Welcome back to Coal Valley! Let’s put on a cup of coffee, sit down and talk about Episode 4. When the show begins, we see our diligent mountie (Daniel Lissing) trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together when he finds a crate of whale oil in Cat Montgomery’s (Chelah Horsdal’s) shed. The pieces to this puzzle include: whale oil, “Pocket’s,” soil samples, an angry teacher, a rooster, a jail cell, a necklace, a refusal, a husband’s secret, ashes, and a pistol. Please join me in putting these pieces together and hearing more about the Secrets and Lies in the little town of Coal Valley.
Let’s start with the whale oil piece of our puzzle… In the previous episode, Jack found whale oil in the debris of the church. As he replaced a bucket, Jack found a box of this same whale oil in Cat’s shed. Jack approaches Cat, who is in her garden and questions her concerning the night of the vigil for the miners - of which she was absent, and it was also the night when the church burned down. He then cautiously let her know that she was being accused of arson. He keeps a can of the oil, leaves Cat with her thoughts and then ignores Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) who is walking up the road as he gallops away.
“Pockets” is our next piece in the puzzle, better known as Albert (Sean Michael Kyer). While we don’t know who his parents are, we know that he is well dressed. Albert is very expressive; it’s as if you can see what he is thinking by his facial expressions and sigh’s while gazing at Miss Thatcher. His carving of the bird appears way beyond his age level, but I guess it’s possible - there are some brilliantly artistic children out there! “Pockets” is a collector of the treasures he sees around him. One of these treasures will end up being a very important piece of the puzzle.
Then comes the soil sample piece of our puzzle that Jack is studying at his desk. This doesn’t seem to be a critical piece, but we see Mr. Gowen’s (Martin Cummins) character come out as he enters the office, questioning Jack about how far he is into the investigation, and whether favoritism was being shown toward Cat Montgomery, since she was not placed in jail yet as a suspect. Gabe Montgomery (Mitchell Kummens) bursts onto the scene demanding to know whether his mother is a suspect or not. Mitchell does an exceptional job portraying his emotions of anger and frustration toward the constable. (While the soil samples were not mentioned again in this episode, we know that soil sampling was performed even before 1900. You can find more information by Googling patents of soil testing in 1910.)
An angry teacher makes this next puzzle piece seem a bit explosive… Jack went to Miss Thatcher’s classroom, requesting that she supervise the Montgomery children while he questions them concerning their mother’s whereabouts the night of the vigil. Elizabeth’s pugnacious side appeared at first, until Jack convinced her that this idea was the best way of clearing her friend’s name. Later on that afternoon, we see Jack questioning the children. We only saw Mile’s (Logan Williams) interview through the window. Then it was Gabe’s turn to talk to the Mountie. His rage was evident in his body language even before being questioned. As Emily walked into the room to talk to Mountie Jack, she seemed to be the antithesis of her oldest brother. Miss Thatcher stayed by Emily’s side in a protective manner, monitoring every move that was made during the questioning.
It is during this interrogation that Jack found a critical piece of the puzzle… a rooster. Emily mentioned that her mother did not come home until the rooster crowed, indicating that Cat did not come home the night of the vigil, but the next day… leaving more questions than answers. This lead to a heated disagreement between Jack and Elizabeth when he told her that he was headed out to the Montgomery place to ask Cat more questions, since there was a discrepancy in the time that she returned home. He also reminded Elizabeth that her job ended in the classroom - which she does not take well at all. Soon you find both of them on the steps of the Montgomery place, with Elizabeth standing faithfully at Cat’s side as Jack questions her. Gabe, who is desperately trying to be a man, yet struggling with the emotions of a boy, comes out of the house - noticing the constable. Cat gets flustered, realizing that she cannot answer the questions in front of the children, who came out of the house after Gabe. She turns to Elizabeth, asking if she will watch them while she talks to Mountie Jack. Elizabeth agrees, but Gabe refuses to go inside the house. Since Cat will not answer any more questions from Jack, he starts to escort her back to his office. This scene is filled with a mix of emotions: we see fear and anger from Gabe, and shock and desperation from Cat, while Jack seems emotionless in the background. Cat stops her son from acting out and asks him to be the man of the house while she is gone.
