blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

All Creatures Great and Small (2020) s03e05 – Edward

It’s a great episode; easily the best of season three. The show takes a big bite into a challenging, oft-avoided subject—Anna Madeley’s character’s estranged son (Edward)—she called the cops on him when he robbed her previous employer. I think these are season one details, then in season two or maybe a Christmas special, the son was supposedly going to visit but never showed up.

This episode opens with Madeley taking the train down to meet him—Conor Deane’s voice accompanies her, reading his letter inviting her to hang out at a station. He’s in the navy now, so he’s making a connection. Madeley’s left instructions for the boys—just Callum Woodhouse and Samuel West because Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton are up at her family farm—baked the son’s favorite cookies, and set off.

Once she arrives at the station, she meets a young woman, Lara Steward, working at a volunteer tea stand. Steward’s friendly and considerate, drawing Madeley into a more revealing conversation about herself and her relationship with Deane than we’ve ever gotten before. “Creatures” decided to give Madeley an episode on this subplot, and it’s a rousing success. Madeley’s fantastic.

But it’s not just a Madeley character development episode; there’s also loads for Woodhouse and West. Starting their day, West decides Woodhouse will handle all of Madeley’s duties. Woodhouse isn’t happy about it, but when schoolboy Austin Haynes shows up with a ticket for a day in the vet’s office (presumably a prize at the Christmas party), he changes his mind. Watching West be miserable showing some kid around the practice will be great.

However, it turns out Haynes is knowledgeable about animals and keen to learn more; he really wants to be a vet, and West loves finding this unexpected kindred spirit.

It’s a touching arc, which gets more complicated as Woodhouse goes from amused to indifferent to jealous.

Then out at Shenton’s family farm, she and Ralph check in to see what little sister Imogen Clawson’s been doing since the season premiere. Dropping out of school, it turns out, which upsets Shenton. It’s unclear why because Shenton never gets a scene not supporting Clawson and Clawson barely gets any scenes. Shenton and Ralph share some knowing looks, but he’s in the episode even less; it’s Madeley’s episode, and even the stuff with Woodhouse and West is a relief valve for her plot’s intensity.

Excellent script, credited to Karim Khan (his first credit on the series).

The show (and Madeley) have been building this episode since the first season; well worth the wait.

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