**SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen this episode yet, please do not read any further!**
Review by AMANDA PEZET
Honesty is the best policy, Hearties! When Calls the Heart: Open Hearts explores the importance of openness and honesty as the townspeople of Hope Valley find themselves planning a wedding, navigating the changes that come with a marriage and avoiding town wide bankruptcy.
This week’s installment of When Calls the Heart picks up exactly where it left off last week. The townspeople gather outside of the bank as Bill (Jack Wagner) and Abigail (Lori Loughlin) attempt to keep them from panicking. As everyone questions what to do next, Abigail asks for them to give her time to figure out their next move. Bill and Jack (Daniel Lissing) remind the town that they can trust Abigail, and everyone agrees to go forward trusting that Abigail will come up with a solution. Once behind closed doors, Bill questions Abigail about her plans. She admits she doesn’t know what she will be able to do and that she was only trying to buy time to figure it out.
After the townspeople disperse, Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) finds Jack in the jailhouse. He informs her that he’s headed out of town for a couple of days, but he will only say that his mission is an effort to surprise her. Although Elizabeth loves surprises, she still worries that Jack isn’t being up-front about the feelings he’s struggling with after his time in the northern territories, and this secretive behavior only adds to her distress. He again brushes it off and says that there isn’t much to say about it. He assures her that this is a positive surprise for her and asks her to trust him, to which she reluctantly agrees.
Elizabeth, Abigail, and Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) meet for tea to discuss Jack and Elizabeth’s upcoming nuptials. Elizabeth expresses concern for Jack. She feels he’s holding back and that he needs to speak to her about what is weighing so heavily on his heart. Abigail tells her to be open and honest with Jack about her fears. Abigail and Rosemary try to distract Elizabeth from her concerns for Jack by talking about her wedding day.
In the schoolhouse, the children find it difficult to focus on their studies. The classroom is full of excitement for Ms. Thatcher and Mountie Jack’s wedding. They all want to know if they are invited to attend. Elizabeth assures them that not only are they invited, but they will each have a special job at the wedding. After the children are dismissed to recess, Phillip asks Ms. Thatcher what his job will be. Elizabeth tells him that he will be the ringbearer because it is a very special job that requires a trustworthy person. Clearly content with his assignment, Phillip runs off to join the other children at recess.
At the Coulter residence, Rosemary and Sophia (Ali Liebert) work on plans for the dresses for the bridal party. Rosemary revels in the idea that the wedding dress –which of course, she is designing– will be the “centerpiece of the celebration” and that “people will be talking about this dress for days, weeks, maybe even years to come.”
Abigail seeks out Gowen for help with the bank. She asks him to assist her in finding private investors to help save the town. She reminds him that he knows a lot of people with influence and wealth, but he says that, given his previous indiscretions, he believes he no longer has any pull in that circle of society. Abigail challenges him by saying, “That’s not the Henry Gowan I know. The man I know lives to make a deal and if you could pull this off, it would be the greatest deal you’ve ever made.” He agrees to try to find investors but reiterates that it is a long shot, to which Abigail reminds him that the “longest shots are where the big payoffs are earned.”
At recess, the children discuss what jobs they would like to have at Jack and Elizabeth’s wedding. Harper tells the other children that when teachers get married, they stop teaching to take care of their own families. Phillip overhears this and questions the likelihood of this happening with Ms. Thatcher. Harper tells him that it happened at his last school, so it’s likely it will happen again, and Phillip becomes visibly upset.
Sophia and Dr. Carson go on a horseback ride in the countryside. They discuss her fondness for Hope Valley, and he asks her if she can see herself living and working there. She says that “every town needs homes [and] shops,” but he worries that she wouldn’t be able to live up to her potential in Hope Valley. She assures him that “architecture is all about seeing possibilities” and that she can “[see] something there.” Carson believes that her ability to see everything in a positive light would show through in her designs, but she reminds him that that would be impossible to prove because no one has hired her to design anything. He looks at her with knowing eyes and tells her that “something will come through” and reminds her that “life has a way of changing in an instant.”
Elizabeth enters the dress shop and is greeted by Rosemary, Clara (Eva Bourne) and Dottie (Erica Carroll). Rosemary shows Elizabeth the design for her dress, and although Elizabeth thinks it is suggestsful, she worries that it is too much. Elizabeth suggests they “go with a less expensive fabric and perhaps not as much of it.” Rosemary then reminds Elizabeth that it is her special day and refuses to let her compromise. Rosemary promises to make sure that it is the wedding of Elizabeth’s dreams and more. Rosemary is obviously, but lovingly, taking over, and that appears to make Elizabeth nervous.
