As Jack prepares to take the next step in building a future with Elizabeth, Elizabeth worries that Faith’s plan to stay in Hope Valley could hurt their romance. Then, a discouraged Becky returns to Abigail’s home in need of support to get well, prompting Abigail to decide to take a leap of love and give Becky and Cody a permanent home. Then, while Bill Avery goes after Gowen as the sawmill saboteur, Rosemary discovers her big break is within reach, and a stunning visitor to the café threatens to shake up Abigail’s happy new family.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT: As always, I warn my readers about potential spoilers in my review, but please know that I attempt to reveal very little–typically only what is common knowledge on social media and the like. I do my best to make it a delightful read that will prepare you for the upcoming episode, but please know that there is a chance I will unveil something about which you were not previously aware.
First of all, it’s nice to point out that Andrea’s mom, Leslie, is an extra in this episode. I plan to watch for her as I didn’t know about her when I screened it. But I think it is extraordinary that they both got to share such a special memory.
Now let’s get this out of the way at the outset. No matter what one might wish to believe or what the writers or others may attempt to persuade you to think, Faith is not a genuine threat to Jack and Elizabeth, in my humble opinion. In fact, Faith is barely in this episode, and this particular scene is altogether harmless. Yes, Faith terminated her engagement last week, and yes, she and Jack spend some time together, but as far as I’m concerned, Elizabeth needs overcome her penchant for jealousy because it is evident that Jack only has eyes for Elizabeth. I know people may think last seaon’s “soap opera” and “love triangles” will infiltrate this season’s storylines, but I have faith (pun intended) that Jack and Elizabeth are meant for each other, and the writers daren’t split these two asunder lest the Hearties start World War III outside the Hallmark offices. And if anyone could do it, these fans could!
As for Andrea, her portrayal of Faith is that of a stalwart woman who plans to prove that in the frontier, she doesn’t need a man who wishes to control her every action. Andrea has given this role so much character and pleasantly fresh attributes that I hope Hallmark makes her a regular part of the show in seasons to come. She has demonstrated a magnificent talent in her depiction of this girl who is trying to find her way in the world and may very well help to establish a clinic in a town that is growing steadily by leaps and bounds. She certainly has earned her right to be a part of this show, and who knows what the future holds for her character? I’m sure it won’t be in the arms of Jack.
I realized that I had been disregarding Rip in my reviews, so I figured it was high time to recognize the astounding dog who steals so many viewers’ hearts. Yes, Oscar plays Rip, and you will at least see him in this scene. My desire will always be to see him in more of the show, but then I’m an animal lover. But I’ll take anything I can get with this beautiful dog.
Thankfully, Loretta has returned as Flo, and as usual, Flo is being a bit of a busybody. However, her ultimate concern is for the well-being of the town. For a couple episodes now, something strange has been occurring at the lumber mill. Although Lee and his workers have attempted to keep it quiet, Feisty Flo is far too observant to not notice that something is up. She questions Lee with her typical directness. Again, Loretta graces the screen and gives us so much in such a small but never overlooked nor forgotten role. Indeed–the master actress at work!
As Jack and Bill investigate the issues at the sawmill, they question Tommy Northridge, a friend of Lee Coulter’s. They uncover something that could agitate the investigation even more so, and it confirms the suspicions that both of them are having. Chris is only briefly on screen, but again, he looks and sounds like exactly what one would expect. And there appears to be no guile nor deceit within his forthcoming answers. Or is there?
Jack has his own little intrigue that he is attempting to conceal from Elizabeth, and it involves this man, Clem Besser, as played by veteran actor, John Innes. Nothing conclusive comes from these discussions, and of course, the humor is in keeping Elizabeth in the dark. One thing Clem will do is force Jack into a decision spurred on by none other than Henry Gowen. John fits in perfectly with the town as he is inspired by the youth and fortitude as well as family dreams that Jack shares with him. His character yearns to help Jack out, but money is a principal concern.
As a side story, Rosemary becomes rather star-struck during this episode because she is anticipating the arrival of a movie director and an opportunity for her to land a role in a moving picture. Once an actress, always an actress. And she literally catapults herself at poor Mr. Pope. Peter plays the staunchly quiet and overtired, overworked director, and it is clear that he has little time for the prattlings of some actress he has never heard of–one Rosemary LeVeaux. Poor Tobias–he is just about to dispense with this annoying actress when….
