It’s All About Relationships In Walker ‘Champagne Problems’

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.

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Walker ‘One Good Thing’ Also Finds One That’s Probably Not

Last week’s episode of Walker grabbed my attention from the start and didn’t let it go – in fact, this episode seemed more fast paced than the last, even though that one featured a breakneck pace horse race! I had expected that it would take a while for us to find out who the Davidsons’ lost baby had grown up to be, but this episode actually gave us that reveal. Spoiler alert – it’s Geri!

Most of us had predicted that it was Geri from the various hints given, though the fandom gave me a headache trying to figure out how to make the dates and the math work so that she could have gone to school and grown up with Cordell. I know it’s an unlikely situation, throwing one hell of a monkey wrench into Cordell and Geri’s newly romantic relationship, but I’m okay with unlikely in this show. It’s a trope worthy of fanfic, right up there with the “and there was only one bed” machination, and that’s always a compliment in my book.

The episode opens with a shot of the moving trucks and the ‘W’ coming down from the gates, ouch.

And then Cordi and Geri waking up together, soft and affectionate with each other as they deal with the stress of Bonham’s upcoming bail hearing, packing up the ranch, and giving the ranch hands an explanation for why they’re about to be out of a job.

The fandom was definitely grateful for the double shot of a shirtless Cordell from both angles, thanks to the mirror that captured the very attractive slope of his back…. I mean, the bruising on his shoulder blade from the fall from the horse. Yes, that’s what I meant.

gifs let-me-be-your-home

I’m not super invested in the Cordri ship, but Jared Padalecki and Odette Annable are entirely believable together, small touches of reassurance and a realistic banter that’s half old friend teasing and half romantic flirting. It’s a great combination, and one you don’t see all that often on television.

Cordell’s beating himself up about going back to help Dan and losing the race as a result, but Geri reminds him that to get through a painful time, what you need is a port in a storm – just “one good thing” to think about to get you through. Her father Frank used to do that for her, when they were constantly moving around for her heart treatments – something special would be waiting for her to make the hard days a little less hard. It’s a good coping strategy for when life is throwing way too much at you – something most of us can relate to recently.

The Walker family is understandably struggling, their patriarch facing accusations of murder and about to lose the house that’s been in their family for so long. Liam is still questioning why Bonham buried the lantern, while Cordell is facing the difficult task of trying to thank their ranch hands as they’re facing unemployment. I very much appreciate that the show doesn’t have the ranch hands replying to Cordell’s heartfelt “you’re family, and thank you” with a calmly delivered “you’re welcome” or “we’re behind you 100%”. Instead, we get to see their anger and anxiety too – they had no say in this and yet their lives are being upended. It wasn’t pleasant to watch and I felt really bad for Cordell, but it seemed realistic.

Ranch hand: So what, 25 years and all we get is ‘I’m sorry, grab a handful of peppers outta the patch on your way out?’

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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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Last Week’s ‘Walker’ Explores All Sorts of “Boundaries”

Last week’s episode of Walker was unusual in some ways, taking us into new territory and exploring all sorts of ‘boundaries’. The episode opens on the morning after, Cordell and Geri waking up together and awkwardly trying to figure out what the boundaries are on their newly physical and romantic relationship. There’s a deliberate shot of Cordell’s wedding ring on the bedside table, reminding us that he’s still got some ambivalence about moving on from Emily – perhaps especially with her best friend.

Odette Annable and Jared Padalecki were both believable in portraying the characters’ clear affection but also the anxiety of not knowing exactly where you stand in a new relationship, especially one that’s long standing but as friends, not lovers. Especially when the shift happened as abruptly as it did, after a season and a half of slowest burn ever. There’s a reason the ‘friends to lovers’ trope is so popular, because it’s all kinds of adorable to watch these two negotiate where they go from here, even coming up with a safe word to let each other know if one goes too far too fast.

It’s ‘Dolly,’ not as in Parton but as in that cloned sheep – something that was happening in the news when Geri came to town and reminds them both of their shared past. Geri and Cordi bonded over mutual geeking out, and who doesn’t love that?

It also seemed to be a deliberate reminder that Geri did indeed “come to town” at one point – which everyone is guessing might mean that Geri is the long lost presumed dead Davidson baby who we find out about at the end. Now won’t that be awkward!

I love that Walker a) knows its audience and b) goes out of its way to be respectful of all its women characters, because Padalecki is the one who’s not dressed while Geri is in a tee shirt.

The fandom was mostly happy about that, and Geri’s reluctance to make anything ‘official’ after getting carried away with passion the night before made sense to me. She’s a little hesitant, feeling vulnerable, and needing to cover up both physically and emotionally. Cordell was much less ambivalent, but isn’t that often the way it goes? A mismatch (even temporarily)  is painful but common.

Also those screencaps are just really pretty, aren’t they?

Both Geri and Cordi struggle a bit throughout the episode with figuring out where their boundaries should be, especially when it comes to their friends and Cordell’s kids knowing about their new relationship status. Cordell very awkwardly comes back home in the morning, his dad and brother immediately teasing him for his ‘walk of shame’ and Stella just glaring.

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‘Walker’ Gets a ‘Nudge’ into a New Partnership

Walker’s tenth episode of Season 2, ‘Nudge’, starts out with something we haven’t seen before – Cordell, Liam and Trey out to lunch together. Cordell suggests Liam and Trey moving in together since both are a bit at loose ends right now, gives them a ‘nudge’ so to speak. Though I didn’t think Liam was considered single necessarily – isn’t Bret coming back? Come back, Bret!

Liam and Trey call Cordell out on saying that unlike them, he’s not alone – he’s never alone in a house full of teenagers – but they point out that alone isn’t the same as lonely. He admits it’s been quiet (lonely?) working alone without a partner.

As Walker has to go to work, he leaves Trey and Liam to ponder their future living arrangements.

Cordell: Sorry to ruin your date, but it’s on the house!

Trey: He needs to get a partner…now.

Liam confides in Trey that he’s been looking at land surveys of the Davidsons and Walkers’ land, and Trey offers to help him out.

Liam: Maybe my brother’s not the only one who needs a partner.

Awwww. Liam and Trey is the partnership nobody knew we needed, but perhaps we did. Maybe they should be roomies!

gif let-me-be-your-home

Walker kills time outside James’ office, picking up some imaginary thing on the floor (and in the process making the fandom quite happy) and then awkwardly pretending he wasn’t.

Jared is so good at creating a believable and unique individual with Cordell, and I am constantly amazed that there is not a trace of Sam Winchester in him most of the time. I’m not an actor, so that seems mysterious to me – and sometimes a bit impossible. But here we are!

James updates him on the search for a new ranger/partner, which isn’t going very well at all. In the meantime, Cordell has a solo assignment searching for a person impersonating a missing Ranger named Miles who’s doing a bunch of carjackings.

Fistbump!

Elsewhere in town, Abeline puts the word out that they need ranch hands and then (literally) bumps into Gale at the market. The two of them are so strained with each other, polite and pleasant on the surface and simmering anger still underneath.

Abeline says she taught Colton the song that Marv used to sing and Gale goes off that she always oversteps, talking about her dead husband like they had nothing to do with it…

And then we realize we’re hearing her internal monologue instead of what she says to Abeline, which is overtly polite instead.

On his solo assignment, Walker finds a suspicious looking car and stops to investigate, asking local PD to come back him up. He’s no sooner climbed into the car (carefully pushing the trunk opener with his knuckle so he doesn’t leave fingerprints because smart Cordell) than someone else with a gun shows up just as he’s climbing OUT and orders a hands up and gun down.

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