Last week’s episode of “Walker” once again opens with bacon, which is always a good thing. And right away it’s a bit of a metaphor for the real subject of this episode – relationships. Their ups and downs, their challenges and triumphs, the way they bring joy and pain. Abby and Bonham’s kids and grandkids show their love by knowing how to cook the bacon just like they like it – and planning a big 40th-anniversary bash.
The kids and grandkids are determined to make Bonham and Mawline’s anniversary special, right down to trespassing on the Davidson’s ranch to pick her favorite flowers and herbs, finding the perfect bottle of champagne, and cooking the bacon just right. It’s also complicated from the start, though, with Bonham asking Cordell to try to convince Geri to come to the party and give Abeline another chance, while Twyla Jean keeps texting him asking for help.
Talk about stuck in the middle! He kinda wants to please everyone, and that is never easy, often putting a strain on all those relationships you’re trying to salvage.
Geri comes back from her girl’s weekend and tells Gale that in spite of how complicated that particular relationship is, she’s glad they’re trying.
Gale: Me too.
Apparently, Denise is struggling also, an only child for her entire life who now has a grown-up sister who wasn’t her favorite person before she found out they were related. Nobody is ever entirely immune from sibling rivalry either, so having to watch how obviously thrilled Gale is about having her other daughter back must be a bit painful for Denise.
Geri holds out her arms for a hug, and Gale looks overjoyed to give her one, and I know most people are not a fan of any of this, but I feel for both of these women right now.
Gale says that they haven’t really had any one-on-one mother-daughter time, and you can see how much just that term means to Geri – mother-daughter time is something she thought she would never ever have, and now it’s being offered. It must be incredibly powerful and also incredibly confusing. Being taken into confidence for the old family recipes – a family she never knew was hers – would be a big deal, I imagine. Family traditions, being part of mothers handing down recipes to their daughters – it’s hard to see things like this all around you and not have them.
The episode revolves around all the Walkers trying to pull together the big bash, while nothing goes entirely smoothly. Cassie goes with Liam to get the rare champagne that’s special to Abeline and Bonham. I like Cassie, so I’m not gonna complain, but if my new work partner wanted to be part of literally every family event ever, I would probably be a bit alarmed. I guess she’s new in town and doesn’t know many people other than Cordell though – and we soon find out that Geri isn’t the only one craving family acceptance.
I love that Cassie is a bit of a fangirl, waxing poetic about wine by quoting a movie and then appalled that the clerk doesn’t recognize it. It’s such a fandom thing to know all the dialogue. Not that I can quote entire scenes of Supernatural or anything. Ahem.
Meanwhile, Liam gets flirty with the other wine store guy, who flirts right back. I was rooting for Liam and Bret to get back together, but I have to admit that Liam and Ben (Matt Pascua) have more chemistry – sparks flew from just about the first minute of their conversation. Maybe because we didn’t get to see Liam and Bret at the start of their relationship and they seemed settled into an almost friendship by the time we met them – for whatever reason, LiamBJamin (as I saw the ship called in a few tweets) kicked up sparks.
Different kinds of emotions fly when Cassie sees him because it turns out Ben is her estranged brother. Talk about a small world – but this is a family drama, so soap rules sometimes apply. Of course, your estranged brother is working at a wine shop in the same city you’ve ended up in!
Liam: Oh, you two know each other!
A few exchanges later…
Liam: Oh. You two know each other in a not great way…
Keegan Allen’s acting in this whole episode is awesome, but he delivered that line so flawlessly that it made me laugh out loud. Ben, who Cassie laments is “everyone’s favorite Perez”, takes an early lunch break, and damn, all that flirting may have been for nothing!
Augie and Stella have some quality time that genuinely felt like sibling moments, which was nice to see. “Supernatural” was so good at portraying siblings, and I love when “Walker” succeeds with that too – that unique mix of I’ve got your back support and busting each other. (Augie laments that Stella’s love triangle might lose him all his guy friends – which seemed like a very adolescent guy perspective indeed – then says ‘not to make it all about me…’).
