With all the revelations we had in this episode, “Mum’s The Word” doesn’t really seem like an appropriate title. When we got promotional stills for this week’s Walker, all the smiling faces assured me that this one would be an emotional wringer. And it was, just not in the way I thought.
I initially wanted to try to split this review into a discussion of the different plots in order of length but, to be perfectly honest, there were so many little plot bunnies running around in this episode that everything felt a little too balanced for that. So, I’ll be covering this episode scene-by-scene.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
We start off at the Side Step where Geri, Cordell, Stella, and August are prepping sandwiches for the homecoming game at Sacred Heart High. While carrying some boxes, Stella comments that she didn’t remember the Sandwich Station being such an involved process and Geri reminds her that she was usually only involved in the eating part.
While the family makes sandwiches, August decides to speak up. He reminds everyone that, now that Stella has left school, he’s been trying to make a name for himself as August Walker and not just Stella’s little brother. Stella teases him about having big shoes to fill but he has no time for her. He turns to Cordell instead and tells him that the homecoming game this year will be against Holy Word, which brings back old memories for Cordell. He enchants everyone (or at least August) with a story of a magical throw he made to Hoyt that really clinched the game for them. Then Geri reminds him that if it wasn’t for a play that Hoyt made later in that game, they may not have won. But that’s enough negativity, because August has a favor to ask. He tells Cordell about a Juniors vs Seniors flag football game where the students get to bring Alum to play on their team. Cordell remembers that the winners of the game get to have a skip day and August asks if his dad could come play for the Junior team. It could help them win and it would really help him gain a little clout with his classmates. Cordell says that since James has an assignment for him tomorrow he can’t make any promises but that he’ll do his best to be there.
While August is getting excited about some more father son bonding, Cassie it telling Ben that she might not be able to make it to a commitment in their family either. Ben reminds Cassie that “she” will be really disappointed if Cassie doesn’t show but Cassie argues that her work assignment might have to trump family time.
Liam asks them who they might be disappointing, and Ben fills him in. Their grandmother owns a restaurant in Waco that’s celebrating it’s 100-year anniversary tomorrow and it’s expected that they all be there. Then, Cassie suggests that Ben bring Liam and introduce him to the family, just in case she can’t make it. Ben seems a little thrown by the suggestion, but Liam is happy for the opportunity to meet everyone. Then Cassie mentions that it might be a bit soon for Ben; after all, it took about a year for him to introduce Lucas to everyone. This gets her a Look from Ben and Liam grows worried that he might not be welcome. Cassie assures him it’s not that big of a deal, that Ben was just nervous about bringing home his first boyfriend.
Before the conversation can go much further, Trey’s mother arrives in the room and asks why they’re in Trey’s apartment. Doesn’t Cassie have one just down the hall? Cassie helpfully supplies that her apartment is actually across the hall and Liam explains that they brought food here to the apartment because they wouldn’t get to eat at the ceremony.
Then, Trey slides into the room with his socks on and his shirt unbuttoned, unaware that his mother is standing right behind him. Once he’s made aware, he awkwardly closes his shirt and they all have a good laugh.
We cut to Ranger HQ, where Cordell is running hard on the treadmill. Cassie comes in with James and asks Cordell if it’s finally gotten too hot outside for his runs. This surprises Cordell and he nearly trips getting off of the machine. He then quickly hides the gun in his bag and waves off her comment.
Then, James tells them about their assignment for tomorrow. After the disaster with Serranos’ evidence truck, the DPS is taking evidence transport more seriously. As a result, some evidence transports between Ranger headquarters are being handled by Rangers. In this case, Cassie and Cordell got the short stick and will be responsible for getting an evidence case from Dallas and bringing it back to Austin. They need to keep the case on them at all times and bring it back to HQ by midnight but they’re free to take breaks.
Neither of our rangers are happy about this news. It looks like they might be missing their family time. But now’s not the time to worry about that because Cordell needs to shower for the ceremony!
In the office, James starts with a speech telling everyone what a good man Trey is and how proud he is to bring him into the force. Then, without further ado, Trey is brought out to get his star. Everyone is clapping and happy for him. Once he has his star, Trey looks out into the crowd, beaming with pride…. Until he sees his mother’s face. She’s not happy and that dims his mood.
Following the title card, we see Cordell and Cassie on the road. They’ve picked up the evidence box and are sailing through traffic. After some staring out the window, Cassie picks up her phone and dismisses Cordell’s attempts at conversation. After six long hours in the car with him in relative silence, it’s time for DJ Cassie to take the reins. Cordell is fine with that, so long as she puts her phone on silent because her ringtone is annoying. Cassie says that she thought that beeping was from his phone (and she wasn’t planning on saying anything either). Which leaves the question: where’s the beeping coming from? Cordell starts checking his truck instruments and Cassie looks in the backseat, freezing when her eyes land on the box. It’s coming from there and neither of them seem to know what to do about it.