The owner of the movie studio arrives, James Addison. And a well-known actor steps into this role, but I have to admit I did not automatically place him. Lochlyn is one I have reviewed countless times, but I was not looking for him, so I didn’t notice. I remember thinking that I recognized him, and now I know why. Lochlyn is an actor who has been featured on Hallmark, Lifetime and elsewhere so many times that more than likely, Hearties will recognize him. In this role, Lochlyn demonstrates that an actor can make a decisive entrance no matter the size of the role. In fact, Lochlyn is “famous” for doing just that. He can star in films just as equally as making small appearances like this. It is evident that James Addison and Rosemary LeVeaux are two peas in a pod, and he asks Rosie a question that just may upset things between her and Lee. It is one of those offers that she may have a hard time rejecting, and this will finally bring along the most authentic test of the love brewing between Lee and Rosemary.
There is a perfectly darling scene where Gracyn and Ava get the opportunity to shine as Emily and Opal. Miss Thatcher is preparing the students to enter a science fair that could earn a scholarship for the winning entry, and Opal is not too sure what she thinks about science. In her own indomitable way, Elizabeth is able to open wide the portals of learning for dear Opal, and even Emily is willing to come along for the ride. Gracyn continues to illuminate the screen in every scene she appears–so immersed in her role of Emily that we know exactly what to expect from her character. Ava just keeps getting better with every episode, and I can hardly wait to see what amazing things are in store for her in the years to come as her talent is absolutely mesmerizing.
One thing I appreciate about this show is that the writers are not afraid to tackle real issues, and one such issue crops up during this episode. Last week, Edith’s baby was sick, and Nurse Faith treated Edith’s son in her caring fashion. This week, we learn that Edith’s husband has left her, and so begins a heart-wrenching story that made me consider something I never have. Just how many men left their wives when times got tough out in the wilderness? Men and women married so young back then, and since women’s history is such a neglected part of our history, we wouldn’t even know unless we dig into the study of this era in an effort to uncover just how many young husbands may have abandoned their wives when severe times rained down on them. Indeed, Jack spends more time with Edith during this episode than he does Faith–truth be told. Ali again gives a fervent performance that resonated with me.
No stranger to Hallmark, Madison is probably a familiar face to many. Again, I couldn’t place him, but once I saw his name, I knew immediately that I had seen him in “Garage Sale Mystery.” As Roy, he is the one with whom viewers will probably be vexed. His character is not interested in doing the right thing, and Jack confronts him. What is his ultimate decision? I refuse to spoil the story any more than I have. But watching this story play out sincerely touched me, and I applaud the writers for including a story like this that evokes such an emotional response. Its implications are timeless as men do the same today, but it’s unbelievable to think that such things did occur, but we know they did. After all, there is “nothing new under the sun.”
Now, Mr. Gowen has become a genuine enigma. I have been saying for two weeks that I was assured he was behind all the problems at the mill, but now I just don’t know. A part of me wants to believe that he still is. Maybe he paid someone to do it.
I actually credit my confusion to the sharp investigative prowess of Bill, Hope Valley’s unassuming and decadently handsome “Sherlock Holmes.” He plays a game of poker with Henry Gowen, and I feel that I have to trust Bill’s instincts. I just don’t know. It is probably the most unsettling thing about the entire episode to me because I love a good “who done it,” and even though this is not a murder mystery, I feel like I should be able to pick up on the clues, and I cannot.
This is the return for which I have longed and dreaded in so many ways. I absolutely adore Kristina as she is absolute elegance and talent all rolled into a lovely package, and she infuses Nora with all the innocence and naive charm she can muster, but as you can see, she is in the hands of one Mr. Gowen. Whenever she is around, he becomes an almost likable man, and you cannot help but wish the best for him to at least some degree. Martin has mastered the technique of creating such a complex persona for this bigger-than-life villain, and I cannot believe how he can play my emotions like a song. I detest and loathe him one minute, and the next I am cheering for his renewed love interest to transform him into an upright man.
