A whole lot is going on in Hope Valley!
On When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 6, another new visitor and possible resident arrived with a shocking town connection.
And even though Elizabeth is enjoying her time with Lucas, Nathan is about to up his game.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg!
Hope Valley is growing quickly, and that could make a lot of people very happy. Whether they're running a saloon, a mercantile, a barbershop, or an oil rig, the more people in town, the better for business.
And if anybody knows about business, it's Henry Gowan.
We've been wondering about his distress at a letter he recently received, but we had no idea why he was so upset until now.
After seven seasons, Henry is finally getting a backstory and some family! For those of you who venture out of Hope Valley and into Riverdale, you're likely familiar with the Hot Dads club over there.
Unfortunately, their time has passed on the show, but Cummins deserves another spot on that list. With Christopher, all of our dreams come true.
It's not hard to discern that Henry is an anxious man. He takes everything to heart and holds tightly to the bad far more often than the good. From what we've seen, the good in Henry's life isn't overflowing. But that might finally be changing.
Henry got another chance at the oil business he started when Lucas welcomed him back on When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 5, and now, we discover that Henry has a son.
Henry has made so many mistakes in the time we've known him. This time, though, he caught himself just in time from making another.
Christopher: What do you recommend?
Henry: That you think about leavin'.
First impressions suggested Christopher was in town to pick a beef with Henry, which wasn't far off. What young man wouldn't have issues with an absentee father? The two men circled each other warily, not eager to divulge too much, fearful of rejection.
But it didn't take Christopher too long to take a liking to the valley. He already made a friend and potential love match with Rachel, another newcomer in need of a friend.
Their awkwardness together was adorable. She was bravely trying lipstick, and he admirably ignored her incompetence at using it -- for a while, anyway! They may be the couple we need for new and exciting adventures around the valley.
Christopher would have walked away, though. Henry wasn't offering much of himself.
But when Christopher visited the oil rig, challenging Henry's many mistakes, Henry broke down and revealed how much he'd give to set it all right, even knowing that there wasn't enough time in the world to make up for his behavior.
Christopher: Come on, Henry. What did you learn?
Henry: I learned that life is devastatingly short and fragile and that I will never have enough time here to make amends or fix all of the things that I have broken. In just one moment, one moment without awareness or thought, that I can crush something of such beauty and such potential comes such pain, that in that moment, almost feels like something that I will carry with me forever.
We've often seen Henry in this state of mental torment. Cummins can take haughty Henry and turn him into a man craving and deserving of compassion.
When Henry lets down his guard, he makes a lasting impression and wins favor. Elizabeth and Abigail before her saw that side of the man and have remained steadfast champions.
I've written too many times that the tide seems to be turning for Henry. Now, hopefully, this is his chance to start fresh. Will he grab onto it and hold on tight?
Rosemary and Lee already discovered that caring for a teenage girl was a lot of work, but they'll really have their hands full when Rachel starts to date.
What kind of relationship do they have with Henry? He's not the town saint, so I wonder how they'll accept Rachel and his son getting to know one another.
They have other things on their minds now, though, after Lee admitted that he's the guy who put the bee in Dottie's bonnet about selling the store.
Lee's heart was in the right place, and he even realized his error before he went too far -- or so he thought. Unfortunately, once he got the ball rolling, Dottie must have reached out to someone about putting the shop on the market.
Elizabeth: You know, it isn't too late to change your mind.
Rosemary: It is because my mind's changed me. Every day, I went to that dress shop, I was making this decision. When all is said and done, it isn't as though I haven't enjoyed myself. I have! But, fashions change, so now I will, too.
If he hadn't have done that, Rosemary might have stayed at a job that she no longer found challenging or joyful. So, in a roundabout way, Lee pushing a little too far was just far enough for Rosemary to realize she was ready for her next adventure.
And with the tip of her groovy sunglasses, I expect something new and unusual to come from her desire to impact others.
Rosemary and Lee weren't the only couple weighted down. After Clara's discovery about their finances, she kicked Jesse out of the house.
It's very concerning that Jesse, who has a terrific role model in Lee, has taken so little of his advice to heart. What good is advice if you don't take it?
Perhaps, Joseph will offer Jesse more than advice and actually turn his head in the right direction.
When Joseph was first investigating Hope Valley, he mentioned the church, and although he doesn't consider himself a pastor, his relationship with God might lead him in that direction.
Minnie was concerned that people might get a strange impression of her husband on his knees in the woods talking directly to God, but Hope Valley could use someone willing to share their relationship with God with them.
Jesse: What did you mean "there is my problem"?
Joseph: Well, when it comes to marriage, you need two legs. You and Clara. And a crossbeam that holds you together.
Jesse: So, what's the crossbeam?
Joseph: [chuckles] I'm glad you asked. That's different for every couple, but what I think, what I believe, is God. Now, most couples, they leave God at the alter the day of their wedding, but if you keep him with you, he's there to hold you up together.
