Elizabeth has finally made her choice. As Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart” Season 8 finale comes to a close, Elizabeth finally discovers exactly where her heart is leading. An intense episode led to her final decision. No doubt, half of the show’s fans will be happy and half will be disappointed. But in the end, everyone is #TeamElizabeth, even before they were #TeamNathan or #TeamLucas.
This is a “When Calls the Heart” Season 8 Episode 12 review and recap. SPOILERS are below.
Kevin McGarry, Chris McNally, and Erin Krakow were the highlights of this episode, which fans have been anticipating for months. McGarry portrayed strength amid heartbreak with perfection. And Krakow and McNally perfectly captured a tumultuous heartache that ended in a joyous celebration. Season 9 may not have the same tension and angst as this season did, but it will be beautiful to watch each of these characters moving forward on their next journey.
Friendship Is Celebrated First
When the episode begins, Elizabeth says in a voiceover that her world feels like it’s crashing down around her, so she needs her best friend. She finally gives Rosemary the apology that she owed her weeks ago, and Rosemary immediately forgives her. This is what true friendship looks like. Even when there are tough times, they’re still going to be there for each other, ready to forgive at a moment’s notice. I love that the show started out the episode with their friendship as the focus, since Rosemary is ultimately Elizabeth’s true north no matter what craziness life throws at them.
Elizabeth Finally Makes a Heartfelt Decision
Elizabeth finally makes her decision, but it took the entire episode for the choice to play out. The payout was more than worth the wait. Elizabeth and Lucas have had amazing chemistry all season, and all those angst-filled moments paid off when they finally kissed and were able to express their true feelings to each other, holding nothing back.
But let’s look back on what happened leading up to that moment.
In the beginning of the episode, Elizabeth tells Rosemary that she shouldn’t be surprised that Lucas let her go, since he knows her so well and could sense something was happening with Nathan. This is the first time she admitted to having feelings for Nathan that rival her feelings for Lucas. And it also explains why she didn’t rush after Lucas and stop him. He was right about her feelings. And at the beginning of the episode, Elizabeth is still unsure about just what this means.
She stops by the cafe to talk to Lucas, in a very non-intimate way.
“Lucas, what you said the other night, about love, you were right,” she says quite formally. “And I wanted to thank you. I hadn’t realized how your letting me go would help me…”
Lucas seems morose and downhearted during their brief conversation, and no one can blame him for that. Elizabeth is far too calm about their breakup and she doesn’t appear to be trying to win him back. Based on this initial conversation, it really seems like she’s moved on. Wyman Walden shows up for his meeting with Lucas and interrupts their conversation. As Elizabeth walks away, Wyman talks about a business proposition he has for Lucas.
But later, while she’s visiting Rosemary, Elizabeth looks outside her window and sees Lucas. She pauses and watches him in the same longing, confused way that she had when watching Nathan last week. Elizabeth tells Rosemary she hasn’t talked to Nathan or Lucas yet, and she feels really lost. The two friends have a heart-to-heart conversation. Rosemary promises her that she will find her way between these admirable men and the other questions in her heart.
Just after their conversation, Lucas gets a package from his mom with Elizabeth’s manuscript. He drops by Elizabeth’s house and leaves the package with Robert, not bothering to look for Elizabeth to deliver it personally. And who can blame him?
When Nathan arrives in town after finding Jesse, Elizabeth tells him that she needs to speak to him later, and she’s glad he’s safe. That little statement is enough to give Team Nathan fans a small jolt of hope. Of course, Lucas observes that moment and his heart is hurt yet again. McNally portrays the heartbreak clearly without saying a word.
The next scene begins the end of Elizabeth’s journey, in a most unexpected way.
In a voiceover, she says: “When my father saw me off on my journey west, he said he hoped I’d find what God had shaped me for, and then give my whole heart to it.”
But, she continues, lessons are often learned in pain.
“And lately, I’m reminded by trying to avoid those lessons, it does nothing except prolong the pain. Especially when it comes to love. For too long I’ve allowed myself to drift between two good men, whom I never intended to mislead. And so, I’ve come to the realization that by being untrue to them, I’ve been untrue to myself.”
