Synopsis: Tess McLeod unwittingly opens the Ryans’ Pandora’s box when she brings up Nick Ryan’s accident that once devastated the whole family. Opening the can of worms had stirred the Ryans that it created a rift between Nick and Alex. Meanwhile, Claire McLeod yet again tries to prove herself when she is dared to break-in Harry Ryan’s new, wild thoroughbred stallion Wildfire.
Episode Summary: Harry Ryan (Marshall Napier) has bought himself a gorgeous thoroughbred stallion, Wildfire, and the McLeod’s sisters drop by Killarney to watch Alex Ryan (Aaron Jeffrey) tame the wild horse into submission. Tess Silverman (Bridie Carter) notices that Alex uses a more aggressive technique than her sister Claire McLeod (Lisa Chappell) who does not believe in scaring the horse to obedience. She gets to prove the effectiveness of her own method when Harry proposes that she work on the horse. This after the beast knocked Alex down when he strapped the belt too tight. Claire agrees with the condition that the stallion’s first foal would be with her equally gorgeous mare Blaise. Harry accepts, and is surprised when Claire declares that she could finish the job in three days.
To seal the deal, Harry invites the two sisters for dinner where their conversation revolves around horses. Immediately, Tess senses that the matriarch Liz Ryan is not too keen on her, and she digs a deeper hole when she unwittingly brings up the sensitive subject of Nick Ryan’s (Myles Pollard) damaged leg. Everybody falls silent including her sister Claire. Tess still unfamiliar with the ways of country people mixed with her dense personality could not see the huge sign that says stop, and she continues to probe the Ryans about the unfortunate accident. Her incessant questioning forced annoyed Liz to raise her voice at her, and quickly puts an end to their awkward conversation.
Later that night, after not getting answers from the Ryans, Tess tries to find some from her sister. However, she too knows very little about the accident. All Claire could remember is that the Ryan brothers went away, and only Alex came back. Nick, on the other hand, spent a very long time in the hospital. It was a riding accident, and everybody just left it as that.
Still curious with Nick’s story, Tess tries her luck with Meg Fountain. Meg, though once a city girl like Tess, quickly learned and adapted the ways of the country. Knowing that Nick’s riding accident is the Ryans’ business, she did not bother finding out what really happened nor even talked about it. All she knows was that whatever happened to the young man nearly killed Liz Ryan.
There are many reasons why people don’t go digging up painful pasts, and spending breakfast with the Ryan’s after last night’s awkward dinner would tell you why. Everybody is still silent, as Harry looks both irate and distant. Liz breaks the ice with a suggestion that she and Harry take the day off. Of course, her husband opposes any of this with his usual excuse that there’s work that needs to be done. One of them is bringing Wildfire to Drovers Run as a result of the previous day’s bet, which only reminded him of his disappointment with his son Alex. With Alex off to Drovers Run, Harry orders Nick to cover for him. Despite having prior engagements Nick could do nothing but obey his father who as always puts all the blame on Alex. Harry believes that they would not have made the bet with the McLeod’s if Alex had done a better job of breaking-in the stallion. Alex arrives at Drovers Run with Wildfire in tow, and Tess immediately comes across the effects of her insensitive inquiries after he gets infuriated when she insists on apologizing about last night.
Meanwhile, Claire is having trouble of her own after learning that the cattle she took in from neighbor Bill Tilson are infected with a contagious bacterial infection. Now, it appears that the cattle that were supposed to bring in money are costing her more, since they all have to be vaccinated. Moreover, she would have to tell Bill about it, but not until she gets confirmation from the vet, and finds out where the bacteria came from. To make matters worse, she is down one station hand. Becky Howard has fallen ill. While the women are out to attend to their cattle, Jodi Fountain decides to take care of her sick friend. Remembering what her mother does when she was sick, Jodi reads a book to her to keep her company.
Tess has truly opened a Pandora’s box that let out all the fear, disappointment, anger and bad memories that troubled the Ryans. Each one of them tries to deal with the memory of the accident the only way they know how. Alex drowns his worries in a pub something he probably inherited from his mother who also had drowned her misery with wine, and the illusion that everything is all right. Harry on the other hand keeps to himself; the same way Nick does only the young man also has a pack of marijuana to help him numb his anguish. But even if they are drunk and wasted, none of them could seem to forget, especially Alex who had always blamed himself for his brother’s accident.
Bill Tilson drops by Drovers Run to check on his cattle leaving Claire no other choice but to tell him about the bacterial infection. The man gets infuriated especially when she asks him to pay for the vaccination. Insisting that the cattle were fine before he brought them over to Drovers to graze, Bill is unyielding and refuses to pay for the vaccination. He believes that his cattle got sick at Drovers Run despite Tess’ argument that none of their own cattle had gotten ill. He leaves with a threat of bringing in his lawyers to settle the dispute.
