‘Walker’ brings all the action with Defend the Ranch 1.13

Jared Padalecki held at gun point in Walker defend the ranch images

The 13th episode of “Walker’s” first season was intended to be the season finale, and it felt like one. There was a whole lot of drama, twists and turns, and an ending that looked like a tragic tableau from a stage play. As usually is true for me and this show, the emotional aftermath for Walker is the part that’s most fascinating. But not always very easy to witness.

Sometimes the drama comes close to over the top for me (Clint even dresses in villainous all black), and I guessed the major tragedy that was going to happen, though not how or when. I liked that the episode played out almost in real-time, no jumping back and forth, which upped the suspense. I can see how this would have worked as a season finale – and in fact, it’s hard to imagine how they are going to continue with five more episodes after this one. But it’s a hard script to pull off because so much happens, and there were a few times when it strained credulity to go with it.

The episode picks up right where the previous one left off, with Liam shot and seemingly not alive, Cordell calling his name and trying to go to him but Clint warning him not to. Abeline comes out and sees her son on the ground and screams his name too, falling to her knees in the grass – Molly Hagan always makes me feel for her, all my own instincts as a mother pulled in because she makes it real.

Walker Clint holding gun on Cordell and STella.
Walker Liam laying on ground wounded 1.13.
Walker Abilene reacts to LIam getting shot.

Trevor follows his father’s instructions and yanks Walker’s holster and gun away from him. Clint is unconcerned about Liam, though Trevor is clearly upset and conflicted.

Clint: The attorney who helped put us away? Don’t matter, he’s dead now.

But he says no one else needs to get hurt if they do exactly as he says.

Abeline protests that they can’t leave him there, but Clint is unmoved by her plea.

Clint: Mrs. Walker, your son left me for dead and got my wife killed. Lose your notions of right and wrong.

He offers her a hand to get up, but she ignores him and gets up on her own.

Walker Abilene refuses Clints hands to help her from ground.

Clint is an interesting character, especially in this episode. He’s got the narrative twisted, blaming Walker and not acknowledging his own role in getting his wife killed, but he also is perceptive and at times almost friendly toward Walker and deferential toward Abeline, in particular. It’s a strange frenemy type situation, because apparently Clint and Duke were genuinely close at one time – or at least Clint felt that way.

I can’t help but wonder how much an undercover assignment that goes on for so long becomes real to both the people who are unaware and the person playing a role. Duke and Clint shared things, and Clint considered him part of his family – the extra rage that comes with that kind of betrayal is part of what drives him to attempt this revenge-fueled last action that never had much chance of real success. And what made him drag his son into it too, just as he seemed to have pushed his wife into it or at least kept her in.

Hoyt, who was there to confront Cordell about Geri, is now on his side, asking him what’s the play.

Walker Hoyts confronts Cordell about Gerri.

Cordell responds that there is no play as they’re moved into the house and tied to dining room chairs by Trevor. Jared Padalecki is adept at showing us just how thrown Walker is by this situation, and how much he didn’t expect anything like this. I imagine their ranch felt like a safe place, a kind of haven. They’re successful, hardworking but privileged, and it must have seemed like Cordell’s past couldn’t catch up to him here. Which of course was an illusion.

Cordell is scared, but he’s also angry. He demands to know what Clint wants.

Clint: I want my wife back.

When the kids protest that he didn’t kill her, Clint counters.

Clint: You got their minds all twisted up, like you did me and Crystal. (To Stella and August) You had to wonder why he was gone for so long…

Clint holding entire Walker clan hostage 1.13.
Clint holding Walker Cordell hostage.

He’s not entirely wrong, and for that last job at least, he did twist their minds up, encouraging them to go through with the robbery when Crystal wanted out and Clint wasn’t sure. Clint figures out that Hoyt was the inspiration for Duke too, calling Hoyt his ‘muse’ – ‘the real outlaw who put meat on your bones in creating Duke.’

He’s right again. For a guy who’s so smart and perceptive, he sure did screw up his family’s life by being a bank robber.