Let’s just stop a moment and consider the wisdom of her words. Sometimes lessons really can only be learned through pain. By avoiding pain, we avoid what life is trying to teach us. It’s nice to see this show return to its roots by trying to teach a deeper life lesson through its script.
After this voiceover, Elizabeth stops to see Nathan. It’s a tense scene, and I can only imagine that every viewer watching at this moment felt their heart beating faster in anticipation of the greatest mystery of the season finally being solved.
Elizabeth tells Nathan that she’s thankful it was Nathan that Jack replaced. She says she couldn’t have asked “for a more courageous, selfless, and good man to watch over and care for me.”
“But I also realized that I have been trying to find Jack in you,” she says. “I’m trying to replace him with you. And that wasn’t fair to anyone. Nathan I do love you, it would be impossible not to. But I’m not in love with you. I’m just so sorry.”
Some fans had predicted this might be the case – that Elizabeth had been projecting her love for Jack onto Nathan all this time. I, however, was almost positive she would be declaring her love in this scene. But she didn’t. And McGarry, in his strong and subtle way, portrays the pain Nathan is feeling with perfection, simply in the way his eyes are looking at Elizabeth as she delivers news that leaves his heart wrecked.
“Nathan had a reason for being in my life, but he wasn’t my lifetime,” Elizabeth explains in a voiceover. “Nor was I to be his. But I hope we can build a new relationship; a deep, abiding friendship, because he’ll always matter to me.”
Before Elizabeth can find Lucas to talk with him, Nathan stops by the saloon and shares a drink with Lucas. Nathan warns him that the Pinkertons will likely stir things up. Then he does what I really didn’t expect, and tells Lucas that Elizabeth confessed she loved him but wasn’t in love with him.
Did anyone else guess that Nathan would be giving this news to Lucas before Elizabeth did?
Nathan says it didn’t really surprise him, because he doesn’t think what they share is the same as what Elizabeth and Lucas share.
“I think that her heart has always been with you,” Nathan says. He certainly hadn’t acted like he saw this reality previously, but now he’s admitting what was right in front of him.
“At the moment, I’m not sure what she and I might actually share,” Lucas admits. He tells Nathan that he got a good offer on the saloon and he’s considering taking it.
“I can’t tell you what to do, but if I were you, I’d consider sticking around,” Nathan tells him. “And if you have any trouble with the Pinkertons, I have your back.”
It seems that the burden of carrying the secret about Jack was holding Nathan back from truly revealing his personality to others. This scene was unexpected, but a joy to watch. I’m going to really enjoy seeing a friendship grow between Lucas and Nathan in the coming seasons. And it really spoke to Nathan’s character, the way he didn’t waste any time making things right with Lucas and making sure he understood where things stood between him and Elizabeth.
But I can imagine that Lucas is confused by all this, and considering that maybe Elizabeth doesn’t want either of them in her life romantically. She had time to come to him, by his perspective, but didn’t.
In the next scene, Elizabeth receives the advanced copy of her manuscript. She’s finally achieved her longtime goal. But as she looks at the manuscript and Jack’s photo, she removes her wedding ring. She’s ready to move on to the next stage of her life and leave the painful past behind.
The next day, Lucas is still considering selling the saloon for some reason. I don’t know why he would sell it before talking to Elizabeth; it seems almost out of character. Meanwhile, Elizabeth instructs Robert to deliver a letter to him. Before we can see what’s next for these two, the show drops a hint of an interesting spark between Nathan and Faith. Of course, we’ve seen characters have moments before that didn’t lead to a romance (like Elizabeth and Nathan.) But there’s at least a hint of hope for Nathan’s future, and a slight tease that this future might include Faith. In her short scene with Nathan, Faith seems to light up more on the screen than she has with Carson in quite some time. I hope we get a chance to see these two together more in season 9.
Meanwhile, Lucas never does receive the letter. And Lee tells her that he saw Lucas driving out of town. When Elizabeth goes to the saloon, it’s locked, which is highly unusual. Panicking, she rushes down the road after him, but he’s gone. He never got her letter and Elizabeth isn’t sure if she will ever see him again.
