This week on All Creatures Great And Small, Carmody is still adjusting to life as a country vet. He hasn’t fully developed an instinct for diagnosing or learned how to speak to the clients in a way that they can understand. Meanwhile, Helen is struggling with how her pregnancy affects her daily routines. Brucellosis threatening the livelihood of a farming family and an itchy tortoise put Carmody’s social skills to the test. Let’s find out what happens.
The episode begins with James and Helen discussing potential baby names. James jokes about giving the baby a very traditional Scots Gaelic name like Morag or Murtagh. Helen’s not too keen on some of these ideas, but we also find out during this convo that James’ grandma was named Elspeth. Both James and Helen’s dad are overprotective and treat her as if she has a disability, but she feels that they're being patronizing. On the other hand, Jess and Dash can hear the baby’s heartbeat so they’re always circling Helen to protect her, which is more adorable than patriarchal. Even before Helen can tell Mrs. Hall the good news, Mrs. Hall figures it out. Helen says the baby is due around December.
Meanwhile, James and Carmody head out on a farm call. One of Mr. Crabtree’s cows, Elsie, lost a calf, and Crabtree's concerned for his livelihood. The Crabtree family moved to the Dales from Bradford to help the war effort by farming. The family hasn’t had the warmest welcome from the other farmers, but they’re hoping to learn as they go along. Carmody immediately believes Elsie has brucellosis and he revels in coming up with the answer. He insults Mr. Crabtree for letting Elsie mix with the rest of the herd since she was recently purchased. Carmody's matter-of-fact attitude rubs both Mr. Crabtree and James the wrong way. James apologizes to smooth things over, and immediately after, Carmody slips on a patch of mud and falls head first. James wants to laugh at the immediate karma, but he realizes that it’s more important that Carmody doesn’t feel completely discouraged from learning or wanting to make things right.
James decides to take Helen on the follow-up visit to the Crabtree farm. Helen believes they need practical advice and support from a fellow farmer. Siegfried uses this as an opportunity to give Carmody practice on his bedside manner. Mrs Hall pretends to be a clinic client, and Jess pretends to have a hurt paw. Carmody is forced to diagnose Jess without his study materials. Siegfried also counsels him on how to think out loud while examining.
To shore up the lessons on people management, Siegfried also assigns the next clinic case to Carmody. Ned Clough brings his tortoise Bernard to the clinic for examination. Cold-blooded animals are very unusual at Skeldale House. Carmody is assigned to figure out what’s ailing Bernard without any reference materials. Clough claims that Bernard is extremely itchy but he cannot find the cause. Carmody says he wants to observe Bernard overnight, as he doesn’t notice any obvious external injuries. Clough returns the next day and Carmody admits he still can’t find the cause. He suspects that mites or fleas are the culprit, but it’s common knowledge that they usually avoid reptiles. Carmody decides to put Bernard in a basin of water and several fleas fall to the bottom. Clough has been itching the entire time, so he probably passed the flea infestation to the tortoise. Carmody prescribes both clients flea medications — and it turns out he also needs them for himself.
Unfortunately, at the Crabtree's, James and Helen discover that another calf was stillborn. When they come back to Skeldale, Carmody tells James that he had some time to read up more on brucellosis. He discovered that the bacteria can jump from animals to humans, and that one study in particular linked exposure to animals with the disease to miscarriages in women. Carmody’s reliance on research and his delivery anger James to the point where he yells at Carmody. Mrs. Hall and Siegfried can hear their argument and ask what’s going on. During the explanation, Helen tells Mrs. Hall and Siegfried that she’s pregnant. They can’t even celebrate the happy news because of the fear of losing the baby. Mrs. Hall tries to distract Helen with baking, but Helen’s still worried that she’s already infected.
Meanwhile, at the Drovers, Siegfried tells James that he needs to reassure Helen, something he learned from losing Evelyn to cancer. He then notices Mr. Crabtree drinking across the room, and that the new farmer's attitude is very hopeful despite everything. Back at Skeldale, Siegfried reverses course and tells everyone to read all the books he initially confiscated from Carmody to find any helpful info. James and Siegfried discover that the blood test to diagnose brucellosis works for both humans and cows. Carmody suggests taking a sample of Helen’s blood and labeling it cow blood to fool the lab. The next morning Siegfried, James, and Carmody return to the Crabtree farm with the neighbors in tow, ready to scrub all the surfaces. The family is surprised by their neighbors’ generosity, and find out that Helen told the community that the Crabtrees needed real help. Grace Chapman also offers Mr. Crabtree a farmhand job, so he can learn what needs to be done to manage his farm.
The mail is also a source of anxiety during this episode. Mrs. Hall receives a letter from the solicitor which says her divorce application was finally approved. James then receives the letter from the lab with Helen’s blood test results. Helen admits that she’s scared, and not up to being brave. James tells her that he feels the same way. They read the results and are happy to share with the others that Helen is negative! Helen feels a lot better now that she can help her dad again and work around the house as long as she’s not near any sick animals. James promises he’ll trust her judgment on future physical activity.
Later on, Carmody apologizes to James, but James ends up thanking him for alerting both him and Helen to the brucellosis danger. James apologizes to Carmody for yelling at him, and also asks if Carmody still wants to share his research papers with him. Siegfried also consoles Carmody; catching fleas from animal patients is one of the hazards of the job. The episode ends with a toast to knowledge, fleas, and Baby Herriot.
Will the rest of Helen’s pregnancy progress without any more scares? What lessons will Carmody learn next? We’ll find out next week on All Creatures Great and Small!