‘All Creatures Large and Small’ recap: episode 7
It is Christmas Eve and the hopes, accompanied by terror, are high. Tristan’s exam results have arrived, but Ms. Hall convinces Siegfried to send the news to Tristan until after Christmas, for fear of bad news. She herself waits nervously for his arrival wayward son Edward, who said he will visit. She packed a present for him and bought her favorite vegetable, Brussels sprouts, but her constant checking of the door and phone betrays her fear that it won’t show up.
James is expected to return to Scotland for Christmas, the same day as Helen’s wedding to Hugh. The whole community is excited about the pork roast Hugh has planned, unbeknownst to Helen. Hugh is out for a bachelor night while Helen attends Siegfried’s big Christmas party, where Siegfried plays Saint Nick and Tristan reluctantly acts as an elf. Tristan’s duties prevent him from taking advantage of the abundant mistletoe he has hung, but the mistletoe causes James and Helen to exchange kisses.
In the middle of the party, James receives a phone call about a dog struggling to give birth. As he prepares to leave, he finds Helen sitting alone in the dark surgery. He doesn’t want to discuss marriage, but that’s all others want to talk about. He asks to join James in his call; he agrees against his best judgment.
Dog owners are an old married couple who love the chance to chat. James identifies the dog problem: a large puppy is stuck, blocking the others. Helen helps as she uses the forceps to deliver the puppy. He fears he won’t survive, but tries to revive him as Helen watches. He gives it to his mother, who manages to lick some of his life as everyone watches, James holding the hand that Helen put on his shoulder.
Back at the party, Siegfried would like to have his intimate moment with Dorothy, but he’s too nervous to even interact with her. Tristan pulls him away to look at the sick donkey at the nativity play …MaggieDavid’s young brother quietly asked Tristan for help. But Siegfried is too agitated to be useful.
Tristan sends Siegfried away and tries a kinder approach to shy David, comforting him and explaining how he copes with his shyness. David finally admits that the donkey ate the mistletoe. Tristan sends him and the other children who have gathered to the party while he treats the donkey. David emerges from his shell and later tells Maggie that Tristan made the donkey better.
Siegfried appears again, asking Tristan for advice on how to talk to Dorothy. Tristan rejoices; Siegfried finds his suggestions useless. Only as Dorothy is leaving the party, Siegfried finds success, as she asks him to tell how the younger and more self-confident Siegfried would approach her. They kiss and she promises she will come more often. He also asks Siegfried to take care of Mrs. Hall: Edward never showed up.
Siegfried sets out to join Mrs. Hall at the church and finds her crying silently during a hymn. He holds her hand as he joins the song. After mass, he finally explains his complicated relationship with his son. She caught him stealing from his previous employer and wouldn’t lie to protect him. He was sent to a juvenile center for six months and never forgave her.
Tristan is also melancholy, back home. But as he looks dejectedly at his mistletoe, Maggie walks in, smiles and kisses him under a branch. Later, Siegfried gives Tristan the exam results. Even though Tristan wants to wait to open them, Siegfried is too impatient: he tears the envelope and proudly announces that Tristan has passed. As Tristan and Mrs. Hall celebrate and leave the room, Siegfried throws the letter into the fire. Tristan’s results – a pass, a failure – burn.
James and Helen are ready to return to town for the night, but a deep fog has fallen, making it impossible for them to leave. James calls Mrs. Hall to let her know that he and Helen probably won’t be back until morning; Helen’s father should bring her dress to the clinic and she can get ready there first. Mrs. Hall scolds James for taking Helen with him and warns him not to do anything he might regret.
While the old man Russian, the woman talks about their marriage and their lasting love, as well as the discrimination they faced in the beginning: she is black. When Helen goes out to get some water, she asks James if Helen knows. James shakes his head; he tried to keep Helen from realizing his love for her. The woman notices that Helen is off track with James the night before her wedding, that tells you something.
The couple goes upstairs to bed, leaving Helen and James alone. They talk about other paths they may have taken and James’s senior year in Yorkshire. Helen asks him what he could have done differently; he almost tells her he loves her. But instead he advises her to go to sleep: tomorrow has a great day.
They barely get to the city in time – the car has to be started before they can leave. As Helen prepares, James is lost in thought. He tells Siegfried and Mrs. Hall that he is thinking of staying for the wedding. They tell him right away it’s a bad idea. Siegfried lends James the nice car and James leaves for Scotland.
He drives for a while, then stops at a crossroads and reflects. Eventually he turns around. Arriving at the church, he sees everyone go out. As Tristan and Siegfried walk by, James says sadly, “I lost it.” Tristan replies, “Oh, you ever did.”
James enters and finds Helen sitting alone. She cries softly and asks, “What did I do? Hugh didn’t deserve it.” James reassures her that he canceled the wedding just because he is kind. “We’ll take you home,” he says.
At the Christmas dinner with Siegfried, Tristan and Mrs. Hall, Tristan asks a burning question: What happened … with the puppies of the dog? Siegfried offers a toast: he is grateful for everything he has, especially people, “as angry as all of you”. Stumble into feeling and end with an overwhelming “Bloody Merry Christmas”.