I really liked Walker's 5th episode, "Duke". It felt like threads from previous weeks were starting to gel. Jared had a chance to show off his skills in a range of emotions and situations, we got some nice Supernatural echoes, and he took off his shirt. Twice.
Let’s start with the strengths. Micki’s evolving relationship with Trey feels very real. I hadn’t picked up on the fact that his new job involves coaching the soccer team that Stella Walker is on—that’s going to be interesting. Trey seems solid and well-grounded, a good guy. That’s nice to see, and I hope he and Micki continue to show us a healthy relationship that is a haven from drama, not the cause of it. (I can wish.)
Walker gets dragged back into the undercover role he left thanks to August texting a contact on his old phone (more on that later). Jared was always good at playing ‘alternate Sam Winchester’, incorporating recognizable nuances in his performance to differentiate being possessed by Meg, Lucifer or Gadreel, or having Hell trauma and ‘Hallucifer’ visions. Jared brings the same skill to morph into Duke right in front of our eyes. Duke stands differently, moves differently, speaks differently. Jared knocked it out of the park.
I’m wondering about the three separate times he submerged his face in water. He seemed to do it when he needed to bring himself out of being ‘Duke’ and back to ‘Cordell’, and he said ‘it helps’. Which perhaps makes his immersion in the pool at the end after Duke’s ‘death’ more significant as indicating a final ending. I didn’t envy him faceplanting into the pool! That had to sting!
Micki risked everything to go off script and unofficially undercover—and in doing so, certainly helped save Walker’s career and probably his life. I loved the way she dove in and created a persona, which Micki said was ‘freeing’. She also did a great job shifting into her alternate persona and making it believable.
Liam continues to be one of my favorites, and his affection for and worry over his big brother are clear in those beautiful eyes of his (reminding us of another loyal little brother we know and love). Captain James is harder to read, but I want to believe he’s ultimately on Walker’s side. They both let Cordell run with the scenario, although only Micki and Liam fully believed in Walker. The FBI angle is troublesome, raising questions about other times Walker didn’t follow protocol. Hopefully we’ll hear more about that in the future and he’ll have a chance to clear his name completely.
My heart went pitter-pat at the Supernatural call-backs. When Duke told Twyla, “I lost someone—my brother, my best friend. We rode circuits together.” I teared up for Sam and Dean all over again. The mechanical bull made me think of the end of the Supernatural episode “Regarding Dean” with Dean riding a bull. When Cordell cuts Liam off as Liam blames himself for the situation and tells him “none of that is on you” and ends with a fierce bro hug, I caught another echo of Sam and Dean. And certainly when Cordell, Stella and August lay the undercover chapter of his life to rest by burning Duke’s possessions, I thought of a hunter’s funeral pyre. Those little Easter eggs are wonderful, loving gifts to Supernatural fans, and I appreciate Jared letting us know that he hasn’t forgotten us.
Now for my big problem with the situation—August. Has the boy never watched a TV show or movie with undercover cops? He’s too old to be so clueless. Sending that text was inexcusably reckless. Then following Cordell and nearly blowing his cover could have gotten their whole family killed.
I was waiting for Cordell to not just ground him but sit him down and spell it out—“You could have gotten me killed. You could have gotten yourself and Ruby killed. They could come after Stella. These are really bad people and they play for keeps.” (Having an uncle who is a District Attorney isn’t risk-free, either. These aren’t jobs that bring one into contact with the best sort of people.) That’s aside from interfering with an FBI investigation!
It seems like Emily and Cordell and Liam had decent communication with August and Stella before Emily died. I just can’t imagine that early on there wasn’t a ‘safety talk’ about the dangers of being the child of someone who tracks down big-time criminals and how to protect themselves (and that was revisited for age-appropriateness periodically). Cordell wouldn’t need to go full John Winchester on teaching them to protect themselves, but certainly being frank about what his job entails and what risks come with it, and the basics you’d get in any personal protection/self-defense class would be appropriate.
It’s realistic that both August and Stella suffer from what I think of as ‘Helper Abandonment Syndrome.” People who go into helping professions—medical, legal, law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMT and even clergy—are drawn to the need to save people and the adrenaline of the crisis, as well as the satisfaction ‘high’ when they succeed. By comparison, everyday life seems less urgent and more boring. So it’s not uncommon to ignore the family with the justification of ‘I’m saving people’ (echoes of John Winchester again). Which usually leads to the losing the spouse and kids, or at least having a big melt-down.
So I think that both August and Stella are justified in their feelings and anger—but please writers, don’t make them clueless and stupid!
Overall, I liked the way strands came together in this episode and we had much more solid criminal cases both last week and this week to balance out the family drama, which appealed to me. I can’t wait to see where this goes after hiatus!
What did you think?
Illustrated by Nightsky.
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