Episode Summary: Romney Penhallow (played by ET‘s Peter Coyote), an old beau of Hetty, comes back to town. At first Hetty uncharacteristically dashes every time she comes in contact with him. However, they soon rekindle their relationship. Hetty discovers that Romney is dying and came back to Avonlea for one final goodbye. He passes away with Hetty forgiving him for leaving her over 30 years ago.
Directed by Allan King, Written by Heather Conkie, Music by John Welsman
My Grade: I know this sounds cliche: But the nice thing about Avonlea is that it’s a show that both kids and adults can relate to. The show is capable of making episodes like “Proof of the Pudding,” which is funny and silly and perfectly suited for young children. At the same time, however, the show can seamlessly slide into episodes with more “adult-like” themes, like this episode here. This episode is sort of akin to “The Materializing of Duncan McTavish,” which starred Marilla. Hetty is genuinely happy with her single “spinster” life…but sometimes she regrets never getting married, and Romney coming back to town sort of reminds her of those regrets. But, more importantly, Romney coming back to town teaches her a lesson in forgiveness and friendship. (A-)
Spotlight Performance: Peter Coyote was deservedly nominated for an Emmy here, but, once again, I have to say Jackie Burroughs is the real standout. The shock on Hetty’s face when she finds out from Alec that Romney’s terminally ill is just devastating. No Disney-approved American guest star will ever overshadow Jackie Burroughs.
Favorite Scene: I like the scene where Hetty and Romney are running through the fields. It’s beautifully shot and edited (Where the Spirit Lives‘ Michael Todd). See? Little kids aren’t the only ones who run through the fields.
Final Thoughts: This was the first episode directed by Allan King. He’ll continue to direct episodes until the end. He was an extremely prolific Canadian director, having directed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Danger Bay, and Ready or Not. He also directed the Sullivan miniseries By Way of the Stars. He directed the 1989 film Termini Station, which reunited Anne of Green Gables stars Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst. He was also known as a documentarian, with his last film being the documentary EMPz 4 Life. He passed away in 2009.
One last note: I’m pretty sure this is the first episode where the ending credits are rolled over an interior shot (Hetty and Rachel drinking tea in front of the fire). It’s an interesting choice. It won’t happen too often. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other episode that does this.