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, episode 3, and episode 4, and episode 5. And now, onto her recap of episode 6, “Free Spirits”:
Anyone who’s been paying attention these past few weeks will have noted that Maryellen (Elyse Levesque), the willowy, flame-haired curator of Cedar Cove’s gallery, has it bad for local art photographer John Bowman (Charlie Carrick). We’ve only met the man himself once, two episodes ago, but we can kind of see the appeal: hot, talented, terse, standoffish. There are women for whom a mystery like John Bowman presents a challenge as much as an object of interest, and Maryellen is assuredly just such a one.
This week, John Bowman—I shall continue to refer to him by both names here, until Maryellen decides to do otherwise—has lost his chef gig at a seafood restaurant in nearby Tacoma, and as a result has brought some more of his stylish, stark nature prints to sell in the gallery. Maryellen is surprised to learn that he is not a full-time artist, but is still smitten enough to help; despite not knowing exactly what it is he did to get himself fired in the first place, she recommends him at the Captain’s Galley, pretty much the town’s only restaurant, and soon he has the job.
When he comes to thank her, she cannot make her interest in him plainer: she offers him a congratulatory hug (which he awkwardly ignores) and then offers to take him out to celebrate (which he awkwardly refuses). Maryellen can’t quite understand how John Bowman couldn’t be interested in her, and nor can her mother, Grace (Teryl Rothery):
GRACE: How could anybody not like you? You’re adorable.
MARYELLEN: I know, right?
But nevertheless, such seems to be the case, what with him turning her down left and right. So Grace gives her daughter an abridged version of The Rules (“Maybe he just doesn’t like being chased.”) and, wait, could that be an intrigued look in his eye as she starts ignoring him? Treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen; am I right, ladies?
In this respect, Grace is at least sort of taking her own advice, when handsome rancher Cliff Harting (Sebastian Spence), he of the substantial cheque to save Grace’s beloved town library from closure last week, invites her to go horseback riding with him. Still reeling from her recent divorce, Grace tells him she isn’t ready to date, but later, when she needs a way to “shake up” best-friend Olivia (Andie MacDowell), she decides horseback riding is just the ticket, and off they go. Lucky Cliff’s a good sport, or there is no way Jack (Dylan Neal) would be getting lucky with Olivia in Seattle the next weekend.
You see, Olivia is so in need of a little horse therapy because of two major traumas this episode. The first one is that Jack has asked her to accompany him to watch a Mariners game he has been asked to cover for an old friend, and we’ll deal with that first, since boy, is it serious. Because as far as I can make out from the conversation Olivia and Grace have about this potential trip, it seems like Olivia and Jack haven’t had sex yet. They’re both in their 40s, they’ve been seeing each other for what has to be months of in-show time, and they haven’t gotten past second base? I know, it seems wildly unlikely, doesn’t it? But when Olivia talks about how this trip is “a big step” and how “it’s been a long time” that is really the only conclusion we can draw. I don’t even know what to say about this. Here I was assuming it was all happening very discreetly behind closed doors, and I appreciated that very much; now it turns out they just weren’t doing it at all? I’m flabbergasted.
No wonder Jack is spending so much time with Bob Belden (Bruce Boxleitner) learning how to woodwork and, in this installment, to fish. At least with Bob things are already physical. Plus, the quality Dad Jokes! (“That's why they call it fishing, not catching.” Oh, Bob!) And they totally bond over both being alcoholics. Nice one, show. That is absolutely what Guy Talk is like, no doubt about it.
The second reason Olivia is so het up this time out is because her daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth) has the gall to leave Cedar Cove and head up to Alaska in search of her missing boyfriend, Seth (Corey Sevier). Seth is a fisherman who has been up there a couple of episodes now, but he didn’t arrive back when he said he would and now nobody has seen him in days. Frantically ringing around shipping companies and feverishly checking Alaskan news sites doesn’t set Justine’s mind at ease (Maryellen is no help, all “bear attacks happen all the time” and “float planes are death traps”), so she decides to head up to the 49th state to check it out herself. Olivia is immediately against the plan, telling her daughter to wait a few days and there is no reason for her to do this. But Justine is adamant, and says determinedly: ““I came here to tell you that I'm going. Not to ask for your permission.” And then just as you’re all “yay, Justine!” and unwontedly impressed with this new intrepid spirit, she spoils it all with: “So I'll call you when I get there.” Wow, the independence!
And hello, our Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict of the week.
(Seth’s fine. Justine – after a few anxious moments with a stalled rental car – is fine. She loves her Mom. Seth is delighted to see her. It’s all good.)
So that’s why Grace, to whom Jack took his concerns about his chaste girlfriend’s mental health, felt the need to take Olivia out to the ranch. Both Lockhart women are still holding on to old fears brought about by the death of Jordan, Justine’s twin, so many years ago, and it is apparently when in these moods that Grace encourages her friend to try death-defying stunts like going horse riding for the first time and then galloping on the horse without a damn helmet. It would have served both you and Jack right if she had broken her neck, silly Grace.
Instead, this incredibly dangerous ride was all Olivia needed to realize just how uptight she was being, and so Jack is going to get his romantic baseball-related trip to Seattle with her, after all. And who knows? It might lead to a gig as a sportswriter for a major big city paper—which could, in turn, lead to yet another Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict, what with Jack being so constantly dismissive of small town Cedar Cove, even though he assures Olivia he is “crazy” about her.
So, girls, have we been paying attention here? The Cedar Cove Guide to Catching a Man:
1. Don’t show obvious interest in him.
2. Don’t have sex with him, even if you’ve been together over a month.
3. Bring your best friend along on a date you’ve already turned down.
4. And feel free to stalk him in another freaking state if you don’t hear from him for a day or so.
Got all that? Good.
Meanwhile, for all my griping (and a few continuity issues – so Jack had to hear from someone else that Justine flew up to Alaska, even though he and Olivia were just talking about it?), this was a perfectly enjoyable episode, especially the Jack/Bob bonding, Cliff/Grace cuteness and Justine striking out on her own in the wilds of Alaska. Indeed, random kind Alaskan lady who fixed Justine’s car was the highlight of the episode: “My daddy used to say, 'You're never more alive than when you're scared half to death.'” You’re awesome, Random Kind Alaskan Lady! Too bad we won’t be seeing you in Cedar Cove any time soon. On the other hand, we do already have Bob for the aphorisms: “Relationships take work,” that’s another one of his. Oh, and “Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Can’t see what genius he comes up with next time! See you then...
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.