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Walker - Pilot - Review

How many of us were expecting a bit of childhood, or even adult, nostalgia when we heard about the Jared Padalecki led Walker on the CW?

I was, but that isn’t what we got, and I’m not mad. Did I love the first episode? No. I’m not even sure that I liked it, but I didn’t hate it either. I’m viewing it as what it was—an information dump. I can only hope that the threads dangled in this episode end up paying off as the season and series progress.

It’s the first one, so it’s a long one.

The episode opens with Walker greeting his wife Emily, played by Padalecki’s real-life wife, Genevive. Emily’s about to leave to deliver supplies, but it doesn’t sound like a simple charitable donation because Walker gives her a specific route. We all know this isn’t going to end well, which is too bad because we didn’t know this Emily for long, but I liked her. A final kiss, then they go their separate ways.

We move to a scene of Walker playing games with his children and parents when a text from Emily pops up on his screen. It’s an SOS. When his phone rings, Emily is breathing heavily and telling him something’s gone wrong. We hear gunshots followed by silence. I hate to ruin this poignant scene with my brand of logic, but why would Emily waste time with a text before calling? Would Walker have ignored her call? We didn’t see much of their relationship, but the brief glimpse tells me he never would have ignored a call from his wife. Never.

Walker excuses himself from the game and walks outside to call Emily back. We see her on the ground, eyes open, a bullet wound in her abdomen, gasping for air. Her vibrating phone and a dropped lantern illuminate the tragic scene. When the call goes to voicemail, a distraught Walker sinks to the ground. I’m going to assume that he called the police as he walked outside and called them again after failing to reach Emily. Right? Let me have that.

When we next see Cordell Walker, 11-months have passed. His family is throwing him a welcome home/congratulations party, but he’s a no show. Our cast gets a little bigger with the introduction of Walker’s brother, Liam (Keegan Allen), and his former partner, now captain, Larry James (Coby Bell). So many tv worlds are colliding.

August (Kale Culley), Augie, is hopeful, but Stella (Violet Brinson) seems doubtful that their dad will make an appearance. One of the kids is compensating, and the other is pissed. I wonder how much teenage angst we’ll have to contend with going forward.

Meanwhile, Walker is getting good and drunk and seeing ghosts at Lady Bird Lake. Having figured out Walker’s most likely hiding place, Liam and Larry send Trooper Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan) to pick him up and take him home. Walker’s in a chatty mood, and Ramirez returns the favor. Turns out it’s her last day as a trooper. It’s a safe bet she’s been promoted to Ranger.

Let’s talk about the introduction of Micki Ramirez. The exchange she shared with Walker was odd. He says, you asked so nice, and she replies with a comment about the girls being taught to ask nice. Believe me when I say I call out all the isms when I see them, but implying misogyny doesn’t make it misogyny. I get this show wants to be part of the solution, but it needs to be more than an ill-fitting and forced line of dialogue. This didn’t show being part of the solution. It just showed an awareness of the problem. No more of these moments, please, aim for authenticity.

The next morning Walker talks a quick jog to his car in cowboy boots. That can’t be great for his arches. Later he shows up at his parents’ ranch, stopping first to see his father, Bonham Walker (Mitch Pileggi), before heading to the house and his mother, Abeline Walker (Molly Hagan). Augie and Liam are there too. We get some quick dialogue that helps provide background information on Liam. He’s an assistant district attorney who’s been helping his parents raise Stella and Augie with his partner, Bret.

Walker can’t stay long. He’s been called to work where we get a glimpse at this week’s case, as well as his new partner, Ramirez. The case: Sergeant Curtis was assaulted while offering roadside assistance, but he’s unwilling to cooperate with the Rangers. He’s covered in powder; look for this to come up later in the episode. I’m guessing drugs.
Walker and Ramirez have lunch, discuss the case and her future in the Rangers. I guess? The Micki characterization is murky. It feels like Walker and Ramirez are having two different conversations. This is a script problem, not an actor problem.

Still no Stella. She’s gone to a party with her friend Isabel (Gabriela Flores). When Bonham calls her Stella’s Mexican friend, it causes a bit of friction at the dinner table. Liam asserts that she’s Mexican American, but Bonham doesn’t seem to care. I do appreciate the way the show is layering in character development, not including Bonham's strange and unnatural speech pattern. Poor ignored Augie does his best to make peace and get noticed by mentioning he’s started taking pictures with his mom’s old camera. Unfortunately, his sister’s been picked up by the police for possession, so back to the shadows he goes.