Unfortunately, it is Bill who is caught in the crossfires. His divorce with Nora is over, and as we saw last week, he is probably ready to make a new start with Dottie. But if what I believe is true (I still maintain and always will until I am proven wrong that Gowen is the father of the Nora’s dead child), Bill cannot help but abhor Gowen and everything he stands for. At his very core, Bill is a man who wants justice to prevail, even if he has to use some underhanded techniques to accomplish that. The three actors involved in this scene are such professionals that they know how to subtly change everything in the scene with a mere hand gesture or facial expression. The are so immersed in their characters, and if Gowen hurts Nora, I’ll grab the gun from Bill and maim Gowen for life before any of the three can blink an eye. (Okay, I wouldn’t really do that, but I do feel passionate about this storyline, as if you couldn’t tell.)
Jack Wagner fans will be ecstatic to see so much of Bill in this episode. It is as though Bill has been able to embrace his new situation without any hesitation. As long as he is on the case, we know that eventually, the sabateurs will be hunted down and arrested, but only in Bill’s signature way. As long as he stays on the side of the law, he can enlist Jack’s help as well, but when he crosses over into grey areas, we know that Bill will execute matters on his own. I cannot get over how Jack’s characterization of Bill Avery consistently improves (I mean, how do you improve upon perfection?), and in every episode, he causes me to adore his character even more. I can hardly wait until he conclusively brings the “bad guys” to justice.
While Hearties may be disappointed not to see as much of this sweet couple as they might like to, there is no doubt that these two are truly becoming quite an item. I wasn’t too sure of Aren’s character in the beginning, and although he played him well, I prefer seeing the redemption of his character and the new path he has chosen. And Clara is leading him gently on the straight and narrow while still being somewhat of a coquette at time just to keep his interest. She has discovered the thrill of the pursuit, and she is allowing him to only go as far as she is comfortable. I would say that she has learned much from Abigail, and it always gives me hope when I see these two together. And I still marvel at the amazing journey Eva has taken as Clara. Every time I see Eva in this role, I maintain that she is more accomplished, more beautiful, and more comfortable in front of the screen. She and Aren also have a delectable chemistry that is fun to watch and reminds us more mature adults of the joy and fun of young love. Whatever these two are doing, it is working, and I hope they continue to do it for many seasons to come.
Of course, all of Lee’s troubles appear to be centered on the mill and these “accidents.” It weighs heavily on his mind as he is aware of the town’s dependence on the sawmill. And it is Wade and Hickam who continue to bring bad news to their boss quite regularly during this episode. I have to say that I lean towards Wade being the one who is causing the accidents only because no one else makes sense. I really am torn because I absolutely adore Matthew’s depiction of this character, and I would love to see him hang around Hope Valley for awhile. Of course, Hearties fans may not agree as he seems to have his sights set on Elizabeth, and Jack struggles with jealousy during this episode. So all of those who worry about Faith might wish to shift your focus to Wade as there is no doubt he would jump at a chance to whisk Elizabeth away from Jack’s protective arms. Oh dear, maybe he really is behind all the unfortunate incidents after all.
As I told Ben, I do not believe for a minute that his character is responsible for undermining the mill. He couldn’t be that heartless. There is not an evil bone in Hickam’s body. But this scene is truly hilarious between him and Rosemary. While we know how much he once idolized her, let’s just say he has one up on her, and you will love this scene, I’m sure. I simply adore Ben’s portrayal of this guy who is not always sure of himself in uncomfortable situations, but no one could ever question his work ethic nor sense of right and wrong.
Thankfully Lee has the expert help of Jack and Bill, and with Hope Valley’s “Holmes and Watson” on the case (not the best comparison, but you understand my meaning), nothing will get past these two.
Yet again, Kavan gives such a stirring and entertaining performance as Lee Coulter. While frivolity and jocularity are not the main course for him this week, he still commands every scene with intensity and conviction.
His character has little to no time for romance due to work concerns, but he does give Rosemary some advice. Or maybe a better way to say that is: Rosemary gives herself her own advice while talking to him but attributes it to him. And he sits there, baffled. (But wait, doesn’t Rosemary typically baffle him? Good thing he loves her.)
