‘Walker’ Episode 1.04 –  Multiple Meanings for ‘Don’t Fence Me In’

Four episodes into the series, and this was a never-a-dull-moment episode, with a more complicated case of the week and some excellent emotional beats too.

The opening is adrenaline-fueled from the start. Walker and Micki respond to a call about a shooting in an oil field and chase the shooter in his truck. They go against some ‘new regulations’ to stop him, Walker yelling to Micki to “bulldog it” and Micki doing some impressive driving to cut the guy off.

They find him unconscious  and bleeding from a head wound. Micki notices his gang tattoos from the Olvidados gang before the ambulance arrives. The next day, Micki gets pulled onstage at the big press conference celebrating putting away a gang member, although she’s reluctant to take the podium, both because her partner isn’t there and out of an awareness of tokenism.

Micki refers to the spectacle of the press conference as a ‘dog and pony show’. It occurs to me that both Jared Padalecki and his former Supernatural costar, Jensen Ackles, have moved on to shows that are, in their own way, questioning the way our society works (and doesn’t work).  The press conference on Walker turns out to be an example of media manipulation – not as spectacular as the interrogation of media and PR on ‘The Boys’ but the awareness is there.

Afterwards, Micki is confronted by a young girl accusing her of betraying her own people and not “doing her homework,” insisting Enzo (her father) was no longer a gang member.

Delia (Paola Andino): You betray your people!

Ramirez starts to wonder if she did go along too quickly with the party line; in fact, following her instincts eventually solves the case.

One of the themes of this episode is Walker still trying to get to know his new partner better. He takes note of former colleagues from the Police Department who have a nickname for her, Muskrat, complaining that she won’t even tell him her middle name. More on that later.

Walker’s re-integration into his family’s life also continues, as he and the kids move boxes full of their stuff into their new home. August finds a box of his dad’s old things and starts exploring, putting on the cap that’s in the box, trying to get in touch with the parts of his dad he feels cut off from.

Walker has an oddly strong reaction when he sees what August is looking at, yanking the box away and saying it’s just “old case stuff.” Augie, like the teenager he is, surreptitiously grabs a camera and cell phone from the box and hides them before his father takes the box. That night, he plugs the phone in and charges it up. Curiosity killed the cat and all that, but I don’t blame August for wanting to know more about the time his father was away. Obviously Cordell couldn’t share details of his  undercover case, but you get the feeling he could have sat down and shared some of the past eleven months with his children who were feeling abandoned all that time.

Augie, with the help of Ruby, develops some of the photos that were in the camera – there’s one of a smiling, carefree looking Cordell, with a woman. Not August’s mother.

Secrets are another theme of the episode, because August isn’t the only one finding things. As he puts the box of old things away, Walker discovers more family secrets in the basement – a box of letters written to his mother. Not from his father.

In possibly my favorite scene, later in the episode, Cordell helps his mother label jars of her famous jalapeno jam. She says August has been asking “existential questions” about whether his dad is happy, and Walker has that same question for his mother, asking about the letters from Gary.

She says it was in the past, and Cordell wonders if his dad knows and if that’s why he was at one point sleeping in the bunkhouse. Abilene says it’s because he snores, but Cordell doesn’t believe it. She responds (appropriately) that they’re still the parents and they get to have their secrets – that she’s sure he and Emily didn’t tell their children everything.

Cordell smiles and agrees, saying that Emily used to snore like a bear cub.

The mention of his wife, the fond memories, and the quiet time with his own mother, bring tears to Cordell’s eyes.

Cordell: I miss her so much, Mama.

Padalecki makes that moment so vulnerable. The way he still calls her ‘Mama’, and the way she enfolds him in her arms, this big 6’5” man, who looks like a lost little boy as he clings to her and lets her comfort him. It made me extra emotional because it’s something Padalecki’s former character, Sam Winchester, so desperately longed for and never really got. Somehow that made me even more happy for Cordell.

I continue to love Molly Hagan as Abilene too; you can see how much she hurts for her son, how much she wants to console him and how much genuine empathy she has for him too. This family is flawed and imperfect and entirely human, and like the Winchesters, dealing with a lot of trauma and loss, but they sure as hell are trying and there’s a lot of love there. With my psychologist hat on, I appreciate the thoughtful way the show is exploring these complicated relationships, and the way the cast is making themselves vulnerable enough to portray all those conflicting emotions.

We know from another brief scene that things are not all peachy between Abilene and Bonham, and finding out that there was a Gary at a time when things weren’t going so well means that at one point they were even less peachy.

Stella keeps some secrets of her own from her dad, including her budding crush on the guy working at the stables where she’s serving her community service, Trevor (Gavin Casalegno). When Cordell comes by to check on her, Stella hides in a stall with Trevor, as mortified by her dad as every teenager in the entire world has been.

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Walker Walks the Line with ‘Bobblehead’ – and Gets Season 2!

Third episodes of new television shows are often the times when the narrative takes off in a slightly different direction, which is a bit of what happened with last week’s episode of the new Walker on the CW.  I enjoyed the episode – and there were quite a few people on my timeline who liked it even better than the first two – but there were also some parts that didn’t work quite as well for me. Part of that is because I was so impressed in the first two episodes with how realistically the show portrayed the Walker family’s grief over Emily’s death, making that the centerpiece of the family drama in the show. This episode still touched on that theme, but also took the show in a slightly different direction and introduced a new guest character.

