After a year without a When Calls the Heart Christmas movie, it’s nice to see our favorite Canadian frontier show return! As I write and publish this re-cap post, it feels weird getting back to regularly talking about a television show, especially since I wrote about When Calls the Heart’s seventh season a year ago. But with the way 2020 turned out, it’s good to have something to look forward to. Based on advertisements I’ve seen, there are exciting additions to the show! One of them is the Canfield family. While they didn’t appear in the season premiere, it will be interesting to see how they get along with the other members of the town. For now, viewers can get reacquainted with returning faces and fan favorites.
Just a reminder: If you did not see the season premiere of When Calls the Heart, there may be spoilers within this re-cap.
Name: Open Season
After checking on Elizabeth and her son, Nathan discovers his brother-in-law, Dylan, has arrived in Hope Valley. When Nathan asks Dylan how he found him, Dylan shows Nathan a newspaper reporting on the Mountie who passed away at the end of season seven. All Dylan wants is a thousand dollars, threatening to make Nathan’s life miserable if he doesn’t get the money. After this confrontation, Dylan’s crosses paths with Elizabeth and Jack. Concerned for their safety, Nathan reminds Dylan to leave Hope Valley. Later in the episode, Nathan borrows the much-needed money from Lucas and plans to give it to Dylan that evening. When Bill finds out about Nathan’s plans, he insists on joining Nathan. However, Nathan feels that he must do this alone. Before he leaves Hope Valley, Nathan lets Elizabeth know he will be leaving town and that Ally is staying at Opal’s house. That night, as Nathan is riding on the trail, Dylan knocks Nathan off his horse. He steals Nathan’s rifle and the money, as well as causing Nathan’s horse to run away and beating Nathan up. The next morning, Nathan finds his horse and begins his search for Dylan. A few scenes later, Nathan finds Dylan in a nearby cabin. This was possible because Dylan left behind the newspaper he showed Nathan earlier in the episode, which listed the name of the town at the top of the front paper. Nathan also reveals he let Dylan attack him in order to provide a reason for arresting Dylan. After this explanation, some fellow Mounties appear out of nowhere to arrest Dylan and take him into custody. When Nathan returns to Hope Valley, he asks Elizabeth if she’d like to have dinner with him. As she tells him how Laura can’t take any time off to watch Jack, Nathan suggests to bring Jack with her and says he’ll bring Ally along. This dinner never happens because Elizabeth claims to not be feeling well as they are on their way to their destination.
At the beginning of the episode, Lucas visits Elizabeth and apologizes for abruptly leaving without an explanation. This event was explained in Elizabeth’s opening monologue which showed a flashback of Lucas leaving Hope Valley during Christmastime. Even though Elizabeth forgives him, Lucas tells her he’ll explain why he left when he is ready. Some time later, Lucas eventually tells Elizabeth what happened. At the end of season seven, he witnessed Elizabeth hugging Nathan. He admits he saw this embrace and became jealous. Lucas went to Louisiana to help rebuild a school that had been destroyed by a storm. He tells Elizabeth serving others allowed him to deal with his emotions. Later that day, Elizabeth tells Rosemary what Lucas told her. She also shares how she feels about Nathan and Lucas. When Rosemary asks Elizabeth if she has made a decision yet, Elizabeth quickly changes the subject. At the end of the episode, Lucas introduces Elizabeth to his mother, Helen Bouchard. This interaction makes Elizabeth feel intimidated.
One morning, Jesse and Clara have an argument over whether or not Clara woke Jesse up on time. This causes both of them to be in a bitter mood. Clara tells Fiona and Rosemary what happened, unsure of what to do. To take her mind off of her problems, Clara helps Fiona with a personal project. When Clara discovers Fiona purchased Hope Valley’s pre-existing barber shop, Fiona explains how this decision will help her in business. Since she is starting a barber shop with a predominantly male clientele, Fiona says most men want to talk about business. By eavesdropping on their conversations, she’ll gain some insight into the business world. Meanwhile, Jesse is dealing with his and Clara’s relationship issues by staying late at work and reading. Lee and Rosemary volunteer to help Jesse and Clara with their problem. Lee takes Jesse to the spot where Jesse and Clara shared their first kiss, with Lee reminding Jesse how love is a choice, not just a feeling. Lee also purchases a two-person bicycle, which Clara and Jesse seem to enjoy. Rosemary and Lee remind themselves how the bike will not fix all of Jesse and Clara’s problems, so they’ll be there for the younger couple if they ever need help.
Carson is concerned when he doesn’t hear anything from Faith. She hasn’t come home when she said she would, which causes Carson to worry about her. Faith does arrive in Home Valley, but she hasn’t come alone. After an unknown wagon driver gives her a lift, Faith explains to Carson how her buggy broke down along the way. The wagon driver makes Carson feel jealous. As they examine the new patient file organizational system, Faith asks Carson what the matter is. Carson tells her how he feels, saying that he was afraid they were growing apart due to her time studying medicine in Chicago. Faith tells him she only thought about him during her trip back to Hope Valley, which puts Carson at ease. Later in the episode, Carson and Faith spend some quality time together by the lake. They promise each other they’ll go to Orchestra Hall someday.
Some thoughts to consider:
- I found it interesting how Coronavirus was incorporated into the script in very subtle ways. In Elizabeth’s opening monologue, she writes how the winter has held its grip on Hope Valley. Carson tells Faith how the year had crawled by. Considering when the eighth season was filmed, it makes sense that the creative team behind the show would want to at least mention the pandemic. It was enough to address it, but not overpowering enough to turn people off from being reminded about it again.
- Hearing about Nathan’s plans to officially adopt Ally was a pleasant surprise! I’m also happy to see Fiona start her own business! Seeing these subplots evolve over the course of this new season, as well as the conflicts that may appear, is something I’m looking forward to.
- At best, this episode was fine. But at worst, it was a mixed bag. There were parts of the story that felt like a season premiere. Other parts seemed like they came directly from a “filler” episode. The plot involving Dylan could have easily been a multi-episode arc. Instead, the show has placed all their eggs in the love triangle/relationship basket. I hope the season gets better, but I’ll keep my expectations low.
What are your thoughts on the season premiere? Are you excited for the Canfield family to arrive in Hope Valley? Let me know in the comment section!
Have fun in Hope Valley!