Hope Valley is reeling from so much change.
On When Calls the Heart Season 9 Episode 6, the season of change continued with billboards and traffic jams and Nathan's slow realization that his future might include driving whether he likes it or not.
Yes, the automobile changed our world, and not always for the better.
Who ever imagined we'd see traffic jams in Hope Valley?
The sad reality is that the cars aren't going anywhere, and in this very small town, there isn't enough room for them to maneuver safely as the number multiplies.
Nathan and Newton being struck by a vehicle was just the beginning. As more people get cars and more people move to town with them, things will be more crowded and ultimately less safe.
Everyone's day was interrupted by a tiny traffic jam by today's standards.
Rosemary couldn't think. Newton was spooked. Henry left his car on the road to walk to work rather than sit and wait. It was a mess.
And the whole time, with the very best vantage point in town, Lucas watched it unfold, finally laughing at the absurdity of it all.
Nathan's reluctance to learn how to drive was exacerbated by his accident, but when Newton got spooked, he realized that he was spooked, too.
At some point very soon, using horses for transportation will become impossible. Nathan ultimately bit the bullet and asked Elizabeth to teach him to drive, which contrasted with Elizabeth asking Joseph to trick out her wagon to be used as a bookmobile.
At least she's going into the mountains where cars will be less plentiful. But it still makes you wonder just how much longer horses and cars can coincide in the small town.
Rosemary and Lee are having growing pains with the Village Voice, too.
Joseph said it best when he told Minnie he would hold off on asking Lee for a raise or to partner at the mill (although I disagree with that).
He recognized in Lee his sincere desire to change the world. He was hoping it would be via the mayor's office, but how he holds Mike accountable for all of Hope Valley's troubles proves he wasn't the right man for that job.
Lee does have a voice now with the paper, but he needs Rosemary's gentle guidance to keep him from going too far with his own wishes that could have adverse effects on others and Hope Valley.
Writing an editorial about Mike was a good idea. Mike hasn't gotten off to a terrific start in his new role. But letting the excitement of generating discussion get to him and wanting to double the paper's run so more people would read his work was a terrible idea for the town, if not for the paper.
Rosemary led him carefully down a different path, and while they disagreed, Lee stopped the second run he'd requested. Sure, the article was generating a lot of buzz, but it wasn't the kind of buzz that Rosemary thought was best for Hope Valley. And she was right.
Everyone was going to Bill for advice on how to handle the traffic issues, and he did well reminding Lee of his unique position to address the issues he cares so much about.
But Bill also had something to learn, and he got the opportunity when Mike claimed his new office. People don't know much about Mike, but he comes from a large family as the only boy. Bill realized there's a lot more to how people handle situations, and his actions proved it.
Every new mayor has to make their mark, but it's much easier when the outgoing mayor supports their efforts so that the acclimation process is more comfortable for the new mayor and the townsfolk.
The unknown makes people uneasy, and smooth transitions can significantly affect how change is accepted. Before Mike can do anything to help Hope Valley, he needs the trust of his constituents. Once he has that, it will be easier for him to recognize and address the issues that mean the most to them.
And Mike is willing to learn. He sought out Faith's help because he knows that she has to be methodical in her process to be a successful physician.
Although he didn't admit it, how Mike looked at Faith indicates that he's not only interested in her approach to her medical practice. He lit up when he saw Faith down the road, and he was tongue-tied asking her to what he claimed was only a business-type dinner.
The episode's funniest moment came when he didn't tell Faith where or when they would meet for dinner and left with a breezy one step at a time thrown over his shoulder.
It never made much sense to me that Fiona and Mike were supposed to be a couple. There's no romantic spark. They're great friends and business partners. But Faith appreciated the attention and blushed at Mike's comment about her hair.
There's something between them, and it will be fun watching them get to know each other better.
Goodness knows that Fiona has her hands full with the oil business. Where does she even find the time to cut and style hair anymore?
We finally learned why Henry was so concerned about Jerome and pals buying into the business. They were forbidden ever to operate a mine again, and Henry fears that a new company will make them brazen enough to open it again.
That's a valid concern, but he should have been more open about it. Fiona might not have run off and returned with money in hand if he'd not kept it so close to the vest.
She's willing to work to fix her rookie mistake, but if it works, they will still be down an investor, and Lucas will be left holding his shares again.
Maybe it's for the best. With Henry back in town, Lucas wouldn't need to be on hand all the time. He could oversee the business while Henry handled the day-to-day issues.
