The Walker fandom – and the Supernatural fandom – got some good news yesterday, with the pilot pickup of a prequel called ‘Walker: Independence’ and a Supernatural prequel called ‘The Winchesters’. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles both took to social media to celebrate and to congratulate each other on their respective new projects. For fans of the original Walker, who are eagerly awaiting news of its third season, knowing the Walker universe is about to expand was a welcome bit of news.
Walker will be taking a mini hiatus until the end of February, so there was a lot of anticipation for last week’s episode to hold fans over for that drought. It was a hard hitting episode in several ways, aptly titled ‘Sucker Punch’ – which is exactly what happened to a lot of the characters. Directed by frequent Supernatural director Amyn Kaderali, there were some beautiful and powerful shots that brought the force of those punches home.
The episode picks up shortly after the last one ended, Captain James returning to HQ after recovering from his gunshot wounds. Liam is there because he gave him a ride, and Trey is too just because (because their bromance is in full swing, obviously, complete with welcome back fist bump).
Walker, however, is not there – instead he’s the first to get sucker punched at Serano’s bail hearing. Despite Denises’ argument against it, the judge grants Serano bail at only $50,000. Serano smirks; Walker grimaces.
On the way out, Serano can’t resist the opportunity to gloat. Denise reminds Cordell that the case has to stay on the up and up and asks for his promise not to try something like Liam did.
Walker: If Micki taught me anything, it’s that the ends don’t justify the means.
I like that the show is keeping Micki alive by showing us that the characters have not forgotten her – far from it. Cordell promises he’ll go completely by the book and refuses to get rattled by Serano getting in his face and asking, with a thinly veiled threat, “how’s the family?” Walker really did learn a lot from Micki, and he’s evolved and grown in the length of time we’ve known him. He doesn’t rise to the bait, though he does engage in the power play with a thinly veiled threat of his own.
Walker: Hey Serano, now I‘m watching YOU.
The glares between these two are epic and watching the two characters posture and try to stare each other down is fascinating. Henderson Wade and Jared Padalecki have a lot of chemistry, which makes their mutual hate and jockeying for power a lot more interesting to watch. I actually wish we could have had more of the two of them – when they’re onscreen together, you can’t look away. And as awful as Serano is, he’s also a fascinating character, in part thanks to Wade. There’s a bit of grudging mutual respect for each other as dangerous and powerful that makes for the best portrayals of enemies.
The two meet again in a restaurant where Walker is picking up takeout and Serano is chowing down on steak and showing himself to be an asshole in all settings. His attorney tells him that Dan Miller might have video that links Serano to the Walker surveillance. Serano instructs his men to find Dan and “take what he has from him and send him packing” which does not sound like good news for Dan.
Cordell ends up at the same restaurant and Serano invites him to join him for a drink – because neither of them can resist a chance to challenge the other and try to come out on top.
Cordell can’t resist the confrontation either and does, sending the others out so “the adults can have a little chat.”
Serano: You’ve got me all to yourself, so where were we?
That’s an intentionally suggestive bit of dialogue that Wade plays perfectly, and it’s a wonderfully tense scene, lit by candelight and with incongruously romantic piano music playing in the background as the two spar verbally, each trying to tear the other down and keep the position of power.
Serano (gloating): Your little brother dealt me a get out of jail free card.
Walker: That’s true. But we both know you won’t stay out of trouble, right? You can’t help yourself. You’re gonna mess up again and when you do – just know, I’ll be there.
Me: This is delicious.
Padalecki plays Walker perfectly here too, in dangerous mode himself which we do not get to see often enough!
Cordell gets the last word.
Cordell: Be seein’ ya.
It’s a threat and a promise, and Serano knows it. The two of them are playing a cat and mouse game and are both, in some strange way, enjoying it.
That fact that he’s dressed like Sam Winchester just makes Walker seem even more badass as he turns and walks out. Dayum Jared Padalecki.
The Davidsons’ story unfolds more in this episode too, once again intertwined with the Walkers in multiple ways.
We get a glimpse of the softer, more sympathetic side of Dan as he bonds with Colton, gifting him some concert tickets for a favorite indie band and calling him ‘kid’ affectionately. He even understands when Colton wants to take Stella, and does the good dad thing by saying that he absolutely should take her.
They share a hug and Denise looks happy too after witnessing that moment, more affectionate than we’ve seen her with Dan. He made her a smoothie too. I like that none of the characters are so one dimensional that no one could ever believe they were liked by any anyone else let alone loved.
