Last week’s episode of “Walker” was unusual in some ways, taking us into new territory and exploring all sorts of ‘boundaries’. The episode opens on the morning after, Cordell and Geri waking up together and awkwardly trying to figure out what the boundaries are on their new physical and romantic relationship. There’s a deliberate shot of Cordell’s wedding ring on the bedside table, reminding us that he’s still got some ambivalence about moving on from Emily – perhaps especially with her best friend.
Odette Annable and Jared Padalecki were both believable in the characters’ clear affection but also the anxiety of not knowing exactly where you stand in a new relationship, especially one that’s long-standing but as friends, not lovers. Especially when the shift happened as abruptly as it did, after a season and a half of slowest burn ever. There’s a reason the ‘friends to lovers’ trope is so popular because it’s all kinds of adorable to watch these two negotiate where they go from here, even coming up with a safe word to let each other know if one goes too far too fast. It’s ‘Dolly,’ not as in Parton but as in that cloned sheep – something that was happening in the news when Geri came to town and reminds them both of their shared past. Geri and Cordi bonded over mutual geeking out, and who doesn’t love that?
It also seemed to be a deliberate reminder that Geri did indeed “come to town” at one point – which everyone is guessing might mean that Geri is the long-lost presumed dead Davidson baby who we find out about at the end. Now, won’t that be awkward!
I love that Walker a) knows its audience and b) goes out of its way to be respectful of all its women characters, because Padalecki is the one who’s not dressed while Geri is in a tee shirt.
The fandom was mostly happy about that, and Geri’s reluctance to make anything ‘official’ after getting carried away with passion the night before made sense to me. She’s a little hesitant, feeling vulnerable, and needing to cover up both physically and emotionally. Cordell was much less ambivalent, but isn’t that often the way it goes? A mismatch (even temporarily) is painful but common.
Both Geri and Cordi struggle a bit throughout the episode with figuring out where their boundaries should be, especially when it comes to their friends and Cordell’s kids knowing about their new relationship status. Cordell very awkwardly comes back home in the morning, his dad and brother immediately teasing him for his ‘walk of shame’ and Stella just glaring.
Liam brings up the equally awkward subject of the property lines not matching up and the possibility that the Walkers are living on the Davidsons’ land. Abeline is all for fixing it, recalling her conversation with Gale of last episode – in which Gale tearfully told Abby that after she and Marv lost a baby, they were never the same and he pulled away from her. Ah, the lost baby again….yep, definitely winding up for a reveal on that one. Abeline is empathic but insists that those are not her secrets to tell; Gale is less than grateful for that.
It turns out that Bonham does not actually have a legal deed to the land that precedes the maps’ discrepancies. He’s less than happy that Liam has brought all this up, Cordell stuck in the middle. We get a flashback of a younger Bonham in 1995 meeting with Marv, who knew that the Walkers were living on borrowed land since 1873. The two men eventually agreed to a horse race to decide who gets to keep living on the land. Apparently, Marv was needing money at the time, but he doesn’t let on to Bonham exactly why.
Cordell and Cassie have some bonding time climbing and spotting each other on a rock wall, where she demonstrates that she trusts her instincts (and can do a mean rock wall climb). They also discuss ‘tasergate’ a bit, working through their unconventional meeting. Cordell insists that she can trust Denise as DA. Cassie also correctly picks up that Geri and Cordi have made some progress since he’s got a ‘spring in his step’. Awww.
Stella runs into Colton out jogging and is absolutely clueless about how he feels about her, managing to hurt his feelings even further. He asks why she doesn’t just talk to Todd instead, and also lets Stella know that August also thinks her feelings for Todd are a fling. Stella’s mad; Colton is possibly even madder now.
Meanwhile, things go even more south with Denise and Dan, and she ends up kicking him out after again watching the footage of Abeline comforting Cordell when he felt guilty about the barn fire. Gale just fans the flames. Denise isn’t dumb, she’s suspicious of Dan and why he shot that guy dead – was it to keep him from talking?
Colton overhears the part about Cordell leaving a lantern in the barn, which just fans the flames for him too. Colton tells Gale that Augie has the lantern from the barn, which… uh oh.
Gale: Good to know you’re on my side.
Like I said, Uh oh. Also? Pretty horse just hanging out.
Cordi and Geri have another adorable awkward interaction in the truck, him wanting to tell the family about “us” and her reluctance to make it so serious. In fact, in keeping with the episode theme, she ‘safe words’ him with a “Dolly.” Trey walks by and sees them about to kiss and Geri pulls away, even though Trey seems like the biggest Cordri shipper ever. (And yes, he gets the ship name correct because this show is very fandom savvy).
Denise confronts Dan with what she knows, he insists he was trying to protect her career with the surveillance and that it hurt him to see her practically “sitting in his lap” about Cordell. She retorts that he needs this family. She tells him to get out and he reluctantly goes, which is going to hurt Colton even more btw.
Bonham finds the lantern in Augie’s room and confronts him about it. (Not gonna lie, as I said before, I’m still mystified at how that lantern was just sitting around in the burnt down barn for all this time, never found in any investigation, apparently). Anyway, Stella tells their granddad exactly how and where August found it to get back at him for what he said about Todd. Bonham is pissed that Cordell knew and says he should’ve dealt with that a long time ago, and also says they need to hide this from the Davidsons. Too late, Bonham!
