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In this episode: Lou is forced to face the reason for her insomnia. Amy works with a new client and surprisingly she has a connection to Katie. Jack wins over a ranch guest.

The episode begins at bright ‘n early at 3:34AM. Lou can’t sleep so she pops in a pair of earbuds, grabs her phone, and listens to a relaxing podcast. We see a short flashback of a much younger Lou inside a payphone booth. Later, at 6:00AM, as present day Lou sorts through old clothes, Amy asks her what she’s doing. Lou explains that she couldn’t sleep so she decided to get a jump on things. She searches for an old box of “old stuff to be donated.” Amy suggests that she try the cellar. In the cellar, Lou opens a box to find an old Hudson Junior Rodeo jacket. When she flips it over, the name on the patch is Pryce, not Fleming. We flash back to Young Lou in the phonebooth again, wearing the same jacket. Visibly upset, she hangs up the phone and falls into the arms of a young man who comforts her. Amy walks into the cellar, snapping Current Lou back into the present. When asked who the jacket belongs to, Lou replies that she has “no idea,” and she’s just going to throw it in the donation pile.

Later, in the kitchen, Lou is so distracted that she places a carton of milk into the dishes. Peter remarks that she seems distracted. Lou says that she is: Jessica left her with a long list of things to do before the gallery opens while she’s off in the mountains. Tim says she’s just doing her job taking photos so the gallery’s walls won’t be empty when it opens. Lou understands that, but the timing just isn’t great – she has to juggle coordinating painting at the gallery, meeting a VIP guest at the dude ranch, and finishing all of the inventory at Maggies by the end of the week. Tim offers to paint the gallery and Peter offers to take over the inventory since he already knows the ropes, freeing Lou to tend to her guest.

Outside, Amy & Lyndy see Nate & Molly. Amy notices Lyndy and Molly getting along swimmingly, and she suggests to Nate come over for a playdate. Nate asks her if she’s free for a morning ride the following day. She accepts.

Meanwhile, at the dude ranch, Katie and Lou are adding some finishing touches just as their VIP guest, famous writer Elaine Collins, is arriving. Lou & Katie introduce themselves to Elaine, who has the following rules: 1) No noise before 10a.m. 2) Meals to be left outside the door 3) Absolutely no knocking. She came to the dude ranch to write and do research, so she requires absolutely no distractions.

Amy meets her new client, Eleanor, who is actually Ellie, Katie’s dirt biking “friend.” Upon arriving at Heartland, Eleanor looks visibly confused and Amy asks if she was expecting someone else. Ellie replies and says that she didn’t realize where she was until she pulled into the drive. Amy asks if she’s been to Heartland before. Ellie replies that she imagined the famous Amy Fleming would work train out of a fancy show barn, not a humble ranch. She introduces her to Domino, her horse and explains her dilema: they’ve been showing together for the years, but that fall, all of a sudden he started refusing jumps, running out. She says that he’s not a horse that gets spooked easily and has always been really brave. Since they didn’t get any ribbons that past spring, Ellie’s dad, who “doesn’t wanna keep losers” gave her an ultimatum: either they fix the problem or she gets a new horse.

At the dude ranch, Katie walks over to Elaine Collins ask if she can get her anything. Elaine shrewdly guesses that Katie is an aspiring writer herself, and offers her some advice: Don’t even try. The reality of the writing world is too harsh. She tells her to find something else she likes to do and do that. It will make her a lot happier.

Left speechless and visibly defeated, Katie goes for a walk, where she runs into Jack. Jack notices her wiping away tears and asks her what’s wrong. Katie Tells him that she met Elaine Collins, writer of “Murder at Mustang Ford.” Familiar with her books himself, Jack remarks that Elaine is a good writer, but she needs a researcher; alot of her writing is inacurate and unrealistic. Katie tells him that Elaine told her that being a writer is difficult and advised her against even trying. Jack reassures Katie that she can do anything she puts her mind to. Katie replies that even if she is good and has talent for writing, the feedback she got from the last writing competition she was in really rattled her & she hated the way it made her feel. Jack offers that she will learn to handle criticism, but Katie says that maybe she doesn’t want to  – she’s already wasted enough time trying.

