This week’s episode of Walker: Independence involved a lot of discussion of both “Blood and Whiskey”.
We open up on Liam and Griffin’s bodies being put into caskets for burial.
As the town of Independence starts to wake up, the residents of Hagan’s hotel must also start their day. For Kate, that involves waking up Abigail. Or, at least, trying to. Our heroine has already gotten out of bed and left the room for the day, leaving Kate to wonder what other secrets she’s hiding. She gives it two seconds before she starts going through Abigail’s drawers for clues.
Back in town, Abigail is voicing her worries to Hoyt and Calian. It’s not safe for any of them to be in town right now. Griffin, the only other witness to Liam’s death, is dead and they have no more allies in their battle against Tom. Hoyt and Calian are more concerned with her safety than anything else and they’re all in on helping her fight this.
Abigail then tells them she might have a way to get concrete proof of the Davidsons’ wrongdoing. Tom offered her that job in the sheriff’s office and, while she hates the idea of working with him, it might be the in that they need. Hoyt and Calian are immediately against the idea. It could be a trap, or it could lead to Tom finding out who she is and then they’d all be in trouble. They insist that there are other ways to find information. Calian says he can speak to his elders and Hoyt can talk to the Reyes family about their troubles. It’s best for her to stay out of the lion’s den.
From here, our merry band of heroes diverge and so do the plots. I’m going to cover them separately, starting with everyone’s favorite deputy: Augustus.
In the last episode, Augustus killed Griffin as he was making a run for it from the sheriff’s office. Augustus believes he did the right thing. As he tells Tom in the cemetery, taking a man’s life isn’t easy and it shouldn’t sit right with anybody. But, in this case, he believes it was justified. He believes Griffin killed a man in cold blood and he needed to be stopped, plain and simple.
Tom doesn’t quite see eye to eye with him on that. Perhaps he’s just a bit jealous that so many people in town seem to like and respect Augustus but Tom’s having a hard time figuring out just what kind of man Gus is. As they finish burying Liam and Griffin’s bodies, he asks Augustus what he thinks the people of Independence will have to say about him when he’s laid to rest there himself. Augustus says that he’ll just have to ask folks when that happens. Perhaps that day will come sooner than expected.
This song and dance of Tom testing the waters with Augustus, and pushing his buttons, plays on for the rest of the episode. He hires Abigail without a word to Augustus, even though he clearly doesn’t agree. When Augustus is going through Griffin’s things, Tom makes derogatory statements about the contents, and challenges Augustus to empty his pockets. “Let’s play a game” he says, guess at what people might think of them if they died with what they currently have on them. Tom goes first, showing off his money, his pomade, and his special knife. Augustus reveals that he has nothing in his pockets and Tom simply smirks as if that was exactly what he was expecting to see. Then he comments that, with no next of kin, no one would notice if any of Griffin’s things went missing. Augustus assures him that he’s getting by just fine and Tom is “happy” to see him pass the test.
Later that night, Augustus pays a visit to Ruby, a white dove that Griffin was close to, to deliver his things. Ruby isn’t happy to see him though. She never asked Griffin for anything when he was alive; why should she take his money now? She was closer to him than anyone else and she knows for a fact that he never killed anyone, let alone a sheriff. He wasn’t a perfect man, but he didn’t have it in him to go that low. But no one will ever know that now because Augustus gunned him down in cold blood. Dear, beloved Augustus, who always has a smile and a kind word for everyone, became a hero in the same bullet that marked Griffin a murderer. Augustus tries to explain that he was only doing his job, but he gets a slap in the face for his efforts. Perhaps this is a sign of changing tides in the town.
Next, I want to talk about Abigail and her exciting first day at work.
Abigail goes to the sheriff’s office to turn down Tom’s offer. Both the sheriff and the deputy are absent at first, so she goes poking around in the desks until Augustus shows up. She asks to speak with Tom, and he jokingly asks if the deputy isn’t good enough for her before the man makes an appearance. She starts to turn down Tom’s offer but then the undertaker drives by with coffins and a marker for her husband and she gains a second wind, changing her mind on the spot. She’d love to help.
Tom happily gives Abigail her first job: serving an eviction notice at Sullivan’s Dry Goods. While he’s reaching in the drawer for it, Abigail sees a familiar journal. She’s going to need to tread carefully if she ever wants to look at it.
At the Side Step, Abigail tries to talk to Hoyt about her decision but he’s too busy and only gets a promise to talk later. Now on her own, she heads for the dry goods store to speak with the Sullivan sisters.
As soon as she arrives, trouble starts. Both Molly and Margaret start trying to sell her things from “their” side of the store and quickly delve into arguing with each other over business sense. Then, when she hands over the notice, they start arguing over financial matters, with Margaret blaming Molly for getting swindled out of all their money. Abby senses she might be able to help but neither of the sisters are keen on speaking further on the subject. The notice has been served; it’s too late by now.
She’s not going to give up though and she goes down to the bank to see if there’s anything she can do. She asks the teller if there’s any way they can set up a payment plan on the loan. The teller explains that normally there would be, but this is a special case. Sheriff Tom Davidson himself ordered this eviction to be expedited so the Sullivans only have until the end of the day to pay back their loan. Then Abigail learns that the collateral the sisters will be losing includes not only the store, but also the 200 acres of land they own outside of town. This piques her interest and she decides she’s going to help these girls no matter what.
Abigail meets up with Kate at Kai’s for tea later. Kate comments on her new job before Abigail can even sit down; news travels fast in small towns. Abigail fills her in on the Sullivans’ situation and Kate calls it a classic land grab. This only bolsters Abigail’s desire to help and she wonders if their situation has always been so dire. Kai, who most certainly was not listening in, says that it wasn’t always so bad. People used to go to their store regularly. But, then the fighting started. When they bicker in front of customers, it makes everyone uncomfortable to the point that everyone is willing to go out of town to Austin to buy what they need. The worse the business got, the worst the bickering got, and now they’re stuck in this mess.
This gives Abigail an idea. The people in Independence need the goods that the Sullivans provide; they just need to stop fighting like that. Once their personal issues are resolved, it’ll just be a matter of getting people in the store. Kate and Kai have that covered; Kai knows who needs what around town and Kate has an army of pretty girls that are willing to do some door-to-door advertising. All that’s left is for Abigail to provide a little family counseling.
After a short strategy session, the trio get going. Kai lets Kate know who needs what and Kate rounds her girls up. Then, Abigail goes to speak with the Sullivan sisters. She tells them that she understands the struggles of doing business with family. She had a sister herself back in Boston, one that she used to be best friends with. But, time passed, and they both let the business get in the way of their personal relationship and said things to each other that they can’t take back. And now, when she needs her sister more than ever, she’s alone.
Molly and Margaret take this to heart and apologize to each other. Molly then admits that the only reason she tried to make that “get rich quick” scheme work was because she wanted her older sister to be proud of her. Margaret tells her she always was and points out her strengths in working with people and manning the cash box. After a heartfelt, if quick, moment, the sisters get to work.
With Kate’s girls bringing people into the store, items start to sell out quickly. And with the sisters getting along, no one is being scared away. Cash changes hands quicker than a jackrabbit and the shelves slowly start to empty. By the end of the day, the sisters have earned enough to pay back their debt and then some. Kate and Abby look on at their hard work with a smile, then Kate starts prying Abby for information on her backstory. Abigail shuts her down when they see Calian and Hoyt and she goes to tell her team what she’s learned about Tom.
That night, Tom drops by the store and sees it empty. He mistakenly congratulates Abigail on her quick work getting the Sullivans out of town, but she informs him that, actually, the opposite happened. She then congratulates him on his good work. His expedited eviction notice was just what the sisters needed to get their act together. In just one week, he’d made such a difference in this town; it won’t be long before people are singing his praises for years to come.
