All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 8:00 pm and is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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Newly married life in the cramped bedsit at the top of Skeldale House is cozy and comfortable, with constant canoodling. Sure, Helen may burn most of the food she cooks on their tiny stove, and one person has to sit on the bed when the content couple eats at a rickety table, but she and James are happy.
James’ relationship with his new business partner Siegfried is less blissful. Now that he earns a percentage of profits rather than a set wage, James is making less than he did before—less, even, than Tristan. But Siegfried doesn’t want to discuss the business and have James muddle things up, until Mrs. Hall prods him and he realizes he can have some fun with James. He gleefully dumps his disorganized receipts on the table and gives James free rein to catalog it all while he goes out dancing.
When James admits to struggling to understand it all the next day, Siegfried tells James to leave the business to him. But James has another idea: Helen, who ran the accounts at her family’s farm, can help. Siegfried becomes increasingly agitated as he watches Helen organize things, and she eventually decides it would be best if she stopped, given how upset Siegfried becomes.
She did notice that Siegfried was late in cashing checks, including for tuberculosis testing, which the government pays the practice to do. James spies an opportunity to increase profits and decides to try to test more farms, even though both Helen and Siegfried warn him that the farmers won’t like it. James orders tests without Siegfried’s knowledge.
But Siegfried is also going behind James’ back. Kate Billings’ calves are sick, and she has no idea why. She trusts Siegfried, who has been her vet for years, and asks specifically for him to come out even after two visits by James. Siegfried does and says exactly the same things as James: something the calves are eating is causing them trouble, but since they haven’t left their shed it’s unclear what it is. All James and Siegfried can do is wait on lab tests to see if the calves have ingested lead.
The pressure is on, because Kate loves these calves and has already lost two. They’re all she has, after her sister got married a year ago and moved over the hill, leaving Kate unhappily alone on their farm. When the lab results come back negative for lead, James suggests that Kate reach out to her sister for support, but she refuses.
While James and Siegfried have approached the Billings calves in the same way and both come up frustrated, they have different methods when it comes to Tristan, their lone employee. Siegfried tells James he must be firm with Tristan rather than gently chastising him, as he does when he sees the mess Tristan has left in the surgery—his medical tools aren’t even sanitized. But James thinks a friendly relationship can be just as successful.
What it really takes to reform Tristan, however, is the outside influence of an emergency. Florence, the daughter of Siegfried’s veterinary rival, calls Tristan out to look at her dog Daisy when she suddenly collapses—her father is out on a call—but she has recovered by the time Tristan gets there, and he can’t find anything wrong.
Tristan is occupied with the day’s crossword and warning Gerald not to hurt Mrs. Hall—the pair have ventured into talking about each other’s romantic pasts while walking their dogs together—when Florence rushes in with a gasping Daisy in her arms. She was once her father’s assistant, but now works at a bank, to his displeasure, so she knows the basics—and criticizes Tristan for the chaotic state of the surgery as she lays her dog down.
Tristan discovers that Daisy has a pebble lodged deep in her throat. He must make an incision in the neck to retrieve it and free her breathing—but his instruments haven’t been cleaned. He quickly sanitizes them while Florence administers a shot of anesthesia, then manages to dislodge the pebble and save the dog. Siegfried returns home as Florence is leaving and she tells him that Tristan did an excellent job. She also provides Tristan with a particularly difficult crossword answer, to his delight.
When James spots Tristan cleaning the surgery later, Tristan explains that he has learned the importance of having everything sanitized and ready to go.
James and Siegfried still have to learn how to work together as partners. When Siegfried spots the tuberculosis tests that James ordered, he argues with him for going behind his back. James brings up Siegfried’s secretive visit to Kate Billings. Siegfried storms off, shouting that he never wanted a partner—something that Tristan has already told James. Siegfried likes being in control.
Mrs. Hall reassures Helen in the aftermath of the fight that Siegfried just takes time to adjust. The two women hatch a plan to get Siegfried and James to reconcile and work together. It also has the convenient benefit of bringing James and Helen down for meals with the whole house. Helen is used to doing everything at the farm, and has to adjust to a house in which Mrs. Hall is happy and proud to run things and do chores. Skeldale House is both of their homes.
The next morning, Helen tells James that their stove is out. They’ll have to eat downstairs, to James’ displeasure. At the awkward breakfast table, Mrs. Hall and Helen suggest that James and Siegfried go to the Billings farm together to try to solve the calves’ ailment. The partners reluctantly agree.
While they search the farm for possible poisons, Kate thanks James for his kindness. Siegfried finds a dead horn bud in the milk the calves are drinking, and Kate explains that she disbudded them recently. She used a solution sold to her by a salesman, but doesn’t know what it is—her sister handled the business side of things, and Kate can’t read. James and Siegfried realize that the solution is poisonous, and has been contaminating the milk the calves drink when their horn buds fall into the liquid.
Kate is horrified that she has inadvertently poisoned her calves. Her sister would have known, she says, castigating herself. She’s a stubborn fool.
James is familiar with that type of person. He suggests that Kate go to her sister, and she sets off over the hill with flowers. Siegfried agrees to let James do tuberculosis testing and convince the farmers of its worth.
And from now on, James and Helen will eat downstairs with everyone else—to James’ relief. No more burnt food.