Episode Summary: Felicity looks up to her Aunt Abigail; she’s clean, tidy, and a great homemaker, despite not having a family of her own. Her quiet, monotonous life changes when Malcolm McEwan (Malcolm Stoddard), an old lover from the past, comes back to town in order to woo her again. Although Abigail’s late father forbade Malcolm from marrying her because of he was from a lower class family, Malcolm has become very rich from discovering gold in the Yukon, and now has the status to become an acceptable husband for her. Although their relationship begins well, Abigail becomes overwhelmed and breaks off her engagement with Malcolm. However, when she learns that Malcolm is leaving town, she immediately realizes she doesn’t want to be alone anymore, chases him down, and agrees to be his wife.
Directed by Harvey Frost, Written by Heather Conkie, Music by John Welsman
My Grade: This is another very solid episode for the first season. Aunt Abigail is a really good character, and Malcolm is instantly likeable. However, I also really like how we finally get a deeper look at both Alec and Janet, and their imperfect marriage. I like the subplot about Janet’s dissatisfaction with Alec’s lack of attention, and Alec’s dissatisfaction with his seemingly ordinary farm life. Alec’s jealousy of Malcolm’s success comes through during the auction scene when Malcolm outbids Alec for a bed frame. After a couple episodes that have mostly focused on the kids, it’s nice to see an episode about the adults. (A)
Spotlight Performance: Rosemary Dunsmore plays Aunt Abigail. A few years earlier she was featured in the Anne sequel as Katherine Brooke, the staunch headmistress for the school Anne teaches in. In a way, Aunt Abigail is very similar to Katherine Brooke. (It’s also interesting how Dunsmore looks so much younger in Avonlea then she did in the Anne movie. I guess getting rid of that tight head bob and glasses make all the difference.) Dunsmore is excellent in the movie, and I always thought she deserved more credit/acclaim for that performance. But, anyway, I’m glad Sullivan brought her back for this recurring role. Dunsmore still remains a very active actress. She’s one of those Canadian performers that takes advantage of the fact that many American productions shoot in Canada, so you’ve probably seen her at least a couple more things, even if you can’t instantly recognize her. (And, yes, she was the judge for Paige’s rape trial in Degrassi.)
Favorite Scene: The scene where Abigail first breaks up with Malcolm is so sad, but features wonderful performances by the two actors. A close second would have to be the end when Abigail is chasing down Malcolm in the horse buggy and she’s screaming bloody murder for him. So funny (and also impressive from a film perspective.) The music by John Welsman for both those scenes add to their greatness.
Final Thoughts: This is the first episode directed by Harvey Frost. He will continue to direct episodes for the show until close to the very end. He was also a director for the teen series Sweet Valley High and Beverly Hills, 90210. He directed the first couple episodes of Sullivan’s second series Wind at My Back. And a bushel of heartwarming television movies.
This is also the first episode to not feature either Aunt Olivia or Aunt Hetty.