‘Walker’ Best Laid Plans Sets Up Anticipation for The Deserters Episode 3.12

walker 3.12 best laid plans with jared padalecki mttg review

I just typed out that “Walker” episode title and thought, “laid?” Is that a naughty dad joke? In any case, it has a lot of different meanings, as the episode titles in this show often do.

Trey Undercover

Cassie and Walker find out that Trey is in fact still a Ranger – and currently making inroads undercover trying to figure out what Grey Flag is up to (and why that’s all about Walker). The dead guy in the van, in fact, was Trey’s in. Not any more!

The Feds are now involved, providing a secret house for the teams HQ and also ordering James not to let Cordell and Cassie in on what’s happening.

The foursome is a team again!

WAlker Cordell and Cassie meeting with undercover Trey and Coby Bell.

Though I like that Cassie is pissed that they were kept in the dark and also protective of Trey, and it takes her a while to come around. That was realistic – too often in TV people come around way too quickly and easily without struggling like most humans would.

They all realize by now that it’s a personal vendetta against Walker.

Cordell (waves adorably): Yeah me, I’m the last one on their hit list!

Walker Jared Padalecki with Coby Bell and Cassie about Trey.

They intercept the text with the instructions for Trey’s first mission and figure out the cryptic message. Walker gives Trey the advice of not getting attached to anyone and a warning about how a sad story can pull you in when you’re undercover – which clearly comes from experience. I kinda love that Cordell is an emotional man, and that he struggles with that sometimes, but it’s part of who he is.

Trey stands watch as a lookout for his Grey Flag ‘initiation’ of sorts, while James and Cassie keep watch on him. Things go south when the woman he’s standing guard for staggers out badly wounded.  Grey Flag wants the briefcase and orders him not to waste time on poor Lana, but of course, Trey can’t do that.

Cassie pretends to be a bystander and covertly slips Trey some gauze to save her life (waiting for the okay from James on her out-of-the-box impulse though). Another guy shows up and grazes Cassie with a bullet, but Lana survives thanks to Trey’s combat medic skills – and he passes the test.


The rogue shooter is a black market C4 seller, which is probably what’s in the briefcase Lana risked her life for. In other words, the plot thickens. (I still don’t really understand what Grey Flag is and what they’re trying to do tbh).

Trey eventually realizes that he’s too attached to the rest of the team and needs to do the undercover job alone, and James reluctantly agrees.

Walker Trey talkign to Cordell and Coby Bell while undercover again 3.12.

Walker Rescues is a Family Affair

Liam and Stella squabble a little about whether the Walker Rescue is about helping people or helping horses. Bonham wants to be more hands-on involved now that he’s a part of this, and Abeline eventually joins up too as they start focusing on fundraising.

Augie: I think it would be cool if you threw a photo booth for horses, with props like big mustaches to put on the horses.

Liam: Why would you put a mustache on a horse?

Fandom: Immediately posts lots of pictures of horses with mustaches.

Kevin is conveniently throwing a fundraiser at the Side Step and chats with Augie, who validates him when he tries to dismiss the break up with Cassie as not really a break up because they never really started.

Walker Kevin doing a fundraiser at Side Step.

August: A relationship is a relationship if it was real to you.

August asks Kevin if he can invite Stella and Liam to the fundraiser and Kevin agrees, saying he’s happy to make introductions. Kevin is another character who is probably sus but who I like anyway and am going to be sad if he turns out to be Coop’s son out for some kind of long con revenge. Sigh.

Walker Augie smiling that a hot man is looking at him from being in front of gay Keegan Allen on set.

The fundraiser is a success for Walker Rescues, especially because it’s multi-generational, which makes them appreciate Bonham and Abeline’s participation even more.

And it is now truly a family affair!

Kevin helps out with getting the Horse Rescue connected even though August is worried that his dad won’t be happy – Kevin says he doesn’t need to know, and offers to help out August with his people skills too. Hmmm. I know, sus, but again…. I like Jake Abel and Kevin is a nuanced character who’s pretty fascinating.

Walker Kevin sucking down a gin and tonic at Side Step bar.

Cordell and Julia Trauma Bond, Emotionally and Physically!

