What looks like Austin but feels like Dallas? The season two premiere of Walker!
Walker may be shot in Austin, but the first episode of the new season was channeling the vibes of the Ewing/Barnes feud from the 1980s hit show Dallas. Whether or not that’s a good thing, we’ll have to wait and see.
After the excellent season one finale, I came into season two with high hopes. I’m not sure whether those expectations were met in episode one, but they weren’t dashed, so that’s something.
Since the show jumped around a lot—both with flashbacks and point of view, I’m going to group the main subplots to make it easier to comment on particular things that happened.
Cordell, Liam, Abbie and Bonham
The story picks up three months after the finale, and we see Cordell, Liam and Trey out for a friendly/competitive run. Trey mentions that it's been a month since he's heard from Micki, who is undercover, and asks Cordell to see if he can find out anything from Captain James. Trey later lets it slip that Cordell was the intended shooting victim, and that Micki went undercover to protect him.
Liam notes that the next farm has been sold and wonders about the new neighbors, prompting a flashback for Cordell of a barn fire when he was a pre-teen.
Liam says that he’s not sure what he’s doing about New York City, his relationship with Bret, or the possibility of re-election since Stan is in jail. His indecision seems strange to me, especially after he and Bret seemed on the brink of possibly rekindling their relationship.
Abbie and Bonham share a moment and promise that there will be no more secrets between them. (So we totally know there will be.)
After Liam finds out about his effective demotion, he goes to the Side Step to get drunk. (I can’t imagine this is a good career move, even in Texas. Definitely a time to drink at home.) Geri info-dumps the family feud history.
Abbie makes Liam a hangover breakfast, and when he asks about the fire, she says that the Davidsons sued and it was settled out of court. The discussion clearly makes her uncomfortable and she stalks off. Bonham straightens a painting that has a microphone and camera behind it—we still don’t know who has the Walkers under surveillance.
Micki and Trey
Micki is undercover and trying to get close to the guy in charge of the Del Rio gang. She’s with Spider and they need to recover a car that’s being towed on a flatbed because it’s got drugs hidden inside. Micki gets into the car and drives it off the flatbed, after some pretty fantastic high-speed driving that would have made Dean Winchester proud. (Spider lovingly greets his car with ‘hello, beautiful’, a definite nod to Dean and his ‘Baby’.)
Micki checks in with Captain James, who wants to pull her out of the sting. She begs to stay in longer to get to the guy at the top. James says he doesn’t want to make the same mistake he made with Cordell’s undercover operation, leaving him in too long. She promises not to skip check-ins.
Later, Micki is in a bar with Spider. Trey shows up and they have a coded conversation. Since when do the children and significant others of Texas Rangers nearly blow their undercover operations because they feel insecure? Trey should know better. Her being undercover isn’t any different from him being deployed.
Micki makes a comment about ‘the one who got away’. Then Spider is thrown off the roof and dies.
Cordell doesn’t tell Captain James the whole truth about what he knows. Micki is ransacking an apartment, and throws Cordell on the ground (shades of Sam Winchester) when he comes through the door. They were followed, and to throw Morgan off the scent, Cordell lets Micki fight him, proving her loyalty. Randall and Cordell make the bust, but Micki didn’t blow her cover.
Protecting his partner meant Cordell missed the ‘summit’ at the Side Step with the Davidsons, which doesn’t help matters. On the other hand, doing his job seems to me to be a lot more important than smoothing over a thirty year-old snit that has only just resurfaced after twenty years.
Cordell and Micki argue, and she says that she went undercover so he didn’t have to, because he came back the last time ‘dark, rogue, unhinged’. He says he doesn’t want that to happen to her, but when she gets a text from Serrano, the Del Rio top guy, asking to meet with her (which she sees as the breakthrough she was waiting for), they decide to keep her in a while longer.
When Micki goes to meet Serrano, Captain James is ready to make the bust. Cordell is in position as a sniper, ready to make the shot. Then Serrano shows up with a guy we haven’t seen before, and Micki mutters ‘the one that got away’. (Is that a romantic reference, or was he a perp she didn’t collar?)
The people who bought the farm next to the Walker ranch owned it years ago, and there’s a lot of history, secrets and bad blood.
I’m honestly surprised that given how angry the Davidsons are about the Walkers they would ever move back. The whole family seethes with rage, and they go out of their way to be obnoxious past the point of believability.
Every interaction between the Davidsons and the Walkers is filled with maliciously pointed comments, cruel barbs and vindictively provocative accusations. There’s no escalation—they come out of the gate swinging, which to me makes them seem rather unstable. It felt too over-the-top for me, especially given that many of the altercations happened in public over incidents that occurred thirty to forty years ago.