Clint tries to get Walker to convince Micki to bring Jaxon there, and he does try, but she says no and then reminds him of the DPS hearing that afternoon.

Clint is almost impressed by Walker’s acting, pointing out how convincing he was, and smiling, asking “he’s something, isn’t he?”

Walker Clint smiling broadly.

He is, and Clint is actually the only one who seems to see that.

Clint makes Cordell take him through their barn and “show him all the pretty horses”, asking if his father was pissed he didn’t “take up the family business”. That was a shout out to Supernatural fans, which I always appreciate, but it was totally weird that Clint wanted a barn tour. He misses horses, an odd little human touch, his gentleness with animals.

Cordell tries to say that the score is settled, if that’s what this is about, since “you killed my brother”. But Clint says it’s not the same thing, and he’s still not appeased.

Walker Clint and Cordell walking in barn.
Walker Cordell tries to reason with CLint over shooting brother LIam.

Bonham drives up and sees someone with a gun on the property, saying “well that’s never a good sign” and pulling a rifle from his truck instead of calling the police like any reasonable person would do!  Is this some kind of Texas machismo thing? He sees Liam lying on the ground and goes to him. Liam coughs and wakes, saying “I’m bleeding”. Which, yes, substantially.

Instead of calling 911, Bonham throws his son over his shoulders – which can’t have helped with the bleeding at all – and carries him to the guest house, telling Liam to keep pressure on the wound while Liam keeps saying he’s sorry, he tried to stop them.

Walker Bonham walking with a shotgun ready to fire.
Walker Bonham carries an injured gay Liam over his shoulders 1.13.
Walker Bonham Mitch Pileggi tends to Liam wounds.

Liam fills Bonham in, but says he can’t go in there or Clint will kill them. Bonham finally calls Micki, but all he gets out is “I need your help.” She says it’s kinda crazy right now, can she get back to him…. and I’m screaming why is he not interrupting her and saying ARMED MEN HOLDING FAMILY HOSTAGE?

Too late, he’s found out.

Abilene runs to Liam (why is she walking around and not tied up, I don’t know). At least it doesn’t show up on Bonham’s phone as having called the cops, though they don’t even try to figure out WHO he called or if that person is coming.

Walker Abilene runs to son Liam 1.13.

Bonham and Liam join the hostage party. Cordell tries to get through to Trevor, saying that whatever his dad told him is a lie.

Trevor: So you had nothing to do with my mother’s death?

Cordell: It wasn’t so simple.

Meanwhile, Stella is trying to free herself, but Hoyt gets a hand free first and silently tells her to stop, he’s got it.

Walker Stell tries to free herself from ropes 1.13.
Walker Hoyt held hostage by Clint.

Bonham tries to prevent them from hauling Liam away, but they do, and Bonham lashes out at Clint, asking what kind of man are you to have your boy be part of this?

Clint puts a gun to Bonham’s head, and Hoyt speaks up to pull Clint’s attention away from Bonham.

Hoyt: Pointing a gun at an old man, oh yeah, you’re a real tough guy.

Walker Clint pointing gun at Bonhams head 1.13.

Clint hits him, and he says “okay, I get it,” then pauses. “Nope actually don’t get it.”

Clint hits him again and knocks him over, still tied to the chair. Cordell, his eyes teary as he watches all the people he cares about in danger and hurting, pleads with Clint, saying he’ll do anything, just stop.

Walker Cordell learns he has to rob a bank for Clint.

Clint: Anything? How about robbing a bank?

It’s a kind of ridiculous plan but I guess Clint isn’t supposed to be thinking very clearly, revenge distorting everything – because he was at one time a relatively successful bank robber, right? He sits this one out and sends Cordell and Hoyt to do it, saying it only seems right that the bank robber who inspired the imposter should do it with him.

Hoyt is all sassy, jumping up before he has to be cut loose.

Hoyt: Oh look, must have broke loose in the fall… (wink)

Walker Hoyt getting sassy after being tied up by Clint 1.13.

Micki goes to see Captain James, concerned about Walker and the weird call she got from Bonham, so James calls, reminding him to be at the hearing at 4 pm. Clint once again makes sure Walker doesn’t give anything away, and while James admits he seemed a little off, he’s not concerned enough to go find out.

