It's not often for the fourth episode of any season to have much significance, but When Calls the Heart Season 6 Episode 4 pulled its weight in many ways.
A new mountie arrived in town, a couple started a new relationship, and, of course, it's the first episode without Lori Loughlin as Abigail.
Welcome to the new TV Fanatic coverage of When Calls the Heart!!
Let's start with introductions.
It might not be easy to tell from my TV Fanatic coverage, but I am a diehard Hallmark networks junkie. At some times I will have an entire DVR filled with Hallmark movies, some to watch for a second or third time.
The Good Witch and Chesapeake Shores are favorites, but for some reason, I never watched When Calls the Heart despite a great affinity for everyone on the show.
So, when I discovered just how dedicated the WCTH fans were as a result of our coverage of the college scandal mess, I dove into the series and binge-watched it in its entirety.
To that end, everything that has happened in the lives of those in Hope Valley feels like it happened very recently because for me, it was!
And I decided that not covering a show like WCTH is downright silly. So here we are. Welcome, and I look forward to getting to know more like-minded people.
The elephant in the room got addressed very simply in a moving opening monologue by Elizabeth. Abigail left town suddenly to care for her ailing mother taking Cody with her.
I feel badly that Carter Ryan Evancic is a casualty of everything that happened, and I was kind of hoping Cody might get left behind because Evancic is such a charasmatic little actor and had grown so much since the series started.
I wish him all the best and hope to see him in another Hallmark production very soon.
The entirety of Elizabeth's monologue not only explained where she had gone and how the town would suffer as a result of her absence, but it also seemed to fan out to Loughlin and the show's thoughts about losing someone they consider family.
It was a moving if short sendoff to a beloved character and an actress who, for years, has entertained successfully on the network.
Elsewhere in Hope Valley, the new Mountie got a harsh introduction to the town as he got involved in a fight Jesse was trying to start with Bouchard after the latter engaged Clara with a card trick.
It gave Nathan a winning personality from the start because who doesn't enjoy someone who cares enough about the town they're entrusted to protect to jump into a possible fray to keep the peace?
There was also a fun crime in the otherwise safe Hope Valley (Leland had a little difficulty selling the safety with his story and the stagecoach incident) so Bill and Leland could immediately be a part of Nathan's life, too.
Nathan is a good Mountie. While he's not Mountie Jack (bless sweet Opal), he seems to be a good egg.
The ultimate question will be if Elizabeth finds herself drawn to him despite the similarities to Jack but also because of them.
Their meeting took some time, but it helped that he had a pension to give to her. That curled her lips into a giant smile.
Elizabeth: May I share something with you? You know, when I first came here, the townspeople were quite skeptical of me. They really put me through the paces. But now, there is truly no place I'd rather be, and I hope your experience here will be equally as good.
Nathan: Thank you, Mrs. Thornton.
Elizabeth: Welcome to Hope Valley, Constable.
Elizabeth can't possibly stay alone for the duration of the series, and there is a shortage of available men in town, so I'm open to the possibility even as the wound of Jack's death still looms.
She's still kicking butt as a teacher, and during "Heart of a Mountie," Elizabeth taught a valuable lesson about respecting the opinion of others through a debate team project.
But how can we respect each other when we completely disagree?Emily
It's easy for those who don't watch Hallmark to believe there isn't any relevance to present day and therefore to shuffle it off as inconsequential, but what WCTH does very well is address modern issues without ever getting political.
It's one of the things at which Hallmark excels, and if ever there was the need for a lesson on respect, it's during 2019.
Rosemary was also a central part of the hour as she snuck a phone into the house without Leland's approval.
Rosemary: And may I remind you, you said we could get a phone.
Lee: No, I said, "we'll see."
Rosemary: And as you can see, it's here.
Their relationship is my favorite because they are always in a process of discovery.
The Coulters are never smoothe sailing in their marriage, and that's very realistic. Instead, they push each other's buttons to the best possible outcome.
At first, it seemed that having a phone in the house would be a nightmare. Rosemary was using it to gossip and to bug Leland at work with things that would ordinarily wait until the end of his day.
Rosemary: I just ran all the way home to use the phone.
Leland: You ran? Why didn't you just come here?
Leland's surprise that Rosemary ran anywhere let alone in the opposite direction of the converation she want to have was very funny.
But Rosemary started thinking about things when others in town were getting hints of the new relationship between Carson and Faith, a relationship denied by Faith right to Rosemary's face.
She's not a stupid woman, so when she realized it was her gossip at the heart of their desires to withhold their love from Hope Valley, Rosemary started sticking up for her friends by quelling the gossip being done by others.
Leland almost decided to cut the phone line to put a stop to Rosemary's obsession with it, but she manages to win his heart every time.
Rosemary: I want the whole world to know how much I love you. I want to should it from the rooftops. Lee, you are my one and only, and I will sing your praises as long as there is an ounce of air left in my lungs.
Leland: I feel exactly the same way, sweetheart.
Rosemary: That's all.
I loved the line that she's the one line of communication he'd never want to cut.
So it makes sense that with a love like theirs, they can offer a hand in ushering in the new love Carson and Faith are exploring.
I don't know who is going to take Abigail's place in the meatier stories of which she was always so intricately involved, but with the cast and their respective characters, her loss can easily be mitigated.
Who do you think will fill her absence in those types of storylines?
What did you think of Nathan?
Are you looking forward to seeing more of the relationship between Carson and Faith?
If you could write the story, what changes would you have made to Abigail's departure?
What would you like to see as When Calls the Heart Season 6 continues?
Hit the comments below and thanks for sharing this first review with me!
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, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.