Jan 1, 2009

Wildfire: It's the new year, and this is how we start.

1.10: Identity

Whenever a television show comes up with a light episode (and we have to remember that "light" for this show did include a suicide attempt, so it's all relative) out of nowhere, you have to be a little wary. Usually when this happens, the show is about to smack all of its characters around, and Wildfire doesn't hold back on the melodrama.

Wonder is back to training after her little colic issue, and she's doing super fantastic, working a half mile in 41.06 seconds (and this, we are informed, is a second slower than normal for Wonder). Do you want to know what the fastest time at Belmont was on 12/31/2008 for a half mile? The answer would be 47.12. To get a 41 for a half mile would mean that Wonder would have to come within fractions of a second to beating the quarter mile world record back to back. That is truly remarkable, and it's probably truly impossible to accomplish. Although I have to include here that at one point Dani says something about how their new stallion's dam "is a third cousin to Secretariat and a fifth cousin to Man o' War" which would mean what? The mare is the foal of a foal of a foal of one of Secretariat's numerous not so great siblings? I'm not even touching the Man o' War statement, because no one really cares anymore. Except for people who don't know what they're talking about, apparently.

And the fun news is I'm only getting started with this episode!

So Wonder is all wonderful, but there is bad news. The jockey quit unexpectedly, and they are without anyone to ride, except Ashleigh immediately perks up and insists that she can ride. Jean and Ian don't think this is a great idea, and it's also sort of impossible considering she has no license and needs to study for her GED. Then they get into this meeting with Ashleigh's parole officer person, which should go fine if Ashleigh just manages to keep it together, not become recklessly impulsive, and bother to show up at said meeting. It doesn't seem hard, really. Of course, this becomes a giant ordeal.

Enter Cindy. Ashleigh is starstruck (I know this seems far fetched for Thoroughbred, but this woman is definitely not Jilly. She's a Cindy, in that she's a bitch.) and has been glued to some magazine called Modern Jockey that Brad catches her reading when she should be studying. Brad mentions that he knows all about Cindy. She's the first woman jockey to win the Belmont Stakes and some unnamed Breeders' Cup race (I guess she's Julie Krone...I notice your attempts at realism, show, which is amusing considering the rest of this episode), and Ashleigh is all impressed that Brad knows all about her. Then Brad tells her he has a surprise, proceeds to take her to the track, and there, right before them, is Cindy. And Cindy calls Brad "babe" while skipping up to him and acting all disgustingly full of herself. Of course, Ashleigh is further awed and immediately decides right there that this is the life she wants.

Meanwhile, the old man and the little boy are back from whatever vacation they were taking called "you are too boring to keep around for long stretches of time." Grandpa Reese sees someone else riding Mike's motorcycle and questions Mike about this, and Mike makes up this story about how the truck needed a new transmission so he sold the bike. Grandpa Reese and Todd proceed to try to buy the bike back (with what money, I don't know) and discover that Mike really sold it because he had gambling debts. Grandpa Reese nearly blows a gasket right there, and stalks off without buying the bike.

Speaking of Mike, he's busy being surly because Brad is more awesome than him. He shows Ashleigh the photo booth pictures and she laughs it off, saying she had to kiss someone in the photo booth, but Mike isn't buying it at all. Photo booths aren't mistletoe, Ashleigh. You don't have to kiss someone inside one of those things. Imagine if that was a tradition. No, really. Just think about that for a minute.

Now that you're probably suitably horrified, we will continue. Ashleigh starts to sneak out to the track to meet Cindy, who has somehow managed to act like a trainer because she's calling all the shots. There is no trainer within, like, miles of this episode. No, I don't count Ian. I don't know what his purpose is anymore, to tell you the truth. She tells Ashleigh that she's too old to start the jockey life here, because Cindy started when she was 13 walking hots before she started riding at eighteen. Ashleigh isn't letting this be a problem, so Cindy tells her to watch her form and then before you know it they're out there working race horses. During the middle of the day, with people all over the grandstand...honestly I had no idea what was going on. Brad (who has made some odd fashion choices in this episode, to the point where he looked like he should take up residence in Miami and become a drug lord) and Mike are at the track and Mike is stupidly talking about betting again. He has predictably lost more money and feels that it's necessary to gamble more money to make up for it. Brad is all, dude, you're so stupid...only in a nice, roundabout way that isn't at all "you have a problem and need your bank account taken away from you." It's more along the lines of "you don't bet on a baseball team that is down by five at least halfway through the game." Anyway, Mike sees Ashleigh at the track and is all with the indignant outrage because she told him she was going to her GED class. Eventually everyone finds out where Ashleigh was, and they all flip, so Ian takes her to the track and shows her all the broken down jockeys and pathetic crack heads or whatever. Ashleigh is not deterred. She comes from a rough life, and she's fully happy to become a crack head if it means riding a horse. She just won't fall off. It's that simple.

So Cindy tells her she wants Ashleigh to be a part of this match race thing on Friday, which is some private deal for owners and blah, I don't know. It all sounds very improbable. Ashleigh figures she has the time to go, because her parole thing isn't until later in the day. She rides in the race and slips right off the saddle, breaking her wrist and missing her parole meeting. No one is happy, and when Ashleigh has Mike drive her right back to the track so she can tell Cindy she's okay she predictably gets a disinterested glance from Cindy. And when Ashleigh wants to know if she's okay, Cindy just says that she doesn't fall, and then gives Mike the once over. You sort of want to smack her. I remember that reaction very vividly from reading the Cindy books. Ashleigh looks gobsmacked, and I suppose this is the end of her starstruck phase.

And then she makes out with Brad some more.

By the end of the episode, Grandpa Reese tells Mike he knows what he's up to, and Mike finds the nerve to tell his mom, who practically goes into shock and then blows up at him. I was thrilled by this development, because Mike's addiction makes me uncomfortable. Although, I did find it weird that Mike offered go to go AA. Mike, sweetie, there's a whole other group for gamblers. You might want to take the effort to specialize.

Oh, and there's a minor plot with Dani and her mother. She get's Evan's lawyer father to look into a case file about her mother, and not surprisingly her father blocks her attempt to look into this paperwork. But Evan comes to the rescue and copies the files she needs on the sly.

It's an okay episode, if you don't count the confusion over what is and is not likely in horse racing and the raging melodrama. Eh, you can't have it all.

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