When Calls the Heart, Episode 8, Season 1: Perils of a Soloist
Good evening everyone! I hope you have your coffee or tea in hand and are ready to discuss things going on with our dear friends in Coal Valley. I know I’m ready! Here’s where we left off in our last conversation: Jack (Daniel Lissing) and Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) are trying to patch up their friendship. Jack is also starting to admit to himself, and Abigail (Lori Loughlin), that he may want more of a relationship with Elizabeth. He even attempts asking her out on a date! Abigail starts out on a new endeavor in her life by opening up a cafe, but not without some trouble from Gowen (Martin Cummins). There is new excitement vibrating around town as everybody is eager to welcome home the only surviving miner from the disaster.
Now that everyone’s caught up, let’s see what our friends are up to…
We begin in the school house/saloon. It is busy with chattering, happy children who are milling about from table to table, talking and laughing as they are busy creating signs and works of art to welcome home Mr. Miller (Chad Willett). The excitement is palpable, even to Mountie Jack, as he steps in through the open door and greets Elizabeth. It is then that you also see townspeople standing out in the street. There is a laugh behind Jack’s smile as he greets Elizabeth. She smiles back at him but does not question it. A few minutes later Elizabeth says goodbye to Adam’s children for the afternoon (daughters of the miner who is coming home). The youngest of the two girls giggles at Miss Thatcher and says, “You look funny.” Elizabeth questions the little girl, but the girls ran off. Jack sheepishly admits that she has paint on her nose. They tease back and forth about him not telling her about the paint, as they both walk out into the street with the rest of the crowd who is waiting for the injured miner to return on the stagecoach at any moment. [Note: Jack says it has been 6 months since the mining incident, so Adam has been away for 6 months. When the series first started, I thought they said three months, so is their time line correct here? It doesn’t seem like that much time has past..?]]
We are brought out to the street where we see Abigail and Adam’s wife, Laurel (Christine Chatelain), who then proceeds to tell Abigail and Cat (Chelah Horsdal) that she has not seen her husband since the incident. He refused to let her travel to see him, saying it was too expensive. Cat is quick to remind her that all the miners and husbands are proud men.
Soon the stage coach pulls up after much anticipation. Adam Miller steps out slowly and the towns-people are shocked into silence as a wooden peg leg hits the ground. It is Morgan-Rose (Sarah Boey), the youngest of his two daughters to speak first when she asks her mother what is wrong with daddy? Adam looks saddened and ashamed by this question. Laurel gently tells her to hush and rushes over to her husband to greet him. This is where Adam quietly apologizes to his wife for the shock of what she is seeing, and that he did not know how to tell her that he had lost a limb. Then their oldest daughter, Jolene (Lilah Fitzgerald), runs to her father and hugs him tightly as he’s being greeted by Cat and other townspeople. They slowly walk towards home.
After they leave, Elizabeth turns to Cat and asks her if Laura Miller knew the depth of her husband’s injury? Cat tells Elizabeth and Dotty Ramsey (Erica Carroll) both that she does not think so; then the three woman go back over to the saloon/school to discuss their thoughts and why they would give Mr. Miller such a crude wooden peg leg this day in age. Cat provides us with a possible answer when she says she thinks it has something to do with their finances. It is during the course of this conversation with Dottie Ramsey, as forceful and flamboyant as she can be, that she showed her eloquent side. [Note: Dottie sort of reminds me of Mrs. Olsen from Little House on the Prairie. By the way, I’m not the first one to make this reference in the blogger/fan group universe.] Anyway, back on track we go: Dottie reminds Elizabeth of the Founders Day play ,and how excited she is about seeing it the next Saturday. She goes on and on about what a great celebration it is going to be. Poor Elizabeth seems at a loss for words, or shall I say, lost completely altogether… as she has no idea what Dottie is speaking about. The ladies are mortified that Elizabeth has no idea about the Founders Day play. They begin to explain the importance of this specific play. When Elizabeth asked if they may postpone it - since she had no idea they were supposed to be working on it, the mayor’s wife begins to go on and on about the past teacher, praising how good she was with the play, forcing Elizabeth to realize that she must do it on schedule. Dottie then leaves the scene with her husband, leaving Elizabeth alone with Cat Montgomery. As Elizabeth panicked over the Founder’s Day play, Cat assured her that all the mothers will help get the play into shape. Cat then leaves Elizabeth alone to her thoughts, saying that she is going to start getting things ready.
