‘Partners and Third Wheels’ is an odd title for an episode, but it was an accurate one. Just about everyone ended up a third wheel at one time or another and no one’s relationships are going swimmingly, so it wasn’t a very upbeat episode. In fact, I felt bad for many of the characters. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I want to feel something for the characters – that’s how I know I’m caring about a show and it’s doing its job – but it’s tough to see so many of them struggling.
The episode starts out with Cordell maybe feeling the same way, trying to cheer his coworkers up with breakfast tacos, an Austin staple. Micki doesn’t take him up on it, and James says he doesn’t think Micki is ready when Cordell suggests she should return to the field, though he does admit that Cordell is “better partnered up”. Something he has in common with Sam Winchester!
James has a date with a new woman and suggests a double date with Geri and Cordell. However, Cordell apparently hasn’t cleared the air with Geri or explained about Denise and the sting operation yet for some odd reason. Cordell and Geri are hard to figure out – they have a lot of chemistry, they clearly enjoy each other’s company, but neither of them seems willing to even acknowledge their feelings for each other let alone act on them. It’s cute but it’s also frustrating – and I don’t even ship them, so I imagine it’s even more frustrating for fans who do.
The other relationship not going well is Micki and Trey’s, which has been one of my favorite things in the show – a rare realistic imperfect but still basically healthy relationship. Trey wakes up (shirtless because this show does know its fandom) upset that Micki is already gone, but finds a note saying she’ll be home for lunch and gets a lot happier. I got stuck wondering how the hell someone does not wake up when their partner gets out of bed and gets dressed and leaves for work though – what I wouldn’t give to be that heavy a sleeper!
Liam and Cordell’s relationship isn’t going all that well either. Liam is supervising the case of the week, a murdered attorney named Mac whose body was recently found years after his disappearance. James tells Micki she’s “running point” on the case and Cordell celebrates with a fist bump – “Partners, back at it!”
It was a cute moment, but reminds me how much I’ll miss their partnership when Lindsey Morgan departs soon. Cordell and Liam working together goes less smoothly.
Liam: I’m gonna need you to listen to me more than you have lately.
Cordell: Your hatred of the Davidsons is your own problem.
Liam retorts that Denise put him temporarily in charge, so they have to work together. Then he adds a little brother jab.
Liam: Also, I’m driving.
I know I’m always on the lookout for Supernatural parallels, but I couldn’t help tweeting to Jared Padalecki, who was live tweeting the episode along with many of us: Uh oh, you know that means driver picks the music…
Poor Jared not getting to drive whether he’s the little brother or the big brother!
They go to the site where the body was found, and let’s just take a minute to say mmm, Walker brothers…
Anyway, a mysterious woman (Hope Lauren) acts very guilty when Cordell and Liam ask her what she’s doing – as in, she runs away, hops on a motorcycle and leads Cordell on a merry car chase before disappearing over a sand dune where he can’t follow in Liam’s car.
Cordell: Damn car!
I half expected him to say sonofabitch after that wild impromptu little car chase. But hey, at least he did get to drive!
Liam commiserates with Micki after, saying it’s infuriating to work with his brother. Micki agrees, specifically about Cordell comparing his “playing house” with Denise to her undercover work, though I don’t think he actually was doing that. Micki opens up a little to Liam about how seeing Garrison after so long and not being able to save him made her feel like ‘not the best’. Liam reminds her that she helps people, including him, though Liam isn’t feeling like ‘the best’ either. Both he and Micki are struggling it seems with a sense of inferiority rooted in their childhoods and the perfectionism that often results from that background. That need to always be the best is also sometimes tied to feeling an added pressure to prove yourself whenever you’ve experienced some kind of prejudice or stigma or are part of any kind of marginalized group. I wish we could eavesdrop on Micki and Liam talking even more.
Liam says he looked up to Mac, the lawyer who was killed, and is second guessing his own aspirations to be DA and whether he’s “good enough”. He says a part of him was relieved he didn’t get DA because he didn’t know if he could be the William Walker that he promised to be. He’s worried that he’s not who he promised to be in general, in fact. Micki seems to get it, relating to what he’s saying, and reassures him of his own self worth and urges him to figure out his next steps.
Liam and Micki interview Mac’s brother Remy, who guesses that Liam is Ranger Walker’s brother and starts talking about brothers, a theme I always enjoy.
Remy: Mac was my older brother. He ruffled my feathers, but I sure do miss him.
He commiserates with Liam, saying older brothers always wanna take charge.
