There's nothing like a beautiful wedding to take the pressure off of everything else.
For most of When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 10, the focus was on Florence and Ned, and even though they weren't finished with their pre-wedding jitters, the change of pace felt like a thick veil had been lifted.
There was still plenty of drama unfolding, but the uplifting sentiment of two people in love sharing that love with everyone they hold most dear prevailed.
Before we get to the festivities, we have others that we need to discuss. With two episodes left in When Calls the Heart Season 8, there is still a lot up in the air.
Carson and Faith are really struggling. Every time they think they've arrived on the same page in their relationship book, they discover the other had turned the page when they weren't looking.
Long walks in their favorite spot seem to have done nothing but confuse them further. Molly's orchestration of the town to keep all wedding plans in check brought Carson and Minnie together to finish the wedding cake, and Minnie proved she's the perfect preacher's wife.
There's nothing like creating something together to open the lines of conversation, and Minnie is a great listener.
If Jesse saw the light in his marriage after talking with Joseph, Carson was enlightened by Minnie. He and Faith have woven their careers and their relationship so tightly together that they can't find their way out of that web.
Have you ever heard it said that you make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give?Minnie
But what is all of that hard work if you cannot share it with someone you love?
Minnie and Joseph's successful marriage suggests that their commitment toward their neighbors is something they share. Guiding others toward God and happiness brings them joy, which solidifies their commitment to each other and their family.
Carson saw the light, and it seemed like he had decided that staying in Hope Valley would make him happy. He hoped Faith would feel the same, but she's stuck in the adage that if someone alters their plans to be with you, it spells doom for the relationship.
Faith could have slapped Carson in the face, and it would have been less significant than telling him that he was sacrificing his life by turning down the fellowship and staying with her. If I was stung by her comments, then Carson must be reeling from the pain.
It seems that no matter what he says or does, Faith has a reaction that suggests he's wrong.
She was upset when he took the fellowship after weeks of pressure to accept. And she decided he was throwing his life down the drain if he chose love and a career in Hope Valley instead of a prestigious fellowship elsewhere.
They both know that love isn't enough to sustain a relationship when their worlds will be so far apart in distance and spirit. Sacrifices have to be made if they're to stay together.
If Carson leaves, Faith should follow, and if Carson stays, Faith should be thrilled to carve out space for them both personally and professionally as long as they're together.
Right now, it's impossible to imagine how this will go.
Romance is always on the mind in the valley, and Allie is getting into the swing of things. If she cannot successfully manipulate her dad and favorite teacher into a union all by herself, she's happy to use Florence's son, Paul, in her quest to secure Robert's affection.
She's learned a lot on that front because Robert heard loud and clear that Allie was spending time with another fellow, and he took notice.
Allie's hair was a mess since Nathan isn't much of a cosmetologist, and Fiona worked wonders on the young woman.
I couldn't have been the only one who noticed Allie's excitement at learning Fiona has something in common with her and Nathan, right? She's not giving up on her dad's happiness.
Fiona knows fishing knots, and if things don't work out for Nathan and Elizabeth, we know where Allie will focus her energies in the matchmaking department next.
But her mind was easily distracted when Robert commented on her appearance and asked her to dance. It was so sweet! They'll be fun to watch get better acquainted in a new way.
By the time Finola asked Mike to dance, I was no longer sure if they see each other as only friends or they're willing to consider other options. Jesse and Clara sure thought the dance meant more.
Clara and Mike's earlier conversation put a fork in their romantic possibilities, though, and it's entirely possible that Hope Valley's growth could be in their hands.
Mike never got the opportunity to share his idea with Henry, but he's confided in Fiona, and their excitement is promising.
It also suggests that whatever Rosemary is feeling about the town could have merit. Honestly, the investor that "stole" Jesse and Clara's money was a confusing prospect. Is it possible that his money isn't lost but has yet to be invested?
