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Hear Me Out

An Exploration of The Way Home's Time-Travel Pond and Its Ultimate Endgame

Is it a wormhole, the work of an ancient sea witch, or a sentient being acting on its own whims and desires?
  • Chyler Leigh and Evan Williams in The Way Home (Photo: Hallmark Channel)
    Chyler Leigh and Evan Williams in The Way Home (Photo: Hallmark Channel)

    In Hear Me Out, Primetimer staffers and contributors espouse their pet theories, spicy takes, and even the occasional galaxy-brain idea.

    The Way Home is one of the most unsuspected surprises to come out of Hallmark. It's a family drama about an estranged mother and daughter coming together after not speaking for almost two decades following a family tragedy. It also is about time travel, thanks to a mysterious pond attached to the family farm. The first season focuses on Kat (Chyler Leigh) returning home with her teenage daughter Alice (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) to try and heal in the midst of Kat's divorce. That healing also means patching things up with Kat's mother, Del (Andie MacDowell).

    To bond together, they must explore the path. Alice is the first to discover the pond's time-bending abilities when it takes her back to 1999 in the pilot episode. She befriends the 17-year-old version of her mother and continues to use the pond to learn more about her mother's family and what caused the fissure between her mother and grandmother. When Kat also discovers the time-traveling pond, the first season becomes a mission for her and Alice to stop Kat's little brother Jacob (Remy Smith) from disappearing at the town's fall carnival and save Kat's father Colton (Jefferson Brown) from an untimely death three months later.

    It's a family drama, a time-travel epic, and a mystery thriller all rolled into one. Let's get one thing straight, though, there is one main character in this multi-genre show: the pond. There are multiple theories about what the pond could be or who controls it. Is it some sort of wormhole á la Star Trek or Interstellar? Is it a vessel for God or the universe to make sure the Landry family adheres to a preordained destiny or fate? Is it the work of an ancient sea witch, or is the pond a sentient being acting on its own whims and desires?

    The wormhole idea held up for most of Season 1. Everyone we saw go into the pond went back to the same time period in the past. The pond acted as a portal for Alice and Kat to visit the Landry farm in the 1990s. Whatever scientific anomaly allowed the mother and daughter to time travel through the pond was also orchestrated on the principle that time is a circle. Everything that happened in the past could not be changed because as Alice and Kat learned, they were always present at young Jacob's disappearance and Colton's death.

    Science is not the only theory in play though. The fact that each major incident in the Landry family history couldn't be changed also gives credence to the idea that the pond is a tool of a higher power. Alice and Kat were always meant to go through the pond, because young Kat (Alex Hook) and Alice were always meant to be best friends, and adult Kat was always meant to help Jacob find his way home from the carnival. If they hadn't traveled back in time to try to save Colton, they wouldn't have been on the road and caused the car accident that killed him. As cruel as it was, Colton was fated to die and Kat and Alice were fated to be integral parts of the tragedy. If they hadn't had those adventures in the past, Alice would not have grown so attached to the farm and the family, and she would not have gone back in time to send Kat the letter from Del that brought Kat and Alice back to the farm at the beginning of the series.

    Hallmark is no stranger to religious themes, so having a pond do the Lord's work would fit with the network's pathos. However, God is not shy about taking credit for his enlightenment in most modern Christian storytelling. Neither Alice, Kat, or Del have mentioned God or being people of faith in the series, which makes it unlikely that the pond is the work of divine intervention. There are never any heavenly beacons of light or messages from apparent strangers that could be stand-ins for the messiah. If the intention of the pond were to bring the Landrys closer to God, there would be more quoted scripture or obvious signs of the ethereal guiding their path.

    The possibility that the pond is sentient or working on behalf of a magical being became more plausible in Season 2. In the second season premiere, Kat and Alice both jump into the pond expecting to go back to the turn of the millennium. Instead, viewers see a piece of seaweed wrap around Kat's leg and pull her into a completely different time period. Alice still emerges in 2001, while Kat comes out of the pond in 1814 – twenty years from when Jacob emerged from the pond following the carnival. The split means that the pond doesn't work purely as a portal but decides where it wants each time traveler to go. The pond makes choices.

