Everything about Heartland, eh?

Heartland’s Amber Marshall riding high in Season 8

Life is complicated for Amy Fleming. The beloved Heartland character has a lot on her plate so far in Season 8, including a rich Prince who keeps sending her presents, a fiancé who’s struggling to make ends meet in his first business venture and a girl whose vision of Amy has been shattered.

For actress Amber Marshall, having her character go through these struggles represents the natural evolution of Amy, a gifted horse trainer who isn’t without her flaws. Georgie (Alisha Newton) was crushed after viewing an online video of Prince Ahmed (Jade Hasounné) kissing Amy during a farewell party for his European Equestrian team. Now Amy is feeling the effects of tumbling off the pedestal Georgie put her on.

“The fans may not agree with it right now, but there has to be a moment when the characters that you’ve seen as heroic people need to fall,” Marshall says. “They need somewhere to climb back up to. If you just have your characters going on this nice, mellow journey where they’re the hero of the show … what is interesting in that? There is no real life. There are no lessons to be learned. I was so happy when the writers took Amy and threw her down to basically starting from scratch.”

Marshall has literally grown up on the set of CBC’s Sunday night stalwart and she’s gained an immense amount of knowledge since filming the pilot episode when she was 19. And, unlike shows such as Degrassi, where the setting is high school and the characters have to be kept in a certain age group, Heartland‘s young folks have gotten older, matured and moved on to new stages in their lives.

Marshall has evolved too, adding the title of consulting producer to her list of responsibilities on the family drama. The London, Ont., born actress explains she was already on the set and involved outside of her acting role anyway. An experienced horse person, she was there to help the show’s writers tweak scenes that dealt with those four-legged co-stars; a discussion with Heartland‘s producers led to the additional credit. When she’s not on-set filming, Marshall educates herself on all aspects of production, an easy thing to do when you’re surrounded by folks you’ve been working with for years. Can executive producing or showrunning her own project be in Marshall’s future? Not until she learns more.

In the meantime, Amy is getting an education in the dangers of the Internet and her naiveté when it comes to Prince Ahmed. His peck on her lips not only has driven a wedge between Amy and Georgie, but Amy and Lou (Michelle Morgan) too. It all comes to a head this Sunday when Amy is forced to make a tough decision that affects her relationship with not only the Prince but Ty (Graham Wardle) as well.

“There is some very interesting conflict coming up,” she teases. “It’s going to have a huge impact on the whole Heartland family, not just Amy and Ty.”

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.

Do you think Amy should tell Ty about her kiss with Prince Ahmed?

  • Yes, it's better to get it out in the open now. (93%, 154 Votes)
  • No way, he'll get upset and possibly break up with her. (7%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 166

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Review: Not-so hero worship on Heartland

The kiss. Oh, that kiss. It was brought to my attention last week that Georgie may not have witnessed a kiss between Prince Ahmed and Amy–we didn’t actually see it but I was reacting to the look on Georgie’s face–but it was confirmed Sunday as she replayed the online clip again for herself and then for Lou. Now the cat is out of the bag. Or the horse has jumped the fence. Pick your cliché; the point is Georgie and Lou know. And now Amy does too. How long until Ty finds out?

“The Big Red Wall” may have dealt with Amy being at first too scared to try getting Ahmed’s gift horse to jump over a high wall, but it was as much about Georgie putting a wall between she and her former hero. By episode’s end Georgie had torn down her picture shrine to Amy and was disgusted by the whole situation. Yes, Amy told Lou that nothing had happened between she and Ahmed–he made advances but she told him to back off–but nothing will be the same between the three girls until the family sits down and talks about it. And despite Ty being busy with Caleb wanting to fast-track train the horses and Tim giving him the rough side of his tongue, he’s going to surf the ‘net soon. Better nip this bad news in the bud before it explodes.

The only bright spot in Heather Cronkie’s script came via Jack and Lisa, and even that came with its share of challenges. Georgie and Lou’s idea to hold a simple wedding party for the happy couple threatened to turn sour when Jack’s old gal pal Val Stanton arrived from Florida to sort out some business at Briar Ridge. Jack was reluctant to tell Val he and Lisa were a couple even before she revealed her cancer was back; after she did he swallowed hard and invited her to the party instead. The silver lining? Val had been stringing Jack along for fun–various townsfolk had spilled the beans to her about Jack already–and she had nothing but well-wishes for he and Lisa.

I can’t help but think the arrival of Val and her son, Jesse, spell conflict in the coming weeks. Jesse, in the space of just a day or two, asked Amy to be Briar Ridge’s trainer twice and despite her protestations I bet he’s not going to give up without a fight. And just because Val said she was happy with Jack’s situation doesn’t mean she was being truthful with him.

Other notes 

  • “Peter called. Your husband? Said he was at work and he’d call you again when he got home. You know, his home, in Vancouver?”–Gotta love Jack’s little dig at Lou
  • I’ve always loved Shaun Johnston’s craggy face; he can portray so much emotion with a twitch of his moustache. Jack caught between Lou and Lisa at the table over discussions surrounding the wedding party was great.

Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. ET on CBC.

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Tonight: Heartland, Canada’s Smartest Person, Transporter

Heartland, CBC – “The Big Red Wall”
After her initial shock at her grandfather’s announcement, Lou throws herself into party planning mode and forces Jack into an awkward reunion with an old acquaintance. Ty becomes the middleman when Amy and Caleb butt heads over horse training. And still reeling from her recent discovery, Georgie pulls away from Amy and focuses on donating money to an online animal sanctuary. Look for Greg’s review of the episode tomorrow morning.

Canada’s Smartest Person, CBC
A cheese salesman, a novelist, a stay-at-home mom and a firefighter compete in six new revealing intelligence challenges that go beyond the traditional IQ test or trivia challenge. Plus, catch a special guest appearance by Canadian rock star Raine Maida (Our Lady Peace).

Transporter: The Series, The Movie Network/Movie Central – season premiere
In Rome, the 12-year-old son of an Italian judge witnesses his father‘s murder at the hands of a contract killer. As the sole witness, the boy must now give evidence against his father‘s killer. But there are threats against his life and he is in hiding at a safe house in Germany. The trial is due to take place in Rome, so the boy needs Frank (Chris Vance, PRISON BREAK, DEXTER) to protect his life and deliver him safely to the court house to testify. Read Greg’s story and interview with Transporter co-star Mark Rendell.

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