All Creatures Great and Small (2020) s01e04 – A Tricki Case

No causes for concern or alarm this episode, and not just because Diana Rigg’s back. Even with the village still talking about how Nicholas Ralph handled the sick horse last episode, he seems cemented in the community. Though there is one significant eyebrow raise with Callum Woodhouse. Turns out he might not be a regular cast member after all; his arc in this episode is all about getting money for university out of big brother Samuel West. West’s determined to make Woodhouse prove he’s worth the investment this time, which leads to Woodhouse volunteering to monitor Rigg’s adorable Pekingese.

Once again, everyone in the veterinary practice gets an arc, though Ralph and Woodhouse get the big ones. For instance, pretty much everything West does this episode is support on someone else’s arc. There’s a major subplot about Rigg sending over a box of (human food) treats for her dog when Ralph takes the dog back for observation. And to keep Rigg from overfeeding, obviously. Both West and Woodhouse find it difficult not to help themselves to the treats, which messes up housekeeper Anna Madeley’s plans for an elaborate dinner. At the start of the episode, she gets some concerning personal news and keeps it to herself (from both the boys and the audience). West figures out something’s going on and offers to help.

Woodhouse also has a little arc with bartender girlfriend, Mollie Winnard, who accidentally sleeps over, and there’s an elaborate comedy sequence getting her out of the house.

Speaking of romance, Ralph’s main medical case involves Rachel Shenton’s bull, who’s supposed to be studding at farmer Jon Furlong’s. Only the bull’s disinterested in the lovely cow lasses, so Ralph’s got to get him functional again, or Shenton’s family won’t get the payday. Shenton’s relationship with local landed gentry Matthew Lewis comes back into play, as it turns out they’re a lot more involved than she made Ralph think last episode. Not giving a timeline for Woodhouse’s immediate future last episode is one thing, but Shenton letting Ralph think she and Lewis weren’t quite romantic is another. Lewis’s stopped on the bridge with a flat and is too rich to have ever learned to change a tire; when Ralph and Shenton happen across him, Lewis’s first or second move is to caress Shenton’s posterior as Ralph’s heart breaks a little.

It’s a surprise but shouldn’t be.

Anyway.

We finally get to meet Shenton’s dad later on, played by Tony Pitts. Shenton finds out some of the patients’ owners cook meals and treats for the vets and wants to try her hand at it for Ralph. It’s a funny sequence, starting with Pitts not knowing why Ralph’s loitering around his farm.

However, the main plot—outside Ralph being the show’s protagonist—is Woodhouse dog-sitting the Pekingese. It’s hilarious. Rigg’s got a handful of scenes, which start comedic and then get a little more dramatic as the episode carries on. Even though she absurdly pampers this absurdly adorable dog, the show goes out of its way to acknowledge she’s going through a lack of companionship arc. It’s a really good episode for Rigg.

Also, for Woodhouse, who’s got to stay active even though it’s all about his lack of agency.

The finale’s particularly affecting; West’s only medical case this episode is Sean Carlsen’s giant, ferocious dog (contrasting Rigg’s adorable little one). It eventually ties in with Woodhouse’s arc and echoes the companionship theme.

While there are some intense emotions throughout, the episode works its way to a very nice resolution. The amount of positive sentiment the show gets from everyone being empathetic to animals is immeasurable.

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