‘Walker’ Episode ‘Mum’s The Word’ Shocks with its Ending

Last week’s episode of ‘Walker’ was titled ‘Mum’s the Word’, which was partly about mothers and children and how we all cope with the danger that’s all around us, but also about silence and when you need to break it.

Stella and Augie are still in a bad place, August still angry that Stella didn’t go away to college as planned. It’s not pleasant to watch and it makes him an unappealing character for now, but it strikes me as very real for an adolescent who desperately wants out from under his older sibling’s shadow. I don’t think Cordell really gets it, because in his own sibling relationship, he’s the older sibling in the spotlight.

Augie has got a bit of a martyr thing going, asking his dad to please be there to play on the junior team for the annual flag football match tradition.

Walker says he will if he can, but he’s got a new assignment the next day so can’t promise.

Stella isn’t happy either, feeling lost and not knowing what her future holds. She and Geri work the food truck at the game the next day, a former classmate of Geri’s coming by to condescendingly say she’s so brave to still show up there after all she’s been through and then toss out to Stella, “I could’ve been your mom…”   Not very good taste in previous girlfriends if that’s what she’s implying, Cordell!

Afterwards, Stella says she doesn’t want to be “that weird alumna who’s always around” and then realizes Geri might take that personally. She doesn’t, though. She tells Stella that she was originally supposed to go to business school, but then her dad died and left her the Side Step, and “life got in the way”. Part of being a grown up is owning your choices, she says, pointing out that Stella is lucky to have a safety net.

She definitely is, but an 18 year old isn’t really an adult (says someone who was a psychologist in a college counseling center full of 18 year olds for many years). Everyone is expecting Stella to magically turn into an adult just because she graduated high school, but that’s not really fair.

Stella tries to say that their dad has been trying to show up for them lately, but Augie dismisses that, saying “for you maybe”.  She invites him to hang out with her and Colton – which I think an 18 year old would definitely know that would not be what your 16 year old brother would want! – and he is once again furious that she doesn’t get it.

Stella is in the tough position of trying to be August’s big sister and also a bit of a mother figure for him too, which is never going to go over well with a younger sibling.  When Augie hears that the Sidestep will be closed that night, he gets his 16 year old rebellion on and invites all his friends for a party there, with beer flowing freely.

Augie ends up locked in the tap room with his friends, who tell him that they actually think he’s “badass”, which I feel like a 16 year old would not say, but anyway, they thought he was the one on his high horse. August is making strides in popularity, but has to text Stella to come let them out. She comes and kicks everyone out and frees her brother, angrily asking “what were you thinking?”

And that’s the moment the police show up and arrest both of them.

Meanwhile, back at Ranger HQ…

Cordell now runs on a treadmill instead of outside, which I really can’t blame him for, and he’s still jumpy and hypervigilant, but he seems to be slowly recuperating from his ordeal. James assigns Walker and Cassie to go pick up a briefcase of evidence from the Dallas station, from the mercenaries who are now all captured. On the way back, a strange ringing comes from the case, and they leave it on the road for a while, pondering whether it’s a bomb.

Cassie: It could be kitchen timer…or a Furby…

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Wild Horses, New Rangers and Realistic Progress on Last Week’s ‘Walker’

Last week’s episode of ‘Walker’ was in some ways a quieter episode than the first few of this third season, but no less impactful. I’ve been traveling for the past week, so this is a drive-by recap and review, but I have to give a shout out to a few things about the episode that I loved. Number 1? The horses! The title is ‘Wild Horses Couldn’t Drag Me Away,’ which makes me sing the Rolling Stones in my head immediately, but also refers to multiple themes in the episode – and to the fact that there are actually wild horses in it! Beautiful wild horses. I can watch  horses on my TV screen happily for a very long time, so just that fact put a smile on my face.

