I liked a lot about this episode—except for the central, important thing that still baffles me, and a story trope that I disliked when they used it in Supernatural (and don’t like it any better on Walker).
I’m going to break the show up by character groupings rather than chronologically to get a better idea of the key points.
Colton and Auggie
Colton and Auggie have formed a friendship over music, despite Colton’s adoptive parents—the Davidsons. When Colton shows up looking for Stella and Auggie asks him to come in and work on some music, Abeline asks if his parents would want him at the Walker place. Her comment struck me as odd and distinctly unwelcoming for no good reason.
Later, while the boys work on the arrangement for a song, Abeline sings along. She says it was a favorite of Marv’s. Colton says that he had heard about the Walkers from his parents all his life like they were supervillains. Abeline tells Colton that he is ‘good people’. He says Dan came from a rough family.
Auggie says that he thinks the problems between the two families goes back to the 1870s (seeding the prequel Jared has talked about doing). Abeline says she and Gale used to be friends. She also mentions talking to Marv now and again after they broke up. Auggie tells Colton about the lantern in the barn. So their ‘where do we go from here’ deals with their ‘forbidden’ friendship and the legacy of the barn fire.
Why is it so shocking that Abeline and Marv talked to each other after the engagement broke up? I don’t get why the show makes that into such a huge deal. In real life, it happens all the time—especially in a small town. Some people are able to get past a breakup and become friends again. Having a conversation doesn’t indicate desired or intended infidelity—it’s just a conversation.
I’ve mentioned before the impossibility of the lantern from Cordell’s teenage years and the barn fire still being in the old barn after a lawsuit and insurance claims. There is no way it would have been overlooked—especially laying out in the open like that. If it’s going to turn out to be the origin of the fire, it would have been taken as evidence long ago. And the fact that it has the Walker mark on it doesn’t mean a Walker put it there. The flimsiness of this writing really bothers me, especially since I fear the lantern is going to end up becoming a big deal.
Also, why were the Davidsons so obsessed with the Walkers that they talked about them to such an extent before they even came back to Austin? Dan wasn’t even around for the fire, so why is he so upset—especially when he and Denise are getting a divorce? It’s not his fight. Why would something that happened so long ago still be a frequent topic of conversation? I’m not buying the story they’re selling.
Captain James and Trey
Poor Trey is trying to put his life back together after Micki. The house is partially boxed up—presumably Micki’s stuff for her to come get. When Captain James comes to talk to him, Trey says he is finishing out the lease and isn’t sure what he’s doing after that.
James points out a gray car that is parked to be able to see the apartment, and calls in the license plate. Then he tells Trey that Micki mentioned his visit to Del Rio during her undercover assignment in her log, and that someone from Serano’s gang might have seen Trey. James sticks around to play a round of a video game with Trey, and they bond. Trey tells him that he keeps wondering what he could have changed with Micki, but concludes that leaving was what she needed. James convinces Trey to leave with him because the license plate on the grey car is connected to Serano.
Later, James takes Trey home after setting up a security sweep of his apartment and assigning a security detail for the night (which is nowhere to be seen). Trey heads into the house, and James sees a shooter on the move. James and the shooter exchange fire while Trey hunkers down on the porch.
James is shot in the leg and chest. We don’t know if he shot the attacker.
Why is he bringing Trey back to the house if safety is questionable? And why the security detail on duty yet? There should have been a detail in place from the end of the sweep and James should have turned Trey over to them to escort into the house. Given the danger, both James and Trey should have had bulletproof vests on.
It makes me grumpy to see characters doing stupid things to manipulate them into position for the plot. James’ shooting was a dumb mistake and completely preventable.
Cordell and Liam
I really disliked the times in Supernatural when the writers invented far-fetched reasons for Sam and Dean to be angry at each other for half the season, only to ‘solve’ the issue and bring them back together later. Those issues always felt forced and artificial, what I consider to be ‘lazy’ writing because there are so many other—more logical—ways to put emotional or physical distance between two characters than having them throw tantrums.
Cordell and Liam both threw tantrums in this episode, and it wasn’t a good look for either of them.
Let me start with my biggest issue—how does what Liam did count as ‘filing a false police report’? We have lived in a ‘if you see something, say something’ reality since 9/11. Liam saw a weapon and deer masks in Dan’s car right after deer masks and weapons had been used in a crime. How is it wrong for him to have reported that to the police? He didn’t plant the evidence. (Breaking the tail light to create a reason for a traffic stop is hinky, but hardly a huge deal.) I don’t think Liam called the police to report a broken tail light. So why is this such an unforgivable, career-limiting thing? He did what any citizen could and should have done.
Why is Cordell being such a butt to Liam? Especially given Cordell’s history as someone willing to break and bend the rules, he’s coming off terribly self-righteous. (They always say that the most moralistic person is one who has previously quit whatever habit they’re standing in judgement about.) He was a real jerk to Liam over breaking the bowl, and is awfully quick to give up on his baby brother for not picking up on his calls. His boss shouldn’t have to tell him that’s not okay.
This reminded me of some of the parts of Supernatural I liked the least—which always felt manipulated by the writers. Cordell knows Liam is struggling with PTSD.
