Episode 12: Prelude to a Kiss
The rumor mill is working on overdrive in Coal Valley. Among the hottest topics making rounds is the potential departure of Elizabeth Thatcher. The rumor has even made its way to the ears of Jack Thornton. Emotionally overwhelmed, Jack musters the strength to confront Elizabeth and ask if she is really accepting the teaching job back East. Elizabeth does not deny that she’s been offered the position, but she also challenges Jack to confront his feeling, not just for her, but for Rosemary as well. Jack agrees to take some time to think about his true feelings, but he seems more convinced than ever that Elizabeth has captured his heart.
Meanwhile, the investigation into the deadly mine disaster is heating up. While gathering evidence in the destroyed mineshaft, Bill is assaulted by masked assailants. His injuries are not life threatening but the message has clearly been sent. The assault sends Mountie Jack into the darkness to try and find the culprits. While Jack is searching for the assailants, Rosemary searches the jail for Jack. When she doesn’t find him, she decides to take a look at some personal items Jack has left lying on a table. In a stack of papers Rosemary finds a drawing of Elizabeth. Sensing an opportunity to strike at her rival, Rosemary defaces the image before throwing it into the trash. Later, Jack returns unsuccessful from his search. As he rides back into town he finds Elizabeth sitting outside looking into the distance. While she claims that she’s looking for Haley’s comet, it’s obvious that Elizabeth’s true motive is her concern for Jack.
Concern for the future of the town has motivated the mine disaster's lone survivor, Mr. Miller, to propose a bold plan to rebuild the church and the schoolhouse. During a town meeting, Mr. Miller acknowledges that he can no longer work in the mine, but he is confident that his skills with a hammer will enable him to lead the rebuilding of these important institutions. Even Mr. Gowen agrees, but funding seems to be an issue. While the townsfolk are struggling to make ends meet, Mr. Gowen suggests that the company could foot the bill, but for the pending investigation. Mr. Gowen also suggests that Bill’s judgment may be clouded due to his “friendship” with Abigail. When Elizabeth comes to Abigail’s defense, Gowen suggests that her replacement would better suited to engage in the debate. Having heard the rumor that Elizabeth would be leaving, Gowen effectively silences Elizabeth as a supporter of Abigail. The announcement also sends shockwaves through the parents and students in attendance. The only person who seems remotely pleased is Rosemary, who cracks a wry smile as she watches Elizabeth twist in the wind.
Despite her efforts however, Rosemary achieves little in the way of winning Jack’s heart. The final act comes in the saloon where, while holding court, Rosemary plays the song that was playing when Jack proposed to her. But instead of bringing Jack back to her, the performance pushes him over the edge. Jack finally confronts Rosemary over his feelings about her and Elizabeth. Saying that her showing up in Coal Valley has brought back old feelings, Jack also has come to realize that his relationship with Elizabeth is the relationship he wants to pursue.