Jan 27, 2009

Heartland: I just don't know about this one.

1.4: Taking Chances

This is the synopsis for the book Taking Chances:
Amy's life has drastically changed. She's found herself taking on the huge responsibility of running Heartland, the horse refuge that was her mother's life work. The one constant for Amy has been her friendship with Ty, Heartland's 17-year-old stable hand. But the arrival of a new hand, Ben, throws everything off balance. By the time Amy realizes she's taken Ty for granted, it could be too late.
Well, that's just vague enough to hit the main plot of this episode right on the money. What the synopsis totally fails at is mentioning the other constants in Amy's life being her grandfather and Lou. And maybe even Mallory. Possibly even Scott. And Spartan. Come on, synopsis people, 17-year-old boys are not the be all and end all of horse crazy girls. I mean, did we not learn that lesson repeatedly from every other middle grade horse book ever? We're lucky that Amy even slightly recognizes the budding lust here, because typically these girls are all "why do I feel so weird when we accidentally and very briefly touch?" They're adorably innocent, and their one constant is never the boy, okay? Now get back in line and stop trying to break out of the horse story mold.

Mainly, this episode is all about the new kid, Ben. He's the nephew of the owner of the rich/non-evil horse stable, and because his rich parents are divorced and his rich aunt is in Italy or something, he's been sent to be of no use at Heartland. Ben has a horse, a pretty chestnut named Red, which he's going to board at Heartland while he's supposed to help out. He does not help out, pissing Ty off to no end.

Ty has been learning how to ride, and this show takes great strides in continuing the trend of depicting absolutely beyond bad riding instruction. Mallory has named herself Ty's instructor, and she basically sits on the fence and grimaces as she watches him ride around in a circle. That pretty much sums it up. Then you have Amy over there insisting that Ty ride with a helmet designed for the purpose of horseback riding, and I can't help but think that maybe she should take her own advice.

Ben drives up and immediately makes a disparaging comment about Ty's riding skills and is generally a douche. The Heartland crew tries to be accommodating to Ben, but he generally goes about burning his bridges as fast as humanly possible. First he nearly runs over Lou while she's jogging and basically tells her to run somewhere else because he's "hacking" at a dead gallop every morning and plans to use her favorite running route. Then he insults Ty a few more times, and Ty continues to refuse to clean up Red's stall, totally blurring Ben's concepts responsible horse ownership. Then Ben beats up Red to get him to ford a stream, upsetting Amy, who does little to nothing about it, which is frankly very unlike her or any other horse story main character.

Eventually Ty witnesses Ben having another major episode with Red during some jumping practice, and he puts a stop to Ben's hysterics long enough to get into a physical confrontation that Mallory has to break up. Soon after, Ashley shows up to announce that Ben's aunt is always gone to Italy for months at a time, and this is how it's going to be at Heartland. Maybe Ty would like to come work for Ashley's mother, at which point Amy has a minor attack of blurting out information she shouldn't about Ty's parole, pissing him off all the more. He goes to look at Ashley's barn and appears to seriously consider Ashley's offer.

At this point, there's a minor plot point of a letter the girls' dad sent their mom seven years ago. Apparently he wanted to get back together, but the letter went ignored and the girls want an explanation. Jack tells them some traumatizing story about the pills and alcohol that their father got into after his rodeo accident, tearing the family apart to the point that their mother didn't feel like she could trust him again blah blah blah. Everyone is shocked and appalled by this information, I guess.

Moving on, Ben has another episode with Red at jumping practice, flinging the crop around to the point that Red bails and runs off. Everyone runs up to Ben, and for an amused second I thought Mallory was going to haul off and kick him in the ribs while he was down, but no...people are all caring about his well being. Ben's all "I just don't get it! Why did he run away?" Right here I wanted someone to say, "He ran away because you're a douche." But such directness apparently isn't appreciated.

So everyone runs off to find Red. Eventually Amy and Mallory find him, and they muse briefly about not returning him before returning to reality and walking back with the horse. Only they have to ford the stream again and Red flips out, dragging Amy off of Spartan and onto the rocky river bed. Um, Amy, here's where you should have taken your own advice about the helmets. Remember when you said that?

Red runs off, Mallory's horse bolts all the way back to the stable, and she rouses the troops and they go off to get Amy, who is unconscious by the river. Only then dear Dad (name: Tim) ambles along on his horse, because he works at the neighboring ranch, and sees what has happened. He rushes to cross the stream on foot, only to slip and start floating down the stream. Jack and Lou appear to save Amy, totally ignoring Tim, who shouts out Amy's location before saving himself, because no one really gives a damn about his life, I guess.

Ty finds Red and rides him back to the ranch. Amy goes to the hospital, comes back to find Ben all forlorn and willing to change for the good of his horse and everyone who has to put up with him, and when Ty points out the healed welts on Red to Ben he delivers the most fantastic line: "What? Do you have personal issues to work out with your horse?" Awesome.

So Amy agrees to help Ben with his personal issues, but Ty has had it and decides to leave for Ashley's rich/evil stable. End episode.

  • I watch these on YouTube, so occasionally I read the comments and the vast majority of them were "Ben is a douche, but he's so hot." Only in YouTube speak which is something like: "Beni s hott but soooo a asshole!!!" The second most popular comment was to the effect of "Whips and horses do not mix." This is great if you live in the land of Thoroughbred, but not so much if you don't.
  • I think I will also point out that Heartland Ranch has a website.

I think I have some McCleod's Daughters arriving today, so look out for that a little later this week.

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