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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James may have taken on more than he can handle with systematic government tuberculosis testing. He’s subjected to a high-decibel haranguing by the bureaucrat Mr. Harcourt at the Ministry of Agriculture for mixing up one of the many—many—forms involved in the testing and accidentally sending out Agriculture officials to test a cow that had been dead for two years. Harcourt will give James one more chance—no more mistakes.
Harcourt could shut down the veterinary practice if he wanted, Siegfried tells Helen.
Helen doesn’t know about James’ issues with the testing, but she hears about the dead cow debacle from Tom, who’s helping out on the Alderson farm now that Helen isn’t there all the time. The farm has done well since Richard had his herd tested for TB—now he can charge more for his milk.
That’s part of why Dick Rudd has agreed to let James test his herd. Unfortunately, James finds one cow that might be ill. He takes a sample for testing and discovers that it is positive. Rudd is disappointed that the cow will have to be slaughtered, but happy that James found it before it infected the rest of the herd.
James admits to Helen that he’s struggling with the testing—a lot of cows have tested positive—and the forms. He feels like he’s letting everyone down. She reassures him that he’s doing a good thing, and that the testing is important.
What he doesn’t tell her is that he’s also thinking of the coming war and all the young men like him who are conscripting. He feels guilty staying at home in his warm home while they go off to fight.
No such doubt afflicts Tristan. He’s beginning to make his own decisions and take on responsibility, as in his purchase of a clunker of a car and use of it to help James with some calls on days when the surgery isn’t busy. Siegfried had no hint of these plans, and is uneasy with the changes made without him. Tricki-Woo is staying at Skeldale House, and Siegfried uses the pampered dog as an excuse to complain about the car: Tricki is scared of its loud noises.
But when Siegfried tells Tristan the car isn’t suitable and he should return it, Tristan refuses—and comments on how Siegfried is turning into Mrs. Pumphrey in the way he spoils Tricki-Woo, who is supposed to be on a diet. Siegfried is also learning, to his envy, that lady clients of the practice love Tristan and constantly bring him cakes.
Siegfried’s disapproval also doesn’t stop Tristan from taking Florence Pandhi, the daughter of Siegfried’s rival, on a date. Tristan uses the excuse of checking on Florence’s dog Daisy to visit her in his car, and she agrees to go on a drive with him. With help from Mrs. Hall, he prepares sandwiches to take to a lookout, which he confesses to Florence that he’s never taken someone to before. She asks him about his dreams, and encourages him to have some, and they share some tender moments high above the dales.
Mrs. Hall has also been asked on a date, although she doesn’t realize it until Siegfried points it out. Gerald invites her to attend a concert at the village hall with him, and she agrees. But when she arrives to see him holding flowers, she asks to take a walk instead. Gerald drops the flowers.
Gerald apologizes for pushing too hard, but Mrs. Hall shrugs him off. She wants to explain herself: her last marriage, and her relationship with Edward, the son that was its fruit, was painful. She is happy and safe in her current life, and not ready for change yet. Gerald understands.
Helen also tries to explain her feelings to James, but she fears he doesn’t understand. As they watch Tom get on a bus to join the military and James voices his feelings of duty, she tells him that his work is just as important, saving people from tuberculosis and farmers from losing their livelihood and food. Beyond all those people, Helen needs him. He has to stay for her.
Unconvinced that she’s gotten through to him, Helen talks to Siegfried. She’s given up so much—the farm, her family—to be with James, and she can’t lose him. Siegfried assures her he won’t let James go to war: that’s why he made James partner. Everyone at Skeldale House is in his care, and he won’t let James enlist—he is still in charge, after all.
Tricki doesn’t seem to think so. The dog hides from Siegfried and refuses to be coaxed out by cake. Mrs. Hall asks Siegfried why he’s obsessing over the dog, and he explains that he’s having a hard time with Tristan growing up and becoming more independent. Mrs. Hall tells him he has to let Tristan make his own decisions, and he agrees.
James thinks he has made a mistake in taking his own responsibility by insisting on doing TB testing. Helen is helping him with the forms, but he’s still feeling exhausted by all the trouble. Despite Rudd’s equanimity about having to slaughter his ill cow, the farmer is upset when he learns that he’ll have to close his farm for a few days, too, while his whole herd is tested.
James decides to check on Rudd, and learns that Mallock, the butcher, has just left—with the wrong cow. Instead of the TB-positive cow, he took Rudd’s best milk cow. James rushes off to stop Mallock and races past the clattering car of Tristan, returning with Florence from their date. But James’ car sputters to a stop just as Mallock’s truck comes into view.
Tristan picks up James and they catch the truck—but it’s not Mallock. They speed to Mallock’s butcher yard and see a carcass. But it’s a different cow—Mallock hasn’t killed Rudd’s yet. The cow is saved.
Tristan drops off Florence at her rooms, and she tells him it was the best date she’s ever been on before kissing him.
James is going to tell Siegfried that he can’t do the testing anymore when he sees that Harcourt of the Ministry of Agriculture is waiting at Skeldale House. The bureaucrat commends James on his work, telling him that he’s saving lives and is a credit to his profession. He thought the whole practice was working on the TB testing, but Siegfried told him James was doing it all by himself, impressing Harcourt. He even offers to let James help out with testing in another district.
After Harcourt leaves, Siegfried asks to take a ride in Tristan’s new car, to Tristan’s delight. Mrs. Hall agrees to go with them when she notices that a beaming James and Helen might enjoy some alone time.