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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Last Week’s Walker Goes on Multiple ‘Search and Rescue’ Missions

Last week’s Walker was titled ‘Search and Rescue’ and it was appropriate for multiple story lines. Directed by Austin Nichols (who was on the show in the last season), it was a fast paced episode that didn’t have any down time. As Jared Padalecki recovered from a serious car accident, Cordell’s role was light, but there were plenty of powerful performances by the ensemble cast.

The main rescue is of Stella and Colton, after their first date hiking in the state park goes south. They split up with Augie and his new hiking partner, who is striking enough to make August forget all about the sunscreen he was so worried about. Augie, I know your mother taught you better than that!

Walker — “Search and Rescue” — Image Number: WLK218b_0414r — Pictured (L-R): Kale Culley as August Walker, Jalen Thomas Brooks as Colton Davidson and Violet Brinson as Stella Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Stella and Colton have a teasing competitive dynamic that works to make the relationship believable, but it sends Colton scrambling up a cliff side to try to get to some flowers after Stella sets it up as a race. He hits his head on a rock on the way down and is disoriented and bleeding – and for most of the rest of the episode it’s a race of a different kind to keep him conscious and get them some help.

Stella manages to call Liam and leave a seven second message before her phone battery dies (poor planning for a hike, Stella, and I feel like your hike-loving mom taught you better than that!). So everyone knows they’re in trouble and the feuding families temporarily put aside their differences to try  to find them. Earlier in the day the feud was going full force – Liam went to the Davidson ranch to confront Denise and Dan, accusing them of cutting Cordell’s saddle strap. Bonham’s leather detailing knife went missing about that time, and they’ve finally caught up to what viewers have assumed for a long time. I’m still not sure why it wouldn’t be obvious that the saddle strap was cut immediately when they examined it, but at least they finally got there. Dan is furious at being accused, insisting he didn’t do it, but Liam storms out.  Dan and Bonham had been working well together, but the accusation ends that relationship, Dan saying “It means a lot, what you’ve done for the ranch, Bonham.”

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He holds out his hand to shake and Bonham doesn’t take it.

Bonham: Mr. Walker’s fine.

He angrily embeds the ax in a block of wood and walks away.

Dan rarely gets a break even when he’s trying, honestly.

Now that the kids’ lives are at stake, however, the feuding families manage to work together to find them.

Walker — “Search and Rescue” — Image Number: WLK218b_0162r — Pictured (L-R): Molly Hagan as Abeline Walker, Keegan Allen as Liam Walker and Mitch Pileggi as Bonham Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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It’s All About Trust with Walker’s ‘Bygones’

Last week’s Walker episode wasn’t the big event that the week before was (since it was directed by Jared Padalecki’s Supernatural costar Jensen Ackles), but it was a solid episode that I thoroughly enjoyed.  This is an unusual way of judging an episode, I’m sure, but for me, one of the best things about this episode was its positive commentary on fandom, something I’m always happy to see in media. The episode starts out with Cassie and Walker on a stake out – as she watches a fictional show (within a fictional show) called Hawk’s Shadow. It’s got a shout out to other CW shows, including Supernatural and Kung Fu…

“Who knew Satan’s greatest weakness was kung fu??”

And it’s got an awesome tag line: Whenever crimes come a-knockin’, I’ll be there to answer the… CAW CAW!

Walker isn’t into it, but Cassie definitely is, pointing out that there’s a lot of real life drama going on and an escape with a 90’s fandom classic seems like a good idea. I can get behind that, totally. Also, Cordell’s face is gold. I like that Cassie is thoroughly unapologetic about loving the perhaps a bit cheesy 90s show and it turns out that lots of other people like it too as the episode goes on.

Also the fictional show has a shout out to the threat of bears, a nod to Padalecki’s real life fear of them. Nicely done, show.

The partners check in with each other, Cassie struggling with being so wrong about Captain Cole (or is she??) and Cordell struggling with Geri being on a “girls’ trip” with Gale and Denise.

Walker says he feels betrayed, especially because Geri is his best friend; that it feels like she chose them and the Davidson family over him and his family.

Cassie doesn’t try to disabuse him of that, agreeing that “if you can’t trust your best friend to stick by ya…” and saying he can trust her as his partner.

