‘Walker’ Delivers a Hard Hitting Episode with ‘Bad Apples’

Once again on vacation, so a true drive by review, but I wanted to say a few words about last week’s new Walker episode. A lot happened but the episode was really nicely paced, so it didn’t feel crowded as they sometimes have and it also didn’t drag. Writer Aaron Carew penned a script that tackled some of the most disturbing and pressing issues facing us in real life in an unflinching (albeit television ready) way, from a corrupt group of cops to the impact of racism, both overt and more subtle. Coby Bell especially did an amazing job showing the almost superhuman restraint required of Captain Bell in waiting until his case against the bad cop was so air tight it couldn’t be ignored, and his understanding that race is part of that equation (something Carew clearly understood as well).

Walker can sometimes get a little heavy handed, but its willingness to hit right on the nose can also feel therapeutic. We all live in a world where it feels like the ‘bad guys’ are winning too much of the time, so seeing a creepy bad cop get taken down is undeniably satisfying. He was certainly a creep writ large, and the moment when he plants some illegal drugs on James’ son and drags him out of his car for no reason could have been over the top – except that happens in real life to young Black men and that made it terrifying instead. As someone pointed out online, the way DJ handled himself during the fabricated traffic stop was telling – telegraphing and announcing his every move before he made it just in case, carefully and slowly placing both hands on the wheel, complying with every command even though he knew he had done absolutely nothing wrong. And unfortunately, that was not unrealistic.

The bad guy’s lack of any redeeming qualities whatsoever doesn’t  necessarily make for nuanced storytelling, but it did make me want to stand up and cheer when James, Walker, Micki and Liam all showed how badass they are and took the asshole down! As several fans who are persons of color themselves pointed out, the episode was careful to show that taking down one asshole – one ‘bad apple’ – is not going to solve any systemic problems. The focus was not just on that one bad apple, but on how the system itself protects bad apples – even when the ‘threat’ is coming from within law enforcement.  (As evidenced by Capt. James’ car being bombed and the scope of people in power who are caught up in the cover-ups)

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Walker Turns A Corner with ‘Four Stones in Hand’

I really enjoyed last week’s gentler, slower paced Walker episode, Four Stones In Hand.

The title refers to the hypervigilance that comes from being accustomed to being on the defensive, which is the position many of the show’s characters find themselves in after the events of the last year. As we’ve gone through Season 1, most of the characters have been slowly fleshed out, their complexity and emotional reactions to the stress of losses and trauma becoming more and more obvious. With this episode, many of the characters seem to turn a corner, dropping enough of their defenses to start on the bumpy road to healing. Fifteen episodes in, that feels like the right timing, because in real life when we humans are hurt, we hang onto those defenses for a long time – sometimes longer than we need to, just to make sure. I like that ‘Walker’ hasn’t rushed to sweep the traumatic events of the past onscreen year under the proverbial rug, but instead has allowed us to watch the characters struggle and now try to deal with the messy aftermath.

This episode is nicely framed, beginning with Liam’s challenge to his big brother – and ending with the Walker brothers in a slightly different, less defended, place. And they’re not the only ones.

Cordell is pretending to go over paperwork for the Side Step when he’s joined by Liam.

Cordell: I’m worried about you (as Liam heals from his gunshot wound).

Liam: I’m worried about YOU.

And rightly so. Cordell is listening to a police scanner, unable to let go of his motivation to keep solving crimes (I’m tempted to say, saving people hunting things…) although he knows he’s on leave. He tries to BS Liam about that, but it doesn’t work; the brothers know each other. And Cordell is not okay, still flashing back to the violent death of his best friend.

Liam: You chose to take a breather, but it feels like you’re not breathing.

Cordell insists he’s going to, and Liam challenges him to prove it.

Liam: Keep your mind on something other than solving crimes for one day.

He hands Cordell a Rubik’s Cube and challenges him to solve it.

(I confess to never having had the patience to do that, but Cordell accepts the challenge.)

gifs jarpadandjensens

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The Walkers ‘Defend The Ranch’ in Episode 13

The 13th episode of Walker’s first season was intended to be the season finale, and it felt like one. There was a whole lot of drama, twists and turns, and an ending that looked like a tragic tableau from a stage play. As usually is true for me and this show, the emotional aftermath is the part that’s most fascinating. But not always very easy to witness.

Sometimes the drama comes close to over the top for me with this show, but I’m starting to view that as a difference in the type of show it is, after digging deep into a show like Supernatural for so long. Walker paints with broader strokes and its tropes are broader too, from the way music is used to the characters’ dress and appearance (Clint even dresses in villainous all black, for example). There are the stereotypical car chases and shoot outs and rodeos and everyone has a gun and knows how to shoot it, and that sometimes seems just too expected for me, but that may be the point. Within that stereotypical set up, however, the show explores more personal and psychological themes with unexpected depth. And that’s the part of it that I’m really enjoying.