Walker Captain James reacts to Micki 1.13.
Walker Micki worried about Cordell with Captain James.

Hoyt and Walker head off to rob a bank, with one of Clint’s men tailing them to be sure they go through with it.

Clint: Best of luck.

Hoyt (still cocky): Luck’s got nothin’ to do with it.

Walker Clint to Hoyt Best of Luck.
Walker Hoyts wants to break law in style with Cordell.

Hoyt kind of gets a kick out of this caper, saying if they’re breaking the law, does Clint mind if they do it in style? This means they go to rob the bank in the red Mustang, armed with a gun with no bullets. It makes for an almost ‘fun’ sequence of the two friends in the flashy car being all badass and mending their relationship, but I couldn’t help thinking that it was setting up Hoyt to die – which it was.

While they’re off robbing a bank, Liam is losing blood and screaming in pain, and Stella and Augie try to get through to Trevor, saying if they don’t help him, he’s going to die.

Trevor: No one was supposed to get hurt…

Stella: What happened to your mom, I am so sorry, but if you don’t want this to get worse, you’ll let us help him.

Trevor tries to convince his dad to let them help Liam, but Clint insists that Liam helped put him away, saying don’t worry, this will all be over soon, I promise.

Trevor: You promised Mom you were getting out too.

Clint is at least somewhat moved by his son, and allows Stella and Augie to check on Liam, but warns Trevor not to “let them in your head”.

Walker Clint impressed with son Trevor helping him 1.13.

Trevor: There’s no room. You’re the only one there.

I thought that was a great line, because that is exactly what Clint has been trying to do to his son. He’s manipulating him to keep Trevor on his side, while at the same time not being honest with him about what he’s planning to do to Cordell in revenge.

Hoyt and Cordell race to the bank, and Cordell tries to apologize even in the middle of the insanity that’s going on, saying he’s sorry and knows he messed up and broke his friend’s trust. He feels guilty because if he hadn’t, Hoyt wouldn’t have been at the ranch and gotten embroiled in all this.

Hoyt: I’ll kick your ass when we get through this.

Walker Jared Padalecki with Hoyt in red Ford car.
Walker Cordell serious with Hoyt about fake bank robbery 1.13.
Walker fans realize that Hoyt will die in the Defending the Ranch episode.

It was at that moment I was pretty sure Hoyt would not in fact get through this. Especially when their conversation got even more emotional. Hoyt shrugs off Cordell’s apology, although he had been furious about the betrayal, saying that all that matters is that right now he’s parked in an alley (about to rob a bank) with “my best friend, who needs me.”

I don’t feel like we really know Hoyt very well, but that rings true – he seems like the friend who feels like a black sheep and desperately wants to prove himself, so it feels good to be needed.

Cordell: No, brother, I’ve always needed you.

Walker Cordell getting deep with Hoyt.
Walker Cordell telling Hoyts hes always needed him 1.13.

I wish we had a better sense of why Cordell does consider Hoyt a brother, or what they’ve been through in the past that created a bond that doesn’t seem to break even when they’re on opposite sides of the law. Or why Abeline loves him so much. I would have been more impacted by this episode if I’d had a better sense of that, seen more of their history.

Hoyt is happy to be in charge and maybe save the day, calling himself an outlaw.

Hoyt: Follow my lead, buddy.

Back at the ranch, Clint torments Abilene more, asking who her favorite son is. She lashes out at him, saying they treated his own boy like family, but Clint has a retort that seems pretty truthful.

Clint: My wife and I did the same for your boy. He was broken when he came to us. We saved him, made him whole again. And then he betrayed us.

Walker Abilene reacts to Clints anger at Cordell.
Clint talking to Abilene about Cordell betraying him 1.13.

At least some of that seems to be true, and I can understand Clint’s feeling of betrayal even as everything else he’s doing is just plain wrong. Clint picks up his cell phone as Hoyt and Walker arrive at the bank.

