Cedar Cove, the Hallmark Channel television series based on Debbie Macomber's romance novel series of the same name and starring Andie MacDowell, is back for Season 2 and H&H is all over it! Stay tuned for weekly recaps of this year's small-town shenanigans, and if you're just catching up, be sure to go back and read Rachel Hyland's Season 1 posts.
This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Cedar Cove, including Saturday night’s 2x02, “Letting Go: Part 2.”
Who knew Cedar Cove had the power to surprise me? Oh, not in terms of plot twists or anything—I have read the Debbie Macomber books on which the show is based, and while their fairly forgettable details may not exactly stand out in my mind, I well recall the general gist, the vibe of each novel’s relationship rollercoaster(s). And even where the books and series diverge, well, it’s hardly The Sixth Sense. But the fact that this episode provided some of the most romantic and exhilarating moments the show has ever given us courtesy of, of all people, John Bowman (Charlie Carrick) and Maryellen (Elyse Levesque)... well, I never would have believed it possible.
Let us see how that happened, shall we? One couple at a time...
OLIVIA AND JACK
Cedar Cove royalty Jack (Dylan Neal) and Olivia (Andie McDowell) continue to wrangle with Jack’s sulky son Eric (Tom Stevens) and his recalcitrant inamorata this week as an emotional Shelly (Hayley Sayles) still lies abed at the (surprisingly state-of-the-art) local hospital on the very verge of a) having a baby and b) giving up said baby for adoption, to the never-ending whining protest of Eric.
Through it all, Olivia is staunch at Jack’s side, determined that neither Shelly nor Eric take their responsibilities and rights lightly, all the while still struggling with the haunting memories of her long-dead son Jordan that being in the hospital has brought flooding back. (Not that those memories have been far from her thoughts for the whole series’ duration, anyway.) Olivia’s standout moment of the episode is when she, in her always-perplexing Texan drawl, adroitly convinces Shelly to keep the kid by referencing her lost boy, while Jack shines when he tells Sulky Son to get over his less than ideal childhood and man the hell up. And as a couple... Jack gives Olivia a key to his house! Which she rejects with an off-hand “Why would I need a key to your house?” So, oooh. Tension.
JACK: We’re like a real couple now, aren’t we?
OLIVIA: Of course we are.
GRACE AND CLIFF
I timed it. Fourteen seconds of Cliff (Sebastian Spence) in this episode. FOURTEEN. He arrives to console Grace (Teryl Rothery) upon the departure of her daughter—see below—and, well, that’s it. But I guess fourteen seconds is better than no Cliff at all. Right?
CLIFF: I thought you might need some company...
(And this, his only line.)
JUSTINE AND SETH
Oh, that Seth (Corey Sevier). He’s a cocky one. Olivia’s daughter Justine (Sarah Smyth) has been struggling, this episode and last, with the idea of opening a restaurant with this man of hers, especially since he is a deep sea fisherman at heart and has been offered his “dream job” in Alaska—and has turned it down for her sake. Sensing her uncertainty, Seth decides there is only one way to make her feel even more trapped, and (rather anti-climactically, it must be said) proposes to her as she sits forlornly over her adding machine, trying to make their budget come out right. (Why is Justine using an adding machine? People have cell phones in this show, so it is clearly not a period drama. There’s an app for that, you know, Justine!) Anyway, without even awaiting a “yes,” Seth slips the ring on her finger and then almost immediately wants to launch into wedding planning... but Justine realises that not only does she not want to open a restaurant, after all, but she doesn’t want to marry Seth either, at least not right away. She gives back the ring (though never fear, Justine/Seth fans, a HEA is definitely in their future), just as she gave back Warren the Douche’s (Brennan Elliott) last season. Meanwhile, two ex-fiancés in less than two seasons? Go, Justine!