Still panicking, but this time out loud to herself on the porch, Jack finds Elizabeth. Jack teases her about talking to herself, but then sees her anxiety and asks her what is wrong. Elizabeth continues her rant of panic, and he instructs her to take a deep breath. Once she seems calm, he goes back to his office.
We are brought to the Stanton home that evening as Elizabeth and Abigail are packing their things to prepare to move above the cafe. Elizabeth is moving items towards the doorway as she reads what looks like a script in her hands; in doing so she trips and falls into Mounie Jack’s arms. He then teasingly scolds her about talking to herself and being worried about her mental health - for the second time. She then shares some concerns with Jack about the play again, only this time more calmly. He is surprised to learn that she had no experience with school plays while she was at the university. He shares a quote with Elizabeth by Aristotle that seems to calm her nerves a little. She thanked him for helping them move, and soon goes back to her script as she continues to move things around the house.
Due to her clumsiness again, Elizabeth knocks a vase to the floor and Abigail comes rushing into the room to see what happened. With tearful eyes Abigail begins to tell the story of the vase and how it brings back memories of her husband and son. The two women decide to put back together the vase with glue and bring it with them on their new journey together - relieved that they don’t have to make the journey alone.
That night in the Miller home, after Adam Miller sings his girls to bed, he has a discussion with his wife, Laura. He struggles to figure out who he is now that he is unable to provide for his family in the way that they are used to. He feels inferior to the man he once was. Laura tries to convince Adam she still loves him the same, but by his pensive body language as she walks away you can tell that he is unconvinced.
There’s a new home on the horizon for Abigail and Elizabeth, and for the first time we are brought into that home as the ladies move into the space above the cafe. The new space will take some getting used to, but it soon will be “home.”
The next morning Elizabeth announced to the school children that they were cancelling classes in order to rehearse for the Founders Day play. Gabe (Mitchell Kummen) boldly announces his doubts to the teacher that they could possibly learn everything in a week, especially since some of the main students who used to do the narration of the play have graduated. Elizabeth remains optimistic and begins showing the children her plans, but she is interrupted by the Miller children when they enter the classroom. She was quite surprised, since they were supposed to stay home with their father for the day. Jolene announces that her father had some business to take care of in town. They’re interrupted again when Cat brings the music for the children to go over. She reiterates Elizabeth’s wishes for the children to be attentive and helpful with the Founders Day play, and reminding them how important it is for the town after such a difficult year. Gabe ten announces his doubts, to his mother’s dismay. She gives him the “mom-look.” Gabe stopped. Soon the pastor arrives with the costume box. Elizabeth is once again discouraged to find that most of the costumes were damaged in the fire. Reverend Anderson (Adrian Hough) hesitates before announcing that the backdrop was also been burned in the fire… and was not able to be salvaged. This is when Cat becomes somewhat discouraged and concerned since Noah Stanton, Abigail’s late husband, was the only painter in town. He painted the last back-drop for the Founders Day play. Elizabeth does her best as she goes to the front of the classroom and tries not to show her anxiety to her students. She sets up an easel as she starts to explain to them that they can never give up. Almost on cue, the easel falls over and her shoulders slump as the students burst into laughter.
Soon we are sent to Gowin’s office. [It kind of reminds me of the 1900s version of the principal’s office, only he would be an awfully evil principal. Anybody else get that feeling?] Adam Miller sits down with Gowin for the first time since his return to Coal Valley. Adam expresses his gratitude for Gowen taking care of his family while he was in the hospital. Gowen takes his gratitude graciously. [Note: I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen him actually gracious. I almost fell over!] Gowin apologizes that the company did not know the extent of Adam’s injuries. Adam asks for any kind of job that Gowen can give him, knowing that he cannot return to the mine. Gowen assures Mr. Miller that he will see what he can do .
