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'All Creatures Great and Small' Recap: Season 4 Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Richard, Siegfried, and Mrs. Pumphrey try to see something off screen
Richard Carmody is full of book knowledge but lacks real-world experience. 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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James and Helen have decided to try to start a family, but they’re struggling to find any time together to do the trying. They’re busy helping with lambing at the Alderson farm as well as other spring veterinary needs, and are both exhausted all the time.

But James has a plan: he is bringing in a veterinary student who’s at the top of his class to work as his assistant for a time, just as James himself was once Siegfried’s student. Of course, Siegfried is immediately difficult, forbidding the student from residing in Tristan’s old room even though James offered lodging. Siegfried misses – and worries about – his younger brother as he fights in the war.

Fortunately, Mrs. Hall calls around and finds a room for the student, Richard Carmody, across the square from Skeldale House. But Richard barely makes it to Skeldale to hear this news, the street signs having been removed in case of invasion by the Germans. When he finally does arrive, perfectly on time but an hour after getting to town, James immediately pulls him into an exam room, where Mrs. Pumphrey is waiting with her foster dog Cedric, whose owner has enlisted.

Mrs. Pumphrey claims there is a “dire emergency”: Cedric suffers from excessive flatulence, and she has a community tea party coming up. Richard speaks up and suggests leaving Cedric outside; Mrs. Pumphrey is appalled. James offers her a more palatable solution: a change of diet.

Having faced Mrs. Pumphrey, Richard now has to face Siegfried, who accuses him of being late – but, surprisingly, Richard defends himself, and Siegfried backs down. Despite his self-confidence, Richard’s a bit socially awkward, and refuses Mrs. Hall’s offer of dinner, immediately familiarizing himself with the veterinary practice – and thus requiring James’ presence, preventing him from spending planned time with Helen.

Siegfried quickly warms to Richard, with his bookish learning and Latin, and takes him on an appointment to examine a horse while James is called to Mrs. Pumphrey’s. The horse has a wheeze, and Grace Chapman is devoted to it because it’s her son’s, and he’s off in the war. Siegfried’s treatment has been helping, however, but the Chapman farm itself needs some work. Grace is reluctant to hire people to replace her son.

James arrives at Mrs. Pumphrey’s to find her napping, so he also takes the chance for some shut-eye – before being woken by Cedric. The dog’s activity has been preventing Mrs. Pumphrey from sleeping, so James suggests increasing his exercise during the day. Cedric’s flatulence has gotten a little better, but Mrs. Pumphrey has still decided to move her party outside, just in case.

She also scuppers James’ plan to send Richard to the party in his place, so that he and Helen could have some alone time. James promises Helen that they can just make an appearance and then leave.

Mrs. Humphrey has invited the infantry training in the area to the party, to smooth over relations – the soldiers keep forgetting to close gates as they run through fields. Siegfried scolds one company, but they do it again and Chapman’s horse gets out.

Richard has no intention of enlisting after he graduates; he wants to help the country maintain its food supply as a vet. Siegfried congratulates James on his discovery of Richard, but James is feeling that Siegfried has taken Richard from him and that James himself has been relegated to the role of dumb assistant.

That feeling is deepened when Richard argues with James at the party over the cause of Cedric’s gas. James believes it is due to a psychological issue, but Richard, buttressed by Siegfried, suggests that Mrs. Pumphrey is not keeping the dog to a strict diet. Helen tries to intervene so that James can leave with her, but James won’t abandon the argument, and Helen goes home on her own, upset.

James hastily ties Cedric up and runs into Mrs. Pumphrey, who sends him to follow Helen immediately. But James finds Chapman’s horse impaled on a broken fence post on the road home, and goes back to Pumphrey Manor for help from Siegfried and Richard. He arrives to find Cedric wreaking havoc by eating food from the table and slobbering over the infantrymen. Helen has returned, but James rushes off with Siegfried and Richard.

One soldier complains to Helen about the broken gates – that’s part of why they forget to close them. Siegfried has already explained to him the importance of closing them, for the livestock; now Helen explains that there aren’t enough men around to fix things anymore, with the war on.

She also realizes that James was right about Cedric. He is attracted to the infantrymen because his own owner is one, and he misses him, thus causing him anxiety and physiological issues. She suggests that Mrs. Pumphrey give Cedric any toys left by his owner, and that finally calms him down.

Helen also discusses her marital argument with Mrs. Pumphrey, who tells her that she is correct that life is short, but that she must also forgive quickly.

Despite his knowledge, Richard proves his inexperience when confronted with a real-life emergency. The team of vets remove the stake from the horse, who is lucky not to be mortally injured. Siegfried and James treat the horse while Richard sets off to find Chapman. When she arrives, she apologizes; she knows she needs to fix the gate. It has just been difficult without her son, whom she worries about constantly.

There is a solution, at least to the need for work: now that they understand the situation, the infantrymen visit Chapman’s farm and offer to help out – and fix the gate.

When James finally reunites with Helen, she affectionately calls him an idiot and kisses him, and he apologizes, promising to make time for her.

Siegfried returns to Mrs. Hall to apologize for offending Gerald, somehow, at the party. She admits that everything turned out well. Siegfried had let slip that he has known about Hall’s divorce filing for weeks, while she only just worked up the courage to tell Gerald. Gerald then asked Mrs. Hall why she didn’t tell him, and she explained that she wasn’t ready to share; Siegfried just happened on the information. Gerald wants her to know that she can come to him with anything; he doesn’t want her feeling alone or scared as she did with her husband. She kisses him, and they make plans to go to the movies that night.

When James and Helen retire from Siegfried’s company after Siegfried assures James that Richard could never replace him, that then leaves Siegfried alone at the pub. But Richard appears and Siegfried offers him some good-hearted advice: keep some of your thoughts and book-based criticisms to yourself; you don’t know as much as you think you do.

James and Helen finally have alone time – but they’re both exhausted. Helen is also confused by her emotional swings. She checks her calendar – and realizes that she’s pregnant.