Last week’s Walker, the third episode of Season 2, dug deeper into the themes of grief and loss that the series has tackled since the pilot, tying those themes to those of hate and resentment that have become clearer in season 2. The episode opens with Cordell sleeping on the couch in the midst of a nightmare, tossing and turning as he sees flashes of that fateful night in the Davidson’s barn with Denise long ago. The two teenagers are sitting there together with a lantern when they suddenly have to run out, leaving the burning lantern behind. Cordell wakes up, distressed.
What’s even more distressing is we immediately jump to the perspective of the creepy Walker family’s spy, watching intimate family moments – Augie and Stella on the couch, Bonham and Abeline working on a puzzle, Stella in a bathrobe (creepier still). Geri sleeping on a couch too, Colton and Stella bandaging the wandering horse’s leg, Denise’s husband lurking around. Liam on the phone talking to someone about “tying it back to Serano”. The whole scene is shot with creepy music that makes it seem like something bad is about to happen – very well done, in other words.
It’s actually two guys listening in, and when they hear what Liam says about them being onto Serano, they immediately realize “the boss is toast”. One wants to cut and run, one wants to find another buyer for their surveillance setup since the Walker family, he notes, collects lots of enemies. (Ouch)
That ominous background runs beneath everything else going on, although the episode overtly is about a chili cookoff, Abeline using their Gran’s original recipe and a $10,000 prize up for grabs. There’s a sentimental reason Abeline wants to win, which I totally understand. (I love Abeline so much – she’s not perfect by any means, but I can often so relate to where she’s coming from). (Did you catch Jared/Cordell snacking on a pepper?)
Cordell’s on edge after the nightmares, overreacting when August leaves a towel too close to the pot of chili on the stove and it catches fire and yelling at his son.
I was at a Supernatural convention when last week’s episode of Walker aired, glad to have the opportunity of telling Jared Padalecki in person how much I’m enjoying his new show, so I didn’t get to watch live. When I returned, I watched on the CW app and decided to just enjoy the ride instead of taking notes for this review – and I was so glad I did! The second episode of Season 2, The One That Got Away, was full of excitement and fight scenes and close calls, but it was also a poignant episode with an amazing performance by Lindsey Morgan. I’m not always a fan of episodes that switch back and forth among multiple story lines, which Walker sometimes does thanks to its large ensemble cast, but this episode was tightly focused on just two story arcs – the culmination of Micki’s undercover work and the Walker-Davidson ‘feud’. I loved being able to just sink into a story line and let it play out, almost in real time.
This episode had a significant Supernatural connection since it reunited star Jared Padalecki with his Supernatural costar and frequent director Richard Speight, Jr., whose distinctive touch gave the episode some striking scenes.
Let’s talk about the family feud arc first. Last week explored the origin of the bad feelings between the Davidsons and the Walkers, focusing on the older generations and their complicated history. This week the focus was on the younger generation, especially Stella and Colton, as they try to figure out how much of that history will color their own relationship. As I told Jared last weekend, I always like watching Walker for the deeper themes as well as the kicking ass, and this season’s focus on long-standing and difficult to disentangle tensions and resentments seems like a frighteningly relevant theme to tackle. Stella and Colton inherited the animosity between their families, which is something that happens in all facets of life every day, from families to politics to fandoms. Can they even get to know each other as individual humans with all that baggage?
With a little help from Coach Trey (who is perhaps trying to keep his mind off constant worry about Micki), they make a start on that in this episode. He engineers escape rooms for the two pairs of kids, who must start to communicate before they can find the literal key to get out of the rooms and out of detention. August apologizes for the Ruby debacle, and that facilitates the boys’ escape to a congratulatory Coach Trey.
Stella admits she wrongly accused Colton (Jalen Thomas Brooks) and he apologizes for his insensitivity, complaining about his divorcing parents when Stella has actually lost one of her parents. It was a little too convenient, sure, but I liked the message behind it – and I was rooting for them by the time Stella stopped the car to tell Colton to hop in.
Walker returned for its second season last week, and immediately hit the ground running with some intriguing new mysteries and some deeper themes that kept my psychologist brain happy too. I couldn’t watch it live so caught up on the CW app, which means I missed live tweeting with Jared Padalecki unfortunately. I am so enjoying how active he is on Twitter recently – I always end up smiling at his ability to spread joy and excitement throughout the Walker and Supernatural fandoms by just randomly replying to tweets. At the same time, I really admire his ability to ignore the haters who seem to always be lying in wait. It must be tempting to just pull back and stay quiet when you know you can count on being attacked every time you interact – he does see some of that and it has to be hurtful on some level – but being a positive force is more important and so he does it anyway. One of my first in depth conversations with him, way back in the early days of Supernatural, was about how hurtful those online comments can be – yet here he is, still persevering and being a bright light in the lives of so many fans.
Last week was an eventful one for the Walker fandom – it was premiere week, which was a joyous occasion, but it was also the week that Lindsey Morgan announced that she would be leaving the show. I don’t know anyone who didn’t love her character of Micki, and her dynamic with both Cordell and Trey, so the fandom was sad about her departure. I’m sure the cast and crew and producers were also sad about it, since a mid season unplanned departure has all sorts of ramifications – but it is to the credit of both the fandom and the show that everyone supported Lindsey in her decision to take care of her own mental health. Too often, we all ‘push through’ and ignore what our brains and bodies are telling us we need, sometimes with disastrous consequences. I will miss Micki, but Lindsey set a great example in being candid about what she was going through and making the tough decisions she needed to.
I know Jared understands that need – in his autobiographical chapter in the book Family Don’t End With Blood, he wrote openly and eloquently about his own mental health and how difficult it had been for him to ever make that a priority as a lead on a television show. There’s a lot of talk about how we all should do that, but Jared put his money where his mouth is and got behind Lindsey and her decision, both as a lead actor and as an executive producer. That’s a real departure from ‘the way things are done’ in television and film, and I feel kind of proud of both Jared and Lindsey for doing the right thing.
That said, I am really going to miss Micki Ramirez!
The episode itself was non-stop, sometimes moving so quickly I felt a little dizzy.
Micki’s story line was the action-packed one, with her undercover assignment three months in and the demands of living that role 24/7 starting to take a toll on all her relationships, just like it did when Cordell became a little too much Duke and less Cordi.
She’s cut herself off from Walker and from Trey (and presumably from her moms after just reconnecting/reestablishing those relationships). It’s easy to see how that seems like the right thing to do, to keep everyone safe, but it takes a toll anyway. Lies and deception and isolation are built into being under cover – which is something I honestly never gave a moment’s thought until watching Walker.
I really felt for Trey, knowing that Micki is in danger but cut off from her and unable to verify if she’s okay. I don’t blame him for tracking her down at trivia night at some bar, just in time to see her partner-in-crime (literally), the hapless Spider, get tossed off a building onto the roof of a car and murdered. Micki grabs Trey and tells him that she loves him, tearfully saying that she “sure hopes that girl of yours comes home”. But then she sends him on his way.
Everyone, in fact, is worried about both Micki and Trey. The episode begins with a nice bonding scene, Walker and Trey and Liam all out for a run. They make a pretty picture for the fandom too, which I’m sure was not lost on anyone (though they looked a lot more like Jared, Jeff and Keegan to be honest).