This series could have been Hill Street Blues with Stetsons—gritty, incisive, asking thought-provoking questions about policing, and dealing with the personal cost to officers and their loved ones.
Instead, it’s Gilmore Girls with Guns.
I have to admit, the show confuses me. Supernatural switched up family drama episodes and monster-of-the-week stories (with some comic relief that still always had a hook into the ongoing theme/issue) with the ‘big arc’ stories, but I always felt like I was watching the same show. The underlying tone, the characters, and the types of stories remained consistent.
Walker is an ‘action crime-drama’ according to IMDB. It started out with bank robberies and drug cartels and botched murder investigations—and the toll the work took on those behind the badge and their families. But Walker seems to change into an entirely different show from week to week, writer to writer. It’s almost as if the law enforcement angle is an afterthought. And now that Cordell Walker is no longer a Texas Ranger—at least for a while—it’s likely to be all family drama. Or at least if there’s Ranger stuff to be done, it won’t be Cordell doing it. It feels like bait-and-switch.
At the ranch, Cordell and Bonham clear away the crime scene tape, and Cordell blames himself for what happened. (Seriously, maybe it’s the wrong line of work for him if he feels this much guilt over doing his job and stopping the bad guys.) Abbie tells Liam that he and Cordell can’t take care of themselves. (Wow—not helpful. Thanks, mom.) Cordell takes a leave of absence from his job and stands Micki up for lunch. Stella ignores calls from Trevor. Micki has lunch with Trey and shuts him out when he tries to get her to talk to him.
We’re nearly at the end of the season, and none of the lessons the characters learned have stuck. No one is communicating, Cordell is still mired in guilt, and everyone else has gone back to blaming him, shutting down and keeping secrets. It feels like nothing that happened has made any lasting, meaningful change.
Geri says that Hoyt had been in the process of buying land no one knew about—possibly part of his intent to start over with her. The sale fell through when he died, and now she needs to go get his stuff. She asks Cordell to help—and quickly invites the kids along, an obvious way to keep her distance and keep their relationship ‘just friends’.
When they find out Hoyt had four horses and a ‘llama’, they don’t go back to the Walker ranch where presumably there are horse trailers. Instead, they decide to sleep on the floor in the barn loft without proper gear and ride the horses back, leaving the truck at the land someone else now owns. Why would anyone make those choices?
The only reason I can think of is so that Cordell and Geri can talk about how nothing is going to happen between them. Geri feels guilty for turning Hoyt down. Cordell blames himself for the kiss, and says they kept Geri’s name on the Side Step lease (despite her past money laundering). Stella blames herself for involving Trevor. Geri gives Hoyt’s favorite ‘lucky’ jacket —guess he wasn’t wearing it much lately, given his recent luck—to Auggie. (Am I the only one who felt like that was an omen?)
While we’re talking about the Side Step, is anyone running it? Not the Walkers—they’ve been a bit busy. Is it closed? Did Cordell hire a manager and staff? Now that he’s on leave, is he going to become a bartender full-time? (Shades of Sam Winchester’s ‘Keith’ persona in season 5.) We don’t know.
A big problem is that we didn’t get to see enough of Hoyt or learn enough about his backstory to care as much as we’re apparently supposed to at this point. He saved Cordell’s life, but we’re never told the details. He was a loveable rogue who thought of himself as an outlaw and kept getting in trouble with the law. He romanced Geri but was completely undependable, disappearing for long stretches and getting arrested. He was the fun ‘uncle’ to the kids and a person Abbie wanted to save.
Since we’re never told why or shown the stories behind all of that, Hoyt remains a superficial bundle of stereotypes, instead of a flawed person we could really understand. He was a bad prospect as a marriage partner, both for unreliability and for his trouble with the law. Geri might have wished he was different or that it could work out, but her decision to say no (especially after her recent scrape with money laundering and his with prison) was the logical thing to do.
If you really want to blame someone for Hoyt’s death, then blame Stella for getting involved with a boy whose father was in prison. (That’s never going to go well for the daughter of a Texas Ranger, even if Cordell hadn’t been the one to put Clint away.) That’s how Clint finds out that ‘Duke’ isn’t dead, which sets the whole revenge plot in motion.
Or, blame Auggie, because if he hadn’t gone out of his way to charge the old undercover phone and text Twila Jean, Cordell wouldn’t have been dragged back in to the Rodeo Kings mess. Or blame Hoyt for stomping off to the ranch to have it out with Cordell over kissing Geri like she wasn’t a grown woman who could decide things for herself.
None of that is Cordell’s fault.
Meanwhile, Captain James shows up to ask Trey about Lewis, a friend of Trey’s who has gone missing and was last seen ‘arguing’ with Trey. Trey says he and Lewis were sparring, not actually fighting, and that Lewis has a recent brain injury. They find out that Lewis’s family is in danger of losing their house because Lewis can’t work.