Elizabeth was worried that Lucas was selling the saloon to Walden, but Lucas alleviated her fears, even telling her that at this point in their relationship, he wouldn't make a decision like that without discussing it with her first.
Lucas: You know, in moments like these when life is upside down, I wish you knew how much it means to me just to be with you.
Elizabeth: Thank you, and while flattery would normally get you everywhere with me, I have to ask, are you selling the saloon?
Elizabeth: I saw Mr. Walden, and he mentioned to me that he was still interested.
Lucas: I'm not selling the saloon [Elizabeth breathes a sigh of relief], and something like that, I would certainly discuss it with you first.
But given what we know about his French-language phone call, he's still not being upfront about what he's doing with Walden. It seems like he's keeping the enemy close, but he's already gotten beaten up for it.
Elizabeth: Alright. So that's not how you got the black eye? Being pressured to sell?
Lucas: I have no doubt that I was jumped by one of Walden's men, but it had nothing to do with selling the saloon. I gave Walden some pushback.
Elizabeth: Lucas, why would you do that?
Lucas: Because I've dealt with grifters before. You have to stand up for yourself or they walk all over you.
Elizabeth: Which they certainly did.
Lucas: I'd say that's debatable. You'll be happy to know that Walden checked himself out this morning, no note, no nothing. I'd say, for someone like that, he's running scared.
He doesn't seem like the kind of guy who would continue with something that could put Elizabeth and Jack or anyone else in town in jeopardy. We have to trust he knows what he's doing and that there's a reason for his secrecy.
Still, it doesn't mean we have to like it.
Nathan and Mei had their first disagreement, and it was a worthwhile one to have. Did Nathan need to tell her that their discussions were in confidence? She should have expressed her concerns to him directly instead of going to Bill. In a way, she did, but she didn't clarify the degree of her worry.
Bill: I wanted to talk about Newton. You had to notice how skittish he behaved around all of those cars.
Nathan: Well, he's coming around.
Bill: I don't want you riding that horse unless I sign off on it.
Nathan: Are you pulling rank?
Bill: If Newton falters in the line of duty, it's dangerous for you and anyone else around you, so yes, pulling rank.
She used the attorney-client privilege argument not to reveal what was going on with her husband, and Bill called her out on it.
It's too bad she couldn't have placed herself and her situation in Nathan's shoes before bringing Bill into the loop. It feels like an extra barrier has been added to their friendship that could have been avoided.
Nathan has changed a lot since he arrived in Hope Valley. Now that he's not actively pursuing Elizabeth, he's more easygoing and a better father to Allie. I loved that Nathan and Elizabeth talked to Allie and Robert together after their ice cream incident.
Growing up in Hope Valley extends beyond Cooper's issues, of course. Allie feels the distance between herself and her friends after a lengthy absence. It's not as bad as she imagines, but her young woman fantasies are different now. She's thinking of dating and a future. She can see the difference between children and teens.
Nathan: When we got back from Rock Creek, we talked about you and Robert.
Allie: And I was being his friend just like you suggested. But, my inner beauty must have come out because next thing I knew, he was squirting me with seltzer.
Nathan: Your inner beauty.
Allie: Miss Sue and Dr. Carter said that real beauty comes from the inside.
Elizabeth: I agree with that, and although you are never responsible for Robert's or any other boy's behavior. It seems as though you were an active participant. So, is there anything you could have done to help?
Allie: Not thrown that scoop of ice cream? [breaks out in a huge grin] But what a shot! I got him right in the puss! Grandpa taught me that word.
But when it comes down to it, she's still a kid at heart, and having that youthful attitude ensures she'll be back to horsing around in no time.
That whole conversation was delightful. Girls mature more quickly than boys, and she's right at that point where it gets the most confusing. But when she closed out that tale of inner beauty by landing a scoop of ice cream on Robert's face, all was right with the world.
We rarely get a renewal for Hallmark shows before they're wrapped for a season, but with so much change and honing in on Season 10, I can't help but worry that the next renewal will be for a final season.
There have been so many changes on Hallmark networks, and saying goodbye to the programming that made them so successful is happening slowly but surely.
How are you feeling just over the halfway point of When Calls the Heart Season 9?
What are your thoughts on the level of change in the valley?
Don't forget that you can watch When Calls the Heart online right here via TV Fanatic, and please drop your comments below if you get a chance.
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 X and email her here at TV Fanatic.