This episode of Call the Midwife is one of the most intense, and one of the most potentially controversial, since the show’s inception. Tony Amos is caught by the police engaging in “indecent acts” in a public men’s restroom (i.e. attempting to have sex with another man) and suffers from the fallout both at home from his pregnant wife Marie and in public from the Poplar community.
Although the episode’s persistence in drawing parallels between the treatment of homosexuals in the community and the treatment of disease-infested rats (i.e. extermination) is a bit heavy-handed, the show does attempt to add nuance to the situation. Reactions range from Tony’s wife’s simple refusal to acknowledge anything has changed, to some local women’s outright belittling and ostracizing, to Patsy’s righteous indignation at the prejudice. Trixie equivocates more than any other character, but also raises a pertinent point: this situation is not only about sexual preferences; it is about the fact a man cheated on his wife. No one in the show addresses the fact that the “indecent act” was not actually consensual; Tony was attempting to rape someone. (As far as I can tell, the undercover cop never used any type of signal he was in the restroom to find a hook-up; he was simply jumped while reaching for a paper towel.) The storyline thus introduces more problems than it is apparently invested in addressing.
The episode ends on a somewhat hopeful note as the community begins to behave more welcomingly, at least to Marie, who was never personally “at fault.” However, there is an underlying implication that Poplar is not ready for a major change in perspective, and the issue at stake is really left open-ended. It seems as though the show is leading towards Patsy’s revealing her own relationship with Delia, so this leaves a lot of questions about how the show will handle that. Because Patsy is a recurring character, her story will not be able to be boxed into a single episode and then shipped off; the writers will have to find ways to explore it across episodes.
What are your thoughts on this episode? What did you think of the portrayal of Tony? How will Patsy change from watching everything unfold?