‘Walker’ 4.09 gets Weird with A history of horrors and other tales

walker 4.09 history of horros for jare4 padalecki

As “Walker” heads into its final five episodes, the show is taking some innovative turns, which I’m really enjoying. I don’t like media to be too predictable, and while some things still are (Stella, I’m looking at you…), there’s plenty going on that’s not. In fact, some of it is downright confusing, which I actually don’t mind as long as there’s eventually an explanation.

Full disclosure, my good friend Alana King is the production coordinator on this episode, but seriously, look at this episode! I love the look of it, the innovative editing, the music, everything! Jared Padalecki’s portrayal of Cordell is fascinating right now – what’s going on in his head?? We can so clearly see that he is not okay, even as he keeps insisting he is, because of all the little nonverbal cues Padalecki uses to tell us in no uncertain terms that something is very wrong.

But what exactly is it? I love that I’m asking that question.

The “previously” ends with Cordell knocked out by the Jackal, which is….interesting. I had heard that this episode was kinda trippy and maybe a little unreal, so I was already looking for clues that things might not be as they seem, and that felt like it could be one. We’ll see…

Not On The Same Page at HQ

Cordell wakes up at 3 am in the dark, falling back to the mattress and looking like I do when I REALLY don’t wanna get up in the morning.

There’s a montage of the morning that’s beautifully cut together but also confusing, as Cordell goes back to his wall of weird and Captain James starts his morning out with the case too and Cassie and Trey talk about their upcoming interviews for lieutenant.

Walker night show of Cordell drinking down fluids given by Coby Bell James on set.

Everything is weird right off the bat though, HQ nearly deserted other than Cassie and Trey. And Cordi and Geri sitting in the lounge area. Geri is back, excited to tell Cordell about her plans for the new Side Step, and a bit annoyed with him – as she puts it – “boy listening.” He’s distracted, twitchy, on edge. Geri talks about it as their business, the next step in their lives.

Cordi: I’m so happy for you.


She urges him to think about taking a break – a vacation even.

Both are themes of the episode, the tension between “us” and “you” and how decisions can be made that are one or the other and maybe not seen in the same way by two people. And, also the theme of needing to step back and take a break, or risk getting tunnel vision and making some very bad decisions. I like that the show tackles a lot of those universal themes; that all of us can relate to.

Communication between two people is hard, whether you’re partners or siblings, related by blood or otherwise. When are things about “us” and when is something just about “you”?

There’s also an underlying tension throughout the episode because of time pressure, and isn’t that realistic to just about all of our lives? James says they need to have a real breakthrough by the end of the day or the Jackal case will be turned over to the FBI, which nobody is happy to hear (though I can’t help but think that might be a good thing!) 

As they go over the loose ends, Cordell has that pounding and ringing in his ears, as they talk about the one victim who got away. They all recall that victim said the digoxin made him feel like he was crazy, or on an acid trip, or having a lucid dream.

Hmmmmm. Lucid dream, huh? Hmmm.

Cordell is shady, grabs one of the files and suggests they take a break and leaves, the other three looking at him skeptically and like they’re disappointed in him.

He doesn’t come back for quite a while, so Trey and Cassie and James keep on working. Cassie eventually has a breakthrough, realizing that trying to find similarities between the victims keeps leading to a dead end. Maybe what’s important to look at is what sets them apart?

There was only one person who wasn’t a parent, Sheila, so they get the records for her unsealed. She had a wrongful death suit against her, it turns out – a five-year-old child died in her backyard. She was running a daycare out of her house. So maybe she wasn’t an outlier after all. And just like that, the commonality snaps into place.

Cordell comes back to them already figuring out the Jackal’s MO –  that the Jackal targets bad parents or caretakers. (So obviously we’re going to find out that whoever it is had a very bad parent or caretaker indeed).

Cordell Walker knows the Jackal killer's MO now for James and Cassie and Trey.

Cordell: Wow, I wish I’d been here for this.

