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To Binge or Not To Binge Episode 5: “When Calls The Heart”

Hallmark Channel

If you’re a history buff or looking for a show about following your passion, despite the perils that you may encounter on the way, then Hallmark’s “When Calls the Heart” is the next show you need to binge watch.

The Canadian Western drama is based on the book series by Janette Oke, and began airing in 2014 on the Hallmark Channel. It talks about the harrowing experiences of Elizabeth Thatcher, played by Erin Krakow, as she leaves her high class city lifestyle to accept a teaching position in the western coal mining town, appropriately named Coal Valley. As Elizabeth adjusts to the different — and in Coal Valley’s case, tragic — aspects of life on the frontier, she learns just as much as she teaches. The small town was rocked by tragedy just weeks before Elizabeth’s arrival — a collapse in the coal mine took away many husbands and sons from the families in town. She meets the widowed Abigail Stanton, played by the captivating Lori Loughlin, who helps Elizabeth get her feet firmly on the ground. Elizabeth also unexpectedly meets the man that ultimately captures her heart in this small worn downtown, Mountie Jack Thornton, played by Daniel Lissing.

Through her adventures and lessons to the children of Coal Valley, Elizabeth shows viewers how important the simple things in life are. Education, art, family and love should always be cherished closely. The show always highlights how difficult life in the Wild West was, and how far we’ve come since then.

But most of all, this show that begins in tragedy slowly grows into a symbol of hope. In fact, in Season 2 of the show “Coal Valley” is changed to “Hope Valley”. A reminder that even in the direst of circumstances, things always get better.

Previous Season Recap (Spoilers Ahead!)

In season four of “When Calls the Heart”, the town welcomes a new group of settlers and they adjust to the lifestyle in Hope Valley after losing their settlements in the flood from season three. Unlike previous seasons, this season focuses on personal issues for each of the characters. Jack suffers from the loss of a dear friend and questions whether he is doing enough to contribute to the Mounties. Elizabeth deals with a blemish on her teaching career that could cost her her job as the teacher in Hope Valley. Abigail deals with issues of her own with Cody and her cafe as Mayor Gowen, a pesky nuisance from season one, once again begins to rock the lives of those in Hope Valley. Jack and Elizabeth’s relationship has seen its fair share of obstacles over the past seasons, but in the fourth, they are forced to acknowledge what they’ve known all along — each of them is valiantly passionate about their career, and that means they’ll have to sacrifice in some other aspects of their lives.

In the fifth season of the show, there are sure to be new challenges and perhaps the culmination of Jack and Elizabeth’s relationship. The season is expected to premiere on Hallmark in February of 2018, but they did release a two-hour Christmas special just a few weeks ago. You can watch that special on Hallmark’s website with your cable providers login information.

To Binge or Not to Binge?

The show has all the trademark Hallmark qualities that the network is known for, but the show itself is so much more than that. When I started watching it, I was on a history kick from finishing “The Crown” and “Anne with an ‘E’.” I didn’t expect to get so involved with this random show I found on Netflix. There’s a lot more to the story than the relationship between Elizabeth and Jack, and the heart of the show stems from the town and its livelihood. The actors are superb and although there are several storylines going on in a given episode, it never becomes confusing. In fact, the addition of the characters over the seasons makes the show more addictive.

The show taught me a lot about what life was like in the 1900’s, and since the show is based on the book series it was interesting to see how they adapted it. Another big reason I decided to watch this show was Lori Loughlin, as I’m a fan of hers. Season four of the show was perhaps the most intriguing. With Jack following his passion, viewers not only question how Elizabeth will deal, but Hope Valley as well. Each character of this show is vital and helps continue the storyline.

In short, I would say this short is binge-worthy. It’s a good show because it makes you think about the important things in life. It also makes you more conscious of the amenities that we have in our daily lives. There’s a little something for everyone in “When Calls the Heart,” and perhaps that’s what makes it the most special. It’s also very different from the shows commonly watched today. There’s a sense of comfort provided to viewers as they watch those from Hope Valley continue on through their adversities.

Best Episode: “When Calls the Heart Christmas”  (Season 4, Episode 1)

Similar Shows: “The Crown,” “Anne with an ‘E’,” “Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “The Good Place,” “This is Us,” and “New Girl.”

Trigger Warnings: This show is pretty PG, with mild displays of violence.

Rating: 5/5 stars

“When Calls The Heart”

Available to stream on: Netflix

40 episodes, Approximately 39 hours

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About the Contributor
Palak Jayswal, Arts Editor
Palak Jayswal is the arts editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle. She has been a writer for the desk for three years. She'll graduate with a B.A. in Communication and a minor in creative writing in May 2020. During her time as arts editor, Palak has crafted several series pieces such as "Dine or Dash" and "Pop-Cultured." Palak is a big fan of the arts, but especially music and all things One Direction. She aspires to be a music journalist and to one day write for a publication like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, or Billboard. 

Comments (5)

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  • S

    Suzie MichaelsJun 10, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    I was once addicted to this show, until I realized that there is not one nuclear family in its entirety. It’s understandable with a mine disaster that there will be fatherless children and widows. The confusion it delivers is that I can’t recall any characters ever introduced in the flow of its unfolding that brought any intact families in. That was even long after the mining disaster was over and done with. This show is riddled with fatherless families, motherless families, and even father/mother with dead child. I noticed how calloused I was becoming with, yet another dead character or characters not introduced because that part of the family was dead before the family was presented. I got suspicious and looked up the mortality statistics in the year 1910. Could it possibly have been that bad? The rates were 1.5 per 100 people. When Calls the Heart is batting odds far worse than this in its plot, statistics so much worse, the show is unrealistic. It was because of this that I was just beginning to lose interest, being so tired of so many deaths in the stories. Then when they killed off a huge crux of the show at the end of the last season, leaving the main plot empty handed, I decided to go watch reruns of Little House on the Prairie. It was far kinder to the audience and filled with the joys of family actually being family and intact. I was sad to lose When Calls the Heart, because it really had great potential as a family show, but it just isn’t about intact, nuclear “family” at all.

  • G

    Gayle MartinFeb 4, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    I truly enjoy this show. And their conflicts and their resolves. But at times it’s a shame that there as it was in that time only a few people of color. And that color is always in the background.

  • J

    Judy BrownriggJan 20, 2018 at 6:28 am

    I “stumbled” on WCTH in Season I When I was casting about for an entertaining show. (I would much rather hunker down with a good book than waste amnute on mindless, often times violent productions).

    I absolutely fell in love with this series and my only complaint is, the season’s way too short! The casting is excellent and I loved the children brought in to fill Elizabeth’s classroom. I hate though, wishing my life away waiting for the next season to start!

  • L

    LeeJan 19, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    After you Binge watch it come join the 60,000 of us who love the show as much as I know you will. Check out the Hearties official fan page for When Calls The Heart. ❤

  • L

    Lois JollyJan 19, 2018 at 10:13 am

    When Calls the Heart is the BEST SHOW EVER!!! ❤️