All Creatures Great and Small 3×01, “Second Time Lucky,” brings the series back to the small screens of North America in spectacular fashion. There’s no point in denying, the big wedding is a perfect way to kick off the season. These loveable characters now exist in the shadow of war, which makes the stakes that much higher. All things considered, this show remains comfort viewing at its finest, if the season premiere is anything to go by.
Helen (Rachel Shenton) and James (Nicholas Ralph) are married, and it’s about time. Helen finally gets her chance at a happy ending after being with the man who was so obviously wrong for her. This is the culmination of an enthralling will-they-won’t-they arc. Their story has never been overdone. There is so much room for them to grow together.
The wedding is an opportunity for Helen to grieve, and reflect on the loss of her mother. This is a reminder that grief is anything but a linear journey. Even on the happiest day of her life, she’s allowed to feel her loss deeply. Mrs. Hall (Anna Madeley) is not merely a substitute for Helen’s mother. Rather, she’s a fellow traveller on the long road that is grief. This dynamic is incredibly sweet, and a reminder that these two characters should spend a lot more time on-screen together.
All Creatures Great and Small 3×01, “Second Time Lucky,” features a wedding itself is appropriately chaotic. Watching Sigfried (Samuel West) and Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) run around trying to actually get James to the church is so incredibly endearing. They clearly love James so much, and he thrives with their support. The war is certainly going to change their dynamic. They will all have to navigate this new world together.
The series continues to weave in real aspects of James Herriot’s life. All Creatures Great and Small 3×01, “Second Time Lucky,” gives us an early look at his fascination with the RAF. Additionally, the real James Herriot actually was known for his work in testing cattle for TB. Apparently, this work did a lot of good, as at this time many farmers were reluctant to allow their herds to be tested.
Finally, as funny and sweet as this episode is, there are several hard truths that need to be addressed. It’s always sobering in the midst of this feel-good show that we see some of the realities of veterinary medicine. Tristan in particular has to wrestle with the fact that for all of the good that he does as a vet, sometimes the only option is to end a suffering animal’s pain.
Additionally, the show is doing a really excellent job of showing the apathy that characterized so many in Britain leading up to World War II. In hindsight, the docterine of peace at all costs is rightly critisized. However, it’s clear from this episode that the idea of war is what is appealing to a lot of these characters. As a side-note, there is absolutely no way that Wilfred (Samuel Jordan) is coming out of this series alive.
All Creatures Great and Small is back in earnest. As World War II looms over everyone and everything, these characters are at a crossroads. This is a new beginning for Helen and James, and for their loved ones as well. The premiere sets up so many possible storylines with near-perfection. Things are just getting started, and it’s sure to be a sweet ride.
All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 9/8c on PBS.