They do too. Cassie confronts him, in an uncharacteristically harsh way. Cordell complains that they’re talking about him behind his back; she accuses him of being obsessed, of putting them all in danger.


Cordell stammers and apologizes; she doesn’t want to hear it.

There are so many painful scenes in this episode of people being confronted by their loved ones, and Padalecki here embodies everything Cordell is feeling. He’s like seven feet tall but here he looks like a defensive little boy being yelled at by his mom, trying to protest his innocence and beaten down and ashamed.

It hurts just to look at him – and it’s so well done! So much acting is not in the dialogue but in the embodiment of the character, and Padalecki excels at that.

Cordell has tried so hard to take on all the responsibility, sometimes because he’s been explicitly asked to – for the Jackal case to protect James and really to protect everyone, to make up for all the people they haven’t been able to save over the years. For his family, after he ended up the only parent. You can see it weighing on him heavily that he feels he hasn’t been able to do those things.

Cassie is understandably worried and frustrated, but it’s hard to watch. They start over tomorrow, she says, clean slate.

The confrontation. We get the feeling, isn’t exactly helpful to Cordell, though. He’s in over his head and can’t get out, and all the guilt that gets heaped on top just seems to make him feel more responsible and more desperate to find the Jackal and take them OUT.

James asks Cassie and Trey to run the press conference the next day, but they say this is his white whale and his case, and they won’t let the Jackal take anything else from him.  So, James is back on the case, and he tells Cordell. Cordell says he realizes he’s taken on too much and put the case before his family, and that he has to get back to Geri, but we all know he’s not telling the truth. . Like daughter like father!

Once again, his body language makes clear the sense of failure and desperation he’s feeling as he hands the case back over to James.

James asks for the notebook back and Cordell tries to stall, then hands it over since it’s right in his truck, visible.  He insists he’s good but he’s clearly not.

Like Father Like Daughter – Again

Stella is also not okay, and the themes of communication breakdown, us versus me, and the risks and benefits of confrontation play out with her story arc too. Stella and Augie continue their search for the necklace, using Hoyt’s letter to Geri and feeling similarly desperate and time pressured – by Joanne – to find it by that night.

Stella waited for Augie to read those letters, which they decide not to do (though she didn’t have any qualms about reading Geri’s).

Walker Stella pressured to do good by Joanne with Augie 4.09.

They decide the necklace might be in the fireplace at the ranch. Augie uses some fancy new photography tricks to be able to see fingerprints in the fireplace, but they’re interrupted by Geri, who wants to catch up and make some lunch – some ‘Spaghetti Mes’ that you cut out the alphabet letter pasta for. Which is a pretty complicated impromptu lunch!

The kids make it clear that they have no problem with her and Cordell.

Augie: You make Dad very happy.

Walker Gay Augie flouncing in to help bake cookies with Geri.


Stella decides to kind of interrogate Geri about how things were back then, but we know it’s only because of her single-minded pursuit of the necklace that she won’t ask any of the adults for help with. Geri warns the kids not to read those letters.

Geri: Those were from a different version of your dad to a different version of you.

Geri shares more about the old days, how Hoyt had a place to grow up safely for the first time when he was there with them. How they came to seize his mom’s possessions when he was six and he was terrified they’d take his little superhero cape too. 


Eventually, she says, Hoyt’s mom tried to find some heirloom that could pay off their debts – which of course they think was the necklace.

There are some great shots of the clock in the background hanging over Stella, a reminder of the pressure she’s under (and a reason why she is so single-mindedly focused on finding the necklace and – in her mind – making this all go away).

Walker 4.09 Stella on phone late at night.

In the course of investigating further, they make the shocking discovery that Joanna, who’s threatening to kill Stella and her family in a matter of hours, is, in fact, Hoyt’s mother.

Augie once again wants to tell someone, thrown by this latest news, but Stella won’t do it.

He bows out; she says I didn’t ask for your help in the first place. Ouch.