With Becky still under the weather, the women decide that she go to the doctor. Tess brings her, and both are happy to learn that she is only down with the flu. On their way back, Tess decides to drop by Killarney. Coming from a troubled family herself, Becky warns of the mess Tess is getting into with her obstinate attempt of apologizing for the other night’s trouble. Gauging from Liz’ reaction with the visit, the young woman was right.
Determined to learn where the cattle really got the infection, Claire with Tess drive down to Bill Tilson’s farm. It was an easy confirmation, since all the cattle in his farm are infected. Furious, Claire confronts the neighbor to force him to tell the truth and clear Drovers Run of the blame. Bill had already started shooting his infected cattle, and burning them to prevent further contamination. The black smoke caused by the fire made it easy for them to spot him. Bill argues that he did not know of the disease when he brought over the cattle to Drovers. Claire is still furious given that he let them take the blame despite knowing full well that it was his farm that is contaminated. He confesses his guilt. It was something he is not proud of, and would not have done given a different circumstance. Bill makes it known to Claire that he is already buried in debt too deep that he cannot even afford vaccination. With nothing else to say, Claire just leaves, but not without pondering about her own future. Just like the McLeod’s, the Tilson’s had held on to their property for generations, and it seems that soon it would no longer be the case.
The effects of Tess opening the Ryans’ can of worms continue to wreak havoc on the troubled family. Liz has not stopped drowning herself with liquor; while Nick sets on to prove himself by trying to ride again. When Alex sees his brother fall from his attempt, he runs to help him, but the fall had yet again bruised the younger brother’s ego. Instead of thanking Alex for his brotherly concern, his ego forced him to taunt his brother about Claire taking over his job. Now, it is Alex’ ego that is bruised, and he drives to Drovers Run to prove his brother wrong.
The two brothers race to the neighboring property where Claire is already making progress with the wild stallion. Learning the secret to calm the brutish beast, Claire slowly walks to the horse to pet him. She hooks on the reins onto his bridle, and places a saddle on his back without any protest. The feuding brothers arrive at Drovers Run. Alex declares that he is bringing Wildfire back to Killarney, but Claire reminds him that she still has a day to finish the job. Claire senses that Alex does not believe that she would be successful, and the young man dares her to prove him wrong. Nick warns her not to give in to his brother’s pressure, but stubborn Claire always ready to prove herself rides the horse. Wildfire not yet fully tamed becomes riled, and he tries to shake off the unwelcome rider on his back. Claire falls on the ground, and the horse continues to gallop dangerously close to the woman. Claire quickly gets up, and Nick tries to calm the uneasy stallion. Alex impassive with the whole scene just looks at Claire with a wry smile.
Furious with the how his brother subjected Claire to danger just to feed his ego, Nick attacks his brother with a punch. The two start a vicious fistfight, and Claire tries to break them up, but Alex blinded with fury wraps a hand on Claire’s throat and almost punches the woman. Quickly Tess runs to pull the enraged man away from her sister, and only then did Alex come to his senses. He steps back, and sincerely apologizes, but Claire demands an explanation.
After years and years of not talking about the accident, the boys finally tell their story. Alex tells Claire about the rodeo, about how he and his brother had wanted to join that one so bad that he had forged their father’s signature just so they could get in. Alex only fifteen and Nick fourteen, both were underage, and were too young to ride. Nick tells Tess about how he finally got his chance to ride, and prove how great a rider he is. After being dared by a man, Nick puts on the armor as Alex teased him that only girls wore it. Alex always knew that between them, Nick was the better rider, and at the back of his mind he wanted his younger brother to prove it to him. Nick never had the chance to, since he fell, and got dreadfully trampled by the bull. Alex remembers seeing so much blood, and thinking that he had killed his brother. Unnerved at what he had done, he just ran, while Nick lay on the ground watching everybody except his brother to come to his aid. Alex never did visit Nick at the hospital, and Tess tells Nick that he must have been scared to see what he did to him. Truth is, Alex did go to the hospital, but after seeing his father’s reaction he had since then always felt the guilt and the blame. Claire assures him that it was not his fault that it was an accident, but Alex feels that it is his father and brother who need to hear that. Nick who ended up with a limp decided to prove himself in other ways that is handling the business, but he still dreams that he could still ride, and beat Alex at it. The brothers had finally told their story, but even then none of them has a clue of what the other is feeling. Tess wishes that the Ryans just sit down as a family, and finally talk about it. It might not make things better, but to her it is a start.
Truth is, problems are solved if there are other people to help you. That is the case with Becky. Still sick with the flu, she sits on her bed, and tries to read the book that Jodi and Meg had been reading to her. As she struggles to read, Jodi arrives. Becky tells her not to tell anyone that she could not read. Jodi agrees and offers to teach her.
It appears that the Pandora’s box that Tess had opened is again shut tight. The brothers' conversation with the McLeod’s sisters seemed to have helped bring normalcy back to Killarney, and with the feuding brothers out of the way Claire proves herself right as she successfully mounts and rides the Ryans' stallion Wildfire.
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