Jul 23, 2012

Heartland Season 2 Episode 2 - Letting Go

Basically, this episode be crazy. We get to see the continuation of the very clearly delineated Ty/Caleb/Mustang metaphor, all of which makes terrible sense, as I shall make clear in my recap. Basically, if you love something and it hates you, set it free so that it can run away and be with someone who is not you that it actually loves and then you will be alone and shame on you for trying to make it love you. Also, Lou moves forward with her plan to build a dude ranch on Heartland, but not without provoking the ire of Grandpa Mustache, of course. Amy gets a new horse from her dad because he wants her to love him. And Mallory hangs around and says some really cool stuff because she's great. But, before all of that, we get this:

I thought this was a family show.

So Amy is outside chasing Ghost around, trying to make him fall in love with her or something. Mallory, who acts basically as the show's chorus, is watching and plainly states, "I don't think he likes you." No Amy, that stallion doesn't like you but he sure LOOOVES Ty. You should ask him what shampoo he uses. But no, Amy does not want to smell nice, she is just generally bitchy to Ty, as is her right, and Mallory totally backs her up on it, girl power. Then Amy storms off, as is her MO, and so does Ty, as is his MO, and then Mallory asks Grandpa Mustache what he's going to do about the Ty/Caleb situation, because Mallory is awesome. Lou also asks Grandpa Mustache if it was such a good idea bringing Ty back to Heartland, what with all the storming off, but Grandpa Mustache made a promise!!!!! And promises cannot be broken. It's up to the Men in Heartland's world to keep their promises (as well as police moral boundaries) or else everything will fall apart. Maybe he likes Ty's early morning underwear displays?

I know one person who doesn't love Ty's budding Calvin Klein career: Caleb. He makes a point of following Ty out to the round pen and engaging him in some really tense discussion rife with sexual undertones. I'll put the subtext in italics, just to make it easier for you.

Caleb: I'm betting you're not much of a rider. What I mean is that you are unskilled in the sexual department.
Ty: Haven't done much lately. I haven't been laid in a while.
Caleb: And you obviously don't know much about horses. I am asserting that you are very bad with women, and perhaps also at sexually pleasing them. What brought you back here, the fresh mountain air? Are you here because of vagina? 
Ty: Yeah, that's it. Yes I'm here because of vagina. It's too bad, though, because all I'm smelling right now is a bunch of bull. Caleb, I think you smell like poop. Not vagina. 

Ugh, okay, what else. Oh, um. Amy's dad buys her a world class show jumper to make up for missing out on ten years of her life. I wish my dad would buy me horses to make up for his shitty parenting. I'd be running a breeding operation. The horse he buys her, Storm, is seriously gorgeous, and Amy is appropriately thrilled, though not sure that she wants to dedicate her life to show jumping/that she can find the strength to reject her father's outright attempt at buying her love.

Also, Tim gets the plans for the dude ranch drawn up professionally and Lou is very, very excited but because everyone else hates the idea they ignore her/don't care. But she has an MBA, damnit! Can't they see that? Grandpa Mustache won't even let her tear down the old bunkhouses that are rotting and can't be seen from anywhere and aren't being used by anyone. Lou's solution is to pop champagne and make an incredibly sarcastic toast to the idea that nothing should ever change and no one should ever support anyone else, and she does this, of course, at dinner. Then she goes to Maggie's and gets a job as a waitress and precedes not only to suck at it and get fired, but to disturb Grandpa Mustache so much that he gives in and lets her re-purpose the bunkhouses for, as he dubs it, her "Equestrian Restrooms Haven Cure." Because Grandpa Mustache is the best.

Meanwhile, back in the main plot, Amy is still trying to tame the mustang, even though it charges her while her back is turned and almost kills her. Scott the vet says, "Stallions don't like being bossed around by mares." Look. I know absolutely nothing about breaking mustangs, but is this sexist? Should I be incensed? Someone tell me if I should be angry this show keeps saying women can't break mustangs because we are smaller and smell like girls. Please. Because I feel like I should be angry but animals are weird and maybe it's true? Aren't stallions bossed by mares all the time in nature? I don't know and I'm too lazy to Google it so someone else please tell me.

