Saturday, December 5, 2015

Kara Views: When Calls the Heart

I recently finished watching season one of this Hallmark Channel Original series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Shout out to Stephanie who gave me the kick in the pants to start watching it! I had begun once before but had trouble getting into it, and gave up. She encouraged me to keep going and I'm so glad I did. It's cheesy, old-west-y, Hallmark-y goodness. This will be a long post because of the inclusion of the season one background information.

**Note: This show likes to change scenes OFTEN. So, while I'll try to keep it clear that we're changing by not just having one big body of text, I apologize in advance for the back and forth and back again nature of this. It doesn't make for good writing. But it is what it is. I'll try to still make it worth reading - and not give you a headache in the process!

Season one synopsis from
“When Calls the Heart” tells the captivating story of Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow), a young teacher accustomed to her high society life, who receives her first classroom assignment in Coal Valley, a small coalmining town where life is simple, but often fraught with challenges. Lori Loughlin plays Abigail Stanton, a wife and mother whose husband, the foreman of the mine, along with a dozen other miners, has just been killed in an explosion. The newly widowed women find their faith is tested when they must go to work in the mines to keep a roof over their heads. Elizabeth charms most everyone in Coal Valley, except Constable Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing) who believes Thatcher’s wealthy father has doomed the lawman’s career by insisting he be assigned in town to protect the shipping magnate’s daughter. Living in a 19th century coal town, Elizabeth will have to learn the ways of the frontier if she wishes to thrive in the rural west on her own.
Here come the spoilers, so you're ready for season two.

There are several characters I love who deserve more space than this, but for getting-going reasons, I will just give you the major plot points that are important to move forward. When/if we encounter these other folks, I'll fill you in as we go. When we ended season one, Mr. Gowan (head of the mining company, and thus, basically the whole town) was being as evil as usual and worrying all of us that he will do something dastardly to ruin our lives. Elizabeth decided to stay in Coal Valley instead of taking a teaching job back home near her rich family. Abigail was falling for the lawyer Bill Avery who's helping with the case of the mine disaster. Or, she was until she found a picture of his wife and child in his room when he asked her to get something for the judge. AND, Mountie Jack finally (!) told Elizabeth how he really felt (she's the one!).

So now, we move on to season two! Episode one is "Trials of the Heart." Woah, we've got an hour and a half to go on this one. Ok. GO.

Well if the credits are any indication, Elizabeth's going home and it's going to seem very ... Downton Abbey. Not sure I'm ok with that (much as I loved Downton).

Oh, I forgot how adorable Jack is. He's super adorable. And he's teasing her already. Ah, new love. Haha. Of course, in the middle of the most adorable (read: cheesy) riding lesson every, we are treated to Mr. Gowan meeting the new judge. Ew. Gowan gives me the creeps.

Shoot. Jack's ex-fiance is still here. Forgot about her and that she was gonna stay. Miss Rosemary LaVeaux with her giggles and false friendliness. She's super annoying and frustrating.

The lawyer arrives, and is a woman. How shocking for this town and time. Good old high strung Florence is gonna hate this. Yup, she does. She wants to hire someone else who won't lose. Good ol' Jack welcomes Miss Samantha (Sam) Madison and says he's grateful she's here. Keeper of the peace, that guy.

And why, why (!?) is the judge friends with Gowan. The last judge (who was known to be cantankerous) has recently left under strange circumstances.
Judge Parker: You didn't have anything to do with that now, did you Mr. Gowan?
Gowan: Man got bit by a rattlesnake...
Judge Parker: Yes, in his room!
Gowan: (smirking) An unfortunate situation. Because I did it but don't want to get caught. 
(I will sometimes put words in their mouths. Hey, if the shoe fits...)

Sam Madison (the lawyer for the widows) seems suspicious of these men. Rightly so. And the judge isn't playing nice with her. Only with Gowan and his lawyer. Ugh. At least the widows are being friendly with her now.

Jack checks in with Elizabeth and Abigail about Madison and the judge.
Jack: Let's just say... I have heard he has a unique interpretation of justice.
Oh crud. 

Abigail has a confrontation with the judge who's playing poker with the defendant (Gowan). At least it gave Abigail and Bill Avery time to clear the air. I wondered if it was that his family had died. Sheesh. Glad that's cleared up. Now they can go back to their courting in peace (for now... I expect Gowan will shake things up somehow. It always seems to be him).

And of course, Elizabeth and Rosemary (Jack's ex), are cooking together at Abigail's cafe for the afternoon so Abigail can have some time with Bill. Jack walks in on them fighting (well, Rosemary's very passive aggressive and Elizabeth is her blunt self) about who's the better cook. Those of us watching know Elizabeth burns most things. When they notice him standing there, he just says, "You know, uh, I'm really not that hungry after all," and tries to leave. Good luck, Jack.

