“Emmett was fortunate in having you for a friend. So am I.”
Episode Summary: When Alec’s friend Emmett Grier (Peter MacNeill) dies from an explosive boating accident, he feels obligated to help take care of Emmett’s distressed widow, Evelyn (played by Meg Tilly) and her baby, causing the town of Avonlea to gossip about their relationship. After stern words from Hetty and Olivia, Alec realizes that he can’t be expected to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders, and that he has to go back to caring for his own family. Grateful for everything Alec has done, Evelyn decides to move to a boarding house in Toronto and become a piano teacher.
Directed by Graeme Campbell, Written by Raymond Storey, Music by John Welsman
My Grade: These are my favorite types of Avonlea episodes. Dramatic, emotional episodes that allow the characters to be confronted with change or even reality. It’s an episode that shows that even in an idyllic little cove like Avonlea, people can still experience loss and heartbreak. The death towards the beginning of the episode is devastatingly random and surprising (that is, if you don’t read a summary before watching the episode). I think what keeps this episode from being an “Avonlea classic” is that it mostly involves a guest character that only appears (or is even only mentioned) in this episode. So, it’s not very easy to get invested in Evelyn, or to feel really sad over Emmett’s death. It doesn’t much contribute to the arc of the series, or even this season. However, as its own fifty minute dramatic program, this episode is really great. (A-)
Spotlight Performance and Favorite Scene: Have I mentioned how great a character Alec is? I mean, he’s certainly one of the best “TV Dads.” He’s a simple man who always tries to do good. He makes mistakes, but he learns from them. I don’t think Alec ever made a “mistake” in this episode. There’s a point in this episode when he considers using the King trust to help buy the Grier farm from the bank. It’s clearly a foolish, overreaching action to take. But Alec is quickly able to realize that he has think of his family first. He can help his friend, but at some point she had to stand on her own feet. Cedric Smith does a great job playing a man caught in the middle of his primary duties and his conscious.
That leads me to favorite scene of the episode which is definitely one of Smith’s finest acting showcases. It’s the scene where Alec tearfully tells Janet that if he had been knocked out by the boat, then maybe Emmett would have been able to save them both. Alec wanting to help Evelyn stems from his overwhelming sense of guilt. And Smith (along with Lally Cadeau) are practically perfect in the scene. Oscar nominated Meg Tilly does a really wonderful job in the episode (particularly that scene on the beach where Evelyn tries to go after her drowned husband), but despite the fact the episode is titled “Evelyn,” it’s Alec and his feelings, emotions, and actions that really affect me watching this episode.
Final Thoughts: This is the first episode written by Raymond Storey. He will write for the series until the very very end (yes, he wrote the Christmas reunion movie). He will also become a writer for Sullivan’s other series Wind at My Back, and a few other Sullivan television productions. He will also write for a few Devine HBO specials, including Bach’s Fight For Freedom, which starred Kyle Labine (who played Davey on Avonlea). He was also a producer and writer for the Meg Tilly series Bomb Girls. On the other hand, this is director Graeme Campbell’s only episode. He’s a prolific Canadian director, probably best known for his Gemini award winning work on Instant Star. He’s also directed many television films including Dangerous Child, An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, and Deadly Betrayal: The Bruce Curtis Story, which also won him a Gemini.
OK, I’m about to use some harsh language…but we’re all adults here, right? Little kiddies, cover your eyes. Skip this paragraph if the “B-word” and “F-word” are too much for you…Honestly, Mrs. Bugle, Mrs. Lawson, and the other one are such bitches in this episode. Seriously, they are unnecessarily, straight-up mean. A woman with a baby just lost her husband in the most horrific way and all they can do is gossip about her A FEW FEET FROM HER, RIGHT AT THE FUNERAL FOR HE DEAD HUSBAND. And then they’re mean again when Evelyn is desperately hanging a little post thingie advertising piano lessons. And then Mrs. Bugle’s like “I’m not allowing my kid to take lessons from her.” It’s like, who peed in your cereal, ma’am??? And then at the end of the episode, they have the nerve to see Evelyn off as she escapes to Toronto away from these bitter old meanies. It’s like they’re all waving and being courteous, but literally a few hours earlier they thought she was trying to have an affair with a married man. Seriously, I don’t know if I would ever want to live in Avonlea because most of the old people are so fake and they only pretend to be nice, even though God isn’t stupid and knows how they really are inside. No compassion! No heart! Just judgemental bitchiness 24/7! Fuck them! (This will not be last “Mrs. Bugle-related” rant!)
Lastly…it’s like really weird that Felix isn’t in this episode. Like really weird. He’s not even in the funeral scene. The Pettibone kids are there, but not Felix.