Stella recognizes that she’s at a real fork in the road as she considers college and interprets their grandparents’ serendipitous meeting as being ‘fate’ deciding what she’d do. Stella says she’s going to wait for a sign to guide her too.
Augie makes a face.
Augie: Oh nothing, I was gonna burp, but it felt like you were gonna say something important, so I refrained.
Siblings for sure.
Cassie and Liam return empty-handed and she explains that they had a little run-in with her big brother. Liam and Cordi have an entire conversation without saying a word, also a thing siblings can do. Liam pulls him aside and advises Cordell to be a little more gentle after seeing what happened with Cassie and Ben, which was mystifying because he wasn’t being overbearing at all. Sometimes people really are hard on poor Cordell, who always seems to be trying his best.
Cordell: That sounds like a jab.
Me: Yep, it was definitely a jab.
Liam: It’s not a jab.
Me: Mmmm, pretty sure it was…
Cordell says he invited Geri, and Liam offers to hold down the (very decorated) fort so he can follow up with her.
Cordell: Don’t touch the banner!
Cassie admires an old photo of Bonham and makes me laugh out loud again.
Cassie: He should really bring the porn stache back. Rawr.
I would like to have drinks with Cassie, just saying. I bet she was a “Supernatural” fan.
Liam and Cassie have a chat about brothers.
Liam: I don’t know what happened, but I do know about brothers and trauma.
Cassie says she and Ben were always close. Like matching sweaters at Christmas by choice close. And then…things happened…
I hate when shows are super vague for the sake of spinning out drama, and that was one of those times. Liam shares how scared he was to lose Cordell when he was undercover, afraid he would never come home. Cassie listens.
Walker and Geri meet up at their old high school football field for some reason, I guess because Cordell wants to remind her of their longstanding friendship.
Geri: So are we ditchin’ homeroom?
Cordi: No, I just wanted to copy you and Em’s homework under the bleachers before biology.
He apologizes for what happened at the Kansas concert, saying he didn’t mean to come between her and Gale. Meanwhile, his phone keeps ringing and he ignores it. Cordell is so sincere here, saying he needs to own up to his messing up even as she’s trying to say it’s okay, and promising to show her that he’s committed to their friendship. He reiterates that they’re not “together,” but it seems pretty clear that he wants to be. He invites her to the big 40th-anniversary party, saying he hates putting her in that position, but that there will be a dark cloud over Abeline all night if she’s not there, and saying he wants to make things right.
But Geri says it’s not that simple – and that really is an understatement if you’re talking about her situation. (It’s a little simpler if you’re just talking about their relationship, but still…)
Geri: Can you square the fact that the father I loved killed the man who brought me into this world and then threw me out like trash? Or go back in time so that your mom didn’t sit on that secret?
She says she understands, but she can’t undo how it makes her feel, and he assures her that he gets it. Cordell really does try so hard, and I love how sensitive and empathic he can be. Geri reaches out for him, and they share a hug and both close their eyes briefly before Geri leaves and Cordell finally answers his phone.
It’s Twyla, and he says he’s on his way. Walker runs down the field in one direction while Geri walks off in another. I like when the show uses those kinds of symbolic shots, even when they’re not subtle.
Twyla is being accused of skimming money on her first day on a new job. It turns out the boss man is jumping to conclusions assuming that if there’s money missing, the ex-con must have done it. I will grant you that’s a weird coincidence that it happened on her first day, but the show is trying to make a point that there’s no way to get back on your feet if no one will give you a chance to get back on your feet and leave that stigma behind for a fresh start.
Liam texts an SOS in the middle of all this and poor Cordell has to excuse himself from one emergency to deal with another – except that’s mostly Liam tasting too much of the blackberry bourbon cocktail that he’s making and not knowing how to fix a clog. Liam warns Cordell that being with Twyla is not a good way to make peace with Geri. Cordell protests that he and Geri “aren’t even” but Liam says that though he knows that Twyla had nothing to do with Hoyt’s death, Geri might not see it that way. This episode really could have been called “Cordi In The Middle” honestly.