Nope. Both ladies are going to make him try it. Yikes. Good man, as always he eats Elizabeth's - and doesn't grimace. At least she admits she's not a great cook.

Ah, what's this? A telegram? Elizabeth, your mother's sick. Come home as quickly as you can. SHOCKING. (grr.) Jack is gonna go with her to ensure a safe journey. He insists. How gentlemanly. But I smell issues with the rich family coming on...

Mr. Sweeney, who we've never heard of, is apparently going to testify because he knew Noah (Abigail's deceased husband). Gowan's report is a forgery. Again, shocking. But for some reason, I don't trust this guy. One witness with no paper report... they'll need all the luck and prayer they can get. I'm concerned about this witness. Especially with his reaction to "oh, you'll only pay me for this with food." I mean he seems ok with it, but... I don't think he really is.

In Hamilton, Jack and Elizabeth run into a "friend" of hers as they get off the train. Jack is making me laugh out loud.
Elizabeth: Very upper crust. Her family's been around forever.
Jack: Like the plague.
Haahaha. You go Jack.

A random girl walks out of the train station and sees an article in the newspaper about the upcoming coal mining trial, looks concerned, and walks off. What is that about? Weird. WEIRD.

Now, we see a motorcycle coming into Coal Valley and all the young boys are fascinated. Who's this guy? This show has taught me to not trust anyone. Good grief. And he's already flirting with Rosemary. Oh my.

Hamilton again, and we meet the family. Oh Julie, her little sister. Naive but sweet. And Viola her older sister. Not super excited to see her sister. Good times. Ah, it's because we all know Jack has kissed her. Scandalous! Viola seems like a peach. (Smell the sarcasm?) And her father, Mr. William Thatcher, is exactly as you'd expect him to be. Don't upset your mother with anything which of course means, don't even think about Jack. *rolls eyes*

Jack and Elizabeth meet in town and he says she owes him another kiss to pay for horse riding lessons. She kisses him on the cheek and says, "Consider it a down payment." We then get to see Daniel Lissing's adorable dimples. Nice perk to this show.

Trial time in Coal Valley. Gah. Gowan is evil and Judge Parker seems to be in his pocket. Gowan's counselor is a suck up and creepy too. Yuck.

Back to the big house... sisters talking about Jack... and we run into CHARLES? Who the heck is Charles?! Shoot. I smell love triangle (numero dos). Blech. Just let these people be happy, people! Charles is a handsome devil, I'll give you that. And of course, they haven't seen each other for several years. And he works for her father. Her parents are too proud of this set up.

Jack meets Tom, his brother at a bar in Hamilton. You've grown. You too. Aww. But of course Tom's a troublemaker.

Mr. Sweeney's up at the trial, and he is a liar. He gets on the stand and says the opposite of what he said to them in the cafe. He's been paid off. Gross. So much speculation. So much lying. This is so irritating. I knew that Sweeney was bad news. And he's running away! Coward.

Rosemary and the motorcycle stranger are talking about the trial and she wonders why he's interested. Yes, good question Rosemary. Why IS a stranger interested in the mine trial. And does he have a connection to that strange woman we saw earlier? Hm...

We now follow a lovely walk in the garden at the Thatcher's house. Aw, Charles and Elizabeth grew up together. Great. (He really seems nice...) The truth of it - C: Elizabeth, are you ruling out coming home? What exactly is keeping you there? Something other than teaching? E: Yes. He's very special. Charles at least takes this well and says they can remain friends, that nothing will stop that (not giving up, are we chap?). Her father is spying and hoping they'll get together, but her mom knows better than to get hopes up prematurely. She's also lightheaded. Not good.

Back at the trial, the judge overrules a request for a mistrial and calls for closing statements. Oh! The mystery woman shows up, finds the mystery man, and is looking for "Mr. Sam Madison"... let's hope she's a witness. Hugs to the lawyer, good, I think this is good. Oh crap, was Noah cheating? No! Oh my. She's Clara Stanton. Peter Stanton's widow. Peter was the son. We did NOT know he was married. And we have the original report! Hooray! That's right Gowan, rub your eyes. You've lost. Thank goodness the judge isn't crooked enough to throw things out without cause. Seems this might actually be ok. (That's Gowan to the left there. Grim, huh? Sometimes I wish he'd be redeemed but I don't expect it will happen.)

Gowan and his counselor are trying to figure out how to get out of this, and literally have a conversation about how to prove the girl was lying (she wasn't, which is clear from their conversation). Pay whatever it takes. Ew.

Back to Tom and Jack in the bar in Hamilton. Tom got in a fight and put in jail. "No big deal..." and he's a drinker. Great. And he owes people money. Aaaand of course they get thrown out just in front of Elizabeth and her sisters. And also of course, Julie has a crush on Tom, because he's male and he moves and she just met him.

Gowan's lawyer is trying to bribe the judge. Parker says it's a federal crime, and is told by the lawyer to think of it as future poker game winnings. He tells the lawyer he's very clever. Ugh.