The episode has a theme of trust running through it, starting off with this very first scene.

Cordell’s feelings are entirely understandable, but I can’t help but think that Geri’s are too. She has just found out that she has a sister and a mother, when she thought she didn’t. When she thought she was given up and maybe not loved by her own mother. When she thought she had no living relatives. How could she turn down an invitation from them to get to know them better? She must have so many questions, and they are the only ones that can fill in the blanks.

I have no doubt Gale is going to turn out to be scheming and manipulating this somehow, but I also can’t help but think that of course she wants to get to know her own daughter, who she’s been grieving for literally decades. Denise too – the sister she thought she lost is right here.

I might have tried to help Cordell understand all that a little more if I were Cassie – but I am not. I like Cassie a lot, including that she’s not always what I expect. That’s rather fascinating, so I’m glad, but I also had to bite my tongue when she just agreed with and amplified Walker’s feeling of betrayal instead of maybe helping him put himself in her shoes a little more (while also empathizing with his feelings).

Their conversation is cut short by the suspect exiting – Cassie figures out that this particular string of nightclubs always has a secret back exit so you’d never seen people leaving. Walker doesn’t understand, yelling that the guy is gonna get away, but Cassie once again asks ‘Do you trust me?’  He does, and so they’re right there when the guy comes out the exit and they take him down.

Cassie: Caw Caw!

A group of bystanders: Caw Caw!

Walker (longsuffering): That’s not even the sound a hawk makes…

Me: Fandom is awesome.

The Return of Twyla Jean

Walker is late to meeting with Captain James and he’s annoyed.

James: Walker, It is… 9:47…

Walker: Uh, yes sir, 9:48.

James: (glares)

Walker: Uh, let’s go with 9:47.

(Apparently an ad lib – this cast can be subtly funny and I enjoy it a lot)

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No ‘Common Ground’ on Last Week’s ‘Walker’

Last week’s episode of Walker, ‘Common Ground’, was an intense wild ride (literally) that left fans screaming at their screens and at one point exclaiming something along the lines of “oh shit”. That was me anyway!

I had a slightly different reaction to the episode than many people did, I think. Walker can sometimes be a little heavy handed with its good guys v bad guys, or at least it can seem that way, but in this case they’ve done an interesting job with the Davidsons in not being black and white. I really appreciate that about this show, and I do NOT want it to change, but it got in the way of my unfettered cheering Cordell on in the big race too.

The Davidsons are not your stereotypical villains who have nefarious plans to take over the world or poison the water supply or something. They are very human, and they’ve experienced some nearly unimaginable losses. Gale is scary because she seems like she’s capable of just about anything, including manipulating her own family members (though she clearly has her own trauma history impacting those manipulations). Denise has been more sympathetic, especially prior to this episode. We’ve seen Denise through Cordell’s eyes as who she was as a teenager and someone he cared about a lot. She’s being manipulated by her mother away from the more reasonable courses of action that she seems drawn to herself again and again, and it’s working like a charm, but she lost her dad in a tragic way, her marriage is on the rocks, and I can’t help but feel bad for her. Same with Colton, who we were introduced to in a sympathetic light. He’s the new kid, longing to fit on, longing for a home and for a family who can stay together and give him a sense of stability. Yes, I know, cutting a saddle strap ain’t okay in any way, shape or form if indeed Colton is the one who did that (I’m really hoping he didn’t), but I still feel bad for him as he fears the little bit of stability he finally has is falling apart.

When Stella confronts Colton and demands to know why he outed Augie to Denise, Colton responds with “I’m sorry, what?” Does he even realize what he was doing when he confided in Gale of all people? Again, master manipulator.

He seems to eventually buy into the feud all the adults are insisting is “just the way things are”, but he reiterates again that all he wanted was a home. He knows his parents aren’t happy and he’s in danger of literally losing any semblance of home he might have had. He’s feeling hurt and angry that Stella has rejected him but still, at the eleventh hour, he tries to tell his dad that he doesn’t want to take the Walker’s home. That’s a more mature response than most of the adults are having, Walkers included!