    Season 2 also revealed that not everyone who jumps into the pond can go traveling. Thomas (Kris Holden-Reid) bathes in the pond without slipping into another time period. Kat tries to take Susanna (Watson Rose) from 1814 to the present, but the pond refuses to let either of them go to Kat's initial time period. The pond also doesn't allow Kat to take modern antibiotics into the past, meaning it can tell the difference between clothes. The pond is operating by its own rules and it not only decides what will go through its time-bending waters, but who, and to what time period they will travel.

    The Season 2 finale, "Bring Me to Life," which aired March 30, may have given us our biggest clue to the origin story of the Landry pond while also raising a host of other questions. The first major revelation was that the Landry family are not the only people who can travel through the pond. Elliot deploys "The Flynn Factor" which posits that a member of the Landry family can take someone with them in tandem, but only if they are traveling to the past. He follows Alice back to 1999 and is able to have the extra time with Colton he felt robbed of when Kat went back and caused the car accident.

    Elliot's theory added more credibility to the more science-minded theorists watching this show. That was short-lived as the finale's final moments brought in multiple twists that brought Elliot's hypothesis, and our theories, into question. The finale revealed that Colton is also a time traveler and he grew up on the Landry farmland in a time even earlier than 1814, though we don't know the exact era. In the finale flashback, we saw young Colton standing with an elderly woman who was explaining the magic of the pond and that one day Colton would also go traveling, but it wasn't his time yet. The final scene of the episode revealed Colton was the man in the shadows at the 1999 Landry summer kick-off party, and not Elliot (Evan Williams) as we had previously assumed.

    The revelation that Colton also time-traveled changes several things. First, it means that travelers can go to the future. The older woman's presence and guidance confirm that the pond has a knowable lore. We can't confirm that this woman knows or was part of the pond's origin, but she clearly knows its rules and pathways, which puts more stock in the idea that the pond is some sort of magic. The question now is, does that magic come from humans or somewhere else?

    That is still not the only question to ponder. The closing scenes of the episode also propose that Casey Goodwin (Vaughan Murrae) could be a time traveler. They miraculously show up to tell Del that the Goodwins will not be buying the Landry farm. Alice notices during the serendipitous visit that Casey is sporting a diamond ring around their neck that looks identical to Kat and Brady's (Al Mukadam) ring that Alice wears on a chain of her own.

    If Casey is a time traveler, it blows the idea that only Landrys can go through the pond out of the water (though if they have Kat and Brady's ring, it also implies they have a deep connection to the Landry family). That makes the origin of the pond's magic even murkier, but it does confirm the pond's motive.

    Everything the pond has done so far has been to ensure the Landrys' stay on their land. It sent Jacob back in time to ensure Elijah and his wife stayed and founded the farm in 1814. It sent Alice and Kat back to establish their connection to the land and ensure Kat healed her estranged relationship with Del. It must have sent Colton to the future to settle the land and raise his family, which would preserve the farm for future generations. Even allowing Elliot to go back in time to spend those extra minutes with Colton allows Elliot to finally see things from Kat's perspective. It paves the way for them to finally have a relationship that would ostensibly also keep the farm going when Del is ready to give it up.

    We have no idea who Casey's father is or why he made an offer on the Landry farm in the first place. But Casey arrives just in time in the finale to make sure that the farm stays with Del, Kat, and Alice. If she came through the pond, it put her exactly where she needed to be to save the land for the Landry family.

    Looking at all the evidence we have so far, the pond on The Way Home isn't a wormhole or a heavenly vessel to bring the Landrys closer to God. It is most likely the tool of an old witch who wanted to preserve the sacred land for her family throughout the generations. There is so much that we still don't know about the pond or how it works, but we are confident that the pond is Team Landry, and so we have to be Team Pond.

    The Way Home Season 2 is now streaming on Peacock and Hallmark Movies Now. Join the discussion about the show on our forums.

    Megan Vick is a pop-culture reporter whose byline has appeared on TVGuide.com, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, Reuters and more. You can find her on the internet talking about K-pop or screaming about teen romances. 

    TOPICS: Hallmark Channel, The Way Home, Andie MacDowell, Chyler Leigh, Remy Smith, Sadie Laflamme-Snow