Episode 12: Prelude to a Kiss
Original Airdate: Saturday, March 29th
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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.
Meanwhile, during the next town meeting, Mr. Miller reveals that an anonymous donor has helped raise the money for the church and schoolhouse. Dotty, the mayor’s wife, assumes that Mr. Gowen is the gracious benefactor and quickly rises to give him praise. Mr. Miller quickly dashes that idea saying that it’s not Mr. Gowen. It’s then suggested that Elizabeth’s father is the donor, but Elizabeth responds saying it’s not her father. Elizabeth then suggests that the donor is a very generous person with fewer resources than her father. As she looks at Jack it become evident that he is the donor. The townsfolk then come to the realization that Jack donated his entire reward for the capture of the Tolliver gang to the rebuilding of the church and school. While the townsfolk celebrate Gowen takes another opportunity to make another move against Abigail and the pending investigation. Gowen and the company lawyer release documents that implicate her late husband in the mine disaster. Gowen accuses Mr. Stanton of being reckless and says that he was deeply in debt causing him to make deadly decisions. Abigail is devastated as the townsfolk look on in horror. Later, in the café, Abigail reveals to Elizabeth that Noah wanted to start his own business and that his desire may have caused him to do something reckless.
The next morning Elizabeth is running late to school. When she enters, Elizabeth is shocked to find all of her students in their seats awaiting her. The students tell Elizabeth hat they wanted to get into class before her so they could do something to show how much they love her. On the chalkboard they write a poem from their first week together. The students shower her with gifts, including a picture of Haley’s comet and a card from the entire class reading “You Brought Sunshine to our Lives.” Overcome with emotion, Elizabeth reveals that she’s decided not to leave Coal Valley. Gabe does ask if she’s staying for the students or for Mountie Jack. Elizabeth smiles and responds telling Gabe that’s an inappropriate question. The students laugh and exclaim that it’s Mountie Jack. The entire class runs to Elizabeth and embrace her expressing their joy that she won’t be leaving them.
Later that day Jack escorts Abigail to the stagecoach to welcome District Judge Black. During the walk Abigail remarks that the day carries hope in the air. As the stagecoach pulls up Judge Black disembarks. As Judge Black greets Abigail and Jack, Abigail remarks that she and the other widows have waited a long time for their day in court. Judge Black responds saying that day is here now but that he cannot promise that they will like the results. Shortly after Bill arrives to greet Judge Black. The two men are clearly old acquaintances with the judge even mocking Bill over an old and apparently disputed poker game. Judge Black asks for a witness list, which Abigail immediately runs to fetch from Bills room, and announces that the trial will begin at eight sharp. As Judge Black heads to the saloon a man rides up brandishing a gun and yelling that it’s time for the judge to meet his maker. With one quick move Judge Black flings his saddle into the riders chest, knocking him from his horse. The rider is the little brother of a man recently convicted by Judge Black. The judge orders Jack to arrest him and add his name to the docket.
Although the trial is looming, Elizabeth’s decision to stay in Coal Valley is of great relief to many of the townsfolk. Perhaps no one is more relieved that Jack. After struggling to find the words and come to terms with his feelings, the thought of losing her has finally caused him to make his move. Later in the afternoon Jack appears in the saloon and asks Elizabeth to take a walk with him. She asks if there is a reason for the walk and Jack assures her that there is. On the walk Jack present Elizabeth with a gift, a hand drawn picture of her and Jack. Jack then opens his soul saying that it’s still hard for him to reveal his heart, but the picture will convey what he feels. As asked, Jack says he has taken the time to think long and hard about his relationship with Elizabeth. After considering his true feelings he keeps coming back to the same conclusion; that she is the one and only person he wants to be with. Jack asks her not to leave. Elizabeth smiles and says that she isn’t going anywhere and that this is where she belongs. Jack gently holds her hand and they share a warm and tender kiss.