All Creatures Great and Small, Season 3 Episode 3, “Surviving Siegfried,” is an emotional punch in the gut masquerading as a comfort show. This is a series-defining episode, in that it perfectly encapsulates the best of what this show has to offer. Siegfried (Samuel West) has such an ornery exterior. This episode is proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has a massive heart underneath it all.
Spotlight on Siegfried
Flashbacks are always tricky to get right. At worst, they can be a heavy-handed way to make up for character development that is lacking. At best, flashbacks can provide further insight into a character, and inform their present storyline. It’s been mentioned that Siegfried is a veteran of World War I in the British Veterinary Corps. Here, it’s evident what a brutal experience that was for him.
All Creatures Great and Small, Season 3 Episode 3, “Surviving Siegfried,” gives Who could have predicted that Siegfried channelling his inner horse girl would lead to such a devastating story. The layers to Siegfried’s wartime experiences never get easier to watch. Yet, his experience is handled with compassion and empathy. Watching Siegfried process this trauma he’s faced makes him all the more human.
Elsewhere, James (Nicholas Ralph) is still finding his way in his new role. Anyone who has ever worked the Night Shift will recognize his visceral exhaustion instantly. Like many, James needs to learn appropriate workplace boundaries. Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) is ready willing and able to take on more responsibilities. He just needs to be delegated to.
Once again, this story is a venue to remind everyone that Helen (Rachel Shenton) is embodied perfection. Everyone needs a Helen in their lives, who is ready to dish out hard truths with love and compassion. She can clearly see what James is capable of, and what he needs to do if he doesn’t want to crash and burn. She is the beating heart that continues to hold this team together.
The humour on this episode doesn’t always land perfectly. Ultimately, though, it doesn’t need to. This series has always balanced humour and heart to near perfection. It’s clear it’s also able to show real-life tragedies as well. All Creatures Great and Small is setting up a wartime drama, and it’s going to be tough to watch. All of the foreshadowing is leading to a sense of foreboding that is underneath even the lightest and funniest scenes. Each of these characters has grown so much, just in the first part of this season alone.
All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 9/8c on PBS.