The Morning After
“Threads” is back! Sorry for my absence last week. It was my mom’s 95th birthday! I’m awed by that amazing milestone so I spent the day creating lovely memories with her. Our wonderful brunch at a French bistro meant that I didn’t get to share the day with you, though, celebrating and shouting from the rooftops that Cordell and Geri finally got together! Cordell’s awkward, adorable, flustered admission of his feelings deserved bell towers across the nation pealing out their congratulations! All he needed was a “Nudge” from his new partner to recognize that his best friend was also his new soulmate. Cassie’s gentleness with Cordell’s feelings softened my impression of her brashness, as she initially shocked her way into Cordell’s life with arrogance and a Taser! I’m cautiously optimistic that Cassie will be the trusting, respectful partner that Cordell needs and deserves. “Boundaries” then picked up where last week’s suggestive invitation in “Nudge” left off.
Cordell and Geri spent the night together and their relationship name is officially canon, thanks to Trey!
Trey: So y'all are finally giving it a shot! It's about damn time.
Geri: It's a developing story.
Trey: Uh-huh. So what should the tabloids call you? Gerdell? Corri? Oh, my... No, no, no! Cordri!
So adorably meta! Cordell and Geri’s sensitive uncertainty about the progression of their relationship was also adorable, and extremely well done. I unabashedly appreciated Cordell’s morning-after bed attire (or lack thereof) but I also noted that Geri was already out of bed and in a tee-shirt in the opening shot. I thought that choice showed a great deal of respect for Odette. Without any knowledge one way or the other about the scene, my first reaction was to attribute this choice to Jared’s oft-told story of feeling bad that his wife’s on-screen introduction on Supernatural was in scant underwear, after her character’s sleepover with Sam.
My instinct was bolstered by Stella’s reaction to Colton’s judgements about her budding romance:
Stella: What do you mean, "a fling"?
Colton: Your rebound. Your first relationship since the infamous Trevor. You know, August agrees that this probably isn't the romance of the century.
Stella: Okay, that's pretty presumptuous and disrespectful... of you and August!
As Walker often includes social messaging in its stories, my read is that this episode’s underlying morality was about respecting women of all ages. Stella and Geri both made informed, mature decisions about their relationships. Stella didn’t need the opinions nor the approval of the boys around her as to who she should or could date. Geri was also given the time she needed to figure out how she felt about publicly “labeling” her relationship with Walker. She and Cordell agreed on a “safe word" to escape any situation that made either of them uncomfortable. That showed Cordell’s great respect for Geri’s emotional well-being. When she momentarily panicked and used their safe word at the suggestion of a big family announcement, once again Cordell let her take the lead, allowing her to figure things out at her pace. She, in turn, reassured him that they were okay in a loving, patient way that showed the deep trust between them.
Cordell: I don't want to get you mixed up in all my old family crap.
Geri: Yeah, but it's me. I know all of your old family crap. Okay, you are all over the place right now, buddy.
Cordell: "Buddy"? Bu...? So-so "Dolly" and now "Buddy"?
Geri: No! Oh, my God! It was a little Dolly!
Cordell: What did I do?
Geri: Stop, stop.
Cordell and Geri have decades of trust already between them, so they were able to believe and feel safe with each other’s fragile emotions. Their sweet, innocent excitement over their new status was truly the highlight of the episode.
Trusting yourself, and trust as a basis of all the relationships in Cordell’s life, was an obvious theme during his trust exercise of rock climbing with his other new partner, Cassie.
Cassie: I trust my instincts. Like rock-climbing. Don't look back. Face what's ahead. Take it one step at a time.
Cordell: Okay, so, a lot of metaphors about trusting yourself. I get it.
Cassie: Can't trust myself entirely… [to Cordell] Trust your instincts.
Cordell: I do trust my instincts, obviously.
Cassie and Cordell still need to explore and strengthen their partnership, as he learned when he did look back and saw that she didn’t have both hands on the safety rope during his climb. Their relationship is new but seems solid since they’re talking openly about their doubts and concerns. It was interesting that one of the first things they discussed was Cassie’s impressions of her new DA, Denise, and Cordell’s relationship with the third strong woman in his life.
Cordell: Look, once you meet her, you'll like her. All right? She's good people.
Cassie: Cool, so I should disregard everything I've heard about the feud of the century?
Cordell: Look, it doesn't affect our work. All right, for what it's worth, I trust her. So regardless of who her family is, believe me.
Cordell’s testimonial for Denise was important. We’ve been repeatedly reminded that his instincts as a ranger are dead-on, so is he right about Denise? Cassie’s reflections during her climb told us that an individual’s instincts can’t always be trusted, however, so who do we listen to? Cordell is telling us to trust Denise. Cassie is telling us to not be so sure.
I’ve shared my suspicions that Denise is the head of the Northside Nation gang. That plotline surprisingly went dormant with Serano’s death, so I’m thinking I may have been way off on that. I still don’t trust her, though. My instincts are telling me that she still has a deep, dark secret and I have a new theory as to what that secret might be.
