Episode 1.16 of Walker tackles the heavy topics of police corruption and brutality from the human view of a person of color trying to change the system from within. However, thematically, it also explores who the characters are, and how they can’t always be who they are inside. Sometimes this is a bad thing, but other times, it forces them to be better, as is shown in the character of …
Honestly, except for one big moment, the titular character took more a supporting role to those around him this episode because the topic really didn’t need to be addressed by the white protagonist. Still, Jared made Cordell shine as he struggled with the theme. Walker is a Ranger. He wants to be out there helping others, protecting others, but he feels he can’t do that and be a good father. It’s not until he has the blessing of his children that he makes his return to the force. He also realizes, and is told by others, that even though he is back where he belongs, he too will need to change for the better. Once he is back, he provides vital assistance instead of swooping in as the white savior. Because this story is really more about….
Captain Larry James (and his son DJ)
The show Walker has never shied away from the difficulties Capt. James faced to get to where he is, or that he wants to shake things up, because as he has said from episode one, “We need to do better.” Capt. James is where the topic and theme most intersect. He wants to be a good guy and rid the force of obvious corruption, but it comes with obstacles and a huge price. His son is targeted. We get to see how very careful people have to be, and still can be victims. Is being who he wants to be worth putting his family in danger? He is forced to walk a tightrope in order to root out a bad cop protected by higher ups and the blue line. Luckily, he’s not alone. He is helped by his friends. Even if he does have to wrangle in…
She is a strong personality. She is so used to having to fight for every bit of respect, every inch, that she doesn’t always realize that some situations require more … finesse. She is a good example of sometimes who you are isn’t who you can be and that is okay. Your actions need to be tempered by those wiser and with more knowledge around you. But this isn’t to stifle your personal identity, it’s to help make you better. Someone who also had to learn this lesson is ….
The younger Walker brother is a good man with a strong moral compass. His assistance is necessary to get the DA to do his job and prosecute the corrupt Officer Campbell, despite DA McLawson being scared for some unknown, sinister reason. As the DA leaves office, he encourages Liam to not change. However, Liam knows that who he is, his need to control, to protect, has led him to hurt the ones he loves, namely his former fiancé, Bret. Because of the lies Laim told, Bret is now with someone else. This further hits home that who Liam is needs to change, so that he can be better, for himself and those around him. Which, since he is running for County DA, includes the whole county. But first, he needs to win the election, in which he is getting help from …
Stella (and August, not pictured)
Stella is the age where finding out who she wants to be and what she wants to do with her life are major questions she’s facing. As DJ is helping her figure out who she wants to be, injustice strikes. This causes her to re-evaluate her actions, mainly with her father. She’s the one who encourages her father to go back to the Rangers, to be who he is, a good person fighting to make the world better. She understands she can’t be selfish, and August fully supports his father’s return, as well. Another person who is trying to find their path is …
Trey also faces a crisis of self and what to do. He has a chance to go to medical school, to be a surgeon, but it’s not what he wants. He doesn’t know if he should be who he wants to be, because he doesn’t want to disappoint Micki. Cordell helps him realize that she wouldn’t be disappointed, and he is right. Thus, Trey is free to pursue helping people with their emotions, which is what he really wants to do.
This episode was amazing, with everyone bringing their characters and their struggles to mesmerizing life. We feel their pain, their frustration, their uncertainty, but also their joy, sense of purpose, unity, and acknowledgement of the road ahead.
Both the writer and director are both people of color and brought both topics of police corruption and brutality into the light in the gentlest way possible while trying to drive home how incredibly wrong and demeaning the inherent racism is. At the same time, they also navigated the characters’ ongoing quest for self and self betterment.
It was such a great episode that even though my continuity loving self wants to cry out that Micki only likes bourbon, I’m willing to overlook that because this show is warmly trying to get us to be better ourselves - and I can’t help but be moved.
4.9 Stars out of 5.
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Screencaps by Raloria on LJ, The CW, Cat Bowland and Nightsky.