Speaking of Warren the Douche, by the way, he shows up to taunt Justine with a worryingly accurate assessment of her vacillating character, but despite, or because of, this smooth-tongued insight, he provides Justine with the Moment of the Episode when she tells him he’s a crook and a cheat and a self-aggrandizing liar (I’m paraphrasing) and not a “real man” (I’m quoting) and then forces him into a hasty retreat. I may love the way Warren hates Seth, since I do too, but I loved seeing him cut down so efficiently as well. Suffice it to say, my relationship with Warren is complicated—more so, assuredly, than is Justine’s with Seth. But at least Seth is apparently heading off on a fishing trip now, presumably not to return for an episode or two. So there’s that.
JUSTINE: I need to figure out me before there can be an us.
MARYELLEN AND JOHN BOWMAN
And now we come to the episode’s—and I still can’t quite believe it—star story, with photographer/chef/ex-con John Bowman still being importuned by petty criminals desperate for his artistic skill to enhance their slapdash counterfeiting operation. Using threats against Maryellen as leverage, they “convince” him to take part, but it will surprise no one (except most everyone in Cedar Cove) to learn that he is part of an improbably elaborate FBI sting operation to take out these most fearsome lawbreakers. Meanwhile, the episode is full of Maryellen soulfully certain that John Bowman would never do anything criminal and of John Bowman determined to protect her from his unsavoury would-be associates—it’s really very lovely, their dialogue is all top notch dramatic with only a touch of the melo-, and in the end when he asks her to go to New York with him to explore his artistic/culinary aspirations, she gets permission from her mother and then off they go. So: no more Maryellen and John Bowman, show? Really? But I was just starting to like them! Charlie Carrick, in particular, really reversed my opinion of him this episode—the problem was, when he was playing all mysterious and enigmatic he just looked kind of constipated, but here, when he isn’t trying to convey anything except a sincere attachment to his girl (and since Elyse Levesque is so preternaturally beautiful, it would be hard not to evince some interest in her), he actually kind of won me over. Despite myself, I think I might be hoping to see him on these gentle shores again. Who’d have thought?
JOHN BOWMAN: You want to take a chance on a guy who can’t live without you?
ERIC AND SHELLY
Meanwhile, at the hospital, Eric throws tantrum after tantrum about his tragic childhood and his right to put his unborn child through same, but eventually manages to overcome some of his Daddy Issues and then becomes... a Daddy! Eric and Shelly name their daughter after Shelly’s grandmother and Olivia’s dearly departed son (awww—and, wait: kind of presumptuous, no?), and then decide to get back together. Let’s hope those crazy kids stick around, if only because I want to hear the mellifluous Hayley Sayles sing at Moon’s cafe again, like she did way back in last season’s Christmas episode. Good times.
ERIC: Shelly, I've made a lot of mistakes and I've done a lot of stupid things, but the two of us and that baby, those aren't mistakes. They might be the only good things I've ever done. I love you and I want to make this work.
Speaking of Moon... hi, Moon! Yep, Timothy Webber returns here as the hippy coffee peddler who delivers himself of this piece of Yoda-like wisdom, to his former employee Justine: “Lies lead to deception and deception leads to unhappiness.” Words to live by, there!
Elsewhere, Bob (Bruce Boxleitner), local B&B owner and Jack’s AA sponsor, dispenses yet more wisdom, as Jack ponders what to do about Sulky Son: “You know when you’re sailing and you lose the wind and you try another tack? Try a different tack.” Um... Bob? You know that’s kind of a popular saying, right? You didn’t coin that, or anything? Just checking.
And the other Cedar Cove resident of note this week? No, not Sherriff Troy (Garry Chalk), nor Bob’s wife Peggy (Barbara Niven ), nor town PI Roy (Mike Dopud), all of whom are involved in the sting. No, it is Nathan Mitchell as the handsome server/informant at the Captain’s Galley—the town’s seemingly only restaurant—with whom I am most intrigued. For a start: some color in this town! About time. But secondly: so very handsome. Let’s hope we’ll be seeing him again...
Come on back next week and find out!
Rachel Hyland is the Editor in Chief of Geek Speak Magazine.