We’re slowly nearing the end of Heartland season 17. But before that happens, we still have four more episodes to go, and this week we enjoyed another interesting one that unraveled a few big secrets.
From Amy’s new client horse, whose rider was none other than Katie’s frenemy Ellie, to the reason for Lou’s insomnia and Jack’s surprising interaction with a guest at the dude ranch, here is our recap of Heartland season 17 episode 7.
Embracing both sides
As I do with most recaps, I’ll start this one off with the main horse storyline of the episode. And besides just Amy helping the rider, Amy’s new client also had a surprising connection to Katie.
At the start of the episode, we saw a horse trailer pull into Heartland only for Katie’s kind-of-but-not-really friend, Ellie, to step out dressed for showjumping.
It was clear that Ellie didn’t know that Amy is Katie’s aunt because she looked visibly shocked to see Katie’s house in the distance.
Fortunately for her, Ellie covered up her shock pretty well and went on to tell Amy about Domino, the horse she’s been showjumping on for three years.
Apparently, this past September, Domino had started to refuse jumps, causing Ellie to lose competitions. And Ellie’s dad had set an ultimatum – either she fixes the problem, or she has to get a new horse, one who will win Ellie ribbons.
Amy, of course, didn’t want to see Ellie have to give up Domino, so she asked Ellie to show her exactly what the problem is.
It started out fine, but then Domino started refusing jumps just as Ellie noticed that Katie is walking toward them. In fact, Ellie was so distracted that she had a hard time keeping a conversation with Amy.
Amy’s whole point during said conversation was that part of the reason Domino doesn’t want to jump is that Ellie is distracted and not focusing on keeping her body level, which sends a message to Domino that Ellie is not ready for the jump. And Ellie’s frequent glances at Katie only proved Amy’s point.
After Ellie excused herself from the jumping ring, Katie walked up to her in the barn, and the two had words that ended in them promising to keep each other’s secrets – Ellie won’t tell Amy or anyone else in Katie’s family about her dirt biking if Katie doesn’t tell Brandon about Ellie being a jumper.
Amy also clearly noticed how quickly Ellie called for a break after she saw Katie. So she knew that something’s up with Ellie and Katie. And the next day, when Domino started acting up the second Katie walked up to the jumping ring Ellie was training in, Amy’s suspicions were confirmed.
So, Amy decided to ask Katie point blank if the two of them knew each other.
Katie had to admit that, yes, they had hung out a few times. And she also said that although Katie doesn’t know Ellie that well, she does know that Ellie usually is a confident daredevil, not the frustrated mess that she saw now.
This helped Amy figure out that Domino might not be the problem here, after all, something was going on with Ellie.
After that, Katie decided to go talk to Ellie, since Amy told her that unless Ellie opens up to her, she can’t really help her. And surprisingly, the two actually had a good conversation.
Ellie: “It’s more so about the fact that I come from a rich family. I don’t want him to treat me differently.”
Katie: “Man, it really sucks how much we care about what other people think. Like, why does it even matter?”
Ellie: “I mean, you don’t seem to. Care, I mean.”
Katie: “Oh, yeah? Yesterday, I let a complete stranger convince me to quit writing. Like, so she’s some famous novelist. She doesn’t even know me.”
Ellie: “You’re a writer? I think that’s cool.”
But just when Ellie and Katie were finding common ground, they heard Bandon ride up.
Katie helped Elli hide in the pen with Domino and tried to get Brandon away from the barn. But he noticed Ellie’s bag sitting on the bench, and when Brandon didn’t believe Katie’s lie about it being just some random client’s bag, Ellie had to fess up.
Luckily, it actually turned out to be a good thing that Brandon found out.
Amy made them all sit down and talk about what happened, and it helped them figure out that Domino started balking at fences the same time Ellie started dirt biking with Brandon.
So, Amy explained to Ellie that Domino senses the stress and distraction that keeping her two lives – showjumping and dirt biking – separate causes Ellie since Ellie told Brandon that she had to babysit on the weekends she was actually at horse shows. And advised Ellie to embrace both sides of her.
Which clearly worked since later, we saw Ellie and Domino jump with ease.
On top of that, Brandon was impressed by not only Ellie’s jumping skills but also that Katie showed so much loyalty to Ellie by trying to keep Ellie’s secret from him.
