January 21, 2021
THEN: “I know this is gonna sound nuts, but I’m down in Austin, and we’ve had a few bodies turn up minus their hearts. A friend of mine, Donna Hanscum, she said you were the guy to call.”
Four sets of casting notes that I hope will eventually develop into actual characters await the arrival of a wayward son. 14-year-old August is earnestly hopeful, certain that his father will be there any moment. His older sister Stella is an angry ginger ball of snark. Brother Liam and former partner Larry are just tired and mildly over it.
The boy’s faith in his father is misplaced. He isn’t coming. He’s at the Lookout at Lady Bird Lake getting drunk. It was their place—his and Emily’s. He fidgets with a poker chip and imagines he can still see his wife in her
white nightgown blue sundress of DOOM! His wife who was a principled do-gooder and not a demon in league with Lilith to free Lucifer from his cage in Hell.
Eleven months earlier. Emily was on her way to pick up Geri before heading out to the desert to supply food and water stations. She reassured her husband that they would be on the approved route that he gave her. She told him not to worry.
He spent the evening with the kids and his parents. It was game night! He looks exactly as enthused about this board game as I would be. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t understand the rules and his family is kind of being dicks about it. Good times! His phone pinged with a text from Emily.
When the phone rang a moment later, all he could hear was the sound of panicked breathing. Emily gasped out that something wasn’t right. And then there was the sound of two shots and his wife’s scream.
In shock, he fumbled an excuse to his family before he headed out to his truck and dialed the phone. You would think that he was calling his partner or 911 or someone who might be able to get to his wife quickly. Instead, he called Emily.
The phone rang and rang and rang again some more while Emily lay on the ground gasping for breath and slowly bleeding to death. When the call finally went to voicemail her husband let out into the heavens a mighty yawp of rage and grief before dropping his phone and sinking to the ground next to his truck.
So, this whole not calling 911 thing … anyone else starting to see a pattern?
Too soon? It’s probably still too soon. It will probably always be too soon.
His reverie is broken by the woop-WOOP and flashing lights of a squad car. Instead of running him in for drunk in public, State Trooper Micki Ramirez drives him home. Curled up like a pretzel, he wonders if the seats go back at all?
He info dumps that he’s been away from home for nearly a year. He flew in only a few hours earlier and hasn’t even seen his kids yet. He tries to explain that he’s still carrying the work with him. He didn’t want to get the stink of it on them. And then he quotes Hamlet? What?
Micki divines from his ramblings that he’s been working undercover. She asks if he’s law enforcement. He is.
Cordell Walker, Texas Ranger.
Walker may be a broken shell of a man, but at least his hair looks good. For anyone who watched Season 7 of Supernatural, that matters.
The next morning, Walker retrieves his truck and drives out to his parents’ ranch. His father Bonham is crusty and gruff and not a former hunter brought back from the dead by the King of Hell for the purposes of gaining dominion over Purgatory.
Bonham shoos his son up to the house. The greetings from his mother, Abeline, and August are warm and joyful. There is hugging. Walker comments on how tall his son has gotten—which is saying something, considering. Liam joins the reunion and there is also hugging but it just somehow … feels … wrong?
Walker asks if Liam is living at the ranch with their parents. Liam clarifies that he has a place in town … and personal relationships that have been under strain while helping to care for Walker’s children lo this past year.
After checking in on (most of) the family, Walker clocks in on his first case—an officer assaulted while offering roadside assistance who curiously doesn’t want to talk about it and immediately asks for his union rep. But that’s not important right now.
Instead, let’s talk about Walker in his Ranger uniform sporting the double belt that I initially mistook at the show’s effort to telegraph TEXAS. THIS IS A SHOW SET IN TEXAS. DID WE MENTION TEXAS?, but is an actual part of the uniform, no disrespect, please don’t come for me in the comments.
The interwebs tell me the belt has a historical connection to a Texas Ranger named Samuel Walker, the co-inventor—with Samuel Colt—of a revolver that came to be known as the Colt Walker. The gun went into production in 1847, 12 years after Samuel Colt made another gun. A special gun with thirteen bullets. A gun they say can kill anything.
There is no way you can convince me that this show isn’t set in an alternate Supernatural universe. You just can’t.
Walker reconnects with his former partner—now boss—Captain Larry. Larry teases Walker about the amount of pie he had to eat the night before at the welcome home party that Walker ditched.
I’m telling you. Alternate. Universe.
Walker is introduced to his new partner—Ranger Micki Ramirez. They repair to a food truck to discuss the case and become acquainted. The food truck appears to be parked across the street from Allens Boots, where I once purchased a cunning pair of black cherry ostrich Lucchese boots that were on sale 50% off.
