Last week’s episode of Walker, titled ‘Tracks,’ was written by the same duo who penned the previous excellent episode ‘Bar None,’ Casey Fisher & Paula Sabbaga, and directed by Bola Ogun. Both the writers and the director delivered an episode with heart and more of those twists and turns that this show is perhaps becoming known for. Because so much happened in each of the storylines, I’ll try to break this up and follow each subplot. First up, Cordell and Micki and their deepening partnership (and their ongoing family relationship challenges).
Walker and Micki and Micki’s Mom: Love, Protection and Partnership
Cordell seems to be finally settling into being a dad to his kids, Augie cooking breakfast and Walker (Jared Padalecki) taking the time to tease both his teenage children (Stella and Walker imitating each other was adorable).
His skepticism about his kids’ romantic interests seems on point, including being skeptical about Ruby as the one who told Augie to crash the undercover operation. (I’m glad that isn’t being forgotten, because that was not a smart thing to do for a teenager who should have known better.) Stella is more concerned with texting Trevor and scheming to get him to come along on the soccer trip, averting her dad with suggestions that they talk about something simpler like gun control or his hearing. Touché, Stella.
Walker manages to burn his hand on the hot skillet (he’s a bit accident prone for a Ranger, but it humanizes the character so I don’t really mind). When he stops by Micki’s, Trey notices the bandage.
Trey: You hurt your hand again? You’re a little too committed to that bit…
I love the dynamic between these two.
Trey heads out to chaperone the soccer trip and Walker realizes that Micki is reeling, worried about her mother because a DWI hit and run doesn’t add up for Adriana, who Micki points out doesn’t even drink and whose “MO is accountability.” Micki hypothesizes that maybe her mom was falsely accused because she was “a Mexican American driving a fancy car.” I like how the show continues to put those possibilities out there, and that we see Micki’s resentment.
Walker and Micki’s partnership really solidifies in this episode. Walker offers to come with her to bail out Adriana, making it an official case, and James says take all the time you need. (Because James and Liam are headed to Mexico to investigate Geri’s disappearance and the art gallery where the money ended up. They’re both feeling terrible about lying to Walker.)
To Micki’s shock, her mother is not exactly relieved that her daughter bailed her out, saying that she shouldn’t have done that and that she’ll “take care of this myself.”
She also insists that she’s not innocent, but Micki doesn’t believe her. After all, there would be bruises after an accident like that, and she’s skeptical that Adriana would have had a religious medal bracelet (that was found at the accident site). Walker retorts that covering bruises is what scarves are for and sometimes the simplest explanation is the one that’s true. Or at least I think that’s what he’s trying to say – he calls it “Rocco’s Radio”, which made me laugh
Eyeroll from Micki. “That’s Occam’s Razor, you chump.”
I enjoy every single one of Micki’s eyerolls, gotta say. Pretty sure Walker was setting her up this time.
They follow Adriana and spy on her meeting with a mysterious woman, in a neighborhood on the other side of the “tracks.”
Micki admits that maybe she doesn’t really know her mother that well, that she used to think they’d always have each other. Flashback to her childhood and some bonding moments between mother and daughter.
Micki: The only thing that would calm me down was watching the trolleys with her. I’d feel safe and loved; nothing else mattered. Then at some point, things changed between us. She kept wanting to protect me and I wanted to protect others.
The age-old individuation process, the child wanting to grow up and the parent wanting to keep on protecting. It’s a familiar conflict for “Supernatural” fans too, who watched Sam especially struggle to be his own person and Dean and John want to keep on protecting him.
Walker: I think you care, you want to make her proud. You want her to understand your choices.
[That could totally be Sam Winchester talking about himself]
Micki: You got my six all of a sudden?
That was a really nice moment, and a theme throughout the episode, as the partners prove to each other that they really do have each other’s backs.
Walker and Micki confront the woman who Adriana visited, Mercedes. She’s defensive, saying that Dr. Ramirez is her therapist, who she called because she needed help. This woman does have bruises – and we see that she also has the religious medal bracelet that was at the accident site. Hmmm.
Micki and Walker get some food from a Texas food truck (mmmm), which gives us some beautiful shots from director Bola Ogun. The food truck is owned by the first guy Micki ever arrested, and she’s here supporting him.
Walker (smiling): Look who’s got a little Adriana in her. She went above and beyond to take care of someone – isn’t that the same thing you’re doing?