We are reminded that Abbie broke off her engagement to Marv Davidson nearly forty years ago in order to marry Bonham. Marv married Gale, who hasn’t forgiven Abbie for being his first choice, and later Marv died in a barn, ostensibly ‘saving’ a young Cordell and his friend (crush?) Denise. The barn fire is at the heart of the bad blood, and no one either knows or is telling what really happened, despite lawsuits and long history.
Denise Davidson-Miller is named the new District Attorney (instead of there being a new election). How is an elected position suddenly appointed? That doesn’t make any sense. Liam isn’t happy about being passed over and denied a new election. Denise goes out of her way to be condescending and nasty, despite saying she wants to put the past behind them.
Of course, Denise and her husband, Dan, show up at the Side Step when Liam is drunk. Dan is vindictive right from the start, blaming the Walkers for the fire that killed Marv. Liam swings a punch, and Trey has to break up yet another fight. Denise tries to excuse Dan’s outrageous behavior by saying that ‘family means a lot to him’ (another Supernatural call-back).
Cordell and Denise discuss the fire, but say they don’t really remember much. For some reason, the stuffed boar’s head in the bar is named ‘Denise’.
Denise hasn’t even completely moved into her office before she antagonizes Liam by taking him off the Del Rio case for ‘conflict of interest’ and asks if she should insist that Micki be pulled out. Then she undercuts any pretense of legitimacy when she says she wants to avoid ‘dirtying (the case) up with the brothers Walker and your murky life choices.” That’s ‘hostile work environment’-level behavior, which you’d think a lawyer would know.
Gale Davidson stops to talk to Abbie as Abbie is planting flowers at the end of the driveway. Every comment is barbed. She notes that the barn wasn’t rebuilt (which would have been up to the new owners, not the Walkers) and says ‘it matters to family’. Then she comments on Abbie being ‘knee-deep in the dirt’, another loaded (and unnecessary) insult.
Auggie and Stella
Stella and Auggie drive to school together. Later, Auggie asks to pick the music (nice call-out to the famous ‘driver picks the music’ line from Supernatural).
Who lets their teenagers drive a classic 1967 Mustang—and park it in the student lot at school? High school parking lots are infamous for theft, door dings, fender benders and keying. Big surprise that the car gets damaged.
Stella and Auggie confront the new kid, Colton, who was a jerk to them earlier. Colton comments that the Walkers ‘blame other people for their messes’ even though he’s never met them before.
Auggie punches Colton, and Trey breaks up the fight. In the principal’s office, Stella accuses Colton of keying the car, Colton denies it, and Cordell gives a signature ‘annoyed Sam Winchester sniff’ expression as he’s trying to get to the bottom of things. Even in the principal’s office, Colton is making nasty comments about the Walkers (whom he just met) and Denise takes passive-aggressiveness to an art form. Obviously, the Davidsons aren’t just villains, they’re going to be the mustache-twirling, Snidely Whiplash variety. (Their behavior made JR Ewing and Cliff Barnes look subtle.)
Stella talks to Trey, confused about how to plan her future. She says that ‘when it comes to family, I get aggro now,’ acknowledging her PTSD after the shootout at the ranch. Trey says she has time to decide about college. She mentions that Cordell didn’t come home the night before. Auggie comments that he’s on a case, but not a ‘Duke’ case (although it really is). Stella finds out Colton didn’t scratch the car.
Walker was at its best last year when the cop drama and the family drama were in balance. When the show skimped on the Texas Ranger piece to get into the family soap opera, it lost its pacing and energy.
I’ve mentioned the unbelievability of Denise’s ‘appointment’ to an elected position, and how the Davidson family’s cartoonish behavior (especially in public, without any build-up over decades-old incidents) makes it difficult to believe. I’m not sure why the writers felt it was necessary to throw in the next-door-neighbors-from-Hell, but it seems likely to pull more airtime away from the law enforcement action.
Family gets mentioned a lot. As in Supernatural, family can be a reason—or it can be an excuse. Neither the Walkers nor the Davidsons are healthy and functional, but so far we don’t have the saving grace of a frequently-demonstrated family bond like we did in Supernatural to help us forgive the bad parts. Last season, Cordell’s family didn’t really believe in him or even understand his grief. Abbie is clearly keeping some dark secrets, Liam is not coping well, and no one seems to have learned from the past—except Cordell.
Given the improvement in the writing toward the end of last season, I’m hopeful that Walker will find a good balance and stride, despite some elements in the premiere that gave me second thoughts.
As always, Jared and the rest of the crew turned in a fantastic performance. The issue isn’t the acting or casting—it’s the writing. We’ll see how it goes.
What did you think? Please share your thoughts on the episode below!
Read more Walker Reviews, and find Cast and Show News on The WFB's Walker Page!
Find more of Gail's Supernatural and Walker commentaries on her Writer's Page.
Screencaps courtesy of The CW