It also gave me mixed feelings about the actual plot of the episode, at least the case-of-the-week one. Trey is in his last week of being a trainee, Capt James having pulled ALL the strings to get his military service to count as the years of training he would have been doing. The show acknowledges this as unprecedented, which is good because otherwise I might have eyerolled. But they make it part of the plot, and of Capt. James’ good faith attempt to change the system from the inside, with his acknowledgement that if it fails, his own career is also on the line.

That means that James, Walker and Cassie put Trey in charge of a sort of test case – to take down a trio of people who are freeing wild mustangs from “kill pens” and letting them go. Hence my mixed feelings. I was the Research Assistant in grad school who snuck back into the lab the night before it was “kill day” for all the rats who’d “volunteered” as test subjects and hence had little metal cones sewn into their poor little heads – and umm, liberated, quite a few. My kids had the best pets growing up, what can I say? The ‘conehead rats’ were famous with their friend groups.

Anyway, so I might not be the right audience for going after a trio of people who see themselves as do-gooders freeing beautiful wild horses who are about to be made into dog food. On the other hand, they almost run over a ranch hand accomplishing it, so that’s not exactly okay. And as Capt. James points out when Cassie also questions it (making me very fond of Cassie at that moment), they are defacing federal land. Which, to be honest, sounds like one of those things people in power use as an excuse…but technically he’s right and they can’t be reckless about it like they’re being, clearly. Interestingly, Walker also bristles when James says they have to “go through legitimate channels”, remembering the lessons he learned from his superior officer in the Marines, which is exactly not that. In fact, he has a flashback when James says those words, for a moment not even present in the here and now as he remembers.

Cordell: Sometimes people ignore legitimate channels when conditions on the ground call for it.

Cassie: Wait, are you agreeing with me??

Trey takes on the case and puts on the white hat (and the short sleeve very very tight shirt that I guess is his version of the Ranger uniform but no one is complaining so carry on, Ranger Trey…) and everyone cheers.

They also applaud Walker being back, although Cassie and James notice how he keeps zoning out and are worried. James knows he put Walker back in the field too soon before, and Abeline definitely put the fear of God into him when her son was missing this time.

There’s a fair amount of humor in this episode as James, Walker and Cassie put Trey through the end of his “hell week”, getting him to do silly things like “1, 2, 3, Rangers!” complete with the hand motions and taking way too much pleasure in Trey lucking out (not) by having to work with a bristly fed. Trey takes this all in good spirits, to his credit.

And we get alot of adorable Jared Padalecki smiles.

Eventually, Trey disobeys James’ orders to stay put and wait for them to arrive when Trey finds the horse thieves – he instead jumps into the back of the trailer, much to the surprise of the horse inside. More beautiful horses, yay!

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Walker 3.02 – Not Exactly Sittin’ On A Rainbow!

The first two episodes of Season 3 of Walker have kicked off with a bang! I watch this show mostly for the relationships and the universal human themes that play out, so the arc of Cordell being kidnapped tapped into both of those. The Walker family and close friends having to deal with the horror of just waiting and not knowing rang very true, as did Cordell’s reliance on his memory of Emily. Add to that the Supernatural-reminiscent focus on the Walker brothers’ relationship and I was a happy viewer. Episode 2 was directed by Austin Nichols, a Walker cast alum who is now directing – he filmed some beautiful scenes that added to the dark but intense feel of this episode.

This episode picks up right where the season premiere left off, with Liam being tossed into the cell where Cordell has been held. That was a shock – to both the audience and Cordell – and it raises the stakes for whether or not the mysterious Sean will be able to ‘break’ Walker like he says he wants to.

Liam asks Cordi to promise that he’s not gonna try some Lone Walker Ranger stuff and risk his life to save his little brother. Cordell promises, the brothers clasping hands, and then he holds his injured little brother and I am all filled up with Supernatural-ish brother feels.

Cordell is unchained since they’re playing mind games with him, though I still don’t entirely grasp how Sean thinks this is going to work. Cordell is going by his gut, he says, and assures Liam that he trusts his brother – and Julia Johnson too, the reporter who had been confined upstairs.

