This week on All Creatures Great and Small, the residents of Skeldale House have to reckon with changes in their lives in various ways. James receives his enlistment date from the RAF, and it’s well before Helen’s due date. Mrs. Hall questions the future of her relationship with Gerald. Siegfried has to adjust to only having Carmody for pet and farm calls. Let’s discuss how the characters handle these changes.
The episode begins with the smallest of the life-changing hurdles: Carmody has to learn how to drive if he’s going to be a good country vet. He blows out the transmission on James’ car trying to learn how to switch gears. If only automatics existed in 1940! James advises Carmody to take things behind the wheel slow and steady but Carmody points out that the old fable of the tortoise and the hare is predicated on an illogical premise. This conversation is another hint that Carmody may be what we'd now call neurodivergent.
After the failed lesson, James and Carmody return to Skeldale. We see a shot of James’ enlistment papers from the RAF in the upstairs room. He has to report on August 18th, which is only a few days away. Helen is helping James pack, but she’s worried for her own future. James wants to spend more time with Helen before he has to leave, but clients are demanding his services right until the end. One of those demanding clients is Mrs. Pumphrey. Carmody still can’t wrap his head around Mrs. Pumphrey’s pet parenting style, but he tries to prescribe Tricki Woo some essential fatty acid tablets to combat skin irritation. Mrs. Pumphrey tells James that once he leaves she’ll only ask for Uncle Farnon’s assistance.
In between Carmody’s struggles, Mrs. Hall is planning to meet Gerald at his house for tea. She prepares a very tasty dessert to take over as well. The vibes during their meal are definitely a bit awkward, as it’s clear Mrs. Hall still isn’t used to the rituals of dating. At the end of the meal Gerald tells her that dating her has made him very happy, but once again he has to leave Darrowby. This time, his sister is seriously ill and she needs to live in care. Gerald doesn’t want to pressure Mrs. Hall to leave her life behind, especially as he doesn’t know how long he’s going to be gone. What will she decide?
Back at Skeldale, Siegfried is concerned Carmody isn’t learning the rules of the road fast enough. He can’t stay if he can’t drive to the farms. Siegfried decides to take Carmody out in the Rover. Siegfried’s driving advice is the opposite of James'. He tells Carmody to have confidence and to pick up the pace. They encounter another car coming right toward them and Carmody has to swerve violently to avoid a crash. To make matters worse, he hit a cat, and Mrs. Pumphey and her chauffeur were in the other car. Poor Carmody! Siegfried and Carmody take the cat back to the clinic for observation but he has a lot of internal and external injuries. James starts to help with resetting the bones but Siegfried ends up kicking him out to spend time with Helen before he leaves. Carmody finishes off what James started.
Helen and James have an indoor picnic where James is forced to admit he’s nervous about leaving her and the practice behind. Skeldale isn’t as romantic as the Dales, are but at least they’re together without any distractions.
After the surgery, Helen makes a bed for the cat — named Oscar — so Oscar can recover. Mrs. Pumphrey calls because Tricki Woo’s skin is still irritated. Siegfried has to call on a great dane so he drops Carmody off at Pumphrey Manor on the way. Siegfried begs Mrs. Pumphrey to give Carmody another chance, and also to pronounce his name properly, since Siegfried is going to struggle to handle his workload once James leaves. Carmody examines Tricki and then finds out Mrs. Pumphrey is using a new shampoo. He suggests switching back to the old one as that’s the likely cause of the skin irritation. Mrs. Pumphrey then surprises him with a driving lesson in her Rolls-Royce. He’s intimidated by the responsibility but she believes trial by fire is the only way to overcome his fear of the wheel. Francois and Mrs. Pumphrey sit in the back seat, and she orders Carmody to talk to Tricki Woo in the front passenger seat. Carmody starts to drive while talking to Tricki Woo as a tour guide. He’s so distracted by talking to Tricki that he’s not thinking about his nervousness. At the end of the drive, Mrs. Pumphrey calls him Uncle Carmody as Tricki Woo likes his tone of voice. Aww!!
The night before he leaves, James wakes up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. Siegfried is also awake and they end up splitting a bottle. James reminisces about his bad first day at Skeldale, and asks Siegfried about what it was like to leave Evelyn behind during World War I. Siegfried tells James that it’s OK to be nervous, but he can be sure that Helen and Baby Herriot will be well taken care of.
While James is getting ready to leave, Mrs. Hall runs to Gerald’s house. She tells him that she doesn’t want to lose him and she agrees to go with him to care for his sister. Gerald asks if this means they’re engaged, and Mrs. Hall agrees.
The next morning, Helen tells James she can’t say goodbye at the bus stop so she’ll say it at home. She doesn’t want to cry, but loses it when James tells her she’s going to be an amazing mother and kisses her stomach. Mrs. Hall and Siegfried say their goodbyes at the bus stop, and Carmody ends up waving from his car as the bus goes by. The episode ends with Jess sniffing under the bed and finding a gift James left for the baby. Inside the box is a carved wooden airplane. Meanwhile, James is on the bus out of Darrowby and looking at his wedding photo. The music track is replaced with a voiceover of Nicholas Ralph reciting one of Robert Burns’ poems: A Red Red Rose.
What will James encounter during military training? Can Carmody and Siegfried handle all of the clients by themselves? Will Mrs. Hall and Gerald walk down the aisle? We’ll find out next week on All Creatures Great and Small!