I was at a “Supernatural” convention when last week’s episode of “Walker” aired, enjoying the opportunity of telling Jared Padalecki in person how much I’m enjoying his new show, so I didn’t get to watch live. When I returned, I watched on the CW app and decided to just enjoy the ride instead of taking notes for this review – and I was so glad I did!
The second episode of Season 2, The One That Got Away, was full of excitement and fight scenes and close calls, but it was also a poignant episode with an amazing performance by Lindsey Morgan. I’m not always a fan of episodes that switch back and forth among multiple storylines either, which “Walker” sometimes does thanks to its large ensemble cast, but this episode was tightly focused on just two-story arcs – the culmination of Micki’s undercover work and the Walker-Davidson ‘feud.’ I loved being able to just sink into a storyline and let it play out, almost in real-time.
This episode had a significant “Supernatural” connection since it reunites Jared Padalecki with his “Supernatural” costar and frequent director Richard Speight, Jr., whose distinctive touch gave the episode some striking scenes.
Let’s talk about the family feud arc first. Last week explored the origin of the bad feelings between the Davidsons and the Walkers, focusing on the older generations and their complicated history. This week the focus was on the younger generation, especially Stella and Colton, as they try to figure out how much of that history will color their own relationship.
As I told Jared last weekend, I always like watching “Walker” for the deeper themes as well as the kicking ass, and this season’s focus on long-standing and difficult to disentangle tensions and resentments seems like a frighteningly relevant theme to tackle. Stella and Colton inherited the animosity between their families, which is something that happens in all facets of life every day, from families to politics to fandoms. Can they even get to know each other as individual humans with all that baggage?
With a little help from Coach Trey (who is perhaps trying to keep his mind off constant worry about Micki), they make a start on that in this episode. He engineers escape rooms for the two pairs of kids, who must start to communicate before they can find the literal key to get out of the rooms and out of detention. August apologizes for the Ruby debacle, and that facilitates the boys’ escape to a congratulatory Coach Trey.
Stella admits she wrongly accused Colton (Jalen Thomas Brooks) and he apologizes for his insensitivity, complaining about his divorcing parents when Stella has actually lost one of her parents. It was a little too convenient, sure, but I liked the message behind it – and I was rooting for them by the time Stella stopped the car to tell Colton to hop in.
The wandering horse was, not gonna lie, totally bizarre – and extremely gentle to stand there and let two strangers pet it randomly. It feels like it should be more symbolic than maybe it was intended, but I guess time will tell. Anyway, I love when they have horses on this show, and it was gorgeous. Director Richard Speight, Jr. cut his teeth directing “Supernatural” and knows how to make a scene look beautiful, as he did many times in this episode.
Colton’s mom, Denise (Amara Zaragosa) is one I’m still suspicious of. She seems to still care about Walker quite a bit, genuinely spooked by his being in danger, but she’s also relentlessly no nonsense when it comes to doing her job, insisting that Cordell’s own undercover experience makes him right for the job when Liam is being protective little brother.
I expected not to like her, but she’s kinda growing on me. (Her mom, on other hand, not so much – you don’t mess with my girl Abeline!) That may mean that she’s not who she seems to be though. We still don’t know much about the circumstances of her last job and how that was entangled with Serrano. We also don’t know if the title of this episode also refers to Denise, Cordell’s teenage young love, or how the tragic fire impacted their relationships.
The main storyline belongs to Micki and her undercover pursuit of Serrano (Henderson Wade), who we find out in this episode is behind Northside Nation and the Austin hit that resulted in Stan’s shooting. All of that plays out bit by bit as “the one that got away” turns out to be Micki’s ex-fiancé, Garrison, who she came very close to marrying and stood up at the altar. He recognizes her but doesn’t give away her cover to Serano. Also, Micki has the chance to be badass again when Serano’s men are easily overpowered and disarmed by her. Look at Walker’s face as he watches – so proud!
Garrison is a similar character to Hoyt – the bad boy who can’t quite reform himself, but with a good heart underneath. This time it’s Micki who has a soft spot for him and can’t quite get past that. We learn that Micki had a somewhat checkered past too, during her time with Garrison – she was able to move on, but he wasn’t. (That’s a big theme of the season too, it seems. We all get stuck sometimes, unable to change even when we have new information or when the beliefs we’re stubbornly sticking to don’t reflect reality anymore. If the political situation hasn’t convinced you of that, the pandemic probably did – or maybe you’re in fandom!)
Anyway, we can’t help but root for Garrison and to feel bad for the hurt he seemed to genuinely experience when Micki abandoned him – even if he also acknowledges that it was his fault. Garrison got ‘stuck’ and hasn’t been able to get out, admitting to Micki that “some people never move on, I guess.” This is a theme that Walker has tackled repeatedly, with Hoyt and also with the Rodeo Kings, once again unable to resist the lure of “one last job”, even for the sake of love and family. That debacle left Trevor traumatized – and an orphan.