Our first female Coal Valley resident in jail is our next puzzle piece. Jack places Cat in jail and assures her that he will go check out her story. He mentions that a Pinkerton guard will watch over her while he is gone; this seems to rattle Cat… but that is a different puzzle piece.
A beautiful necklace is our next piece. When we see Elizabeth in school next, class has just been let out and Albert (a.k.a. “Pockets”) approaches the teacher’s desk. He is dressed in a clean suit, complete with bowtie - it makes you wonder who his parents are in Coal Valley… They must be rich! Taking out a gift box, he presents Miss Thatcher with an elegant necklace, which she politely refuses and asks him where he was able to get it. He bashfully replies that he snagged it in the river; then he admits to her it might be Mr. Spurlock’s (Steve Bacic). After some sage advice on women and offering to return the necklace, Elizabeth leans forward kissing Albert’s forehead. He turns, floating dreamily from the classroom.
The next jagged piece is a refusal. That evening, we see Elizabeth in the Montgomery household, trying to break up a fight when Emily notices that her teacher has “mommy’s necklace.” Elizabeth tried to explain that it belonged to someone else, but the normally shy Emily was very insistent that the piece of jewelry was her mother’s - given to her by a man who wanted to marry her. With a look of confusion, Elizabeth decided to go see Cat and get answers.
Mystery enshrouds this piece - a husband’s secret, which brings into question Cat’s alibi. Elizabeth hears the whole story as she sits outside the jail cell, learning of how Cat had kept her husband’s gambling a secret for years. There was a massive debt owed to a man in the next town over, and he required payment - despite Joe Montgomery’s death. Spurlock, a fellow gambler, knew of the debt, gave Cat the necklace and offered to pay it off if Cat would be “friendly to him.” Cat, spurning the idea, threw the necklace at Spurlock, but it landed in the creek. Needing to earn extra money, Cat was making candles to pay off the debt. She accumulated enough money the night of the vigil. This was her true reason for being absent.
Within this soot-smudged piece of the puzzle, we see Elizabeth taking it upon herself to bring the rejected necklace back to Charles Spurlock’s remote cabin, unaccompanied yet again. (This whole scene seems a bit dangerous, and unlikely for a young woman of Elizabeth’s upbringing to be doing on her own.) After she returns the necklace and turns to leave, Miss Thatcher notices a pile of ashes and candles hanging nearby. Curiosity always getting the best of her, Elizabeth wanders over, bends down and smells the ashes, realizing it is whale oil - but not without gaining the attention of Spurlock, who says she is meddling.
The last piece is in the form of a pistol, aimed directly at our dear Elizabeth! Falling to the ground in her perfectly kept clothing (I’d love to see her do the laundry or use a box iron!), she starts to put the puzzle pieces together out loud. As the hammer on the pistol clicks, she begs for her life. Then Jack rides in, just in time to save her life - hitting Charles in the head with the butt of his rifle. Then, what happens to Spurlock??? After this, Jack takes Elizabeth away to get Cat and drop her off with her children.
The puzzle is completed as the Reverend is given the opportunity to preach to his congregation again, and later Elizabeth falls into Jack’s arms one more time.
In conclusion, the children of Coal Valley need to be commended for this episode. I know I say it a lot, especially on the Believe Pictures page, but the children from When Calls the Heart are an absolutely critical part of this series! They each have their specific talents, and I can’t wait to see how they grow into their characters further.
Director Michael Landon Jr.
Writers Janette Oke (Novel) | John Wierick
Producers Greg Malcolm | Vicki Sotheran
Composers Lee Holdridge | Robert Irving
Cinematographer Robert Brinkmann
Editor Bridget Durnford
Production Designer Brentan Harron
Written by Amy J. Falk
Fans of Believe Pictures Productions
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