Bola Ogun makes Texas look extremely pretty with some gorgeous shots.
The theme of being like our parents even when we don’t want to, yet needing to be our own person too, runs throughout this episode, not just for Micki but for Trevor and Augie too.
Walker and Micki continue their investigation, going to talk with an officer who has made many phone calls to Adriana. Mike seems to know an awful lot about her and even about Micki (she wouldn’t eat hearts of palm as a child because she thought they were real hearts). Everyone is confused about Dr. Ramirez’ relationship with this guy until Adriana shows up… with an “I got the steaks….honey…”
Walker: I knew it! And I knew I liked you, Mike.
Adriana asks Micki again to let her put her mistake behind her, and Micki promises to leave the whole thing alone. Walker is interrupted by a call from Trey, and an ominous message.
Trey: I got an issue. All the kids are gone.
Well, that is definitely an issue. My nightmare from every time I chaperoned one of my kids’ field trips to the Renaissance Faire and somebody tried to run off to steal a giant turkey leg.
Micki: I’ll go with you, now I’ve got your six, partner.
The Kids Are All Right
That brings us to the last part of the episode, where the story lines intersect dramatically.
Earlier in the episode, the series’ adolescents take a bus trip to a soccer meet, with Trey and the head coach as chaperones (inexperienced chaperones, clearly). Conveniently, Augie comes along on the trip as a photographer, which means he gets to spend time with Ruby. Except Ruby is already taken, by some guy who we can tell within five seconds is going to be the requisite asshole of the episode. Augie’s hurt shows on his face, though he tries to cover it. Bel notices and distracts him, asking for help with her camera.
Bel: I thought it looked like you didn’t want to be there. Listen, I’ve been there. Sucks when someone gives you fireworks but you can’t give them back.
That’s a great line, and I love the character of Isabel. I’m glad we got to see more of her in this episode.
Also conveniently, Stella suggests that Trevor sign up as water boy to join the party (I’m not sure how old Trevor is supposed to be, but that seemed….weird. Do high school soccer teams even have “water boys” on their overnight trips?). She looks worried as she waits for him, but he shows up just in time. She senses that something’s wrong with him, though, asking if she should be worried.
He says of course not, but we see that he’s remembering what his dad said when he visited him in prison. He (Walker) is the reason your mom is dead.
They’re setting Trevor up for a real crisis of conscience, torn between his loyalty to his family and love for his dad and his growing feelings for Stella – and perhaps a grudging respect for Cordell too.
The scenes that follow the kids on the soccer trip were the weakest for me, but maybe I just always end up cringing a little when media tries to depict adolescents. There always seems to be an earnest attempt to “get it right” that sometimes makes me cringe. Augie bonds with Trevor.
Augie: So, you and my sister…
Trevor: Is it weird for you?
Augie: Nah. Not like I’m her dad.
Cheers for no parentification on this show at least!
Augie then asks Trevor how to get a girl to like him, which was one of those cringe moments for me, as was the obviously-an-asshole kid who’s dating Ruby offering that “I can teach you, little guy.” He proceeds to recommend and demonstrate how to wear sunglasses and walk slowly to catch the light at the right angle and…definitely cringe.
Everyone who watched “Supernatural”: Know who wears sunglasses inside? Douchebags.
Augie to Trevor, who’s doing an admirable eyeroll of his own: What’s the point of doing that if it’s not the real me?
On the nose there, writers who I’m generally enjoying.
Augie overhears Bel’s conversation on the phone with her parents (she’s surprised to know that he speaks Spanish). Her parents are in Mexico, since they would have been deported and didn’t want to drag their daughter into that. Augie is the first person she’s confided in, and he realizes she’s been going through something very difficult all alone. I also like that the show is going there, with a topic that could not be more relevant.
Trevor admits to Stella that he had a “weird talk with my dad and he got under my skin” after she notices he seems distracted.
Trevor: The only reason I came here is to be close to him, but sometimes I want to be as far away as I can.
Stella: It’s not our job to inherit our dad’s baggage.
Bel continues to be the most supportive friend ever, always noticing when Augie is pining over Ruby and trying to give them some time together. Nice to see that Augie didn’t buy into the “building a persona with sunglasses” thing and is just being himself, even if he is still pining.