Leading up to the episode, the network did a great job with promotion once again – including celebrating the good news that the show has already been renewed for Season 2! That’s an impressive accomplishment after only two episodes have aired, and a testament to the fan base that these actors bring with them, including many from my ‘home’ fandom, Supernatural.  The cast all tweeted their celebration, and so did many of Padalecki’s former Supernatural castmates. It felt good for the still-new Walker fandom to already have something to celebrate!

On Thursday, Jeff Pierre took over the Walker Instagram for the day, which made for more fun and some cameos from the other actors. Jeff Pierre is already a fan favorite thanks to his sense of humor and easy way of interacting with fans – and he and many of the show’s cast are clearly comfortable with social media.

Jared Padalecki live tweeted the East coast airing of the episode, so I watched and did a little tweeting and also enjoyed Jared’s commentary, some of which was cheeky and hilarious. Live tweeting used to happen every now and then for Supernatural, but it’s been a long time, so it felt really good to know that he was enjoying the episode right along with us. The last year of SPN fandom was contentious to say the least, and it felt especially good to feel like we were all just there to have fun together. I really hope that atmosphere sticks around – not that I won’t critique the show, because that’s what episode reviews do, but make no mistake, I have always enjoyed the shows I review. Otherwise I wouldn’t be watching!

So, Episode 3.

There was quite a bit to enjoy about that new character they introduced — Hoyt (Matt Barr), who high kicks his way back into the Walkers’ lives after a lengthy absence. We first meet him bare chested in short shorts and chaps, covered in sweat and glitter and dancing in a strip club. I am trying mightily not to compare Walker to the show that preceded it in this time slot on the CW, my all time favorite Supernatural, but Jared Padalecki just being in both keeps tying them together in my mind. So I laughed out loud when we got a male exotic dancer because yes, there are a fair number of Supernatural fans watching, and yes, some of us would have appreciated a similar scene at some point in that show’s 15 years. Sam and Dean go undercover at strip clubs on the regular in fanfic, why not in canon?

Anyway, points for that, Walker. Not what we expected from Walker’s best friend from childhood, and I like being surprised.

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I continue to enjoy the fact that I don’t enjoy all the characters in this show, at least not all the time. Give me shades of gray instead of black and white, and characters complicated enough to sometimes inspire empathy and sometimes annoyance, and I’ll be happy. Hoyt was annoying more often than not, but we also learned enough about his backstory to come up with some explanations of why. In some ways, he’s the stereotypical con man, which isn’t necessarily all that interesting – smooth lies underneath equally smooth charm. He’s manipulative and smart enough to be good at it, which Walker both expects and doesn’t want to believe.

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Jared Padalecki is “Back In The Saddle” With the New Walker

For Supernatural fans, who are still grieving the loss of our beloved show after 15  years on the air, the premiere of the new CW show ‘Walker’ on Thursday brought a lot of complicated feelings. Many of us weren’t ready (and to be honest, would never have been ready) to say goodbye to Sam Winchester, so seeing Jared Padalecki inhabit a brand new character was exciting but also brought a fresh sense of loss, as though the new character made the loss of Sam finally real. On the other hand, it was wonderful to have another television show to anticipate, and for Thursday nights at 8 pm EST to be something special once again instead of a time I tended to wander around the house lamenting that ‘it feels like something’s missing…’). In the midst of continuing controversy about the way Supernatural ended, and a hashtag campaign to tank ‘Walker’ before it even began, the show itself managed to air with considerable fanfare anyway – making it the CW’s most watched Thursday in three years, even topping NBC’s airing in its time slot!

Despite being brand new, Walker didn’t get left out of the Bernie meme going around, which must be some kind of pop culture litmus test, right?

Graphic: quickreaver

The network went all out in its promotion, with billboards and articles in every mainstream publication and Jared making the talk show rounds. That meant a fandom that’s accustomed to constant content and had been going into withdrawal was ecstatic to finally get some new photos of Mr. Padalecki – and oh, what new photos they were!

The Supernatural cast also went all out, with most of Padalecki’s former cast members sending him best wishes for his new show. On premiere day, former onscreen and always offscreen brother Jensen Ackles posted an Instagram message of support, telling Padalecki to “Go get ‘em, cowboy” and Jared and wife/costar Gen gave a shout out in return to Jensen and Danneel Ackles’ Austin-based brewery, Family Business Beer Company, on their CWWalker Instagram takeover. For Supernatural fans making the transition to new shows, the reminder that in real life they’re all going to remain good friends was somehow comforting. Padalecki has also said that he’s set on getting former costar Ackles to guest or direct on Walker as soon as his filming schedule for Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ allows.

I did not watch the original ‘Walker Texas Ranger’, nor am I a big fan of either westerns or cop procedurals, so Walker wasn’t a show that would have been on my must watch list if it wasn’t for Padalecki. That meant I went into it with measured expectations, and still feeling a bit sad about missing the Winchesters. There were mixed reviews from the media who received advance screeners of the pilot, but I like to make up my own mind anyway, so I sat down to watch figuring I’d just see where the show took me. I didn’t expect to feel as much as I did, and for me, that’s a very good thing. I didn’t even fall in love with Supernatural, my favorite show of all time, right away; I had to get to know the characters. They had to pull me in, make me want to know more about them. Fascinate me. And while I’m not pulled in entirely yet with Walker, I am interested. I want to know more.  And that bodes well for a brand new show.

I have to admit, the second that I saw Padalecki back on my tv screen again, I teared up.

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That’s my boy!! (Okay, one of them…)

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