The CW’s “Walker” aired a dramatic new episode last week and ushered in some big changes that will continue to play out for the second part of the season. The episode is titled “Freedom” and in a sense, that’s what many of the characters got – sometimes in a way they absolutely did not want.
An Awkward Welcome Home
The episode begins with Hoyt’s welcome home party at the Side Step, Cordell and Augie getting the place ready while Micki and Trey keep watch in the parking lot so they can surprise him.
Augie is making welcome home videos for Hoyt, attempting to tape his father’s message while Cordell is busy trying to figure out what to text Geri. He keeps typing and then deleting, increasingly anxious. The other video messages to Hoyt are heartfelt, including a clearly joyous Abeline and Geri saying that Hoyt deserves good things, which just makes Cordell feel more guilty and conflicted. When he finally tries to record his message it’s incredibly awkward, starting out calling Hoyt “my best friend, a brother to me” and continuing to something about him sparking joy in Walker’s life. He gives up in exasperation.
Micki and Trey wait for Hoyt and Geri to get there, Trey putting on her hat and teasing about how good it looks on him (it does). Micki reassures him that his TBI struggles haven’t made him unreliable or changed how she feels about him, reminding him that he can rely on her for a change.
Micki: You are the most reliable person in my life
Trey (grinning): Relationship achievement unlocked!
I like that they’re continuing to follow Trey’s TBI (traumatic brain injury) story line instead of magically wrapping it up too quickly.
Geri and Hoyt pull up, him assuring her that he’s “going legit” because she deserves more, and her clearly avoiding him, putting on lipstick before she goes inside. He senses something is wrong.
Hoyt: You got someone you’re trying to impress here?
As they walk in, he asks her again, did he do something? (Other than being incarcerated?)
She says no and he believes it (because he clearly wants to, and that’s what we all do when we just desperately want to believe something is true).
Cordell sneaks up behind them and knocks Hoyt’s hat off, then tackles him to the ground, saying it’s payback. They laugh, because wrestling is clearly a thing for them ala the Winchesters, and then they hug.
Hoyt, grinning, hugs both Cordell and Geri, looking incredibly happy and saying they make quite a team.
Fandom responded with a mix of “threesome anyone?” quotes and “oh no poor Hoyt” because fandom is both empathic and … creative.
Cordell and Geri exchange an awkward look.
Meanwhile, Clint’s on a prison bus clearly planning an escape with a wordless communication with Jaxon, as a motorcycle gang pursues the bus, amping up the tension even as we’re supposedly at a fun party.
Micki congratulates Geri, saying she must be happy Hoyt is home – but also notices that a) Geri seems more conflicted than happy and b) she’s drinking, like a lot.
Micki: Things all right with you and Hoyt?
Geri sort of scoffs.
Geri: Oh, the occasional conjugal visit, never a dull moment, but not the stuff of fairy tales.
She has another drink as Micki takes that in.
Hoyt is still worried (as he should be), and asks Walker what’s up with Geri? Cordell is evasive, saying that she’s been through a lot finding Emily’s killer, and that it’s weighing on her that she took a life.
Hoyt: Glad you were there for her. Glad you finally got the closure you wanted. Rest easy, Em.
He pats Walker’s shoulder affectionately.
I’m not even necessarily a big Hoyt fan, but these scenes, when Hoyt doesn’t know about his girlfriend and his best friend, and he’s being so open and affectionate with both of them, were just heartbreaking. All the cast did a wonderful job, so it really pulled on my heartstrings.
Cordell: Okay, less tears, more beers!
Romeo and Juliet On The Run
Walker looks as not-joyous as Geri while the party goes on, texting Stella and telling her to come by Uncle Hoyt’s party. She texts back that she’s with Bel, lying to him. She feels bad about missing the soccer championship game and letting everyone down but tells Trevor she doesn’t want to turn back.
Trevor: Then turn off your phone so no one pings your location.
They really are on the lam now and need cash. Trevor says he knows a place where they can lay low, and Stella puts the Mustang in drive and spins it out, tires kicking up dust as they roar away in pursuit of that heady freedom referenced in the episode’s title.
Trevor takes Stella to a conveniently abandoned house, where he used to come as a kid and his mother taught him to swim in the lake.
He seems to have some good memories, but he also says he nearly drowned when his dad’s swimming lesson consisted of just throwing him in.
Stella: Your dad is messed up.
Trevor pulls a bag of cash and a gun out of the hiding spot his dad had in the chimney, which makes me think that this was a terrible place to come hide since his dad and presumably some other bad guys know that there’s cash there.
Stella realizes things are getting a little more serious than she was pretending they were, asking why would they need guns?
Stella: I thought we were just taking a break Trevor, I can’t leave my family forever. August is finally maybe okay. I can’t be the reason we fall apart again.
