The new Hallmark show The Way Home premiered on Sunday amid a lot of fanfare from the network. The multigenerational drama stars Andie MacDowell in her first role for Hallmark since she headlined the show Cedar Cove (2013-2015).
New Hallmark show
In the series, Kat Landry (played by Chyler Leigh) is living in Minneapolis with her husband and her rebellious teenage daughter, Alice (played by Sadie Laflamme-Snow). She receives a letter from her mother, Del (played by Andie MacDowell) urging her to return to her small hometown of Port Haven, New Brunswick.
Though Kat is reluctant to respond — she hasn’t spoken to her mother in years — a series of events push her to accept the invitation. First, she loses her job and then she and her husband decide to split. (He is already seeing someone else.) She then drags a reluctant Alice to Port Haven to meet her grandmother for the first time.
The mystery starts almost as soon as they arrive home. Del insists she never sent a letter. When Alice finds out she can’t return to Minneapolis because her father’s girlfriend has moved in with him, she runs off into the woods. She is looking into a pond when she falls in.She is pulled out by a teenage version of her mother, who takes her home and introduces her to her family.
Six key takeaways:
1. This isn’t your typical Hallmark fare
Hallmark has made a name for itself by producing predictable rom-coms with happy endings. It’s a popular formula for a reason — audiences respond well to it.
The Way Home certainly has some of those feel-good moments, but it is, at its heart, a mystery. The pilot episode raises so many questions it will be hard for viewers to figure out the ending ahead of time.
Some fans even said as much on social media.
“Enjoyed first episode — this is one Hallmark show that I cannot guess the ending!!!” wrote a fan on Hallmark’s Facebook page.
2. The show puts a spin on the traditional multigenerational trope
The fact that Del and Kat haven’t spoken in 20 years automatically makes the series intriguing. Sure, everyone has spats with their parents, but few have gone that long without at least having an occasional chat on the phone.
The fact that Kat is at odds with both her mother and her daughter makes her a sympathetic focal point. Alice’s adventures (yeah, the name had to be deliberate) add a fascinating dimension to the story. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to see what their mom was like as a teenager?
3. Hallmark hasn’t abandoned its love of magic and witches
Though the show isn’t a feel-good rom-com, it does bear a striking resemblance to another Hallmark series: Good Witch. The movies and 7-season TV show also featured a mysterious beauty living in a small town, family secrets, and magic.
The Way Home’s opening scene takes place in 1812. A young woman is being chased by a mob accusing her of witchcraft. She jumps into a pond and disappears.
The fact that Alice is able to time travel by falling into the pond makes it clear that magic will play a big part in the show. That the series was filmed in the same area as the Hallmark show Good Witch, has some fans claiming that the network is recycling old themes.
4. Heather Conkie and Alexandra Clarke need to work together more often
The series was written by mother and daughter Heather Conkie and Alexandra Clarke. The pair, who wrote the script for the Disney Channel movie Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, have also collaborated on the award-winning series Heartland.
They apply a light touch to The Way Home, which could easily devolve into melodrama with everything going on.
They also know how to spin a mystery. The first episode ended on a cliffhanger. Though Alice is alive and well in the 1990s, her mother thinks she has run away and has no idea where to find her. Meanwhile, Alice gets a glimpse of what her mother’s family used to be like until a defining moment changed their lives forever.
5. Sadie Laflamme-Snow is one to watch
A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Laflamme-Snow is nonetheless a skilled artist who turns in a winning performance as Alice.
Laflamme-Snow has a difficult job portraying Alice, who keeps acting out and making life difficult for her parents. Thanks to good writing and Laflamme-Snow’s capabilities, viewers are able to have sympathy for the character and follow her on her journey.
6. The pilot episode left fans divided
Some Hallmarkies made it clear they weren’t interested in the show from the beginning.
“I watched HGTV instead,” wrote one Hallmark fan on the network’s Facebook page.
Others are all in and can’t wait to see more.
“After seeing a bajillion commercials for this I was certain it wouldn’t be as good as it looked. But…it was better! I loved it!” wrote one viewer.
The next episode of The Way Home will air on Hallmark Channel on Sunday, January 22 at 9/8c.