It's hard not to imagine that there aren't people outside of town who see the possibilities Hope Valley has to offer. We've seen little bits of it from the public school system, the potential sale of the dress shop (now defunct), and Mike's idea. Surely, there are others interested in seeing Hope Valley grow.
With Joseph on board as the preacher and an enormous and glorious bell hanging again, prospective residents would be happy to know their souls would well cared for should they move to the valley, too.
Who knows what Rosemary is feeling, though. She could be out of sorts because of how things are going with Elizabeth.
If you hoped their rift would be short-lived, not even the gaiety of the wedding preparations helped mend the distance between them.
Elizabeth made overtures toward Rosemary, but they were cool and only meant to keep them from impacting Florence and Ned's happiness. It was shocking and impossible to see when Florence and Molly were supporting each other so beautifully.
It's hard not to wonder if things will carry forth into When Calls the Heart Season 9. Their friendship has been a cornerstone since they recognized in each other kindred spirits, so it's with heavy hearts that we watched Rosemary and Elizabeth's friendship struggle.
Other friendships were blossoming, though, and the most unexpected was between Ned and Henry. Ned has remained on the periphery, much like Florence. It's even shocking to see them as parents. Their lives have been tied to their work almost exclusively.
Since When Calls the Heart Season 8 Episode 9 was literally titled "Pre-Wedding Jitters," it was easy to brush off any negativity that came by way of Ned's turn at the wheel.
Mostly, he was feeling pressured to marry. It's not surprising since the engagement came as the result of a passionate moment in the wake of his health scare. Although Florence and Ned had been in each other's orbit for years, it was more recent that their earnest flirting began.
They'd never even shared an evening together as anything other than coworkers when he popped the question. Of course, he was a little panicky. Who wouldn't be in the same situation?
But can you imagine if Florence had heard the men's shouts that the wedding was off? That's what got my heart pounding. She was so happy and eagerly finding the perfect look that would blow Ned's socks off with half the town's women assisting, and the male half of town was practically calling it off.
Henry understood what Ned was feeling without any judgment.
Henry has been judged, and he knows the frustration of expectations he cannot meet. His connection with the mining disaster meant that he's always fighting for respect and his place in the community. As a result, he understood Ned's position entirely.
By Henry allowing Ned his fears, Ned was able to manage the expectations. He asked a grateful Henry to be his best man, and he stopped wallowing and went directly to Florence.
Florence: What is it, Ned?
Ned: I have cold feet.
Florence: Then I'll just have to knit you thicker socks.
Ned: You always think the best of me.
Florence: Why wouldn't I? But, even if you had cold feet about us getting married and you simply couldn't go through with it, I will still think the best of you, and I will forever love you.
Ned: Thicker socks will be perfect.
Can you imagine in this day in age getting married without a first kiss? Putting aside piety to make that happen excited both of them to their very cores.
Ned, if you wouldn't think it too forward of me, may I ask that we share our first kiss here, in private?Florence
What a wonderful prelude to the life that's ahead of them. They were practically giddy, and if you've ever had that feeling (and I hope you have), then you could feel it just as fully as they did.
But it was all coming down to the wire for their big day, especially with the dress. Nothing was lighting Florence's fire. She wanted to look and feel beautiful for Ned on the first day of the rest of their lives together.
It was heartbreaking that Florence didn't feel beautiful, and the way her friends reacted to the sentiment was heartwarming.
Molly's friendship has meant the world to Florence and vice versa, and Molly went to great lengths to ensure Florence had the wedding of her dreams. That included gifting the beautiful dress she bought to catch Bill's eye to her best friend for her special day.
They've been a part of each other's journey for so long, and they've propped each other up as in their quests for love, too. When they finally had a moment to themselves and shared with each other how much their friendship means, their hearts were bursting with emotion.
Florence: Was this your idea to give me the dress that you bought for yourself? You look so beautiful in it.
Molly: And now, so do you.