We then cut to Sacred Heart High, where the homecoming celebrations are in full swing. Stella is helping Geri in the sandwich truck while August hypes up his hero QB dad to his fellow classmates.
While Stella and Geri talk in the truck, another alum appears and Geri recognizes her as Becca Ferguson. Becca recognizes Stella as well and asks in a rather patronizing tone if she’s back from college so soon. Then she says that she was nearly Stella’s mom before telling Geri that she thinks it’s just “so great” that Geri still comes and helps out year after year…. Geri and Stella then watch her and her daughter walk away in stunned silence.
Side note: Anyone else get the sense that Becca never mentally left high school?
Back at Trey’s apartment, he’s cooking something in a pot when his mother enters with a meat bouquet that had been delivered to him. The card says it’s from Micki. She asks Trey what Micki’s up to now and he says that she’s off to New Orleans with her moms. He then tells her to try what he was just cooking and that he thinks he finally got the recipe right. She does a quick taste test and tells him it’s perfect; it tastes just like her grandmother used to make. Then she asks if they’re wearing hats indoors now and he sheepishly removes his white Stenson. He’s just so excited about it. But he can tell Keesha isn’t. He asks her what’s going on and she shuts him down fast, telling him not to “therapize” her. Trey wants to try some more but he gets a call from James and steps away to answer it. The captain wants them to drop by ranger HQ before they go to an event for the Mayor. Keesha, still bothered by something, says that she better get dressed then, and walks away.
Back with Cassie and Cordell, they have the box sitting on the ground far away from the truck. The box is still beeping and neither of them are sure of what it is. Cassie doesn’t think it could be anything that dangerous. After all, it went through screening processes and was officially handled by law enforcement. Cordell insists that there could be a danger still. They don’t even know what case it’s related to; it could be a bomb for all they know!
Unfortunately, they can’t call James or any form of backup because there’s zero cell service on the road they parked on. Cordell can’t even shoot off a text to wish August luck before his flag football game. So, they’re on their own. They have a mysterious box that’s beeping. Beeping indicates a timer, which lends credence to the bomb theory. But there’s no way of knowing for sure unless they open it, which runs the risk of compromising the evidence. Not exactly ideal.
As the ranking officer, Cordell makes the decision to unlock the box and make sure it’s nothing dangerous. He takes the key from Cassie, tells her to stay back, and gingerly unlocks it, revealing…. A bag of smartwatches with alarms going off.
Despite Cordell’s frustration over a waste of time, he notices that the watches were set to go off at 14:00. He then recalls that while he was in captivity, the mercenaries would come to collect them at the same time every day. He doesn’t say what for but he does mention that Julia figured out their schedule way before he did.
Side note: Is it just me or is he implying that he was held captive for longer than those two days?
Cassie mentions that it wasn’t a total waste since they got a name for the group of mercenaries, “Gray Flag”. As she’s putting the watches back in the box, she notices a picture hanging out of the file in there and pulls it out to see its Cordell. This, naturally, raises a big question.
But there’s no time to ask it now because we need to talk about Stella. Geri notices her moping at one of the picnic tables and leaves the truck to talk to her. They talk a little bit about how weird Becca was earlier, then Stella voices more concerns over her future. Just a few months ago, this school was her stomping grounds. Now, she feels weird even being there. Everyone else in her class is off doing things and she’s afraid of turning into that weird alumnus who’s always around.
Geri gives her a Look and Stella rushes to assure her that she meant no offense. Geri lets it slide and then tells Stella a little about her own past. Once upon a time, she’d planned on going to business school but she couldn’t because Life happened to her. Her father died and the Side Step became her responsibility. It wasn’t a part of her grand plan but it was the hand that life had dealt her and she did her best to play it.
Stella admits that deciding not to go to college was a huge thing and it’s brought her a lot more, harder choices to make. She just thought she would have a handle on things faster. Geri then reminds her that she has a big support network right now and she’s very lucky to have that safety net while she figures things out. A lot of people don’t get that. She also advises Stella to try to focus on the big picture rather than the little details.
We then cut to the Perez family restaurant in Waco. Everyone’s setting up for the big party and Liam was stuck on stirring duty. He asks Ben how he’ll know when it’s done. Ben starts to launch into this big chemistry explanation only to reveal that he failed chemistry in school. So, they’re just winging it.
