‘When Calls the Heart’: Get an Early Look at the Season 8 Premiere Episode, ‘Open Season’

The wait is almost over, Hearties. When Calls the Heart Season 8 premieres Feb. 21. Hallmark Channel has released some new photos from the first episode, titled “Open Season,” along with some details about what fans can expect when the show returns

Expect ‘romance and big decisions’ in the ‘When Calls the Heart’ Season 8 premiere

Nathan having a conversation with Lucas in season 8 premiere of When Calls the Heart
Kevin McGarry as Nathan Grant and Chris McNally as Lucas Bouchard in When Calls the Heart Season 8 premiere ‘Open Season’ | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

RELATED: ‘When Calls the Heart’ Took a Cue From ‘Downton Abbey’ When Dealing With a Major Character’s Death

Hallmark Channel is promising “romance and big decisions” when its popular period drama returns for an eighth season. 

As viewers will remember, Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) landed a book deal with the help of Lucas Bouchard (Chris McNally) in the season 7 finale. When season 8 opens, she’s finished her manuscript, meaning she’s one step closer to achieving her dream of being a published author.

Meanwhile, an unwelcome visitor to Hope Valley is stirring up trouble for mountie Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry) and his niece Allie (Jaeda Lily Miller). And homesickness causes Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) and Lee (Kavan Smith) to cut their trip to South America short. 

Faith is back in Hope Valley, while Clara and Jesse aren’t getting along 

Faith sitting next to a man in a wagon in When Calls the Heart season 8 premiere episode
Jonathan Purvis and Andrea Brooks in When Calls the Heart Season 8 premiere ‘Open Season’ | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Nurse Faith (Andrea Brooks) left for medical school in Chicago last season. That had some Hearties worried she might be leaving When Calls the Heart for good. But that’s not the case. Brooks went on maternity leave halfway through filming for season 7, which necessitated her character’s brief absence. She’ll be back in the season 8 premiere, which means we’ll hopefully see more of her relationship with Dr. Carson Shepherd (Paul Greene) this season.

Jesse kisses Clara's hand in When Calls the Heart Season premiere
Aren Buchholz as Jesse and Eva Bourne as Clara in When Calls the Heart Season 8 premiere ‘Open Season’ | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Clara (Eva Bourne) and Jesse’s (Aren Buchholz) wedding was one of the big events in season 7. But it seems that the honeymoon period might be over for these two. The newlyweds are definitely not getting along in the season 8 premiere. 

Finally, Fiona (Kayla Wallace) is getting in touch with her entrepreneurial side, having started a new business venture.  

Elizabeth makes a choice in ‘When Calls the Heart’ Season 8 

RELATED: ‘When Calls the Heart’: Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) Removes Her Wedding Ring In New Season 8 Trailer

Of course, the big question on the minds of Hearties is whether Elizabeth will finally make a choice between Nathan and Lucas, the two men vying for her heart. While it doesn’t sound like we’ll get an answer to that in the premiere, a season 8 teaser trailer makes it clear she’s ready to take a big step and embark on a new relationship after the death of her husband Jack (Daniel Lissing) in season 5. 

In the trailer, Elizabeth can be seen slowly removing her wedding ring from her finger. We also see her having an intimate conversation with Lucas where he puts his hand on hers. But don’t count Nathan out. He tells Elizabeth that he thinks “love is always worth fighting for.”

“For too long, I’ve allowed myself to drift between two good men,” Elizabeth says in a voiceover. But who will she choose? Hearties will have to simply be patient until she reveals her decision. 

When Calls the Heart Season 8 premieres Sunday, Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel.