The Hallmark Channel just premiered the pilot episode of their new multi-generational series The Way Home. The series stars Andie MacDowell, Chyler Leigh, Evan Williams and Sadie Laflamme-Snow.
Staff member AMANDA PEZET takes a look at the pilot episode of the series. Grab your favorite beverage, sit back, relax and read her thoughts about the pilot episode!
**SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen this pilot episode yet, please do not read any further until you do!**
Recap and review by AMANDA PEZET
The Hallmark Channel’s new episodic drama The Way Home, is the perfect combination of heart and mystery. This unique series introduces us to the Landry family, three generations of strong and stubborn women that can’t quite figure out how to bridge the gap caused by decades of loss and misunderstandings- but fate and a family gift may lead them down the road to compassion and forgiveness in a way that they never imagined possible.
In an interesting twist, the story begins in the year 1814 in Port Haven, New Brunswick, as a girl runs through the woods while being chased by a group of men with torches. She narrowly escapes them as she finds herself at the edge of a pond. As she jumps into the water the timeline jumps ahead to modern day Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This is where we first meet Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) as she runs off the stage at her high school talent show and pulls the fire alarm on her way out the door. Alice’s parents, recently separated, Kat (Chyler Leigh) and Brady (Al Mukadam), learn that Alice has been expelled. This leads to a heated argument in the parking lot about who is to blame for their daughter’s recent string of poor choices. While guilt is being thrown around, Kat tells Brady that she missed their daughter’s show because she was fired that morning due to downsizing, to which he admits that he’s been distracted because his new girlfriend moved in with him. No wonder their kid is going through a rough patch.
After finding Alice at home with a group of friends, Kat attempts to have a family conversation about Alice’s attitude and choices, to which Alice lashes out and says that there’s no point in talking to them about it because her parents never listen to her anyway. In a less than excellent parental move, Brady immediately bails to go back to work without even attempting to help. Kat obviously wants to protect her daughter, and can tell that she’s hurting because of the impending divorce, but Alice has built a massive wall between them and refuses to let her mom in.
After this failed attempt to connect with Alice, Kat randomly receives a letter in the mail from her own estranged mother, asking her to mend fences and come home. She takes a deep breath, calls her mom, and decides that now is the time to take her daughter and return to their family farm in Port Haven, New Brunswick.
As Kat and Alice travel to their fresh start in Canada, Kat tries to convince Alice, and herself, that this is a good move for both of them. Alice is less than happy with the idea of moving in with a grandmother that she doesn’t know, and she doesn’t understand how her mom can return to the home where she lost her younger brother – a place that she’s avoided for 20 years.
After a long ride, Kat and Alice arrive at the Landry Family Farm. This is where we meet Del Landry (Andie MacDowell), the no nonsense matriarch of the family. Del, less than warmly, greets her daughter at the car, but takes to making sure that Alice gets a hug and a tour of the property. Left alone to reacquaint herself with her family home, Kat enters the farmhouse and is immediately overcome with flashes of her past. Sounds of a giggling child, and music wash over the room, flash visions of little red shoes and a record player fill Kat’s mind.
While Kat is experiencing a blast from the past, Del gives Alice a tour and fills her in on their family’s history. She tells her that her musical gift comes from her grandfather, Colton; that the farm has been in his family for generations; and that one day it could all be hers. She also casually mentions a pond in the woods on their property.
That night, during an awkward family dinner, Del is quick to point her daughter and granddaughter in the direction that she feels is best. She quickly shoots down Kat’s plan to write a book and tells her to find a “real job” in town. Then, despite Alice’s protest to learn online, she informs her granddaughter that she’s starting school, in person, tomorrow. Alice excuses herself from the table to go to her room- Kat’s childhood room. Kat unsettles Del, by telling her that she’ll be taking her little brother, Jacob’s, room.
While exploring her new room, Alice finds her grandfather’s funeral program. It says that Colton Landry died February 17th, 2000 at the age of 42, and that in death he would be reunited with his son, Jacob.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen Del and Kat have a heart to heart. Kat tells her mom of her impending divorce and they reminisce on how Kat met Brady at a summer camp when she was 15 and her mom helps her reconcile with the idea that sometimes people just grow apart. Kat thanks her mom for sending her the letter asking her to mend fences. Del snaps and says that she didn’t send her daughter a letter, that Kat reached out to her first by calling. Confused because the letter was written in her mother’s handwriting, Kat wonders why her mom would deny sending it. At that, Del leaves the room without saying a word. Kat walks upstairs and overhears Alice begging her dad to let her come back to Minneapolis.
In the morning as Alice prepares for her first day of school, Kat spots Del in an intense conversation with a man in the front yard. Del accuses him of finding and sending the letter that Kat received. He tells her that he has no idea what she’s talking about and she gets agitated because she thinks he’s playing dumb. Kat interrupts them and is surprised and happy to see that it is her childhood friend, Elliot (Evan Williams), talking to her mom. She gives him a big hug and they take a moment to catch up. He tells her that he moved back home a few years ago and teaches science at the highschool. Del excuses herself from the conversation, but not before she points out that they’re both divorced. Alice interrupts their moment and demands that she is taken to school so as to not be late on her first day.
While Alice is at school, Brady calls Kat to check in. She accuses him of blowing Alice off and using work as an excuse. He tells her that he’s trying to support her choice to move back to Canada by not feeding into Alice’s bad mood. She tells him that Del has erased all traces of her dad and brother and the happiness that once filled the house. After hanging up she goes outside and confronts Del. She asks her how she can just remove all of the photos of her dad and Jacob- treating them like they never existed. Del tells her that she’s moved on and that Kat should too. Del accuses her of floundering and Kat tells her it’s because she has nothing to cling to.
