Many of the McMurrays' futures were on the line on Ride Season 1 Episode 7, including Isabel's, Cash's, and Missy's.
Isabel convinced the locals about Canyon Stadium, Cash decided whether to ride with an injury, and Missy decided that displeased Frontier.
Instead of the shock and awe of the last few episodes, "Ride or Die" focused on the character development, family relationships, and sense of community that initially made me love the series.
Isabel and Hank made a deal with the devil, Daniel Booker, to invest in their new rodeo stadium. Isabel only agreed because she thought it would help save the ranch.
Unfortunately, many of the locals were uneasy about Booker's involvement, and soon Isabel became unsure as well.
Partnering with Daniel Booker was a disaster waiting to happen. He only cared about the corporate business side of things, whereas Isabel is a savvy businesswoman with a heart.
Isabel didn't want to outsource with PR when they could partner with the community.
Daniel Booker rubbed Isabel the wrong way when he implied she couldn't multitask at running the ranch and the stadium and helping her children.
While the stadium was Dusty's initially, Hank wanted to bring it to life. We are still unsure of his motives, but I suspect he and Booker are working together.
Hank only cared about how the new stadium benefitted the town. Some of his speech sounded like the bullet points that Daniel Booker pointed out. The more he tried to persuade the town, the angrier they got.
Only Isabel knew how to clean up this mess. She stopped the town's protests by reminding them they were a family.
When I lost him and Austin, this community took care of me because that is what family does.Isabel
Isabel got the community to support the new stadium by reiterating the one thing she told Daniel Booker --the McMurray name is behind it. That name meant something, and the community knew they could trust her.
Unfortunately for Hank and Daniel Booker, Isabel also promised Canyon wasn't for sale and the locals would be involved. She won. Hank looked so angry but was trying to hide it on stage. What deal did these men have?
Missy also experienced undue pressure, affecting her future as Cash's coach and a Frontier ambassador.
Since she was so distracted after running into Polly at the BBQ on Ride Season 1 Episode 5, Missy blamed herself for not realizing how severe Cash's injury was.
Isobel made things worse when she lectured them both, so Missy felt that she failed as a coach and a wife for not realizing something was wrong before Austin cheated.
Missy assumed she was getting away from stress when she agreed to judge the Miss Rodeo Rocky Mountain Pageant, but being there brought up more memories.
Missy had been away from the pageant world for so long she had forgotten what it was like. Some of these young girls wanted to make a difference and help others, whereas others were so nervous in person, but they had social media platforms.
Missy hit it off with Georgia because she remembered having a difficult; time training, and being able to communicate with horses helped her too. Equine therapy is essential for those who have difficulty talking but bond with animals.
Frontier wanted another girl to win, so did Missy cross some bridges since she voted for Georgia?
Being at the pageant made Missy realize how much of her dreams she gave up to help Austin. I appreciated how Isabel went to Denver to check on Missy and see them forge a new understanding.
Isabel: I know I’ve been tough with you.
Missy: You always have been. I remember when you were my coach, and now you’re coaching me, coach Cash.
Isabel: You’re right, and that isn’t fair. I owe you an apology. Missy, you are a great coach. He needs you.
When Isabel and Cash learned about Austin cheating, it changed everything.
Cash has always wanted to prove that he's better than his big brother, but not at the expense of hurting himself or others.
Missy: Austin cheated.
Cash: Huh? But Polly said…
Missy: Not on me. He cheated at bull riding.
Missy didn't understand why Austin cheated, but she was terrified of losing Cash too, and Cash never wanted to hurt Missy. It was so much more than that, though.
Cash had difficulty being idle, which was another reason he kept training. It was part of his PTSD from being in the war and seeing so much trauma. It helped to stay busy.
Cash: I don’t know how to be okay. You don’t what I saw over there, Mom. I saw people die, people with families. I got to do something.
Isobel: It’ll always be hard for me to trust that you riding bulls will be okay.
I'm relieved the series addressed Cash's PTSD as one of the reasons he works so hard and is conflicted about still racing with a fractured wrist. It was sad that Valeria was the only one who understood his dilemma.
Valeria: I get why you’re conflicted.
Cash: Thank you. Seriously, you’re the only one not making me feel like an idiot for contemplating riding with an injury.
Initially, I thought Cash would ride no matter what, so I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered that he was different from Austin and let the injury heal. There was still enough brotherly rivalry that he beat Austin's mechanical bull score, though.
While the love triangle wasn't the focus, Missy and Gus shared an awkward first date. The two are sweet and adorable with Sophie but lack the heat Missy shares with Cash.
Even when Missy and Cash are arguing, there is passion there. These two shared such longing looks at the bar. Hopefully, it's coming.
Tuff has faded into the background as the reliable McMurray there to help and the one most affected by Valeria's absence. However, the series hadn't dived into his story beyond his dating life, so learning more about him and his character development was enjoyable.
Tuff was more private with his music and didn't feel comfortable with a large crowd knowing his personal thoughts. I loved that Janine found his song lyrics and knew he lied when he claimed someone sent them in.
Janine initially comes across as a spoiled brat, but underneath, she has a caring heart. She's so much fun with Tuff since she can ruffle his feathers, but she also cares about him. They sang a beautiful duet together, and I'd love to see it again.
It seemed like Tuff might stick to his usual playlist, but seeing Julian there for support bolstered him. Learning those little nuggets about his insecurity fleshed out his character, and hopefully, we'll learn even more.
"Ride or Die" was one of the few episodes in Ride Season 1 without a cliffhanger, and it featured character development instead.
Were you excited to learn more about Tuff and his music? Did you find Janine more likable?
Does Hank have another agenda for Canyon Stadium?
Laura Nowak is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on X.