In the next scene, we see her at the bridge where she and Lucas had previously spent time together, contemplating what is next for her and what she lost. The scenery is just beautiful and provides a perfect backdrop for what is coming next.
Lucas didn’t actually leave town! He finds Elizabeth at the bridge, where she’s looking heartbroken. Once he looks in her eyes and sees how much she cares, nothing is going to stand between them anymore. The two rush to each other, sharing a passionate kiss. For Team Lucas fans, this is a glorious moment. McNally and Krakow knock this scene out of the park, as they portray two characters who finally no longer have to hold back their feelings for each other. With the walls down, it’s quickly revealed how deeply in love they are with each other.
Lucas notices that Elizabeth has taken off her ring, and she tearfully thanks him for waiting for her. She’s finally ready to move on to the next stage of her journey, and she wants Lucas to be the one who’s by her side.
In the final scene of the season, Elizabeth is hosting a private book reading just for Lucas. The room is decorated with candles in a scene that’s reminiscent of some romantic moments Elizabeth once had with Jack. And Lucas and Jack have a lot in common, despite sharing different careers. They’re both well-read, articulate, intelligent, and ready to put Elizabeth first and treat her with a deep, abiding love.
Elizabeth looks like a huge weight has been lifted off her shoulders as she hosts her “private reading” for Lucas. But instead of reading from her book, she says she is reading a book from her heart. It’s a story she’s beginning to work on about a woman who fell in love with a man who is patient and kind. (So she just declared her love first!) Of course, Lucas immediately says that he has to also share his side, about a man who has fallen for a woman who is “true, selfless, and sweet, beautiful and endearing.”
The joy in their eyes as they look at each other is perfection. Lucas has been through so much this season as he waited on his true love, and Elizabeth has been through so much ever since Jack died. They finally both have found peace and joy.
Of course, theirs isn’t the only story told in the season finale. Here’s a look at other characters whose stories were equally important.
The Town Comes Together to Keep the School Open
The Canfields had a roller coaster of their own in this episode, but Hope Valley pulled together and came through for them.
It didn’t start out so smoothly, though. Elizabeth made a promise to Minnie last week that she couldn’t keep, and comes clean to her at the cafe. She reveals the bad news that the county will shut down the school if Angela attends.
“I want Angela in school tomorrow, even if it means she’s the only student there,” Elizabeth tells her. But Minnie says she doesn’t want Angela getting an education at her own expense. I feel bad for Minnie. She had just opened her heart to the idea of her daughter going back to school, and it’s already being pulled out from under her.
Joseph later advises Minnie that it’s time for them to stop running and take on anyone who tries to stop Angela from doing her very best. Minnie agrees. But Angela is nervous about going back to school. She says the school might close if she goes, and she doesn’t want that weighing on her conscience. In the end, the entire family has to take a huge step of faith just by showing up to the school.
But they don’t have to take that step alone.
The next day, the children are gathered at the Canfields’ home to walk to school together. They’re all going to show their support for Angela as a group. It’s a moving moment, and Hope Valley comes through for its own once again.
Jesse & Clara Finally Find Peace
When Jesse is still missing, Lee visits Clara to check on her. She’s working in the cafe, keeping busy as best she can. This is the only complaint I have about this episode (and last week’s episode.) Clara’s husband is missing, and the entire town should be rallying around her with support. We should see all the women coming to visit her non-stop, providing her company while her husband’s fate is in question. But no one is stopping by but Lee, and that’s pretty sad.
The good news is that she doesn’t have to wait much longer, and Jesse arrives back in town with Nathan. Now that they have their money back from Wyland, they decide to go on a second honeymoon. Considering all they’ve been through, this is a brilliant idea for the couple.
And speaking of couples, Ned comes back home too. He applied for a patent for his invention of bandages! This might not be historically accurate, but it’s certainly cute. (In real life, the Band-Aid was invented in 1920 by Thomas Anderson and Earle Dickson, an employee of Johnson & Johnson.)