Communication is not any of the Walkers’ strong suit right now, and once again it’s “me” instead of “us”.

Stella figures out that the necklace may be at the old Rawlins house.

Three Generations of Walkers Not On The Same Page

Abby and Bonham are having as much success communicating and being on the same page as the other two Walker generations. They argue about making up a living will and getting on the same page about their retirement.  Bonham is ready to settle down and thought that Abeline was in agreement when they talked about it in Italy. Nope.

Frustrated, Bonham tells Abby and Liam to “do your thing” and leaves. Once again, something (in this case renovations for Abeline and Ben’s new business venture) was assumed to be an “our” thing and it turns out not to be that at all.

Abeline confides to Liam that she’s recently realized she wants more, and wants Liam to act as mediator for them. He agrees.

Abeline: I knew there was a reason you were always my favorite.

Liam: You always said you didn’t have a favorite!

Me: And you should keep saying that!

I love Abeline and I love that she’s not perfect but ooof, I would never say that to one of my two children. Can’t be good for either of them to hear – or think – that.

Bonham is not on board at all with the renovations she wants to do for her business with Ben and the cost, despite Liam’s best efforts to be a “mediator” for his parents.

Bonham: This is supposed to be our time.

He’s hurt that Abby seems to want to do anything but, focused on something she wants to do for herself. Bonham is ready to “hold onto the lull” and Abby isn’t.  Liam has a heart to heart with his dad and tries to help, but that goes off the rails too. Communication, in this episode, is a complicated and imperfect thing – just as it often is in real life.

Walker gay Liam talking with Bonham in the outhouse shed.

Bonham’s interpretation of what he should do?

Bonham: Bought us a boat.


Both: Not now William!

She finally tells him that she realized she wants more.  She was inspired by a woman she met in Italy who lived a lifetime before she found her passion, before she even knew something was missing. Bonham doesn’t get it, and she feels hurt that he doesn’t get it, and that he bought the boat without even telling her.

Walker gay LIam rubbing one off on the set of the show with Gay Augie and Jared Padalecki.

There is a lot of ouch in this episode!

Also, Liam is trying so hard to hold his family together right now, and things keep backfiring despite his best efforts. Poor Liam.

I will forever love this show for not short shrifting the older generation of Walkers in its nuanced exploration of how we all develop and grow and change, throughout our lifetimes. If you watch many TV shows, you might think all that stops about about 50, but of course that’s not true – and Walker reflects that with the in-depth story arcs it gives Bonham and Abeline. Mitch Pileggi and Molly Hagan make those characters so real, and so relatable, and I’m so grateful.

Going Their Separate Ways

Things come to a head for all the Walkers in the last segment of the episode, which parallels the story arcs explicitly.

August confides in Geri that he’s worried about their dad.

Geri: But it’s not your job to take care of everything and everyone. You’re just like your mom.I miss her. I don’t want to have to miss Dad or Stel too.

Walker Augie looking weirdly at Geri making her cry rape for help 4.09.

Geri knows something is up when he says that, and August agrees to bring Liam in. When Stella comes downstairs, Liam confronts Stella about her lies that she’s okay, saying he knew there was something very wrong.

She says she wants to take a minute, which seems like a terrible idea.

Walker gay Liam hands on hips like a big ole girl 4.09.

And is, because she goes out the window and off to try to handle this on her own.

Another parallel of Stella and her dad as both lie about being okay and then go off on their own to do what they think they have to do.

Geri: Whenever Stella or Walker are confronted, they…

Liam: They run!


The episode’s signature split screen shows just how divided the Walker family is right now as Stella drives off, Bonham and Abeline are upset and feeling misunderstood in different parts of the house, and Walker checks into a motel, wearing the black hat that I love so much on him.

Is he… setting himself up as bait for the Jackal?

Does he think he’s that much of a bad parent that he now fits the type??

Have I said ouch enough in this review?

I can’t wait to see what plays out next week! A brand new “Walker” airs on Wednesday at 8 pm on the CW.