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Last week’s episode of When Calls the Heart, “Welcome to Hope Valley,” was chock full of dramatic events, from the verdict in Nathan’s inquiry to Elizabeth and Lucas’s big moment at the episode’s end. It was a lot to take in, and thankfully, the March 21 installment of the Hallmark Channel offers fans some breathing room. There’s still plenty happening in Hope Valley, but not quite as many rollercoaster moments as we’ve seen in recent episodes. 

Love is in the air in this episode of ‘When Calls the Heart’ 

The Elizabeth-Nathan-Lucas love triangle has been the big story so far on this season of When Calls the Heart. But Elizabeth isn’t the only Hope Valley resident with a lively love life. 

In “What the Heart Wants,” we got a few more flirty moments with two of the show’s not-quite couples. First, Florence (Loretta Walsh) and Ned (Hrothgar Mathews) shared another sweet exchange at the mercantile — until they were interrupted by Carson (Paul Greene) and Faith (Andrea Brooks), that is. Meanwhile, Molly (Johannah Newmarch) and Bill (Jack Wagner) had an awkward interaction at the barbershop. Molly’s effort to impress Bill last week with her new dress didn’t quite work out as planned, but there’s still plenty of tension between these two. 

Also, Hickam (Ben Rosenbaum) has his eye on Fiona (Kayla Wallace), though we don’t know yet if the feeling is mutual. This isn’t exactly an unexpected pairing, based on what we’ve seen in previous episodes. However, it does complicate some fans’ theory that whoever doesn’t win over Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) will end up with Fiona. 

Jesse’s big betrayal 

Unfortunately, things weren’t so romantic in the Flynn household. Dottie’s Dress Shop is up for sale, which has Clara (Eva Bourne) worried she’ll soon be out of a job. Bill offers to increase her hours at the cafe, and even suggests that Clara and Jesse (Aren Buchholz) join him as partners in the business. But Jesse hesitates, to Clara’s disappointment. (As an aside, could Bill’s multiple references to Abigail in this scene be a sign When Calls the Heart is setting up Lori Loughlin’s return?)

Later, we learn why Jesse didn’t jump at the chance to buy into a successful business. He’s already invested their savings somewhere else. Worse, the money is now gone. The result is a painful scene between him and Clara, with Bourne making her hurt and rage over her husband’s actions abundantly clear. She’s been working two jobs to try to get them into a more secure financial situation, but he seems willing to take shortcuts to get there, and to hide those shortcuts from his wife. It’s an alarming move, especially considering his outlaw past. Jesse’s heart was likely in the right place — he probably wants to give Clara everything he thinks she deserves — but he blundered big time, and fixing things with Clara is going to take some work. 

Over at Team Infirmary, things are also rocky. Ever since Faith returned from Chicago, neither she nor Carson has been sure how — or if — to move forward with their romance. Now, there’s another wrinkle. Carson’s been offered a surgical fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. It’s a dream come true, but taking it means leaving Hope Valley — and Faith. He suggests she come with him, but she points out they’re not married. Plus, she doesn’t want to leave Hope Valley. This is setting up a big choice for Carson, who might have to decide between his career and the woman he loves. 

Graduation day in Hope Valley 

Hope Valley residents attend the school's graduation in When Calls the Heart
When Calls the Heart | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is preparing for the school’s graduation day celebration. Robert (Jaiven Natt) gives the commencement speech, with the help of some of the other students. They sing a song they composed in honor of their teacher. It’s the kind of moment that would seem hokey in almost any other TV show. Yet somehow it works in the idyllic world of When Calls the Heart. 

The celebration goes off without a hitch, and Minnie Canfield (Natasha Burnett) is even impressed enough to consider sending Angela (Vienna Leacock) to school next year, much to Elizabeth’s delight. But there’s a hint of trouble in the air. Mr. Landis (Todd Thompson) arrives “in an unofficial capacity” to observe the ceremony. He wants to bring Hope Valley’s school into the larger regional district, but Elizabeth shuts him down. “That won’t happen. I won’t let it,” she says.

Lucas and Elizabeth go on a real date 

Smiling Elizabeth and Lucas in When Calls the Heart
When Calls the Heart | ©2021 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

‘When Calls the Heart’: Could Maggie Grace Ever Appear on the Hallmark Channel Show?

The preview for this week’s episode teased a few big events. One of those — Rachel’s (Jennifer Laporte) disappearance — turned out to be pretty inconsequential. It turns out she went for a walk and got lost. Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) and Lee (Kavan Smith) find her walking down a dark road. Though she’s shaken, there’s no harm done. But the other two — Lucas (Chris McNally) and Elizabeth’s date and Nathan’s (Kevin McGarry) nighttime visit to Elizabeth — left a little more to unpack.  

First, let’s tackle that mysterious note Elizabeth sent Nathan. It turns out it had to do with him skipping out on parent-teacher conferences. He’s avoiding Elizabeth, for obvious reasons, but they do chat about Allie (Jaeda Lily Miller). Her academic performance suffered because she was worried about the inquiry.

Elizabeth then reminds Nathan how much he means to Allie. “You will always be the measure of the quality she’ll look for in a man as she chooses who to marry,” she says. It’s an odd thing to say in a parent-teacher conference, and it seems this conversation might be more about Elizabeth and Nathan than it is about his relationship with Allie. Is Elizabeth saying she considers Nathan marriage material (though maybe not for herself)? It’s hard to say. There’s a lot going unsaid in this scene — especially when Elizabeth brings up Fort Clay and Nathan brushes her off. Both seem to be holding something back. 

Elizabeth’s interactions with Lucas in this episode couldn’t be more different than those with Nathan. She lights up whenever he’s around, whether he’s showing up to invite her on an early morning horseback ride or asking her out on an “actual date.” Their natural chemistry makes it easy to see why so many viewers are invested in this pairing. “This feels like the first time in forever I haven’t had something weighing on me,” Elizabeth tells him during their candlelit dinner. But she’s also not looking to rush into anything. When he takes her hand across the table, she doesn’t pull away. But she warns him she needs to take things slowly. “We have all the time in the world,” he replies.  

The next episode of When Calls the Heart airs Sunday, March 28 at 9 p.m. ET on Hallmark Channel.