Once again, we had an action-packed script with some twists and turns. I’ll skip the recap and go right to what I really liked (a lot) and what gave me pause (a few things).

What I Liked

We started with a time jump to seeing Colton hurt, a script trick to tease us with action instead of starting slow, and it worked. We knew Stella and Colton were headed for trouble, and when they decided to change trails, we tried to warn them from our seats on the other side of the screen.

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The next while covers a lot of territory with a lot of talking. Necessary, but not exciting. Cassie and Cordell discuss the idea of a sabotaged saddle (how did it take this long to consider that), Liam and Ben dance around each other relationship-wise, Captain James has a lead that might be Miles.

While I’m rooting for Liam and Ben, I appreciated that they could use their words and draw on their experiences enough to have an adult discussion of how they want to approach their relationship and set expectations. That’s a step in the right direction.

Liam interrupts the truce between Dan and Bonham to accuse the Davidsons of rigging the race. They are laughably shocked that anyone might consider them capable of such a thing, then Dan somewhat sheepishly throws Bonham off the ranch—again.

Trey and Cassie are playing darts when her friend Angela—the convenient search and rescue helicopter pilot—turns up. They talk about being at a crossroads in decision-making, just as Liam tells Bonham he didn’t want to raise false hope about the saddle, and Captain James withheld information from Cassie about Miles for the same reason. So we’ve got some themes going, along with the importance of picking the right trail and letting people know where you’re going.

I liked that Auggie refused to leave with his girlfriend when Stella was late, and that Dan and Denise joined the hunt—for both kids, as Liam clarified. Still, for as awful as they were to Liam and Bonham and to each other minutes before, Dan and Denise mustered up civility long enough to find Auggie and pull him out of the water, and Abeline laid down the expectation that they’d set differences aside for the sake of the kids.

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Stella shows maturity by at least knowing what to do to help Colton. They muse about being cursed, and Stella opts for how their circumstances brought them together. (This reminded me of Supernatural’s Team Free Will, with Colton as ‘Mr. Comatose.’).Fate also comes up when Dan says he and Liam were ‘never meant to be friends’.

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Supernatural hinged a lot of its plots on the question of ‘nature vs nurture’ and whether or not an individual could defy fate (and the Winchester ‘curse’) and choose their own destiny. Walker seems to be circling those issues with Colton and to an extent with Dan.

Cassie is the instigator in this episode, goading Trey into moving, introducing the pilot friend and bringing her in on the rescue, cautioning Cordell on the saddle theory, and deciding to find a place of her own to move forward. I’ve said before that she reminds me of Dean in many ways, both her sense of humor and her way of needling Cordell (like Sam) into action. And guess what—she’s also afraid of flying, just like Dean! (I’ve been in a helicopter without doors. That fear is totally valid!)

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Lots of drama with Captain James and Cordell at the trailer, and the ambush. Guess we have to wait until next week to see how they got out of it alive! (Did anyone else shudder at the bullet hole in Cordell’s hat with shades of Bobby Singer and Dick Roman?)

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I liked that Dan was ready to come clean about the saddle—and served Denise up on a platter—and that Bonham was willing to shake over that.

As always, Jared and the cast did a great job. The writing was tight and we didn’t get as many tangents, even with the teen drama.

What I Didn’t Like

Stella said that she and Emily used to go camping all the time and did similar trails. So how did she have so little basic woodswoman common sense?

Standard outdoor safety means you always tell someone where you’re going (especially if you change from your original plan), you always keep your phone charged (and lipstick chargers are cheap and easy to carry so you don’t run out of charge in an emergency), you always have a basic first aid kit, and maybe even flares and an emergency signal. You also don’t go climbing without the right shoes, protective gear (like a helmet), and training.

Either Emily didn’t teach well, or Stella ignored everything. That was a preventable problem that annoyed me because with a little different set-up by the writers, they could have still gotten into a predicament without looking reckless.

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How did Auggie get lost? He even mentioning knowing not to go off the trail. Why would he think Stella had done so? And how did a kid who also presumably grew up camping on those trails not know to steer clear of the waterfall?

I hate forced errors, mostly because they’re lazy writing. We still could have had plenty of drama and hurt/comfort without the lapses in judgment.

The Walkers lagged the audience in suspecting the race was rigged and questioning the ‘broken’ saddle strap. Why wouldn’t that be an immediate suspicion, especially with a cut strap and a missing knife?

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Dan and Denise are written very inconsistently. For the whole first half of the season, neither character could speak without frothing at the mouth and spewing hatred. Dan was venomous about the Walkers and willing to do anything, even possibly murder, to prove himself to Denise and ‘save’ his family.

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Then we got Denise and Gale cozying up to Geri, and Dan extending a bit of an olive branch to Bonham. Now they’re back to snarling at each other, and Dan accuses Denise of not only cutting the strap but of framing him for it because he’s got a criminal record. Then he throws Denise under the bus to the Walkers.

The rabidly angry Dan and Denise from earlier in the season wouldn’t do many of the things these characters are doing. or at least, we haven’t seen enough motivation for the changes—and the flip-flops. Inconsistent characterization for the sake of making them do what the writers want for the sake of a forced plot line annoys me.

(And I still don’t understand how reporting that Dan had a rifle and a deer mask in his truck at a time when police were looking for criminals who used exactly those things was a false report. Even though Liam broke the tail light, it was, in fact, broken, and therefore true. Who carries a deer mask that just happens to match those used in a crime around in their truck by coincidence?)

On the whole, I liked more than I didn’t, so that was a win! Can’t wait to see where this goes next week!

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