They Eat Horses, Don't They? is the fourth episode of Due South's first season.
Storyline: When a little boy gets sick from eating meat purchased from a local grocery, Fraser investigates.
Original Air Date: October 13, 1994
Written by Stephen Neigher
Directed by Timothy Bond
Whilst grocery-shopping (and as Ray is trying to pick up a woman), Fraser smells two meat packages and finds that they have gone bad. Immediately thereafter, he overhears a woman at the checkout, panicking over her sick child. He follows her home and discovers that her son is running a high fever. At the hospital, the doctor treating the boy gives a diagnosis of food poisoning. A social worker shows up to interview the mother, Margarita Gamez, who has been contacted by Child & Family Services in the past because of substandard living conditions in her apartment (which she lays at the door of her landlord).
A chemical analysis reveals that the rest of the meat at the supermarket is perfectly healthy, but Fraser doesn't buy it. Waiting until the manager goes home for the night, he and a loudly complaining Ray investigate the dumpster, and he notices a couple of odd-looking parasitic bugs on Ray's shoulder. At once Ray rushes home to take a shower, whilst Fraser identifies the parasites as endemic to horse meat. A frantic Mrs. Gamez calls Ray's cell phone to alert him and Fraser that the social workers have returned to take her children away, citing several unsanitary conditions in her apartment which she again blames on the landlord.
Fraser and Ray try to convince Lieutenant Welsh of the "potential for a major health crisis", but only as he is about to take a bite of a meatloaf sandwich does Ray win him over. Fraser attends a horse auction south of town, where he meets a young woman named Stephanie Cabot, an activist trying to stop the slaughter of horses by a local businessman. The businessman, Vince Leggett, runs a meatpacking plant nearby, and he and Stephanie wage a spirited battle of bucks at the auction. In the meantime, Ray meets a very tall and cantankerous character, Zaleb Carney, who collects horse manure for a living. Following the auction, Fraser asks Stephanie for information about the local meatpackers and their purchase vs. distribution rates. Later in the day, Fraser visits Mrs. Gamez and discovers that she is about to run from her home and take her children with her, and he renews his promise to help her. Meanwhile, Ray, taking Diefenbaker for a walk, suddenly has an epiphany and rushes off to visit Zaleb, asking him to look into his "database" for any changes in the manure he collects.
Early the following morning, Stephanie visits Fraser and informs him that the local meatpackers have had a steady purchase rate in recent months. Coupled with his parasite discovery, Fraser determines that wild horses are being stolen from protected ranges and earning a fortune for the horse thieves selling their meat, with no cognisance of public health. Zaleb confirms his suspicion by informing Ray of a change in the horse manure at Leggett's meatpacking plant. Fraser and Ray stake out the plant, observing the arrival of a trailer full of wild horses. Infiltrating the premises, they are cut off and trapped in a side room - only to discover that the side room is a huge meat freezer.
Drawing upon Inuit survival skills, Fraser wraps himself and Ray in frozen horse carcasses to preserve their body heat. Leggett arrives, amused by the news of a cop and a Mountie locked in the freezer; he also finds one of his distributors, Norm Petit (the owner of the supermarket where Mrs. Gamez bought the diseased meat), wanting out of the deal. One of Leggett's henchmen knocks Petit out and prepares to send him, Fraser, and Ray through the meat grinder - only for four of his cohorts to be knocked out by Fraser and Ray as they bust out of the freezer. Fraser fights his way through the plant to save Petit, while Leggett is ultimately taken down by Diefenbaker.
At the close of the episode, Stephanie and Fraser have arranged for Mrs. Gamez and her family to move into Fraser's apartment building. It appears that Stephanie and Fraser will keep in touch in the future, but Ray is singularly unimpressed that Fraser used him and his protective horse carcass as a human shield.
- Al Waxman as Vince Leggett
- Teri Polo as Stephanie Cabot
- Kaye Ballard as Mrs. Vecchio
- Ramona Milano as Francesca Vecchio
- Paulina Gillis as Maria Vecchio
- Vito Rezza as Tony
- Richard Moll as Zaleb Carney
- Yanira Contreras as Margarita Gamez
- Francesco Figliomeni as Mario Gamez
- Domenic Cuzzocrea as Dennis Argyle
- Robert King as Norm Petit
- Brooke Johnson as Adelaide
- Gary Hill as Auctioneer
- Alison McMullin as "Miss Broccoli"
- Walker Boone as Crew Chief
Benton Fraser: Oh, would you mind dropping in to my place and checking up on Dief? He's been in the apartment all day.
Ray Vecchio: Oh, great. I can’t wait to see what I'll find.
Ray Vecchio: Anybody seen a Mountie?
(enter Zaleb, loudly clearing his throat)
Ray Vecchio: You got a problem with something?
Zaleb Carney: You oughta move your foot.
Ray Vecchio: Maybe I don't wanna move my foot.
Zaleb Carney: But if you don't move your foot, I can't get to that horse patty.
Ray Vecchio: (suspiciously) Why would you want that horse patty?
Zaleb Carney: I'm not tellin'.
Ray Vecchio: Tell me why you want that horse patty and maybe I'll move my foot.
Zaleb Carney: Never.
Ray Vecchio: I'm a cop!
Zaleb Carney: So what?
Ray Vecchio: Do you wanna serve time over a piece of manure?
Zaleb Carney: I'd rather go to the chair than talk!
Ray Vecchio: You know what I just decided? (Zaleb shakes his head) I've just decided that you are so NUTS...I'm gonna let you have that patty.
Ray Vecchio: I'm going to freeze to death inside my friend Flicka.
Ray Vecchio: Some people pass away in their sleep; others die while making love to a beautiful woman. I'm going to die wrapped in meat.
Zaleb Carney: I collect it and sell it for fertilizer.
Ray Vecchio: So you must really know your...
Zaleb Carney: Like noooobody else.
- The episode's title is a reference to They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, a 1969 film directed by Sydney Pollack.
- My Friend Flicka was a 1950s television show about a boy named Ken and his horse, Flicka.
- Barnaby Jones was a cop series that ran on CBS from 1973 to 1980.
- Diefenbaker tackles the bad guy to the floor at the end, but neither Ray nor Fraser let him out of the car.
- When Fraser is riding horses with Stephanie Cabot, the blaze on Stephanie's horse's head changes in between shots.
- "Uphill Battle" by Sarah MacLachlan (Touch)
- "Horses" by Jay Semko, Jack Lenz and John K. McCarthy with special guest Ashley MacIsaac (Due South: The Original Television Soundtrack).