“The Owl And The Arrow” was a surprisingly fitting name for this week’s episode of Walker: Independence. It was a tense look at Old West justice, period-accurate racism and prejudice, and some unfortunate realities of the world that still haven’t changed.
Since the events of this episode are focused around the accusations and proceedings surrounding Francis Reyes’ death, I’m going to cover the episode scene-by-scene.
Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
We open up on Calian sleeping in the cell in the sheriff’s office. He wakes up to see the girl from last week’s episode, who he calls “little owl”, by his bed.
But before he can fall too far into his fantasy, Augustus arrives with breakfast. He needs answers from Calian right now. The town of Independence is going to wake up to find that one of their Founders was killed by an Apache arrow and he needs some kind of evidence that Calian didn’t do it to save him from the gallows. Unfortunately, Calian can’t offer much except that he saw the little girl, his sister, that night and that he would never hurt Francis. They both know that won’t be enough.
Meanwhile, Lucia and her mother, Anna Maria, are waiting for Francis to pick them up and take them back to the ranch. Lucia is irritated with her parents for “punishing” her with this trip and their insistence on interfering with her love live. But her mother assures her they’re doing it for her own good. It’s not about controlling her future; they just know that Hoyt, as nice as he may be, isn’t the man for Lucia. But Calian could be, if Lucia would only give him the chance.
On the other side of town, Kate and Abigail are talking about the reveal that Liam was working with the Davidsons. Abby is still wrapping her head around it. She doesn’t want to believe that her husband was corrupt but that seems to be the trend with people who work with the Davidson family. Kate tries to offer some comfort but they’re soon distracted by a commotion in the center of town.
Independence has woken up and the news of Francis’ death has spread fast, with the rumors spreading even faster. Hoyt, Kate and Abby can’t believe that Calian could be mixed up in something like this but the grief of the citizens of this town, far beyond the Reyes family, is palpable.
Meanwhile, Tom has picked himself up after being stabbed and is patching himself up in his office at Hagan’s. Abigail bursts in to talk about Francis’ death and Calian’s sentence. She wants to hold a fair trial, but Tom doesn’t see the point. He has a town full of people that are going to get violent if they don’t get justice. But justice goes both ways. This could ruin both of them, but she doesn’t care. Every argument he has, Abby counters, until he caves and agrees to send for a judge to preside over a trial.
Side note: I am just obsessed with how Tom acts in this episode about the whole thing. It takes less than two minutes for Abby to convince him to give Calian a trial and he’s just 100% on board for the rest of the episode and convincing the town to come along for the ride. King behavior. We love to see it.
We cut to Abigail and Calian in the sheriff’s office. Abigail thinks they could make a reasonable doubt defense but Calian is less optimistic. After some gentle prodding, he does open up to Abby about his missing sister, Nascha (translates to “Owl”), who he saw a vision of on the ranch. Though she has been missing for years, he sees her often and she guides him. In fact, she was the one who led him to Abby.
Side note: Abigail’s speech about friendship spoke to me deeply and also fueled my Abby/Calian heart.
Side side note: Calian becoming a tracker so that he could try and find his sister </3.
Just then, a brick hurtles through the window. Calian protects Abby and then grows worried about his tribe. He hasn’t been back to their site since the previous day. Someone may grow worried and come looking for him and this trial may put them in danger. Abigail promises to warn them and soon sets out with Augustus to speak with their chief.
Back on the Reyes property, Luis, Lucia and Hoyt are puzzling over why Calian would do something like this. Calian was always such a good friend and worker, it just makes no sense. Luis and Lucia blame themselves for not seeing anything sooner and Hoyt does his best to comfort them.
Back at Hagan’s, Kate and Ethan are speaking about Tom. Ethan seems convinced that Tom is the perfect pillar of society out here in the Wild West, not exactly cold-blooded killer material. Kate is skeptical of his reasoning after witnessing his secret handshake with Tom earlier that day and reminds him that she has evidence. Ethan asks to speak with her supposed eyewitness, but Abby is currently busy with other matters. Hey, why don’t they look at Calian’s case while they’re here?
Side note: “Ever think he’s the citizen and we’re the interlopers?” Kate Carver I love you.
Just then, Tom passes by and Kate “introduces” them. Both men pretend this is the first time they’ve met.
