Angels in the Stretch
At Los Alamitos Race Course, a track regular named Les Ferrar goes to the stables to check on a colt named Perdition. He scribbles a note to himself - it seems as if something is wrong, and he announces he's going to have a word with the horse's trainer. Before he can get out the door, a drunken stable hand named Gates brains him with a shovel. His Irish co-stableboy helps dump the body in with a stallion to make it look like an accident.
The dead guy's daughter Valerie hires the Angels, insisting her dad knows horses too well to get himself kicked to death by one. Going through Les' belongings, Sabrina finds the note he made in the previous scene, and Valerie decodes "WT SPT LL CHK" to mean "white spot lower left cheek." She explains that her father took wonderfully thorough notes about each and every horse - almost thorough enough to write down the name of the horse he was talking about! Sabrina's mission: find the horse with the white spot.
Back at Los Alamitos, Sabrina's already in riding gear, fast-talking her way into a job as an exercise boy with jockey aspirations. Standing aside her for some reason is Kelly, acting vaguely as if she's supposed to be a socialite. She meets a wealthy ranch owner named Carter Gillis, introducing herself as a friend of Valerie's / magazine writer, digging for a story about the dead guy. Sensing her grace and elegance, he sets up a breakfast date.
Sabrina meets Kevin Ryan, the cute Irish guy who speaks charmingly, though much like a Leprechaun. They strike up a good rapport, however he and Gates grow suspicious when she asks a string of painfully obvious questions about the "accident," even going to far as to ask point-blank about the white spot. Kevin decides to test Sabrina by racing against her, but she proves her riding skills and he seems impressed.
Up in a restaurant overlooking the track, Kelly and Gillis are sharing brunch completely alone, because he's had the chef come in to cook specially for them. (Awkward.) He snobbishly talks down on his father - the original source of his wealth - and rambles about his family history, information which never becomes relevant. Kelly, and we, are bored.
Sabrina works out Perdition and thinks he's a real winner, but everybody around the track keeps insisting he's a complete dud. Convinced she knows better than the entire staff after a single workout, she starts to suspect a horse-switching scam, and that maybe it's Perdition who's supposed to have this famous white spot... but he doesn't.
Kris and Bosley finally enter into the story, posing as buyers from Arizona, wanting to talk to Gates about buying Perdition. Gates insists the horse is terrible, but their price only goes higher; cornswaddled, he simply ignores their request and leaves. Suspicious!
Later that day, Sabrina, Kris and Bosley check Perdition out and find his tattoo number, unaware that a now drunken Gates is watching from afar. As soon as the Arizonans leave, he comes in and attacks Sabrina, only to be promptly beaten down. When he comes at her with a shovel, she falls down in a pile of hay and makes no move to get out of the way; luckily, before he can take a swing, he suffers a fatal heart attack.
In a nighttime office meeting, Sabrina drinks to settle her nerves while Charlie confirms that Perdition is a twin, and the other foal was sold to somebody in Mexico. Sabrina mentions having seen Kevin's Mexican-looking wallet at lunch - Kelly helpfully adds, "Like maybe he just bought it in Mexico?" They theorize that Kevin went there to get Perdition's champion twin. Since the episode is half over, this series of hunches turns out to be correct.
Out having coffee together, Sabrina confides in Kevin that she thinks Gates tried to kill her. He tries to convince her that Gates was just a nasty old drunk and didn't know what he was saying, but she keeps pushing the topic of Perdition until Kevin becomes openly agitated.
Kris and Bosley rig up a horse trailer to the Bosleymobile and take a drive to find Perdition's twin. 60 miles away at a diner / horse pasture run by a Dolly Parton wannabe, they finally locate the twin (well, there's a horse there, so that must be him) and transport him back to L.A.
Kevin has a secret meeting with Gillis to warn him that Sabrina knows too much about Perdition, and furthermore, he suspects Sabrina and Kelly are in cahoots. Gillis poo-poos the idea, insisting Kelly is a lovely, refined lady, and if they were standing near each other, it was just a coincidence. He then encourages Kevin to kill Sabrina if he must. (In the Angelverse, murder is not nearly as serious as fraud.)
Still in costume, everyone reconvenes at the office for a pep talk. Charlie reminds them that while they've uncovered the horse-switching thing, they still haven't figured out who killed Les Ferrar, which was the actual case. In the interest of justice, the Angels decide to un-fix the race. They quickly switch horses, leading the genuine (loser) toward the lineup and hiding the champ in their trailer.
Gillis charmingly excuses himself from Kelly's restaurant table and then returns with tickets for a zillion dollar bet on Perdition. Staking out the betting windows, Sabrina observes Kevin also putting big money on Perdition. This means they're the bad guys, because in a real race, no one would ever bet on a long shot, right? Furthermore, they seem to be the ONLY ones betting on Perdition, which really simplifies things.
