'Call the Midwife' Gives an Important Refresher Course in Feminism

Megan Cusack as Nurse Nancy Corrigan reads a letter as Renee Bailey as Joyce Highland chats over coffee in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13, Episode 2

Megan Cusack as Nurse Nancy Corrigan and Renee Bailey as Joyce Highland in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Olly Courtly / BBC Studios / Neal Street Productions

If anyone has been feeling their inner feminist starving for energy, then this week's episode of Call the Midwife is the answer. The issues that popped up in Poplar in the second episode of Season 13 for our favorite midwives and nurses all had one common denominator: men, but, as per usual, our girls were more than up for the challenge. Everyone from Trixie (Helen George) to the patients of the week was dealing with condescending, feeble, or — in one case — straight-up absentee men, making their lives more difficult. 

There was one notable exception, but we'll get to him later on. The point is, the resilience and strength of our heroines in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. 

We're not surprised that the midwives and nurses of Nonnatus House were able to stand up for themselves, but it was shocking to see even men we know and love being condescending and dismissive of the influential women in their lives. Something was definitely in the water in Poplar this week, but the girls took care of it, and it looks like they'll be standing up to more than their spouses and friends in the near future. 

The Importance of Asking for Help, or Demanding It

Annabel Betts as Edna Bristow pushes a pram as Zephryn Taitte as Cyril Robinson holds the door in Call the Midwife Season 13

Annabel Betts as Edna Bristow and Zephryn Taitte as Cyril Robinson in Call the Midwife Season 13

Olly Courtly / BBC Studios / Neal Street Productions

The patients of the week were dealing with separate issues, but both found their husbands to be an obstacle to their happiness. 

Edna Bristow (Annabel Betts) was deserted by her husband despite being almost fully to term with their second child and caring for their toddler, Tracy. Edna refused to take handouts or ask for assistance despite drowning in bills. Instead, she worked through the initial stages of her labor to make sure she got paid for her cleaning job. Edna gave birth to a healthy baby boy, but things took a turn for the worse. Tracy became ill from the Black mold spreading through Edna's apartment. 

Nurse Turner (Laura Main) took it upon herself to march down to the council management office and demand someone inspect Edna's apartment instead of plotting more apartment buildings. Cyril (Zephryn Taitte) was sent for the inspection and confirmed the mold was caused by the cheap drywall used to construct the apartments. Cyril finally convinced Edna to apply for the financial aid she desperately needed and ensured that her apartment was properly fixed up. 

Megan Cusack as Nurse Nancy Corrigan washing her hands in Call the Midwife Season 13

Megan Cusack as Nurse Nancy Corrigan in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Olly Courtly / BBC Studios / Neal Street Productions

Across town, Sahira Khan (Rachel Kamath) was suffering from a rare liver disease that could become fatal with any significant hormone changes. Dr. Turner (Stephen McGann) had to inform Sahira and her husband (Romo Sikdar) that it would significantly endanger her life if she were ever to get pregnant. The husband immediately asked what the point of being married was if they couldn't have children. His wife was taken to the hospital after suffering from a seizure hours before and just found out she can never be a biological mother, but sure, let's make this about you, dude. 

Sahira got him back shortly thereafter. Once Sahira came home from the hospital, Nurse Nancy (Megan Cusack) came to pay a visit. Sahira's husband was trying to pressure her into telling her parents about her condition because he couldn't tell his own mother until she told her parents. He tried to say they needed their parents' counsel (see: their permission for him to leave her), but Sahira told him point-blank she didn't want to speak to them and then be blamed for not being able to have children because of a liver disease that was not her fault. If he couldn't understand that, then he was a weak man. And Sahira didn't want to be married to a weak man. That shut him right up. 

Nancy ran into the Khans running their shoe booth in the street market a little later. They decided they would work harder to support each other and stay together. It was nice to see because we know that Sahira isn't afraid to stand up for herself. Who knows, maybe we'll get to see the Khans adopt later on down the line. 

Trixie Hits the Road

Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle gives advice on being a decent husband to Olly Rix as Matthew Aylward in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Cliff Parisi as Fred Buckle and Olly Rix as Matthew Aylward in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Olly Courtly / BBC Studios / Neal Street Productions

Things did not go as well for Trixie. She has grown tired of the long bus rides to Poplar and asked Matthew (Olly Rix) for driving lessons. Matthew has been pretty great up until this point, but her earned a bombastic side eye from this recapper for the way he spoke to Trixie while trying to teach Trixie to drive. First of all, who forces someone to have their first manual transmission driving lesson in the middle of the city? Find a country road or a flat field, sir! Trying to teach someone how to go from a dead stop to first in actual traffic in their first lesson is actually cruel, and he was so condescending while he did it. 

They both turned to Fred (Cliff Parisi) for help after the first lesson. We give props to Matthew for quickly realizing he didn't have the right temperament for teaching, but he immediately lost them for saying that Fred would regret agreeing to teach Trixie. That's your wife, man. And Fred is doing you a favor! Matthew is so pretty and has generally been supportive of Trixie, but he was a real asshat in this episode, and it's going to take a massive romantic gesture to get the bad taste out of my mouth where he's concerned. 

Fred's patience paid off, and Trixie nailed that parked-to-first-gear transition within three lessons, which is incredible. Manual transmissions are so hard! 

Change Is a Comin'...

Shamia Phills as Norelle Morris, Natalie Quarry as Rosalind Clifford, Rachel Nicholson as Kathy Downes, and Renee Bailey as Joyce Highland sitting in a row on a bench in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Shamia Phills as Norelle Morris, Natalie Quarry as Rosalind Clifford, Rachel Nicholson as Kathy Downes, and Renee Bailey as Joyce Highland in 'Call the Midwife' Season 13

Olly Courtly / BBC Studios / Neal Street Productions

Edna Bristow's case inspired some major life changes for two of our series regulars. Cyril, the remaining proof that chivalry isn't completely dead in Poplar, decided he no longer wanted to help the council get away with shortchanging people. Instead, he's going to become a social worker so that he can actually help people. We know he will be so good at it, and the people of Poplar will be in good hands with Cyril on the case to help the most unfortunate. 

Cyril wasn't the only one inspired to make a difference. Violet (Annabelle Apsion) decided to run for mayor after a bit of encouragement from Sister Veronica (Rebecca Gethings). Fred was dismissive of the idea at first (This was our reaction, Fred) but soon got on board. That's more like it, Fred! Poplar is going to get in shape very quickly with Violet in charge. 

Nancy is also looking to make a difference, which may cause friction in Nonnatus House. She followed the pupil midwives to an RCN Raise the Roof campaign meeting to discuss how to get nurses higher wages. Is a nurses union on the way? At the very least, the younger generation is geared up to demand a living wage, and we'll have to see how the old guard, including the sisters, feel about the new movement. 

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After this episode, we're fired up and ready to demand change. If we can't get it from the British government, we sure as hell better get it from Matthew and all the other Poplar husbands, who were really subpar in this episode. Step it up, boys. We know you're better than this. 

Call the Midwife Season 13 continues on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on PBS, with new episodes available streaming on the PBS App and the PBS Prime Video Channel.

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Megan Vick has been writing about pop culture on the internet professionally since she was 18 years old, but she's not going to tell you how long ago that was. 

She grew up on British TV thanks to her very British mother, but she also loves mom shows of all kinds and YA romances. Her byline has appeared in TV Guide, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and more. 

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