Heartland has an ensemble cast, and it’s sometimes lost on me just how gifted they are. With so much time per week spent on Amy and Ty (I’m not complaining, I’m stating a fact), the other players don’t get as much screen time. But, like a drummer or bass player in the band, they’re laying the groundwork for the tune. And, in some cases, step into the spotlight for a solo.
I was reminded of just how damned good an actor Shaun Johnston is during Sunday’s new episode, “New Horizons,” written by Heather Conkie. Shaun’s Jack went through awful stuff last year when he said goodbye to Paint, but for the most part, he’s there to calm Tim down or rile Tim up. This season has seen much of the same—he and Tim talking to Katie about death is a standout comedy-wise—until last night’s instalment. That scene between Jack and Ty, discussing regrets, decisions made and moving forward in life, was simply incredible. Johnston’s ruddy face portrays so much emotion (can we nominate his moustache for a Canadian Screen Award?) with so few words; it reminds me that, sometimes, fewer words spoken means so much more. Graham Wardle was just as good as Johnston, and their quiet, even, honest conversation was the heart of the episode. Yes, Ty’s ultimate decision—with Amy’s unwavering support—was the emotional conclusion to the storyline, but the climax for me remains that heartfelt discussion in the muted nighttime light of the barn.
Kudos also to Chris Potter for his playing of Tim this week. His outburst at the dinner table where he called Ty (and Peter) an idiot for abandoning Amy to go and save the Gobi bears was out of line but totally understandable. Where Jack sits back and considers every angle before voicing an opinion, Tim wears his heart on his sleeve and tells you what he thinks at that moment. It can hurt your feelings, but Tim means well. He’s just looking out for Amy and to him, jetting to Mongolia isn’t it. Still, his respect for Ty is there and he let Ty follow his heart.
Almost lost in the shuffle were Georgie and Jade converting up-tight Maggie’s into a cool hangout. Sure, free wifi and fries may attract kids, but you can’t turn your loyal customers away. Finding a happy medium means Maggie’s will be equally popular with everyone in town.
Where does Heartland go from here? With Ty and Lou both away (she may very well return next week), that means everyone left will have to pick up the slack at Heartland. From a hands-on standpoint, they’ll be busy. But from a fan standpoint, I’m looking forward to seeing the supporting cast step to the front of the stage.
Heartland airs Sundays at 7 p.m. on CBC.
Images courtesy of CBC.