We move on to Jessica’s gallery, where Lou is tackling her latest DIY project, painting the walls. As she descends on the ladder, she falls, sending her on another trip back down memory lane: Young Lou is out for a walk, stumbles, and appears to have twisted her ankle. All alone and injured, she hears something (or someone) approaching behind her. She turns to see the same young man from before, wearing the Pryce jacket. He apologizes for startling her & she asks him if he goes to her school. The young man introduces himself as “Nathan.” Could this be Nate Pryce Jr?! He offers to help her go get home, which she refuses. He remains by her side and gives her his jacket while he gets a fire going.

Back to the present-day again: Jack knocks loudly at Elaine’s door at the dude ranch. When she opens the door, he tells her that her advice to Katie was “goofier” than her “description of a cowboy riding a 19-hand mustang” and goes on to tell her that as a kid, Katie deserves to be built up by the people she admires, not torn down. He tells her that he expects her to make it right. Elaine asks her what exactly is wrong with a 19-hand mustang, and Jack lets her know that they don’t even exist. Elaine replies that she doesn’t even like horses. Jack tells her she picked a pretty strange vacation spot! Elaine explains that she’s writing the sequel to “Murder at Mustang Ford” and her editor suggested she come to Heartland to get some hands on experience. Jack offers to give her a lesson in basic horsemanship. In exchange, he wants Elaine to read one of Katie’s stories and give her honest opinion. Elaine accepts his offer, on the condition that she doesn’t have to wear anything with tassels or giant buckles… and she had better come out of it alive.

Tim arrives an hour late at the gallery to help Lou out and the first thing he notices is that she is a total mess. He tells her that he’s worried about her. She replies that she’s just over tired and needs to go home to get cleaned up. As she leaves, we are sent back to the past — we rejoin Young Lou and Young Nate, warming themselves by the fire. She asks him what he’s doing out in the woods anyway. Young Nate replies that he likes the woods and asks Lou why she ran away from home. She shares that her parents split up; her dad left because her mom drove him away, even though she keeps blaming him. It seems like Young Nate can relate: he shares that sometimes it’s like his parents think that he’s deaf because they fight so loudly.

At Amy and Ellie’s training session, Domino is still refusing jumps. Amy observes that the issue might be with the rider, not the horse – Ellie is looking down at fences and putting her body forward, which is throwing Domino off balance. He thinks she’s not ready for the jump. Ellie remarks that Amy’s feedback is basically Jumping 101. Amy replies that it’s also an easy habit to fall into when you’re not concentrating.

In the barn, Katie asks Ellie what she’s doing at Heartland. Ellie quips back that Amy is helping her with Domino. Ellie tells Katie that Brandon doesn’t know about her riding and she doesn’t want him to. He knows her as “Ellie,” the dirtbike rider, not “Eleanor.” Katie promises not to tell Brandon about Ellie’s double life as long as she doesn’t tell Amy and the rest of her family about Katie’s riding.

Lou spots Nate’s truck arriving at the ranch house. He came to get Jack or Tim’s signature on the lease. Lou remarks to him that it feels like fate that he showed up as she gives him back his old jacket. Back in the past: Young Lou shares with Young Nate that she never felt like she belonged at the ranch and wants to go live with her dad who lives up north. She’s been trying to call him since the day before, but he didn’t pick up. Young Nate offers to walk her to a payphone.

Back to Present Lou and Nate: Nate says he forgot the old jacket, but he does remember finding Lou in the woods. Lou tells him that she wondered what happened to him after he vanished from school after their encounter. Nate shares that his mom left his dad, who took him to Montana. Lou reflects that they were in the same boat. Nate replies that they both came through it ok, and “there are some cuts you just learn to live with.”

Amy sees them talking from a distance, possibly misinterpreting their interaction. As he returns to his truck, she asks him if they’re still on for their ride the following morning. Nate replies yes, throwing his old jacket into his truck. Amy looks tense.

The next day, it looks like Amy & Shadow have been stood up. They head back home. Lou pulls up and asks Amy to let Tim know that she’ll be at the gallery – trying to communicate with him via phone is fruitless. Amy tells Lou that she saw her give that old jacket to Nate, but earlier she told her that she didn’t know who it belonged to. Lou tells her that she’s trying to juggle so many things that she can barely keep her head on straight – it was an honest mistake. Amy asks her if she and Nate were friends. Lou asks to talk another time because she has to go.