More mishaps with Elizabeth… Soon we are brought to the cafe that has not opened yet. Elizabeth is sitting on a chair and trying to sew - believe it or not! [Trust me, I didn’t believe it the first time I saw this episode! Still haven’t figured out how she has such clean clothes. Does she know how to wash them even? And I highly doubt with her cooking skills that she would know how to use a box iron!] Anyway, soon Abigail asks Elizabeth if she’s sewn herself to anything yet? Elizabeth lifts her arm and realizes she has sewn herself to the costume. Abigail carries over a basket of fabric donated by Dottie Ramsey with the catch that their son has the lead role in the play, and that Dottie becomes the master of ceremonies. Elizabeth decides that this is a good deal, since they need the fabric to sew new costumes. Not long after Abigail excuses herself Jack comes in with a plate of corn bread from the saloon and offers it to Elizabeth. As he does so, she pricks her finger with the needle. Jack kindly offers his help with sewing. At first Elizabeth thinks he is joking, but then quickly realizes she is wrong as he picks up the needle and thread, and finishes up where she left off. He tells her tales of an injury where he had to sew on himself.
Soon we see Adam Miller at the mines getting directions for his new job from Herbert Eversol (Eric Breker). As he is getting his instructions, the noon whistle blows. We see the poor man jump a mile… the man being Adam. [This gives viewers insight to what I believe would now-a-days be diagnosed as PTSD. I’m not a doctor, but I cannot imagine being buried alive in a mine.] Later that evening we are brought back to the Miller home when Laura asks Jolene to go wake her father. The curious young girl sees her father’s peg leg on the floor and instead of waking her father, she curiously lifts the blanket to see what is no longer there. The movement startled her father out of a restless sleep, and Jolene gets knocked down and frightened by not only her father’s missing leg, but her father’s actions.
The next morning as Elizabeth goes into school, she is surprised by a large backdrop that has been left hanging over the chalkboard. It is a beautifully painted mountain scene of Coal Valley. Her breath is taken away, and she appears stunned as she tries to figure out where in the world it came from. A few minutes later we see Jack painting at the cafe, along with Abigail. She covertly questions him about said backdrop. He denies all knowledge of having painted or seeing the backdrop. Not giving up, Abigail smiles and tells him there’s nothing to worry about… that his secret is safe with her. He gives her a sideways glance and smile and continues to paint.
Later that evening, we are back at the Miller home. Adam comes home. Everyone is excited except for him. He seems depressed and withdrawn, but no one else seems to notice. Laura pulls out a gift box and tells him to open it. He opens the wooden trunk to reveal a prosthetic leg. His girls ask him if he likes it, and he does not respond. Adam’s body language changes as his jaw tightens. We instantly notice that he is angry, at least I did, but his family didn’t seem to, until he slams the box shut. Laurel explains that she had taken up a collection for half of the cost of the prosthetic leg. Adam swepts the table clean with his hands, making the box go flying, and frightening his children. Miller then lets his anger out and so does Laurel. She mentions how she is bitter towards him for not telling her the truth about his leg, and he responds that she does not seem to realize that he’s a different man. [Which in my opinion, there seems to be a little truth in both cases. She is telling him that he has to deal with the hand God dealt him, that is true, but I don’t think she has really dealt with it herself - at least it doesn’t feel like it. Yes he is bitter, and has kind of given up.] His argument is that he doesn’t feel like a man. [Technically speaking, it is true that he will never be what he was before, and yes you would feel like that some days. I even feel like that some days, and I was born with a disability.] It is during this argument that Laurel finds out that Adam quit his job at the mine, and she asks if he was going to give up, why come home? In response, he silently takes his jacket and leaves.
In the morning we see the school children rehearsing for the Founders Day play. When it comes to Jolene Miller’s turn to practice her lines, she stumbles on her lines, has a tearful outburst and leaves class. Elizabeth quickly follows her to the porch where Jolene explains to Miss Thatcher that she doesn’t believe in the words that she is supposed to say for the play anymore. She goes on to say that the man that came home was not her daddy, and it wasn’t because he was missing a leg - he is changed. She just wants everything to go back to the way it was before the mine disaster. Elizabeth hugs her student and tells her that she is going to be ok. She counsels that all Jolene can do is love her dad. After school is out that afternoon, Jack drops by and asks Elizabeth where the backdrop came from. She replies that she doesn’t know, but their conversation is interrupted by Laura Miller who is frantic to find her husband after she finds a note saying that he is leaving. Jack goes out to find him, but not before Elizabeth gives him her first attempt at being somewhat sentimental - telling him to be careful. [This scene is very short, but rather sweet - just before he rides off into the valley in search of Mr. Miller.]
