Road to Avonlea Review: …She Was Horrid

avonlea but when she was bad

Episode Summary: Still pretending to be Sara Stanley, Jo Pitts starts wreaking havoc for everyone in Avonlea, especially Hetty. Her final rotten act is drowning Hetty in the river so that she can run back to Rose Cottage and steal all the valuables. Meanwhile, Sara and Gus escape Abe Pike and his cronies and sail back to Avonlea. Soon, everyone discovers that Sara and Jo switched places. Gus tells the King family that Jo shouldn’t be sent to jail or back in the world alone because she’s still young and she still has time to learn better. Sara realizes that it’s better to stay with Hetty where she knows she’ll always be taken care of. On the other hand, Jo realizes life on her own is better for her. Jo runs away and disappears into the sun. This episode ends with Hetty finally respecting Sara’s choices.

Directed by Don McBrearty, Written by Marlene Matthews, Music by John Welsman

My Grade: This episode is the second part of a two-parter. It’s not as strong as the first part. Again, the Gus sub plot drags a bit. I’m not sure if we really needed to see Abe Pike again (or at least at this moment). And if we did, this storyline needed its own episode, instead of being squished into this two-parter just for the sake of giving the popular Michael Mahonen something to do. However, everything else is great. Jo Pitts is funny and her various hijinks are entertaining. It’s a little strange that Gus made this big speech about Jo needing a stable family, just to see her leave anyway. But…really…Jo needed to leave. She’s fun for two episodes, but I don’t think I could have taken more of her. (B+)

Spotlight Performance: For the first part, I gave it to Sarah Polley. For the sake of fairness, I’ll say Jackie Burroughs is the stand out. And she really does stand out in this episode. I’m always amazed by Burroughs’s physical comedy. And I’m amazed that the actress was never afraid of looking silly or getting dirty. This two-parter really is a two-hander between Polley and Burroughs.

Favorite Scene: Remember in the first part when I said that my favorite scene was the one where Hetty and Sara fight over which dress Sara can buy, and Hetty makes Sara buy the pinafore? Well, yes, my favorite scene in this second part is the very end where Hetty tries to return the pinafore so that Sara can pick out her own dress, but Sara insists on keeping the pinafore. It’s the show’s very heavy handed way of saying “Sara and Hetty will never see eye to eye! Oh brother!” I love it. It’s hilarious. Those two can’t agree on anything!

Final Thoughts: It looks like this is the last appearance of Reverend Leonard, played by Peter Donaldson. He was mostly known for his stage work, but he also appeared in other Canadian series like Emily of New Moon (which starred his wife Sheila McCarthy) and films such as The Sweet Hereafter, which also starred Sarah Polley. He won a Genie for his lead performance in Long Day’s Journey into Night. He died of lung cancer in 2011.

“When She Was Bad…She Was Horrid” is technically the show’s first and only two-part episode. However, there are certainly groupings of episodes that could be considered “two-parter-ish” (most notably the season 5 finale starring Stockard Channing). But this is the only episode where it’s “two-part” status is actually acknowledged in the title.

sara and gus

Finally…in this episode, on the way back to Avonlea, Sara and Gus share a little bit of a moment on the ship. Now, during this season and season 2, Gus has his fair share of “moments” with Felicity. However…he also has a few, maybe subtler, ones with Sara. I wonder if maybe the writers considered creating a “Sara-Gus-Felicity” love triangle story (instead of the “Arthur-Felicity-Gus” one we see during season 4). That would have been interesting, especially considering the fact that during season 4, Sara spends the majority of the season playing matchmaker. But then, we probably wouldn’t have gotten “Moving On.” So, I think the producers made the right call just keeping Sara and Gus BFFs.

Recycled Footage Alert: The episode’s end credits play over a continuation of the “town footage” we first see in “The Story Girl Earns Her Name.”

avonlea recycled footage

 

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