I love how the cover for this DVD set proclaims proudly that this show is like "'Dallas' meets the 'O.C.'" I don't really see the comparisons to Dallas, and I never watched the O.C., but I suppose I gleaned enough information about that show simply by existing while it was in production. Wildfire is more like the Thoroughbred series meets the O.C., for reasons that will probably become obvious during the course of this post.
Starting out this episode, I briefly had a flashback to every Breeders' Cup and Triple Crown promo ever made. Dramatic shots of horses racing in slow motion? Check. Dramatic music? Check. The only thing we lacked here was some narration telling us all about the trials and tribulations and triumphs of the horses and their human connections. Anyway, the slow motion sequence segues into Kris Furillo being subjected to some drill sergeant yelling "left" at her as she aimlessly walks in a line in the snow. Kris is a juvenile delinquent because her mom is a drug addict and her dad abandoned them, causing Kris to enter the life of grand theft auto. So she's spent the last 16 months in "camp," or what would normally be called juvenile detention. She's now 18 and ready to show the world how well disciplined she is, right after a judge decides whether or not she's capable of doing that.
Anyway, the camp sends the girls to the police equestrian center several times a month or some such, where Kris has bonded with a failed racehorse named Wildfire. Wildfire is set to become a police horse, and Kris smuggles carrots to him during her visits. For some reason, Pablo, the head trainer for local thoroughbred farm, Raintree, is there frequently, and has taught Kris how to ride. I guess this is what Pablo does to give back to the community, as he was also a troubled youth and spent time in juvy. So he teaches the girls to ride, doing a really shitty job of it (beginners not wearing helmets, dismounting from the wrong side of the horse, being allowed to have posture that puts her back at a 45 degree angle to the horse's spine like this is normal and just dandy...it was really very distressing, but I digress), only Kris overcomes Pablo's horrible riding lessons and is a natural! You apparently can't teach the kind of rider that Kris is, which is to say she's phenomenal without really trying, so teaching is a waste of time. Pablo watches Kris dash around on Wildfire and decides to go to Jean, owner of Raintree, to tell her that he wants to hire Kris as an exercise rider, despite Kris being a delinquent and having no prior experience. Whatevers. Experience isn't required in these stories.
Jean is busy fending off the romantic advances of Ken Davis, who is basically Clay Townsend. Ken wants to help Jean out in her financial troubles, which means marrying her and merging their neighboring farms. Ken's farm is basically Townsend Acres to Jean's Whitebrook Farm. It is an observation that has probably been made before by anyone who reads Thoroughbred, but there you have it. Not only this, but Jean has two kids, Matt (the Mike Reese equivalent) and Todd, who has no Thoroughbred equivalent, but is basically a boy genius. Ken Davis has two kids, Danielle (who was seeing Matt before breaking up) and Ken Junior (the worst name ever). Junior drives a black Porsche and is basically the equivalent of Brad Townsend, only he could never aspire to being in Brad's league, unfortunately. Although he's weirdly nice, in an asshole way, but that was Brad to a certain degree, so ugh. All you need to know: Matt = Mike, Junior = Brad, Kris = Ashleigh, if she'd been more like Cindy. There you have it.
So, Pablo notifies the court of his intentions and Kris is released to work at Raintree. She first goes to the police center so she can show up a policeman who's trying to train Wildfire.
This results in Kris pulling an Ashleigh and giving Wildfire an encouraging speech as she brings herself to tears. Just stick it out, this is a new start, I'm totally talking about myself and not about you at all, but whatever. She's going to come back and visit all the time, etc and so forth. Then she acts all uppity to the cop and Pablo drives her to Raintree, where he tells her that she's going to want to work there or he's taking her back to "camp." He basically takes her attitude and shoves it down her throat, which I'm sure we all appreciate.
Kris arrives at Raintree, getting Matt and Junior's attention immediately. A girl! Both are smitten, and the show tries to spin things in Matt's favor because it's clear he's the "nice guy," but given that the longing glances start between Junior and Kris, Matt is clearly on the outs at the get go. Knowing how this story turns out, I am not surprised. They're actually both gambling twerps, but that's besides the point. Matt tries to gallop the horse there, Oklahoma Crude, and does not impress. So Pablo puts Kris up and tells her to go slow, but you know this situation is made for her to blow them all away with her super amazing skills, and there's no way she's going slow. I just want to point out here that she does this without a helmet, while wearing a knitted scarf. Fashion is important, damn it! Actually, helmets are scarce in this episode. I think Matt wears one once, but that's it.