At this point Ty is convinced that Ghost has a friend out in the wild that he is trying to get back to, but Amy is still all, "No, I will tame the wild beast."

Amy will never tame this wild stallion.
So Ty waits until Amy is not looking then lets Ghost go free and you know, yay Ty for making the right decision. But Amy gets even MORE pissed and is all, "NO TY BAD TY," and runs off to find the mustang with Caleb. Caleb thinks this is all the best because now that Ty has pissed Amy off for the millionth time perhaps Caleb can get in her pants.

So Caleb and Amy gallop around looking for this mustang, which is fine because the scenery is very pretty, and then they find him and guess what, Ty was right, he has a girlfriend! See Amy, if you set your stallion free he will run away to his pretty girlfriend...I guess. But oh no! Someone starts shooting at the two horses and then, starting what will become a habit, Amy gallops her horse toward the gunfire. Brilliant! Good thing it is only Grandpa Mustache and Ty, there to chase the horses off private land so ranchers won't come out and shoot them to death.

Then Grandpa Mustache schools Amy. He's all, "Look, I know you have this Ty/mustang thing all mixed up, just like you are supposed to because the show is making a metaphor even though at this point it really makes very little sense. But anyway, you've got to let it go or you'll squeeze the life out of it, and you don't want Ty to die, do you? Forgive him for being a giant dickwad or you won't be able to enter into an incredibly unhealthy relationship with him and also Caleb is like, 47 so that's not okay you have to date Ty instead because he's only around 32."

Amy decides the best way to take Grandpa Mustache's advice is to walk into Ty's room later that night without knocking.

Can't you see I'm busy not wearing a shirt, here?
She mans up and asks him why he just didn't call her while he was away and, because the writers couldn't think of any answer to this legitimate question other than "Ty's a giant dick," this is literally his reaction:

Uhhhh...I don't know?
So Amy storms out again, case not closed, next episode please.

Jul 21, 2012

Heartland Season 2 Episode 1 - Ghost Horse

Here we are, Heartland, Season 2. It's four months later. Will we ever see Ty again? Of course we will! What convoluted reason will the writers come up with to get him back on the show? I'm going to tell you very soon! How will Amy react? Poorly! What is everyone else doing with their lives? I'm not sure if we're supposed to care!

So yes, it's four months later and everything is very Heartlandy at Heartland. Amy is out riding Spartan before school or during school or in a dream, I don't know. She's riding him. And she sees this herd of wild mustangs galloping through the beautiful Alberta back country. One of these mustangs is a beautiful, silver, leopard Appaloosa stallion. I also don't know about this. Anyway, Amy is very captivated by this mustang because he is Ty. You'll see. While Amy is watching, another bay stallion comes charging out of the herd and starts beating up Ty Stallion. BAM! POW! Suddenly we are somewhere in some seedy city and we see Ty being chased by two biker guys. They are beating him up! BAM! POW! Back to Ty Stallion. Poor Ty Stallion is bleeding and runs away from his herd. SHABAM! Ty runs away from the bikers and locks himself in a construction site, but not before they warn him to get his dad to pay up "or else." So, you see, vicariously Amy was watching Ty fight for his life through the battle of the two wild stallions. Things aren't looking so good, though, because Ty Stallion got kicked out of his herd. Where is Ty Stallion's daddy? What will Amy due to save Ty Stallion? Foreshadowing?!??!

Back at the actual ranch, Heartland has hired on another farmhand to replace Ty. He is an actual, genuine, rodeo cowboy who rides the circuit with his horse Shorty to make an actual living or brutally injure himself. Either way. His name is Caleb O'Dell, but Ashley quickly dubs him Caleb O'Dellicious.