Me: Are we still talking about the Walkers? Because I’m getting Winchester vibes here.
It applies to Cordi and Liam too, though – and scores of other siblings out here in the real world.
Remy tries to throw suspicion on another ‘third wheel’ as Micki and Liam continue their investigation, visiting the third wheel guy whose gun was the one that killed Mac. His story makes them suspect Remy though, and once again they run into the mysterious blonde woman – who Micki recognizes as Mac’s daughter Willa. She runs again, but this time they manage to corral her to talk.
Willa is evasive, saying she’s been looking for answers all that time, but them finding his body was like losing him all over again. They try to convince her to give them more information – Micki says she understands holding back information, but to make sure it doesn’t consume her. She’s talking to Willa, but working through her own losses at the same time, since she’s also been holding back from talking about Garrison’s death.
They put a tail on Willa, and Micki suggests they ‘call in the cavalry’ – Walker. Even though Liam is not gonna like it.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (literally), Bonham lays out the map they found buried in the walls with Augie and Stella, and tries to lure Abeline away for a fishing trip. Stella insists she and Augie can handle the responsibilities that need to be done so they can go, but it’s actually because she’s planning a party while the adults are away.
Abeline: Last time I fell in the river and we didn’t catch a single fish.
Bonham: It’s not about the quantity of fish – it’s about the quality of the time.
I love Abeline and Bonham so much, and continue to be thrilled that this show is actually exploring a realistic romantic relationship between two people who are grandparents.
Trey shows up just as Bonham and Abeline are heading out, with a casserole that he was hoping to share with Micki for lunch, but of course she didn’t show up. Poor Trey. I felt so bad for him here, awkwardly talking about his good times fishing with his own dad and clearly feeling hurt that Micki didn’t come home for lunch. Bonham, dad to everyone, invites Trey to come along on their fishing trip – which is odd because I don’t think they really know him that well, but then again it’s a bit odd that he brought them a casserole too and just dropped by. There goes Bonham and Abeline’s romantic fishing trip!
He says he doesn’t want to be third wheel, but Bonham points out that tricycles also get you there. Which I suppose is quite true!
The fishing spot is a property for sale with a beautiful lake that Bonham found on Zillow – lol to product placement!
Abeline: You’re willing to leave the ranch for this?
Bonham: Oh no I didn’t say that, just dipping my toe in the water.
They discuss keeping the ranch going and how they can’t keep things afloat forever. Trey suggests August or Stella taking over the ranch, saying August has a fierce loyalty and always sees the big picture.
Abeline (smiling proudly): He gets that from me.
Trey: And Stella, she’s stubborn in the best way possible.
Bonham (laughing): She might get that from me.
Trey says she also has a drive to do what’s right and doesn’t shy away from it.
I can’t help but wonder if they’re setting it up for Trey to take over or help with the ranch, because Jeff Pierre is apparently staying after Lindsey Morgan leaves. Hmm.
There’s another product placement for something called Ranch Water, and Trey seems to have had as good a time as the Walker parents did.
Bonham has a little heart to heart with Trey, and says that maybe Micki just needs time to sort out her feelings about Garrison.
Trey: Garrison? Who’s that?
Bonham: Maybe I’m confusing my stories, but my advice holds. Wait for her to come to you.
Also meanwhile and back at the ranch, Augie and Stella invite a whole bunch of people over and have what looks like a relatively wholesome party with people tossing horseshoes (though maybe they’re drinking beer too since they have the requisite red cups). Stella would like to spend some time with Todd (Cameron Vitosh), but knows Augie needs some fun times too so backs away and leaves the two boys to “bro-out” as she says. One of her friends suggests she invite Todd to explore the “Burned Luck Barn” since it’s creepy and might bring them together. This seems like a very bad idea, but she pulls Todd away from the horseshoes game with Augie and they head to the Davidson’s burnt out barn, which for some strange reason nobody has torn down yet.
Two of their other friends insist that the bad luck from that barn transcends time and the other reminds us all that someone burned alive in there, and of course Augie decides he needs to go to the barn too because everyone has to be in on the very bad idea.
Todd says he noticed Stella from day one, Stella says she loves a bromance (I mean, who doesn’t?) but she’s clearly interested too.
Augie for some unknown reason climbs up to the top of the burnt out barn, which of course he falls right through and crashes to the ground. From which vantage point he sees a half buried lantern with the Walker brand on it and picks it up, asking why there’s a lantern with their family brand on the Davidson’s property.
