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.
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.
Last week’s episode of Walker once again opens with bacon, which is always a good thing. And right away it’s a bit of a metaphor for the real subject of this episode – relationships. Their ups and downs, their challenges and triumphs, the way they bring joy and pain. Abby and Bonham’s kids and grandkids show their love by knowing how to cook the bacon just like they like it – and planning a big 40th anniversary bash.
The kids and grandkids are determined to make Bonham and Mawline’s anniversary special, right down to trespassing on the Davidson’s ranch to pick her favorite flowers and herbs, finding the perfect bottle of champagne and cooking the bacon just right. It’s also complicated from the start, though, with Bonham asking Cordell to try to convince Geri to come to the party and give Abeline another chance, while Cordi texts Twyla to wish her luck on her first day at a new job.
Talk about stuck in the middle! He kinda wants to please everyone, and that is never easy, often putting a strain on all those relationships you’re trying to salvage.
Geri comes back from her girls weekend and tells Gale that in spite of how complicated that particular relationship is, she’s glad they’re trying.
Gale: Me too.
Apparently Denise is struggling also, an only child for her entire life who now has a grown up sister who wasn’t her favorite person before she found out they were related. Nobody is ever entirely immune from sibling rivalry either, so having to watch how obviously thrilled Gale is about having her other daughter back must be a bit painful for Denise.
Geri holds out her arms for a hug, and Gale looks overjoyed to give her one and I know most people are not a fan of any of this, but I feel for both these women right now.
Gale says that they haven’t really had any one on one mother-daughter time, and you can see how much just that term means to Geri – mother-daughter time is something she thought she would never ever have, and now it’s being offered. It must be incredibly powerful and also incredibly confusing. Being taken into confidence for the old family recipes – a family she never knew was hers – would be a big deal, I imagine. Family traditions, being part of mothers handing down recipes to their daughters – it’s hard to see things like this all around you and not have them.
Also, can I just say that I love Geri’s adorable little house? Walker is so good with its visuals and its set dec and locations, it’s such a visually appealing show – and I have a thing for tiny houses (this is not that, but it’s small and looks so welcoming)
The episode revolves around all the Walkers trying to pull together the big bash, while nothing goes entirely smoothly. Cassie goes with Liam to get the rare champagne that’s special to Abeline and Bonham. I like Cassie, so I’m not gonna complain, but if my new work partner wanted to be part of literally every family event ever, I would probably be a bit alarmed. I guess she’s new in town and doesn’t know many people other than Cordell though – and we soon find out that Geri isn’t the only one craving family acceptance.
I love that Cassie is a bit of a fangirl, waxing poetic about wine by quoting a movie and then appalled that the clerk doesn’t recognize it. It’s such a fandom thing to know all the dialogue. Not that I can quote entire scenes of Supernatural or anything. Ahem.
Meanwhile, Liam gets flirty with the other wine store guy, who flirts right back. I was rooting for Liam and Bret to get back together, but I have to admit that Liam and Ben (Matt Pascua) have more chemistry – sparks flew from just about the first minute of their conversation. Maybe because we didn’t get to see Liam and Bret at the start of their relationship and they seemed settled into an almost friendship by the time we met them – for whatever reason, LiamBJamin (as I saw the ship called in a few tweets) kicked up sparks.
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.
Walker: Uh, let’s go with 9:47.
(Apparently an ad lib – this cast can be subtly funny and I enjoy it a lot)
We’re somehow already on episode 5 of Walker’s first season, and starting to feel a little bit like we’re getting to know the characters. This episode, however, let us get to know someone else a little – Walker’s undercover alter ego, Duke. It was an interesting glimpse into what those ten months were like for him when he was gone, and just how deeply he lost himself in this other persona. If I look at that from my psychologist perspective, it seems like Cordell wasn’t ready to adapt to the loss of his wife, so he threw himself into an entirely different world. Became someone who hadn’t been in love with Emily and hadn’t lost her; someone who could immerse himself in another romantic relationship way before Cordell himself was ready to do that, even if he was ‘pretending’ some of the time. It’s not the healthiest coping strategy for grieving, and it had a negative impact on his family, but it’s becoming a little clearer why Walker stayed away all that time and just how deep he was in. Interestingly, the always perceptive fandom noticed that Padalecki covered up his crown tattoo that he shares with Supernatural castmates Jensen Ackles and Jeffrey Dean Morgan when Walker was undercover as Duke. It’s all about identity in this episode.
The episode begins “Four Months Earlier” at a rodeo, Walker in a ball cap and looking a little scruffier than usual as things like calf roping go on. The attractive blonde woman in the photo August developed (Twyla Jean, guest star Karissa Lee Staples) comes on to him, saying she’s worked up the courage to introduce herself.
It seems like he’s had long enough to prove himself in some way, with Walker commenting that they’re keeping him sidelined so he doesn’t embarrass any of them. At that, one of the guys (Clint) challenges him to a sort of rite of passage – riding a bull for ten seconds.
Clink: Whaddya say, Dick?
Walker: It’s Duke.
Twyla proves herself in his corner by cautioning him that the bull has a cracked rib, so not to squeeze with his knees. At least I think that’s what she said – the audio in this show is still uneven at times.
We don’t actually see Walker (or his stunt double) riding the bull, and this is a little off topic, but I was distracted during this whole scene by my own feelings about rodeo. Sorry, I know this is a show based in Texas, but why is anyone riding a bull with cracked ribs? Or at all, for that matter? That’s neither here nor there, I know, but my feelings got in the way of what was intended as an indication of Walker’s success.
Jared Padalecki live tweeted the episode while dealing with floods and electricity outages in Austin, rescuing chickens and inviting neighbors into his home while the neighbors had no power or water.
Jared: BTS: I rode that bull for four minutes. But we had to cut those shots for timing sake. We even traded places.
I laughed out loud.
Back to “Present Day” and Walker freaking out about August texting Twyla (without knowing who he was texting) and her texting back. He seems on the verge of a panic attack and dunks his head in a sink full of cold water to calm down.
Padalecki in real life understands what it’s like to cope with anxiety, and he does a great job portraying that here. (The chapter he wrote in the book Family Don’t End With Blood talks about his own personal experience with anxiety and depression and his real life coping strategies).
He tells the kids at breakfast that he has to go out of town briefly, and Stella immediately looks upset.
Stella: That would be a no for today, then?
She’s wearing her soccer jersey; her father insists that he’ll be there at her game.
August: (bitterly) Unless he leaves town.
Uh oh. I can already see where this is going. That fragile progress Walker made with his son last episode is easily overturned as soon as August fears his dad is on the verge of abandoning them again.
Walker isn’t amused. He grounds August for taking the phone, saying it was boxed up for a reason. I have to admit, taking that phone was an odd thing for Augie to do. The character sometimes reads as confusingly young and naïve. Wouldn’t the teenage son of a Texas Ranger know better than to plug in one of his dad’s phones and text some random person? For that matter, wouldn’t Walker have deactivated the phone instead of leaving it lying around in a box? Hmm.
At any rate, August and Stella are still not trusting their dad to stick around, and that’s realistic. Children are more sensitive to perceived abandonment than anything else, and with their mother gone, their dad is all they have in terms of a parent.
Walker drives a little ways out of town then gets out and strips to the waist, changing shirts and putting on a cross on a chain and slapping on some (bad) aftershave. His change from Walker to Duke gave a grateful fandom some gorgeous shots of shirtless Padalecki in the Texas sun. (Screencaps and gifs of that scene took up half my timeline the next day. Not complaining).