At Jack’s horsemanship lesson, Elaine is terrified of Sammy, Jack’s demonstration horse, and worried she’ll get bit. Jack informs her that horses are actually prey animals — if they are aggressive, it is because they’re scared or they’ve been hurt. Jack wisely tells her that working with horses requires giving up a certain amount of control because they have their own minds. However, as soon as you earn the horse’s trust, it becomes a partnership. Elaine remarks that the critics “eviscerated” her last book and she is honesetly kind of dreading the release of its sequel. Jack chuckles and asks her if she writes for critics, to which she replies no, of course. He says that it sounds like she needs to refrain from taking her injury and irritation out on young writers. At this moment, he has her mount Sammy, but she’s still not totally relaxed. She’s not ready to move yet. They decide to take a break.

Amy and Ellie keep trying: they make a couple jumps, but as Katie walks up to observe, they stop making progress. Ellie is frustrated and Amy suggests they take a break. Alone, Amy correctly guesses that the two girls know each other. Katie tells her that they’ve hung out a couple times, but they aren’t friends. Amy muses that something  is happening outside of the ring that’s impacting her jumping, and she won’t know how to help her until she opens up.

At the gallery, Tim has finished the painting! Lou is ecstatic… until she notices that he used two different colors of paint: desert sand in demi-gloss & cloud beige in satin gloss. Tim tries to reassure her that no one will be able to tell the difference. Lou says that she will, since she’s the uptight perfectionist that drives everyone crazy. Tim tells her that if it’s important to her they can fix it together. Lou rejects his help & asks for some space; she’ll just do it herself.

In the barn, Ellie says that Katie must be thrilled watching her unravel. Katie replies that she actually prefers the old Ellie, who would tell her to “quit being a chicken and gun it.” Ellie apologizes, on behalf of her alter-ego, for pressuring her to drink. Katie asks why she doesn’t want Brandon to know that she rides. Ellie explains that it has more to do with the fact that she comes from a rich family and doesn’t want him to treat her differently. Katie retorts that it “really sucks” how much they care about what others think. Ellie says that Katie doesn’t seem to care. Katie shares with her that the day prior, she let a total stranger convince her to quit writing. Ellie responds that it’s cool that Katie’s a writer. Suddenly, they hear a dirt bike engine humming in the distance. Katie swiftly tells Ellie to hide in the stable with Domino as Brandon walks into the barn. He came by to say hi since Katie has been AWOL. He notices Ellie’s bag and asks if she’s close by. Just as Katie tries to think of an answer, Ellie reveals herself. Brandon, confused, asks Ellie why she was hiding and why Katie lied. At the same moment, Amy walks into the barn, asking “Eleanor” if she’s ready to get back into the saddle. Amy announces that she’s now the confused one and asks Katie to explain. Katie agrees, but only if Amy promises not to tell Lou.

A very tired Lou is driving, dozing off at the wheel. She briefly flashes back to her younger self at the payphone calling Tim. She loses control and swerves onto the side of the road.

In the barn, Brandon attempts to put together the pieces: When Ellie told him she was “babysitting” on the weekends, she was actually at horse shows. Ellie then reveals that she had been secretly dirt biking with Brandon since last September – the same time Domino started balking at fences. Amy shrewdly observes that Domino’s change in behavior was most likely a result of his sensing Ellie’s newfound stress and distraction. She doesn’t have to choose one hobby over another, but she does need to embrace both.  Brandon reassures her and insists that he doesn’t see her as a rich entitled brat. Ellie says that she feels like she can be herself when she’s dirt biking, but isn’t show jumping a part of her as well?

Lou returns to gallery and is greeted outside by Tim, who ignored her instructions to go home earlier since he figured she was still mad at him. Despite her rattled appearance, he resists the urge to ask if she’s alright. She shares with him that she’s just a bit shaken up due to falling asleep at the wheel. Concerned, he offers her coffee and a bite to eat. Before she accepts, she asks him why they never talk about the phone call she made to him back when she was 15. Tim admits that he doesn’t remember, due to the fact that he was “in pretty bad shape” the whole month after he left, and asks what he said. Lou says that it isn’t important. Tim presses to know more, but Lou just thanks him for the coffee.

Back at the ranch, Ellie and Domino are back in sync! After all those years of being together, Domino can feel Ellie’s emotions even if she thought she was hiding them.

