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.
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.