Well, well, well. Hat tip and golf claps to the team behind Hailey Dean. I’m impressed. What started as an intriguing character note – a detective who witnessed her fiancé’s murder – evolved into an episode-spanning mystery and finally a full-blown case. I’m happy to say that it’s a satisfying conclusion and please, Hallmark, take us on more of these rollercoaster rides.
One thing I’ve liked all along about this series is that it’s been more than the case-of-the-day kind of show. While we get that, we also get characters who are deeply invested in detective work because they understand what it means for the victims and to be a victim. They’re not randos who solve murders as a past-time and then jump back into their own perfect lives. Will’s death had a profound effect on Hailey and their friend, Danny (Giacomo Baessato), inspiring her to become a DA and him to join the detective squad. Tragedy is imprinted into so much of what they do. Hailey’s boyfriend, Jonas (Matthew MacCaull), is no stranger to grief either, having lost his wife. Plus he works as a coroner and is super kind and generous, accompanying her as she searches for some kind of resolution.
It’s only right that Hailey gets a chance at justice after solving the murders of so many others. This case shows what she’s always known though, that justice isn’t tidy and you often don’t get the conclusions you want or hope for. As she starts to piece things together, she finds herself reaching into a familiar past, one that involves old friends and acquaintances, and it’s not clear if she can accept whatever is at the end of this journey.
Will’s death seems to be tied to the fate of a college journalist, Emma Harper, whom no one has heard from since her disappearance years ago. Those connected to Emma all have a little secret, some dirtier than others. Judith (Sharon Taylor) was a fellow writer at the student paper and now works at the Atlanta Star, a position she got because of an internship that should have been Emma’s. When Hailey questions Tom (Andrew Moxham), the school paper’s editor, she also finds him not entirely forthcoming about an explosive story Emma had been writing about university corruption. The threads also lead to some of Hailey and Will’s friends, like Brad (Jesse Arthur Carroll), an architect, and his wife, Vivian (Lauren Maynard), who literally threatened to kill Emma. And then there’s Clyde, who is still hanging around looking fishy as ever even though he keeps bringing Hailey chocolates and flowers.
Without giving away anything else, I’ll only say that I’ve never been more satisfied with a Hallmark mystery. There are several ways the writers could have wrapped up this case, but the one they chose felt the most honest and true to the story and characters. I’m excited about what’s to come since we’ve been promised at least one more movie, and I hope the resolution here, as complicated as it is, takes our characters in a new direction.
Highlight for spoilers: O.M.G. I know I called it in my last review, but I still wasn’t prepared for that slinky ass SOB Clyde to reveal himself as the killer. It wasn’t so much the shock of him being the guilty party as it was his serial killer-looking smirk as he taunted Hailey in their final confrontation. So what really went down was that Emma had uncovered corruption in the construction of the new student center. She threatened to expose it no matter who was being paid off and who was going down with her reporting. Clyde wanted to make sure his family’s company won the bid to ensure he’d have a posh job immediately after graduation, so he bribed every warm butt he could find. Boy, if that ain’t privilege…He then kills Emma, which we see in the beginning of the movie, but she says it don’t matter because Hailey also knows everything. Clyde hires this small time crook, Marcus, to kill her, but Will grabs the gun and is killed instead. Marcus freaks out because murder’s not his thing. Anyway, Clyde soon finds out that Hailey didn’t know shit, and the truth behind both Emma and Will’s deaths could have remained a secret were it not for his damn ego. As Hailey points out, he couldn’t help flaunting his crime, and in the end, bastard got shot.
Dir: Michael Robinson
Writer: Michelle Ricci
Cast: Kellie Martin, Giacomo Baessato, Viv Leacock, Matthew MacCaull, Emily Holmes, Lucia Walters, Chad Lowe, Lauren Maynard, Sharon Taylor, Jesse Arthur Carroll, Alvina August, Nina Siemaszko, Tina Georgieva, Andrew Moxham, Justin Fortier
Time: 83 min
Country: United States
Network: Hallmark Movies and Mysteries