'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 12 Episode 6

Daniel Hautzinger
Sister Monica Joan with Nothing the dog in Call the Midwife
Sister Monica Joan makes a new friend in her loneliness. Photo: BBC / Neal Street Productions / Miya Mizuno

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Trixie and Matthew have spent a weekend away to help him recover from the death of his father, but the respite is brief. They have their wedding to plan, as well as their work—and Trixie is immediately thrust into a difficult situation, when she arrives to a call for a midwife and finds a young girl in labor.

Heather O’Dwyer hasn’t told anyone she’s pregnant except the boy who made her so, Nigel Jones. She doesn’t know how long she has been pregnant, since she has only just started getting her period—she’s fifteen. As Trixie delivers the baby at Nigel’s house, his mother comes home and is shocked. A healthy baby daughter is born.

Heather’s parents were away, but the midwives are required to tell them about the baby, despite Heather’s wishes, because she is still a minor. When Mrs. O’Dwyer appears, she immediately lays into Heather, disgusted that she hasn’t named her daughter yet, that she wants to give her up, and that she doesn’t want to marry Nigel, who is only her first boyfriend. Trixie sends the parents away, but in the end the decision of what to do with the baby will be up to them and social services because of Heather’s age.

When social services comes to see Heather with her parents at the clinic, Heater has just been told by Trixie that she probably has an infection, because she has not been changing her pad frequently enough. She walks away from the meeting on the excuse that she needs to change, then disappears.

Joey Fletcher is always on time for his job delivering papers for Fred, even though he’s constantly exhausted. Miss Higgins complains to Fred about her paper coming late one day because of Joey's tiredness.

Joey can’t lose the job: he’s his household’s source of income, and he also takes care of his younger brothers. His father has an unsightly skin condition, so he doesn’t go outside, and Joey's mother left them. Joey has tried various creams for his father, but none has worked. Mr. Fletcher doesn’t want Joey to end up like him and so wants him to go to school. He also wants Joey to spend time with his friends, and to go to a clinic for working children hosted by the Council, but Joey says he’s too busy.

The clinic is Sister Veronica’s suggestion; she has convinced Dr. Turner to host it despite his busy schedule. He and Miss Higgins are thankful they did: they find bruises and various ailments that reveal many of the children are being exploited as sources of cheap labor at their jobs.

Joey, who shows up late, isn’t abused by Fred. But he’s underweight, bruised, always tired—and misses school frequently, even though he’s smart and does well. Dr. Turner sends off blood tests.

Sister Veronica visits the Fletcher household and learns about their situation. Mr. Fletcher fears that if social services become involved, they will split his family, just like they did to him and his mother when he was young. That’s why he hasn’t applied for government aid.

Heather doesn’t think she even wants a family, as she tells Nigel when he offers to let her stay at his mother’s home after she runs away from the clinic. He gets upset at her indifference towards their newborn, whom she hasn’t even seen since giving birth. She only returns to the clinic because her infection has worsened. She asks to see her baby once she has recovered.

She spends some time with her daughter and names her, which Trixie happily reports to social services. The agency is planning to ask a court for a supervision order, bringing both Heather and her daughter home to her parents until she’s no longer a minor.

Trixie tells Heather it’s her best option, and learns that the O’Dwyers always called Heather, their youngest, a mistake. They also left her alone for a month, with just a sibling to stop by every week. All of this is presented at court, and the judge grants a supervision order: another chance, for Heather and her parents. Her dad, with whom she once had a bond, stands up and says that they’re going to make it work, on his word.

Sister Monica Joan is trying to make her own domestic situation work. Lonely, she has befriended a dog and finally let him come into Nonnatus, despite rules against pets, after he keeps appearing at the door. She names him Nothing so that she doesn’t have to lie about him as she keeps him hidden.

Colette has to paint a portrait of someone inspirational for school and has chosen Monica Joan. She quickly discovers Nothing, and begins to help Monica Joan feed him. When he escapes one day, he steals a piece of cheese from Nurse Crane, and the game is up. Sister Julienne tells Monica Joan she can’t have a pet in a clinical setting, and both she and Nurse Crane apologize to Monica Joan for neglecting her in her loneliness. Nothing’s family is found, and he is returned to them—not without a fond parting bark at Monica Joan.

Joey’s blood tests reveal that he’s seriously anemic and has other problems as well. He’s brought to Dr. Turner by Fred before the doctor can find him, having collapsed outside Fred’s store. Dr. Turner will send him to the hospital for monitoring and more tests, but Joey objects: he has to take care of his family.

Dr. Turner sends him anyway, and visits Joey's father, telling him he must start working again to support his family, despite a skin condition Dr. Turner diagnoses as psoriasis. It started when Fletcher’s wife said she would leave him, and then seemingly only sped up her departure.

That’s a better diagnosis than Joey’s: the boy has leukemia. There are some promising experimental treatments, but the side effects of the chemotherapy are brutal—and Joey, as a child, won’t be told about them.

Dr. Turner at least has contacted Joey’s mother and convinced her to return home, and gotten Joey's father to start a treatment that will at least mitigate the psoriasis. When the Fletchers reunite, they at first blame each other for Joey’s problems, but Shelagh stops them: they have to focus on their son’s wellbeing. They hug.

They visit Joey in the hospital and apologize to him. Fred brings Joey his wages, and learns that the boy now wants to attend school in earnest and become a doctor. Fred, knowing Joey’s prognosis is grim, tries to smile. Joey at least gets to visit his reformed home, with his brothers and both parents.

A brighter future is in store for Trixie and Matthew. Overwhelmed with deadlines, Trixie asks the midwives for help planning her wedding. And she asks Nancy and Colette to be her bridesmaids, since some long-misplaced mail has been found and revealed that her cousins cannot attend. It will be another full Nonnatus House wedding.