Clint: Yes I’d like to report a robbery…

He’s making sure that Walker goes through the same nightmare that Clint and his wife did. It makes sense from a psychological standpoint, but it’s shaky from a logical one. Did Clint really expect that this was going to work? Was he just going to leave all these people alive who knew what he did and just drive off hoping nobody catches up to them??

The bank robbery is a weird kind of music montage, with Hoyt being cocky and kinda badass and “putting on a show”. He pretends to take Cordell as a hostage and manages to get the money without anyone getting shot. They jump into the Mustang (as in leap into it without opening its doors) and take off, tires skidding, pursued by police with sirens blaring.

Walker Cordell pretending to be a hostage under gunpoint from Hoyt 1.13.
Walker Hoyt and Cordell robbing a bank 1.13.
WAlker Hoyt happy with Cordell in red car.

Improbably, they get far enough ahead that they’re able to hide under a bridge while the cops go screeching by above them. But no sooner do they get back on the road than Micki pulls up and confronts them. I’m not sure why she was part of the bank robbery chase or why she ditched the rest of them or figured out that Walker was part of it or what – but she’s there somehow.

Walker Cordell and Hoyt in red convertible.
WAlker Micki blocking Cordell and Hoyt in red convertible on bridge.
Walker Micki angry that Cordell lied to her 1.13.

She’s angry that he hasn’t been honest with her, so Cordell finally tells her that Clint has his family held hostage and will kill them if he doesn’t’ follow through and that there’s a tail on them (which, where IS that guy? He’s a terrible tail and Walker could have cued in a hundred people by now without that guy ever knowing, and why didn’t he? I’m assuming he’s too worried about Clint finding out and just blowing his family members away, which I guess is valid)

Micki lets them go, saying she’s not far (though she probably could have been a little closer than she was).

Back at the ranch, Clint goes through the Walker family’s things, taking Abeline’s mushroom cutting knife from a drawer and asking about a photo on the wall – of Wyatt Earp. The Walkers apparently used to ride with him.

Walker Clint talking about Wyatt Earp to Bonham 1.13.

Clint: He was a criminal before he was a lawman, not unlike your Cordell.

Then he finds Bonham’s pain pills, which are not very well hidden, and confronts him. Once again, Clint is very perceptive, figuring out that Bonham has cancer – and that he hasn’t told his wife. Abeline looks on, clearly upset.

Walker Clint taunting Bonham in front of Abilene.
Walker Bonham Mitch Pileggi admits having cancer.
Walker ABilene reacts to Clint finding Bonhams pain pills.

In the other room, Liam knows he’s bleeding out and tries to say an emotional goodbye to his niece and nephew. He tells Stella he’s glad he stayed, and Augie to stay strong because the family is gonna need him.

Walker LIam knows he is dying and says goodbye to August and STella 1.13.

The kids, horrified when they realize this is a goodbye, beg Trevor to let them call someone who can help.

Augie asks Trevor if he’s even human anymore, and Stella tries to get him to remember how much he wanted to get away with her, and not end up like this.

Walker August holding down on Liams bleeding wound with STella.
Walker STella doesnt recognize dark side of Trevor 1.13.
Walker Trevor has gone to bad side with father Clint.

She asks if she can call Coach Barnett, who’s a medic they can trust. Trevor hesitates, but finally gives her his phone so she can call Trey. He talks them through cauterizing the wound – with that branding iron that we saw Bonham make a few episodes ago. Stella jokes that he’ll have a new tattoo, and its placement is a bit of a “Supernatural” shout out, since it’s where the Winchester brothers had their anti-possession tattoos in that show.

I give Stella a lot of credit for pushing through her understandable reluctance to cut into her uncle and burn him, but Liam himself reassures her, saying “do it.”

All four actors were excellent in this scene, which could have easily been over the top but instead rang true for me. Gavin Castalegno lets Trevor’s ambivalence show on his face throughout the episode, as he tries to be loyal to his father but is upset by the violence around him, especially of people who Stella cares about being hurt.