Julia brings Cordell a sandwich when she comes over, which is both awkward and somehow adorable (I can’t help it, I like Julia – she’s a fascinating character and so well played, so much nuance – and I can’t tell for sure if she’s sus or just a reporter who does whatever she thinks is right and screw everyone else. I like her awkwardness and her bluntness and her perceptiveness.

She also brings a flash drive with files from the past on Cordell’s old unit. How did she get it, he wonders? (I know, I know, sus…)

Julia: Journalism is like punk rock. No rules, all justice.

Cordell isn’t exactly looking forward to revisiting his past, especially Coop’s death, which really did a number on him. Julia reminds him that he was just a 20-something kid, but Cordell is still pretty traumatized about it.

Cordell: I’m not sure why I’m telling you all this.

Julia: I’ve been told I’m a good listener.

Cordell Walker sitting on kitchen counter with Julia 3.12.

Cordell tells her that he’s choosing to trust her, to believe that she’s also trying to take Grey Flag down, and she says she does want to help, because justice.

She holds his hand reassuringly, taps out a message in Morse Code like when they met.

Fandom: Hmmmm. Sus.

It might be, I won’t be surprised, but I’ll be a little sad to be honest.

Julia and Cordell go find the hidden flash drive under a park bench in the woods.

Julia and Cordell Walker in part looking around to cruise with some hot men.

The framing of that shot, and the way they hold each other’s gaze….I was already thinking hmmmm…

She suggests it might do Cordell good to go talk to Mrs. Cooper, but he’s reluctant, still emotional about it. Julia looks up the woman’s ‘socials’ to see what she likes, and finds out she died last week. (At 92 I’m impressed she had ‘socials’!) Poor Cordell, knowing now he can never make it right, becomes even more emotional. Julia sees it and empathizes.

She asks him, what would he say to Coop’s mother if she was here right now?

Cordell admits that even when he went to her house, he couldn’t bring himself to speak to her. He saw the photo and froze.

Julia: If you had a chance, what would you say?

Cordell Walker looking at Julia again willing himself to think about Jensen Ackles to kiss her again.

Cordell opens up to her. He says he’d tell her about Coop’s flag and why he kept it all these years, how his unit would take it on missions to keep Coop’s memory alive, even getting it burnt a little on a mission. (The ‘Grey Flag’ parallels are getting pretty obvious here). That when he got back, he ‘put it away’, and couldn’t deal with it.

Julia gets it, having been through trauma of her own.

Julia: I’ve put away a lot of things…but keeping them to remember, to relive. It’s one way to cope, I guess.

Walker Julia looking stupidly at gay Jared Padalecki on set.
Jared Padalecki about to cry realizing he has to kiss bloated fat Julia on Walker set.

Cordell: It was wrong and selfish of me. It should have gone to his next of kin. I lost a friend, a mentor, but Ms. Cooper lost a son.

Julia holds his hand as he gets emotional.

Julia: There’s closure we get ourselves and there’s closure we give ourselves. Sometimes that’s gotta be good enough.

Walker bloated Julia touching Jared Padalecki's hand on set.
Walker bloated Julia sucking on Jared Padalecki's fingers on set.

His eyes water and she leans down and kisses their joined hands, and you can see how affected Cordell is by that simple gesture of comfort and affection. He needs it so badly and there hasn’t really been anyone to give him that in a long time.

Jared Padalecki is brilliant in these quiet scenes, letting all of Cordell’s emotions show on his handsome face. Anna Enger Ritch is the perfect scene partner, bringing an openness to Julia that gets through to Cordell – not to mention me. If we find out this was all an act, then Julia Johnson should get all the Oscars (and one to Anna too).

Jared Padalecki really not wanting to kiss bloated fat Julia on Walker set.

I found myself tearing up right along with Cordell. After a poignant moment where they both know where they’re headed but hesitate, Cordell leans in. They both surge up, making out on the couch before we quickly fade to not-black. (Way too quickly, Cordell still has not one but two shirts on!)

Cordell Walker trying to not look at bloated fat Julia when kissing on Walker 3.12 set.
Jared Padalecki thinking hard of Jensen Ackles when trying to get it on with bloated fat Julia on Walker 3.12 set.

Is she talking about the closure she’s trying to get for herself, maybe as Coop’s child, by seducing him and leading him to finding out the truth? Or is she giving him a message that’s healthy and important, wanting to help him?