While Rosemary generally gets wound up tighter than a drum, this week, she has a veritable bee in her bonnet. She knows what she wants, and she may be willing to sacrifice everything for it. Only time will tell on that point as we don’t get an answer this week. Yet again, Pascale’s effervescent characterizaion of this woman completely overwhelms me. She is able to inject just the correct amount of charm with an overabundance of meddlesome, exasperating attributes that show themselves at the most inconvenient times. But then again, she is a woman who refuses to desist until she gets what she wants. Pascale is a master at making Rosie so complex while still incredibly fun at the same time.
At long last, the awaited return of Dr. Burns has arrived. While his stay in Hope Valley is far too short, it is a treat to see Jason reprise the role that initally brought him to the attention of the Hearties en masse. And Jason portrays this handsome, knowledgeable, and benevolent doctor with all the grace and efficiency that we remember from before. We can only hope that next season, Jason will return to Hope Valley on a more permanent basis, as the clinic that Faith is setting up will need a doctor, right? And he is the obvious choice. Besides, Hope Valley could always use another eligible bachelor or two to even out the unattached, single lady population.
Returning with him is Cody’s sister, Becky, but there are a few anxieties as she is in a wheelchair for no apparent reason.
Additionally, it is time for Abigail to determine if she will take these children in on a permanent basis and officially make them part of her family.
It is an auspicious occasion to see Ali reprise her role, as I fell in love with her depiction of Becky in the “New Year’s” special. As an actress, Ali gives her character such humanity and warmth that fit her character so faultlessly. Her scenes with Lori as Abigail are filled with plenty of earnest emotion that resonates with those who have experienced family loss, adoption, or any kind of tragedy. On some level, we all understand the dilemma in which both Abigail and the two kids find themselves as they make the adjustment to each other.
As the strength and heart of Hope Valley, Lori pours herself yet again into this sympathetic woman who you just can’t help but love in the extreme. Lori never appears to be acting because she is thoroughly immersed in this dynamic character. That has always been a hallmark of Lori’s acting, but there is something special about the role of Abigail Stanton that just makes me find my hope again and believe that there are still virtuous people in this world.
More than anything else in this world, Abigail wishes to ensure that both Cody and Becky want to become a part of her family. There is never any doubt with Cody, but Abigail is concerned that Becky may not wish to make such a bold step. Thankfully, there are such moments of joy (even moments when Hearties may find a reason to cheer–watch the story of Becky with a keen eye), that both Cody and Becky make the decision to join Abigail’s family. And it would appear that a happy ending is about to occur for both of these children.
Lest I forget, Carter also continues to portray Cody with veracity and heart as he has come to truly embrace this role. Having Becky return adds a new dimension of joy to his countenance, but her unfortunate condition does make things a little bit difficult at times.
As the previews have suggested, this episode ends on a cliffhanger created by the presence of Cody’s and Becky’s aunt as played by the lovely and vivacious Anne Marie DeLuise. If you recognize her, you probably have seen her in a variety of Hallmark offerings over the past few years, and her husband is one of the exceptionally skilled directors employed by Hallmark. While we are left wondering what the next step will be, we can be assured that next week, the saga will continue with more emotion for all involved. I sincerely doubt that their aunt will take them away from Abigail, but time will only tell.
Lest we forget the couple of the hour, Hearties can be certain to see plenty of Elizabeth and Jack, but they won’t always be together. With school and Mountie business, they are sometimes separated. But don’t worry–there are some very touching moments between them. As always, Erin has endowed Elizabeth with such beauty, warmth, kindness, and increasing maturity. Every week, I find myself simply relishing her characterization of Elizabeth, the teacher, pioneer, and uncompromising woman of conviction. She holds tight to her values, and she is convinced of her path in life. Will it include Jack? If she has anything to say about it, the answer will be in the affirmative.
And Daniel is still the handsome, hard-working Mountie who is dedicated both to his work and Elizabeth, but not necessarily in that order. This is the episode where he begins to seriously consider their future together as he knows there is no other woman for him. He is about ninety percent sure that she feels the same way about him, but he is taking things slowly so that the groundwork can be laid for a secure future together. While the Mountie life can be unpredictable, he has altered his beliefs concerning marriage, and whether Elizabeth will be in his future is something only time will tell. Regardless, Daniel’s depiction of this righteous and upstanding man of the law is precisely what we have come to expect from this ruggedly handsome and incredibly gifted Australian.
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