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, episode 5, episode 6, and episode 7. And now, onto her recap of episode 8, “And the Winner Is...”:
The ladies of Cedar Cove are on a mission this week: date or be dated. Judge Olivia Lockhart (Andie MacDowell) is still deeply in-like with disgruntled newspaperman Jack Griffith (Dylan Neal) – honestly, he could not be more dismissive of her beloved town if he tried, calling its news “insignificant” as he sighs wearily over his desk at the Cedar Cove Chronicle. Now, for a start, he should just consider himself lucky to have a job in the print media, but even more than that, he’s totally wrong, because there is much of interest happening in this pastel-hued hamlet at present, what with the... wait for it... Eligible Bachelor Auction and all.
That’s right, in this apparently annual event, the town’s local talent is put up for bid to raise money for the animal shelter. Olivia’s busybody mother Charlotte (Paula Shaw) is the driving force behind proceedings, and she inveigles Jack into participating with the aid of her luminous daughter’s oh-so-casual hand on Jack’s thigh. Nice work, Olivia!
Olivia also inveigles handsome rancher Cliff Harting (Sebastian Spence) into participating, because she is determined that the object of his affection, the sassy but skittish Grace (Teryl Rothery), should spend some quality time with her aspiring beau. (And considering the way that man wears blue jeans, to do otherwise would be a best-friend crime in the first degree.) Elsewhere, meanwhile, Justine (Sarah Smyth) entices laconic chef-cum-photographer John Bowman (Charlie Carrick) to mount the auctioneer’s block, because his biggest fan Maryellen (Elyse Levesque) and her campaign of playing hard to get is not getting her anywhere with him at all. Justine’s boyfriend Seth (Corey Sevier), meanwhile, is also put up for bid, the idea being that Maryellen will win him and, in so doing, totally throw John Bowman off the scent that this was all a big set up.
I know. Unwontedly convoluted, isn’t it? And very, very high school, what with Olivia and Justine going to the extent of seeking out their respective best-friends’ crushes and offering to play go-between. I’m surprised they didn’t suggest secretive meetings under the bleachers, or at least propose a double date to the Sock Hop, or whatever. Honestly, if Grace ends up wearing Cliff’s letterman’s jacket by the end of this series, I will not be at all surprised.
Needless to say, however, all of this intricate plotting does not go off without a hitch here, and much of the episode is spent watching women bid on the wrong men – or, at least, not the men they had intended to bid on – along with a brief foray into male posturing when Seth confronts Justine’s estranged ex-fiancé, Warren (Brennan Elliott)... and wins. I think?
Because, yes, it was getting to be about time for the ever-douchey Warren to rejoin the story and make some trouble round these parts, and in this episode, in addition to his big plans to ruin the waterfront with an extensive retail development (seriously, dude is the Maurice Minnifield of Cedar Cove), he also decides to mess with Justine and Seth by calling in a gorgeous model-type to bid on the latter at the auction. Quite what he was hoping to accomplish with this is anyone’s guess, but all he really managed to do was make Justine bid every cent she owned on her young man ($417 – though, was I the only one hoping it was going to be $339.88, in honor of Andie MacDowell’s winning bid for Bill Murray in Groundhog Day?), and piss her off entirely. He keeps trying to tell her that he was just having a little fun, and to think of how much extra money his little trick raised for the cause – as if she didn’t already know! It was HER money!
One bachelor not raising quite so much for those creatures great and small is John Bowman, who goes for a mere $100, and only then because Maryellen decides to bid on him twice, finally working up the gumption to ignore her mother’s The Rules-esque advice from two episodes ago and to just go after him hardcore. Grace is similarly swept away by the excitement of bidding for a long-time crush, but instead of going after Cliff, she swoops in on Olivia’s dapper brother Will (Cameron Bancroft), a surprise visitor in town just moments after being mentioned for the very first time. While not technically a bachelor – Auctioneer Bob (Bruce Boxleitner) makes it clear he’s married, though as anyone who has read the books knows, that isn’t necessarily an impediment to a little romantic tension where this devilishly attractive silver fox is concerned – Will still volunteers to be some lucky lady’s date for the evening, and Grace is so inspired by Olivia’s earlier advice to “be strong, bold and confident“ that she hastily bids $150 for the privilege—much to Cliff’s backstage disappointment. And it is while trying to explain to the lovelorn cowboy (he’s wearing a bolo tie and everything) that he’s still in with a shot that Olivia misses the chance to bid on Jack, leaving him feeling distinctly unloved—even if he did go for an impressive $450, despite his girlfriend’s absence from the field. ($450 for Dylan Neal? A total bargain!)
And this is not Jack’s only point of concern about Olivia this outing, what with her ex-husband Stan (Andrew Airlee) pretty prominently featured, as he works through his decade-old issues about their dead son and his seemingly-heartless reaction to their loss. He even drags Olivia along to therapy with him, and though we have not (yet) met his current wife, we are definitely of the impression that she is as unhappy as Jack is with the ex-couple’s amicable, increasingly intimate, friendship.
The episode ends with Jack unable to reach Olivia as she and Stan mourn their son; Cliff off to lick his wounds after being summarily rejected by Grace (though she doesn’t know she’s done it, of course); Grace on her way out to dinner with the genial, worrisome Will; and trouble a’brewing for Seth and Justine, if Warren has anything to say about it. In fact, the only happy campers in sight this week are Maryellen and John Bowman, off on their first date, and the abandoned pets of Cedar Cove, who made out like bandits in what can only be described as the male escort industry.
Oh, and this week’s Big Though Easily Resolved Conflict? Weirdly, it seems to be assigning true, mutual blame for Olivia and Stan’s marriage breakdown. Won’t it be interesting to see where the show chooses to go with this, and just how much reconciliation on this score the already-jealous Jack can take?
Come on back next time, and we’ll find out together!
Rachel Hyland is Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.