Last week’s episode of ‘Walker’ was one of my favorites so far – and more than that, it felt important. I talk a lot, as a psychologist, about the ways in which fictional media can help us, in everything from providing a much-needed escape, to role models and inspiration, to giving us a way to work through our own ‘stuff’ in a safely displaced manner. The latter is what this episode of Walker did. Aptly titled ‘When Rubber Meets the Road,’ the episode picks up where the first two episodes left off. The brothers Walker, traumatized from captivity and terror and torture, are now physically safe. But that does not translate to any kind of psychological safety, as Liam tries to confide to his big brother.
He says what I said in last week’s review – they should have taken both of them to the hospital, and yes, they should have had MRIs and I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t after those beatings.
“Every time I close my eyes…” Liam begins, but Cordell cuts him off, saying they don’t need to do any of that, that the threat is over.
That’s the last thing Cordell wants to do, to close his eyes and relive the trauma. He’s been trying to perfect not doing that for a long time, it turns out.
Cordell: You’re safe, I’m safe, so let’s not compare notes.
Liam protests that they need to talk about it, but Cordell disagrees.
Cordell: We don’t. It’s better this way.
Liam’s helpless sounding “maybe we have internal injuries” is spot on. They may not be physical injuries that you can see, but both men are deeply wounded internally, psychologically and emotionally.
Cordell cannot go there, and that’s intensely hurtful to Liam, who keeps trying to reach out to him throughout the episode. The imagery of Cordell walking away from Liam is repeated, as though he’s turning his back on his little brother (he isn’t, but the image is nevertheless painful.)
Geri is there to console Cordell and he appreciates it, but also immediately makes a joke about his falling-off shirt.
Cordell: You’re not digging the deep V?
He deflects from her concern for him by asking about everyone else and how they are. And while that’s certainly relevant, because this was a trauma for all of them, it also keeps the focus off Cordi opening up about his own feelings to someone who clearly wants to listen.
We know they’re there, though, just under the surface – we can see it in his expression when he sees the old photo of him in the Marines on the table as he comes home, hearing in his mind “so this is the war hero…” that they taunted him with.
He doesn’t feel like a hero right now.