Then Grandma makes herself known. She tells Ben that she’s happy to see him but he didn’t have to come so early. Ben says that he wouldn’t miss it and that he heard they needed more sauce. Then he introduces her to his boyfri- I mean Liam!
Liam takes the bumpy introduction in stride and compliments Grandma Perez on her cooking and her appearance on television. He’s just so happy to meet her. She asks if this means Liam will get Ben to visit more often. Ben tells her that he’s just been really busy lately and Liam jumps in to gush about Ben’s new business deal. Grandma is very happy to hear this but then notices the sauce and tells Liam- I mean Lucas, that he needs to keep stirring. And thus, it gets even more awkward.
Next, we see Cassie and Cordell back in the truck going through the files that were in the box. Cassie is really annoyed at how much information the Gray Flags had on Fenton and Cordell versus how much they had on her. With Fenton, his files goes back about halfway through his ranger career. Then there’s Cordell, who they have files on extending from his days in the military to his dental records to his kids birth certificates. And then there’s Cassie, who they have so little information on that it’s barely worth the second page. Cordell tries to explain it away and tell her it’s not that big of a deal. After all, the Gray Flags have all been arrested and they were all “Looney Toons” anyways.
Besides, he has an idea that’s more worth their time: heading to Perez’s Prime Ribs.
Cassie asks if he’s sure and he says that James told them they just needed to be back by midnight. No reason they couldn’t take a little detour. It’s brisket time!
By the time they arrive, the party is in full swing. Cassie immediately goes over to surprise and hug her Grandma while Cordell trails behind her with the case. Grandma then asks who the “handsome young man” is and Cassie must inform her that he is a work partner, not a romantic one. She recognizes his name from the news and Cordell gladly informs her that he would rather not be in the news so often. Anyway, it’s time for food.
Except…. Is that a headshot of Cassie?! It looks like the Walker Brothers have stumbled onto a gold mine of Perez Siblings lore!
Side note: I felt Cordell’s offense that Cassie hadn’t told her that her family was BBQ royalty in my soul.
Back at Sacred Heart, Geri is on the phone in the truck. August comes back from the flag football game, which they lost, and he’s very annoyed. Not only did he get all of the contact, Cordell failed to show up for him.
While he sulks, Geri quickly informs Stella that she needs to leave. She’s going to send someone to help Stella pack up and then she can take the night off. Stella is a little confused but Geri doesn’t have time to explain.
Side note: Did Cordell not tell August that he wouldn’t be available for the game? Or was August just bragging for clout? I’m very confused….
With that weirdness out of the way, Stella turns her attention back to August. She says that she’s sorry Dad bailed on him today, but tries to defend him. She says that Cordell has been trying really hard to be there and present for them lately. August scoffs and retorts that Dad has mostly been present for Stella, which leaves her confused. But she tries to cheer August up anyway and offers to let him come along on a date she had planned with Colton. August is in disbelief that she really doesn’t get it and tells her to forget about it. He’s got his own plans.
Side note: Stella, I don’t know who told you that every little siblings’ dream activity is being a third wheel but they lied to you.
We then cut to Ranger HQ, where James meets Trey and Keesha in his office. He starts telling the story of a ranger named Willy. He was cool, old school kind of guy and one of the only black rangers when James was making his way up. He was stationed elsewhere but drove all night just to see James get his star. And, he gave James a present, one he’s now passing on to Trey.
James hands Trey a box and he carefully opens it to find a set of suspenders with three initials etched into it, for Trey, Willy, and James. James says he gave that to him to remind Trey that this job isn’t just about what’s happening in the here and now. It’s also about legacy and history. Trey understands and accepts the gift, while Keesha gets lost in thought.
And, on that touching note, we cut to a shot of August turning on the lights in the Side Step. He looks around for a second before turning and declaring that the coast is clear and opening the door for what looks like the entire junior class. August looks on with excitement as everyone files in and starts to party. It looks like he’s making his way in the school after all, but is he going about it the right way?
The party goes on and everyone is having fun (maybe a little too much fun). One of the kids informs August that the kegs going to the bar are dry and August heads into the keg closet with a kid named Scoot to sort it out. He changes the kegs and gets the alcohol flowing again with ease, which Scoot compliments him on. August says that’s just a perk of owning your own bar (technically true). He then tries to open the closet door, only to find it stuck.
This can only go well.