I even feel a bit bad for Dan – he’s a fuck up, has clearly had a history of being a fuck up – but he loves his son and is desperate to stay close to him by winning their family back the disputed land (and the Walker’s land too because…revenge, I guess?). There’s nothing more dangerous than someone with nothing left to lose, and that’s Dan. When his son said there was nothing left to fight for because he’d lose the home he wanted so badly, I knew Dan would do just about anything to make that not happen. Which is a motivation I can relate to – doing anything for your child – even if the revenge part is making Dan do things that are anything but relatable. Also Dave Annable makes Dan confusingly appealing just because Dave is appealing!

The Davidsons are thus not your stereotypical bad guys. They are not the ones ‘in power’, despite Denise being the DA. They’re the ones that lost their family patriarch and their land – and one of their children, because then they didn’t have enough money to take care of her. That’s all pretty tragic – to them, the Walker family must look like a bunch of entitled and privileged winners. The show has hinted that maybe the Walker family wasn’t exactly fair to the Davidsons back then, so some of their resentment is certainly understandable. Loss pulled Cordell into a dark place for a while; it pulled the Davidsons there too, and they never got back out.

So I felt a little out of sync with the rest of the fandom as the epic horse race started. I was rooting for Cordell, especially when he stopped to go back to be sure Dan was okay, but I kind of hated the whole idea of it. Would it really be okay to take ALL of the Davidsons’ land from them? Their home? Everything? Wouldn’t it compound what they already lost perhaps unfairly and the tragedy of the barn fire? Both Liam and Cordell have struggled with that ethical question, and I was still struggling when everyone got on board with the insane plan of deciding it all on a horse race.

Lots of emotional decision making going on all over the place in this episode! Rational, what’s that?  Everyone should listen to Liam a lot more, since he’s sometimes the only person hanging onto a thread of rationality in the face of very strong emotional reactions.

I felt really bad for Cordell at times too. He’s tried so hard to give the Davidsons the benefit of the doubt and not see this as a war, and I know some viewers were fed up with that and ready to just buy into the Davidsons-are-evil-take-their-home-away solution, but I appreciated Cordell’s reluctance to do that. He started out the episode finally watching the news report from back in 1995 when the barn burned, Gale insisting that it wasn’t an accident and blaming “the kid next door”.

She insists that Marv was the self sacrificing type and that he ran into the burning building to save the kids (Cordell and Denise). She even says right out, “Cordell Walker murdered my husband”, which seems like something that should not have been broadcast since Cordell was a minor at the time. Where is this news report and why is it still accessible on the internet?

I wonder why there wasn’t more of an investigation at the time if she really thought that? (I also continue to wonder how they missed the lantern that was just lying around the burnt barn).  Poor Cordell, having to see that, even as an adult. We know he still feels guilty about that night and doesn’t know for sure what happened, so that must have been excruciating to watch. Protect your mental health, dude! He also feels bad about “the last time the Davidsons had to move”, a reference to the fact that the Walkers might not have done right by the Davidsons back then. I can’t forget those sort of things that the show intentionally put out there, so I was glad it was acknowledged again at least initially.

At this point it’s still on the table to make a deal that’s at least somewhat equitable with the Davidsons even if the race happens, though that seems to go by the wayside by the end of the episode. Also, Liam is the voice of reason repeatedly, noting how crazy it is to decide something like this with a horse race. Ya think??

Liam is the only one who wants to cut a deal BEFORE the race (trying to cut a deal with Dan for 20 acres of Walker land so they can find some common ground). Cordell doesn’t agree though, eventually buying into the macho BS I like to think he’s mostly walked away from, saying he doesn’t want the Davidsons to think they’re afraid of a challenge. That’s a crappy reason to go ahead with this, Cordell, just saying. (Though he does, at this point, say the race is on but they don’t have to start a war. That’s a good sentiment, but I’m not sure that either family can be expected to be ‘okay’ with losing ALL their land. The stakes are too damn high here.)

I also felt bad for Cordell as he tries to practice riding on Chopper, a gorgeous horse who seems pretty high strung, with his dad as his “Coach”. (He gets way too into the part, even donning a hat that says ‘Coach’. Over the top, Bonham!).

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