As Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart” season 9 begins, fans are excited to finally see their favorite show back on TV. Season 9 episode 1 premiered on Sunday, March 6, and marked a heartfelt beginning for the new season, along with a harrowing cliffhanger that’s going to leave fans talking.
The new episode is called “In Like a Lion.” Even before the episode began, Hearties had an idea of what to expect thanks to this synopsis from Hallmark:
Change is in the air for Hope Valley with the foundry that’s to be built and the upcoming mayoral election. Elizabeth (Erin Krakow, “It Was Always You”) arrives home from a trip to Hamilton. A potential investor arrives in town to discuss the oil business with Lucas (Chris McNally, “Snowkissed”).
The episode was the perfect beginning for a new season. While many actors shined, Erin Krakow (Elizabeth) and Chris McNally (Lucas) will be the two who stand out the most for many viewers. But it was perhaps Amanda Wong (Mei Sou) who stole the show with her mysterious storyline and outstanding acting.
This story is a review and recap for “When Calls the Heart” season 9’s premiere, so there will be SPOILERS below.
Elizabeth & Lucas Have a Solid Foundation
Much of the episode focused on Elizabeth and Lucas’s beautiful relationship, emphasizing how strong their foundation is now. It might have been several months since the last season ended, and the two are closer than ever.
The episode begins with Elizabeth narrating the opening, talking about the importance of home. She first shares that Carson is still in Baltimore working on his surgical residency, so Faith is running the infirmary — this time as a doctor. Joseph is renovating Dottie’s dress shop, and Rosemary’s still hard at work on the Valley Voice. We then see Elizabeth and Lucas reunited after she was gone for a month, and their reunion is just adorable. They share a passionate, heartfelt kiss — these two are on solid ground!
Lucas stops by early in the morning at Elizabeth’s row house — he’s right at home there now, it seems. Compare that to last season, when he hadn’t even been inside her house even though Nathan was there multiple times. It’s quite the step forward! Lucas and Elizabeth share a sweet kiss after he delivers the paper to her, and he kisses her on the forehead as he leaves. These two are just adorable.
Near the end of the episode, we finally get the scene that’s been teased since the very first trailer — Lucas and Elizabeth’s balloon ride. Winkler’s not going with them, because Lucas can operate an air balloon himself. Elizabeth is nervous, but also finds the whole thing romantic. She easily puts her trust in him, which is so sweet to see.
While they’re flying in the balloon, Lucas tells her that he decided not to take on a partner with the oil business and is selling his stake instead.
“I don’t want working getting in our way,” he says. He tells her that she and Jack are what’s most important to him, and he’s never been more sure of that. It’s a really sweet moment, and shows just how dedicated Lucas is to her.
The actors did a wonderful job of showing just how far Lucas and Elizabeth have come since last season ended. You can see that they’re practically giddy together, and very much in love.
Mei Sou May Have Stolen the Show in the Premiere
Despite how much I loved Lucas’ and Elizabeth’s scenes, I have to admit that it was Mei Sou who may have stolen the show. From the moment she flies into Hope Valley, she’s a vibrant presence on the screen.
She zooms past Nathan on her horse, a woman on a mission. She’s also in a disguise of sorts, which she sheds behind Elizabeth’s row house. I love Little Jack’s reaction to her, and then her first introduction to Nathan. She certainly made quite the entrance.
Later that night at the saloon, Mei Sou captures Nathan’s complete attention. He’s positively entranced by this mysterious newcomer. I can see sparks between them already! But their conversation is curtailed when Henry takes a swing at Jerome and Jerome insists on pressing charges.
In a later scene, we get a better idea of why Mei Lou is here. She tells Ned and Florence that she is there in Mr. Jeffrey Lewis’s stead, despite his assuring Ned that he would be there personally. She reveals that Ned’s been corresponding with her all this time, not Mr. Lewis. Surprise!
Mei Sou explains to the Yosts that she did an apprenticeship with Jeffrey Lewis, and that’s where she met Faith. Florence asks if Mei Sou is Lewis’s wife. She avoids the question, instead saying that she’s now a licensed pharmaceutical chemist. Ned tries to refer to her as Mrs. Lewis, but she says her name is Miss, not Mrs. After Mei Sou steps out, Florence reminds Faith that Ned hired Jeffrey on her recommendation, so she bears some responsibility in all of this. Faith suggests they hire Mei for the time being, and she’ll contact Jeffrey.
Later, Mei Sou asks Faith to advocate for her and to please not call Jeffrey. She won’t explain anymore though. Faith tells her that she called Jeffrey anyway, and he didn’t answer. Mei Sou simply tells her that she wants to make a new life with Faith’s help.
“I can do this job, better than Jeffrey,” Mei Sou assures her.
So that’s an intriguing storyline. I’m so curious about what’s going to happen here.
Joseph & Cooper Are Having Trouble as Cooper Struggles for More Independence
The Canfields are doing well too, although there is some natural teenager angst to deal with. At first in this episode, we get to see Bill hanging out with the Canfields as they enjoy breakfast. Their conversation reveals that Jesse and Clara are now gone from Hope Valley (and have left the series.) (Fans will miss those two, but the actors have moved on to new opportunities.)
