When Calls the Heart, Season Three (2016) | Episodes Two and Three Review
One of the most rapidly growing series is Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart. Based on (or perhaps “inspired by” is a better term to coin) a series of novels by famed Christian author, Janette Oke, the series is a wholesome alternative to what’s popular on network television today while accommodating to those of us who enjoy period drama. When the third season begins, we are finding Jack and Elizabeth in a very different place (in comparison to their trial of earlier seasons) as Elizabeth inserts more independence.
Change is in the air for Hope Valley’s young schoolteacher, Elizabeth Thatcher (Erin Krakow). Raised as a city girl, Elizabeth’s early days in the dusty coal town of Hope Valley were fraught with many a challenge, not the least of which was adjusting without some of the privileges her father’s wealth afforded. But now, Elizabeth considers herself a resident of Hope Valley – it’s home, she says. With the support of her friends and love of her beau, Canadian Mountie, Jack Thornton (Daniel Lissing), Elizabeth is setting down roots. She’s decided to rent a house and strike out on her own. At the same time, Jack contemplates building a house, one in which he hopes Elizabeth will someday share.
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Meanwhile, Abigail (Lori Loughlin) is settling into her role as foster mother to young Cody (Carter Ryan Evancic). She settles into the role of overprotective mother too quickly and spoils him more than is healthy, which gets him in trouble with Elizabeth in the classroom and causes tension between Elizabeth and Abigail. Also troubling Abigail are changes of co-ownership in her café and the slow withdrawal into secrecy of Pastor Frank Hogan (Mark Humphrey), as he pulls away before he’s even given them a chance.
Also among the fray of familiar and beloved characters are Rosemary and Lee, Clara (Abigail’s daughter-in-law) and the recently cleared Mountie Bill Avery (Jack Wagner) - who has his sights set on bigger things than a return to the Mounties, to say nothing of the resident baddie, Mayor Gowen (Martin Cummins). Among these characters, many shifting plots begin to play out, most of which I suspect will affect the larger part of the third season. Between Abigail and Bill’s unexpected partnership, and Elizabeth and Jack’s every attempt to be alone thwarted, this season sets out to spin some entertaining as well as potentially heartbreaking stories.
As usual, I was entertained by Rosemary and her busybody attempts to see everything in Lee’s company to rights. Naturally, many of her notions backfire on her leaving her flustered and in a rare moment of normalcy truly honest with the one man who sees beyond the façade she wears. One of the things I think the writers have let become too messy is Abigail’s story. Between her fledging new romance, a new relationship with her ex, and her ex’s ex-wife residing in Hope Valley, I think a little simplifying of her life would go a long way.
Of course, the one relationship that probably keeps viewers returning most consistently is that of Elizabeth and Jack. Having seen the first two episodes of season three, I don’t think Hearties who tune in for this romance will be disappointed. There is still a sense of incompleteness or friction just because of the difficulties the pair find in carving out time alone, but for now they’re in a committed relationship, which paves the way for some really charming scenes (including one involving Elizabeth painting).
Those of us who vividly remember the books (they were a part of my childhood) might be disappointed in some of the things lost in the adaptation. The books kept up a more realistic albeit entertaining timeline that kept the pace and lives of the characters moving forward in a healthy way whereas the series focuses on conflict as its primary goal. Bottom line, if you liked prior episodes of this, this is a fun way to spend part of your Sunday evenings. A return to the comfort of Hope Valley and its people is always a welcome sight, and season three gets things off to an exciting start.
Photos: Hallmark Channel