Why hello there, Mr. O'Dellicious.
Caleb is quite obviously meant to be Ty's rival. Despite the fact that this situation is so contrived that it kills any possibility of even pretend chemistry between Amy and Caleb, I like O'Dellicious. Kerry James is very good at being absolutely hilarious all the time, and the writers give him some great, pointed lines that make him and Mallory quite the dynamic duo whenever they turn up in a scene together. But right now he is super serious Ty Competitor, so we don't get to see a lot of the goofy because he is Super Seriously in love with Amy's magic vagina or something, I don't know. Also, if Ty is too old for now 16 year old Amy then 34 year old looking Caleb is DEFINITELY too old. Okay, maybe it's more like 26, but seesh, you are supposed to be a family show, Heartland. Get your ducks in a row.

Of course, we have other plots to attend to. With the help of her father, Lou has gotten a loan to build her Corporate Equine Retreat, or what is more commonly known as a dude ranch. This is an appropriate task for her, the show pounds into our brains, because she has an MBA and she's got to use it, goddamnit. So she is going to become the Martha Stewart of Hudson Alberta Canada or-fucking-else. Poor Grandpa Mustache. He is rightfully pissed that no one went and asked his permission to build a dude ranch on his property, but he decides to give in because A) Lou is really annoying about it, B) She has her MBA damnit! C) Amy points out Lou could come up with something even worse, and D) It can make extra money for Heartland. All of these things happen at dinner, of course, where Caleb is also invited to eat. Mallory is there too, scheming up ways to be granted permission to stay at Heartland for the summer while her dad goes on tour as a country singer. Spoiler alert: she gets to stay.

While a lot of explosive discussion occurs at the dinner table, a lot of important dialog also occurs at the kitchen sink, because apparently washing dishes is a big family activity at Heartland. I think this is maybe because they have no dishwasher, but I've lived plenty of places with no dishwasher and that fact did NOT bring us together, trust me. Anyway, I would just like to point out that there is always a washer and a dryer. But while the washer dutifully soaps up all the dishes, no on ever rinses them off and the dryer just dries off the soapy dish. WHY? This really bothers me a lot and it happens all the time. 


Amy keeps seeing the ghost mustang everywhere, so clearly it is looking for her. In fact, it shows up at Heartland and Amy convinces Caleb to help her rope it and put it in a pen. Now, remember guys, this ghost mustang is actually Mustang Ty, so what this mustang represents is the fact that Ty will always love Amy. However, Caleb informs Amy that girls can't break mustangs because of size and smell, and Grandpa Mustache warns her that she could ruin his chances to survive in the wild. So Amy may have trouble winning Ty's love because she is small and doesn't smell to his liking, and also she shouldn't break his wild spirit because then he won't be able to ride a motorcycle again. I don't know. Anyway, her troubled relationship with the mustang is an allegory for her troubled relationship with Ty. If you love it Amy, set it freeeee! And make sure you smell niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice! And maybe wear heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeels!

So then everyone has a surprise 16th birthday party for Amy and Mallory's cowboy boyfriend shows up:

Hello, I am Cowboy Jake. 
This guy has been stalking Mallory around with a creepy grin on is face for the last several episodes. He is very obviously and openly in love with her, and she has no idea what to do with him at one point telling him, "You're just so...short." To which his response is "I'll grow." And this is why I love Cowboy Jake.

Anyway, while everyone is partying down Ty is getting beaten to death in the rain by the aforementioned big biker guys. Somewhere in the middle of this beating he finds time to call Grandpa Mustache, who runs out of the house to save the life of his adopted son. Ty did the right thing too because boy do you want to stay on Grandpa Mustache's good side. These bikers are huge and at least twenty years younger than Grandpa Mustache and Grandpa Mustache kicks their asses singlehandedly a la Batman. 

Back at the ranch everyone is all, "Where is Grandpa Mustache?" Lou and Scott are covertly making arrangements to sneak off and have sex. I don't understand this show's attitude toward pre-marital sex. Lou can do it as long as it's not with Carl (at least while she's not at Heartland). But Amy? NO. I understand this while she's 16 and her suitors are 26 and 42 respectively, but eventually she's about 19 by the show's logic and STILL NO SEX. Are we going to have a big virginity episode? I hope not. I hope she's just doing it on the sly.