Jesse: Are you a preacher?
Maybe appealing to Jesse's Christianity will help him recognize ways to reconnect with Clara and make their marriage whole again.
If he continues on the same path, they're doomed for failure, and they both deserve better than that.
Florence and Ned, on the other hand, have finally found time to connect on a level beyond friends.
He's put a bell on the door to alert them to interlopers so that any personal moments won't be interrupted, and she's been listening to Ned for things that she can do to grow closer to him.
Ned: How on earth did you know that I've developed an interest in all things beekeeping?
Florence: Because I've developed an interest in all things Ned.
Although she might have bought Ned a beehive for his birthday, what arrived was a beekeeper's outfit. Who didn't laugh when she said, holding a massive box, that she thought her gift would have been bigger?
Ned was shocked that she had paid such close attention to their conversations to know exactly what to get him as a gift. But he should be even happier that she's noticed all of the nuances of his health.
Florence thought it was Ned's ulcer acting up again, but ulcers don't make you pass out. Something else seems to be amiss, and this health scare might be the thing that Carson and Faith need to keep them on the right track.
Faith has decided that turning down the surgical fellowship is the wrong decision, and to make sure that Carson heeds her wishes to take it, she's broken things off with him.
Carson: We can buy what extra equipment that you and I need, but what we can't buy is what you and I share together!
Faith: Dr. Rizzoli approaching you again like this after you turned him down? That says something.
Carson: I don't care! I really thought you'd be happy about this.
Faith: You should accept this fellowship.
Humans are fallible, and a major failure is when we don't listen to each other. Carson did a lot of soul-searching to arrive at his decision to stay with Faith. He chose love and a future with her over advancing his career.
Faith determining that sticking around will find Carson resenting her in the future says more about her than it does him. That might be how she would feel, but Carson has his own process and decision to make.
Sure, he was initially eager to take the fellowship, but his excitement came with the caveat that Faith join him, and they take the journey together. When she said no, his excitement disappeared. He began to reassess.
At the same time, she was talking herself into believing that she had the whole picture, leaving out her crucial role in Carson's dream.
But they can have it all. It may be different than either of them imagined, but if they do it together, they'll find happiness.
In an interesting spoken duet between Carson and Nathan, they both decided to fight harder for the women they love.
Carson: Why do we stop trying new things?
Nathan: I don't know. I think we give up when things don't go our way the first time.
Carson: Staying where we're comfortable.
Nathan: Staying with someone you're comfortable with.
Carson: There's plenty of new experiences to be enjoyed.
Nathan: And meaningful relationships.
Carson: She needs to trust me.
Nathan: She's got to know me.
Carson: Be willing to try.
Nathan: It's as simple as that.
Carson: It's as easy as pie.
Nathan/Carson: I'm not giving up.
Nathan's role as a father played a significant part in his realization that giving up on Elizabeth wasn't the right road. Allie and her "like-like" discussions persuaded him that letting go was giving up, and he wasn't ready to do that.
But what I didn't like was his assessment that Elizabeth is only with Lucas because Lucas is the more comfortable route for Elizabeth.
Lucas might represent a more secure future, but he's hardly boring. He's going out of his way to make their time together fun and out of the ordinary.
Lucas: Life is more fun with surprises.
Elizabeth: The kind you seem to be full of, yes.
Lucas: Well, since our first date did not go as planned, I thought, "I need to try to make it up to her."
Elizabeth: I don't know. Dinner in the backyard, under the stars? It was pretty nice.
Elizabeth might be associating their change of plans when the dinner was moved (successfully) to her home or raining on their picnic as adversity, a message that they're not meant to be together.
If she's doing that, then she's grasping at straws to turn away from Lucas, and they are not meant to be.
Unfortunately, there isn't much by way of plot suggesting they are meant to be, so their dates, while pleasant, feel like placeholders until Nathan gets back into the picture. I almost said back into the "race," but that's an unfortunate turn of phrase when it comes to dating.
Dating should be fun and exciting, not pitting two men against each other as this story is wont to do.
Nathan is going to double down and make his affections for Elizabeth known. Will that urge Lucas to walk away? He said that if she chose to be with Nathan, that's all he needed to know. He wants her to be happy.
Will his desire for her happiness allow him to stick around to get sand kicked in his face if she shows interest in another man?
If Nathan is going to press the issue, I hope that things between Elizabeth and Lucas slow down significantly. He's ready for a partner, and it's not fair to lead him on if she's got no intention of going down that road with him.
And if she's destined for Nathan, then she needs to let go of her past and her fears and embrace what he's offering. Nathan deserves to be judged on his own merits and not as her dead husband's doppelganger.
What do you think? How will Nathan go about winning Elizabeth's hand? Will Lucas compete or walk away?
After you watch When Calls the Heart online, talk about this and more down below. I can't wait to hear what's on your mind!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.