Trevor: The only way my life gets better is if I keep moving forward. I understand if you don’t want to come, but I’d really like you to.
Stella takes a nap, no doubt worn out by all the intrigue and fast driving and has a nightmare that she’s in an idyllic scene at the cabin, feet dangling in the lake, Trevor skipping stones – and it then dissolves into violence with Trevor firing a gun. She wakes up frightened and tells Trevor that it’s beautiful there, but it doesn’t feel safe.
(Me: Um, yes Stella, because it is NOT safe)
She wants to return to her family with him, saying he’ll be safe with them, but Trevor gets angry.
Trevor: If your dad didn’t go undercover, my mom might still be alive! That was their last job – we were going to be a family again. At least my dad knows who he is – your dad is still pretending!
There’s a lot of teenage angst, and Trevor goes off to clear his head, asking Stella to think about what she wants.
Stella: I want you. I love you.
Trevor: I love you too, Stel. That’s what makes this so hard.
The other theme of this episode is how much we can ignore when we want to believe something – Hoyt believing that Geri loves him like he loves her, and Trevor believing that his father was going to stop being a criminal and put their family back together. Both are heartbreaking.
Trevor walks away and it’s a dramatic moment but honestly, I can’t stop thinking that neither of them are quite worrying about the right things. Young love and all that, I guess. (Yes, I do say this every episode – I keep needing to remind myself just how irrational and serious young love can be!)
They eventually reconcile, sharing a hug and apologizing to each other. Trevor proves he’s taking her concerns seriously by tossing the bag of money back in the chimney and lighting it up. They hold hands and share smiles as the money and spare passports burn. The door to the bedroom closes as we see them about to share a kiss. And….scene.
Trevor and Stella’s relationship has been almost unbelievably innocent so far, which keeps straining believability, but it’s a family show and the closing door is a classic family show trope.
An Even More Awkward Proposal
At the party that Stella’s missing, Cordell and Geri dance awkwardly, Geri saying that they have to tell Hoyt the truth, both of them a little hurt that the other didn’t reach out more after. Walker deflects, saying he had a lot going on with his hearing coming up, and Geri says she did too.
Geri: I had a lot more to process than just a kiss – I’m still sorting out my feelings. But maybe you’ve sorted yours out.
She’s angry, thinking that he’s not as emotional about the kiss as she clearly has been; he’s thinking the same thing, since neither of them called the other. Geri impulsively lashes out, saying “let’s rip the band-aid off!”
At that moment, Hoyt (who’s been dancing with Abeline and dipping her), jumps on the bar, and oh no, we all know what’s coming. He tells Geri that she’s his rock and he can now die an honest man. He holds out a plastic ring like the ones he’s given her before.
Geri: An honest man has got more to give than trash jewelry. I’ll add it to my collection.
Ouch. Hoyt doesn’t get discouraged (yet) but that has to be because he just does not want to give up on Geri – because that is not the response of someone who is hoping for a more sincere proposal, just saying.
Micki gets a text just then that a prison bus has crashed, and they realize that Clint is on it. I have no idea why the Rodeo Kings gang ended up so close to where the Walkers live but so be it. Walker has a hunch that the escaped Rodeo Kings might go to a local bank where they had pawned a necklace in the past, so he and Micki head there, though she’s concerned about him.
Micki: Just don’t let me catch you slipping into full Duke again, okay?
Her concern seems well placed. There seems to be a part of Walker that is drawn to the simplicity of the time when he was Duke, when he didn’t have to deal with real life and the death of his wife and the growing pains of his kids – or having feelings for his best friend’s girlfriend.
Micki and Cordell think they’ve caught one of the Rodeo Kings when a motorcycle pulls up to the bank and the person doesn’t take off their helmet when they go into the bank. They take up positions inside, guns drawn, but it turns out it’s just some dude.
Micki: What now, Duke?
Cordell shows off his smarts by accessing a safe deposit box that he memorized the combination to.
Micki: You memorized it?
Walker: It’s a mnemonic device. It’s a…
Micki (interrupting the mansplaining): I know what it is!
I laughed out loud – Lindsey and Jared are so good at the quick subtle humor.
The bank employee comments that the owner came in earlier that day to gather his belongings and they just missed him, but he left a message “for a scavenger hunt” in the box.
Bank lady (who’s about five feet tall, looking up at 6’5” and pretty damn handsome Walker): I didn’t know a Ranger was gonna be playing!
Bank lady is very relatable.
Walker pulls out a bandana and a note: Keep the circles small and the lies honest, Duke.
They seem to be one step ahead of him, so Walker and Micki head to the prison to pay a visit to Duke’s ex, Twyla. She’s brought in wearing prison garb and is snarky with him, saying “don’t you clean up nice.”