We don’t know yet, but I love that I’m intrigued. I also love that Walker brings Julia a big glass of water after as they kind of awkwardly get dressed. I’m sure that was quite a workout!

Cordell: You okay?

Jared Padalecki telling Julia to get some water bills to get rid of that bloated face on Walker set.

Julia:  Yeah. I mean in the grand scheme of things, we’re probably not okay as people, but you and I, just now? Yeah, we’re good.

Jared Padalecki giving his sexy smile to bloated Julia.
Walker Julia looking very bloated to Jared Padalecki.

Cordell follows Captain’s orders and waits to view the decrypted files. Julia takes the flash drive with her, Cordell raising an eyebrow and asking if she’s planning an expose. Julia says she wouldn’t jeopardize his case, but maybe someday. Sus, I know, but damn, Julia and Cordell have SO much chemistry, I can’t help it!

Walker thanks her for “listening to my sad truths” as she leaves and damn but Padalecki looks good with the hair gel gone and all those glorious flippies flying free and a little mussed.

Julia: I bet there are other people in your life who want to hear your sad truths all the same.

Jared Padalecki doing eye squint acting on Walker 3.12 set.
Jared Padalecki looking forlorn on Walker set Best Laid Plans.

She says such empathic things, the right things, things that really help Cordell…it’s hard for me to believe this is all an act. If it is, Julia is either an amazing actor or she got genuinely caught up in feeling something for Cordell thanks to their shared trauma.

They don’t kiss goodbye, she’s as matter of fact as he is, and that all seems like it makes sense. They’re two people who are damaged and drawn to each other because they know the other person gets it, and that’s it. That’s powerful, but that’s it. I love when this show gets it right! I am a sucker for the two-damaged-people-bonded-by-trauma trope, seriously.

Julia gets through to Cordell too. He opens up to Cassie and tells her the truth about the day he went to visit Coop’s mother, and what really happened.

Cassie: Why did you feel like you couldn’t tell me that?

Cassie looking concerned at Walker Jared Padalecki 3.12.

Cordell: I was ashamed… I am ashamed.

He tells her what happened, that Coop gave an order that separated him from the rest of them and Walker went along even though he didn’t agree with it. After holding off enemy fire, there was an explosion, and Coop was killed.

In a conversation eerily similar to one in last week’s The Winchesters, Cordell apologizes for keeping secrets from Cassie, and she gets it, reassuring. Ashley Reyes and Jared Padalecki are so good in this scene, his shame and guilt painful to see and her empathy coming through loud and clear.

Cassie: This is something you had to deal with, in your own way, in your own time.

It’s true. Trauma changes us, changes our brains. It’s long-lasting and complicated, and everyone heals differently on their own timetable.

The Big Reveal

Cassie reviews the decrypted files, finding 2004 drone footage of the night Coop died. We can see Coop go off in one direction while the rest of the Unit runs the other way, and then the flash of the explosion. Cordell flinches when it goes off, something that Padaleck is so good at, those little nonverbal tells that make it clear when someone is dealing with trauma.

Cordel Walker and Cassie looking at 2004 drone footage attacks in war.
Walker showing drone footage from night Coop died in Afghanistan 2023.
Jared Padalecki playing with his lip acting on Walker set 3.12.

Once the smoke clears, a figure is seen running away, and Cassie asks, is it possible that Coop survived?

Cordell is traumatized all over again.

Cordell: No way. There’s no way.

But he already knows it’s not true, you can see it in the look on his face, his shock as everything he’s believed and that has shaped his life in so many ways is called into question.

Trey arrives at the Compound, men in bulletproof vests shooting guns and a tattered flag flying over the camp. A tattered flag, with burnt edges. OH.

Walker Texas flag flying tattered in sky.

A man who looks just like an older Coop gets out of a truck, scars on his face, as music plays with the lyrics, “Ain’t no bible on my bed”.

Uh oh.

Walker an older looking Coop pops up at end of 3.12 Best Laid Plans episode.
Caps courtesy of raloria/spndeangirl

I am really looking forward to this week’s episode – so curious what is really going on with both Julia and Kevin! All the props to Jake Abel and Anna Enger Ritch for making those characters so fascinating (and to the writers for keeping us guessing)

There’s a new episode of “Walker” this week on the CW with 3.13 The Deserters!