I guessed the major tragedy that was going to happen in this episode, though not how or when. I liked that the episode played out almost in real time, no jumping back and forth, which upped the suspense. I can see how this would have worked as a season finale – and in fact, it’s hard to imagine how they are going to continue with five more episodes after this one. It’s a hard script to pull off because so much happens, and there were a few times when it strained credulity to go with it. Again, that might be part of the fun, it’s just that I’m used to picking apart Supernatural and trying to make sure canon makes sense (as much as that was possible…)

At any rate, I enjoyed this episode. The episode picks up right where the previous one left off, with Liam shot and seemingly not alive, Cordell calling his name and trying to go to him but Clint warning him not to. Abeline comes out and sees her son on the ground and screams his name too, falling to her knees in the grass – Molly Hagan always makes me feel for her, all my own instincts as a mother pulled in because she makes it real.

Trevor follows his father’s instructions and yanks Walker’s holster and gun away from him. Clint is unconcerned about Liam, though Trevor is clearly upset and conflicted.

Clint: The attorney who helped put us away? Don’t matter, he’s dead now.

(Yes, there’s a gif of that last shot out there but I couldn’t find it to include…)

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Walker Brings the Heartbreak with ‘A Tale of Two Families’

Last week’s Walker episode (‘A Tale of Two Families’) was hard to watch at times. That’s not a criticism though – the show has explored grief since its start, and the reason I appreciate that exploration is because it’s done well enough to feel real. This episode, thanks to some stellar acting by Jared Padalecki especially, felt very real. And that was hard to watch.

There were a few scenes that were hard to watch for a different reason that wasn’t quite as welcome, but mostly I came to the end of the episode feeling gobsmacked but like that’s exactly how I was supposed to feel.

The episode was a little more innovative than the show has been so far, starting out with a beginning sequence that picks up where the last episode left off, Walker and Stella returning to the ranch. We see in little flashes a sequence play out of Clint and Trevor driving up, Clint holding a gun on Cordell as Stella screams ‘Dad!’. Liam runs out of the house to help, Cordell yells ‘Liam!’ – and Clint shoots him!

 

 

That was quite a beginning!

We then get a flashback to 13 months ago, to the day that kicked off the trauma and loss we’ve seen the characters struggle with ever since. Emily loads up her car with bottles of water to take to the border. Augie asks if he can use her camera and she says she was hoping he’d pick it up – and we immediately realize why he’s followed up on that hope. It was one of the last things she said to her son, and the last wish she expressed for him.

Augie: What should I take a picture of?

Emily: (striking a pose): Something to remember me by!

Of course she has no idea how poignant and prophetic her words are going to be.

Emily also kicks a ball around with Stella (Gen Padalecki putting her real life sports skills to good use), asking her if she’s sure about playing basketball since she’s so good at soccer. Stella, too, has tried to follow her mother’s last expressed wishes by doing just that.

Emily and Cordell talk on the phone and she reminds him of game night and they trade ‘I love you’ ‘I love you more,”

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Walker Episode 11 – The Price of “Freedom”

The CW’s ‘Walker’ aired a dramatic new episode last week, and ushered in some big changes that will continue to play out for the second part of the season. The episode is titled “Freedom” and in a sense, that’s what many of the characters got – sometimes in a way they absolutely did not want.

They also gave us Jared Padalecki in a white tee shirt and Jeff Pierre without any shirt at all, which is just a comment on the aesthetic beauty of this show like I comment on every week, honest.

An Awkward Welcome Home

The episode begins with Hoyt’s welcome home party at the Side Step, Cordell and Augie getting the place ready while Micki and Trey keep watch in the parking lot so they can surprise him.

Augie is making welcome home videos for Hoyt, attempting to tape his father’s message while Cordell is busy trying to figure out what to text Geri. He keeps typing and then deleting, increasingly anxious. The other video messages to Hoyt are heartfelt, including a clearly joyous Abeline and Geri saying that Hoyt deserves good things, which just makes Cordell feel more guilty and conflicted. When he finally tries to record his message it’s incredibly awkward, starting out calling Hoyt “my best friend, a brother to me” and continuing to something about him sparking joy in Walker’s life. He gives up in exasperation.

I’ve said it before – about Sam Winchester as well as Cordell Walker – but Jared Padalecki can pull off the comedic aspects of his characters so well. I appreciate that in a show that can be either suspenseful or angsty, as this one can.

Micki and Trey wait in the car for Hoyt and Geri to get there, Trey putting on her hat and teasing about how good it looks on him (it does). Micki reassures him that his TBI struggles haven’t made him unreliable or changed how she feels about him, reminding him that he can rely on her for a change.

Micki: You are the most reliable person in my life

Trey (grinning) Relationship achievement unlocked!

I like that they’re continuing to follow Trey’s TBI (traumatic brain injury) story line instead of magically wrapping it up too quickly.

Geri and Hoyt pull up, him assuring her that he’s “going legit” because she deserves more, and her clearly avoiding him, turning away and putting on lipstick before she goes inside. He senses something is wrong.

Hoyt: You got someone you’re trying to impress here?

As they walk in, he asks her again, did he do something? (Other than being incarcerated?)

She says no and he believes it (because he clearly wants to, and that’s what we all do when we just desperately want to believe something is true).

Cordell sneaks up behind them and knocks Hoyt’s hat off, then tackles him to the ground, saying it’s payback (for that scene we saw in one of the first episodes).  They laugh, because wrestling is clearly a thing for them (ala the Winchesters), and then they hug (also ala the Winchesters).

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