Gale and Geri make a brisket in what used to be the Walker kitchen, which is awkwardly obvious when Geri goes to get the spices where they used to be. Gale, to her credit, senses that Geri is thrown by that and asks if she’s okay, and seems to have empathy for how hard it is that everything is different. Geri tells her that she’s invited to the anniversary party and Gale responds in a way that probably nobody was expecting her to, including Geri. She says she understands that Geri has a history with Abby and Bonham.
Gale: And after all the losses they’ve been through, I expect they need you there tonight. You should go, you’ve got my blessing, not that you need it of course.
She says that Marv saddled Abeline with an impossible choice way back then.
Gale: Don’t let him do the same thing to you.
It’s hard to trust Gale to give some good advice (or to be genuinely empathic) given what we’ve seen of her so far, but in this case, she does seem to be. She seems to want what’s best for Geri, at least for now, and to even be empathizing with Abeline’s losses, having experienced big ones of her own – we’ll see what happens in the future, of course.
Walker and the Rangers track down the missing $800 as a clerical error, and the boss man protests that nobody can blame him for suspecting Twyla with her record.
Walker: Oh I can, and I am. Your oversight could have upended her life. Twyla trusted the wrong guy and it backfired, but she’s paid for it already. She doesn’t need to pay for the rest of her life.
Well said, Cordell. And not lost on Twyla.
Cassie goes back to visit Ben after her chat with Liam. She says she’s sorry for not being there for Ben when his boyfriend Lucas died, but Ben is still angry and hurt. Lucas had Huntington’s Disease and Ben says that he asked for her near the end, and luckily was too far gone to know the truth – that she’d abandoned them. Cassie is devastated by that information, fleeing and sitting in her truck and trying to hold back sobs.
All the kudos to Ashley Reyes for this scene – I imagine it’s not easy to make breaking down look so real as an actor, but it felt achingly real here, as did her frustration with herself as she tries to pull herself together, banging on the steering wheel. It makes sense that despair and anger are all tangled up for Cassie, including at herself.
Abby and Bonham get ready for the party, and I love that the show gives us these kinds of shots of Abeline, not just of the younger women in the show. Molly Hagan is gorgeous, and these shots are equally gorgeous.
Bonham reassures Abby that everything will be all right in time, and they’re flirty and romantic and damn but Abeline is beautiful, Bonham is right. Augie and Stella drive their grandparents, trying to pull off the ruse of oh no it’s not a party. Abby and Bonham totally know they’re being taken to a surprise party, but they let Stella and Augie keep covering again and again, giggling knowingly in the backseat and it’s totally adorable.
They feign shock anyway as everyone yells out ‘Surprise!’
Big family hug!
Ben shows up with the rare champagne and he and Liam resume their flirting. Liam asks him to taste the cocktail he created.
Ben: This is a revelation! This bourbon blackberry cocktail changed my life.
Liam: I can’t tell if you’re messing with me…
Oh Liam, you’re so cute.
Cordi makes a beautiful toast to his parents, saying with all the losses and uprooting, he wanted to do something special.
Abeline: Uprooting? Our family, our marriage, it’s not a ranch, son.
She gives a toast of her own.
Abby: Marriage is something we grow, through the dark and murky and through the daybreak. It’s us. It’s always us. And it’s all of us. It was fate we met, but we choose each other every day.
Abby sees Geri there, saying their promise grew with everyone they welcomed into their family and loved along the way.
Abby: When I look around, I do not see a family uprooted, I see a family thriving.
Stella realizes that it’s not just fate – that the universe gave her options, but she has to choose. Todd or Colton, school here or across the country. That she just hopes one day to have what their grandparents have.
Augie: I think you will.
Stella: I think you will too.
Ben leaves the party when Cassie gets there and she almost lets him go, but once again, Liam encourages her to talk to him. She does, going after him and this time explaining – and apologizing.