Tom knows very well that Abigail doesn’t believe that was his intention with the eviction, but there’s nothing to be done about that now. He simply gives a vague “We’ll just see about that” and goes on his merry way.
Later, Abigail brings Kate a small bunch of flowers for her nightstand. While she’s setting them down, she notices Kate’s drawer is open and she sees a small handgun. She picks it up and inspects it, possibly recognizing it as a kind used by law enforcement. Then, Kate enters the room. Abigail asks her who, exactly, she is. And, wouldn’t you know it, Kate could ask her the same things. Looks like these women have a lot of questions for each other.
Finally, I want to talk about Calian and Hoyt. While they both had their own plots, they went through a similar journey of inner conflict so I’m going to talk about them both together.
We start off with Calian speaking to an elder in his tribe about the Davidson family. The elder tells him that the Davidsons are outsiders and not to be trusted. The only outsider he has ever trusted is Francis Reyes. Calian insists that the Davidsons are a potential threat and that they should meet with Francis to discuss what to do about them. The elder tells him that his tribe is already worried about him spending too much time with outsiders. If he’s that concerned about it, he should host the meeting himself.
This takes Calian to the Reyes’ ranch, where Hoyt is trying (and failing) to break in a horse while an unimpressed Lucia looks on. Hoyt is not happy to have Calian there but Francis, Lucia’s father, is already making introductions and inviting him to eat a meal with the family.
While they’re eating, multiple members of the Reyes family praise Calian on his manners and Spanish skills and mention Hoyt’s own lacking in those areas. Hoyt tries to defend himself, but the family isn’t giving him an inch. Francis tells him that, perhaps, if he tried harder and didn’t always take the easy way out, he might be in a better position. Hoyt then brings up the trouble they’re having on their own land, as if to make the argument that hard work doesn’t always save you from trouble. This prompts Calian to ask Francis for a private meeting to discuss the Davidsons. The Mrs. Reyes sticks Hoyt with dish duty.
Side note: Hoyt’s little pout at Calian getting the last scoop almost made me feel bad for him. Almost.
Hoyt does as he’s told but, after being denied the last scoop of Mrs. Reyes’ chili, he’s not happy to see Calian get praise for breaking in the horse he was unsuccessful with as well. He then decides the best course of action is to steal Calian’s horse and drown his sorrows in beer and gambling.
At the Side Step, he’s facing off against the same men as before, Salty Dog and his crew. At first, it looks like he’s doing better than last time as he actually wins a hand and parts a fool from his money. But, as he’s collecting his winnings, a few cards slip out of his sleeve.
Having been caught out, he runs away from Salty Dog and his mad shooting. He goes for Calian’s horse but it’s nowhere to be seen so he takes off on foot. He’s making good time, successfully jumping onto a moving wagon and making Salty Dog taste mud. But, just when he thinks he’s home free, he runs into Jacob, the man who was making him dig his own grave just two episodes ago. Jacob returns the shovel knock out and Hoyt is dragged away to goodness knows where.
Back on the Reyes’ ranch, Calian is cleaning his hands outside. Lucia approaches him and compliments him on his horse skills. Her father says that he has a gift. Calian insists that it’s nothing special; you just need patience and understanding. Lucia nods, then comments that those are two things she doesn’t get much of in her family. They don’t approve of her wanting to sing at Hagan’s or of her relationship with Hoyt. Not that she’s entirely sure they even have one. He’s never around long enough for her to know.
Then, Calian’s horse returns, but Hoyt is nowhere to be seen. Lucia is clearly worried about him but Calian assures her that he can track the man down.
When Hoyt returns to consciousness, he’s in the church he never finished building in Angel Springs, the town where he pretended to be a preacher. He looks up and sees many familiar faces and decides he owes these people an apology.
Side note: Something tells me he’s lucky everyone left their guns outside.