The Past is (not so much) in the Past
Denise watching Cordell's private conversation with his mother, from 2.09 "Sucker Punch"
It’s weeks after Denise was given the surveillance tapes yet she is still watching Cordell tearfully confess his feelings of guilt about the barn fire. Why would she be so disturbed and obsessed with that scene if she believed her family’s explanation that Cordell started the fire? Immediately after witnessing what that memory is doing to Cordell, Denise snapped at Dan when he asked her about breakfast. She confronted him about the Serano case but she was watching Cordell, not Dan, on the tape. She was then notably uncomfortable with her mother blaming Cordell.
Gale: If Cordell hadn't left that lantern in the barn, your father would still be alive today. Everybody knows it, including their family.
Denise: I don't want to talk about this.
Gale: Well, it's the truth.
Is it possible that Denise started the fire… or that she knows for a fact that her father started the fire? Something is torturing her about that night. But then why would she reopen the investigation of Marv’s death? My theory is that she knows something doesn’t track in the current assumptions about what happened. She’s using her official capacity to either uncover a truth that she only suspects but doesn’t know for sure, or to publicly reveal a truth that’s too painful for her to admit to herself. She was only a teen when it happened. It’s possible she was so traumatized by her father’s death, she has a mental and emotional block from seeing the truth (a thread two episodes ago). That would mean that Cordell’s instincts are right about her – she is a good person – but the Walkers would be vindicated from any wrongdoing and that chapter in their “old family crap” would be closed.
One other thought about the cursed lantern that has passed through so many hands and is somehow linked to the truth.
Colton: Hey. Hey. Uh, earlier were you saying something about a lantern?
Gale: Ah, you heard that, yeah. It's ancient history. It's not your concern.
Colton: Okay, well, August was saying something about a lantern with his family's brand or whatever. And he got it from the burnt-out barn. He had it in his house, but he didn't show it to me.
Gale: Well, that's tasteless. You know, if I took that lantern to the authorities, the Walkers might finally get their comeuppance.
Colton: Well, maybe I could get it from August. I mean, it's not cool that they have it. I mean, considering what it means.
Gale: Well, thank you, Colton. Good to know you're on my side.
This was a really bizarre reversal in attitude from Colton. Is he feeling so badly “burned” by Stella that he would betray August’s trust and friendship? This sudden shift in loyalties was jarring and felt like forced drama for the sake of creating conflict.
Later, Geri saw Bonham with a shovel and the lantern. Is she going to be caught in the middle of this criminal investigation, forced to take the side of the Davidsons against the Walkers? We’ve been getting a lot of hints about people having to take sides.
Denise: Perez is Walker's new partner.
Dan: Oh, well, if you're with Walker, you're not on our side. You know, the D.A. doesn't trust any Walkers.
Geri clearly took the Walker’s side at the Side Step during that confrontation about the land dispute, and I seem to remember her telling Cordell she was “on his side” an episode or so back. She again reiterated where her loyalties lie when they were alone after all the excitement:
Please don't forget all of the years that I have been here with you as a friend. Whatever you're facing, whatever it is, I'm in your corner. Okay?
I think we’re headed toward a true Hatfields vs. McCoys showdown, though, where everyone has to pick which side of the land ownership boundary they’re on.
Title Thread - "Boundaries"
Bonham: The Walkers have worked this land for generations. There's nothing more to ownership than that.
It’s time to talk about the storyline that was at the center of “Boundaries.”
Marv: Turns out, you Walkers have been living on borrowed land. Since 1873. Seems to me, y'all overstayed your welcome. See for yourself.
"By default, the agreed upon land will revert to original ownership by John Davidson and proceeding heirs. Save for the invocation of give and take in the distribution of land."
Bonham: Yeah, Stan Morrison said this might come up. But my family has run a ranch on this land for years. It's ours. Adverse possession and whatnot.
Marv: You think that'll hold up in court? Your word against a legal document?
Bonham: Well, I guess I'm willing to find out. Why are you bringing this up now, Marv? You hurting for money so bad you'd threaten to kick me off my land?
Marv: Just thinking about legacy. Look... I'm not wild about the two of us in suits, hiding behind lawyers. How about a little give and take?
WHAT??? As Cordell said, this isn’t the Wild West! It’s simply not believable that two large land owners would decide their fortune, livelihoods, homesteads and family legacies by a horse race! Bonham agreed to this not once, but twice! Are we to accept that Texas ranchers are that proud and reckless above all reason? Geri’s reassurance to Bonham may have been intended to address these questions:
Geri: [Cordell’s] out there training for the race. Probably trying to process it all.
Bonham: Yeah. Well, night ride's good for thinking. There's no distractions. We should've been celebrating your future though, not digging up the past.
Geri: Well, for what it's worth, I do admire your cowboy spirit. How you take care of your land, your home. You always have. Reminds me of my dad. Always family first.