We then cut to Abigail and Augustus on their way to the tribe. Abigail mentions Calian’s adventures with Nascha and asks if he’s seen that before. Gus recalls a time when Calian went wandering off and Gus later found him standing in a river. He also shows her a scar from when Calian hurt him after he got too close. It was a reflex action, a classic move among men who escape reality in their own minds; he saw it often enough in the war.
They both agree that Francis’ death was most likely an accident and they need to get to the truth before it becomes a deadly one. Augustus goes on to say that, after they solve this mess, he has a few questions about her backstory too.
They ride on to the tribe and the chief comes out to greet them, concern clear on his face. If only they had better news for him….
Back in town, people have begun building a gallows. Tom, Kate, Gus and Abigail strongly disagree with their actions but it’s better that they let their energy out this way rather than destroying the sheriff’s office. After a brief confrontation with the townsfolk, we see that Tom’s wound is bleeding again.
Meanwhile, Hoyt is hard at work rebuilding the fence on the Reyes ranch. Lucia brings him some refreshment, then sees her father’s cup and starts reminiscing. She regrets how angry she was at him for not letting her sing at Hagan’s; she never even got to say goodbye. Hoyt assures her that things will be alright. Francis may be gone but she and Luis can handle the ranch. Lucia wants Hoyt to stay and help too, and he might do just that.
Side note: This is how Lucia/Hoyt will win. Endgame, I’m calling it here and now.
Back at the sheriff’s office, Calian is speaking with his chief. The chief assures him that the tribe stands with him on this, but Calian is concerned for their safety above all else.
Meanwhile, Tom is still concerned about the trial. They may have the support of most of the townspeople, but he doubts that Abby will be able to craft a legitimate defense. Abby insists that the law is on their side and questions his loyalty to it. Tom counters that The Law may work just fine in Boston but things are different out on the “jagged edge of the world”. It’s going to take more than legal technicalities to win this case. Before they can argue further, Augustus arrives to tell them that the judge is ready for them.
Back at Hagan’s, Kate is in Ethan’s room wondering why he’s getting ready to leave so suddenly. Ethan doesn’t see the need to stick around since Kate’s alleged witness is a no-show and she might not even have a case anyway. Kate suddenly changes her tune to a nicer one and offers to finish his shave. He lets her do so, relaxing into their familiar dynamic.
While running the blade on his neck, Kate asks him again about Tom. He lies again and Kate digs the blade in under his chin. Now that she has his attention, she wants to know what, exactly, they were talking about that morning.
Side note: Ethan, if you knew Kate that well, you should’ve seen this coming.
We then cut to Gus and Calian walking to Hagan’s from the sheriff’s office. The town is empty, likely because everyone is at the trial already. Augustus laments the fact that he didn’t let Calian ride off from the ranch and escape all this. Calian won’t even entertain the idea; that would only have put both of them in danger.
They arrive for the trial and meet with Abby outside. They’re all very uncertain about how all of this will go down but there’s no more time to dwell on that. They’ve done all that they can; hopefully, it will be worth it.
The judge begins the trial by stating that, under normal circumstances, Calian would already be hanging. But, due to the fact that the tribe and the town are so close together, they’re doing this trial and giving Calian a chance to speak in the interest of keeping the peace.
Gus is called to the stand first and the judge questions him on what he saw that night and Calian’s character. Gus is careful with his words, telling the truth but painting Calian in the best light possible. He does lie about Calian ever having been violent but the judge accepts his answer so does that really even matter?
Next up, Luis Reyes takes the stand. He’s nearly in tears as he recalls how he found Calian standing over his father’s body. He undoes all of Gus’ hard work when he shouts at Calian for killing Francis, but Hoyt notices his fingers twitching.
Back upstairs, Kate has shaved Ethan’s mustache off (much to his dismay) and tied him to a chair (which is not as distressing as losing the mustache). She wants to know what, exactly, he’s been up to. Ethan confesses that he’s been keeping secrets from her but it was for her sake. Pinkerton has ended their contract with the government and started working for a railroad, one that plans to put a stop in Independence. Their new job is to prevent any issues from standing in the way of their line and that’s why he introduced himself to Tom before.
Kate is, understandably, furious to hear this and worries for her safety as an agent. Ethan assures her that her cover is safe, but it won’t stay that way if she keeps trying to peg Tom as a murderer. She is an amazing agent to be sure but there’s a reason they put her in this backwater town for a year. She needs to play along with the powers that be. Kate doesn’t take that news very well and decides to leave him tied up there.
