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When Calls the Heart: Kevin McGarry on Elizabeth and Nathan's Big Romantic Moment That Was 'Six Seasons Coming'

But are they endgame?

Philiana Ng
Kevin McGarry and Erin Krakow, When Calls the Heart

Kevin McGarry and Erin Krakow, When Calls the Heart


[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of When Calls the Heart. Read at your own risk!]

The stars finally aligned for Elizabeth (Erin Krakow) and Nathan (Kevin McGarry) on When Calls the Heart. On Sunday's penultimate Season 11 episode, titled "Run to You," the duo — who spent most of the season flirtatiously dancing around each other — took a romantic leap of faith after having a soul-baring heart-to-heart conversation that included an exchange of "I love you's" and ended with a passionate kiss. They were now entering a new chapter as a couple. But getting there wasn't easy for the schoolteacher and the Mountie, whose road to romance has been filled with relationship detours, misunderstandings, and bad timing over the last six seasons. 

The lead-up to Elizabeth and Nathan's long-awaited moment was full of tension and drama. Through a series of unfortunate events, Elizabeth and Rosemary (Pascale Hutton) found themselves held hostage by Lucas' old "friend," Jeannette (Cecilia Deacon), who was revealed to be the real culprit behind his shooting. To save Elizabeth — who was being held at gunpoint — from imminent danger, Nathan swooped in and pushed her off the ledge and into a pile of hay. It would have been the perfect time for the pair to turn over a new leaf, but their time would come later in the evening when Elizabeth approached Nathan to make her intentions and feelings known.

"I think it's time that we move this relationship into a new place," McGarry told TV Guide. "It's taken a couple seasons for them to kind of figure it out. Now they're both… able to be vulnerable and open with each other." In the aftermath of Elizabeth and Nathan's big romantic moment in Sunday's episode, the actor breaks down why it was "six seasons coming," if they're "endgame," and what's in store for them as a couple in the Season 11 finale (and beyond).

When I spoke to Erin Krakow at the start of the season, she said Season 11 was "a great time" for Nathan and Elizabeth to explore romance. After Sunday's episode, how do you feel about these two characters finally taking that step forward together after their kiss?

Kevin McGarry: It's six seasons coming. Some of the fans are like, "Just kiss already! My lord!" Their relationship was definitely elongated and stretched out to this season. A lot of the fans make great edits on Instagram and I just watched one — it was all the almost-kisses this season. I was like, wow, we really did a lot of those. I think it's time that we move this relationship into a new place. There's always been something very special about those two characters. It's taken a couple seasons for them to kind of figure it out. Nathan declared his love in the eighth season, so he had some baggage he was holding onto. Elizabeth had a lot of things she had to figure out for the first few seasons Nathan was on the show. Now they're both at this great place where they're able to be vulnerable and open with each other. This relationship has been built on a solid foundation of trust, friendship, and love, and now that we get to do all the fun stuff, it's that much stronger, that much more special.

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It's been a very slow burn for Elizabeth and Nathan. What is it about the timing of it that's different? Do you believe they're primed for success this time around?

McGarry: When [Nathan] first came on [in Season 6], Elizabeth just lost Jack. Daniel [Lissing] just left the show. There was this new Mountie coming. Right away I was in competition with somebody who was no longer on the show, and Nathan was in competition with her late husband. Their relationship built slowly over time. But Elizabeth definitely needed time to go through grief and loss from her first husband before she could open her heart to the idea of being with Nathan. 

Nathan was a different kind of character who was standing up to her. I've heard [co-star] Kavan [Smith] talk about it; he told me, "You pushed her and prodded her a little." A lot of the time, the leading men that she worked with would cater to Elizabeth and there was a bit of friction there [with Nathan], which was interesting to watch and fun to play. They had to go through things that came out later — that Nathan was stationed where Jack met his end. And then Elizabeth started a relationship with Lucas and ran away from any feelings she had with Nathan. As things progressed, it was hard to hide that or to neglect those feelings any further. I think a lot of people were still seeing chemistry between those characters and it really had to be Elizabeth who had to make the jump to say, "Let's give this a shot." 

We see Nathan letting Elizabeth take the lead. He says at the start of the episode that he's not going to make the first move. 

McGarry: He did [make the first move] in Season 8 and it didn't go over the way [he wanted]. It really was up to her to open the door and say, "Let's do this." And I think he's been waiting for that. It has been slowly creeping over Season 11, but the final push is all from Elizabeth. And Erin fought for that as an actor. They had it in some earlier drafts where it was Nathan, but she was like, "I think Elizabeth has to explain a couple of things first," and I think she was right.

You mentioned a final push that put them over the edge. There was a literal push with Elizabeth caught in the crosshairs with Jeanette, and Nathan saving her from harm. 

McGarry: [Laughs.] There was! A literal and metaphorical push. You look at the physical one when they went over the ledge, even that [one], Nathan tries to tell her it's too dangerous. They shouldn't get involved. It's Elizabeth that puts her foot down and says, "No, enough of this. This is how I feel. How do you feel?" And then we get to move into this entire new world.

