The Adventures of the Black Stallion
1.6: A Friend in Need
This is the Down Syndrome episode,wherein Alec befriends and is assisted by a kid with Down Syndrome. Let's just jump right in, shall we?
Pierre is pissed off. He has new beginner students, and they all suck, as all beginner students invariably do. One of these students has a son named Mike, our Down Syndrome hero. Mike starts the episode by trying to climb into the Black's paddock, which Alec immediately puts a stop to by yelling, as he always does. Mike's mom comes running over to deal with the situation, learning from Alec that the Black isn't exactly the safest horse to trust with interacting with strangers. Mike's mom tells Mike not to touch the horse, insisting that the Black is a "bad horse," which we will be hearing about repeatedly in this episode.
So after Mike learns that the Black is bad, Mike develops an affection for Alec. For instance, Mike and his mom are off eating sundaes when Mike spots Alec, drops everything, and runs up to him with chocolate smeared all over his face so he can give Alec a hug. Alec doesn't really know what to do here, so he lets Mike hug him as these tween kids walk by and say demeaning comments. Alec still doesn't know what to do, but Mike eventually lets go of him and returns to his sundae. Henry takes a moment here to inform Alec that Mike has Down Syndrome, and that he's just like the rest of us, just slower to understand things. He has a right to be treated normally, etc. I'm a little surprised that this speech is given by Henry, Mr. It's Not The Sport Of Queens, Ha Ha Ha, but it is.
Meanwhile, Belle has nominated Henry to do something with some local horse association, and Henry is freaking out because he has to give a speech about the Black, which results in him singing into a tape recorder:
So, inspired by Henry's speech about Down Syndrome, Alec decides to befriend Mike after standing up for him in front of the gang of tween assholes. Essentially, Mike wants to play basketball. Or. . . he runs up to them while they're playing basketball and they throw the ball at him and he fails to catch it, resulting in Mike getting beaned in the stomach a few times. Mike thinks this is all good fun, totally not picking up on the fact that he's being made fun of, but Alec immediately gets what's going on and comes to the defense.
So Alec rolls around in the dirt with someone who's probably 12 or something. It's all highly amusing. Later on he gets reprimanded by the adults that Mike didn't really get what was going on anyway, and to Mike he just looked like a crazed person. So Alec decides that it's time to be even nicer and takes Napoleon out for Mike to ride. Mike is hesitant about this, wanting to know if Napoleon is a bad horse. Alec assures him that he is not. So they go on a ride.
They do this without a helmet, of course. Real smart, Alec. Stick the kid with Down Syndrome on a horse without proper safety gear. Well, whatever. They decide to go riding by themselves, both not wearing helmets, and they run into the gang of tweens out in the woods, of course. They're all ohmigosh! because the Black is there and of course the tweens follow everything the Black does and worship him for no reason. While they're all in awe of the Black, Mike tells them that they can have the cookies he brought along for the ride and they're all "holy crap, cookies!" Alec is all "you don't have to give them your cookies, Mike!" But Mike wants to give them his cookies. So the tweens eat the cookies and their whole mindset is changed. Mike is accepted because of his cookies and his random connection to the Black. Everything is fantastic now.
Except they have to continue on their way, presumably cookieless, and run into this spastic border collie who barks at the horses and spooks the Black, resulting in horse hysterics as the Black jumps a fence. Alec, who is riding without a helmet, is knocked off and lands on his head in a shallow stream that is going to slowly rise until it drowns him. The Black runs off, but returns before Mike can really process what has happened. By the time Mike realizes that Alec ain't getting up, he can't do much about it because the Black is freaking out and won't let him wander over to Alec.
This results with Mike waving his hand around and telling the Black that he's a bad horse. The Black just stares at him, remarkably bored by this situation. Then Mike deduces that if he takes the fence apart, he can lead Napoleon in, calm the Black down, and get to Alec. He does this, ambles up to Alec, and says, "Wake up, Alec." Then he sort of pokes him lightly in the shoulder. By this point the water has risen to cover nearly half of Alec's face, so that seems to wake him up. Alec is amazed to discover what Mike has done, blah blah blah, they go home, no one smacks Alec for not wearing a helmet, and then Henry changes his speech to talking about how Mike is so amazing. Mike does a bow in front of the horse association, and the tweens, who just happen to be there also, clap and smile politely because Mike gave them cookies.
And that is the episode in which Alec is saved by someone with Down Syndrome. Sort of. I'm further nonplussed with this section of the series, and further amazed that it survived through three seasons containing 26 episodes each. Anyway, next time on The Black Stallion, Alec and the Black overcome racial prejudice, continuing our trend of boy and horse cure society of random ills.