(Series 16, ep.13) A few years ago, you wouldn’t have put money on Jac Naylor being the maternal type. Indeed I remember remarking on the trauma likely to be faced by Ric’s grandson Jake because the first face he saw was Jac’s. Not because it isn’t a beautiful face (it is), but because it has a default setting of Terrifying.
In this episode, in the final moments before Jac gave birth, we got to see what kind of mother she’s going to be, and it’s glorious. I’ll be honest and say I was primed to cry from the outset in this episode, but I became tearful very early at the sight of Jac’s face when she told Mo that the baby “likes lights.” It was like a little window into a whole relationship that she’s built up with the baby during the pregnancy. She talks to her, not in the “yummy mummy” way she despises, but in her own quirky way, telling her about the scientific reason for a red sky at night, educating her about the importance of numbers. I can imagine that Jaccy Maccy Junior’s life (if she gets to have much of one – and I’ll be devastated if she doesn’t) will be full of as many chemistry sets as dolls, as many trips to science museums as funfairs. It’ll be a no-bullshit upbringing, but one full of love and care. Jac might tell her child that a red sky is just caused by a refraction of the light, but they’ll both be up early the next morning to see how lovely the dawn is.
This was such a well-crafted episode. I wasn’t expecting secondary stories to be taking up much time and at first I thought the storyline involving Ric and Serena was going to be irritating and just make me want to be back in the labour ward with Jac, but as things went on I got more and more absorbed into the story of Ric and his former love, Kathy. Yes, it was a tad contrived – Kathy was the life and soul of the party until she told Ric she had cancer, and then poignantly died as he rowed them on the river – but it was so beautifully acted, with Cherie Lunghi and Hugh Quarshie very touching as the former lovers reunited too late. There was a lot of comedy in it too, with Ric’s karaoke turn, Serena fabulously drunk and flirting with a man who’s previously been an Unblinking Canadian Paediatrician at Holby (though he was a different, very amusing, character here) and Edward trotting up at regular intervals with a bunch of flowers to try and win her back.
The second time I cried was after Kathy had died. Ric made a phone call, and there was only going to one person he’d call – Jess. Because the episode was all about parents and children – specifically daughters.
Back at Holby, Jac was trying to keep her daughter safe, by not letting her be born. It was the only way she could maintain any control over the situation. Wise old Elliot Hope sat with her in front of a print of The Lady of Shalott (I used to have that picture on the wall of my room at university) and explained how the story of it touched her own situation – that sometimes keeping safe is no substitute for the chance to really live. (The Lady of Shalott was also referenced in Ric’s story, in Kathy’s white dress and the early morning boat trip).
Where was Jonny Mac while all this was going on? He was right beside Jac as much as she would let him be, trying to be strong for her and feeling helpless, but the important thing was that he was there and she wanted him to be.
The baby was eventually delivered by caesarean, and was rushed off to NICU looking apparently lifeless. Jac shut down her emotions to prepare for the worst, then Jonny came bursting in to tell her the baby was breathing. She’s “so tiny and so beautiful.” And ginger, apparently. Jonny was lovely – he’d brought a “wee piggy” called Ralph for the baby and was going to put it in the incubator “as soon as it’s been sterilised.” While Jonny was all optimism and happiness, Jac looked like she didn’t dare hope and you could see that in her thoughts she was far away from what was happening in the room. In an episode full of brilliant performances, Rosie Marcel’s was amazing. For a woman who’s been called Termi-Naylor and is often accused of being cold and unfeeling, at times in this episode it was like Jac had no skin at all, she was so vulnerable and emotional.
Mr T broke the good news to Mo and Elliot, and Mo kissed him. Lovely Mr T got a bit flustered and completely sidetracked, bless him. After this story is over, can we please find a way to bring Mr T in as a regular cast member? I want to see his face on those opening credits.
I loved this episode so much. It was beautifully written, with lovely details like discovering that the midwife who’s formerly been Jac’s enemy has had some tragedy in her own life, and Serena necking a bottle of wine so she and Ric would have an excuse not to go back to Holby. Catherine Russell was marvellous in those comic scenes. She probably gets it from her dad.
Next time: Will Jaccy Maccy Junior make it? And will she get a name? What will it be? I can imagine Jonny plumping for “Morag,” but I’ve got no idea what name Jac would choose. Also next week, there’s a new Effanga at Holby, in the form of Mo’s li’l sister Adele. And a face from the past reappears. Sadly it’s not Joseph Byrne (I live in constant hope. Constant).