Erin Krakow and Kevin McGarry, When Calls the Heart

Erin Krakow and Kevin McGarry, When Calls the Heart


The heart-to-heart that Elizabeth and Nathan have at the end of episode, where they lay their hearts on the line, felt like years in the making. Elizabeth confesses that he feels like home and that she's in love with him, while Nathan admits he's never fallen out of love with her. How did you feel about filming that scene with Erin? 

McGarry: Nathan and Elizabeth, I thought, always excelled at those types of scenes where they're opening their hearts to each other, and for whatever reason Erin and I are really good at that. That's our bread and butter. The scene you're talking about when they're in front of the rowhouse — where Elizabeth is saying everything and Nathan is listening — those are such special scenes. At the end of the day, it's two people standing on their marks telling the other person how they feel, trying to convey something, and trying to get something from the other person. What was so great with that final [scene] was there was all this confusion, pent-up energy, and friction, and everything was finally dealt with. Maybe it took a fall from a balcony to do that, but it kind of shoved Elizabeth to tell Nathan how she felt. He needed her to say it because he never got an answer in Season 8. It's a long circle that's coming to fruition now, where she is finally saying what Nathan was hoping she was going to say back in Season 8. 

How has it been tracking fan reaction to Elizabeth and Nathan's gradual progress this season and over the years, especially when the love triangle between Elizabeth, Nathan, and Lucas was a big story point? 

McGarry: One thing you can say about the Hearties is they are an intense, passionate fan group on both ends of that spectrum. There are people who like what's going on and there are people who don't like what's going on and they were happy when she was with Lucas. And just like any story, things are going to change. As actors, we do what the writers tell us to do and I think there are a lot of people who are very excited about this storyline and were hoping for it, and felt like they wanted to see some of that. Maybe they felt like they got cheated a little bit out of it in earlier seasons. I personally have seen more positive things and good things. I see the edits that people make or the hashtags people have. 

It's Hallmark, people love love. This is a special story that I know a lot of fans are resonating with and wanted. For anybody that has any reservations, give this new relationship that Elizabeth has a chance and I think they'll see there's a lot of great stuff coming out of it. Every character is inherently good on the show. Just because somebody's not with somebody doesn't mean they're not a big, important part of it, and I can stick by that. 

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With the season finale coming next week, Elizabeth and Nathan have made the decision to be together and are taking their first steps in an official relationship. What can fans expect to see from the new couple? 

McGarry: What Episode 12 offers the fans is a glimpse into the future of what this relationship is going to be. There's a certain ease that they both have once this pent-up frustration, emotion, and friction is released. They finally clear all that up and fall into each other's arms. Because they've built their relationship early on trust, love, and friendship, it really falls into this easy partnership. They get to show their love and they don't have to hide behind it and be awkward that they're a couple. They both deal with the hardships of life together and they have each other's backs. That's all there and rooted, and I'm sure we'll see when they disagree and how that goes forward like any strong relationship, but it's nice that there's no longer this confusion. And the misunderstandings are all cleared up. They know where they stand with each other and it can only go deeper at this time.

What do Elizabeth and Nathan look like as a couple in Hope Valley?

McGarry: One of the first things they do is go to a wedding together. Even the body language that they have has changed. Nathan's got his arm around her and it's very easy walking down the street. They're in a honeymoon phase of their relationship, so it's very sweet and deserved for those two characters who have been really going through it. 

Is there a character who has a surprising reaction to their news? Or is everyone just kind of like, "Finally!"

McGarry: [Laughs.] It's a little bit like, "Finally." I don't think anybody is surprised. Most of Season 11 was other citizens of Hope Valley being like, "Come on already. We all know what's going to happen." Even the kids. There's relief from the other characters on the show. 

You're starting production soon on Season 12. What are you excited about? 

McGarry: I haven't seen too much stuff. I know the writers have been in the writing room for the past month or two. I've put in my input of what I'd like to see and what I'd like to do. I've heard some rumblings, but things change all the time, especially in the early phase. The stuff that I have heard is very exciting if it does happen. 

How are you feeling about what you have heard? 

McGarry: We're not going to destroy anything that has been built in Season 11. I think we're only going to strengthen it. It's a TV show and the characters are going to be tested. But Nathan and Elizabeth are now a strong partnership that they're going to go through a lot of these trials together and it's only going to strengthen this newfound relationship that they have. But yeah, they are a pair now. They are a unit. We'll see what they look like on the other end or how they come out. 

Are they endgame at this point?

McGarry: I think that's a safe thing to say, but you never know what will change. I think it's safe to say we're going to see them move forward as a couple. I'm leery of throwing around "endgame," I know it's out there. I think they are, but you never know. 

The season finale of When Calls the Heart airs Sunday at 9/8c on Hallmark Channel.