Meanwhile, in Hamilton, Jack visits Mr. Thatcher to ask his blessing for his marriage to Elizabeth. Mr. Thatcher expresses dismay over their plans to wed and threatens to withhold his blessing. He admits that he has never disapproved of Jack and that he believes that he is a good man, but he questions if he is the “right match for Elizabeth given [their] far different backgrounds.” Jack reminds him that “marriage isn’t about the past; it’s about the future” and that his children with Elizabeth will be Mr. Thatcher’s grandchildren. He attempts to convince him that they both want the same thing, Elizabeth’s happiness and that he will “devote [his] life to making [Elizabeth] happy.”
In Hope Valley, Abigail and Elizabeth take a walk through town. Abigail tells Elizabeth of her plan to procure private investors to help save the town. Abigail attempts to lighten the mood by asking Elizabeth about the design for her wedding dress. Elizabeth expresses her concern over the fact that she has very little say over the dress or any other aspect of the wedding plans. Abigail tells her to get Rosemary’s attention and be honest with her about her feelings. Abigail tries to distract Elizabeth by asking her about the one thing that only she and Jack can plan–the honeymoon! A distressed Phillip eavesdrops on the ladies and hears Elizabeth say that she and Jack will be leaving a few days after the wedding to go to Chicago. At that moment, Jack arrives and invites Elizabeth to join him on a horseback ride to discuss his trip. Phillip very sadly watches them ride away.
The town’s merchants arrive at Abigail’s office to work out a way to proceed. Abigail proposes that the merchants begin extending credit to their customers. She promises that the town will back the credit. Dottie and the other merchants agree to trust Abigail and begin extending credit immediately.
Jack escorts Elizabeth to their land and tells her that her father has given them his blessing on their marriage. Elizabeth is elated at this news, but can’t fully enjoy it because she is still concerned that Jack hasn’t confided in her about his time in the northern territories. She asks Jack again to tell her about his experiences while in battle, but he tells her that it’s in the past. Elizabeth argues that it isn’t in the past, it’s part of who he is and that for their marriage to be successful they must be willing to share everything–the good and the bad. Just as Jack seems as if he may be ready to share his thoughts with Elizabeth, Hickam appears and interrupts the moment by telling them that Rosemary needs them at the café immediately.
Gowan asks Lee for a promotion at the mill. Lee asks Jesse, Gowan’s current supervisor, if he feels that Gowan is equipped to work on the logging crew. Jesse says that although he does an “alright job” he may have previously worked behind a desk too long to be physically capable of working at such a demanding job and that other men who have been there longer, deserve the promotion more.
Jack and Elizabeth meet with Rosemary, Abigail, Dottie, Florence (Loretta Walsh) and Clara to discuss wedding plans. Rosemary, yet again, dismisses Elizabeth’s wishes to keep things simple, insisting that it’s her job to make sure that the wedding is as special as they are.
The next day, while shopping at the mercantile, an overwhelmed Elizabeth expresses her frustrations to Abigail. Abigail attempts to remind her that a wedding is just a day, but a marriage will last a lifetime. She insists that the wedding day will come and go in a week and that everything will be perfect.
Gowan stops Jesse in town and accuses him of blocking his promotion. Clara overhears their conversation and confronts Gowan. She tells Gowan that Jesse “is a far better man than [he] will ever be” as she pushes herself past his shoulder and walks away. Impressed with Clara’s outspoken regard for Jesse, both men smirk and go their separate ways.
Carson and Sophia go for a stroll by the lake. She tells him that the lake will always be special to her because it was where they had their first date. Carson reveals to her that he reached out to a friend in San Francisco that works for the mayor in the city planning office and that they sent word that they would like to hire Sophia to help rebuild the city. Sophia is incredibly grateful for this dream job opportunity, and she tells Carson that he is an “amazing man.”
Jack comes to speak to Elizabeth at her row house. He finally shares with her that he is overcome with guilt for the death of a young Mountie that occurred while under his command. The night before the Mountie’s death, he had come to Jack and told him that he was scared. Jack had assured him that he would be okay, but the next day their squad was ambushed, and the Mountie didn’t survive. Elizabeth tells him that it wasn’t his fault, and Jack admits that he can’t stop thinking about it. Elizabeth thanks him for sharing his pain with her, to which Jack replies, “thank you, for being you.”