When the race begins, the bad guys are unnerved to hear the announcer reporting their prize pony dead last. Suspicious, Kevin goes back to the stable and finds the trailer where they've parked Fake Perdition. When he realizes he's been had, Sabrina is already behind him with her gun trained. He jumps her, and after a long wrestle in the dirt, manages to grab the gun away from her stunt double. Luckily, just then Kris appears to strike a cowgirl pose, "Hold it!" and turn the tables back around.
Kevin: "I was right about you all along... but those pretty brown eyes got in the way."
Meanwhile, Gillis is crestfallen when Perdition loses the race miserably - Kelly explains that it was the real Perdition. Amazingly, instead of making any effort to resist, Gillis admits guilt, offering an explanation for his motive: he's used to living rich. Good one, buddy.
Back at the office, Bosley's acting weird and distracted, and the girls discover he's secretly listening to a race on earphones. Ha-ha, Bosley has a gambling addiction! As the winners are announced, he buries his face with a sob. Kelly asks, "Did you win?" Really?
• Gates worries about Sabrina mentioning a white spot on Perdition's "lower left cheek," but she actually never specified "lower."
• If Kelly and Sabrina aren't supposed to know one another, why were they hanging out together at the track at the beginning?
• A boom microphone dips into the shot while Kelly is talking to the trainer.
• When meeting Gates, Kris extends her hand toward the camera and you can kinda see that no one shakes it.
• One shot of the outside of the stable comes from The Killing Kind.
• Even if Gates had a humongous heart attack, it's pretty unlikely he would have actually died before hitting the ground. OR, Sabrina felt his pulse and found him alive, but decided to let him die instead of seeking help!
• In the office scene when they're talking about Kevin's wallet, keep your eye on Kris for continuity fun. She's accidentally in the same spot of consecutive shots from different angles. The glass of liquor on Bosley's desk also changes places.
• Jaclyn wedding ring alert.
• Cheryl says, "Let's try and frind Fred's cabin." Props for keeping a poker face and not having to re-shoot.
• Why did they have Sabrina specify that Perdition was left somewhere along the inland route to San Francisco if they were going to use stock footage of Kris and Bosley driving on PCH, wouldn't that be the coastal route?
• Kris and Bosley's drive out to Foreman's Cove was done with stock shots of Bosley's car going along the highway with Cheryl and David's voice-overs added. They barely had any screen time in this one anyway, why did they have to literally phone in that scene?
• The rhythm and vibe of the "Who's on first" banter that Kris and Bos have with Fred feels exactly like the banter Kris and Bri had with Black Jack in Angels on the Run. “Black Jack, you're a card” becomes “Fred, you're a prince.”
• It doesn't cross Sabrina's mind that maybe Gates killed Les with the shovel, the same way he tried to do to her?
• The closeup of Sabrina covering Perdition's cheek spot is reversed, making it appear that the famous spot is on his right cheek, as well as Sabrina's hand-double mimicing the watch and pinkie ring worn on the wrong hand. Why would they flip the shot? The only explanation must be that they thought the rightness of Sabrina's hand took precedence over the leftness of Perdition's spot.
• When not even all of the Angels were really being utilized in the final scenes, what was the need to introduce two EXTRA nameless detectives and then not use them, either?
• Gillis put up $10 for Kelly's bet, with which she won $110. There's a $10 bill and a $100 bill. At the end when he's about to be carted away, she says "Here's your ten dollars," but hands him both bills. He declines and the waiter takes it all as a tip. Why didn't Kelly keep the $100? She won it fair and square. And the waiter walks away counting it in amazement. What's he flipping through? There's only the 2 bills.
• Did they all ride Perdition back to the office? There's no cars parked outside at the end.
SHOTS FIRED AT ANGELS
SHOTS FIRED BY ANGELS
DAYS TO SOLVE CASE
Kelly seems off for the whole episode, having departed from her usual hairdo - first a side part, then a hat. Is this supposed to look more refined? Sabrina basically wears the plaid top and riding pants throughout the episode. If ever there was an excuse to put her back in those jodhpurs from the Pilot episode, this was it.
Kris feels it's necessary to dress up as a cowgirl to attend a horse race in Los Angeles, complete with boots and a 10-gallon hat. Bosley's also in his standard western regalia throughout, even though they have no further contact with any characters they're undercover from. PRO TIP: to pretend to be Arizonan, simply pretend to be Texan, but without an accent.
Wardrobe Repeats Bosley's orange plaid shirt is the same one from Angels on Horseback. Kris repeats her purple top from Angels in Waiting. Sabrina's wearing her Disco Angels wintertime Dad jacket in the opener and her Professor Duncan tweed look by the end. Her gray button-down shirt seems to be stolen from Kelly in Haunted Angels.
This whole episode is based on the notion that nobody was able to tell Perdition from his twin. While everyone's busy watching for that tiny little spot on the left cheek, they're ignoring other prominent markings on the horses' faces which change drastically from scene to scene. There were definitely more than 2 different horses playing Perdition. As Bosley kept insisting, the racing commissions are indeed very specific about any markings on a racehorse, all of which have to be carefully recorded if you ever register one. We have consulted a list of different kinds of facial markings to brush up on our horse terminology.
