‘The Way Home’ EPs on White Witch’s Identity, Kat & Elliot, and More Season 1 Finale Revelations
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Way Home Season 1 finale “Not All Who Wander Are Lost.”]
After that ending, let’s just say this: It’s a good thing The Way Home is coming back for a second season.
The Season 1 finale saw Kat (Chyler Leigh) attend her dad’s funeral then, in the final moments in the present, realize her younger brother Jacob time-traveled via the pond! And just after her mom Del (Andie MacDowell) heard her say she knew what happened to him, the finale took us back to that 1814 scene that opened the series, and we learned it was Kat who’d been running through the woods in white. “I’ll be back, Jacob, I promise,” she said before jumping in the pond.
Executive producers Heather Conkie, Alexandra Clarke, and Marly Reed break down the finale and tease what’s ahead.
I’m assuming the plan was always to bookend the season with that 1814 scene.
Alexandra Clarke: Yes, absolutely.
Did you always know that was going to be Kat? Did you consider anyone else?
Marly Reed: No, it was always Kat.
We know that Kat’s going back to 1814, and we’ll presumably see what leads to that moment in Season 2, but since it’s said that the pond sends people where they need to go, it’s not like she would have to jump around in time, right? Because the pond would send her there.
Clarke: When we first came up with this concept — Marly was the one that brought this incredible idea to the table — and as we were starting to develop out this first season, the first thing we had to do was create these rules for the pond. The minute you don’t have that structure, you don’t have that order, you lose your audience with a show like this because time travel has to have rules in order to even be somewhat believable. And so yes, going into Season 2, we’re leaning heavily into those rules. We’re not going to break them. So the pond does only take you where you need to go.
It’s not necessarily ever the most straightforward of journeys, but the pond has its reasons, is usually the way we sort of explain that. It provides you with a journey. It doesn’t provide you with the answer right away, but if you actually look at the trips that our characters do take, you do realize that each one of those trips informed them in some way about the current status of the present, about the other characters within their world. There was always a reason for taking them to those moments even if in the moment it doesn’t really make sense to the character. Every visit had a reason.
But could there be legs to the journey, like to one time to another time, then back to the present?
Heather Conkie: I think it’s enough to say that we’re not always going to stick with one time and the present.
Clarke: The other massive thing is there’s always going to be that peeling of an onion of a mystery. Nothing is straightforward. We are a show [with] twists and turns and unexpected surprises and shocks. That’s going to remain consistent through Season 2, for sure.
How much of what happened to Jacob and Colton (Jefferson Brown) did you know from the beginning? The entire story or just where you wanted to end up in Season 1?
Conkie: We had to achieve the signposts all the way through of where we knew we had to be to get to where we wanted to end up, and then some of the parts of the story just fell apart. Peeling the onion made us realize at the writing stage that we had to go back and amend certain things in the earlier episodes to make that work really, really well. But for the most part, we really did have our tent poles, and we also had these intermediate goals, especially for the arcs of the characters.
Clarke: We always knew the midpoint carnival episode would be exactly where it was. That’s when things would really turn for the first time for our audience and the mood would shift. Up until then it was a bit of a nostalgic romp, which is fantastic and what we wanted to show. Episode 6 is where that it hits a bit of a reality check and we’re dealing with an eight-year-old going missing, and from then on the past doesn’t look as golden and glory days as it used to. We knew that by the end we would be where we were, as much as maybe the audience hates us for it.
Conkie: What we say in the room is that the show began with time traveling being a gift, and it went all the way through Episode 6 and on to become a curse. Hopefully we reverse that in Season 2.
I kept watching Del all season for signs that she might know what’s going on, must suspect, or recognize Alice, then we got that scene with the two of them at the pond. I’m still on the fence about that. So what can you say?
Clarke: We can say that Del has a lot of secrets of her own. It’s been really fun and great to see all the theories. … That means we’ve done our job because we’re letting people theorize and maybe we’re answering one thing, but that answer very similarly to real life opens up a heck of a lot more questions. That’s the MO of this show.
Reed: With both Del and Colton, there’s a lot more story to tell there. And we do have a plan for future seasons to tell more of both of their stories.