The next day, as Jack and Elizabeth head to their bachelor lunch and bachelorette tea, they discuss how they feel that the wedding plans are getting out of hand. On the way, they come across Phillip and try to talk to him about the excitement of him being their ring bearer. Instead of sharing in their excitement, he looks at them sadly and walks away.
At the bachelor lunch, Lee tells Jack that he is selling him the lumber for his new home, but he is giving him his time to help him build it! When Gowan enters the saloon, Bill tells him that the building is closed for a private event. As Gowan turns to leave, Jack, being the gentleman that he is, invites him to stay and join them. Jack reminds the men that “Henry is part of the community.” Bill raises a glass and says “to Jack Thornton, the man who found the perfect woman and took forever to do something about it. Love is patient, luckily for you.” The toast is a beautiful nod to Jack and Elizabeth’s favorite verse from I Corinthians.
At the bridal tea, Elizabeth receives gifts representing something old, something new and something borrowed. Elizabeth’s something blue appears to be overlooked and will be a surprise at another time. Rosemary, concerned that they won’t get everything done in time for the wedding, tells Elizabeth that they must work on the wedding plans the next day instead of spending time with Jack like Elizabeth wants. Dottie and Florence try to engage Elizabeth in a deep conversation about which flowers are most suitable for Elizabeth’s bouquet. At that moment, Jack swoops in and saves Elizabeth from the debate.
Jack and Elizabeth agree that the town is spending too much energy and money on their wedding. They’d both like something simple, but realize that the only way they can accomplish that is to quietly elope and then host a party later. They agree to get things in order and meet at the livery in an hour.
Clara and Jesse finally talk and agree that they no longer want to be on a break. Jesse was touched by the way she stood up to Gowan to defend him. He says, “No one has ever come to my defense that way,” to which Clara replies, “Maybe no one has ever felt about you the way that I do.” The couple sweetly reunites with a kiss.
Rosemary and Carson see Sophia off on the stagecoach for her journey to San Francisco. Sophia admits that she still sees “big time” potential in Carson. Rosemary tells Carson that it’s a wonderful thing that he’s done for Sophia, and Carson replies that it was Sophia that did a wonderful thing for him, “she made [him] realize that he could open up [his] heart again.”
Jack and Elizabeth meet at the livery to run off and elope. Just as they are loading the buggy, Abigail rides up and tells them that Phillip is missing. Jack and Elizabeth set off to find him. They find a pouting Phillip by the pond. He tells them that he just wants to be alone. Elizabeth presses him to tell her what is wrong. Jack tells him that talking about what’s on his mind will help. Phillip finally admits that he is mad at Mountie Jack because he’s taking Ms. Thatcher from her students when he marries her. Elizabeth assures Phillip that Hope Valley is where she belongs and that getting married will not change that.
Jack and Elizabeth realize that it would be wrong to elope. They decide that they want to be surrounded by their friends when they get married, but that they need to stand up for what they want for their wedding day. They gather everyone together to tell them that although they know that everyone only wants to make their day special, it is time that they take the reins on their wedding plans. Everyone agrees to let Jack and Elizabeth take over, but seconds later they all resume planning the wedding again. Elizabeth can’t help but smile because they’re “part of a community that cares,” to which Jack adds, “even if they care a little too much.”
When Calls the Heart: Open Hearts does a perfect job exploring why it’s so important to be open with those we love. Daniel Lissing steals the show this week with two incredible moments of raw emotion. The scene in which Jack speaks with Mr. Thatcher about his plans to marry Elizabeth and the scene in which Jack has his moment of honesty about the death of the young Mountie are beautifully played by Lissing. Liam Hughes’ portrayal of Phillip is cuteness overload. Hughes is an amazing actor and captures the viewer’s heart every time he’s on the screen. Pascale Hutton, Erica Carroll, and Loretta Walsh add perfectly placed moments of levity amidst all the drama surrounding the town this week. Overall, it is a wonderful episode and certainly leaves the viewer looking forward to next week!
Tune in to the Hallmark Channel next Sunday, March 18th at 9p ET for the next episode of When Calls The Heart!
**All photos Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs**