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“Tricycles still get you places.” One of the things I love most about Walker is how often it twists common tropes. In most shows, the third wheel isn’t a good thing. But 2.05 "Partners and Third Wheels" highlights how sometimes an outside perspective, the third wheel, is what’s necessary to progress. It also had overlapping instances of people being partners who were sometimes unable to see their own issues yet were the needed third who gave much needed outsider observations. Being the central character, of course, the person who exemplifies this most is …

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Being the edge of a coin comes at a price. We saw that plenty in the last episode for Walker. This episode was about fixing the fissures that he made, but outside perspective was needed. In his partnership with Micki, he needed to see through the eyes of Capt. James and the lens of the showdown with Willa to truly understand her feelings. With Liam, he is being the overprotective big brother. It isn’t until he hears the story of the tragic ending of a brother feud that he strives to make things right with Liam. The story weaves the main case as Cordell's annoying but wise third wheel fairly well. There is another partnership Cordell needs to work on. One that Captain James picked up on that Walker himself is burying. His relationship with ….

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The relationship between Geri and Walker is fascinating in that it’s not following the usual “will they, won’t they” track. When the promotional pictures came out with Cordell looking upset standing next to a table with Geri and another guy, many assumed this was Geri getting back at Cordell and trying to make him jealous. But it wasn’t, throwing many for a loop. Jealousy wasn’t even his primary emotion. Instead, he was concerned, and Geri wasn’t trying to make him jealous. She didn’t even realize it was a date. She was just being a friend to someone who watched their soulmate die. In fact, she wasn’t even mad at Cordell for the misunderstanding about Denise, or not explaining sooner. She was mad at herself. (Which is a refreshing change, since everyone else seems mad at him.) The partnership between Geri and Cordell is a complicated but lifelong one, Geri being both a partner and a third wheel to the past. She understands that Walker needs to come to terms with his residual feelings for Denise, and that he hasn’t moved past still feeling married to Emily. Geri realizes they’re not ready. This ties in perfectly with …

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Capt. James

We got to see another side to Captain James this episode, that of a suitor. It was cute seeing him with Jillian - until Walker, a third wheel, inadvertently made Jillian realize that like Geri and Cordell, she wasn’t ready to move on. So, though he was unlucky in love, Capt. James did make Cordell realize his feelings for Geri weren’t only that of best friend, and that Walker needs to find a way to stop keeping himself from the relationship he could have with her… someday. Also, Captain James putting Micki on desk duty enabled the partnership of Cordell and …

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The Walker brothers have had a rough time recently. Liam feels that Cordell prefers Denise and trusts her more. Cordell is both trying to stay on the coin’s edge, reconcile with the past, and keep Liam safe. It’s not until the case of the week shows them in hyperbole how badly brotherly squabbles can turn out, that they realize they need to talk. This allows them to have a cathartic conversation. Liam is also a third wheel and has another cathartic conversation with…

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After what happened with Garrison, Micki hasn’t been doing well. Cordell comparing him “playing house” with Denise with what happened when Micki was undercover made things even worse for their partnership. Micki and Liam have a wonderful conversation where they not only commiserate over being partners with Cordell, offering third wheel support, but also explore how they’re truly feeling. It’s another side relationship that this show excels at. These two are rarely together on screen. It’s both nice to get this and yet sad this may have been the last time they work together. Their conversation and the case of the week helps Micki understand her feelings, and leads Cordell to apologize in another emotional conversation, which also feels like a possible last. But this conversation also helps her realize she needs to work on her romantic partnership with …

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The most pronounced third wheel of the episode, so much so that the leading quote was said to him, is Trey. He seeks solace in the Walkers after Micki fails to come home for lunch as her note read, leading him to tag along on a fishing trip with Abeline and Bonham. He is able to give them perspective that they hadn’t thought about yet, that either Stella or August could take over the ranch. In turn, Bonham gives Trey insight into love, and in another twist on the third wheel providing what’s needed to move on, Bonham lets slip Garrison’s name. Garrison is someone Trey and Micki desperately needed to discuss, but being told by an outsider first adds a painful layer to an already messy situation. Another partnership that's dealing with messes is …

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Abeline and Bonham

After a rocky time last season, Abeline and Bonham are, as Trey called them, solid. But there is still a lot going on around them. Hoyt’s death, the Davidsons moving back, being watched. It’s.. messy, and it all has the elder Walkers considering retiring. But between Trey and themselves, they realize that messes mean home, even if it’s a mess caused by …

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Stella and August

Teenagers will be teenagers, and Stella and August seek fun and romance like many teenagers do. So with their grandparents and father away, they throw a party… and compete over who gets to partner with Todd. August got closer and wants him as a friend. Stella is interested in him maybe more after he helped with the SAT. In the end, it works out because August has a girl interested in him, and Stella learns that Todd thinks she is a legend. Todd, the third wheel to the siblings, even helps break up the party when Bonham and Abeline come home. Hopefully, neither his sudden connection with the youngest Walkers or the curse of the Burned Luck Barn causes any negative fallout in the near future.

The interweaving of relationships in this episode was its biggest strength. The character dynamics are what Walker excels at. People just trying to do their best. The novel way it approaches possible relationships and the twisting of tropes is refreshing.

But, sadly, it felt at times as though the characters were speaking past each other, in a way that didn't seem intended. Both the Walker brothers do this to Micki when she ponders being “the best of the best.” Still overall a wonderful episode.

4.65 stars out of 5.

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Screencaps by The CW & Raloria on LJ