Denise tells him that Serano made bail and Dan is instantly worried, even though he says he has faith in his wife to put him in jail. But as soon as he’s kissed Denise goodbye and they’ve exchanged ‘I love you’, Dan goes into panic mode – sucker punched.
He pulls the surveillance recording from its hidden spot on the bookshelf and reviews it on his laptop (presumably so we can all remember what it shows), and it clearly implicates Serano as just waiting to get another shot at Cordell. Dan hurriedly writes “your smoking gun” on a notepad and puts it and the tape in a manila envelope addressed to the Travis County DA’s office. But as he gets out of his truck to drop it off, Serano’s men confront him with guns and Dan flees. Dan runs through a red light to set them up to be blocked at the intersection and gets away.
A little while later, he surprises Liam at home where he’s working to figure out the map of their property. Liam is none too pleased to see him – Liam and Dan are another fascinating pair of enemies, constantly needling each other but in this case forced to work together anyway.
(By the way, if I were Liam and had been recently shot, there’s no way I would open the door to frantic knocking without knowing who the hell was there!)
Dan shoves a bunch of bills at Liam, who’s trying to get him to leave.
Dan: It’s your retainer. You’re my lawyer.
These two have a different kind of chemistry – both Keegan Allen and Dave Annable are very capable of being subtly funny, and they were here even though the situation isn’t funny at all.
Dan refuses to take no for an answer even though he insists Liam is the last person he wanted to come to for help. He insists it’s about Liam’s family’s safety and confides that he has evidence that will put Serano away for good – and that Serano is responsible for the surveillance of their home. Oh, and that he plans to try again to kill Walker. Liam realizes that he was probably right about Dan somehow working with the enemy, but eventually agrees to help him anyway for their mutual goal of putting Serano back in jail. Dan demands both anonymity and immunity, and Liam takes the case, reluctantly.
He’s got Dan’s number though.
Liam: You’ll only do what’s right if it’s good for you.
Dan can’t deny it.
He insists that Denise can’t know and threatens to go after Liam as his attorney if he she finds out.
Poor Liam, what a position to be in. As always, he’s got guts, though – and tries to do what’s right.
The other story line running through the episode belongs to ‘the kids’. Geri plans a local band night at the Sidestep and convinces Augie to enter. Faye (Bella Samman) overhears and then he can’t back out, especially when she plans to come by and record some content for her YouTube channel.
Ah, young love! It’s cute even if I’m not terribly invested in the kids’ romantic adventures.
Kale Culley makes the best faces by the way – his Augie is a little bit nerdy and relatable in his occasional awkwardness. He’s believable as Cordell’s son too, with that same endearing occasional awkwardness.
Geri and Cordell hang out a bit at the Sidestep – the expressions on both their faces when they see each other are telling, even as they continue to avoid any deeper feelings for each other.
Cordell realizes that Stella and Todd (Cameron Vitosh) are getting a little closer than just two friends studying vocabulary words. Colton is also reluctantly realizing the same thing. He wrote some love song lyrics for Augie’s not-yet-existing band, but neither of them want to sing. When Augie overhears Todd singing the vocabulary words he’s trying to learn as a mnemonic device, he’s enlisted as the singer, and BOOM, it’s a band.
Called Sucker Punch.
Cordell is uneasy about Stella and Todd.
Geri: At least she’s not going for another guy in community service.
Walker confides in Geri that he’s impressed (and maybe a bit surprised) that the kids are thriving. Geri points out they’re from good stock, a reassurance and a compliment. Also kids are surprisingly resilient, for real.
Cordell is worried though, with Serano on the loose, that something could happen. Geri doesn’t deny it, but she still finds the right words to make him feel better.
Geri: Well, it could. Or…. Stella will graduate, and Augie will continue to steal hearts.
Walker considers, and Geri goes on.
Geri: You do realize your kid are lucky to have you as a dad, right?
It’s a sweet moment, interrupted by a phone call for Cordell from James. He says he has to go and she promises to hold down the fort and watch over the kids, and I must say Geri looked a little wistful when he left. Those two have so much history and a genuine friendship, but it does sometimes seem like more too.
At the station, Liam lays it out for Cordell and Denise and James. It’s Denise’s call, but she finally agrees to Dan’s terms, including anonymity. Little does she know that she’s granting that to her own husband!