STUNTMEN IN WIGS
As usual, Kate gets a point for doing some of her own riding. But the number of "lady jockey" and "female excercise boy" lines in this episode make it funnier to notice that, while racing Kevin, a particularly muscular stuntman is doing her riding. Furthermore, a lady stuntman takes over when it's time to wrestle Kevin.
SCREEN TIME ANALYSIS
It's Sabrina's biggest spotlight of the year, and considering this is the year when solo episodes started happening, that's really not saying much.
- HOW MUCH OF THE EPISODE HAS AT LEAST ONE ANGEL/BOSLEY IN IT 83%
The last time Sabrina got owned in 2 fights in the same episode, James Gammon was a guest star as well! With a very similar role! Coincidence? Probably not, but this is what we do. Sabrina begins her first fight with an impressive combo that stuns her attacker, two gut punches and a hard smack in the face. Hard to call this a win since if her her attacker hadn't keeled over from a heart attack, she probably would have gotten shoveled 1 second later. More like a win by forfeit.
Later, we're less impressed when she's got her crosshairs on Kevin from 5 feet away and he's still able to tackle her and then hold her up with her own gun. After Kris shows up, Sabrina tries to save face by kicking the gun out of Kevin's hand, which did at least look kinda cool.
A COVER FOR HER COVER
Why'd Kelly need to be Valerie's friend AND a magazine writer doing a story about Les? That's two covers, and she really didn't end up making use of either of them. After that first scene, neither Gillis nor Kelly mentioned anything pertaining to Valerie, Les, or her supposed magazine article. The only reason Gillis even liked her in the first place was that she was all pretty and rich and Jaclyn Smithy.
Once again an Angel is able to walk in from the street and get hired immediately with no background check or mention of prior experience. The ease with which Sabrina becomes an exercise boy is amazing, as is the others' contention that she "rides well" and “really has a feel for the horse” when she had only been in the saddle for 3 seconds and had not even completed one lap, but whatever.
VERY UNPOSITIVE DETECTIVE WORK
Of course as soon as Sabrina cons her way into the stable, she immediately starts asking a whole bunch of suspicious questions with absolutely no subtlety about the “killer horse” so most of the bad guys are tipped off within her first 10 minutes on the job. C'mon, Smart One. Later she confers in the stables publicly with Kris and Bosley where it was entirely possible that any number of potential suspects would see and hear them. Pretty sure Sabrina is perfectly capable of writing down a number without Kris and Bosley's help.
John David Carson, the Irish jockey, later played Kim Cattrall's crooked husband-to-be in Angels at the Altar.
James Gammon (Gates) played Billy in Angels on Ice a year earlier.
Richard Bakalyan, Perdition's trainer, later played Eddie in Avenging Angel and then Artie, the trainer in Mr. Galaxy.
Sidney Clute (the late Les Ferrar) was also Lembeck, the auxiliary bad guy in Dirty Business.
David Hedison (Gillis) later played John Thornwood, the conman from He Married An Angel.
Lawrence Doheny also directed Angels on a String and Angel on High.
Bob Mitchell also wrote Teen Angels.
Anna's Rating: When I get past the accent, I do like the relationship between Sabrina and Kevin. They have no problem killing/apprehending one another, yet also genuinely seem to like each other. I just appreciate that he's neither the typical goon nor love-interest-is-the-bad-guy character. Also, Angels at the Altar makes me realize I liked this guy a lot better Irish than not. Why does Sabrina's momentary accent sound so hesitant when she played a full-blown Irish maid 3 weeks earlier in Mother Angel? Kelly exhibits exactly the same phenomenon - in the first scene with Gillis, she puts on a hint of that upper-crust Kelly O'Tulips lockjaw slur to appear wealthy, and then it disappears.
I guess this was a Sabrina-centric episode because Kate's the only one that could/would ride a horse, but I'm glad she had the main role. I don't know if I could take another Kris pseudo-romance, and Kelly really isn't the girl-stableboy type. In fact, she absolutely did not need to come to work this week. Her total contribution was sitting with that boring guy at the restaurant in various identical scenes. Kris and Bosley were more useful for legwork, but seemed to simply loiter around for the rest of the hour in cowboy hats.
Greg's Rating: While there is nothing particularly wrong with this episode it's just not that memorable. With the focus on Sabrina as a jockey it actually felt a lot like a early season 1 ep where Bri did all the detective work and acting while the other 2 posed. Charlie hiring the Angels 2 male detectives as “back up” further gave this ep a early season 1 feel. No gun fights or car chases, not even a horse chase which makes no sense. Sabrina gets in and sorta loses 2 fights, Kris gets to wear tight ass western gear and yell freeze and Kelly wallows in her weird hair. Ho Hum.