Micki (ever perceptive): I think I’ll be more productive outside.
Twyla is angry at being deceived (and being in jail, I’m sure).
Twyla: You did a real number on me. Didn’t even know who the hell you were. We’re strangers. Was anything real?
It seems like the relationship that Duke and Twyla had was more complicated than just an undercover ruse – to both of them.
Cordell: I lost my wife, Emily, not long before I met you. For what it’s worth, you were the right person then.
Twyla: That’s like saying you’re beautiful – to me.
Cordell: I still think of you every time I hear our song.
Twyla is angry, saying that his undercover operation blew up her Rodeo Kings “family”. She points out that she didn’t kill anyone, but that when she gets out, that won’t make a lick of a difference. I’m not sure I feel bad for her, though. She may not have directly killed anyone, but she was selfish and greedy and doesn’t seem to have a lot of remorse for any of that at this point.
Abeline To The Rescue(s)
The day after the party, Liam talks with a reporter about his run for DA when Hoyt comes in with a “Liam, you dawg!” Liam is clearly concerned about making a good impression, while Hoyt is saying “Who cares about the guy trying to reintegrate into society?”
Liam: He’s trying to embarrass me.
Abeline pulls Hoyt into the kitchen to make sandwiches, where he confides in her his doubts about Geri, saying that she deserves more than he can give.
She reminds him of how far he’s come, that when they first met him he didn’t trust anyone, but eventually saw that they weren’t going to leave him high and dry.
Abeline: Honey, you are worthy of love. It’s never too late to get on the straight and narrow. Show Geri that you’re putting down roots.
She helps him out by pulling out a diamond engagement ring and hands him the ring and the box.
Hoyt: (wide eyed) I can’t take this.
Abeline says it’s not Bonham’s ring, that she was wearing it when they met and she broke off the engagement with the other guy the next day, and that Hoyt would be doing her and Bonham a favor by taking it.
Liam reads the article that was published the next day, that includes some negative things about his family, and ends with “despite his commitment, it begs the question of how Liam will wield his power as a DA.”
Maybe maybe not.
Abeline refuses to get rattled, pretty social media savvy herself apparently.
Abeline: You want control of your story? You tell it yourself. Every choice you made in the past year, you put your family first. We can own our own mistakes.
Liam decides to post answers to satisfy any doubts, adding “Mama, you’re a genius.”
Abeline: Finally, someone notices…
I laughed out loud again. It’s no secret I adore Abeline, and Molly Hagan can nail the humor with the best of them.
Putting the Pieces Together
Walker points out to Twyla that Clint and Jaxon didn’t have any qualms about leaving her behind.
Twyla: Yeah well, it’s the only family I’ve got. They didn’t have a use for me this time. Men only need me when they need something.
It could apply to Cordell too, obviously, and he knows it. He promises to come check on her from time to time, and as she’s leaving she reminds him that Crystal mentioned that they used to take their kid to the cabin, and he thanks her. Micki comes in and provides the last piece of the puzzle, telling Walker who’s been visiting Clint.
Walker: Trevor is Clint West’s son??!
Me: He didn’t know this? I guess he didn’t hear when Trevor called him “Duke” a few episodes back, did he?
Walker is now both scared and guilty. He calls Augie and says to let him know if he hears from Trevor. He now realizes that Stella lied to him about being with Bel, and now she’s not returning her texts.
Walker: First time she’s MIA, with a boy whose father I put away. If he’s anything like Clint, he could flip without warning…
He starts freaking out a little, realizing that Stella is in danger, Micki supporting him to help him pull it together so they can go after Stella and Trevor.
Back at the cabin, the place is filling with smoke and Trevor and Stella realize that Clint is there. Trevor breaks a window and Stella jumps out first, Trevor yelling “Run Stella, run!” as she does. He stays behind — and get caught.
There’s a tense scene with Stella being pursued through the woods by Jaxon with a gun, hiding behind a tree and clutching the pistol that Trevor gave her (which we know she knows how to use).
Cordell and Micki arrive, Cordell calling for Stella and using the scarf from the safe deposit box to cover his face as they search the smoke-filled house. He finds Stella’s bag and realizes to his shock that she was running away with him.
Stella hears someone approaching in the woods and pulls her gun and fires – and shoots her dad.
Stella: Oh my god dad, are you okay?
Cordell: You shot me!
Jaxon tackles him then and a fight ensues, Jaxon saying “I’ve waited a long time for this, Duke” as they brawl and Stella screaming “somebody please help us!”
That somebody is Micki, who joins the brawl but can’t get a clear shot. She jumps on Jaxon’s back instead and chokes him, but he backs up and slams her against a tree. She prevails though, kicking him to the ground and holding a gun on him.
