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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Triangles and Tough Decisions in Walker ‘Torn’

This is a slightly shorter review thanks to being at a Supernatural convention when this episode aired and then flying back in the nick of time to dive into summer teaching, but I wanted to take a little time to process this episode of Walker before I dig into this past week’s new episode.  ‘Torn’ was aptly named, since just about everyone in it has to make some difficult choices.

Stella is torn between current boyfriend Todd and rapidly-becoming-her-new-love Colton, procrastinating telling Todd the truth even though she knows it’s inevitable. There’s a focus on sibling relationships in this episode too, including Augie telling it like it is to Stella, urging her to tell Todd because it’s not fair to either of them not to.

She finally does, but not before Todd figures it out on his own. He at first responds by lobbing a basketball at Colton and then getting into a fistfight. Trey intervenes, getting popped in the jaw himself for his troubles, and he reminds Todd that who Stella is with is her choice.

Trey:  Both people have to want a relationship. The one who wants it the least has the power. It does get easier after high school though.

Todd: Seriously?

Trey: No, not at all. But you do get a better understanding of things.

Trey’s pretty wise, gotta say.

Todd eventually takes the news a lot more maturely than most would, hugging Stella and saying they can hopefully be friends in the future. I am impressed, Todd!  There’s a tender Stella and Colton kiss before the end of the episode – the actors have a lot of chemistry, and Stella and Colton are kind of shy and sweet together. I’m sure their relationship is as doomed as Romeo and Juliet’s thanks to similarly feuding families, but I hope I’m wrong.

Geri is still torn between the Walkers and the Davidsons emotionally, but for now she’s made her choice. She and Cordell are not together (though they’re awkwardly trying to at least remain friends) and Geri is equally awkwardly trying to connect with her now family the Davidsons. Denise is initially reluctant, still blaming Geri’s adoptive dad for her father Marv’s death. That’s not rational, but it struck me as realistic. They all had some unprecedented revelations dropped on them a short while ago, and it’s no wonder Denise is having trouble just accepting Geri as her sister.

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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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