I have so many questions….do you?
Like last time, I’m going to skip the recap and go right into what I liked, then cover what made me go, ‘Hmmmm….’
The Good Stuff
Cordell Walker on a horse. Definitely a highlight of the episode.
Geri and Stella had backbone to stand up to Gale and Denise. Cassie definitely picked a side. Cordell also confronted Denise for going way over the line. Stella called out Colton for betraying the trust she and her family had placed in him. Liam stood up for himself with Cordell, reminding him that Liam’s proven expertise wasn’t being utilized. Bonham and Abeline realize secrets lie at the crux of the matter, but we didn’t really see the heart-to-heart we need—except between Abeline and Marv’s headstone.
Did I mention Cordell Walker on a horse ...with a few shots that looked suspiciously like that huge photo of Sam Winchester on a horse in "The French Mistake" episode of Supernatural?
As always, Jared and the cast turned in great performances.
The show is definitely committed to tackling intergenerational trauma—a worthy story focus. There’s a lot of meat there to dig into with a cast of complex characters, which means the writers shouldn’t need to jump the shark with mustache-twirling villains and implausible events just to gin up drama.
Now For the Head-Scratchers
I realized that there’s a key issue that gives me pause with Walker. When I sit down to watch a paranormal/space/superhero/soap opera show, I willingly suspend disbelief because those shows aren’t meant to represent the real world. They give us a fantasy experience. (Even Supernatural, which seemed so grounded in the here-and-now, was a horror show—so we knew not to hold it to real world rules.)
But Walker isn’t billed as a fantasy or a soap opera. It’s a family/crime drama touching on sensitive real-world issues. It’s not an alternate world or a comedy/satire. Which means that real world rules should apply. Sure, TV bends a lot of reality (like how did the cast of Friends afford their apartments?). But when so many episodes completely disregard big, important, obvious ways the world works just for the sake of drama, it’s poor writing. The writers could get to the same threat or plot point and do it logically—if they bothered to try.
The barn fire has already been the subject of a trial. Why then is the news clip where Gale Davidson names and accuses a teenage Cordell of murder still online? It couldn’t have been put up at the time of the fire in 1995, so it had to have been loaded at least a decade later when YouTube started. That’s clearly a take-down order that should have been sent, and a cease and desist against the TV station for posting it. Likewise, Gale Davidson should have been hit with slander charges at the time, and the TV station with libel/defamation for airing it in the first place and uploading it years later.
“We don’t talk about Li-am, no, no, no….” (Admit it—you sang along with me, just like the Bruno song.) Why is Liam in the show if he’s invisible and no one ever takes his advice? He might not be a D.A. but he wasn’t disbarred. What about that hidden evidence in Stan’s desk? Did Liam ever retrieve it? Is it going to be forgotten, or will it save the Walkers somehow from the outcome of the race?
Why didn’t Stella or Geri call Liam immediately when Denise tried to take a minor (Auggie) to Ranger HQ for questioning without parental notification or permission? (Liam is a legal guardian for Cordell’s kids.) Denise could not coerce Auggie to go with her short of arresting him, so why didn’t Geri advise him to stay put and refuse to say anything without a lawyer present? (She’s been through the system—she knows how this works.) For that matter, how did Liam not teach his entire family not to speak in custody without legal representation? And did Captain James permit Denise to bring a minor who was not charged with a crime into his HQ for interrogation?
The whole ‘let’s settle a multi-million dollar real estate question with a horse race’ reeks of toxic masculinity and hubris, in addition to being ridiculous. For a show that has tried to visibly highlight that toxicity and do better, everyone (except Liam) has lost their ever-lovin’ minds.
Speaking of toxic, Bonham has reverted to being a jerk at a time the patriarch of the family really should be leading, not provoking. He’s mucked things up with Abeline, Cordell and Liam. He is insulting to Cordell, picks a rookie horse for a hugely important race, and insists on doing the riding himself until he injures his hand. He refuses to broker a deal and avoid the race, too arrogant to think they could lose.
Does anyone think that the cut in Cordell’s saddle band really came from the slip of the knife that cut Bonham? Not likely unless he cut off his whole finger. It would take time, muscle and a sturdy blade to cut through a saddle belly band. Speaking of which—since everyone expected dirty deeds from the Davidsons, why was there no last-minute inspection of tack, no veterinarian to check both horses, and no impartial observer/referee (perhaps Captain James)?
Kudos to Cordell for stopping to help Dan when he got knocked off the horse. Of course Dan wasn’t going to call for a do-over when Cordell’s saddle band breaks. How can Cordell say ‘there are no bad guys’?
On top of losing, Denise shows up with the cops. She claims that they found Marv’s blood on the lantern which proves he was murdered and that Bonham did it. Say, what? Has Denise never played Clue (let alone gone to law school) to know that’s not how it works?
I’m assuming she thinks Marv was bashed over the head with the lantern, which then set the barn on fire. There’s no other way to get blood on the lantern because—newsflash—burn victims don’t bleed. Intense heat cauterizes. But the lantern (which couldn’t possibly have been overlooked out in the open for 27 years by both the insurance investigators and the previous lawsuit) didn’t look smashed in at the base like it had been used as a blunt instrument.
Was there enough left of Marv’s corpse to determine cause of death or at least rule out causes? Because if his skull wasn’t turned to ash in the fire and it wasn’t fractured from blunt trauma, then there’s a big hole in Denise’s accusation. And what about the blood ‘proves’ whodunnit? Why would that support arresting Bonham? Given how the Davidsons live their lives, I suspect Marv had a lot of enemies who would have loved to do him in.
All of which brings me back to the issue of suspension of disbelief. If you bill a show as being about a flawed Ranger solving crimes, dealing with family issues and confronting real-world social justice issues, then that’s what I expect when I watch it. If you deliver a soap opera with horses, I feel hornswoggled and double-crossed, and that’s not the deal I shook hands on.
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