All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 Episode 7, “Merry Bloody Christmas,” is anything but merry, and that’s alright. If the penultimate episode felt like a finale, this episode feels like the start of something entirely new. World War II is here in earnest, and everyone is trying to adjust to a new normal over the holiday season.
Helen (Rachel Shenton) and James (Nicholas Ralph) continue to be everyone’s grandparents. They’ve had an all-too-brief chance at wedded bliss. The two of them are now facing their destinies, together and apart. Together, they capture the intensity of waiting. They know what’s coming next for James. The show creates the sense that the waiting at least appears equal to actually being sent to war, from those still at home.
The star of the episode is little Eva, a Jewish refugee from London, staying in Yorkshire. She brings a much-needed dose of Judaism to the holiday festivities. Watching Mrs. H. (Anna Madeley) make such an effort to bring Hannukah to their little family. Eva is the face of the war in Europe. She represents those who were displaced from their homes, and probably lost family members in the fire of the Holocaust.
Of course, once again, Tristan (Callum Woodhouse) is at the center of the episode. He is the heart and soul, and the representative of a generation heading into the fires of war. All Creatures Great and Small Season 3 Episode 7, “Merry Bloody Christmas,” flips the script in the most heartbreaking way, sending Tristan off into the unknown. Watching this sweet, idealistic character accepting his fate is nothing less than crushing.
So many fates hang in the balance. Tristan, Edward, and the men who have already signed up from the village are at a crossroads. It will be interesting to see how the show handles the legacy of World War II and ties it into these characters’ respective stories. It’s difficult to imagine that everyone will come away unscathed. The series has set these characters up to face far more heartbreaking stakes than would be indicated from the source materials.
As All Creatures Great and Small comes to a close for the season, the only complaint is that more episodes feel so far away. It would be a disservice to fast forward through the war and show everyone coming home. While this would highlight the aftermath, it wouldn’t give the characters a chance to reckon with the war in real time. In the meantime, fans can be satisfied knowing that the show continues to be as comforting as ever.
All Creatures Great and Small is available to stream on PBS.