Everything Hits The Fan
The kids sneak out to play some kind of traditional alcohol-infused scrimmage game on the beach, when suddenly a bunch of scary dudes show up in pickup trucks, circling them and threatening, saying it’s Northside National territory. This part didn’t entirely work for me – it seemed a bit over the top, the ‘bad guys’ almost caricatures, weirdly picking on a bunch of kids on a beach.
Trevor steps up and tries to get them to leave, and they insist that they need to collect a fee if they do.
Trevor: We’ve got nothing to pay with.
Creepy older dude, leering at Stella: You got plenty to pay with.
Trevor insults them anyway, and when they say they’ll leave if anyone can score with the soccer ball, Stella says she can.
Creepy older dude: Feisty, I like that.
She almost scores, except another creepy older dude pulls out a gun and shoots the ball. Trevor tackles him, gets beat up for his trouble, but does manage to grab the discarded gun.
Just then, Cordell and Micki and Trey show up. There’s a gunfight and most of the bad guys drive off, Walker holding down the one guy remaining. He looks over and Trevor is holding a gun on him – and people paying better attention than I was pointed out that Trevor actually yelled out “Duke!” Not sure if Walker noticed or not, but at any rate, there’s a moment when we don’t know if Trevor’s thinking about revenging his dad.
Then he hands the gun to Walker, just as Trey joins the fight and tackles a guy who was after Micki.
Back at the station, the creepy guy is still mouthing off to Walker, taunting him that as soon as he’s out, he’ll find Stella and give her “the kinda trouble she’s looking for, and I bet she’ll like it.”
It’s a pretty effective taunt, but Walker manages to keep his temper just barely, instead informing the guy that he’s just picked up another 12 months and quoting some statute before finishing with “get him outta my sight.” Shades of badass Sam Winchester announcing: “There will be no new King of Hell!”
Micki: Wow, de-escalating and not retaliating! You got the statute wrong though.
Walker thanks Trey for putting his ass on the line for his kids and the two grin at each other before Micki eyerolls and breaks up the bonding moment.
Cordell faces his kids, who are shaken up.
Walker: If I wasn’t so relieved, I would be cuffing you right now. What were you thinking?
It’s a good question. Augie jumps up and just hugs his dad, and Stella wryly notes “guess I finally figured out what gets you to my games.” The family all hug, probably overcome with relief, then Augie tells his dad there’s one small thing he’d like to do before they go back.
Back on the beach, Augie tells Bel that her parents are trying to reach her and she looks at her phone, where they tell her to look up.
Fireworks light up the sky, a display of love from her parents across the border. Augie hands her some fireworks to set off in response, and they all watch the beautiful show, Stella apologizing for not being there for her best friend. Walker and Micki share a look, watching too. It’s a nice call back to Isabel’s comment about someone not being able to give you fireworks.
Stella asks Trevor to go to the dance with her the next week, and he kisses her on the cheek.
Micki to Augie: Nice gesture for Bel. Where’d you get that humility, kid? Clearly not from your dad.
As Micki looks up at the lights, she suddenly remembers something from her past, sitting in the car and watching the trolley lights – there was another woman in the front seat with her mother. She realizes that woman is wearing the religious symbol bracelet, and an expression of shock and realization crosses her face.
Micki to Walker: I gotta go, I just remembered something.
She confronts her mother.
Micki: The trolley, you used to take me there to calm me down, but there was another woman with us. Who is she?
Adriana looks anguished, steels herself.
Adriana: She’s your mother.
Micki and all of us watching: GASP
Adriana: My sister. A drug addict. When you were born she tried to get her act together and left you with me. Two months turned into six months, a year… Then it was too late, you were mine. I raised you. I knew she wouldn’t stay clean and would drag you down into her mess. I told her she had to let you go and she said she would if I paid her.
Micki: (aghast) She sold me?
Adriana: I left town, I changed our names.
Micki: What… what’s my name?
Adriana (tearful): Micki Ramirez.
But Micki persists until Adriana admits her name was Nina Ruiz. Adriana’s sister tracked them down recently and begged to be able to see Micki, and when she drove away drunk that’s how the accident happened.
Adriana: I was guilty, I was responsible for years of her misery. I wanted to protect you… I’m your mother.
Micki: No. I always wondered why I couldn’t make my mom proud. You made me feel that way. You never had that right.