Trey decides out of the blue that Lewis ‘obviously’ entered an illegal cage match to earn money. (Doesn’t everyone?) They show up to the match—with Micki and Captain James in uniform. Trey offers to fight in Lewis’s place, but Micki ends up doing the fight because both men are injured. She’s badass, and wins the money for Lewis. She also talks to Captain James about getting a new partner. So much for the bond she and Cordell were forging.
Back at the ranch, Bonham and Abbie argue. He’s defensive. She confronts him about his cancer. He stomps off. The sacred hitching post that Bonham made Cordell feel like crap about (after Stella actually drove into it and blamed her dad) is fixed—no one seems to care, because it’s not important now.
Later, Bonham offers to go mushroom hunting with Abbie. We later see them looking tipsy and lying on the floor, talking. We think they might be working things out. Then Bonham suddenly gets up to build a shed. Later, Abbie muses about control and her need to save people. Bonham makes an appointment for treatment and asks her to come with him. Do they actually discuss anything? No.
What difficulties in their marriage led Abbie to have an affair? Why didn’t Bonham tell anyone about the cancer or seek early treatment? Why does Abbie have so little faith in her own sons, but boundless faith in Hoyt? Why does Bonham have such huge issues around communication? We aren’t told. The characters don’t have backstories, so we can’t get inside their heads. We see them react, but we don’t know them well enough to understand why they make the choices that they do.
Cordell doesn’t think the ‘llama’ looks well and takes it back to the farm. The kids pitch a fit and guilt him into going back for it. (It’s a very young-looking, scrawny animal.) Geri tells Stella not to blame herself because she ‘let love in’. (Hmm, taking advice from someone who couldn’t tell Hoyt was not prime relationship experience might not be wise. Plus Stella totally bears some of the blame because her connection to Trevor let Clint get the inside track to her family.) Then Geri says that she and Cordell have an ‘ocean of unsaid things’ between them, but she chooses to leave—on foot in the middle of nowhere—instead of dealing with any of it.
Liam is recuperating at home. His election rival brings him barbecue and makes a campaign contribution to Liam’s campaign and warns him about the cost of wrong choices. (Why? It’s not clear.) Later, Liam gets a text from Bret and agrees to get together. Why hasn’t he shown any remorse over the breakup or even mentioned Bret? Why did Bret have to make the first move? Why didn’t Liam beg forgiveness and explain that he was trying to protect Bret once the big bad cartel turned out to be washed-up bikers? We don’t know.
Turns out that the scrawny ‘llama’ was actually pregnant. (Surprise!) It gives birth to a relatively huge baby, and instead of finally retrieving a horse trailer from the ranch for the new mother and baby, they continue to ride through the woods, making the mother animal walk the rest of the way, although clearly someone has called Bonham to tell him about it, because he’s building a shed.
If Cordell grew up on a ranch, how did he not recognize that the animal was pregnant? And why later does he seem clueless about how to tell whether an animal is male or female? (It’s really not difficult with livestock.) How long a ride back is it if Bonham has a whole new shed built by the time they arrive—with time to spare to carve/burn a memorial statement into the wood of the fence? They name the baby alpaca Hoyt.
The best line in the episode was a nod to Supernatural’s French Mistake episode, when Bonham says, ‘You’re an idiot—it’s not a llama’—Shades of Gen’s ‘it’s an alpaca, dumbass’ comment. (I guess we also got a secret baby llama drama, instead of ‘devil baby mama drama’, another Supernatural reference.)
Stella tells Trevor that she can’t visit him and that they need to leave the past behind, but that what they had was real. (It only took having Trevor help hold her family hostage, nearly get her uncle killed, and hold a gun on her father for her to realize this.)
Micki brings Cordell his hat, and apologizes for holding a grudge (after having earlier admitted to Trey that she was ‘passive-aggressive’ to Cordell). She’s the one who had so little faith in her partner that she seemed to think he had willingly held up a bank. She’s also already asked for a new partner. Where does this grudge come from? We don’t know.
And that’s the biggest problem with the show. There’s so much we don’t know because the writers aren’t providing that information. So we’re left to stitch things together from our best guesses and are stuck wondering why characters do what they do. By juggling so many characters and plot lines (which often get forgotten for long periods or are wrapped up in superficial ways), we don’t get a chance to really understand either the people or the circumstances, so it’s difficult to care deeply or get lost in the story.
Can the show fix what’s wrong and come back stronger for Season Two? Sure—with better writing. Do they realize there’s a problem? Will they make changes? As with everything else—we don’t know.
As always, the cast turns in a stellar performance, and Jared brings his full heart to the portrayal. I just wish the writing did them justice.
What did you think? Please share your thoughts on the episode below!
Wonderful Screencaps by Raloria on LJ.