But yes, Grandpa Mustache comes back to the ranch and Amy runs up to the truck all, "We missed you Grandpa Mustache!" Then Ty gets out of the truck.

Uhhhhh. Hi?
Amy gets totally peeved and storms off without saying one word, as is her MO. Then again, I think she has a right to be pissed off that her 30 year old boyfriend kissed her than ran away for four months and didn't contact her once. That is worth some angry storming off. Suck it, Ty. 

Ty limps pathetically out to the barn and then sees ghost mustang aka HIMSELF in the round pen, and for some reason he feels compelled to walk alone into the round pen with this wild mustang stallion in the dark. But it's okay because THEY ARE THE SAME and Ty also must smell nice or something because the mustang loves him as much as it hates Amy. Amy, of course, witnesses this whole thing from her bedroom window and turns off the lights very angrily before Ty can see her standing there. And thus we have the beginnings of Season 2.

Jul 20, 2012

Heartland Season 1 Episode 13 - Coming Together

Guys, when I told you I love this show I seriously wasn't kidding. Not only do I love this show, I also have NOTHING to do with my life until the last week of August, which means these recaps are going to come fast and furious even if you're begging me to stop. There is also no excuse for you guys not to watch along - the show is streaming on Netflix, and it's available on both Amazon.com's streaming service, and through iTunes. If you email me, I would be happy to help you find this show online. Trust me, you'll love it.

Okay, now that I have convinced you to run out and watch this show as obsessively as I did, let's talk about the season finale of Season 1. We have finally reached what promises to be the climax not only of Amy's personal equine triumph, but also the much anticipated resolution of the burning sexual tension between her and Ty. Or have we?!?!?!

We open with Amy competing in some small potatoes horse show so that she can get the points to compete in the Fall Finale. She and Spartan come in second, which somehow means Amy qualifies for the biggest horse show of the season, despite this being the only time Amy's competed this year, as far as I can tell. Far more remarkable than this mystery of math is the fact that Amy is actually THRILLED with her second place win. As Ty later points out during a romantic walk through the snow-covered pile of jumping logs he built her, he has always known she competed not to win, but because she loves the aforementioned "thrill." Isn't Amy weird, guys? What's up with her non-Cindy McLean attitude? I don't know if I can take it.

Anyway, Amy's rival, Ashley, happened to come in third because she botched the jump-off and knocked down a rail. Ashley's mother is PO'd, and pulls the classic, "I will sell your horse if you ever lose again, stupid daughter," routine. At this point I found myself wondering why TLC hasn't started a show about Horse Show moms. I feel like they could really bring in a whole new audience of traumatized equestrians. Maybe the horse show mom is also the mother of identical triplets riding identical triplet horses, all of whom compete in beauty pageants on the side and are also hoarders. I don't know, I'm not a television producer.

Back at the ranch everyone is freaking out because Lou went for a big job interview in New York and what in the hell are the going to do without her? She is the only one on the whole place that can do maths. But don't worry Amy, you have other problems to bother you. It turns out that Ben has convinced Ashley Apollo is inconsistent, and Amy's magic horse voodoo is the only thing that can help Ashley win the Fall Finale. So Ashley storms over to Heartland and demands Amy helps her OR ELSE something about taking jumps away, I don't know.

So Amy is basically being blackmailed into helping her biggest competition because without jumps she can't train. When she explains the situation to Coach Ty he becomes infuriated that Amy would dare help Ashley. Mallory backs him up on this one, but in this case I kind of see Amy's point - she can't train without jumps. The flaw I DO see is that Dr. Earth 2 is Ben's aunt, who owns the jumps. Seeing as Dr. Earth 2 is dating Amy's grandfather, I doubt she would take the jumps away. But everyone else fails to see this line of reasoning so off Amy goes to help Ashley. Turns out that Ashley gets nervous when her mother is watching her and fucks up the jumping, which prompts Amy to suggest that Val leave the arena when Ashley's riding. Ashley is actually thrilled that Amy's told Val what Ashley has secretly been thinking all along.