Denise: I hope you know what you’re doing, Liam.
Back at the ranch (I just like saying that…) Dan is feeling extra paranoid (understandably) and just about takes Trey out with a pitchfork in the Walker stables. Trey was checking on the animals while Bonham and Abilene are away; Dan was giving the Walkers some extra feed, believe it or not. He’s a contradiction, isn’t he?
The two decide to have a normal conversation since they’ve ended up in the same barn and no one was pitchforked to death, and Dan asks how Colton is doing at school. Trey tells him that Colton is doing great – exemplary. Good grades, no parties.
Trey: He’s a good kid and he’s happy. And he loves you, he’s made that clear. So I don’t know what it is but whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.
Another nice moment for Dan, just enough to make me feel a little bit sorry for him – and a lot sorry for Colton – when the inevitable happens.
Dan feels good for about ten seconds, then Serano calls and offers him a deal that he can’t refuse – because if he doesn’t, his wife and son will pay the price. He threatens Colton specifically, and it’s clear Dan really does love his son, because he blanches. Serano tells Dan to meet him, and Dan finally agrees. I really do kinda feel bad for Dan even though he definitely can be a dick.
Dan calls Liam on his way to meet Serano, backing out of the deal.
Dan: That deal I asked you to get, forget about it. Serano will never leave us alone.
Liam knows a bad idea when he hears one.
Liam: Don’t do something stupid.
Dan: I can’t gamble with my family’s life. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Thank you anyway.
I get the feeling that Dan really is sorry, and that Liam really is trying to protect him despite his personal feelings about Dan. He’s a coward and let jealousy and resentment push him to do some shitty things, but he really does care about his family and I think he did feel good for the ten minutes that he was actually going to do the right thing (even if partially for selfish reasons).
Walker overhears the phone conversation and knows his little brother well enough to realize that the Serano deal is about to die. And we get to see smart Walker, because he instantly figures out what needs to be done.
Walker to James: I have a play, I need you to back me.
James is reluctant, but Walker convinces him. He knows Liam and that Liam only takes on clients he believes are innocent – and he can tell that Liam doesn’t want to help this client. And that means Walker can figure out who it is.
Following his (correct) hunch, Walker tails Dan to the South Congress Train station, and we get a wonderful little Supernatural Easter egg when the dispatch asks for Ranger 327 and Cordell responds, “Go for Walker”.
For those of you who are not Supernatural obsessed, 327 was the number of episodes in that series, which Padalecki starred in. I love that Jared puts those little shout outs in Walker for his fans who also loved that show and that character, and that he loves Supernatural as much as many of us do.
Dan meets with Serano, trying to bluster his way into making Serano keep his word, when Walker shows up and a gunfight breaks out in the crowded station, Walker yelling “Texas Rangers, everybody on the ground!”
Luckily all the train station passengers listen very well and hit the ground as shots ring out. Dan runs away in the chaos and Serano takes a hostage, gun to her throat. Another Walker and Serano confrontation and stand off.
Walker: Drop it. Put the gun down.
Serano does, but he also makes a run for it, carjacking a truck and taking off. Walker jumps into his truck and pursues, the two going on a wild car chase through downtown Austin, tires screeching, gravel flying, as they cut through alleys and race down streets.
Walker finally pulls up next to him, yelling for Serano to pull over. The two make eye contact and Walker warns Serano not to do something stupid.
Serano smirks and pulls his gun anyway, at this point probably understanding that he’s not going to get out of this without jail time, desperation kicking in.
Walker drops back and Serano pulls ahead, reaching an intersection just as a tractor trailer cuts him off – and T-bones his truck, sending it flying through the air in a pretty amazing stunt shot. (Which the fandom was lucky enough to see some behind the scenes footage of in fact).
Walker gets out and approaches the crashed truck.
Walker: Let me see your hands, Serano! Hands where I can see them!
Serano is slumped over the steering wheel, bleeding. He smirks.
Serano: You got me, cowboy.
Walker shakes his head.
Walker: Nah nah, you’re gonna spend the rest of your life in jail….
Serano smiles again, though now it’s clear he’s gasping for breath too.
Serano: Yeah yeah, not my style.
He takes another shaky breath as Walker comes closer and opens the door, sees that Serano has been impaled.
Serano: I’ll be seein’ ya.
He dies in front of Cordell, who looks shocked, backing away slowly. The cops are all lined up behind him, nobody approaching, as the music plays louder.
