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'All Creatures Great and Small' Recap: Season 4 Episode 1

Daniel Hautzinger
Siegfried and a man and dog walk towards a stone barn across a snowy field
Siegfried is confused that Slaven keeps asking for help around his farm. Credit: Playground Entertainment and Masterpiece

All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 8:00 pm on WTTW is available to stream. Recap the previous and following episodes.
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It’s Eastertime in the dales, and James is so delighted by the sight of tykes hunting for eggs on the village green that he nearly hits a boy and his dog with his car. The boy snarls at him and eggs his window as he skulks away.

Children keep taking up James and Helen’s attention, but there’s a war on so they are waiting to start a family. Still, they love being around kids, like at the plastic duck race down a stream that Helen officiates. Once again, the boy whom James almost hit throws some meanness into the proceedings, hurling pebbles at the ducks before fleeing with his dog. James sets off in pursuit.

He finds the dog tied up near a path, whimpering, and notices that it is ill. But the boy appears and punches James in the face before he can do anything about it. By the time James overcomes his shock, the boy and the dog are gone.

James learns from Helen that the boy’s name is Wesley Binks. He was kicked out of school, probably for not showing up often enough. James fears his dog has distemper, which could kill it if not treated, and blames Wesley. Helen tells him where Wesley lives but cautions him not to judge the boy too harshly.

Siegfried is treating everyone, particularly Helen, a bit harshly right now. He has given up tobacco for Lent, and that along with the extra tasks he must do in the absence of Tristan has made him irritable. Although he keeps boasting about his self-control, the only reason he has not smoked is because he had Helen hide his tobacco. As Easter and the end of Lent nears, he keeps surreptitiously – and desperately – searching for it.

Helen has taken on some of Tristan’s tasks, like ordering supplies. But she accidentally buys six dozen boxes instead of rolls of gauze, and enlists Mrs. Hall and James to help her hide them from Siegfried until she can figure out what to do with them. The supply office is closed for the holiday, so she can’t call them.

Siegfried is busy helping the farmer Clifford Slaven, who keeps calling out the vet to help with his sheep. One has a difficult birth, and then rejects the lamb. Siegfried shows Slaven how to ensure the lamb gets milk and bonds with its mother, but the task requires more than one person, and all of Slaven’s farmhands have left to fight in the war. He seems uncomfortable when Siegfried tells him to enlist his wife or daughters for help.

That’s because, as Helen tells Siegfried, Slaven’s daughters have left the house and his wife has died. Siegfried returns to Slaven and apologizes for his ignorance, and helps him with the ewe and lamb.

Mrs. Hall has decided to take a big step: formally divorcing the husband she hasn’t lived with for years. But the process requires a detailed statement as well as documents, and she’s finding it difficult to re-live such a private thing on a government form. Siegfried spies the divorce papers as well as a photo of Mrs. Hall’s son, and encourages her to put up the photo while the war is on. She tells him to do the same with Tristan, to whom he has struggled to write. Siegfried is also shocked to realize that Mrs. Hall and Gerald might one day marry.

He later apologizes to her for the awkwardness of the conversation, and offers to let her use his study to finish her divorce application free of distraction. Mrs. Hall finally submits the application, and thanks Siegfried. He finally writes to Tristan.

He also starts finding boxes of gauze in odd places as he searches for his tobacco. He eventually finds all the gauze and asks Helen what happened. He forgives her, but demands to know where his tobacco is. She reveals it, and he happily smokes a pipe – he almost made it to Easter.

James visits Wesley’s house, in a poor area, but the boy won’t let him in. James settles in to wait outside, biting into a pork pie and playing soccer with another kid. Wesley finally comes out and James explains that he just wants to help the boy’s dog. He gives Wesley the rest of his pork pie. But Wesley chafes when James says the dog needs to be treated and fed well.

Frustrated by the boy’s anger and resistance towards help, James decides to report him and get the dog transferred to someone else’s care, lest the disease spread. Helen is skeptical but lets him go through with it.

James and an inspector arrive at Wesley’s house and find that he is gone but his great grandmother is there. She lets them in the house and says that Wesley puts the dog before himself, feeding him even when they don’t have enough food. James sees the remnants of his pork pie in a bowl next to the dog’s clean bed. He tells the inspector he has made a mistake, and promises her that the dog will receive proper care.

But Wesley has seen the inspector, and refuses once again to let James help his dog. James worries that he has condemned the dog to death.

Then Wesley comes to the door of Skeldale House at night and asks James to help his dog. James gives the dog an injection and Wesley instructions for treating him. Wesley tries to pay, but James refuses. But the boy is stubborn, so James leads him to the animal house and gives him some chores to do there instead.

Siegfried checks on Wesley’s work and is impressed. He even gives the boy more tasks when Wesley worries about the animals getting enough exercise and freedom from their cages. James wants to find regular work for Wesley, and Siegfried has an idea: he sends the boy to help Slaven on his farm.