While Kris is out there galloping Oklahoma, Dani and her friend, Amber, show up in their black BMW. They sashay over in their skirts...maybe they did this in slow motion at one point, I can't recall, as slow motion was used randomly and without regard for whatever was going on at the moment...and this gives Junior an opportunity to make Matt, his best friend, uncomfortable. Dani wants to go swimming, and Junior's all, maybe later. Matt has to break in his new rider first. Oh, Junior. You are so not as good as Brad. But he's scheming his hardest, and for that he gets points. He takes a picture of Dani at this moment and e-mails it to all their friends, driving the wedge of bitter disappointment between his sister and Matt. For some reason. You'd think he'd just want them to get back together so he can have Kris all to himself, but I guess he just relishes the challenge of beating Matt in the seduction game.
Anyway, Kris puts on a show for the four "friends" and Pablo gets all annoyed with her. No one cares. We get some "let's get to know each other" scenes with Kris and friends, some slow motion montages, some really awkward moments where I felt sure the show was going to launch into a music video sequence while Kris shovels strangely placed piles of manure, and then there's this:
Oh, Matt/Mike. You try so hard, and for this I find you hilariously diverting as you dunk your head in a water trough as Kris surreptitiously watches from behind the tree. Nicely done. Junior, your turn! I guess we'll have to wait on his response to this unexpected display of masculine wiles, but I'm sure he's cooking up something to one up this in enticing fashion.
Well, all of this basically comes down to a horse race. They are entering Oklahoma Crude in a "stakes" race at the local track against the Davis family's splendiferous horse, Avatar. Avatar is much more awesome than Oklahoma, and in fact everyone stops to stare, open mouthed, at the horse as he's brought into the walking ring. They get the horses all set to go, and they race, and Avatar wins by four lengths. Oklahoma Crude doesn't even place, much to Raintree's annoyance because their bank loan can't be extended and Ken Davis is all enthusiastic about a merger and Jean just wants a family farm, damn it! Why can't things be like back in the Great Depression, when one horse could finance an entire operation? No one bothers to point out that this is not the Great Depression. We have iPods and cell phones now. Things we NEED, Jean. One horse can't provide all of that.
In the backside, Junior romps down to say hi to Matt and Dani apologizes for their win and Matt is all "don't apologize" and I'm all "what the hell?" because they're all being nice and stuff. Like...unexpected. I am used to Brad saying something snide and Ashleigh completely overreacting as Mike gets the shifty eyes and wants desperately to react violently. Why is this show making the Thoroughbred series look bad? Anyway, everyone gets to talking about the festival that Kris should really go to with them, because it's great and there's a wine tasting and you're only 18, but whatever. Kris is reluctant to go before Amber opens her fat mouth and says something unintentionally rude about Kris's appearance, making Kris give her the look. Everyone gets uncomfortable, because the invisible line between the classy rich and the scrubby poor has been pointed out by the stupidest among them. Junior says something along the lines of, "Yeah, we're friends with Amber despite the fact that she's shockingly idiotic" and Kris is all, "Bitch, I am so going to that festival so you can be uncomfortable by my being poor." Then they all disperse, as Amber says "OMG, I thought she was going to hit me!" Or something. Then it ends. Totally random ending. I guess we pick up our next episode at the festival/wine tasting.
You know, this isn't bad. At least, it's not horrible. Not yet, anyway. I am minorly amused by these people being competitive and yet still be able to be best friends, which I'm sure goes to hell relatively soon thanks to Kris's appearance. The race scene was even somewhat well done and realistic to a point (I'll ignore that ratty saddle they were putting on Oklahoma, or chalk it up to Raintree being financially strapped), Todd (Matt/Mike's younger brother) is like a fountain of information that helps counteract the raging hormones and unrealistic qualities of Kris's existence, and I am totally waiting for Pablo and Jean to have wild sex in a stall. That all said, I liked the episode.