The scenes of the brothers locked up together are ominous and dark, but they’re also beautifully filmed, the light coming through the bars making the whole scene look surreal. A moment of applause for the director of photography and for director Austin Nichols! And for Padalecki and Keegan Allen, who make being roughed up and held in a cell look alarmingly attractive.

They give Liam dinner then put a hood over Walker’s head and take him to an office to eat dinner with Sean, part of Sean’s attempts to get Cordell to “join them”. He refuses, saying ‘I’m stuffed” and having flashbacks to when he served. They try to talk Cordell into joining them since he’s “edge of the coin” Cordell Walker, but I think they’ve seriously misunderstood that side of him. He agrees there are some flaws in the system but insists there are good people making strides to fill those cracks. Sean tells him that Emily died at the hands of an organization that he serves, taunting that he’ll never get her back.

“You could save the next widower,” Sean says, but Cordell accuses Sean of murdering people who get in his way, which makes him a terrorist. Sean insists it’s necessary to trigger change, though I don’t really know how he thinks that’s going to happen. Power vacuums often get filled by even worse organizations, and this sounds like it could be one of those.

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Walker’s Second Season Finale Fills In Some of the Blanks with “Something’s Missing”

The season finale of Walker tied up a lot of loose ends for Season 2 – and then kicked off a whole new mystery, and a dramatic one at that!

The episode is titled “Something’s Missing” and that is both literally and figuratively true throughout the show. (One of the things I like best about Walker is that they love to run parallel themes throughout an episode and then reference it somehow in the title, and it’s a fun game for a reviewer to pick out all the instances of that theme – or at least it is for this reviewer!)

The first thing that’s missing is Emily, because Stella Blue is about to graduate. If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that the toughest times are big life events, the celebrations that you always thought that special person would be at. I facilitated a grief counseling group at a university counseling center for many years, and I heard from so many students nearing graduation just how hard it was to approach that milestone without a parent they had always imagined there to be proud of them. Emily not being there is hard for Stella, and it’s hard for Cordell too. Cordell is every parent, wondering where the time went and saying that it seems like yesterday that Emily told him she was pregnant.

Later in the episode, they share a tender father-daughter moment over one of the games they used to play on family game night, something Cordell hasn’t been able to do since he lost his wife. Stella says it seems like a good time to start over, or to carry on where they left off. Cordell admits he would never have taken the game out of the box, that it’s so like her – and her mom – to make him face it.  That’s also a theme of the episode, going back to the exploration of grief and loss that I have always valued most in this show – that you can’t go over it or around it, eventually you have to go through it. Everyone does that differently and on their own timetable, but Stella and Geri and Cordell have all learned that it’s true. Cordell is proud of his daughter.

Cordell: You make all of us feel. You’re the one that keeps this family together. I ran, you stayed.

Stella: I ran a few times too.

Stella has grown up a lot over the past two years of real time, and on the show as well. Cordell gives her a gift, knowing she’s been struggling with individuation and the question of staying close or going away for college.

Cordell: I want you to know now…it’s okay to go.

That made me tear up partly because it was such a beautifully played father-daughter scene, and partly because that’s a line from the Supernatural finale too, when Sam gives his brother the gift of permission to go in a more permanent way. I don’t know if it was a deliberate call back, but it made me even more emotional than I was. I’m sure the parallel wasn’t lost on Padalecki, who understands intimately the importance of that finale to many fans.

Another thing that’s missing, but not for long, in this episode is certainty. The certainty of figuring out who you are and what you want to do with your life. While Stella seems close to figuring that out, both Liam and Trey are at a transition point in their lives and unsure of where they should be going.

James tells Trey that he has to stay out of official Ranger business if he’s not an official Ranger – which James offers him after making some calls. They’re willing to treat his military experience as time served so he could be an actual Ranger – which came as no surprise to most of the fandom, who has been expecting it. I feel better about that than them offering to employ him as a psychologist when he isn’t one, but that’s probably just me feeling bitter about all those years of a PhD program to get to that point. It makes sense to make Trey a Ranger so they can keep Jeff Pierre and his popular character on the show, and Trey certainly seems qualified.