Micki admits that the previous night’s wellness check was a recon. Walker asks to hear her report. She says he’s the edge of the coin—not heads or tails, just … his way. Micki bluntly tells him she has a lot on the line—she did not retrofit a drop ship, get shot, watch her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend mercy kill him, get tortured, have her bone marrow harvested, join a cult, have her mind hijacked by an AI, get tortured again, lose another boyfriend, and convince a race of higher beings to transcend humanity for nothing—so don’t mess it up for her.
That night, Walker joins the family at the ranch for dinner. The family, minus Stella. Bonham says she’s out with some Mexican girl—because he’s that guy—and is immediately checked by Liam. Abeline clarifies that Isabelle is a friend from school. She brightly says she has the kids enrolled at Sacred Heart. Walker is aware and none too pleased. He says he and Emily didn’t want that for them. I’m pretty sure that’s a low-key way of saying they didn’t want their children attending a mostly white school.
Walker is brought up short again when he learns that Stella has traded basketball for soccer. Something else that he missed, according to Liam. Abeline suggests that if they’re not able to answer Walker’s questions to his satisfaction, maybe it’s time he put in the work of parenting himself.
This feels like one of those Reddit Am I the Asshole? scenarios where Everyone Sucks Here.
Everyone except August, bless his heart. The kid looks like he wants to jump out of his skin. CAN’T THEY ALL JUST BE HAPPY THAT HIS FATHER IS BACK AND NOT DO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT MAKE HIM LEAVE AGAIN? PLEASE? He volunteers that he’s been messing around with Emily’s old camera. Walker agrees that his mother would have liked that. Abeline randomly says they’ve done right by Stella just as Walker gets a call summoning him to the police station to pick her up.
When they get home, Stella lashes out at her father. A five-minute phone call over the summer and then nothing for three months? She says it was already bad enough they didn’t have their mother … Walker tells his daughter they both need to stop acting like Emily is going to come back and put them right.
And I mean, Walker is totally failing at helping his daughter heal, but it could be worse? He could have dragged the children on the job with him and made them hunt monsters?
With Stella presumably locked in her room and August existing, Liam and Walker head downtown to get a drink. Bartender Geri has shots waiting for them when they sit down. Liam steps away to call his boyfriend Brett and give Walker and Geri a chance to catch up. Neither one of them has much to say. Geri thinks maybe talking to her doesn’t help. Walker says he just got tired of asking questions about Emily that Geri couldn’t answer.
A song starts playing and Walker insists that Geri take a break and two-step with him. Because it’s not like she’s at her job and there are people who need drinks sitting at her bar. But they’re only on the dance floor for the span of a spin and a dip before Walker’s phone buzzes with a text from Micki and he calls it an early night.
I hope Brett at least showed up so Liam isn’t just sitting there. Alone.
The next morning Micki reports a break in their case—a truck registered to a local business. The shop is filled with unpainted pottery, much of it religious-themed. Walker picks up a small cross and uses it to conduct a one-sided conversation with “J.C.,” wondering if He wants Walker’s kids to go to Sacred Heart.
What? What is this scene? What is happening?
Micki tells him to stop and pockets the cross. They question the owner Milo about the truck. His sister Cheryl IDs two employees as the drivers. When confronted, Alex gets scared and Jordan gets salty. He thinks he knows Walker. Is he the Ranger with the dead wife?
Walker is like, the fuck you say, but keeps his composure until Jordan randomly takes a swing at him. Walker takes that as an invitation to throw the guy a beating before Micki finally pulls him off. She’s just lucky there wasn’t any razor wire laying around at hand.
Micki makes the arrests and then takes Walker home to deal with the cut on his hand—although she’s not sure she’s really set up to deal with jackass disasters. Micki is 100% my favorite character. While she roots around in the medicine cabinet, her adorable Army medic boyfriend Trey ambles into the room wondering who the dude is bleeding on her couch.
Micki introduces Walker as her idiot partner. She puts him on notice again some more. She says he has a sad story and she gets it. She’s got his back because that’s her job, but she needs to know he’s got hers. I’m surprised the sofa cushions don’t ignite from the intensity of her glare.
Micki leaves Trey to patch up Walker’s hand. Instead of going back to work, he’s called to Stella’s school. Liam is already there. Stella didn’t come home on the bus and Liam says she wasn’t in any of her afternoon classes. Walker asks if that’s normal and then answers his question by snarking that Liam would know better. Liam shuts that noise down with a quickness. This isn’t about them, it’s about Stella. Also, he calls his brother “Cordy” and no. Just, no.
There is, was, and will ever be only one Cordy.
During this scene, Walker keeps worrying at the dressing on his left hand, which is just giving me some big Supernatural Season 7 feels. Obviously, he’s trying to use the pain to snap out of this alternate universe.