We can all see where this is going, but it wasn’t very believable to me that someone died in that barn and there had to be an investigation and they didn’t find that lantern???
That lantern is an integral part of Cordell’s history, entwined with his history with Denise – and that history is now getting in the way of Cordell’s present with Geri. He meets up with James and his date Jillian (Rosalyn R. Ross) at the Side Step, looking forward to a fun night of playing pool.
But apparently he didn’t call Geri and ask her if she wanted to do the double date thing, because she shows up with a date herself!
Walker clearly didn’t see that one coming.
Jillian is adorable and seems to be having fun with James as they play pool with Cordell.
Jared tweeted: Does that pool cue look familiar? #SamWinchester.
I love when he puts in Easter eggs.
When Cordell sees Geri wipe away a tear as she’s talking to the new guy, however, he goes over to find out if she’s okay, and she introduces him to Drew, who she met at a grief group she’s apparently been going to.
I have to say, I felt for that poor guy. Imagine you’re on a sort of first date with this person you like and along comes someone who seems to be an ex and he looks like freaking Jared Padalecki! Bummer.
Cordell is not happy to hear that she’s going to a grief group and didn’t tell him about it, but she says it’s helping after the loss of Emily and Hoyt.
Geri says she was angry when she saw Cordi and Denise the week before, mad at herself. Cordell explains that they were acting, but she doesn’t buy it
Geri: Can you really tell me that it was all pretend?
Cordell says they were kids, and then she was married…
Geri: So are you. At least sometimes I still think you are.
I don’t know if that is in part an explanation for why she’s so tentative with him – this show sometimes has frustrating dialogue, where it feels like you’re only hearing snippets of it and things were edited out that needed to be there to really make sense. If everyone talked like this in real life, we’d all be going in circles with misunderstandings constantly.
The next part was probably my favorite part of the episode, and really showcased Odette Annable’s acting. Geri tells Cordi that sometimes she still thinks that Hoyt is in jail, and that he’ll walk back through the door when he’s out. I think most people who have lost someone important to them have experienced that feeling – our brains protect us from being so distraught all the time, so there are times we almost ‘forget’ that the one we loved isn’t going to walk through that door any minute. Odette was stellar in that scene and the writing was also excellent – this show is at its best when it’s delivering those universal emotional moments.
Geri remembers the trauma of Cordell watching Hoyt die, and her finding Emily’s body. Says it hurts to see your best friend die, and she can’t imagine it being your soulmate.
Cordi and Geri share a bonding moment, holding hands and sharing grief, when Drew comes back and accuses Cordell of having his hands on Drew’s date.
It seems Geri didn’t really know that’s what it was, but Cordell leaves anyway.
Cordell: To new people.
He looks somewhat devastated though.
Cordell bonds with Jillian when he sees her classic Mustang key – she had a ’65 and it clearly is as sentimental to her as Cordell’s ‘67 is to him because of Emily.
Cordell: Nothing like cruisin’ with someone you love…
Jillian excuses herself suddenly, brushing past James as he returns. He looks at Cordell questioningly, but Cordell doesn’t have a clue.
It seems that James didn’t know about the car; Cordell suggests Jillian’s hiding something. James accuses Cordell of seeing something he’s keeping himself from having with Geri, and their awkward conversation is exceedingly awkward, and then Micki calls to ask for his help which is probably a godsend.
He meets up with Micki and Liam and realizes they need to go in. Micki reminds him that she’s not in the field, but Cordell says he needs backup and he needs it now.
Cordell: You’re ready, I know you are. And let’s be honest, I know you wanna go in.
She smiles in acknowledgement and they put on their vests and head in with a few other Rangers as backup too. When nobody opens the door and Micki sees a gun inside, Walker kicks the door open (which Padalecki probably enjoyed too much according to his tweets…). They find Willa holding a gun on a tied up Remy. They try to talk her out of it, but she wants revenge after he ‘watched her suffer for years’. He confesses how and why he killed his brother, which is in part due to his feeling disrespected by his older brother for many years. It’s a parallel for Liam and Cordell, and the revenge motivation is something Cordell can relate to too.
Micki finally opens up as she tries to talk Willa down. She says she had to let go of one life to save another – her own – and urges Willa to do the same.
Micki: Choose yourself, Willa. Choose you.
Willa puts the gun down, collapses sobbing. Micki holds her.
The dialogue rang eerily true for Lindsey Morgan in real life; she made what was probably a difficult decision to do what was best for her own mental health by stepping away from the series. While I’m really sad to see her go, I applaud her doing that, as I think the vast majority of the fandom does.
