Warning: this article contains spoilers for the concluding episode of Call The Midwife’s 10th season.
From the moment Call The Midwife viewers first met Matthew Aylward (Olly Rix) in the season 10 premiere, they decided that the widower was destined to fall head-over-heels for the headstrong Trixie Franklin (Helen George).
“I can’t imagine the handsome widower will stay single for long,” tweeted one viewer earlier in the season. “I hope that Trixie snaps him up. It’s about time she met a nice man.”
Another wrote: “Anyone else hoping that Trixie gets together with Matthew Aylward in the future?”
And one more asked social media at large: “Can we possibly see a glimmer of hope for Trixie later?”
Well, Matthew did pop up in the season 10 finale – but not in the way most Call The Midwife viewers expected. Because, while they fully expected him to charge in on a white horse and rescue Trixie from her life as a (shock, horror) single woman, his role in the episode began with…
Well, with a rat being found in a newborn baby’s crib.
That’s right; Matthew was revealed to be the landlord of a tenement building declared “unfit for human inhabitation,” and his discomfort was all too clear when he was confronted by a stunned Trixie when he walked into a meeting about the issue.
“I will make sure to speak to the tenant landlords,” he said, as he attempted to make a speedy exit. Our beloved Trixie, however, was having none of it.
“How dare you walk away? How dare you?” she asked him furiously. “If you’re in need of guidance, may I suggest 1) remorse, 2) an apology, and 3) a plan of action.”
Matthew, shaken and sickened by the squalor he’d just witnessed, insisted he couldn’t think of a suitable response – a comment which prompted Trixie to hurl a child’s toy (and a child’s toy stained with rodent’s urine, no less) at the wall above his head.
Later, after a phone call and a doorstep apology, Matthew had convinced Trixie to sit down with him for a proper conversation about the issue.
“My family has been in the wrong for about 100 years,” he said, explaining that his family bought the tenements as a “strategic investment” during Queen Victoria’s reign.
Noting that they had seen no less than five monarchs take the throne since then, Trixie gently admonished him: “Nobody should be living in 19th century conditions.”
“I intend to change that,” he replied. “It’s the proper thing to do.”
And so, after Trixie finally forced Matthew to confront his grief by reading him the final letter penned by his late wife, the widower stumbled upon a way not just to improve the lives of his tenants, but to help him and his young son strive forwards, too.
Handing a cheque for £1,000 to Sister Julienne (Jenny Agutter), he explained: “I am personally pledging this amount to you on an annual basis, for as long as your work in the East End continues… [to secure] your future in reparation for our past, in memory of someone very precious.”
It was a beautiful moment. And, while the chemistry between Matthew and Trixie is, of course, undeniable, it served as an important reminder; that not all male/female interactions blossom into romance. That love is not a fairytale, to be built on shared glances and the briefest of interactions. And that it is impossible for someone who is grieving to move on before they are ready; it wouldn’t be fair to them, or to the person they attempted to strike up a relationship with.
Trixie is not a broken half waiting to be made whole by another’s love, nor is she willing to make herself smaller to make someone else happy. So she deserves, quite frankly, better than someone who isn’t ready for a new relationship.
As Helen George tells Stylist: “It’s lovely that they want Trixie to be happy, because it means they care about her, so I’m very thankful for that. [But I love that] she hasn’t settled; instead, she has delved into her career with such passion and courage. And I’m proud of her for being a kickass woman that doesn’t need a boyfriend, and stands up to the men in suits in the 60s, especially when women didn’t stand up to the men in suits.
“I’m inherently proud of that. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Well, quite. So, while the potential for romance still lingers between Trixie and Matthew, we’re glad that things ended this way between them (for now). And we’re glad that Trixie’s role in Matthew’s life so far has been not just to help him move forwards, but to call him out on his privileged bullshit, too.
Because, after last week’s rip-roaring episode, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
All 10 seasons of Call The Midwife are available to stream via BBC iPlayer.