Walker calls on Isabelle’s mother, hoping the girls might be together. Mrs. Munoz looks like she’s going to throw up. She says she hasn’t seen Stella and admits she thought Walker was there for them. Belle was born in the US, but her parents are undocumented and still waiting for their paperwork to come through. Belle had no idea—but after getting busted for partying with Stella … Walker finishes the thought for her. Belle’s parents are in danger of being deported. He says he’ll see what he can do.
At the office, Walker fills Micki in and she says this is exactly how her own family bridges were burned. She can hear her mother’s voice in her head now saying, “See? Who does the law protect? Not us.” Micki says she and her mother don’t speak—she took joining the Texas Rangers as a personal betrayal. But Micki sees it as a way to set things right.
She switches gears back to the case. A few leaps of deduction and Micki is running the purloined cross under the tap. It easily snaps in her hand, revealing a small bag of heroin.
[Ed. note: WAIT, LIKE THIS? Are Walker, Supernatural, AND LOST all in alternate but related universes??]
Micki says she and backup will handle Milo; Walker needs to take care of his family. She tells Walker she was Stella once—and she always wanted to be found.
Walker finds Stella at the lookout. He asks his daughter what she’s playing at, like it’s not painfully obvious she’s an angry open wound of grief and abandonment issues. He scolds that she can’t keep taking off and scaring everyone. Walker says he’s in the middle of a case—failing to acknowledge that Stella’s (mostly correct) perception that he puts work over family is the root of their problem. Walker insists that he’s trying to make it work. To be there for her and do his job, but he can’t just do it all.
Stella says, “She did.”
That’s a roundhouse kick that lands directly in Walker’s feels. He changes tack, telling Stella that he gets that it sucks just having him, but she’s got the whole family and he is just tuuuuuuurible at reading the room when it comes to his kid. Stella shouts that she needed him. She and August needed him after their mother died. Walker puts it back on the child, saying they need to find a balance because when he gets a call, he has to go.
Does he? Does he though, asks Stella?
And ya’ll, I am 100% on the kid’s side. Team Stella.
Walker asks his daughter what he’s supposed to say and how he’s supposed to fix this. Dude. She just told you—PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR CHILDREN. Maybe give her a damn hug.
With that bit of shitty parenting concluded, Walker is just in time to join Micki in confronting Milo about the heroin. Milo is shocked—SHOCKED—but sister Cheryl knows what’s up. She pulls a gun from her waistband and points it at Walker. Micki roundhouse kicks the weapon from her hand.
Patrick Swayze could not be prouder right now, God rest him.
Captain Larry compliments Walker and Ramirez on wrapping up the case—minus how Walker handled the suspects which is a mess the captain did not need and which will not fly. Also, taking down Cheryl’s drug ring uncovered a bigger link to The Cartel. Larry says Special Operations is setting up a team and Walker is being recommended.
Later that evening, Liam notices Walker fidgeting with the poker chip again. Liam asks what his brother is doing—he just got home and already his mind is someplace else. Walker says it helps him think; Liam says it helps him worry about Emily and her murder.
Walker asks—probably not for the first time—why the poker chip was left on Emily’s body? Why were her eyes closed as though someone took the time to lay her to rest? Walker tells Liam about Jordan taunting him earlier that he couldn’t protect Emily. Liam reminds his brother that a man confessed to Emily’s murder and tells him to let it go. Emily is gone and there is nothing Walker can do except be here.
Walker goes inside where he’s met with a cutting remark from Bonham about putting a bell on Stella. A silent rebuke from his wife convinces him he should go be crusty and shitty someplace else. Walker gets some actual, helpful parenting advice from his mother.
Abeline tells him to take a minute to get to know his children again. And she warns him not to sleep on August. Sure, he’s good … like his life depended on it. She says the kid is working so hard to keep anyone from worrying about him that he’s twisted himself into bits. She tells Walker not to take his son for granted. Not for a second.
Also, he should think about moving into the old farmhouse on the edge of the property. Abeline says the house in town isn’t a home anymore. Not without Emily. But this could be a place for them to start fresh. Walker and August check it out later that night. Walker imagines again that he sees Emily. She nods at him, seeming to give her approval.
Inside, August shows his father the table he grief refinished. Walker acknowledges how much his son has had to shoulder. He says he never meant to make August grow up so fast. SEE, IT’S NOT THAT HARD. MAYBE TRY SOME OF THAT WITH YOUR DAUGHTER.
They build a fire and August sacks out on the sofa. Stella comes in with a quilt and tells Walker that she heard him tell Abeline about the task force job. She looks like she’s steeling herself for Walker to tell her he’s taking it. He pats the seat next to him on the sofa; Stella takes a seat on the floor with her back to her father. Walker tells her he’s not taking the job. Stella won’t let herself smile or be relieved. She says her father might feel differently in the morning. Walker says he’s not going to feel different about her or about being there.
Stella says, “For now.” Walker tells her now is all they’ve got.
Walker airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.