Here I would like to stop and say that, as easy as this solution is, and as quickly as Amy reaches it, props to the show. There are no problem horses, only problem riders, right? That's actually the case in most of the problems Amy solves. What rankles is that she is the only one capable of observing these issues even though she is surrounded by a sea of experienced horse people. So anyway. At least she doesn't get a big head out of it

At this point let's catch up on our sub-plots. Turns out the reason Ty's been so pissy is, um, two things. First, his probation is ending and that's making him all weird because what if suddenly he's still on probation? I don't know. It turns out his probation ends and this is how Ty shows his immense sense of happiness and relief:

But also making him pissy is the fact that his biological father tracked him down and is asking Ty to come visit him or help him or I don't know. The show never really makes that clear. Ty is still struggling with the fact that he loves Amy so much, and now he also has to struggle with his unresolved Daddy issues. He keeps trying to talk to Amy and she keeps saying, "Tell me anything you want!" And then he's all:

And she's all, "Yeah?" like she doesn't know he wants to ravish her, and then he's all, "Nevermind."

So off we all go to the Fall Finale, and everything is going great until Spartan's old owner shows up right before the jump-off and demands Amy return the horse to him because, oops, he is still the legal owner of the horse. Silly show. Lou does some fast-talking and convinces the guy to let Amy ride Spartan in the jump-off, which she promptly wins. Conversely, Ashley forfeits when her mother breaks her promise and watches Ashley jump. ALSO Val is the one who called Spartan's old owner, stupid horse show mom. But anyway, Lou lawyers the old owner out of taking Spartan and now Spartan is Amy's forever huzzah!

Back at Heartland everyone is having a party. Good times. Ty and Amy are in the barn and FINALLY they make out. Seriously. But then Grandpa Mustache wanders in and ruins it for everyone. Amy runs away in shame and Ty confesses to Grandpa Mustache that he wants to go help his real father. Grandpa Mustache is all, "You are like a son to me but I hate men who kiss and run." Ty is all, thanks, cries, and then runs away, leaving Amy a note under his cowboy hat. And so begins the prolonged pain that is Season 2, where the showrunners use every reason they can conceive of to keep Amy and Ty apart in order to keep the audience both hooked and infuriated.

And oh yeah, Lou didn't go to New York and she and Scott made out. The End.

Jul 19, 2012

Heartland Season 1 Episode 12 - Nothing Endures

Moving on from our last adventure in family togetherness, in this episode we get to experience a barn fire, because every horse series ever must have at least one installment with a barn fire. Did Thoroughbred ever have a barn fire? I don't think so. That's probably why it never got a television adaptation. Think about it - Saddle Club had a barn fire, The Black Stallion had a barn fire. I'm sure everyone else I'm forgetting also had a barn fire. Hence Heartland's barn fire, and coming quite early in the game might I add.

As we begin the episode we are greeted with what is essentially the ongoing b-plot that will eventually become the a-plot. Amy is training Spartan to participate in the upcoming big show that it is really important for her to win or something. Everyone who knows horse series also knows that we always have one of these events as well. In this episode, Ty has decided that the way to win Amy's heart is to be her show jumping coach, despite the fact that he can barely stay on a horse, which Ben so helpfully points out to us upon hearing this news. Not that Ben is the fount of wisdom on horses. In fact, he's transferred to Briar Ridge, which for some reason automatically translates to dating Ashley. But his shitty riding, combined with their shitty yet somehow top notch trainers, has caused him to be thrown from his horse and injured. Yay Ben. You're dumb and I'm excited for when you disappear from this show forever and I forget about your existence.

