Debbie Macomber's sweet small-town romance series Cedar Cove is now a weekly television show on Hallmark starring Andie MacDowell! Check out Rachel's recaps of the 2-hours series premiere, episode 2, and episode 3. And now, onto her recap of episode 4, “Suspicious Minds”:
Wow, it is all happening in Cedar Cove, WA, this week, with a dead guy and an art show sending the citizenry into a positive frenzy of excitement. There’s also some really mean treatment of Jack’s (Dylan Neal) poor lost son Eric (Tom Stevens), and now I don’t like Olivia (Andie MacDowell) and Grace (Teryl Rothery) much anymore. In fact, I think they’re total bitches of the first order and I don’t even want either of them to settle down happily with the men they are promised from the books, because they don’t deserve it. Maybe this show will take a total True Blood-ian turn from the source material and, I don’t know, have Jack and Grace’s eventual love interest – whom I won’t spoil for you here – fall in love with Olivia’s mother Charlotte (Paula Shaw) and Grace’s daughter Maryellen (Elyse Levesque) respectively, while the women themselves end up savaged by vampires? At this point, I’m so cross with them that I’d almost rather see them dead than the random guy at the B&B. I mean, give the kid a break!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First up, let’s deal with the dead guy. It’s late at night at the Thyme and Tide, and owners Bob (Bruce Boxtleitner) and it-turns-out-her-name-is Peggy (Barbara Niven) are surprised by the arrival of an unexpected guest. He has a cut on his face and a bloodied hand and he could not look more sketchy, especially as he was dropped off by a pickup truck and doesn’t have in his possession either luggage nor wallet. Bob is reluctant to give this possible troublemaker shelter, but Peggy is made of much more hospitable stuff, and allows him to stay the night, without even apparently asking his name or where he’s from or how he sustained his injuries, or even getting him to sign a register, which I think might actually be against the law.
Anyway, this lack of attention to detail could not be more frustrating to Sheriff Troy (Garry Chalk) the next day, when Peggy discovers the man dead on the floor of the Maple Room. But what has happened to him? Did he die of his injuries? Has he been murdered? An open window in the room, along with reports of a recent convenience store robbery in a neighboring (one presumes much bigger) town, lead the Cedar Covians to speculate wildly on this – while Jack, sole reporter of the local newspaper, is as usual the last to know the biggest developing story in his purview. I mean, honestly, why even bother having a newspaper when you have Charlotte, Grace and hippy café-owner Moon (Timothy Webber) to disseminate all the scandal of the day?
Oh, right. Because Jack the journalist actually seeks out the facts of the case before reporting willy-nilly on stuff.
He gets those facts this time out by making a nuisance of himself to Sheriff Troy—as if that long-suffering lawman doesn’t have enough to beset him in this episode, what with Peggy asking him when the folks from the crime lab are coming by (“Peggy, this isn’t CSI: Miami”) and Bob being unable to give him an accurate description of the truck that dropped off John Doe. (“It was white, or blue, or silver.” Thanks, Bob!) But Sheriff Troy and Jack go all buddy-cop movie and set doggedly about tracking down this lead, finally happening upon a long-haired even-sketchier-than-John-Doe-looking guy who has suspiciously-still-red blood smeared on his passenger-side door. Rather than being an accomplice to this stranger’s robbery, however, Sketchy Long-Haired Dude is just a charitable soul who gave a guy by the side of the road a ride to the nearest motel. (Moral of this story: people in this town are very nice, and don’t ask too many questions. If you are, in fact, on the run, Cedar Cove is the place to go!)
Returning to the scene of this act of kindness, Jack discovers a broken cell phone and a car that seems to have been run off the road, and with the use of the guy’s luggage and ID puts together the shocking – and somewhat fancifully written – exposé that the guy was just a writer in town to cover the art show whose tire blew out, whose spare tire was damaged, whose cell phone was out of juice and, the Coroner confirms, died of a mere heart attack. Cut to a town mortified at their overactive imaginations, and a triumphant Jack actually ahead of the town gossip for once.
All of this takes up most of the episode – but wait, if the guy was coming for the art show, why wouldn’t he have booked a room somewhere in advance? And has no one has reported seeing an abandoned car sitting in plain sight along what is surely a major arterial road into Cedar Cove? And if that road is genuinely so little travelled that such didn’t happen, does that mean the art show did not, in fact, draw many visitors to town?
So for all that Maryellen, local gallery manager and organizer of the event, proclaims this year’s Art Walk (“the cultural event of the year,” according to Exposition Olivia) the best ever, I am skeptical. But at least she uses this opportunity to flirt super-awkwardly with her photographer idol, John Bowman (Charlie Carrick), and persuade Olivia’s daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth) to show her supposedly brilliant work. (It’s not.) Justine’s nervous, calling it “Baring my naked soul for the world to see,” but between having her new beau Seth (Corey Sevier) back in town to support her and her former douche fiancé Warren (Brennan Elliott) still trying to win her favor by buying her a gallery – and apparently excellent sales, though we see little evidence of this – everything works out okay for Justine. And then she takes a permanent job with Maryellen, dumping her waitressing gig at Moon’s café without even a second thought. Nice loyalty, Justine!
But hey, maybe Eric can take the vacant position, what with everyone’s intense pressure on the poor kid to get his act together and become a contributing member of society.
Eric’s only been in town, like, a week, and already he has made an enemy of Grace, who witnessed him taking money out of Jack’s petty cash tin. And for the sake of $40, she has decided he is the devil incarnate and basically wants to run him out of town with torches and pitchforks. Olivia is inclined to give him a chance, and so offers him a handyman gig repairing a leaking pipe in her chambers—except she seems to think he should just be able to wave a magic wand and have it all fixed IMMEDIATELY. Now, I am no expert on fixing leaking pipes, but I do know contractors, and seriously, three days to get the job done is not excessive, especially when it is explained that patching the wall too soon can encourage mold. But Grace does it anyway, mold bedamned! Leaving Eric high and dry, with Olivia reluctant to even pay him for the work he did do, the impatient shrew. I tell you, if Eric does end up going bad and stealing ALL the money from Jack’s cashbox, there will be no one to blame for it more than Olivia and Grace. I mean, sure, Eric was trying to stir up trouble for Olivia, telling Jack about her ex-husband Stan (Andrew Airlee) showing up in her chambers, but still. He is not getting a fair deal here, and we all know that people tend to live down to expectations. So much for the people in Cedar Cove being so kind.
I mean, it’s not like Jack’s Dad of the Year material. He doesn’t even recall that Eric is allergic to capsaicin—though, as someone whose loving father almost sent her into anaphylactic shock by forgetting a deathly allergy to pine nuts, I’m possibly more sympathetic to Eric’s plight here than the average viewer, who I am guessing is more of the Damn Kids Should Get a Haircut and Get a Real Job demographic than, perhaps, mine. What makes me maddest about this, though, is that after all of her general mistreatment of, and interference with, his son, Jack still tells Olivia soulfully, as they’re about to go sailing: “I can’t imagine anyone I would rather be lost at sea with.” See, Eric’s right: Jack’s a really bad dad. Bye-bye, this week’s Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict!
What will next week’s be, do you think? Stan and his evident hang up on Olivia? Seth’s jealousy of Money Bags Warren? Jack’s pining for the big city? Something to do with new teen character Alison, introduced briefly and then never referred to here again? Eric’s trial for the murder of Grace after she rags on him just one too many times?
Come on back to Cedar Cove next week, and we’ll find out together!
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.