Lindsey Morgan and Alex Meneses absolutely killed this scene, and their anguish absolutely killed me. I had the chance to interview Alex a few weeks ago, and she spoke about her own journey to motherhood through adoption, and knowing that made the entire scene hit even harder. Or maybe as a mother myself, it tore me apart.
It still hasn’t made full sense to me. There are many feelings for Adriana, and I also feel for her sister. I don’t want to see the sister portrayed as some sort of stereotype of single mother drug addict, and I hope the show will be more nuanced in its exploration than that. So far, it hasn’t shied away from seeing the complexity in real life situations, and I hope that continues.
And I feel for Micki, her whole life exploded just like that. Her identity, who she thinks she is, who she thinks her mother is – her whole past suddenly being recoded and redefined, every memory viewed through a different lens. It’s tremendously painful; shattering. We see just how solid Micki and Walker’s friendship and partnership has become when she calls him after finding out such crushing news. He offers to drop everything and come.
Walker: You need me there? I’ll come to you right now.
Micki tells him he doesn’t need to, adding “please don’t tell anybody, I’m not ready for this to be real yet.”
She drives to Mercedes’ house, stares at the door. Then turns around.
Also realistic. And I like that the show isn’t trying to wrap up every conflict neatly by the end of the episode. This is way too big a thing to be resolved with anything like a quick fix.
It’s an understandable reaction, such a great loss and such a shock that Micki wants to retreat into denial for a while. It will probably blow up in her face, but I think it’s a realistic depiction of what might happen.
The next to last scene is at the soccer game, Trey the beaming new head coach. Bel thanks Augie for what he did, and asks if he’d like to go to the dance as friends. Walker is really getting the Dad thing down, at the game in the stands to watch his daughter play. Trevor is there too, and they have a conversation.
Walker: What you did for my kids, that was beyond decent. That took guts. Standing up to that man took bravery.
Trevor: It didn’t feel like it. I had a shot but I couldn’t take it.
Walker: That’s exactly the bravery I’m speaking of. Had you taken that shot, you have no idea how it would’ve changed your life. I don’t wish that on anyone, especially a man with his whole life ahead of him. I owe you a what are your intentions with my daughter…but remind me next time.
Meanwhile in Mexico
Liam and Captain James visit the art gallery, and James mock argues with the owner (Carlos’ niece) whether it’s a store or a gallery while Liam tries to stealthily take photos of their transaction records but for some reason does not silence the clicking mechanism of his phone when he does.
Captain James flirts awkwardly with the owner, who finally just takes his phone and puts her number in it. Unfortunately, she’s pretty good at pretending to be something she’s not too, immediately calling someone to let them know that the guy who put her uncle in prison was just there. Uh oh.
Liam and James figure out that Emily might have pissed off a crime syndicate, Northside Nation, and Liam feels even more guilty for not sharing his suspicions.
Liam: My brother was right to keep digging, and we should’ve let him. Cordell deserves to hear it, from us, in person, the second we get back.
And then they need drinks – which James goes back to after having taken a break. I know many fans had noticed that he only drinks water and were hoping for a serious and empathic exploration of addiction, but I guess that’s not going to happen, with this character at least. With less than a minute left in the episode, it’s a painful morning after for Liam and James who drank too much the night before. James clicks the door opener on his car as they prepare to leave.
And it blows up!
This show is great at making the last few minutes of an episode really count.
Another Hiatus On The Way
I loved the complex turn that Micki’s relationship with Adriana took in this episode, and hope that exploration continues in the aftermath of the big revelation. Also loved how the episode looked at the tension between loving and protecting – so many of the characters kept secrets in the service of protecting someone they loved, but the question is will those secrets eventually end up hurting instead of protecting? And finally, I liked the theme of individuation, finding yourself, discovering your identity – it’s normative for the teenagers and young adults, but there are also times when we as adults have our identities shaken and then we need to redefine ourselves, as Micki and Adriana are both about to find out.
I’m tempted to conjecture about the meaning of the title of this episode – a reference to the trolley tracks where Micki felt safest as a child? That her biological mother was “on the other side of the tracks”? That all our past experiences leave tracks as we move forward in life, and sometimes change the trajectory of where we’re going? I like the ambiguity.
Congrats to Bola Ogun for directing such a beautiful episode.
And now another short hiatus – “Walker” returns on April 8 with Fine is a Four Letter Word!