Florence: Thank you for always wanting the best for me, even at your own expense. You, you really are the sister I never had, you're the mother I've forever wanted, and you are the friend that I have always needed. From the depths of those dark and terrifying coal mines, you've walked beside me, picking me up when I've stumbled along the way.
Molly: And you have done the same for me.
In that same vein of lifting one another, we learned from Ned that his best man has been writing to Abigail since she was gone, and their communication is quite frequent.
Ned: I, I, I don't know what she sees in me.
Henry: Well, when two people only see the good in one another or when one sees something in the other that he can't remotely see in himself, I figure that's a gift. Treasure it, Ned.
Ned: And you and she write so often.
This can't be a tease. Abigail's presence has been heavy in Hope Valley of late, and Henry's not the only one who has been feeling it.
From Bill's comments about Abigail and the Cafe to the sign always on display when people walk up and down the street now, it feels like Abigail is going to return to the town she loves and a man she's grown to know even better in her absence.
Henry: When I sit at my desk and I look out the window across at the cafe, and I see her name, I've got nothin' but regret.
Ned: The fact that you two write each other will always stay between us.
Hope Valley is a place of love and forgiveness, so I can think of nothing better than When Calls The Heart extending an olive branch to Lori Loughlin, forgiving her sins, and welcoming her back to the Hallmark family.
With the air dripping with love and friendship, Florence and Ned's wedding was perfection. They may have been on the periphery in the past, but today, and hopefully, going forward, they were front and center with a moving story of promise and family.
It was the perfect opportunity for Elizabeth to extend an olive branch to Nathan. It shouldn't have caused any strife for Lucas. Things between Elizabeth and Lucas have been going well. They even acted in tandem, giving Ned's daughter the wedding bouquet so that she could join her father at the altar.
While Elizabeth fingered her wedding ring when sitting so close to Lucas, he imagined taking her hand. But Lucas did something at the wedding that I cannot condone.
Elizabeth: You look very handsome.
Lucas: And you beautiful.
Lucas has no right to talk to Nathan on Elizabeth's behalf. Elizabeth was hurt at any conversation about her between her best friend and Nathan, so if (when) she discovers that Lucas suggested Nathan standing down would be in her best interests, he'll regret that decision.
Lucas turned on his heels when he saw Lucas clutching Nathan's hands.
Elizabeth: Jack might have taken the place of anyone on that mission. It just happened to be you. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, I don't blame you for his death.
Nathan: Thank you.
Elizabeth had to get that off of her chest. She needed to forgive Nathan for herself and him, regardless of what they may or may not feel for each other.
Still, it's hard to say Lucas didn't have a right to feel what he felt at seeing it, either. He's been struggling under the weight of Nathan's feelings for Elizabeth and that Elizabeth hasn't asked Nathan to stop expressing those feelings since she's now with Lucas.
This won't end well for Lucas. Clinging to the idea that Nathan and Fiona would be cute together after Allie saw it for herself is moot is all a Lucas fan can do as he continues being bullish when Elizabeth asked to go at her own pace.
Frankly, the way fans slam the writers on Twitter and other social media platforms with the suggestion they aren't listening to their demands is even more harrowing than the actions of Lucas himself.
For as beautiful as the wedding was, ending the episode on that hand-holding and heel turn was a blow as striking as the one Faith landed on Carson.
It's impossible not to feel that the audience is getting manipulated with this push and pull as effectively on screen as we have been by the media daily with everything from politics to coronavirus.
Fear sells, and nothing keeps us tuning in more than the will-they/won't-they of Team Nathan and Team Lucas.
Each character has suffered from these tactics, in my opinion. I'd rather it be tenderness and yearning on both sides that drove the story, making it impossible for Elizabeth to choose, rather than alternating potshots at Nathan and Lucas by way of questionable character development.
But here we are, and I'm as much to blame for falling prey to it. Here's to all of us being as close as Florence and Molly and as eager to please one another as the town was to give Florence and Ned the perfect start to their new life together.
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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.