Anyway, despite the fact that Ashley is Amy's rival, she invites her and Ty to an school dance after party she is throwing, which I guess is her pretense for randomly showing up at Heartland a la Brad Townsend. Then off she goes in her awesome red Bimmer (Beamer is the BMW motorcycle, freaks. Look it up.), Ben in tow. There is some awkwardness involved with Ty then asking Amy if she wants to go to the high school dance and remembering his glory days as a high school dance crasher. Or maybe Amy asked him. I don't remember because I am really freaked out by how old Ty is supposed to be. It is never, ever mentioned, but he looks to be at least old enough to make their relationship illegal. I will assume for the sake of not creepiness that he is under 18, as he is still a ward of the state. So anyway, Amy makes fun of Ty being her jumping coach and he storms off all angry, which prompts Mallory to ask "Who peed on his pancakes?" Have I mentioned that I love Mallory?

At this point I will mention that Jack keeps seeing some creepy red truck sitting up on the road spying on Heartland, but he decides the best thing to do is mention it to Ty and then ignore it forever, which we viewers all know is the best way to approach creepy spying trucks in horse shows.

Plot progresses and now we are going to the dance. Lou and Scott are also going on a date, but I find their relationship to be awkward and weird, so I'm going to ignore it. Of course we get the moment where Amy appears all dressed up (she is not wearing anything made of velvet, thank god), and Ty stands there all slack-jawed, though who knows if it's a result of his normally gaping mouth or awe at her beauty. He does manage to stammer out, "I'll go get it warmed up - the truck." I like this clarification. It's as if he wanted to make sure everyone knew he wasn't referring to his penis or some sort of furious pre-dance masturbation ritual, which I'm sure absolutely no one was thinking until he made that clarification because of course he was talking about the truck. Creeper.

We skip the dance and go straight to Ashley's party so that Ashley can come over and smack talk Amy some more. Amy is actually the one least baited by Ashley. Soraya is all upset because Ben is dating Ashley and not her (Soraya has a great track record of dating men that she has been warned are dicks and then getting upset when they act like dicks). And also everyone is making fun of Ty for thinking he can coach Amy. Ty makes the assertion that show jumping is all about "strategies and angles" and actually yes, he is right. Other than knowing how to ride a horse very well and having an appropriately athletic animal, show jumping IS about strategies and angles. Ty makes the mistake of comparing this to billiards, an obvious past time of his because he is a juvenile delinquent, and that just blows his already non-existent credibility. Sorry, Ty.

Oh yeah, and now the barn is on fire! Everyone is gone so evil pickup truck guy comes down to the barn and sets it one fire. But oops, Grandpa Mustache is home and he rushes in to the barn and manages to save all the horses before bumping his head, which causes him to forget that he actually did see who evil pickup truck guy was. This momentary amnesia leads the fire department to believe that a space heater caused the fire, and this leads Ty to blame Mallory for perhaps leaving the space heater on, which leads Mallory to burst into  tears and run away. Everything is as it should be.

Because we have already established that Lou is the only one who can do anything related to paperwork, it is on her to contact the insurance company and she discovers that, because her dead mom was bad at these kind of things, the house was insured but the barn isn't. Heartland is poor, what will they do? Meanwhile, Grandpa Mustache is busy having crazy concussion flashbacks to when he was a kid and he promised his own grandfather that he'd never sell Heartland for any reason ever, even if selling off a small part of it means he would be able to pay for repairs to the barn. So Grandpa Mustache refuses to sell part of the farm to Ashley's mother because of a promise Ghost Grandpa Mustache made to Ghost Grandpa Mustache's Grandpa. Guys, I'm going to let you know right now that ghosts make more than one appearance on this show and everyone acts like its normal.

What are we going to do now guys? Thankfully, Grandpa Mustache passes out and hits his head again while trying to touch Ghost Grandpa, and when he wakes up he happens to see evil pickup truck man walking into the hospital, hands very visibly bandaged as if they'd been burned. Grandpa Mustache realizes that this man is the one he saw lighting the barn on fire. He just so happens to be Wes, the guy who got fired after Amy and Ty intercepted his mustang rustling operation a few episodes previous. Out for revenge, he decided to burn Heartland to the ground. Instead he ends up being violently tackled by Tim and carted off in a police car. Fun.

