BIRTHING A NEW CHAPTER
The last time we left off with the nuns and nurses at Nonnatus House, they were forced to move after their home was condemned for demolition. They find new housing and the women discover that the move is just the beginning of the changes that happen in Series 3. While their job is to help the families in the East End adapt to the changes that come with bringing a new life into the world, the Nonnatus House women face changes that challenge each one of them.
I had been eagerly awaiting the start of Series 3 for a whole year and I admit that it’s taken me awhile to write this review even though the episodes have completed its run in the UK (The episodes are currently airing its first run in the US with the season finale schedule for May 18th). However, I needed time to process how I felt about this transition season and there were a lot changes that needed getting used to. Some changes put the show on a forward track where I’m still up in the air about how the other changes will affect the show.
One of the biggest changes to the series is that Jessica Raine will not be returning as Nurse Jenny Lee next year. Although the show is an ensemble cast, it does center around the Jenny Lee character as she is chronicling the story about her life and the other Nonnatus House women. It’s like having Grey’s Anatomy without Dr. Meredith Grey.
I love watching Jessica Raine and I’m eager to see what new projects she’ll have lined up but I’m not sure how awkward the dynamic will be for this show as Vanessa Redgrave will continue to lend her voice as the Mature Jenny. Personally, I think it will be very lame to have Mature Jenny keep reminding us that Jenny learned about the ongoings of Nonnatus House through letters from wherever she is.
As for this season, I wasn’t wholly satisfied with Jenny’s storyline. There was something magical about Jenny’s relationship with Jimmy. Although Jimmy wanted something more than friendship, Jenny didn’t feel the same way. Jimmy eventually went on to marry someone else but late last season, we got introduced to Jimmy’s friend, Alec (Leo Staar). The chemistry just wasn’t there and when he suffers a tragic accident, it felt that the show was on the fast track to write him out so that we’d be on board with Jenny’s departure. A great show should guide its viewers but I felt like I was being shoved in one direction without much of say in it.
As for Shelagh, previously known as Sister Bernadette (Laura Main), I really enjoyed watching her struggle with her calling last season. She eventually leaves the order, falls in love and marries Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann), the local physician. I love how the transition continues with her characters as she has difficulty facing the nuns at Nonnatus House. Has she let them down by giving up the order?
She’s lived one kind of life that was dedicated to serving God and now she has to adjust not only to being someone’s wife but also someone’s mother, as she becomes Timothy’s step-mother from a previous marriage. Since they also desire to have more children, she struggles with trying to conceive and eventually making the decision to adopt a child. A lot happens with these characters but they all felt like a natural progression for them.
Nurse Trixie Franklin (Helen George) was also treated her own story arc this season. She’s a carefree character who loves dancing, drinking, is fashionable and boy-crazy. However when it comes down to business, she’s a no-nonsense nurse. I love that we finally get to see her love life blossom a bit this season and I like her chemistry with Tom Hereward (Jack Ashton), the handsome young cleric who moved into Nonnatus House.
She’s so outgoing while he seems more down-to-earth. I think we just got over those first hurdles of ‘does she like me’ and ‘is he going to call’ jitters but I am eager to find out what happens next with these two.
Finally there’s Chummy Noakes (Miranda Hart) whom I have always had a soft spot for. She’s incredibly kind and good-natured but she lacks self-confidence. She went from being a single woman to getting married to Police Constable Peter Noakes (Ben Caplan) and finally to becoming a mother.
This season, she deals with balancing life at home and her career and I love that she doesn’t completely give up on her dream. Furthermore, I enjoyed watching her story arc with her mother as their relationship always left me uneasy. Peter has always been extremely supportive of his wife but he does feel a bit hurt when he sees how anxious Chummy becomes around her mother. The audience feels that, too.
There are a lot of transitions this season which posed interesting challenges to our nurses. Next season, I really want the show to shine some of that spotlight on Nurse Cynthia Miller (Bryony Hannah). Beyond what makes her a good and caring nurse, I am curious to see what makes her tick.
However the biggest problem the show faces is the Nurse Jenny Lee absence and I’m worried that that absence may overshadow the rest of the series. For now, I guess we’ll have to wait almost a year to see what happens in the Christmas Special which may give us a sneak peek into the next series.