Cordell tells Liam that Mac would be proud of him for figuring the case out, and then stops to have a heart to heart with his brother.
Cordell: You and I, we can’t keep fighting with each other. We have to work through this.
He insists he trusts Liam, but he can be loyal to Liam and civil to the Davidsons. Liam says he can try civil too.
Liam: We make a good team though, don’t we?
Cordi: Damn right we do.
The brothers hug, and I have Winchester feelings, and it’s a nice moment.
Cordi: But I hate your car. You’re never driving again.
Cordell and Micki have a heart to heart too.
They both acknowledge the win and how good it felt to be partners again.
And then Cordell does something that’s not done enough, even outside of television.
Cordell: I owe you an apology. When you got home, I wanted you back out in the field with me right away, wanted to be side by side and together again so badly that I didn’t take into account that the way I came out from the Rodeo Kings wasn’t the same as how you came back from Del Rio. I’m sorry.
Micki: Thank you for saying that.
I kinda loved that scene; it was a real apology, and that’s not something you see often, either in real life or in media. Micki says it took the experience with Willa for her to understand better how Del Rio and what happened with Garrison affected her, and that it feels good to finally articulate it a little. She also seems to have gotten a handle on some of that perfectionism.
Micki: I’ve always tried to be the best of the best, but why? What for? I never thought about why I wanted it so badly.
Some of that confusing dialogue that can sometimes seem like a non sequitur follows. Cordell responds, but it doesn’t quite line up with what Micki said.
Cordell: This job, what we do, it changes you. All we can do is hope that we change for the better.
Such obscure conversation once again! He invites her for a nightcap at the Sidestep but she says no, she needs to head home – that he’s not the only one who deserves to know how she’s been feeling. Considering how lost Trey has seemed this whole episode, she’s very right.
The partners share the equivalent of Sam and Dean’s ‘jerk’ ‘bitch’ nicknames as an expression of affection and caring.
Cordell: Night Flor.
Micki: Night Bo.
He pauses as he’s walking out, sighs and puts his hat on before he slowly turns to go – and me and many other fans thought the same thing. Is that his last scene with Micki as his partner? Were those their last words to each other before something happens to set up Lindsey Morgan leaving? If so, that was a beautifully acted little moment, saying so much with so little. Kudos, Jared. But it breaks my heart a little.
Bonham and Abeline return from their fishing trip to find the kids’ party in full swing, though I’m not sure why. Did Stella and Augie think they’d be out fishing until midnight? Trey sees the awkward and makes a quick exit, as Bonham says he’d been feeling proud of them all day but he’s not so proud of them right now. Bonham accuses them of making a mess of the ranch, but Abeline says that it will always be home, and it’s where the mess lives. (Isn’t that the best description of ‘home’ ever??)
Bonham and Abeline join in the horseshoes game with Augie and Stella, but Abeline says they’re not getting off scott free. They’ve earned a week of cleaning the stables because they let their friends run amuck. Muck? Stables? Good one, Abeline!
Augie gets a text from one of the girls who was at the party and confides to his sister that it was all worth it, which is a very realistic adolescent perspective. I love that the siblings confide in each other. They rib each other and argue too, as siblings do, but I love that they’re close. Augie is still holding his shoulder but insists it’s fine.
The episode ends for Cordell at the Side Step, Cordell returning to find that Jillian left James, saying she wasn’t ready to move on from her ex – like Cordell called it. Cordell says James called it too, that timing’s always off with Geri. Overhearing, she points out that people make time for the things that matter to them, so Cordell goes over and tries to talk to her. I’m like, FINALLY, but she says it’s not the time and honestly these two drive me nuts! I thought Sam and Dean were bad at communication!
Geri pours a ‘break up special’ and James makes an exception and drinks it, which is probably a terrible idea – this is the last time you should be drinking if you have a reason not to. She pours one for Walker too – and then says it’s from ‘that lovely lady right there.’
An attractive young woman waves at Cordell from the end of the bar.
James: Don’t be rude, go say thank you.
He does, Geri looking after him with a disappointed look.
Like I said, not many relationships are going well.
That includes Micki and Trey too, unfortunately. Now that she’s ready to talk, she comes home and finds the bedroom door closed and a note on the painting of the church: “Who is Garrison?”
Uh oh. Did she wait too long to tell him what happened?
I have a feeling the mid season finale is gonna be INTENSE. Hang onto your hats!
Caps by spndeangirl, Gifs by walkergifs
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