He gives an impassioned speech, disparaging himself as a sinner. He is a man who has robbed stagecoaches, trains, and even a few barbershops. He’s lied to people, including the good people of this town, and he’s wrong for that. He is a man that, above all, needs compassion and forgiveness, and he’s come to them to ask for that. Listening to him talk, it’s not hard to see how he convinced them all he was a preacher.
Sentiments aside, Jacob quickly points out that 1) he didn’t come here willingly and 2) they’ve already forgiven him for the mess he made. He’s here for a different purpose.
See, Angel Springs runs a pretty successful distillery. However, their last few deliveries have been getting robbed and it won’t be long before word gets around that they aren’t able to deliver product. Once that happens, the whole town will be bust. They all decided to track Hoyt down to help and figured his criminal expertise would help them avoid another bad run. Also, they need someone who will work for no charge. Hoyt says that he’s not cheap but, upon seeing Calian following him, he takes the job. It’s the least he could do for these people after all.
Side note: I will never be over Calian saying that he’s “not sure” if he’s going to shoot Hoyt when he tracks him down.
Shortly after this, Hoyt pins Calian against a wall and asks him what the hell he’s doing all the way out here. Isn’t it enough for him to humiliate Hoyt in front of Lucia and her family? Calian scoffs and reminds Hoyt that he does a fine enough job of that on his own. But, after his horse returned with no rider, Lucia was concerned and so was Calian. He’s here to help, not to harm. Hoyt doesn’t care much for his help though and tells him to bug off and quit following him.
Before long, Jacob and Hoyt are ready to make the next delivery of whiskey to, of all places, Independence. Hoyt is riding shot gun and Jacob is driving, both as a guide and because he doesn’t trust Hoyt not to run off.
On the way, Hoyt asks after Jacob’s father; he didn’t see the old man at the church. Jacob confesses that he’s not doing too well; his health took a turn for the worse after Hoyt left. He also reveals that he never told his father about Hoyt’s deception. The old man liked Father Hoyt too much. Hoyt liked him too, it would seem.
They come up on the pass where Jacob was robbed last time and Hoyt gets his gun ready, but nothing happens. Jacob says they must’ve gotten scared off by Hoyt’s presence and he agrees. He says that if the attacked there, it must be an amateur group. If they were smart, they would’ve used an area with more tree cover, just like the one they’re coming up on right now….
As if on cue, the bandits return and Jacob and Hoyt are quickly overwhelmed. Jacob gets thrown off the stagecoach and Hoyt rushes to take the reins. After a desperate sip of leaking whiskey, he urges the horses forward, away from the bandits. But, one of them climbs on top of the coach to attack. At the last second, Hoyt recognizes him as “Jack”, then we cut to black.
Some time later, Hoyt is wandering the grasslands when a volley of arrows starts raining down on him. He runs away, as anyone would, but he trips and falls on his face. When he turns over, he sees Calian looming over him. As if his day couldn’t get any worse.
Calian tracked him down to talk some sense into him. It’s wrong of him to abandon the people who need him, especially since he’s hurt them before. Hoyt argues that he tried to help them; it just didn’t work out. There’s no point in trying and no amount of missed arrows is going to convince him otherwise. Then Calian “misses” an arrow a bit too close to home and gets Hoyt back to his feet.
He reminds Hoyt that, while he usually takes the easy way out, he’s been very willing to help Abigail on her journey. He even went to jail and risked breaking a man out of prison for her sake. “You have it in you to be good,” he says. He just needs to tap into that potential more.
Hoyt begrudgingly admits that Calian has a point and agrees not to run anymore. Now, it’s time to track down some bandits. Calian can do it but Hoyt already has an idea of where it is. It’s time to get on Calian’s horse again, this time with permission.
With Hoyt’s guidance, they find the bandits’ hideout. Hoyt has worked with these men before; in fact, he taught them how to do what they do. He even taught them how to rob trains and he’s disappointed to see them back at stagecoaches. Calian asks if they have any weaknesses but Hoyt brushes his question off. He already has a plan. Hoyt will go talk to the bandits while Calian sneaks around back and gets the stagecoach.