But it does seem like Kat and Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) are going to have to tell Del everything, after that final scene in the present. What can you say about that conversation to come and what the family dynamics will be like? There has to be a shift after everything that’s happened.
Clarke: I think ahead of that moment is an equally important one at the table where Del does have a moment of saying, “You’ve opened up my world, you’ve allowed me to love again.” She did go to the grief support group and has realized maybe that’s not the road she wants to take herself. She’s a very private person, but the fact that she’s opening herself up even to her family is such a massive step by the end of first season. We’ve seen it coming with her relationship with Alice, but now she’s willing to open herself up to a relationship with Kat. I think that scene is key for Del. What is going to launch her into a second season is this allowance of letting people in and acknowledging hurt and acknowledging grief and acknowledging mistakes. And yes, then we have this revelatory statement from Kat that is going to send us into our second season. But no matter what Del gets after that, at the start of next season, what we need to focus on is where she’s at from a personal standpoint, when this information or not comes, if that make sense.
Conkie: Clear as mud.
We have to talk about Kat and Elliot (Evan Williams) because great first kiss. What did you want to do with that relationship throughout the season to lead up to that, then Elliot’s decision in the finale to start a new chapter?
Conkie: Yeah, it was a slow burn for sure.
Reed: We wanted a slow burn, but not such a slow burn that it was like three seasons in before [the kiss].
Clarke: That would just be cruel.
Conkie: One of my favorite moments is when they’re on their walk by the waterfront in episode 7 when he says, “I’ve waited so long to kiss you and when I do…”
Clarke: Takes off the glasses and everything!
Conkie: Evan is so wonderful at those moments that you totally expect something and then he turns it on a dime and plays it perfectly.
Clarke: Honestly, we were all so in awe of that kiss. It turned out even better than we all thought it would. Marly was on set that day and to get the sun setting…
Reed: The most stressful day of my life!
Clarke: Chyler and Evan are such incredible actors and they did really become really good friends during shooting. I think everyone was waiting for that moment and just ready for it, and it was so amazing when it actually went off without a hitch because so few things actually do work out when you’re filming things. That one just felt very destined and kismet-y that it actually did happen and was perfect. It was only, what, two takes, was that right?
Reed: Two takes was all we had time for before we lost the light. I think we always wanted that moment to be Kat initiating it because of the fact that Elliot has loved her for so long. I think it was important that when they finally did get together, it was Kat chasing him, it was Kat that made that step after Elliot loving her his entire life.
Clarke: Also it says a lot about Elliot. [He] is probably, if you actually think about it, one of the more interesting characters in this show because he doesn’t time travel, but he knows about time travel and it has affected him very personally from the year ‘99 through to the year 2023. He is the gatekeeper and he’s also the knower of all secrets.
And speaking to his choice that he makes at the end of Episode 10, he’s been frozen in time a little bit by these very offhanded, off the cuff comments that Alice makes in Episode 2 of, “Well, no, you’re just my science teacher, dude, you’re not my dad.” And then later, “No, my mom and my dad are getting divorced.” He has been told his future in those moments and he’s trapped as a result until it’s done, and that’s where he’s coming from in that moment that’s so heartbreaking.
We initially wanted the audience to see that his journey was a journey to Kat — he’s waited all these years to finally have his chance — but really in the end, if he actually thinks about it, it’s a journey to freedom. It’s a journey to being back in the driver’s seat of his own life, making choices that haven’t been predicted to him at a young age. He has to live beyond that and whether that takes him back to Kat or not is up to him and her. But there’s a freedom there that he hasn’t had since he was 16 years old.
So who is Elliot with that freedom?
Clarke: That’s a good question. We’ll find out. He’s always going to be Elliot and I think he’s a very introspective, thoughtful person. Maybe he thinks [freedom] might be one way and maybe it isn’t, or vice versa. Or maybe he’s going to love it. Obviously we’ll go there in Season 2. But it’s been fun to talk about in the writers’ room what that freedom looks like for Elliot.
Reed: He’s going to try some things and see if they work out for him.
The Way Home, Season 2, TBA, Hallmark Channel