Photo Courtesy of PBS/Masterpiece Classic.

All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 Episode 6: “For Whom the Bell Tolls”

All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 Episode 6, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” is a devastating penultimate episode. In many ways, it’s like a finale. Everything about the season so far has been leading to this moment. The creeping sense of dread has been particularly well-placed. Now, characters have to face the music that’s been building to a crescendo. 

It makes sense to start with Helen (Rachel Shenton) and James (Nicholas Ralph). Our collective grandparents have had everything in their lives lead them to this moment in history. It’s hard to fully imagine the immense courage it takes for them both to stand at the edge of a world war and the horrors that are to come. Both of them have such an immensely strong moral compass, immediately recognizing that there’s a greater evil at play that needs to be faced head-on. 

Mrs. H. (Anna Madeley) and Siegfried (Samuel West) are the ones who highlight the gravity of the impending catastrophe. They have been to war themselves. They know better than anyone around them that no one comes away unscathed. It’s in the small moments where both of these characters shine and show the depths of their hearts. There really aren’t adequate words to describe what is to come. These two share a mutual understanding beyond words. 

All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 Episode 6, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” illustrates a community at a crossroads as well. It seems that everyone in this little Yorkshire village will need to be pressed into service. Everyone together will have to bear the brunt of the coming storm. This community will need to pull together like never before. It seems as though at least some of the villagers are going to take in those displaced by the war, in England’s cities and across Europe.

The highlight of this episode, of course, has to be Tristan (Callum Woodhouse). In the final moments of the episode, he shows his true character. Everyone should be so fortunate to have a friend willing to walk alongside them into the abyss, whatever it holds. For all of his comedic chops and flighty personality, Tristan has a massive heart underneath it all. Episodes like these prove just how much he cares for James in particular, and how these two are far more like brothers than friends and colleagues. 

All Creatures Great and Small have done such a brilliant job of building tension that has never dissipated through this season. The series is a direct response to spoiler culture. It’s no secret what is right around the corner. We even know the fates of the real people on which these characters are based. That makes the show no less magnetic to watch. To borrow from a certain HBO fantasy series, winter is definitely here. All that remains to be seen is how everyone will meet their fates. 

All Creatures Great and Small airs Sundays at 9/8c on PBS. 

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