Side note: With how angry Kate got at the mere mention of Baltimore, I have to wonder what happened there. Who died and what part did Kate have to play in it?
As she comes down to oversee the trial, she runs into Tom on the rising. She snidely comments on how he’s literally and figuratively above it all and he doesn’t argue.
Side note: Kate, the man was stabbed and he’s actively dying. Be nice.
Abby decides to call Calian to the stand to get his testimony. He may not remember the events of that night very well but that doesn’t mean he has nothing to say.
Once Calian is situated, Abigail questions him about what happened when his sister disappeared, assuring the judge that it is related to the case.
We get flashbacks as Calian remembers a raid on his tribe 15 years ago. His people were killed and injured and his little sister was kidnapped. He then wishes he’d shot the man who took her. Abigail asks what good that would do? There were so many other men there. Even if he was that good of a shot, what would he have done when he ran out of arrows? After some prodding, she gets Calian to admit that hunting the men down wasn’t the answer because he’d just been a boy when all this happened. What could he have done?
At this point, the judge is tired of this whole affair and Abigail is unable to convince him to let her continue. Calian is called off the stand but, before he leaves, he has some words to say to the people of Independence.
He points out that they built a gallows before even giving him a chance to defend himself. None of them bothered to ask him directly if he killed Francis Reyes. He didn’t. He would never do anything to hurt his friend.
He recalls how, when his sister was kidnapped, he came to their town because he knew they could help him. But none of them believed him and she was never found. How ironic it is that now, they come crying to him for help when one of their children go missing because they know he won’t rest until they’re found. Will none of them stand with him after all he’s done for them?
Gus stands to show his support, but no one else stands with them.
Luis angrily gets up from his seat and leaves, shortly followed by his mother and sister and, eventually, Hoyt.
Now, the judge has come to a decision. It’s clear to him that Calian is a good man who has done many good things. However, the fact remains that they have not provided a valid reason as to why Calian’s arrow would be in Francis’ chest unless he killed him. So, he must declare Calian guilty and sentence him to the gallows.
Abby and Gus are crushed as all their efforts went to waste, but Calian accepts his fate with dignity.
Side note: For once, I took comfort in seeing how much time I had left in the episode.
Outside of Hagan’s, Luis is furious and knocking over crates. How dare Calian try to farm sympathy from the people of Independence, mere hours after Luis watched him kill Francis in cold blood?
Anna Maria and Lucia are worried about him but Hoyt is suspicious. Luis has changed his story and Hoyt knows he’s lying because of his tell. Those twitching fingers give him away during a poker game and they’re sure as hell giving him away now.
Luis tries to defend himself but Lucia comments that he and their father were fighting a lot leading up to his death. Why? Anna Maria says that they were so much alike and Luis takes great offense to that, bringing up Francis’ temper.
Apparently, Francis suspected him of being involved with the cattle thefts and told Luis he couldn’t be trusted with the ranch. They fought and Luis shot him on accident, killing him. At first, Luis was just going to kill himself because he saw no other way out. But then, he saw Calian wandering around the ranch and he knew he had a shot. So, he knocked Calian out and stole one of his arrows to bury it in Francis’ chest.
Unfortunately for Luis, Augustus heard this whole confession and, while Hoyt is beating the confession out of him, goes to Francis’ body to find the bullet.
Side note: “Don’t you realize how lucky you were to have a father?” Hoyt, darling, my heart is already broken you don’t need to shatter it.
While all this is happening, Tom is leading Calian up to the gallows while the town of Independence, including Kate and Abby, watch. Tom seems genuinely sorry to see Calian up there, even as he tightens the noose, and asks if he has any last words. Calian says that there is no death, only a change in worlds. Tom considers this as he sees blood dripping from himself and onto the wooden platform. Then, he cuts the rope of Calian’s noose just before Augustus and Hoyt come with proof of Luis’ wrongdoing.
There will be no hanging in Independence today and Tom will not be taking any second opinions on this.
Later, Augustus delivers the bullet to Tom’s office. Today was a pretty successful day for them despite the rocky start. They saved an innocent man from death and locked up the guilty party. But Tom still has one question: What was Augustus doing on the ranch with Otis Clay to begin with?
