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'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 13 Episode 2

Daniel Hautzinger
Cyril opens a door for a woman with a stroller
Cyril and the midwives help a woman whose husband has left her. Credit: Olly Courtly for BBC Studios and Neal Street Productions

Call the Midwife airs Sundays at 7:00 pm and is available to stream for a limited time. Recap the previous and following episodes and other seasons.
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Cyril will help anyone in need, no matter how much assistance is required. He goes straight from volunteering at a homeless shelter overnight to working at the local housing department as an inspector, with only time for a quick cup of coffee in between. He’s also reaching out to members of his church who haven’t attended in a while. Despite the congregation expanding – Mrs. Wallace has arranged for them to gather in an existing church instead of Cyril’s apartment a few times a month under a new law that allows for the sharing of churches – he and Mrs. Wallace want to ensure that they attend to their whole flock.

Lloyd Bristow is someone who hasn’t been seen at services lately – because he has moved out of London and in with a new woman, abandoning his wife Edna and young daughter Tracey, as Cyril finds out from Edna. She is due to have Lloyd’s second child soon, but won’t stop working as a cleaner because she needs the money. She refuses an offer of aid from Cyril, as well as any suggestion that she apply for the financial assistance from the government to which she is entitled – she doesn’t want to take it away from people who need it more than she does, and she already had a government-provided apartment.

More and more denizens of Poplar are being moved into new government housing like Edna’s as older buildings that have been designated slums are cleared – but the new towers aren’t being constructed fast enough, to Cyril’s disappointment. He feels complicit in the shortcomings of housing the people of Poplar, and is considering leaving his job to start training and working as a social worker.

Edna’s case helps push him to that. She is cleaning the room where the maternity clinic takes place when her water breaks, but pushes through to finish the job before returning home and calling the midwives. Shelagh accompanies the midwife pupil Joyce, who delivers a baby boy whom Edna names Alistair, as her husband wanted.

As the midwives continue to check up on Edna and Alistair, they notice that Tracey has a persistent cough. Edna has already returned to work and so can only do so much, but when Tracey begins wheezing, Sister Veronica makes Edna call an ambulance.

Tracey has bronchitis, and must remain in an oxygen tent at the hospital for some time while being treated with antibiotics. She might emerge with permanent asthma. The infection was caused by damp and mold, which Sister Veronica has noticed is permeating the walls of Tracey’s room. Edna has scrubbed and scrubbed at the mold in addition to reporting it to the government agency overseeing the building, but they simply told her to paint over it.

The midwives admit Alistair to the maternity home for a few days to relieve stress on Edna, but when she comes to visit him she herself has an infection – mastitis. She is admitted to the maternity home so that she can be with Alistair and is prescribed antibiotics and rest, but she can’t sleep because she’s worried about Tracey in the hospital.

Shelagh storms to the housing agency and demands of an uncaring bureaucrat that they do something about the mold in Edna’s apartment. Cyril is sent to inspect it and is appalled, finding that the mold has spread even to Tracey’s mattress. He knows it’s not Edna’s fault but a result of shoddy construction and mismanagement.

Cyril convinces Edna to apply for financial assistance, while his comprehensive report on the mold is brought by Sister Veronica to Violet. Using some gentle threats, Veronica gets Violet to act, and the mold is addressed immediately. Impressed, Veronica suggests that Violet run for mayor. Violet likes the idea, and asks Fred what he thinks. He is doubtful, but will support her decision.

Fred also supports Trixie and Matthew after they have a disastrous first lesson in which Matthew tries to teach Trixie to drive so that she no longer has to rely on buses to get to Nonnatus House – she keeps arriving late. After Trixie swerves into the curb after nearly hitting a cat in sight of a policeman, she throws the car keys at Matthew and they tumble down a drain.

So she asks the more patient Fred to teach her – without telling Matthew. Matthew also asks Fred to teach Trixie – without telling her, and Fred remains mum. As Trixie finally gains confidence as a driver, Matthew encounters her and Fred after a lesson. Fred slips away as the married couple admit to going behind each other’s backs and laugh about it.

Sahira Khan and her husband Ayub are new arrivals in London from India. Sahira has been suffering from various symptoms but tests have not revealed anything definitive so all Dr. Turner can do is prescribe her pills to at least help her sleep. He also asks Nancy to drop by, in case there’s something Sahira is afraid to tell a male doctor.

Nancy and Sahira bond over shoes, since Sahira and Ayub sell surplus shoes from a factory at which their cousin works. Sahira admits that her symptoms worsen during her period, which is already extremely painful. After Nancy reports this to Dr. Turner, he refers Sahira to a gynecologist.

Before that happens, Ayub calls the doctor to his home because Sahira is in overwhelming pain. Dr. Turner collects a urine sample, and then Sahira has a seizure, so he calls an ambulance. When the sample changes color while waiting to be tested, he guesses that Sahira has a liver problem.

Indeed, she has inherited a rare liver disease that can be treated but not cured. She is advised to avoid getting pregnant, which disappoints her husband and causes her shame that is made even worse when her mother sends her a charm to help her conceive.

But she doesn’t want to tell her or Ayub’s parents back in India about the disease, insisting that it’s not their business. She won’t be made to feel like a failure, and demands that Ayub accept her situation and stipulations about it. She is strong enough to continue, and will do so with or without him. He accepts, and also asks her to begin helping him sell shoes – she is a powerful woman who can help the business.

Edna also takes a step of independence once she and her children are back home at her newly mold-free apartment. She renames her newborn son Nicholas, her own choice. She didn’t like the name her husband chose.