We also learn that Minnie substituted for Elizabeth while she was gone. Considering how tense things were between them last season, it’s nice to see how well they’re getting along now. On top of that, we learn that Minnie is interested in buying the cafe from Bill! That’s going to require an OK from Abigail, so could this be a way to maybe bring Lori Loughlin onto the series?
The Canfields join Elizabeth for dinner later in the episode, and share that Cooper and Joseph are butting heads a lot now. It looks like that’s going to be one of the themes this season, and it plays out more as the episode progresses.
Rosemary & Lee Are Still 100% in Each Other’s Corner
I love Rosemary and Lee’s relationship. It’s so refreshing! In this episode, we also see just how much Rosemary loves her newspaper job, which is also fun to see.
It turns out that the election is just a couple of days away, so quite a bit of time has passed since season 8 ended. The campaign’s going to end pretty quickly, and Bill and Lee keep shifting spots in terms of who is leading the polls.
Meanwhile, someone turned Mike’s campaign poster into a “Not Wanted” poster. That was actually pretty funny. 😄 We learn that Fiona already dropped out of the race, so now she’s supporting Mike’s campaign.
I’m not certain who will win. I hope that Mike is the dark horse candidate who ends up winning, even though no one saw him as a real threat. He is running on the fire safety platform, after all.
Nathan Has Found Peace
It looks like enough time has passed that Nathan has found peace and he’s making a real effort at normalizing his relationship with Lucas and Elizabeth. He’s also sporting a new mustache, which is the talk of the town (literally.)
At the beginning of the episode, Nathan learns that he’s going to have to start driving a car as part of his Mountie duties. At one point, he awkwardly asks Elizabeth if Lucas might teach him to drive! That’s a surprise and quite a gesture of friendship. Elizabeth instead suggests that she teach him. Their conversation is pretty funny, but I honestly think she should have just allowed Lucas to teach him since that would help forge a friendship between the two.
Nathan and Elizabeth have another slightly awkward conversation later after she invites him to sit with her at the saloon. But it takes an unexpected turn when he says, “It’s really nice to see you happy.” And Elizabeth says she’s glad they remained friends. The tension isn’t completely gone, but it seems like things are a lot better.
Later, Lucas thanks Nathan for helping him break up the fight between Henry and Jerome. Nathan says he considered Lucas a poet and not a fighter. These two seem to be on better footing now, and Nathan seems to just be more at peace in general than he was last season.
Something About Jerome Smith Is Triggering Henry
Henry hasn’t even been back 24 hours and he’s already causing problems.
Last season he left in the finale, and it sounded like he was going to track down Abigail and possibly not return. But now he’s back, with quite the flourish.
Jerome Smith is in town, looking into investing in Lucas’ business. Henry shows up at his meeting with Mike, Fiona, and Lucas, and he’s very angry that they’re including Jerome. It looks like there’s a mysterious history between these two, and this is the reason for Henry’s sudden return.
Jerome tells the group after Henry leaves that he put Henry in charge of the mines when the town was Coal Valley and they departed “less than amicably.” That doesn’t really explain much, but it’s the only explanation Jerome is giving.
Lucas asks Fiona if she knew about Henry and Jerome, and she admits that she did, but Mike had no idea. I’m surprised to hear that!
Later, Henry attacks Jerome at the saloon in the middle of a business dinner, and Jerome presses charges. The next day, Minnie brings Henry breakfast in his jail cell, and spends some time with him, offering a kind ear. She tells Joseph later that Henry acts like he belongs in jail, and that he could use a visit from Joseph too.
Ned & Florence Had a Great Storyline
I really appreciated the cute storyline that the show gave to Ned and Florence for the premiere. I’m glad this couple isn’t taking a backseat in the new season.
They’ve bought and renovated Dottie’s dress shop, turning it into a new business venture. I can’t help but wonder where the Hope Valley residents are going to shop for clothes now. I have to admit, I’m more bothered by the closing of the dress shop than I expected!
But, their new shop — which is a Pharmacy and Soda Fountain — is a brilliant idea. It’s going to provide more entertaining storylines than the dress shop.
Faith Briefly Talks About Carson
There’s a brief mention of Carson in this episode, although most of Faith’s storyline focuses on her path toward being a confident, independent doctor.
At one point, Faith’s having dinner with Fiona and Molly. She’s not about to call Carson, even though she’s been thinking about him, she tells them.
“Carson and I were not meant to be,” Faith assures them. “I’m fine, really.”
At this point, it looks like Carson isn’t coming back.
The Show Ends with a Big Cliffhanger
The show ends with a big cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming. After all that focus on Nathan’s newfound peace, it’s all shattered around him.
In the last scene, a car is speeding down the road and appears to be just about to hit Nathan! What’s not clear is who was driving the car. All we know is that it looks like Nathan was hit, and it’s going to be pretty big.
All in all, I’d rate this episode a 9 out of 10 stars. It’s not quite as remarkable as the season 8 finale, but it was really perfect for the season 9 premiere. I’m very intrigued about Mei Sou’s story, along with the mysterious Jerome Smith, and the possibility that Nathan’s injuries might play a big part in the rest of the season.
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