Back at HQ, Keesha is sitting in the atrium and is joined by James. He tells her the story of how Trey saved his life the year before and how James is proud of him for coming so far. Keesha then asks him if he has any children. He does, DJ, up at Boise State. And, yes, he does worry about his son a lot, but he knows it’s not the same worry that Keesha is dealing with. He knows that look and that feeling she has; it’s the same one his mother got when he joined. But, whether Keesha likes it or not, this was Trey’s decision and hopefully, she’ll be able to accept that one day.
Then they’re joined by Trey, who notices something’s up but can’t figure out what. Keesha thanks James for their talk and he tells her to call him “Larry”, a privilege Trey does not get. Then, mother and son are left alone for a little chat.
The truth is, Keesha is proud of Trey and will always have his back. But she’s worried about him. She remembers how hard it was to raise him when his father went career law enforcement. Trey understands her worry but that’s not going to change his mind. He knows he has a support network here and hopes she’ll be a part of that. She says she is, she just needs time to accept this choice. Mother and son hug it out, leaving this plotline on a sweet note.
We return to the Side Step to catch the tail end of August venting to Scoot about the troubles he’s been having lately. He’s honestly just trying to make it out of high school alive and he’d like to do it in a way that’s not just as Stella’s weird little brother.
Then Scoot reveals that that’s not at all how he’s seen by his fellow juniors. In their eyes, he’s a badass. He and Stella were a power duo and he was the cool kid who always got to hang out with the upperclassmen. He was in a band with seniors and he even did surgery on his uncle once. Everyone thinks he’s cool. Scoot had actually been worried that he and his friend wouldn’t have a chance of talking to August. He’s glad that August wasn’t actually on his own high horse all this time. But, he is pretty crazy. He did break into his ranger dad’s bar, after all.
August basks in the glory of these compliments for about two seconds before loud crashes from outside make him worried. Scoot tells him it’s probably not that bad, that their friends will see their texts soon and let them out, but August is less sure. Just in case, he gets out his phone and texts Stella for help.
Side note: I actually really liked this scene. Seeing August talk to someone outside of his family about his issues was odd but a good moment for him. And it’s good to know that he’s not just “Arlo” anymore.
Side side note: I felt the “I just want to make it out of high school alive” in my soul.
Meanwhile, Cordell is still at the restaurant, blissfully unaware of what his son is up to. He’s staring at his phone, where we see a text that he sent to August that hasn’t been read yet. He’s clearly worried but Cassie jumps in to distract him. She’s still thinking about the files they found. She knows they don’t mean anything now but she’s realized that the lack of information about her bothers her because she’s dedicated so much of her life to the job. If her whole career can be boiled down to a double sided piece of paper, what’s the point? She feels like she could be doing more with her time. Cordell reminds her that finding a work-life balance isn’t easy but sometimes, all you need is family. Cassie then asks if that’s why Cordell has been avoiding Liam all night. Then, by pure coincidence, Liam happens to walk by. Cassie leaves and gives Cordell an opening to talk to his brother.
Cordell calls for Liam and gets him to sit down at the table and they have a talk. He asks how things are going with the family and Liam admits he feels weird. It doesn’t seem like Ben really wants him there and people (mostly Grandma) keep confusing him for Lucas. He’s having a nice time otherwise. Cordell then offers him some sage advice; as easy as it is to go with the flow in a new relationship, he shouldn’t let the little things fester until they become big things. He should talk to Ben about how he feels.
Liam says that it sounds like Cordell is doing better on his trauma recovery and he admits to feeling better. He asks how Liam is doing, who says he’s doing okay but he knows he has a long way to go. Having the horses to work with helps but there’s a lot more to it than that. So, in short, neither of them are really doing good.
Then, in a stroke of good humor, Cordell offers Liam the chance to talk about it. What happened in captivity isn’t going away anytime soon and avoiding the issue isn’t helping. Liam is surprised but accepts the offer.
Their conversation is interrupted by Ben and Cassie on the microphone. They talk a bit about the history of the restaurant, which was started with just one smoker and two Puerto Rican immigrants. They compliment their grandmother, who made sure they learned about their heritage and culture, even if they weren’t always the best students. But they showed her that they cared by starting their own traditions. For example, Ben says, on Saturdays, they would do performances in the restaurant for tips. Cassie seems surprised he mentioned that, and tries to refuse to relive that childhood memory. But the music starts and Ben cannot be stopped. Eventually, Cassie gives in and the two dance to the choreography of their childhood. It’s not long before they’re joined by grandma and everyone is having a good time, especially Liam and Cordell.
Side note: I love this moment so much. 10/10 sibling dances are the best.
Back in Austin, things are less happy as Stella arrives to help August clean up his mess. She flicks the power to the bar and tells everyone to start clearing out. Then, she heads to the keg closet to let August out. As everyone starts leaving, she starts tearing into August, asking what the hell he was thinking pulling a stunt like this.