When Hoyt approaches them, we see that Salty Dog has taken over leadership of the gang. Neither of these men are happy to see each other but Hoyt doesn’t lose his cocky swagger. He admonishes his former friends for getting mixed in with the wrong crowd. Salty Dog takes the offense in stride, easily threatening to shoot him with the Alamo gun he wagged in Hoyt’s face in the pilot. Hoyt is not deterred, even as Salty Dog brings up his past slights, and does his job as the distraction while Calian takes care of the horses.
Unfortunately, Salty Dog hears the horses fussing despite Calian’s efforts to keep them quiet. He tells the bandits to keep their guns on “pretty boy” while he checks the situation out. He, of course, sees Calian and fires his gun. This spooks the horses and their spoils are now running away. Two of the bandits end up on the stagecoach with Salty Dog dragging along behind. Hoyt shoots the rest of them and Calian calls his horse for a chase.
Hoyt is able to get a few shots off but one of the bandits gets a better one and both Hoyt and Calian go down. Hoyt tries to shoot them but his gun is empty. When the stagecoach turns around, he gets up and starts running, but Calian is still down and right in the path of the coach. Hoyt shouts for Calian to get up and get out of the way, but Calian won’t budge. He carefully aims his arrow and fires it, successfully catching the brake on the stagecoach. The bandits are thrown off and scared away, a great victory for our boys.
Hoyt and Calian finish making the delivery to Independence. While waiting for the sale of whiskey to be completed, Abby approaches them. She tells them about taking the job and learning about the Sullivan land grab. She asks what they’ve been up to and Hoyt starts to tell her the truth but Calian cuts him off with what he learned from Francis Reyes. Apparently, their cattle didn’t go missing until after they rejected an offer from the Davidsons to buy the ranch. Whatever is going on is much bigger than they anticipated. Tom isn’t their only enemy; they’re going up against the whole Davidson clan.
From here, their stories diverge. Though both Calian and Hoyt struggled with internal conflict this episode, only Hoyt’s struggle gets resolved. He’s spent much of his life running away from responsibility and the good that he can do, but he’s ready to accept that role now. He takes the stagecoach and the money back to Angel Springs, after stopping to pick up Jacob, and makes one last appearance as Father Hoyt to Jacob’s father to send him off to a peaceful death. Perhaps his grifter lifestyle has come to an end and he can start figuring out the kind of man he wants to be.
Calian, on the other hand, has other issues to handle. Though he rushes back to his tribe for a meeting he set up between them and Francis, he arrives too late. His elder is disappointed in him for missing his own meeting. Calian apologizes and says that he had to help a friend. His elder asks if that friend was more important than his own people. His drive to help Abigail and Hoyt in the fight against Tom Davidson is getting in the way of his duty to the tribe. He needs to explain to his people his true feelings, but he might need to work those out for himself first.
You know, whenever I watch an episode of this show, I always feel like I’m getting more content than there should realistically be time for. Every second is packed with interesting details and character moments that I can’t get out of my head. From Kate teasing Kai about eavesdropping to Calian and Hoyt forming a stronger bond, I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. This was another banger of an episode and I can’t wait to see where this is all heading.
The biggest question coming off of this episode, for me at least, is just how much are Kate and Abigail going to reveal to each other? Will it be full exposure or will they save some details for later? And how will Calian balance his work-life responsibilities in the future? And, of course, what exactly are the Davidsons up to and what is Tom’s role in their plans? All questions for another day.
But what did y’all think? Was this a good episode for you? What do you think the Davidsons are planning? And how will our merry band of heroes stand up to them? Let me know in the comments! I’m so curious to hear your thoughts.
Catch up on more Walker: Independence detailed Recaps, Character Profiles and historical context insights, all found on Esther’s Writer’s Page!