Stella is teenager obnoxious, but I’ll give her a pass because she’s grieving for her mother and angry at her father. When Isabel’s parents arrive, they look anxious, which makes me worried. I think we’re looking at the beginning of a deportation storyline. Let’s hope it’s handled honestly and, here’s that word again, authentically.
Ramirez has a boyfriend named Trey (Jeff Pierre). They seem flirty and fun. They talk a little about what a mess Walker is but then move the party to the bedroom. Ramirez’s characterization is giving me whiplash. She’s right, Walker is a mess, but he’s a mess for a good reason. And here, she’s honest about what being a Ranger means to her. I get that. I support that. But the insta-hostility she’s had towards Walker didn’t play well.

Elsewhere, we meet another new character, Geri. It looks like she’s going to play a bigger role in the mystery surrounding Emily’s death. She was with her that night, or she was supposed to be, but she can’t answer any of Walker’s questions. I’m suspicious. I’m also suspicious about why Walker isn’t suspicious. Instead, they dance. I need nothing to ever happen between Walker and Geri. I don’t trust her. The dance is interrupted by a text from Micki. She has new information about the case. I keep forgetting there is a case.

Unsurprisingly, Micki’s mother didn’t buy her dolls, so she played with cars. Come on, writers, are we really setting up an either or between dolls and cars? I’m still mad my Barbies didn’t fit in my Hot Wheels.

Micki’s new information leads them to a pottery shop, Green Thumb and Grace. It is a known fact that when a law enforcement show features bisque or marble, there must be drugs. Watch. Walker has a conversation with bisque Jesus before attempting to question one of the employees, Jordan. It doesn’t go well. Jordan intentionally antagonizes Walker over Emily’s death. Walker decides to take the bait and indulges in a bit of excessive force. Insert what you know I’m thinking here. Someone didn’t read the nation.
Walker’s bit of police brutality results in an injury to his hand. For reasons that make zero sense, Micki takes him back to her place to treat the wound. This was a clumsy way to make all of the worlds collide, but whatever. Trey happens to be a medic, so he’s going to patch up Walker’s hand. Walker doesn’t linger because he gets a message from Stella’s school. When he arrives, Liam is already there. Walker is a little in his feelings but backs down and thanks his brother. But where is Stella? She missed her afternoon classes and never got on the bus.

Walker’s first stop is Mrs. Munoz, but Isabel’s mom hasn’t seen Stella. As expected, we learn that the Munoz’s are now facing deportation because of Isabel’s run-in with the police. Walker’s going to look into it for them. Leaving his family to search for Stella, Walker returns to work. Once there, we learn that Micki is a disappointment to her mother because of her commitment to the U.S. military and law enforcement. Her mother sees it as a betrayal, working for the enemy, but Micki views it as the solution. A little nuance is always welcome.

With some cajoling from Micki, Walker goes off to find Stella. When he finds her, it isn’t pretty. She’s angry about the way he abandoned them and how poor a substitute he is for Emily. Ouch. That hurt even me. Walker wants to find a way forward, but Stella isn’t ready. He needs to rebuild the trust he lost. It makes sense. I also think that she’s old enough to know that he’s hurting too and needs to meet him, if not the middle, at least a few baby steps closer than where she’s currently standing.

With Stella found but still angry, Walker joins his partner at Green Thumbs and Grace. Cheryl is the mastermind behind the hidden heroin, but Walker and Ramirez apprehend her. Not really an interesting case; I wasn’t invested. I mostly forgot about it until it was mentioned. I don’t know if this will be the way going forward, but it does keep the show from having that case of the week feeling. That might be a good thing. This case does seem to connect to a larger cartel case, which might hold answers to Emily’s death.
Even though Walker just finished almost a year working on the Rodeo Kings cartel case, Captain James offers him the opportunity to join the task force related to this latest case. I mean, he also gives Walker a “stern” talking to about the excessive force. Something along the lines of “not on my watch.” They might as well have lifted a rug and swept a pile of dirt under it. Anyway, there’s a gleam in Walker’s eye about the possibility. We know it isn’t going to happen, but let’s see how we get there.

All it takes is some common sense from his mom, Mawline aka Abeline. Plus, she’s been fixing up the farmhouse at the edge of the property for Walker and the kids. Walker has some fences to mend with a lot of people, so this makes sense. The episode ends with Walker and his kids in their new home. Augie by his father’s side and Stella at his feet, not quite ready to forgive.

I didn’t watch Supernatural. By the time I wanted to give it a try, the number of episodes was overwhelming, so this is the first time I’ve seen Padalecki since Gilmore Girls. I didn’t know what to expect. I like him in the role. He feels right. He moves easily between a broken man, work in progress, father, justice seeker, and humanitarian. I’m looking forward to seeing where he takes us. With that said, at the moment, he’s better than the writing. I need the scripts to catch up because Padalecki has made the cowboy boots his own, now give him the good stuff.

What did you think? Will you keep watching?