And then, as if on cue, the cops arrive. With no one else in the bar, Stella and August are left to take the heat.
We return to Cassie and Cordell, who are completing their delivery. Cordell can tell that Cassie is worried so he tries to soothe her concerns. No one has to know what they did. They didn’t tamper with any evidence and nothing is missing from the files. They followed the rules by keeping the case with them at all times and returning it by the deadline. There’s no reason for them opening the case to interfere with their careers. This can just stay between them.
Cordell then starts to open up a bit about his trauma and admits that seeing all that information in the case brought back what he went through in captivity. But, he’s done letting his trauma rule his life. He may not be able to control how he feels but he can control how he acts. He’s done looking over his shoulder.
Cassie seems proud of him and says that she’d like to join his “boys club” runs in the Texas heat.
This gets a laugh out of him but not for long as he gets a call from an unknown number. It’s the Austin Police Department holding cells; looks like August got his one phone call. And Cordell is not happy about it.
We return to the restaurant to see Ben and Liam sharing an awkward cup of coffee. They both feel a little weird about what happened today. Ben steers the conversation, saying how weird he felt about not technically inviting Liam to come along and about how people kept bringing up Lucas. Liam feels awkward about this as well; things were going so well between them and now they’ve hit a roadblock.
Ben also says that this relationship with Liam has felt so easy. They jumped into things headfirst, even with all their issues, and then Liam disappeared, which they still haven’t talked about. There’s just a lot of weirdness going around. Liam takes this to mean that Ben wants a break from their relationship, which isn’t true. Ben likes what they have, the easy parts and the awkward parts. He just thinks they need to talk about their relationship, what it is and what they want out of it. Liam agrees.
With the final happy plotline over with, we finish off on our angst.
In the holding cell, Stella asks August if this whole thing was worth it for the clout he got. August comments on this being why he wanted Stella to leave and then she snaps at him for bringing up the “so-called favoritism” again.
Side note: There is no “so-called” about it, ma’am. Cordell lets you get away with much more than August. But whatever.
Then, Cordell steps into the room and he is not happy. August immediately tries to apologize for what happened but Cordell shuts him down and tells him to go wait in the truck. August doesn’t fight it, and father and daughter are left alone.
Cordell shuts the door and then asks Stella what the hell she was thinking. Stella is confused. What did she do wrong? He says that he’s tried to be patient with her after all the stunts she’s pulled. Lying to him about Emily’s car for months, dropping the bombshell about not wanting to go to college, all of it. He’s tried to be the cool, progressive dad that could just let things slide. But breaking into his bar to throw a party and roping her little brother into it? That’s just a step too far.
Stella tries to defend herself and says that she was only there to help August. He can ask August about it himself if he wants. He just has to believe her though. Please? But Cordell has no sympathy. He doesn’t think he can believe a word she has to say after all the lying she’s done. He then says that she’s an adult now and that means she needs to face the consequences of her actions. So, he’s going to let her sit in that cell for the night so she can think about what she’s done. Then, he leaves the room and Stella is left alone to pay for a crime she didn’t commit.
And with that, the episode comes to a close.
And, boy oh boy, what an episode that was.
To be perfectly honest, the episode was mostly tame. Trey getting his ranger badge was great to see and I liked the drama with his mother that was foreshadowed last season. I also loved seeing Liam and Ben together. They’re so delightfully awkward and I love seeing the natural progression of their relationship. The big surprise for me was seeing Cordell be so open about his trauma and be willing to talk about everything with Liam. I’m happy to see it but I didn’t think it would be happening this soon.
And then, there’s the ending….
Now, I’m happy to see Stella being disciplined by Cordell for once. She’s definitely done a few things that are worthy of a night in a jail cell. But the joy is soured by the knowledge that she’s being punished for something she didn’t even do. I predict a lot of discord on the horizon for the Walker family, especially between the siblings. I wonder if August is going to take the “Get out of jail free” card Cordell unknowingly handed him. And will Cordell ever learn what really happened or will he stay firm in his assumptions? I have a feeling this is going to land him some more guilt-tripping….
But what did y’all think? Did you like the episode? What was your favorite part? Do you think Stella spending the night in a cell is well deserved karma or a step too far? Where is this family drama headed next? And why do you think Becca Ferguson is so obsessed with the family of a high school ex? Let me know in the comments! I’m curious to hear your thoughts!
Catch up on Esther’s detailed Walker Recaps and insightful Character Profiles, all found on Esther’s Writer’s Page!