Brian Bird, creator of Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart,” responded to fans who are still angry about Elizabeth’s choice. In a long post to an official “When Calls the Heart” group, he explained in detail why they went with the “riskier” choice for Elizabeth. He also responded to fan questions on Twitter.
This article will have spoilers for the finale of “When Calls the Heart” Season 8 and Elizabeth’s choice.
Bird Explained the Thought Process Behind Elizabeth’s ‘Riskier’ Choice
In a post he shared to his Facebook profile, Bird explained the reasoning behind Elizabeth’s choice and why they chose the path of Elizabeth choosing Lucas, which many considered the riskier choice.
First, he shared that everyone’s opinion is important to the cast and crew, and they knew that Elizabeth choosing Lucas “would be a harder, riskier path to take.”
Your feelings — good, bad, or ambivalent — are important to us. We do care and listen, and we know that if you didn’t care so much about the show, you wouldn’t have such forceful and passionate opinions about it. And we are grateful for that passion. Very few TV shows ever touch their viewers that deeply.
We knew this conclusion of the season would be a harder, riskier path to take, and our creative team wrestled all season long with how best to handle it. We’re sorry to those of you who felt misled or are hurting over it. This has been a hard year for unexpected changes for all of us and forgive us if this blindsided some of you.
But, he added, they had some very clear reasons behind deciding Lucas needed to be the final choice. He said that choosing Lucas was right for the longevity of the show. The creative team needed to make sure they weren’t being repetitive in their storylines, he explained, and they wouldn’t be able to top the Jack-and-Elizabeth Mountie and teacher storylines from five previous seasons.
In addition, Bird wrote, doing the Mountie-and-teacher storyline again would have been “redundant” for viewers. They strive to create predictable and fresh storytelling, which they believed was better achieved with Elizabeth choosing Lucas.
But we also want you to know there are some very good reasons for our choice. Primarily we believe this road was the right road for the future success and longevity of the show. Someday, When Calls the Heart will end, and I believe when that happens, there will be a big void in the lives of Hearties and the culture in general. That means our No. 1 job as show-makers is to keep Hope Valley on your TV screens for as many seasons as we possibly can. That’s what we’ve been doing for eight years, and we hope that you’ll trust us to keep doing that for you, despite your feelings about this season’s conclusion. WCTH is a vaccine of hope, faith and love for the world and there is nothing else like it on TV anywhere.
To keep Hope Valley present in your life for a long time to come, our creative team has to make sure we are not being repetitive or predictable with our storylines. Yes, the original premise of WCTH was a love story between a Mountie and a teacher. But the truth is, we can’t base these decisions on fan polls. We explored that story arc for five seasons, and we knew it would be hard to top the “all the feels” Hearties experienced during those years. We also believe just doing that all over again would have gotten redundant, maybe even tired for our viewers. Our job has always been to be as unpredictable and fresh with the storytelling as we can be, and we believe there are many new layers we can explore with Elizabeth and Lucas’ relationship that we’ve never seen before.
He added that he understood that some readers could get stuck on certain moments that became frozen in time for them, like the “hug seen around the world last season.” However, he said that humans do move forward past those frozen moments, embracing the new discoveries that life offers.
Sometimes, it’s easy for all of us to get stuck in a frozen moment in time, like what happened for Hearties in the next to last episode of Season 5. Or even with the hug seen around the world last season. And this resolution from Season 8 may also be like that for many of you. But what we all need to realize is that human beings do move on from frozen moments. Yes, we keep them in our hearts or remember them as a point of regret or hurt or anger, but eventually we make peace with them because that’s the healthiest thing to do. We redeem them. We heal them. And we embrace all the new discoveries in life waiting us. It’s the hero’s story in each of us that allows us to do that. For instance, Rosemary was the lady in red that Hearties loved to hate early in the show. But now, Rosemary and Elizabeth are best friends, and I’m pretty sure most Hearties feel that same way about her.
Then Bird went on to address Lucas specifically, believing that he has many layers for the show to explore. And Nathan is also going to have his own bright future, along with the hope that he and Lucas would one day become close friends.
And I believe that most of us are going to go on a similar love journey with Lucas Bouchard. The Lucas frozen in time for us today doesn’t mean that’s where he is going to be tomorrow. This is a young man with all the potential in the world to show his many layers, from become a loving family man to getting his hands and dungarees dirty in the oil business to becoming heroic in his own right, and I love where that could take the show. Will he always be a saloon owner? Keep watching. And for Nathan, I see a bright future, too, where he can be who he is meant to be as a father and a crime-fighter and perhaps someday in the distant future, find the love of his life (we don’t do quick rebound relationships in Hope Valley). And who knows? Perhaps there’s a relationship path for Nathan and Lucas like Elizabeth and Rosemary had.
Bird Shared that the Idea for the Show Had Once Failed & Then Was Revived
Bird then reminded viewers that once, in 2008, the financial crisis ended his plans to create a movie. Those plans were revived four years later in the form of a pilot for the now popular TV series.
As some of you may know, when Michael Landon, Jr. and I first worked to bring WCTH to life as a movie in September of 2008, the international financial crisis melted down our movie half-way through production. It was a huge failure for us and we believed our TV and film careers were over. What we couldn’t have known at that bleak frozen moment is what was waiting for us four years later when we were finally able to finish the movie. That was when the Hallmark Channel was entering the TV series business and they asked us if we wanted to finish the movie as a pilot for a series. Think about that. If there had been no meltdown in 2008, we would have finished the movie. One nice movie, and that would have been it. There would have been no series and there would have been no grass roots Hearties movement that you are all part of today. If we had given up, if we had stayed stuck in our frozen moment, we would have missed all of you. That’s how I believe Providence works in this universe. We can’t know our future, but what we can do is step forward faithfully into the unknown and get ready for all the surprises and discoveries Providence has in store for us.
I hope that’s how you will see your relationship with WCTH. It is so much more than the sum of its parts or what two of our characters decide about their futures. And the legacy of you Hearties is so much more than whether you trend on Twitter or whether sometimes you are at odds with each other over the ebb and flow of the episodes. Your legacy is all those lasting friendships and love for one another which the show may have given birth to… but which will resound in your hearts and lives long after this show leaves the air. And which will always make the world a better place.
And no matter what you decide, we will always love you and cherish these years where our lives were connected by Hope Valley.
He Also Responded to Questions on Twitter
Bird also spent some time responding to questions on Twitter when the finale first premiered.
Bird shared that none of the cast members had any regret about the finale and the choices they made.
He also shared that they preview all their plans with the author of the books, Janette Oke, and she is always in favor of unpredictable storylines.