It was a pretty shocking scene for viewers too – I wasn’t expecting that, and the violence of it really had an impact. Serano was strangely likable even in those last moments, and the weird dynamic between him and Walker was evident to his last breath. Wade played Serano’s final words as an almost affectionate, grudging acknowledgement that Walker had won, in the spirt of “if someone has to take me down, I’d rather it be someone worthy” sort of trope. And Padalecki showed Walker’s shock and regret that he couldn’t convince Serano to just pull the hell over. You get the feeling that Serano preferred going out like that to a life in prison. At any rate, it was memorable, so well done all.
And another, major sucker punch.
Dan meets with Liam on a bridge, a beautiful Austin location shot, Liam handing him the immunity deal even though Serano is dead. The hard drive implicated his entire network, so some good came of it at least. Dan extends his hand to shake Liam’s, and Liam backs away.
Liam: I don’t like you, Dan.
Liam says again that he knows the only way Dan got that hard drive is if he was somehow connected to Serano. Dan warns him to stay quiet.
Dan: You’re my lawyer, keep your mouth shut or I’ll have you disbarred. I saved your life so you owe me.
He starts to walk away and Liam calls after him.
Liam: One question. When you shot Earl in the back, was that to save my life – or yours? Defense of others is one thing, committing murder to cover up a crime is another.
A bit of a sucker punch to Dan right there.
Dan walks away.
The episode ends at the Sidestep’s open mic night. Denise comes in with Dan and goes over to congratulate Walker on Serano no longer being a threat.
Walker: Woulda rather seen him rot in prison.
Denise agrees, and asks what else is on her mind. Walker is deadly serious when he answers, no trace of friendliness. I love when Padalecki taps into that side of Cordell – he’s got darkness in him, and I wish we saw more of it, when he’s dark and dangerous and smart.
Walker: You and I both know who Liam’s client was, right?
She hesitates, maybe doesn’t want to know.
Walker: Come on, Denise. Liam’s client didn’t want his identity kept from Serano, he wanted it kept from us. I went to the train station because I knew whose plates to run. And they weren’t Serano’s.
Walker: Careful, counselor. You’re sleeping with the enemy.
When Dan tries to hold her hand, Denise reaches for her drink instead.
There are few more sucker punches coming too.
Colton tries to ask Stella to the concert but never manages it, as Augie and Todd and the new band Sucker Punch is introduced.
Todd and Augie dedicate the love song (that Colton wrote) to “two special ladies in the room who brighten our day” and Stella and Faye smile back.
Mission accomplished, I guess! (For them, but not for Colton, whose words meant for Stella instead are received as from Todd)
Cordell watches, every bit the proud dad.
Augie and Todd share a fist bump and credit each other after their performance, in the exact same way that Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles traditionally close out all their convention panels together – coincidence or subtle Supernatural fandom shout out? I don’t know but it was as heartwarming with Augie and Colton as it always is with Jared and Jensen.
Colton realizes he’s the odd man out and puts the concert tickets under his seat.
Poor Colton, we’ve all been there.
After the performance, Geri gives Colton a pep talk.
Geri: Seen this movie before, kid. Been in it a few times myself.
It turns out that Geri is also adopted and knows what it’s like to not look like your parents and to have people make a lot of assumptions about you.
Geri: Tell Stella how you feel – don’t leave it up to being misunderstood. Make a move. You got this.
She looks across the bar to Cordell, perhaps trying to tell herself the same, then smiles and looks away.
Later that night, Denise watches the surveillance tapes, drinking. The song that’s playing gets to the lyrics “Oh, how you lied…” as Denise puts her framed photo of Colton in front of one of her and Dan.
On the screen, we see Cordell and Abilene’s heart to heart about the night the barn burned down.
Cordell (tearful): I remember taking a lantern into the barn and leaving it there… I know I did. The fire in the barn, Marv’s death, it was my fault…
The music keeps playing, “And you lie and you lie and still you lie…”
On the screen, Abilene holds her son as Denise watches.
They got a lot of sucker punches into one episode!
Special shout out to Henderson Wade and Jared Padalecki for their super charged scenes. Sorry that Serano won’t be back to antagonize Walker another day!
Here they are having alot more fun behind the scenes on the set –
Caps by spndeangirl
You can read Jared Padalecki’s essay about
being a fan himself and his own fans in
Family Don’t End With Blood. Links here