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'Call the Midwife' Recap: Season 13 Episode 7

Daniel Hautzinger
Joyce stands in a nurse's outfit
Joyce's past emerges to haunt her. 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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Rosalind and Joyce are now full nurses at Nonnatus House, with signature maroon cardigans to prove it – and their first few days are difficult. Rosalind is teaching a women’s health class to the young workers at a toy factory with Nurse Crane when she meets the diffident Alison Casey. Alison raises her hand to ask a question but clams up when she is jeered at by other girls. Rosalind tries to speak privately with Alison after the class, but Alison still doesn’t ask her question. Nevertheless, Rosalind and Nurse Crane have surmised that Alison is pregnant, given her shapeless wool sweater and chloasma-marked face.

At least Rosalind’s attempted kindness leads Alison to the maternity clinic when she goes into labor. Alison sobs as the nurses prepare her for delivery. No one knows she is pregnant, not even her caring mother or her stepfather, who has been away working. She claims to never even have had a boyfriend.

Because she is young and was hiding her pregnancy, Alison is utterly unprepared and uninformed about what her labor will actually entail. She’s distressed throughout the delivery, but eventually produces a healthy baby boy with the help of Rosalind and Julienne. She doesn’t want to hold him right away.

The nurses have informed Alison’s mother about the pregnancy, so she is waiting outside. She’s shocked – Alison is an innocent young girl.

Gerri Godfrey is more experienced: she already has one son and makes clothes at home to sell while her husband is at work. She had her first child in the hospital, but circumstances have changed, so she’s planning to have her next in the clinic. But when she tours it, she’s concerned about privacy, so Joyce suggests a home birth. Mr. Godfrey was against it the first time, but he’s not around much, so Joyce encourages Gerri to choose that path. While visiting Gerri’s home to evaluate it, Joyce reassures and compliments her on its tidiness and her love for her child, to Gerri’s gratitude.

Joyce returns to Nonnatus House to find an unwelcome surprise: her cousin Sylvester Warren has arrived to see her. He has charmed some of the midwives over dinner, although Nancy doesn’t like him. He recognized a photo of Joyce in the paper and tracked her down, first calling the maternity clinic and then showing up at Nonnatus.

Joyce didn’t know he was in England, and in a private moment with him tells him she wants nothing to do with him. He is not her cousin but her husband, who beat and abused her; she ran away from him and changed her name from Claudine Warren to Joyce Highland. He insists he has changed.

After he leaves, Rosalind arrives back to her shared room with Joyce, exhausted, and laments that she didn’t get to meet Sylvester. Joyce lashes out at her, causing tears, before giving her a hug in apology.

Fred might be a bit harder to forgive. The turnip crop is excellent this year, so he has convinced Violet to allow him to sell some from the store. But he’s unfamiliar with buying wholesale vegetables and ends up with way more than he wanted, all simply dumped in front of the store by a delivery person. Fred tries to give the turnips away for free with any purchase but still has an excess. Miss Higgins and Nurse Crane come up with a solution: the cub scouts and other kids can carve them into lanterns for Halloween.

The troubles of Matthew and Trixie are not so easily fixed. Not only has Matthew lost his job and his fortune; the family company is now even taking away his car, in front of gawking eyes. He has transferred ownership of Nonnatus House back to the nuns so that it can’t be seized from him and sold if he has to declare bankruptcy.

Matthew is despondent, and Trixie has to force herself to eat and is barely sleeping. She gets a prescription for sleeping pills from Dr. Turner. But Matthew eventually comes up with a plan: he bought two warehouses in New York City from a friend with his own accounts, not his company’s. After talking to the friend, he learns that he could have a return on his investment in five years.

Trixie is upset that he is not including her in these discussions while she supports the family on her wages and runs the house on a tight budget. He even dismissed their son’s nanny without asking Trixie. But he wants to redeem himself in her eyes and get them out of this mess.

Testing following the birth of Alison’s son reveals that both Alison and her son have syphilis. She is obviously upset, and ominously says that her mom also probably has the venereal disease. Her mother is offended by the suggestion, but admits that she had some issues last year and took some leftover antibiotics to try to deal with them. She knows her husband visits “tarts” while away working for weeks.

Alison eventually admits to Rosalind that her stepfather is the father of her son. He has molested her since she was 10; it’s why she doesn’t like being touched. He kept her from crying out or telling anyone by threatening that her mother would leave just like her birth father if she ever found out.

Her horrified mother assures Alison that he will never touch her again – but Alison takes that as a sign that he will still be coming back to their home. She says her mother has failed her, and goes to find someone who will protect her.

She will live with a foster family, and vows not to return until her stepfather is dead. When her mother urges her not to involve the police, Rosalind gets upset. She and Cyril admit that, while they love their jobs, cases like these make them question themselves. Alison decides to name her son Martin – a name with no precedent in or connection to her family.

Joyce’s troubled familial past is also continuing to haunt her. As she sets off for her first solo delivery, she forgets to write down the address. Nancy yells it to her from the front door of Nonnatus, and Sylvester, lurking in the shadows, takes note. He’s therefore waiting outside Gerri’s door when Joyce leaves to call for an ambulance from a phone booth. Gerri’s placenta is partially detached, so she will need a hospital. Joyce shoves past Sylvester to make the call and returns to find the baby crowning. She delivers the girl and then sends her and Gerri off in the ambulance before cleaning up the blood and gathering some of Gerri’s sewing to do at Nonnatus House, in order to help the new mother out.

But Sylvester is still waiting for Joyce. She asks him what he wants; she doesn’t carry money with her. He wants to make a life in the UK, but that’s easier if he has a professional wife qualified to work there already. He threatens to reveal the truth about Joyce to the nuns, and that she has credentials under a false name, but Joyce is not intimidated. She rides home to Nonnatus, leaving him in the dark.

Matthew and Trixie’s marriage grows ever rockier even as Matthew begins to emerge from his funk as he sees opportunity ahead. He is forming a partnership with his friend in New York. He’ll spend three or four months there to suss things out, then might move his whole life there if things are promising. He has decided this all without consulting Trixie.

She is obviously upset, even if she understands his need to be successful again and drag them out of their financial hole. He says he just wants to be the man she married again, and be generous and able to spoil her with gifts. But she says they belong in London. She needs time to process; he says she can come when she’s ready.

Matthew and his son set off for New York. As he leaves, he begs Trixie to come eventually, but tells her he won’t force her. She weeps.