Augustus lies easily and says they were investigating the cattle thefts. Who knew Luis was involved? He then wonders who talked Luis into it and makes to leave the office. Then, he hears Tom coughing and is clearly concerned for him. Tom assures him there’s nothing to worry about and waits until Gus is out of earshot to start coughing up blood again.
Outside, Ethan is leaving and Kate hands in her Pinkerton badge as a parting gift. She joined the agency to fight against corruption, not work for it. If anyone has a problem with that, she has no qualms about burning Pinkerton to the ground. She has plenty of friends and contacts who could make that happen. Ethan doesn’t seem too concerned about her threats and leaves, warning her that “the old man” doesn’t let things go this easily.
Back at the sheriff’s office, Calian thanks Hoyt for helping to save his life. Hoyt apologizes for not standing up for him sooner but it’s water under the bridge. They chat about Hoyt’s future and Calian advises Hoyt to help the Reyes women process what they’ve been through. Hoyt just might follow that advice.
Side note: “You said I saved your life. Does this mean you owe me now?” “I said you helped.” See, now this is what friendship is all about.
Next, Calian speaks to Augustus. He’s worried about what will happen if anyone finds out Gus lied, but with the trial over it’s not a concern. Augustus then confesses that he wishes he could ride off with Calian sometimes instead of busting his ass protecting people who would just as quickly string him up at the first accusation. But he’ll stay, because he knows he should.
Next, it’s Abby’s turn. As happy as it is that Calian survived, she wishes she could’ve done more during the trial. Calian isn’t bothered by all that, though. He’s a free man and she changed peoples’ minds in other ways. Abigail hopes they’ll see each other again. Perhaps they’ll walk in tall grass together.
Then, Calian takes his leave. It’s time for him to focus more on his tribe and his people. As he speaks with his chief, he sees Nascha in the distance one last time. They’re both free now; it’s time to say goodbye.
Back at the Reyes ranch, Hoyt has finished repairing the fence and he carved a tribute to Francis into the side of it, something Lucia appreciates.
At Hagan’s, Kate and Abby share a drink after a long day’s work. Abby suddenly remembers the meeting she was supposed to have with Ethan and Kate informs her that it won’t be happening. And also she quit. This is, naturally, a shock to Abby but Kate assures her that they’ll be able to solve this case without Ethan or the Pinkertons. She has her own ways and they’re going to solve her husband’s murder on their own. Easy peasy.
Side note: I’m not entirely sure what Abby meant when she said she was starting to think about Independence the same way as Kate but I do find it curious that she quoted Tom right before that.
Abigail then goes upstairs to speak with Tom. When she doesn’t immediately see him, she starts looking through some of the papers on his desk. As she rounds the corner to check the drawers, she sees him lying on the floor, nearly dead and bleeding. She kneels next to him and he begs for her help. The camera zooms in on her face as she’s left with the choice of helping this dying man or finishing the job the mysterious stabber started. Then, the camera cuts to black.
And with that, our recap comes to a close.
As usual, there is far more episode in this episode than there should have been. I do think it was an interesting change of pace to have most of the story focused on one plot instead of balancing the screen time between 3-4 separate plots.
Calian really stole the show for me in this episode. Getting a look at his heartbreaking past and how it shaped him as a person today was an emotional journey and Justin did an amazing job portraying it. I wonder how the show will balance Calian’s screen time now that he’s going to be dedicating more time to his tribe and is pretty much quitting Abby’s investigation.
Kate’s discovery of Pinkerton corruption was an interesting addition. I can only hope she actually has the network she claims to have or things are going to be getting a lot harder for her. Also, I may or may not be planning an informative article on the Pinkerton agency and the corruption they partook in….
I’m curious to see where all of our character’s go moving forward and I wish we didn’t have almost two months until the next episode. I want to meet Abby’s sister and find out why she’s come to Independence. I want to see how Hoyt is adjusting to the Honest Man lifestyle and what he’s helping Kai with. And I need to see how/when Augustus finally gets answers on Abigail Walker. There’s just so much to look forward to!
So what did y’all think of the episode? Were you on the edge of your seat? Was anyone else surprised at the reason Luis killed Francis? Who do you think stabbed Tom? And how did he manage to go around bleeding all day and only collapse in the safety of his office at night? Let me know what you think in the comments! I’m so curious to see your thoughts!
Catch up on more Walker: Independence detailed Recaps, Character Profiles and historical context insights, all found on Esther’s Writer’s Page!