Now, it’s Katie’s turn to live in her truth: she walks over to meet Elaine and Jack. Katie tells Elaine that she’s not going to listen to her advice because she loves writing; it might be a tough business, but so is she, and she’s getting better all the time. Jack listens proudly as she declares that she doesn’t write for everyone, she writes for herself. After Katie storms off, Elaine states to Jack that Katie is very talented (not that she wants to hear her thoughts anymore), and has great potential. Now that they have both made good on their ends of the deal, and Elaine invites Jack over for a glass of wine. He politely declines, saying he has a phone date with Lisa. She laughs and says that all of the good cowboys are taken.

At home, Peter sees Lou lacing up to go for a walk. Right as he goes to change so he can join her, she stops him and says that she needs some time alone. When he says that she’s starting to make him worry, Lou tells him that she’s working through her issues, echoing Nate Pryce when she says that there are some cuts she’ll have to learn to live with.

Outside, Nate explains to Amy that the reason he stood her up that morning was because one of his mares went into labor. He invites her and Lyndy over to name the new foal. He asks if he can ride back with her to Heartland; he still has to get Jack or Tim’s signature on the lease. At that moment, Amy gets an urgent phone call from Tim. She and Nate rush back to the ranch to meet Peter, Katie, Jack and Tim, all on horseback. Amy asks what’s going on & Peter fills her in that Lou went for a walk a couple hours ago and isnt answering anyone’s phone calls, even though she took her phone. Peter & Tim can’t figure out where she was headed: he know that she was upset, but he doesn’t think it’s about the gallery. Tim remembers that she asked him about a phone call she made to him years ago, but his memory is fuzzy on that as well. Nate Pryce Jr, however, has an idea of where she might be – he was with her when she made that phone call to Tim.

In the forest, Lou is back in the same spot she was all those years ago. As Tim approaches, she turns and asks him how he knew where she was. He replies that Nathan Pryce told him. He goes on to tell her that everyone is worried about her, but understood when he told them that he needed some time alone with his daughter. Lou cries and says that her insomnia is happening because her brain won’t stop cycling old memories and she can’t make them stop or drown them out. Especially the memories about the day she ran away from Heartland when she was 15 and Nathan found her. She didn’t want to go home and desperately wanted to just talk to her dad and hear his voice. In another flashback, we see young Lou in the phone booth, calling desperately to Tim, who sounds like he’s at a party – it’s obviously not a good time for her to get through to him; it sounds like he’s trying to drown out his own pain. She asks him to come and pick her up because she doesn’t want to live at Heartland anymore, but Tim refuses and says he’s not coming back. After the call ends, she falls into Young Nate’s arms, sobbing.

Back in the present, Lou reveals that despite the painful memory, she thought that she could pretend that it never happened. She grew up and Tim came back to Heartland, and she was able to bury it. However seeing Nathan brought all of those old memories flooding back. Tim explains that it’s no excuse, but he was “messed up” back then. Lou says that her grown-up self knows that and has forgiven him, but she keeps hearing his voice saying that he isn’t coming home to her 15-year-old self, who thinks her dad doesn’t want her. She sobs and Tim comforts her, saying that he’s sorry if he ever made her feel like he didn’t want her.

When Lou and Time return home, Amy apologizes to Lou for pressuring her about Nathan. Lou apologizes for lying. Inside, Lou tells Peter and Katie that everything that happened was a good reminder to be honest and talk about things, even if it’s uncomfortable. Inspired, Katie tells her parents she has started a new hobby, dirt biking. Just like Ellie, Katie feels free to be herself, too.

Amy thanks Nate for looking after her sister all those years ago and shares with him Lyndy has a couple of ideas for names for the new foal: Dancer or Peanut. Nate says that he likes them both & they ride off into the distance.

This might have been the beset episode of the season yet! It’s cool to see that the Pryce and Fleming families have more of a shared history than we originally thought. It is also touching to see Lou heal her relationship with Tim.

In the comments let us know how you deal when you’re having tough times. Do you like to talk things out with a loved one, or do you learn how to live with your “cuts” like Nate & Lou?


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Zoie Taylor is the Streaming Coordinator for UP Faith & Family. She loves all things TV & Film. Her top 3 titles on UP Faith & Family are Heartland, Wildfire, and The Engagement Plot. Her favorite Heartland characters are Lisa and Jessica.

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