So that's all settled. When the crew gets home they discover that the entire town has pulled together to rebuild the burned down barn, donating apparently $50,000 dollars worth of material and labor. That is love, or something. Of course, in the shot of the finished barn it already looks incredibly weathered, a rare slip for a show with such high production values.

And we end on the family gathered around the fire playing board games because we have to make up for the lack of family meal in this episode. In conclusion, I present you with Ty's best gaping mouth face of the episode:

He's not in the middle of a word, you guys, he is just staring.
 Also, please maybe get a haircut. Your hair is eating your face.

Heartland Season 1 Episode 11 - Thicker Than Water

So, after a long hiatus, Mara has very graciously encouraged me to pick up recapping Heartland where she left off. This is extremely exciting to me because, full disclosure you guys, I absolutely love this show. Seriously, I went through all 5 seasons and the Christmas Special in under a month. That is passion right there. As you can imagine, I have lots of feelings about this show that I am ready to share with just about anyone who'll listen. I just hope I'm as amusing when I adore something as I am when I loathe it. And you guys, the first three seasons of this show are streaming on Netflix, so you have no excuse not to watch.

So here's the deal: if you like horses and girls and things involving horses and girls and also dysfunctional families and out of left field comedy and star-crossed lovers and some of the most beautiful scenery and production values you will ever encounter (much of it involving horses), this is the show for you. Like Mara, I've never read the books and have absolutely no interest in doing so. Why someone in Canada decided to turn them into a show set in Alberta is anyone's guess, but they've done a really good job of creating a wonderful piece of visual entertainment all its own.

In this episode, our plucky protagonist Amy is taking further steps toward reconciling with her (former?) deadbeat dad. I'll state outright that Tim is a blowhard and he's annoying, but the series does a good job of maintaining these character traits while also making him a somewhat sympathetic character as it progresses. He seems to be, in his assholery, very real, and its interesting to watch Amy and Lou come to terms with the giant, dickish part of his personality in order to make him a part of their lives and their family. Also, Chris Potter, the actor, does quite a fabulous job with him. They acting is actually pretty good all around, I think.

As we begin, Amy has invited Tim to Heartland to have lunch, because as Mara so helpfully pointed out, family meals are points of high drama in this series and I doubt the plot could move forward much without them. Conveniently, Jack (aka Grandpa Fletcher to Mara), who hates Tim and wants to beat him silly, has a date to take pretty rich lady from the cattle drive out fly fishing. Though known as Lisa on the show, she is played by the same woman who played the ambiguously evil doctor on the (unfairly) cancelled 90s sci-fi show Earth 2, so I will henceforth be referring to her as Dr. Earth 2. Anyway, this is Jack's idea of a romantic date, which everyone points out by mocking the amazing attire that goes along with fly fishing. Though during the sexy scene where Jack teaches Dr. Earth 2 how to cast her line, I learned that fly fishing actually can be erotic.

Jack, who I may henceforth refer to as Grandpa Mustache, because his mustache does at least 85% of the acting for his character (and a damn fine job, too) drives off with Dr. Earth 2, leaving Amy and Lou alone to have lunch with their dad. And Mallory. And Ty. Who insist on barging in because Mallory is incapable of giving anyone privacy or avoiding a moment when she could possibly blurt out something inappropriate or embarrassing about someone's past substance abuse and subsequent abandonment of his family. Ty tags along, I presume, because he wants to do Amy really, really badly, and she won't even talk about the possibility of wanting to do it with him so he has to settle for following her around like a puppy dog and stealing cattle to impress her.