Cordell likely has some ongoing issues himself—that kind of thing doesn’t just magically go away because it isn’t in this week’s script.
I’m still stuck on how reporting the gun/masks was ‘false’, but supposedly Liam could be disbarred over a misdemeanor. Only that’s not really true unless the misdemeanor shows ‘moral turpitude’ which means the person is ethically unfit to practice law. That seems like a HUGE stretch from calling in what could have been evidence connected to a crime. (Given what Stan got away with, it’s even more unbelievable unless someone is just looking for a contrived excuse.)
Three weeks go by and Liam isn’t answering calls or texts either, although he did let his mom know he’s alive. He’s at a remote cabin chopping wood.
He finally picks up for Captain James who tells him that Serano’s lawyers want him to make a voluntary statement. Liam refuses. The whole ‘statement’ conversation is very confusing—as a lawyer, Liam should understand how the game is played and what giving or not giving the statement means for the case.
Cordell does better with Stella, who has a freak out during the school career fair where she talked to Trey about not knowing what comes next and he says he’s figuring out the same thing. She’s still dealing with PTSD from the attack at the ranch, and is really upset that Liam is gone because he’s always been around.
Trey calls Cordell, who comes to pick Stella up and they have a ‘we’ day playing bocce, something Stella and Emily did.
His question ‘where do we go from here’ is a theme of the whole episode. She asks him how he knew what he wanted to do, and he tells her. She notes that it was a big deal for Liam to ‘go East’ and Cordell says that Liam ‘has a history of making surprising choices.’
Cordell also tells her how he and Liam once got called to the principal’s office for fighting—they intentionally beat each other up to put on a show in order to scare off the bullies who were picking on Liam for being gay. He says, “I might be the person who taught him to do something stupid in the name of doing right.” (This reminded me of the phrase ‘Winchester stupid’ meaning to take a huge chance to win against terrible odds, usually to save the world.)
Obviously, Liam is the Sam Winchester of the family who is faulted for making a decision that placed his personal wishes above the family—even though Cordell has just told Stella that Liam was bullied for being gay. Texas is not known for being LGBT-friendly, so why would anyone begrudge Liam the chance to spend his college years somewhere more welcoming? Cordell manages to combine the worst reactions from both Dean and John Winchester in this, since it’s still clearly a sore point for him.
Meanwhile Liam comes down from the mountain to the Side Step, where he encounters Bret. Stella called Bret to get through to Liam. They hug, and go do shots and beer. Liam intends to blow off the meeting with Serano’s legal team, and declines to follow through with an ‘official recusal’. Then he realizes that a continuance usually benefits the prosecution and without it, Serano’s lawyers will dredge up Cordell’s old misconduct to throw out the case.
This was legal mumbo jumbo in the extreme. A ‘continuance’ means postponing a trial, usually because someone is unavailable or there is a desire for more time to prepare the case. That’s a separate issue from asking Liam to agree to a recusal, which would remove him from being part of the case, something usually done when there is a conflict of interest.
Liam is drunk, but gets Bret to take him to Ranger HQ.
He argues with the Serano team, and they insult him—which is very unprofessional conduct (and they haven’t been drinking).
James takes him away to sober up and yells at Liam. Cordell shows up. Liam says he wanted so much to be right and was embarrassed to be wrong (again with the ‘false report’ that wasn’t really false). He is upset that he lost the DA election to the guy who killed Emily (Stan). James asks Liam if he really wants to be a DA, and says there are other places he can do good.
Bret gets him coffee to help him sober up. Liam says he misses Bret and that he needs to be a person worth making a promise to. Bret says he’s waiting for Liam to realize that’s already true.
Cordell welcomes Bret back with a bear hug.
Cordell and Liam go home and Cordell apologizes.
He says they both know they aren’t okay. Cordell is dealing with losing Micki, but needs to remember that Liam is his partner, too. Cordell warns that Liam is ‘slipping’. Big bro hug worthy of the Winchesters. They have what fans called a ‘BM’ (Brother Moment). Nice to see!
Later, Cordell, Liam, Stella and Bret are playing cards at the ranch.
Stella drops the bomb that she applied to college in Maine, a place Emily also applied for a soccer scholarship.
It’s clear that Cordell isn’t happy about it. (Don’t pull a John Winchester about this, Cordell!)
I think the episode covered a lot of important territory and I loved seeing Bret and Liam take baby steps toward getting back together. Recognizing the extreme stress and aftereffects of trauma on the characters was important, especially when the pressure came from so many different elements.
While I’m glad to see those issues addressed, I think a lot of the rest of the writing was sloppy and could have gotten to the same conclusion without making characters do things that didn’t make sense or seemed out of character.
I like Walker best when the law enforcement and family drama are equally balanced parts of the episode, which wasn’t the case this week. We’ve seen great episodes where the writers are on their game and give us nuanced characterizations and tight plots. So it’s possible! There was a lot to like in this week’s episode, but it could have been better. Fingers crossed for the next one!
As always, the acting is great--Jared and the cast knock it out of the park every time!
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Screencaps by Raloria on LJ