It looks like the friendship between Katie, Brandon and Ellie is becoming stronger and stronger. Now, I want to know if we will see more of this trio in the last three episodes because I would love to see them riding their dirt bikes more, especially now that the relationship between Katie and Ellie is considerably better.
And, of course, Amy also successfully helped another client.
Next week, we will see her helping an equestrian vaulting team prepare for a big competition, which should be really interesting because that’s the second equestrian discipline this season that we haven’t yet seen on the show. And since it’s basically gymnastics on horseback, it should be amazing to watch.
Cuts you learn to live with
All throughout this season, we have seen Lou struggle with her newfound reality after losing the mayoral election in episode 1702. And more recently, she’s also been struggling with insomnia. So much so that it caused her to miss a meeting at the bank and almost cost Jessica her gallery.
Well, in this episode, we finally found out the reason for her insomnia, which also revealed a surprising connection Lou has with Jack and Tim’s business rival, Nathan Pryce.
Heartland season 17 episode 7 started with Lou tossing and turning in bed, unable to sleep, only to get up and start sorting through boxes of old clothes after remembering a memory of her 15-year-old self calling someone from a phone booth while wearing a letterman jacket.
When Amy found Lou on the living room floor surrounded by old boxes at 6 a.m., she was understandably concerned. But Lou just brushed it off as getting a jump on things and told Amy that she can’t find one particular box.
Amy suggested that Lou try the cellar, and that’s where Lou finally found the box she was looking for.
What was in it? A Hudson Junior Rodeo letterman jacket with the last name Pryce on the sleeve. Interesting, right?
When Amy found Lou in the cellar holding the jacket and crying, she asked her sister what’s wrong. However, Lou quickly hid the jacked back in the box and ran out of the cellar.
All throughout the rest of the episode, Lou was tired and distracted, trying her best to hold herself together even though she was slowly unraveling bit by bit. And the fact that she was so busy with the dude ranch, Maggie’s, and the gallery wasn’t helping.
Luckily, Peter and Tim offered to help out. Peter decided to finish the inventory at Maggie’s for Lou while Tim took it upon himself to help Lou finish painting the gallery after the painters messed up and left Lou to finish the job herself.
So, after Lou met a VIP guest, a famous author whom we will talk more about in Jack’s portion of the recap, at the dude ranch, she headed to the gallery to finish painting the walls. But that didn’t go smoothly because Lou tripped and fell, which triggered another memory of 15-year-old Lou wandering through the woods, tripping and spraining her ankle, only to meet a boy who goes to her school, Nathan.
Back in real-time, once Tim finally showed up to help her paint an hour late, Lou snapped at her dad after he asked if she’s all right. And that gave us another part of the memory of a younger Lou – one where Lou and Nathan were sitting by the fire, talking.
In the memory, we saw the younger version of Lou telling the younger version of Nathan that she ran away from home because her parents split up for good and that she was angry at her mom because Lou thought that Marion drove her dad away. While Nathan confessed that his parents often had loud fights, too.
Things were finally starting to make more sense.
And then, in real-time, Lou met Nathan in front of the ranch house just as she was heading out with the letterman jacked in her hands and Nathan was arriving with the land lease for Tim and Jack to sign.
This chance encounter gave us another bit of the memory of young Lou and Nathan talking in the woods, Lou telling him that she doesn’t want to go home because she never thought that she belonged at the ranch and that she was going to go live with her dad up north. And Nathan offered to walk her to the pay phone so Lou could call Tim and ask him to pick her up.
When Lou showed Nathan his old jacked back in real-time, he said that he remembered the moments he and Lou shared in the woods. And we also finally got an explanation for the comment Lou said back in episode 1703 about Natahan leaving suddenly when they were teenagers when she, Jack and Tim met Nathan to discuss the grazing land.
Lou: “Really? You vanished from school so soon after that, I always wondered what happened to you.”
Nathan: “My mom left my dad. Took me to Montana.”
Lou: “I guess we were in the same boat.”
Nathan: “We both came through it okay.”
Lou: “It’s strange, though. I just… I keep replaying that day in my head. I’d hardly thought about it for two decades, and then you showed up.”
Nathan: “Guess some cuts you just learn to live with.”
Side note: Amy, whom Nathan asked out for a morning ride earlier that day, saw the whole exchange and was suspicious of the encounter. And then, when Nathan stood Amy up the next morning, and Lou blew Amy off when she asked her sister about the jacket, Amy assumed the worst – that Lou and Nathan had a thing back in the day. But more on that in the next section.