Cassie: I screwed up, I couldn’t reach out. Something stopped me – pride, guilt….
She says she wasn’t expecting Huntington’s, or hospice, that she wasn’t prepared. That she loved him too and she couldn’t accept it, and then Miles disappeared and she lost herself in it, because it felt like something maybe she could fix since she couldn’t fix Lucas.
Cassie: I told myself I was helping by giving you space, but I was really avoiding his Huntington’s. Lucas died. I thought if I could find Miles, I could protect myself from more loss. It’s ridiculous, I know. And he’s gone too and I hurt you, and I am so sorry, Benny.
Ben pulls her into a hug and they cling to each other, Cassie sobbing.
I wonder if she’s the only one who calls him that.
Back inside, Liam pulls out the very special champagne from their wedding, cutting the cork off with aplomb with a big knife and proposing a toast.
Bonham interrupts, saying there’s a little something he wants to do and then grabbing a guitar and singing ‘The Cowboy In Me.’ Fandom all knew we’d be getting Mitch Pileggi singing in this episode, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it was really lovely. Who knew way back in “X-Files” days that Mitch would play a cowboy so believably – or could sing?
Geri says ‘you show up for the people who mean something to you’ when Cordell expresses surprise at seeing her there. She says she’s been so worried about what being a Davidson means, but she wants ‘all you crazy Walkers’ in her life too.
Cordi: Well, you can have that. And I’m all in, I promise.
Geri: I like that. A new chapter.
Abby has teared up a little, and Bonham sweeps her into a passionate kiss and I’m grateful once again that this show breaks so many unwritten rules by letting the grandparents have the same rich and real romance that the younger generations get to have.
Abeline then finds Geri in the crowd, and the two women reconcile.
Geri: I may be a Davidson now, but I am still a Walker through and through.
Abby and Geri hug, and it feels like healing.
The guests send Bonham and Abby off with sparklers in a car with Stella driving. Ben and Liam and Cassie go back to Ben’s, and Cas thanks Liam for helping her reconnect with her brother. Liam asks her permission to ask her brother out and she smiles.
We get a TX Whiskey product placement, and then Liam does manage to ask Ben out, saying he had a good man with him for a while, but didn’t know what he wanted…
Liam: And I’m done waiting…. Are you okay, this is a lot, I can be a lot sometimes…
Ben: I’m here for it.
The last scene is more ominous than all the feel-good scenes that came before it.
Twyla finds Cordi at the Side Step later that night, thanking him and saying that even when he was undercover as Duke, he really was getting to know her. She puts one of ‘their’ songs on the jukebox and wants to dance, the lyrics “you were never mine, only in secret” seeming pretty relevant.
Cordell: This song has too many memories for me.
He’s game for sharing some beers if not a dance, and Twyla joins him at the bar. He shares that it was a good day, and she calls him the bright spot in her crappy day.
And then Geri walks in with churros to share, sees Twyla put an affectionate hand on Cordell’s shoulder.
Distressed, she walks out.
Back in the middle again, Cordi!
I’m in the odd position of liking both Geri and Twyla, and not really shipping any of them, but I’m gonna feel bad for any of them who end up hurt, that’s for sure.
Walker takes a few weeks of hiatus now, but Jared Padalecki and the Walker family have a lot of celebrating to do in the meantime – the prequel “Walker: Independence” was picked up to go to series yesterday by The CW. It looks like it’s going to be excellent, and I’m excited that Walker alum Matt Barr will be returning to the franchise.
“Walker: Independence” is set in the late 1800s. It follows Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara), an affluent Bostonian whose husband is murdered before her eyes while on their journey out West. On her quest for revenge, Abby crosses paths with Hoyt Rawlins (Matt Barr), a lovable rogue in search of purpose. Abby and Hoyt’s journey takes them to Independence, Texas, where they encounter diverse, eclectic residents running from their own troubled pasts and chasing their dreams.
Congrats Jared and Walker family!