Bonham: Just trying to do right by kin. We do what's best...
The scene in the bar fueled by the Davidson's rage, the "challenge accepted" from Bonham, the showdown at sunrise to help Denise avoid a public scandal - the entire scenario irked me as ridiculously contrived despite Geri’s praises.
Aside from that nonsense, if I were Liam, I’d really be feeling unseen and unimportant. Everything that has pertained to his identity as a lawyer has turned against him. He lost the election, got fired (?) from his job, and was “sucker punched” by Dan’s immunity deal that he brokered. The latest insult was that when he tried to resolve a land dispute civilly and legally, his father snapped that Liam has “idle hands” and that he’ll talk to his “own lawyer” to resolve the matter. Then Liam’s counsel was completely dismissed when Bonham chose cowboy law over a court of law. Seems to me Cordell isn’t the only Walker boy who is constantly belittled. The third generation of Walkers is involved now, too.
Bonham: You know, going on someone else's property without them knowing is trespassing, son.
August: You're right, yeah. I'm sorry. It's just a lantern.
Bonham, Well, you damn well know it's not just that or else you wouldn't have hidden it. I should've dealt with this a long time ago. You're lucky that no Davidsons saw. But that'll be the last time. You hear? No more... secrets.
Secrets and Lies
The other shocking storyline introduced in “Boundaries” is that there's another Davidson heir.
Gale: Marv and I were never quite the same after we lost the baby. He just drew further and further away from me until one day, he was just gone.
Abeline: I'm sorry, for all that you've lost.
Gale: I'm just looking for some closure. Why won't you just tell me what you know?
Abeline: Your life hasn't been easy. And these were never my secrets to tell. And I'm sorry.
Okay, take that in as new and totally out of the blue family background… but wait for it…
Abeline: Marv came to me a day or two before the fire. And he told me that the baby he and Gale had, that we thought had died after being born, survived. The baby had a medical condition and... Marv was afraid that he wouldn't be able to afford the costs or the emotional toll again, seeing what they went through with Denise's heart problems. So he gave the baby away. And I told Marv he needed to let Gale know, I mean, family talks to family. But I don't know if he ever got the chance.
Marv “gave the baby away” without Gale's consent?? He certainly didn’t put it up for a legal adoption without the mother’s knowledge! Did he forge her signature?? He let her believe that her child died?? That’s heart breaking!
It’s hard to judge whether Marv’s actions were the most compassionate option available to him because we know very little about the baby’s “medical condition”, Denise’s “heart problems” or their circumstances. This entire backstory, which is presumably materially important to the plot, came out of nowhere. On the surface, though, it seems Marv was incredibly disrespectful of Gale by making all her choices for her. This struck me as an example of how to disrespect women (or anyone else for that matter), and the exact opposite of the respect shown to Geri and expected by Stella earlier.
Bonham is now wondering if Dan pressed the land issue for money. That all sounds incredibly shady. Did he kill himself in that fire for insurance money, or out of guilt, or both? Be careful of the questions you ask because you may not like the answers. The “truths” that Gale clings to and Denise is supposedly seeking - that the Walkers are to blame for all their pain and that Gale's baby died years ago – may be easier to accept than the truth of what actually happened.
The Last Word
This season’s plot was catapulted forward by "Boundaries." I dearly loved Geri and Cordell’s sweetness together, and the parallels between their situation and Stella trying to figure out who to trust.
Stella: Do you think Augie has a point? About it being too soon? I mean, how do you know when you should open up with someone? Or trust them?
Cordell: Stel, I think, um... I think, I think you'll know when you know. But I also think your daddy might not be the best person to ask about this because I'm still trying to figure it out myself.
This was all very tastefully done, with great sensitivity and respect to all parties involved.
The Davidson/Walker bombshells were less enjoyable. I was reeling during the episode, wondering how believable (or unbelievable) this story had become. I commented on the number of secrets in the Walkers’ lives, which, bless his heart, Jared noticed and laughed at on Twitter.
Truthfully, I felt like I was a passenger on a runaway train, speeding uncontrollably down a bumpy track! Shocking new storylines were thrown at us at every turn. The characters’ emotional reactions (Walkers and Davidsons) were extreme, creating forced drama. Illogical (or unexplained) actions were glossed over, leaving us all to sort out why key points of the story happened at all. I had the same reaction to this writer’s last episode as well.
Even though I felt the shocks and choppiness of “Boundaries” detracted from its believability, many fans loved the breakneck pace of the story. They loved the surprises, the tension, and the winner-takes-all conflicts. What was your reaction? Either way, the Walkers' lives have definitely gotten much more complicated, and we will be watching them negotiate higher stakes in future episodes.
At least now Cordell has two partners who believe in him. If they stay good, I’m good. Time will tell.
What did you think of this episode? Please share your thoughts below!
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Transcript courtesy of TV Show Transcripts
Screencaps courtesy of The CW