'All Creatures Great and Small' Recap: Season 2 Episode 6
February 13, 2022
As James and Helen wait in line for a movie, grumpy farmer Cranford eyes James. The vet treated Cranford’s cow recently, but apparently the old man isn’t happy. While rumblings of World War II are shown in the newsreel before the feature, Cranford loudly tells James his cow is now dead—and James never sent him a salve he promised.
The next morning, when James complains that unpleasantness always intrudes upon his dates with Helen, Siegfried tells him to just marry her, to James’ shock. James is always too cautious, Siegfried chides. James flees the teasing to check on the Dalby farm.
Phyllis has had to put the cows back out to pasture and they’re having digestive issues. It could be salmonella, so James takes a sample to test—and consoles Phyllis that she made the right choice keeping the farm.
Back in Darrowby, a Mrs. Donovan is hawking homemade shampoos in the street, arguing that they’re better for dogs and cats than anything a vet can do. Her dog suddenly bolts to chase a nearby stray dog, and is hit by a car. Tristan is nearby and rushes to the dog, bringing it to the surgery, where Siegfried pronounces it dead. Siegfried leaves and listens approvingly to Tristan’s attempts to comfort the woman.
As Tristan carries the dog back to the houseboat where Mrs. Donovan lives, he notices the stray that her dog ran to play with and suggests that she get another dog, but she’s offended by the suggestion. You can’t just choose any dog as a companion.
James stops by the Alderson farm to check on their mare, soon due to give birth. He asks Helen to join him on the long ride to drop off the Dalby test samples—and to have dinner tomorrow with his parents, who are coming to visit for a night. She agrees to both.
On the car ride, James mentions Siegfried’s comment about marriage and his caution with a laugh. Helen tells him Siegfried does have a point: James does overthink things. He explains himself: if he asked her, Helen could say no. She asks him to stop the car and gets out to look over the green dales. He follows and tells her that he is fine that she’s not ready yet. But he’s not afraid to say that he wants to spend his life with her in Yorkshire. I’m not afraid either, she responds. They’re getting married!
Except Helen realizes that, aside from lacking a ring, James hasn’t asked her father for permission.
As they return to the Alderson farm, her father runs up: the mare is in labor, and something is wrong. The mare is on her side in a field, wheezing in pain. James quickly realizes her uterus is twisted, and sends Jenny to call Siegfried for help. Siegfried grabs horse killer, among other things, and sets off. Tristan joins him at the last minute. When they arrive, it’s too late for a C-section, so James has the mare rolled over while he grasps the colt’s legs. It works; the colt is born. Everyone watches in joy as the colt stands up for the first time to go to its mother, who was the horse of Jenny and Helen’s late mother.
While everyone is away, Gerald stops by the surgery and asks Mrs. Hall out on a stroll with the dogs. As they walk, she shares her fear that her son will join up if there’s a war, just like her late husband, who then suffered from PTSD.
After Siegfried and Tristan leave, Jenny names the colt after her mother and her father tears up. Helen pulls Jenny away, leaving James to talk with her father, and he asks to marry Helen. “You’d better come up to the house,” Alderson replies.
At the house, he pours James a Scotch and reminisces about his wife. The Scotch keeps flowing, and he eventually tells James there’s no point in getting his permission: he’s already asked—he could tell by Helen’s smile—and she’ll do whatever she wants anyway. He then gives James his late wife’s ring.
Jenny listens from the stairs, smiling. The next morning, she makes breakfast and does all of Helen’s chores. There’s nothing else you need to do here, she says, sending Helen on her way with a hug.
After telling Siegfried, Tristan, and Mrs. Hall about his engagement the next morning, James goes to meet his parents. He brings them along to the Dalby farm, where they observe as he gives Phyllis the good news that her cows have an easily treatable copper deficiency, nothing more.
James sends his parents to freshen up for dinner and goes to pick up Helen. He kneels before her with her mother’s ring, and her father looks on approvingly as she slips it on.
James’ parents wait awkwardly for his arrival at the surgery, and his mother brings up the Glasgow job, to Siegfried’s surprise. When James arrives, he has his own surprise for his parents: he introduces Helen to them as his fiancé. And then he tells them he’s staying in the dales: I love it here. Helen says that he’s made such a difference to so many people there, and he adds that this is his home now. You should be proud, Helen tells his parents. I am; and I love him.
As long as you’re both happy, that’s all we ever wanted, James’ father assures him, and his mother agrees—struggling to conceal her disappointment. She does cry as she leaves on the bus the next day.
At the pub that evening, Mrs. Donovan stops by to show off her new dog. Tristan walked the stray by her earlier, pretending that it would have to be put down if no one took care of it. I know what you were doing, she tells Tristan at the pub—but she’s happy.
Tristan also dealt with Cranford, who was rude to Mrs. Hall when he demanded delivery of his salve, by bringing him the medicine—and “accidentally” mixing it up with a stool sample.
Tristan is feeling good about being a vet, and has decided to go back to school to finish his qualifications, to everyone’s delight. Bright futures await.