At school, Alice finds out that Elliot is her science teacher. He tells her that he grew up next door to their farm and that he would do anything for the Landry family. He offers to help her, “any place, any time.” To which she awkwardly thanks him and leaves- but not before a couple of kids block access to the fire alarm and tease her- someone obviously told them about her past transgressions.
Kat wanders down to the basement. She flashes to thoughts of her dad and little brother. She opens a box of her brother’s things, including a small treasure box. Del interrupts the moment when she comes down to tell Kat that Alice is skipping school.
At the Point Cafe Alice sips coffee and watches a video of her parents gifting her a charm bracelet, inscribed K+B, that her dad had once given to her mom. Kat walks in as Alice is looking at that very bracelet currently on her wrist. She tells her to get in the car and takes her home. They argue loudly in the front yard. Kat tells her how disappointed she is that she didn’t even make it a day at school, and then she tells her to get used to their new living arrangement because she’s stuck with her. Alice argues that she can always leave and live with her dad, to which Kat breaks it to her that leaving isn’t an option because her dad just moved in with his girlfriend. At that moment, Alice realizes that her parents are never getting back together and she runs away from her mom and into the woods.
Alice runs until she finds herself by a pond, and in a moment of anger she takes her charm bracelet off of her wrist and throws it into the water. Immediately regretting her decision, she reaches into the water to retrieve it, but instead, she falls in and struggles to get herself back to the surface. All of a sudden an arm reaches into the water and pulls her out.
When Alice emerges from the water she is confronted by a girl that is about her age. The concerned stranger asks Alice why she is in the disgusting pond water and informs her that she is on her family’s land. Confused, Alice wonders how she could be on this girl’s family land- until the girl introduces herself as Katherine Landry- Kat to her friends!
Alice and teenaged Kat (Alex Hook) find their way back to the farmhouse. Along the way, Kat introduces Alice to her best friend, Elliot (David Webster), who is building a telescope in the barn. As the girls are talking to teenaged Elliot, Kat’s dad- Alice’s deceased grandfather- greets the girls, alive and well. He praises Kat for an article that she had published, and introduces himself to a stunned Alice. Kat takes Alice inside and gets her dry clothes. Alice sees a calendar that says it’s 1999. The girls get changed and head down to dinner. At dinner little Jacob is there, Del is welcoming and happy, Colton gushes about his beautiful wife. The entire Landry family seems joyful- very different from the modern day Landry house. They ask Alice about her family and she tells them that she recently moved to Canada from the states after her parents separated. Teenaged Kat offers her apologies and recognizes how hard that must be. They talk about how Kat is about to go work at a camp in the states- Alice knows that this is where her parents meet and encourages her to go. After dinner the kids clear the table as Colton plays guitar and sings for everyone. After a lovely evening with her family Alice decides it’s time to find her way home. Jacob gives her a big hug and tells her to watch out for the White Witch that takes children from the woods. Before she can walk out the door Jacob takes her picture with a polaroid camera. As she walks across the porch Alice glances back into the window to see Del and Colton dancing, and Jacob and Kat smiling- her family was obviously close and content back then, it’s painful to think how far from that joy they’ve come.
Flash to present day and the dinner table has a very different mood. Kat and Del argue about Alice’s safety which turns into anger. Kat is so angry with how her mom has handled the loss of her brother and father. She cannot understand how Del can just cover up the fact that they ever existed, when Kat still sees them everywhere she looks. Kat goes to her room and calls Alice. She leaves a message begging her to come home and then starts looking through Jacob’s treasure box that she found in the basement. Inside she finds a set of polaroid pictures- the last photo is the one that Jacob took of Alice- in 1999, but the image is blurry. Elliot texts her telling her not to worry because Alice will find her way home.
Meanwhile in 1999- Alice finds young Elliot in the barn. She tells him that he offered to help her, “any place, any time.” He doesn’t understand because they just met that day, but she assures him that he made that promise and that she needs his help right there, right now.
The episode comes to a conclusion right where it began- down by the water. Adult Elliot stands by the pond, presumably waiting for Alice to return. Kat calls and asks him how he can be so sure that Alice will make it home- and he illusively tells her that he just knows.
Just, wow! There is so much to unpack in this first episode of The Way Home. I thoroughly enjoyed the creative plot and well developed characters. In an hour the writers created characters that the audience can relate to and root for. They shared decades worth of love, pain, and processing. The time travel aspect- allowing Alice to go back and personally experience what her family was like before all of the loss and grieving- is such a clever dynamic. As Alice, Sadie Laflamme-Snow does an incredible job bringing tension to the scenes with her on-screen mom, Kat. Chyler Leigh, as Kat, brings so many layers to her character. There is intense honesty in every single scene that she’s in- you can feel every bit of her sadness and self-doubt. And then you top all of that off with the incomparable Andie MacDowell as Del- the flashbacks allowing us to see the character progression- once so warm, but now frozen by all that life has thrown her way- MacDowell does an amazing job at closing her character off so intriguingly much that I wanted to climb inside her head and figure out what she’s thinking. Bravo to Hallmark and everyone who worked on this production-I cannot wait to see where this story goes. It truly is one of a kind.
Thank you for reading our recap and review. Until next time.
**Photos courtesy of ©2022 Hallmark Media/Photographers: Iden Ford/Michael Larsen**