As Walker (in his tee shirt, to fans’ delight) is treated by an ambulance that has arrived, Stella demands to know if Clint is going to hurt Trevor. Jaxon says Clint loves Trevor and warns her to never underestimate the love between a father and his child.
That goes for Walker and his kids too, as he confronts his daughter, angry and hurt about her deception.
Walker: I thought we finally understood each other. If only you’d told me…
Stella: So only you can keep secrets?
It’s a low blow and not really parallel, since he was undercover for his job, but it’s also relevant to what he’s hiding about Geri, and so the guilt hits him. He says he couldn’t live with himself if she left and Stella explains she wasn’t trying to leave for good, that she just wanted to stop all of this, because…
She trails off, but her father understands what she means. They get in the car and head home.
Cordell: Stella, I do understand why you did it. You loved him…or you love him. First love is hard to forget, it digs into you deeper than you thought you could feel. Your heart can make you do things your brain didn’t agree to.
He’s talking about himself as well as his daughter.
Stella asks if he wants to go somewhere this summer – that her mom had said before her senior year they would take a road trip.
Cordell points out that was supposed to be a girls’ trip, asking ‘you don’t mind if it’s me?’
Stella shakes her head, smiling, and her father smiles too.
It was a sweet moment, but I was left scratching my head wondering how we got to such a quick resolution and now everyone is happy. If this was a more cynical show, I’d think that Stella was deflecting to get out of being in trouble and losing her Mustang privileges once again – but this show is not that cynical, I don’t think. Still, there have got to be consequences for lying and taking off with a guy you knew was a criminal’s son and didn’t tell anyone about, right?
Micki returns to find Trey in bed, shirtless. She lets her hair down and climbs in beside him, kissing him on the cheek and snuggling up to him. He says he was feeling a little dizzy as he was about to drive home, so August and Bel drove him home. Then belatedly adds, oh and we won States!
Micki and Trey are pretty adorable.
Not So Happily Ever After
Things do not end as happily for Hoyt and Geri. He painstakingly constructs a heart on the floor of all the plastic rings he’s given her over the years (which omg is really an unbelievable amount to make that big a heart!) He gets down on one knee in the middle of it with the diamond ring in a box and my heart really broke for him at that moment. He looks so earnest and so hopeful and so joyful, wanting to believe that now that he has a real ring, their problems are over.
Hoyt: One thing I’m sure of is that with you by my side, I’ve got a reason to live. Marry me?
That is not the expression of a woman who’s about to say yes.
She says she can’t marry him and confesses that she kissed Cordi.
Hoyt: Just one kiss? That doesn’t have to change anything, we can move past it…
That might have been the most heartbreaking moment of all. Hoyt wants this so bad, that he’s willing to ignore a kiss between her and his best friend, wants to just sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen, as though that’s ever a good idea. She says it should matter more to him, that HE should matter more.
Geri: I know you’re looking to change, but I am too. I don’t know if that’s something we can do right together.
Once the truth sinks in, Hoyt is angry, especially when he finds out that the kiss happened a month ago and they both said nothing.
Hoyt leaves to “go have a chat with my best friend.”
Hoyt: I meant it every damn time I asked. Maybe I should’ve looked closer at the fact you never took me seriously.
That was a great line – and so true.
Hoyt comes over to the Walker house, where Liam is on his phone. He tells Abeline he read the comments.
Abeline: Never read the comments.
She’s so wise. She also knows something’s wrong as soon as she sees Hoyt, asking him if he’s okay.
Hoyt: Been better, Abby Bear. Cordell here?
She gives him a hug as Cordell and Stella pull up outside, clueless as to what has happened.
The episode ends with Clint driving off in a truck – we don’t know to where, but my assumption is that Trevor is with his dad.
So, ‘freedom.’ Clint is free, but a fugitive. Hoyt has his freedom from prison, but also a freedom he didn’t want – to find a new relationship. Geri is free to pursue a relationship with Cordell if she wants to, and he’ll soon find out that maybe he is too – but he may have lost a friendship in the process. Liam is discovering the freedom that comes from deciding to be yourself and not be stifled with fear about what will come out about your private life or your past. Abeline gave away the ring that in some way tethered her to someone else, looking for freedom from other relationships past and present so she can make her marriage work.
And Stella and Trevor, who went on the run to escape from their family being on different sides and the freedom to love each other, are now separated. Freedom can be compelling but elusive – and complicated. I guess that’s the moral of this particular part of the story.
I hope next week begins with the Hoyt and Walker confrontation that we all know is coming, because it’s sure to be fireworks.
A new “Walker” episode airs this Thursday on the CW with Tale of Two Families 12.