I want to say something about Ty Borden right now. He is very, very hot, and despite his tendency to flee intense emotional situations, he is still one of the sanest characters on the show. His willingness to call out and attempt discussing the sexual tension between him and Amy is surprisingly mature, to say the least, especially considering the fact that their coupling has to be delayed for at least two seasons because this is how all main romances on television shows work. I think that's actually one reason I love this show - it has a tendency to call itself out on is own ridiculousness or adherence to tropes. I actually think that's the entire reason Mallory exists. But anyway, back to Ty. First of all, he looks so much like Stephen Moyer that I kept expecting a terrible Southern accent and fangs to pop out of his mouth. And speaking of his mouth, this kid cannot ever keep his mouth shut. It just hangs open like his jaw muscles are on strike:

See? This an image of him from the opening montage. His mouth is open so much that this was the best shot they could find of him for an otherwise gorgeous opening sequence. All the bad tasting things that must end up in there just while he's walking around. Anyway.

Plot. Yes. So lunch is awkward thanks to the fact that Lou is extremely jealous of the instant bond Amy shares with their dad over their love of horses. After Tim's accident Lou swore off riding, pretending to be afraid of horses as an excuse to keep her distance from them. She has tried to take some brush up lessons from Amy to impress Tim, but it becomes painfully clear when Tim brings Amy a horse to rehabilitate that Lou has no idea what she's talking about. Even Ty is more well-versed in the lingo of cutting horses.

Tim and Lou and Amy all truck Spartan over to the "arena," whatever that is, so that the show can drive home the divide between Lou and Tim as they all watch Amy take Spartan over fences. Because he is an asshole, Tim pushes Amy to take Spartan over jumps she doesn't feel ready for, and because Tim is a bully, he turns to Lou and says she should take Spartan over the fences instead, reminding her of her days as a championship jumper back when she was 12. He calls her a coward and that is enough to infuriate Lou into climbing on to Spartan (who, in a very un-horse-book-like fashion, is completely indifferent to who's on his back, an idea that Tim also actively mocked) and clearing a three foot jump quite effortlessly after who knows how many years of not riding at all ever.

Okay. Here is where I stop and say a lot of batshit crazy horse stuff happens on this show and you learn pretty quickly to just let it go. The writers manage to come up with problems that are actually easy fixes, and you wonder what kind of idiots are hanging around that Amy is the only one who comes up with the solution. Or the problems are so ridiculously implausible that you just forgive Amy for being a magic horse listener and go with the flow. All of Heartland is a fantasy world, including the horse mush, but it's just shot so beautifully, and it always keeps the horses' best interests at heart, and I almost always bawl during the moments of triumph and it's just easier not to care. For fictional horse things, Heartland does okay on the unrealistic scale.

Back to the plot. Lou is now super pissed at Tim, a mood she maintains throughout the rest of the episode, even calling Tim out on his abandonment of his family. This was a nice touch, I thought. Heartland's episodic plotlines tend to revolve solely around the problem horses Amy is dealing with, but it is actually a serial drama, and just like in life, Lou and Amy don't reconcile with their father immediately, and even after peace has been made, quarrels and old memories still arise. And Tim remains an ego maniacal dick, even though he loves his daughters and gains the ability to be brought back to earth when it matters. So points for the show again.

In other news, Jack's fishing trip with Dr. Earth 2 is going quite well. I can't figure out the attitude toward sex this show has, but it's nice that Jack gets to date Dr. Earth 2, and their is a nice joke about Jack's penis when Val Stanton, in a fit of jealously, claims that Dr. Earth 2 was going all about town telling everyone about the "size of Jack's trout." I didn't make that up. We have a penis reference.

So that's that. The episode ends rather peacefully. Lou is still pissed at her father, but she decides not to give up riding horses for pleasure - she's already let her anger at her father take that away from her for far too long. Grandpa Mustache has a lady, and Ty and Amy placated us briefly through many long looks and sighs and vague hints at their relationship through the metaphor or a cutting horse who is afraid of cows.

In closing, as someone who has ridden horses for many, many years, how do the women on this show keep their hair looking so damned perfect? I know you straighten your hair, Amber Marshall. I want to know your secrets.