Jul 19, 2012
Heartland Season 1 Episode 11 - Thicker Than Water
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.