And although, yes, Lou and Nathan shared something back then, it wasn’t a romantic relationship or even a friendship really. Because by the end of the episode, we found out that Nathan was just there for Lou when Lou’s whole life changed.
When Tim found Lou in the woods after Peter raised the alarm that Lou had been gone for hours after going for a walk and is not picking up her phone, we were treated to another memory. This time of a young Lou calling Tim to come get her, only for a drunk Tim to pick up and proceed to tell her that he’s not coming home and that Lou shouldn’t call him anymore when Lou begged him to come home. The memory ended with Lou running into Nathan’s arms after Tim hung up and asking him to take her home.
Finally, all the truth about what happened twenty years ago, why Lou wasn’t sleeping and what her connection to Nathan Pryce is was out in the open.
Not only did Lou tell Tim about it and how it affected her then, but also confessed that although grown-up Lou has forgiven Tim for all of it, that 15-year-old girl is still in there somewhere, hurting over the fact that her dad doesn’t want her. And Tim understood, apologizing to his daughter about making her feel that way and telling Lou that it’s okay to still feel hurt because “we don’t get to choose when our wounds heal.”
It seemed that a huge weight had finally been taken off Lou’s shoulders after her talk with Tim. And Lou even told Peter and Katie about all of it as a reminder to be honest and talk things out, even if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Which prompted Katie to finally tell her parents about her new dirt biking hobby.
Lou, understandably, was a bit concerned about Katie’s choice of hobbies, but she also let Katie continue doing what she loves. And when Katie started telling her parents a story about one of her outings with Brandon and Ellie, Lou fell asleep, showing that now that she had that much-needed conversation with Tim, she could finally sleep again.
So, Peter and Katie threw a blanket over Lou and left her to finally rest.
This whole storyline was so unexpected, but I’m glad they explored it because it showed us a bit more of what the characters went through before the show started and, therefore, gave us context for things that happened in season 1.
And it also informs us on what these characters had gone through to get to this point. Because, we all know that season 1 Lou and Tim were vastly different from who these characters are now in season 17. I have to say, I like Tim and Lou so much better now!
So, in the previous section, I briefly mentioned Nathan asking Amy out on a morning ride (*cough* date *cough*) and then standing her up, which made Amy think that Nathan and Lou might have had a thing back in the day.
Well, after the friendship that developed between the two during episode 1706 while they were at the working cowhorse competition, it seemed that they were becoming friendlier and friendlier. And there even seemed to be a bit of a spark between the two.
So Amy was quick to accept Nathan’s invitation for a morning ride after she and Lyndy met Nathan out in the fields one morning, and Lyndy fell in love with Nathan’s dog, Molly.
But then Amy witnessed that exchange between Lou and Nathan, and Nathan didn’t show up for their riding date the next morning. So, Amy didn’t quite know what to think anymore.
Luckily, Nathan cleared up the confusion later that day, telling Amy that the reason he didn’t show up for their ride was that one of his new mares had turned out to be pregnant and had complicated labor late the previous night. He even asked Amy if Lyndy would like to meet the foal and give her a name. But before they could finish their ride, Tim called Amy and told her to come home because Lou is missing and they’re preparing to go search for her.
Nathan decided to help, too, so he and Amy showed up at Heartland together (to everyone’s surprise but especially Tim’s), ready to go looking for Lou. But when Peter said that Lou mentioned a cut she needed to learn to live with before she left for her walk hours ago, Nathan realized that he might actually know where Lou is since he was the one who said those words to Lou hours earlier.
The truth about Lou and Nathan’s secret connection was finally out in the open. And when Amy mentioned it to Nathan when they were out riding again, Nathan denied that he and Lou ever had a thing again. So, Amy thanked him for looking out for Lou all those years ago and told him about the names Lyndy was coming up for Nathan’s new foal as they were riding off into the distance together.
That conversation about Lyndy coming up with names for Nathan’s foal and Nathan appearing happy about it seems to indicate that a real relationship is developing between Amy and Nathan. And the fact that Amy was ready to bring her daughter into it bodes well for the two of them.
Looking back, she never did that during her thing with Finn, so that might be a sign that Nathan is here to stay.