Also similar to Hoyt, Garrison claims to want forgiveness for the damage he’s caused, to people in general but to Micki in particular. He brings her to the church where they were going to get married (a beautiful set which director Speight makes great use of) and gives her some background intel on Serrano’s organization, enough that she believes him. (She also is inevitably impacted by their previous relationship, since she’s human).
Walker and James are suspicious when Micki cuts off communication and they do their own intel, eventually figuring out who Garrison is and finding his place. By the time he brings Micki there, Cordell and James are already there, guns drawn.
Garrison remains cocky even tied to a chair, seemingly a man with not much to lose at this point. Micki finds a painting of the church in his apartment, turning to him with a stricken look on her face as she realizes he was telling the truth about carrying a torch for her all these years.
Micki and Cordell go to the warehouse to collect the evidence that Garrison clues them into, Walker asking politely while Micki climbs in a window to go through the files. James, Denise and Garrison all watch with matching expressions of concern – Garrison clearly does care about Micki and Denise clearly does care about Cordell (or possibly about what Micki will find, or both).
Micki finds some files, but she’s not the only one there – one of Serano’s men is there too, to set the place on fire and destroy the evidence. Micki overpowers him and Walker shows up and helps, but the place goes up in flames and they barely escape it, much to James, Denise and Garrison’s relief.
We’re kind of rooting for Garrison at that point, so it’s more than a little heartbreaking when we find out that he hasn’t been telling Micki the whole truth this time either. He tells Denise that the hapless Spider was the sniper in Austin in order to cut a deal, and agrees to wear a wire and go after Serano.
But it turns out that he was actually the one who had Cordell in his crosshairs in Austin, though he missed on purpose and struck Stan. Micki figures it out after Garrison gives her a mix tape titled ‘The One That Got Away’ that he made with her in mind and goes in after him.
Serrano is onto Garrison though, confronting him at gunpoint and ripping off the wire he’s wearing.
Once Serano threatens to kill Micki if he doesn’t comply, Garrison has Walker in his crosshairs once again – and this time he warns a tearful Micki that he won’t miss. She’ll have to stop him.
Micki, of course, is not going to let that happen. In the gunfight that ensues, Garrison ends up over the ledge, hanging on to Micki’s hand and dangling over a drop too high to survive. Lindsey Morgan, in my opinion, had her strongest scene of the entire series in that one, her absolute anguish in trying desperately to hold onto her one-time lover as he clings to her almost too realistic to watch.
He gives her a true gift in his last moments, assuring her that it was not her fault. (I was reminded a little of the “Supernatural” finale, when Dean gives Sam a similar reassurance that he was content with his life and he’s okay with dying, though that’s not at all what he wants. That allows Jared Padalecki’s character, Sam, to give him reassurance back, that it’s okay for him to go.) I am always very affected by those kind of emotional last moments scenes; when both characters know one is about to die but there’s time for some carefully chosen and perpetually important words to be said between them.
Micki’s anguished scream after Garrison falls just gave me chills and brought tears to my eyes. All the kudos, Lindsey, for making me feel so much. And to Padalecki too, who conveys all of Walker’s empathy for his partner with one horrified look.
I got a different sort of chills as Serrano is loaded into the police van (captured by a cool and competent Capt. James).
Serrano: Hey, Cordell, I’ll be seein’ ya.
Shit. That can’t be good.
Walker also shows his empathy by asking his partner what she needs, understanding better than anyone just how she’s feeling after his own undercover experience and tragedy, and the death of Hoyt. She says “to drive,” and he knows to let her go.
Denise and Walker also have a moment, both acknowledging that they have a lot of water under the bridge – and a lot they should talk about.
There are a lot of questions left unanswered by this episode. We still don’t know who’s spying on the Walkers – maybe the file they were instructed to grab, “Austin Eyes and Ears Inc” was a reference to that mystery person.
The ending felt a bit full circle for Micki and Walker. She first encountered him broken and grieving after the tumultuous ending of his undercover work as Duke, emotionally unprepared to go back to his waiting family. The episode gives Walker space to draw those parallels throughout, reminding us what kind of psychological toll his undercover work took on him and how much it gives him insight into the dangers that Micki is facing.
This episode ends with Micki doing the same as Walker, taking refuge in a bottle just like Cordell did, the romantic mix tape that Garrison made for her playing as she looks out over the Austin landscape, her worried boyfriend Trey waiting alone at home, the painting of the church in the back of her truck.
Cordell wordlessly joins her and they pass the bottle back and forth, Sam and Dean like. Speight captures the moment and its significance beautifully, and I’m reminded again of how much I’ll miss Morgan and her character on this show. I hope she continues to come back from time to time.
It’s a poignant ending, as Micki closes that chapter of her life, just as Walker had to close his chapter as Duke and grieve the loss of Hoyt. The show continues to tackle deeper themes of grief and loss in a way that makes me feel, sometimes unexpectedly. Keep it up, “Walker!”