Hart of Dixie‘s latest installment is “Heart to Hart.” Zoe’s (Rachel Bilson) dad, Dr. Ethan Hart (Gary Cole, The Good Wife, Office Space), comes to town to perform surgery. Zoe is determined to tell him off for his boorish behavior towards her, but is thrown off balance when he suggests that they be friends, since he is not her biological father. This doesn’t go well, erupting at a dinner that Lemon (Jaime King) throws the pair in an attempt to befriend Zoe, thus keeping her enemy close.
What makes a father? Is it DNA, or being there to raise a child? Most people would probably say the latter, but there is no denying that this is a complicated issue. Zoe and Ethan have to deal with it head on in “Heart to Hart.” He still feels paternal instincts towards her, but is deeply hurt by his wife’s betrayal. Zoe has also been lied to, and it is unfair for Ethan to take his anger out on her. But Ethan’s behavior can somewhat be forgiven for the pain it causes him to see Zoe, and what she reminds him of. So the two just have to talk through things, and try to redefine their relationship based on what each wants and can handle.
Zoe and Ethan decide to try to keep their father/daughter bond intact. After all, neither one of them are to blame for what happened. Maybe Ethan doesn’t handle the news well, but he’s certainly trying to make up for it in “Heart to Hart.” After all, he did fly across the country to do Zoe a favor, and that says a lot about how much he cares for her. And she will forgive him because he is the father she grows up loving, and that isn’t something easy to shake.
The only possible complaint about Cole being cast in this role for Hart of Dixie is that his schedule may not stay open enough for frequent appearances. Cole is an in-demand actor for a reason, and has recurring parts on several series already. It seems like it can only be a matter of time until he finds a starring role. He definitely deserves one. And that would leave Zoe missing her daddy a whole heck of a lot in the future.
Lemon’s plot to make Zoe her best friend fails miserably, not least because Zoe sees right through it. She’s not stupid. What Lemons fails to realize is that her best-planned schemes rarely work in Hart of Dixie. Genuine sincerity has much better results, and perhaps an honest discussion of her concerns with Zoe would be the right move. Lemon may not like Zoe’s answers, but at least each would know where the other stands, and there would be no need for trickery.
Might Lemon and George’s (Scott Porter) engagement really be threatened by Zoe? That depends, but it’s not because Zoe is trying to steal George away. Sure, she’s interested in him, but she is not making any moves, not trying to ruin anything. If George dumps Lemon for Zoe it will be because he wants to, not because he was manipulated. And that is something that Lemon can’t guard against. All she can do is love and take care of George and hope that is enough for him. If his heart belongs to someone else, does she truly want him anyway?
That’s easier said than done. Lavon (Cress Williams) is also struggling with a similar problem, being in love with Lemon, who wants to marry George. He keeps trying to get Lemon back, and it’s just not going to work. Like George, Lemon will marry who she wants to marry. She cannot be talked into switching men, and Lavon’s attempts to do so are useless. The best that he can do is confess his feelings and hope she returns them. If she doesn’t, well, that’s her loss.
Of course, now that George has seen Lavon kiss Lemon, much will be out in the open. Will George still want Lemon once he learns of her past relationship with Lavon? That might just change George’s perspective, leaving many of the relationships of the series more fluid than before. Given that Hart of Dixie is a drama largely made up of various romantic entanglements and developments, the makeup of couples is bound to be different before the series heads into season two.
Another player in this tangled web is Wade (Wilson Bethel), who sits out of the game in “Heart to Hart.” He has some real feelings for Zoe, and she may like him back, but the two have yet to connect. Wade seems a bit rebellious and untamed, but he is a good guy with some serious heart, and that should serve him well in the end. Considering that girls often go for the bad boy, it’s kind of interesting that Zoe hasn’t started something with him yet, especially given how much fun she has when they clash. But a pairing between the two will surely happen soon enough.
In “Heart to Hart,” instead of chasing Zoe, Wade participates in a cocktail contest at the Rammer Jammer. He is an expert mixologist, at least according to Lavon, but Wade throws the game and lets Shelley (Deborah S. Craig) win. He tells Lavon that it’s to preserve his best recipes for when he’s ready to open his own bar, but there’s some doubt about that. Perhaps Wade would like to start his own business, which he would probably be good at, even though he doesn’t express an interest in such a thing until now. Or perhaps he’s just a nice guy who sees how desperate Shelley is for a victory. Or maybe a bit of both.
Only slightly confusing is why George and Wade are so attracted to Zoe. Bilson is a competent actor, but doesn’t have a great deal of differentiation in her expressions, which makes her character kind of hard to like at first. Sure, she’s smart and somewhat charming, but her severe face isn’t exactly every man’s dream.
And after all, Lemon can be warm, and tries hard to make her man happy. Hart of Dixie has made Lemon sympathetic, too, because she is part of the ensemble, and being pure evil is boring. It would be folly to not develop Lemon as a complex character. But because Lemon has been allowed this growth, is Zoe such a better catch?
Because of its charm and humor, as well as heart, Hart of Dixie has become a must-watch prime time soap. Catch it Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.