All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 8:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
It’s the day of the Daffodil Ball, one of the biggest social events of the year. Tristan encourages everyone to buy tickets, including for dates for himself and James. He then pushes a date between James and Helen by telling Helen that James wants to speak to her. Meanwhile, the recently divorced organizer of the ball, Diana Brompton, flirts with Siegfried, so he may have a chance at a romantic evening as well. He has missed Dorothy since she left for Malta, although she sends him postcards. Tristan has yet to find a date.
When Helen arrives to speak to James, he’s about to start a long day of appointments while Tristan and Siegfried make house calls. He awkwardly invites Helen to the ball but she’s reluctant: she hasn’t been out much since abruptly calling off her wedding to Hugh. James is called away to treat a dog who was caught in a trap before Helen can answer.
Mrs. Hall sends every other patient away until the afternoon so that James can treat the badly injured dog, then makes tea for the owner, Gerald Hammond. Sparks fly between him and Mrs. Hall, who becomes flustered around Gerald while James works. James asks to keep the dog for a few days, to make sure its wound doesn’t get infected.
James is especially aware of the shortcomings of the dispensary, having received a note from the veterinary practice he briefly worked at in Glasgow with an offer of work—an offer his mother has already accepted for him. He feels he owes his parents, who are struggling to make ends meet given his father’s bad back, he tells Mrs. Hall. He has a few months to figure out if there’s something—or someone—to make him stay in Yorkshire.
Siegfried and Tristan meanwhile visit Colonel Merrick—he was on the list for the previous day, but Siegfried forgot to go, for which he blames James. The colonel has turned to Siegfried’s rival vet in his absence, but asks Siegfried to take a look at his ailing cow anyway—without payment, of course. Siegfried gives a more detailed diagnosis than his rival and tells the colonel he may have to operate if things don’t clear up in a day.
At their next stop, Siegfried assigns Tristan the unenviable task of lancing a hematoma on the head of a large, aggressive hog. Tristan bucks up his courage when Siegfried threatens that they might have to return that evening with anesthesia and miss the ball if he can’t do it now. Tristan manages the task by getting the hog to charge him and then fleeing over the gate. The hematoma bursts as the hog rams the gate. The daughter of the hog’s owner watches Tristan with amusement. She’ll be at the ball that evening.
During their car ride home, Tristan needles Siegfried: you’re losing your fight, he tells his brother. He let the colonel demand an exam without pay, refused to get dirty lancing the hog’s hematoma, and has no courage with women. You’re stuck in a rut, Tristan says.
James is forced to work through a backlog of cases by himself in the afternoon. One of his last patients is the dog for whom he delivered a pup the night before Helen’s wedding. Helen arrives for the ball—she took James’s offer of a ticket after all—and the dog’s owner teases James about his continual longing glances at her. As James finishes up with his last patient, the dog’s owner and Mrs. Hall chat with Helen, telling her that if she had made the wrong decision regarding Hugh she would feel worse by now.
When Siegfried and Tristan return, James again argues that Tristan should be allowed to work independently: the practice could bring in more money and modernize, and James wouldn’t be stuck treating sixteen patients in an afternoon alone. I’ve learned more from you in a year than in all my schooling, James tells Siegfried, softening the criticism. Siegfried insists he’s willing to make changes—it’s clear James and Tristan’s needling has hit home.
At the ball, Siegfried tells Tristan that Dorothy is just a friend, then sets off to flirt with Diana. Tristan goes off to his own partner for the night, the daughter of the hog owner. James endearingly apologizes for his terrible dancing to Helen, promising that it will make any onlookers completely forget Helen’s aborted wedding. He eventually loosens up and they have a great time, Helen hugging him in joy at the end.
While James fetches drinks, another man asks Helen to dance; neither she nor James knows how to label themselves, and so she does. James sadly loses her in the crowd.
Siegfried stands up for himself when another man approaches and tries to interrupt his conversation with Diana. The colonel and Siegfried’s rival try to get some free advice about the colonel’s cow, but Siegfried refuses. You can make an appointment during business hours, he tells the colonel, leaving with Diana.
The next morning, Siegfried and Tristan are glowing from their success, while James is mopey. The colonel calls to make an appointment, and Siegfried hands Tristan and James white coats: we’re going to give him a show, he says. And he’s happy to hear new ideas for the practice any time, he tells James cheerily.
Operating on the colonel’s cow, he has the colonel lean in close to watch—then punctures a stomach, spraying waste all over everyone, especially the colonel. He pulls out a wire and shows it to the sputtering colonel: there’s your problem. The bill will be in the mail, he says as he and his assistants walk off.
When Gerald arrives to pick up his healthy dog, he suggests walking with Mrs. Hall and the practice’s dog sometime—but she tells him the men typically walk the dog. Having noticed that the hall clock is behind, he tells Mrs. Hall to call when she grows tired of setting it forward and he’ll fix it. “Lost time is never found again,” he says.
Helen is more successful in a visit to apologize for losing James. She hadn’t seen everyone at the ball in so long. But she’d love to dance with James again: it was the first time she’s felt like herself in a long time, all because of him.