Walker — “Something’s Missing” — Image Number: WLK220a_0392 r — Pictured: Jeff Pierre as Trey Barentt — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Trey talks to his mom about the Ranger offer; she’s not all that happy about it, worrying about all the stress and anxiety. I can relate to his mom – that would so be me if one of my kids announced that!

Liam is also unsure of his next step, saying he’s not so sure he wants to go back to being a lawyer and envious of his father for always knowing what he wanted to do. Later in the episode, he thanks Bonham for forgiving him when he wanted to move away, and Bonham says that it helped make him who he is. So did you, and the ranch, Liam says. And when Bonham says that the ranch isn’t for everyone, Liam tells his father: I think it is, for me.

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Walker’s ‘A Matter of Miles’ Amps Up The Family Feud

Walker’s penultimate episode ‘A Matter of Miles’ was an uncomfortable one to watch – intentionally so. The gulf between the various ‘sides’ feels pretty much uncrossable now, many characters feeling like their backs are against the wall after coasting along without expressing things like anger, resentment, guilt and suspicion for too long. There’s a sense of desperation that pervades all the tenuous relationships, amping up the tension for pretty much the entire episode. I found myself feeling like I needed a break mid episode from all that tension, so I could imagine how the characters were intended to be feeling!

There are two main story lines running in parallel throughout – the return of Miles and the mystery of what he and Fenton were really up to and who is/are the bad guy(s) here, and the escalating feud between the Walkers and the Davidsons. I don’t like black and white anything, I’m always here for the nuance, but this episode painted the Davidsons with a much darker brush. I’ve been expecting that to happen, since they’ve been set up to be the ‘bad guys’ all along and obviously the Walkers have to turn out to be the ‘good guys’. But there were only a few characters who I could say I actually liked in this one – the rest, on both sides, were just plain unpleasant. I get where the Walker family’s anger is coming from – who could not be angry at people who literally took your home right out from under you? But the show did a good job early on of showing the Davidsons as people who’ve endured as much loss and tragedy as the Walkers – including all their land – so there’s anger and bitterness and now a drive for revenge on both sides of the fence. Understandable maybe, but stressful to watch!

Walker — “A Matter of Miles” — Image Number: WLK219b_0148r — Pictured (L-R): Jalen Thomas Brooks as Colton Davidson, Kale Culley as August Walker, Dave Annable as Dan Miller, Amara Zaragoza as Denise Davidson, Molly Hagan as Abeline Walker, Paula Marshall as Gale Davidson, Mitch Pileggi as Bonham Walker, Keegan Allen as Liam Walker, Odette Annable as Geri Broussard, Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker and Violet Brinson as Stella Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Gale and Denise in this episode are much more the stereotypical villains, saying one seemingly reasonable thing to Geri and then snarking about the real reason they’ve agreed to dinner with the enemy behind her back. I half expected them to do an evil cackle at some points, enjoying that they have the power to wreck anything that was the Walkers – especially Abeline’s. Tearing up her vegetable garden even if it means no more nice fresh vegies was a petty, purely vengeful thing to do. Abby is right – no matter how much Gale takes from them, it’s never going to heal for her the rage she feels about Abilene having Marv’s love and the Walkers having all the land and her not getting to raise her child (even if most of that was probably Marv’s mistakes, not the Walkers’ fault). It’s impossible not to dislike Gale and Denise heartily in this episode.

Unfortunately it was also impossible for me not to dislike how some of the other characters who I usually like a lot were acting. Bonham is a barely contained boiling-over pot of anger throughout the painful dinner, tossing barbs at the Davidsons any chance he gets. Probably it was putting the Walkers in an impossible situation, asking them to come back to the house that was theirs and still feels to them like theirs (witness Cordell walking in without knocking and almost tossing his hat on the peg he expects to still be there) and expecting them to sit down and make nice.

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