I mean, they did seem quite flirty with each other, both in the previous episode and in this one. And Amy, for once, looked to be really into the guy. So, who knows, we might just be getting Amy’s first boyfriend after Ty soon.
What do you think? Do you want Amy and Nathan to get together this season? Or would you like them to remain just friends for a while longer? Let me know in the comments!
Lessons in giving advice
Finally, let’s talk about that dude ranch VIP guest of Lou’s that Jack helped win over.
As I mentioned, Lou had a super important guest arrive at the dude ranch that she had to personally meet when she arrived. And Katie tagged along to help because that guest was Elaine Collins, a famous writer that Katie admires.
However, it was clear that Elaine did not want to be there. And she appeared to be entitled and rude, proven by the fact that she basically told Katie to quit writing when the teen asked her idol for advice on becoming a professional novelist.
That advice really upset Katie and made her doubt herself and her skills to the point of actually wanting to quit. So, when Jack found Katie walking back from the dude ranch crying a while late and she told her GG all that, Jack headed straight for the dude ranch to say a few choice words to Elaine. After all, he didn’t care that she’s some famous writer, to Jack, she was just the woman who hurt his great-granddaughter.
But after Jack told Elaine off and told her that her book was inaccurate, they got to talking, and Jack offered to give Elaine a lesson in basic horsemanship in exchange for Elaine reading one of Katie’s stories. And Elaine agreed.
So, the next day, Jack went to the dude ranch for Elaine’s lesson.
At first, Elaine was terrified, saying that a horse had almost bitten off her friend’s finger. But Jack assured the woman that the horse they were using, Sammy, wouldn’t do that. He got Sammy moving much like Amy usually does with horses in the pen and told Elaine a bit more about them and the trust there has to be between a horse and a rider.
And eventually, Jack not only got Elaine on the horse, but he also got her to open up.
It turns out she was so rude to Katie and so uptight in general because she had come to the dude ranch to work on the sequel to one of her novels, Murder at Mustang Ford. And since critics had eviscerated that novel, she was dreading writing the next one, not wanting to be devastated by what critics have to say about her work again.
So, Jack told her that she should think less about what other people think of her writing. And Elaine realized that she should stop putting out her frustration over what critics think on others, especially her fans.
Jack: “Well, sounds to me like you need to put less stock in other people’s opinions.”
Elaine: “And refrain from taking my injury and irritation out on young writers.”
Jack: “I wasn’t gonna say it.”
And thanks to Ellie, later that day, Katie was brave enough to tell Elaine to her face that she’s not listening to her advice because she’s okay with the fact that not everyone will like her writing and that Katie thinks that she’s tough enough to handle the rejection that comes with being a writer.
Katie’s strong will and stubbornness not only pleasantly surprised Elaine, but the novelist actually told Jack that Katie’s a really talented writer. After all, Elaine should know since she read Katie’s story that Jack sent her.
So, it looks like Jack not only made a friend but also managed to help Elaine overcome her struggles with her next novel. And in return, Elaine helped confirm his suspicions that his great-granddaughter might just become a big deal in the writing world one day.
Although it was funny to hear Elaine ask Jack for a glass of wine after their lesson, only for Jack to have to turn her down because he is, in fact, happily married.
Jack truly is one of a kind, helping two people reignite their passion for writing without even trying. And I’m glad they gave him this storyline in this episode because it just showed how much he loves his family and how protective he is of it.
Last thoughts on Heartland season 17 episode 7
Usually, Lou is a pretty put-together character, so it was interesting yet also unsettling to watch her unravel in this episode, especially when we saw her fall asleep at the wheel.
Fortunately for Lou, she woke up in time before anything bad could happen, but it definitely was the wake-up call Lou needed to start figuring out what’s actually bothering her before something worse happened.
READ NEXT: Heartland season 17 episode 8 recap
Now that there was a resolution to the whole Tim as well as Nathan thing, I wonder how Lou will handle the stress of the gallery opening in the next episode.
I hope that after everything Lou’s gone through this season, she will lean on the people around her for support and won’t let the stress get her off balance again.
Promo for Heartland season 17 episode 8
And here is the promo for the next episode:
Titled “Harmony” Heartland episode 1708 will see Amy helping a vaulting team before a big competition. While Lou and Jessica will be in for a stressful gallery opening. Caleb will face a tough decision about Carson. And Logan will finally realize where his future lies.