Shirley's last pregnancy resulted in a stillborn child. I absolutely LOVED Shirley and her husband Ron (Tom Colley). For her part, Shirley is rather tense (understandable, given the circumstances), almost stoic, perhaps too afraid to hope that this time her labors will result in a healthy child. And Ron -- his nervous tension was just too cute! I loved their on-screen chemistry, and the palpable relief both exhibit when they are presented with a healthy daughter -- oh I could've cried tears of joy with them for the relief and the precious nature of the gift that is their young daughter's life. On a related, but slightly tangential note, I thought it was interesting that this episode introduced us to East End residents like the Redmonds, whose lodgings -- while not luxurious -- are definitely several steps above some of the more squalid apartment buildings we've seen midwives visit in previous weeks.
The full, formal settings come out as an array of luminaries arrive for a grand evening at 165 Eaton Place. Amidst the jocular conversation, Sir Hallam Holland receives an unexpected and serious offer – one that could significantly alter life for everyone at Eaton Place.
Mrs. Thackeray, the cook, has reconnected with family, opening up the prospect for a different life. And the tug of familial bonds is felt upstairs as well when Sir Hallam and Lady Agnes receive an alarming 2 AM call from Lady Persie, who in the middle of the fiery chaos of Germany, is frantic to come home.
With the pact between England and Germany broken, Sir Hallam discerns that England is on the edge of the abyss. And as darkness encroaches, those upstairs and down unite to intervene, offering hope in fragile times.
Ed Stoppard (Zen), Keeley Hawes, Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) and Anne Reid (Bleak House) star in episode two of Upstairs Downstairs, Season 2.
Jenny is placed on the district nursing roster for a few weeks, to extend her experience of community practice. Her first patient is a gentle old soldier, Joe, who is suffering from appalling leg ulcers. In his eighties and almost blind, Joe is effectively confined to his one-roomed tenement flat and enjoys Jenny's visits. Although not naturally chatty, Jenny appreciates his stories, and a tentative friendship forms.
The story of their emerging friendship is interwoven with that of Ted, who becomes a father rather late in life. His wife, Winnie, is in her forties, and had thought her days of nappies and babies were well behind her. They have only recently married. For Ted, a childless widower in his sixties, it was a stunningly sweet and unexpected romance; for Winnie, it was a pragmatic step that secured her future. The pregnancy is a surprise to them both and Ted, who never imagined he would be a father, is overjoyed, and throws his heart and soul into the preparations. Winnie, sadly, seems less than thrilled. Ted is exceptionally solicitous and he enthusiastically accompanies Winnie to her clinic visits, and takes the lead in sorting out the pram and the layette.
Despite her growing fondness for Joe, Jenny remains revolted by the filthy condition of his flat and even feels unable to accept a cup of tea from him, so unclean are his cups. Their friendship is saved - and indeed cemented - when he produces a bottle of sherry. As the buildings where Joe lives in come up for being condemned, there is talk of moving him into an old people's hospital. Saddened by this development, Joe focuses all his energy on a forthcoming regimental reunion - he has been unable to attend for many years due to mobility problems, but Jenny has a plan.Jenny (Jessica Raine) has come a long way towards acclimating to the less-than-hygienic conditions that come with life in the East End, but her latest patient assignment tests her fragile resolve to the max. Apparently the midwives of Nonnatus House serve on some sort of rotating basis on the district nursing roster, where they perform in-home health visits of a more general nature (attending to the needs of the elderly, housebound, etc.). Jenny is assigned to Joe Collett (Roy Hudd), a veteran of the Boer war, who lives in an East End tenement and needs visits three times per week to change the dressings on his legs as he suffers from ulcers. Joe is SUCH a heart-breaking charmer. Starved for company and friendship, desperate for connection, he is thrilled by Jenny's visit -- she, less so by the appalling condition of his flat and the filthy residue on his dishes. But prompted by Sister Julienne's (Jenny Agutter) gentle but firm admonishment to fulfill her calling, Jenny perseveres and is gradually won over by gentle Joe's friendship and his heart-wrenching life story. (Seriously, when he revealed that he lost both his sons to World War I and his beloved wife to the Blitz, I nearly bawled.)