Abigail and Clara (Peter's bride) bonding over the only picture she has - of their wedding. How sweet. And heartbreaking.

HOORAY THE JUDGE MADE THE RIGHT CALL. But now the mine is shut down so no one has jobs. And Gowan is lying about his part in it. But it can't be proven, and Gowan too is an employee so he's out of a job... but I bet he's not done yet. That's scary in it's own right.

Still don't know who mystery man is...and Clara won't entertain the thought of staying. Something's up...

Oh yeah, the judge gave his bribe to Abigail. Nice.
Judge Parker: Mrs. Stanton, this is for the widow's fund. (He opens the bag slightly so she can see how much money there is.) And if you tell anyone, I'll say you're a liar.
Cheeky. ;)

Now we're gonna be a saw mill town instead of a coal town. Ok...? The mystery man, who's name is Leland Coulter, asks for a guide to help him find an office for his mill. Abigail made me laugh by rolling her eyes at Rosemary's jump to be Coulter's guide. Also, now Abigail can move on with Bill. New life. New start.

Jack brought flowers to the party for the mother. Sweet. He's not just an escort for your daughter, lady. He's in love with her. 
Hoity-toity sounding Aunt Agatha: William who's the man in the suit?  
William (Elizabeth's father): Elizabeth's Mountie friend. I hate him simply because I don't know him and he's obviously not rich, and so I am going to keep pushing Charles Kensington at her.
Ew. Charles arrives and he brought flowers too - and they're more fancy than Jack's. Elizabeth introduces them and then is whisked off by her mother to talk to her aunt. This conversation ensues:

Charles: So, the life of a Mountie must be dangerous. Especially on the frontier. Jack: Yeah, it has its good days and its bad days.
Charles: I'm guessing having to escort Elizabeth to Hamilton was one of the good days.
Jack: That wasn't an assignment.
Charles: Oh. So she asked you to come.
Jack: Well actually, I insisted.
Charles: (looks uncomfortable) Well, I'm glad you did. She can be rather
          Jack: Ha! Yeah, I've noticed. even if it isn't always in her best interest. (brief pause) So, 
          working with Elizabeth's father must be interesting.
          Charles: He's really taken me under his wing. Sometimes it feels like I'm the son he never           had. Take that, Mountie. (Charles walks away.)  

dun dun DUNNNN

The dinner conversation revolving around horses (boring) and Jack's being thrown out of a "drinking establishment" (uh, oh for Jack) ended up being quite entertaining. Even for Aunt Agatha. Nice.

After a joke from Jack regarding dessert, Aunt Agatha is quickly starting to become a favorite of mine:
Aunt Agatha: Your Mountie has a very nice sense of humor, my dear.
Elizabeth: He isn't my Mountie, Aunt Agatha.
Aunt Agatha: (raises eyebrows) Oh, isn't he?
Dear old dad brings Jack a drink while they all watch Charles and Elizabeth play the piano together. Jack is trying to be as polite as possible, without backing down from Elizabeth. Her father is playing the "she follows her heart instead of her head" card. Not fair. She deserves money? Is that what you're saying dad? Jack for the win.
Jack: I'm sure you don't have to worry about that sir. If she follows her heart, I'm sure she'll be just fine. 
In Coal Valley, Rosemary and Coulter are flirting again. Ok if Rosemary goes for this Leland Coulter guy, I might grow to like her. Also, just like that we're changing the name of the town? I mean I get that it's weird to have a town that doesn't do coal be called Coal Valley, but that seems abrupt. The trial just ended an hour ago (I'm estimating in-world time).

Oooo, Jack pulled out the "Miss Thatcher" to say goodbye at the Thatcher's party. Not good. Poor Jack. Poor Elizabeth.

Shoot. During a brief encounter between Coutler and Bill Avery we see that Bill has a packet of what looks like counterfeit or bribe money for something we don't know yet. WHY. He JUST got back on our good sides. I don't know if Coulter saw it or not.

Ok I like Hope Valley. Good choice on the new town name, people. Gowan buddies up to Coulter after the name reveal. Coulter, don't trust Gowan! Gowan says he's staying in town because it's such a good town, and he'll take advantage of any opportunity he can. Taking advantage indeed. Gowan is so evil! Yuck!

Aunt Agatha with the advice for Elizabeth who's realizing she missed home more than she thought.
Elizabeth: I didn't realize I missed it here. And how good it is to see everyone. Even Viola.
Aunt Agatha: Viola? Let's not go overboard. 
I also love that Aunt Agatha is the one encouraging her to tell Jack how she feels so he doesn't confuse her need to be with her family for a change in heart. You go, Aunt Agatha!

Elizabeth rushes to the Hamilton train station and says she doesn't want to part that way, giving him a kiss on the cheek to "take with him" as he goes.

Next episode: "Heart and Soul"
42 minutes

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