“Ah, you have surprised me, Rachel. You’re not as unbending as an oak. There’s a little bit of a willow after all.”
Episode Summary: As a result of her incessant meddling, Rachel Lynde (Patricia Hamilton) finds herself forcibly quarantined in the house of Alexander Abraham with the crotchety and slovenly man himself (WO Mitchell), along with Sara Stanley and Felix King. Although things start out tense, by the end of the quarantine, Lynde and Abraham put aside their firmly held beliefs and form a friendship (or maybe something deeper?).
Directed by Don McBrearty, Written by Heather Conkie, Music By Hagood Hardy
My Grade: Rachel is everyone’s favorite character. She’s brassy. She’s bossy. She’s a great source of comedic relief. What I really like about Rachel is how she’s evolved over the years. The Rachel we see in Anne of Green Gables (“Her hair is as red as CARROTS!!!”) is very different from the Rachel we’ll see towards the end of the series. Even this episode displays some growth. While Rachel begins the episode believing that there is “good” and “bad” and nothing in between, she allows herself to be opened up. The same could be said for Alexander Abraham. This is an occasionally fun episode, but watching four people trapped in a small house gets a little boring after a while. (B – )
Spotlight Performance: I gotta give it to Patricia Hamilton, who’s probably been the most “faithful” member of the Sullivan company. I mean, she’s appeared in every relevant Avonlea production. This is obviously the first of many great performances from her for this series.
Favorite Scene: As much as I love Hamilton in this episode, my favorite scene is actually between Janet King and Marilla Cuthbert (Colleen Dewhurst). Because Felix and Sara are also quarantined in that house, Janet is, somewhat understandably, worried about Felix and lashes out at Rachel. Marilla, being the good, faithful friend she is, defends Rachel and criticizes Janet for teaching her children bad behavior. Like I wrote earlier, there are moments in this episode I find a bit dull, but this is a scene that definitely wakes me up. Also…Marilla Cuthbert is 100% right.
Final Thoughts: OK…first things first, I can finally confirm that this is the first episode written by Heather Conkie. She did not write the first two episodes. IMDB is wrong. Heather Conkie will become a very important writer for pretty much the rest of the series. Some of the greatest episodes will be written by her (including the one after this). Meanwhile, this was the first episode directed by prolific Canadian director Don McBrearty. On top of directing some of the most memorable episodes of the series, he also directed a few episodes of Wind At My Back (including the amazing “Marathon” episode), a few episodes of Heartland, Accidental Friendship, Mrs. Ashboro’s Cat, In a Heartbeat (a Disney Channel show that ended too soon), Newton: A Tale of Two Isaacs, and, apparently, a short documentary from the 70’s titled “Gay or Straight? Is There a Choice?” which I would love to get my hands on, but probably got burned in an office fire a long time ago.
A couple notable guest stars include WO Mitchell (who is mostly a famous Canadian author, who did some acting here and there) and Michael Polley, as the doctor (Sarah Polley’s father in real life.) This is the first episode to not feature Jackie Burroughs (Hetty).