Fiona, Mike, Henry & Bill All Have Entertaining Storylines That Are Laying the Groundwork for Season 9
Elizabeth’s storyline certainly isn’t the only entertaining storyline of the episode. Even outside the schoolhouse story, a lot is happening.
We learn that the mayoral race is taking place soon, At first, Bill’s the only one running, but that all quickly changes. Hickham announces that he’s planning to run for mayor, and so is Fiona! But they’re all friendly competitors, so it’s going to be a fun race. At the end of the episode, even Lee decides to join the race. It’s not really clear who is going to end up winning this one, because they all could make great mayors. I’m really looking forward to this being a driving storyline in season 9, as we all try to guess who will ultimately win.
Fiona and Mike are growing really close, and a lot of doors are opening for Mike. In fact, Henry puts Mike in charge of his business, since he’s leaving town. Fiona, meanwhile, has a friend who’s going to supply half the money to finance the oil pipeline. It looks like these two might have a pretty cute love story next season. I’m not completely sold on them as a couple, since part of me wants to see Fiona with Nathan. But it will be entertaining to watch.
Henry keeps his promise to Bill about giving him more information about the mining accident. We walk in halfway through a scene between them, where Henry is giving him information and says Bill is welcome to open another investigation if he wants.
“Feels like you’re trying to clean the slate, to say goodbye,” Bill observes. Henry is a bit evasive about the observation. He later tells Lucas that he’s leaving and that the saloon, the hotel, the petroleum business – none of it matters to him. He’s not sure what’s next for him, but it’s not the “acquisition of more shiny objects.” He says it’s important to find what truly brings him comfort, and so he’s leaving town to find just that. (I personally think that Henry’s going after Abigail, but he doesn’t want to tell anyone in case it doesn’t work out.)
Later, Nathan tells Bill that the Pinkerton in town is Julius Spurlock.
“That sounds familiar,” Bill comments. (And it’s because he’s related to Charles Spurlock from Season 1.) Bill then sees Molly and invites her to coffee, further laying the groundwork for another storyline in season 9. It seems a lot of new romances are beginning to blossom.
Carson & Faith’s Relationship Ends
Last week, Carson came to the conclusion – after almost proposing – that he and Faith might not be meant for each other after all. But even though Faith’s been fighting Carson every time he said he wanted them to stay together, she’s still torn when she sees that he’s packing his bags and getting ready to leave.
Carson later assures Faith that she’ll be able to run the infirmary just fine without him. But Faith is heartbroken at the idea of Carson leaving. In fact, she’s so upset that she doesn’t even think she can leave the infirmary and watch him leave Hope Valley. But she’s not alone. The town has come together to send him off and say goodbye, just like they did for Bill. But before he can leave, Clara and Lee find the ring he had lost. He leaves on the stagecoach anyway, in a surprising and abrupt move.
So it looks like Carson and Faith are over. But as mentioned earlier in the review, the show dropped a hint about a possible future for Faith and Nathan.
Rosemary’s Career Is Going to Lead to A Lot of Fun Storylines
Rosemary’s newspaper is off to a great start, and she’s beginning her new career by investigating Wyman Walden. Her office, which she shares with Lee, is positively bustling. But although Lee’s bothered by all the noise, he’s still really supportive of his wife and even reminding her that she needs to refer to herself as the editor-in-chief and not just a reporter.
Lee, meanwhile, confesses to Joseph that everyone around him is building their own dream but him. Joseph tells Lee that finding his calling starts by realizing that he’s God’s handiwork with his own special purpose.
“Keep your heart and your mind open Lee, you’ll find it,” he wisely advises him. Lee later decides this includes running for mayor.
Rosemary’s paper, meanwhile, makes a big difference almost immediately and helps keep the school open despite the county’s threats. Rosemary says she’s going to have to get a staff to help her with the paper from now on, along with an office.
We’re left with a lot to hope for as season 8 concludes. There’s a mayoral race coming up, storylines involving Rosemary’s paper, a mystery with Spurlock, and the unknown of whether Carson or Henry will be coming back, along with the looming threat against the school.
But best of all, we finally saw Elizabeth make her decision. Next season will bring a long-awaited courtship for Team Lucas fans, and hope of a new love for Team Nathan.