The siblings argue it out as their dad comes home, Augie blaming Stella for him losing friends, Stella angry that her brother butted in about her relationship with Todd. They’re a pretty realistic sibling pair, and they do manage to work it out, but it’s a tough one. Cordell talks to Stella, who is mature enough to say that even though his walk of shame was awkward for her, it’s good he’s getting back out there. She’s struggling too with knowing when she should open up again, and her dad admits he’s still trying to figure it all out himself, glancing at the framed family photo with the kids and Emily.
Geri comes for dinner, and they are undeniably cute in their continuing awkwardness, even for fans like me who didn’t even ship them.
Meanwhile, Cassie discreetly brings a drunk and passed out on his pickup truck Dan back home, Ashley’s gift for comedy once again on point and Dan Annable showing off his gift for physical comedy too. Those two are priceless together, right down to Dan trying to climb in the window of her SUV and Cassie’s frustrated head shake. Denise asks Cassie for discretion and pledges her support for Cassie’s search for Miles in return, as Cassie stays determined to be “Switzerland” in all this family feud business.
Geri finally agrees to get over her fear and make an announcement to the family, but instead, the Walker family dissolves into an argument about the deed and the land boundaries, Cordell once again trying to play peacemaker.
Poor Liam, his dad is really coming down hard on him for just trying to figure out the right thing to do, inadvertently uncovering all kinds of family secrets and eventually making things worse.
The Davidsons call in the middle of it and request a meeting on neutral ground so things go from bad to worse. The meeting at the Side Step goes about as well as we all expected – as in it’s not the peace summit that Cordell was hoping for.
Denise found out that Liam was looking into the land boundaries, and while Cordell keeps insisting they can talk it through, Denise insists that squatter’s rights should have been in writing if the Walkers wanted to claim the land. The old agreement was for ‘give and take’, since disputes used to be settled with horseracing.
Cordell: Progressive, great…
Bonham produces a contract between him and Marv that Abeline didn’t know about, that they actually did agree to settle it with a horse race.
Liam: A horse race, are you joking?
If the Davidsons win, the land reverts back to them. Marv died in the fire before they were able to race, and Bonham told no one. Gale and Bonham throw down, and Gale proposes that they have the race after all, for all the land in perpetuity. Cordell and Liam think it’s crazy, but Denise goes along and then suddenly Bonham announces, “challenge accepted” and shakes on it with Gale.
Liam agrees to type up the agreement, shakes on it with Denise – but the two are far from on good terms. She tells him they’re also re-opening her father’s wrongful death investigation. He reminds her she should recuse herself, but she insists it’s all about exposing the truth.
Have I said uh oh enough?
Gale has all the Davidsons on her side now – and she knows it.
Bonham and Abeline have a heart to heart about the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other. She understands why he’d keep a secret like that to himself, and admits she’s kept a secret too – that Marv came to her a few days before the fire and told her that the baby he and Gale had, that everyone thought had died, had survived. The baby had a medical condition Marv was afraid he couldn’t afford financially or emotionally after Denise’s heart problems, so he gave the baby away and did not manage to let Gale know before he died. Abeline said she wanted to tell Gale, that she’d want to know if it was her child (like OBVIOUSLY) – and that she’s telling Bonham now because she got tired of carrying it alone. She invites him to yell at her, but he doesn’t, wondering if that’s why Marv suddenly needed money and honestly now it all seems even more tragic than it did before.
Bonham: Oh Abby, I wish you would have told me.
Seems like a hell of a secret to keep and I have absolutely no clue how Marv could have pulled that off without Gale knowing her baby survived. Wouldn’t she have had to sign off on adoption papers? How could Marv have thought that believing her baby died would have been LESS emotionally taxing on Gale? A mystery.
The ending starts with Geri and Cordi, like we began. Stargazing at the night sky and trying to process the surprising events of the day. She reminds him of all the years they’ve had together – as friends – and that she’s always in his corner.
Stella and Augie clear the air too, and she tells him that she and Todd might be getting pretty serious too (which is weird for us as viewers because we’ve barely seen them together other than one kiss and I, for one, was more invested in Colton and Stella than Todd and Stella but oh well).
Geri runs into Bonham in the dark barn after Cordell goes out to practice riding, and he says he’s sorry they spent the time digging up the past instead of celebrating the future. Geri reiterates the ‘family first’ that Bonham goes by, that reminds her of her dad – but that whole ‘anything to protect the family’ mantra can be toxic too.
As she walks away, Geri turns around to see Bonham leaving the barn, silhouetted in the dark, dragging a shovel and carrying the infamous lantern.
What a powerful last shot, as Bonham goes out to try to bury a past that it’s obviously too late to cover up.
That was a great ending, and left us all going into a three-week mini hiatus with a lot of questions about where we go from here. Some of the dizzying reveals in this episode came about so abruptly they were hard to believe – everyone is willing to settle all this on a horse race?? Marv gave a baby away secretly somehow?? Colton is not 100% on Gale’s side because he feels jilted by Stella when she didn’t even know he was carrying a torch for her? I guess we’ll see. One place we’re all looking forward to going is Jared Padalecki in a horse race, that’s for sure!
“Walker” returns on March 31 with 2.12 Common Ground.