We see Jack on his horse against a beautiful sunset, or rather his silhouette, on a hilltop as he takes out his binoculars and checks out the smoke he sees off in the distance. Assuming that this is Mr Miller, he rides towards it . [Okay this is where I have a few questions. Yes, I know he had to use binoculars to see the smoke, and yes I know the sun was setting, but it didn’t look that far off into the distance even when he looked at it without his binoculars; so when he finally gets there would it be that pitch-black dark outside? And question number two: wouldn’t you really be lucky to find Mr. Miller right off the bat? I mean, I know he can’t go that far, not to be mean or anything, but really - there could be a lot of people out in the woods couldn’t there? Or am I wrong? Question number three: where’s the smoke coming from? Adam didn’t have a fire going… the guy was freezing inside the broken down shack when Jack does get there.] As Jack rides up to the cabin a midnight black curtain seems to fall over the mountain, as night surrounds them. All of a sudden Mr. Miller tells him that he is not going back, and leaving his family is not against the law. Jack agrees, but tells Adam that his family is worried about him. Adam again tells the constable to mind his own business and go away. Jack does not say anything, but dismounts from his horse. When Adam asks the constable what he is doing, Jack says he will head back at first light. Adam says that Jack will be heading back by himself. Our mountie regretfully responds that that is his choice .
Back in Coal Valley at the Miller home, Jolene can’t sleep. She goes into her mother’s room for comfort. Jolene explains to her mother that when her father was in the hospital, she always knew that her father was coming home… but now she’s not so sure, and that scares her. Laurel then tells her that all they can do is pray for him.
In the valley, as Jack and Adam sit by the fire, Jack uses an illustration about the love of his father when he was a boy, and what happened when his father became ill and passed away. He was trying to put an image in front of Adam Miller’s face and show him what he is doing to his family by staying bitter, angry, and frightened. Again Jack tells Adam that he will be leaving at dawn, and that he is welcome to join him .
The next night we are back in Coal Valley at the school/saloon as everyone in town is gathered for the Founders Day play. Dottie Ramsey gives a short speech, while Jolene Miller nervously gets ready for her solo backstage. She comes out and begins to sing. The door swings open and as soon as constable Jack and Adam appear in the doorway the little girl runs down the aisle towards her father, jumps into his arms and he finishes her solo with her. [A very touching moment for the young actress who played Jolene. The emotion seemed very real.]
It is a bright sunny morning in Coal Valley when we see the “open” sign in the window of Abigail’s cafe.That very same morning at the school, some of Miss Thatcher’s students are getting quite a laugh at a small picture hidden inside the mural. They call Miss Thatcher over to look at it with a magnifying glass, and she is shocked to see that it is a likeness of her and Jack kissing under a tree! She immediately goes to Jack’s office to tell him of this. [Sometimes he’s so clear in his facial expressions and nuances!] He immediately gets ready to investigate, but she stops him - saying that their reputations are on the line. He agrees. As soon as she leaves we see Jack hide painting supplies in his desk; then he looks over at his dog and says, “It’s our secret.” Then Jack smiles, giving the viewers the impression that he was the culprit.
It seems Mountie Jack and Elizabeth Thatcher are becoming more brave with one another, as far as their feelings are concerned. Abigail has opened her cafe, and I’m sure there will be many more things to come for her. We met the Miller family, and while there were many bumps along the way for them, with God’s help - I’m sure Mr. Miller will figure out some way to provide for his family again.
Here’s my question to you for this article: If you were Elizabeth, and were asked to throw together the Founders Day play (the most important play in Coal Valley each year) in a week, and you had no costumes, no backdrop and no narrator… Would you panic, or would you show grace under pressure? How would you throw it together? What would be your plans?
Written by Amy J. Falk
Fans of Believe Pictures Productions
Where you can find Amy:
Director Neill Fearnley
Writers Janette Oke (Novel) | Jon Nappa
Producers Greg Malcolm | Vicki Sotheran
Composer John Sereda
Cinematographer Michael Balfry
Editor Bridget Durnford