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'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 13 Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Reggie and Violet hold each other while Fred looks on in their shop
Violet is running for mayor with the support of Fred and Reggie. Credit: BBC Studios/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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Reggie is back in Poplar, and, as always, spends much of his time helping out Fred. But Fred now wants to start paying him for the work he does, because he deserves it and is helping support his family. Reggie is eager to use the wages to treat Fred and Violet to tea.

While clearing and planting a garden for Cyril with Reggie, Fred cuts himself in fixing a piece of equipment. He wraps the wound, but it’s still seeping the next day, and he feels a bit under the weather. Nonetheless, he’s ready to support Violet as she files to run for mayor – except his oozing hand stains her outfit. She chastises him and rushes off to the cleaners, where Mrs. Wallace gets the stain out for free, as a contribution to her mayoral campaign.

Violet’s opponent in the campaign is Bill Regan, a self-assured property owner whom Matthew calls a true slum landlord – Violet has had constituents complain about a lack of water in his units. Bill doesn’t expect much competition from Violet, given that she’s a woman. But she has plenty of support, not just from Fred and Reggie but Matthew, Mrs. Wallace, Cyril, and others.

Fred is struggling with the idea of being “lady mayoress,” as he tells Trixie when he asks her to look at his wound, assuring her that he has his vaccines. Violet wants him by her side as she presents her vision to the roomful of men at town hall who will elect the mayor, and dismisses his suggestion that he miss it because he’s not feeling well.

But as he dresses for the event, he has an attack that causes him to collapse and call for Reggie to get help. Reggie fetches Trixie and the midwife pupil Joyce from Nonnatus House, and they call an ambulance.

Fred has tetanus. It is often fatal, and can’t be treated except to just let it run its course and hope for the best. If he had gone to a doctor soon after cutting his hand and gotten a new shot, he would be fine, but his vaccines haven’t been updated since the war. Dr. Turner and Miss Higgins resolve to put up posters recommending people keep their vaccines up and see a doctor if they receive a deep wound.

But that won’t help Fred, who immediately apologizes to Violet for missing her event when she arrives at the hospital. But she’s the one who’s sorry, for chastising him and ignoring his symptoms. She tells him he has to get better for Reggie, who is being kindly watched and fed rice pudding by Miss Higgins. But when Reggie and Violet next visit, Fred is breathing through an oxygen mask and has to be transferred to intensive care to be put on a ventilator. Before he is wheeled away, Fred wheezes to Reggie to take care of Violet.

As Fred is unconscious on the ventilator, Violet sits by his side and tells him she loves him.

Gillian Baxter fears hospitals like the one Fred is in. She doesn’t want to have her baby in one, although its positioning in breech will make the delivery more complicated – but nothing Dr. Turner and the midwives can’t handle. Gillian modelled for a soap ad as a baby and so is something of a local celebrity; she has recently returned to modeling, and her agent already has her booked for mother-child ads after she gives birth.

Advertisers would prefer a daughter, and that’s what Gillian gets when the midwife pupil Rosalind delivers her baby at the maternity home. But Stephanie, as Gillian names her daughter, has a hip issue that requires the attention of a specialist at the hospital, lest she have trouble walking later in life.

Nurse Crane accompanies the apprehensive Gillian and Stephanie to the hospital, where the specialist gives Stephanie a harness to wear for six months. It can only be removed for brief periods, for bathing and changing clothing. Nurse Crane suggests that Gillian and Stephanie return to the maternity home for a few days to get used to the routine of the harness, but Gillian insists on returning to her own home.

There, she tells her husband that the midwives told her no visitors – so his family can’t meet Stephanie. Her modelling agent cancels any gigs for the foreseeable future, due to Stephanie’s harness. And Gillian becomes exhausted and frustrated, worried that Stephanie is being held wrong or crying because of the harness. Gillian stops eating enough.

She reveals to the midwives that her mother isn’t around to help: she died of lung cancer only a month before Gillian learned she was pregnant. When Gillian finally leaves the house with Stephanie on the recommendation of the midwives, she becomes embarrassed by Stephanie’s cries and removes the harness.

She then shows up at Nonnatus House and tells Rosalind that she can’t do it and doesn’t deserve Stephanie. The midwives comfort her, assuring her that she is not alone even if she never knew her father and her mother is dead – she’ll form a special bond with Stephanie. Reassured, Gillian promises not to take off the harness again, and invites Rosalind to Stephanie’s christening. Rosalind in turn asks Gillian to attend the upcoming post-natal class that Rosalind is leading, to help demonstrate some techniques, model that she is.

The poor prospects for Fred affect everyone at Nonnatus, even newcomers like Rosalind. She and Nancy join the nuns in chapel while they pray on behalf of Fred, not to join in but just to be with other people concerned for the helpful handyman. Sister Monica Joan is especially upset over Fred’s health. The Turner family makes cakes for Violet and Reggie and a card for Fred, while Miss Higgins helps Reggie continue to work on the garden for Cyril.

Reggie also insists that Violet still run for mayor after Bill Regan visits her at her shop to offer thin condolences and ask for her support after he is voted in as mayor, now that she has pulled out because of Fred. Reggie tells Violet that’s not fair, and promises to sit with Fred while she attends the vote for mayor.

Violet visits Nonnatus and asks Sister Monica Joan to accompany Reggie to the hospital; Nurse Crane drives them there. Violet then goes to the town hall and makes a speech asserting that she believes in the future, not just for Fred but for her community. She wins the election.

Meanwhile at the hospital, Reggie holds Fred’s hand – and receives a squeeze. Then Fred’s foot twitches and his eyes open. He has survived.