Violet Brinson and Kale Culley are also excellent.  It IS a traumatizing situation to be asked to cut into your beloved (dying) uncle or to brand his wound, so Stella and Augie’s near-hysterical reactions seemed realistic. Keegan Allen looked like he really was dying, telegraphing Liam’s pain and increasing weakness. And props to the props folks because there was a truly alarming amount of blood, which struck me as realistic too.

Walker black cop on phone.
WAlker shot of shirtless Liam in pain from wounds and screaming.
Walker LIam feeling pain from wounds defending the ranch.
Walker August having to brand his Uncle LIams wound 1.13.

Clint runs in when Liam screams and lashes out at his son, who protests that Liam was dying. Clint grabs the phone and stomps on it, breaking it.

Clint: That was the point!

Cordell and Hoyt make it back with the cash and tell Clint to stick to their deal and end this, but he says no – that the “family went rogue, couldn’t leave well enough alone.”

Clint: You think it’s enough? I haven’t gotten what I came for.

Trevor: You got the money, Dad.

Clint finally tells the truth: We didn’t come for the money. They needed to suffer. Look that man in the eye – that is why your mother is dead!

Walker Clint tells Cordell the truth about his wife dying.
Walker Cordell learns the truth about his wifes death from Clint 1.13.

He accuses Cordell of letting them walk right into the lion’s den, knowing the cops would be waiting for them at the bank. Clint gets in Walker’s face, threatening, and Hoyt starts shooting and then it’s a shootout. Stella runs one of Clint’s guys over in her trusty Mustang, Bonham is a badass, and it looks like the good guys have the upper hand until Clint tosses down his gun and hides in wait.

Hoyt takes the bait and walks over, saying “I think I got him” and we know what’s going to happen. Clint stabs Hoyt with the knife he took from the drawer, and Hoyt staggers away, mortally wounded.

Walker Cordell firing shotgun at Clint 1.13.
Walker Hoyt getting stabbed by Clint 1.13.
Walker Clint fighting with Hoyt and getting shot 1.13.

Abilene: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! (Shades of Dean Winchester running to his mortally wounded brother Sam at the end of Season 2 of “Supernatural” – that same kind of NOOOOO that breaks your heart).

supernatural dean with a dying sam jensen ackles season 2 all hell breaks loose

Cordell leans over his friend, saying his name, as the rest of the family joins him.

Hoyt: Oh man, that’s not good.

He looks around at all the Walkers looking down at him, and says “I love you all,” which reminded me of Castiel’s (Misha Collins) almost-death when he said the same thing to the Winchesters before Crowley managed to forestall his demise. No such luck this time.

WAlker Hoyt realizes hes been shot with Cordell catching him.
Walker family trying to keep Hoyt from dying 1.13.

Cordell: Oh no, don’t you dare.

Hoyt clasps Walker’s hand.

Hoyt: I always knew it would end this way, buddy.

In this, his final episode, I enjoyed the character of Hoyt more than in any other, which made it extra sad that this was his last one.

Walker Hoyt dying holding Cordells hand like Dean Winchester in Supernatural finale.
Walker Cordell holding dying Hoyt in his arms 1.13.

He dies and Cordell closes his eyes while Abeline sobs. I know not everyone who watches “Walker” is a “Supernatural” fan, and the show is very very different, but that scene was so reminiscent of the scene in the “Supernatural” finale when Dean (Jensen Ackles) dies similarly with his hand clasped in his brother Sam’s (Jared Padalecki).

supernatural finale dean grips sams hand
Supernatural Finale Dean and Sam Winchester hand grip.

I couldn’t help but notice the parallels and feel really bad for Padalecki having to go through a scene like this twice in the space of a year. Ouch. It would have been even more impactful if we had more of Cordell and Hoyt’s backstory, but even without more, both actors brought enough emotion to it that I felt it too.

Clint: I needed to take one from you myself. Now you know how it feels.

Cordell stares him down.

Cordell: Now I understand. I understand revenge.

WAlker Clint holding gun to Cordells head 1.13.

With little to lose, Walker grabs for Clint’s gun and they start fist fighting, Walker beating the crap out of Clint. Micki shows up finally and Trevor grabs a gun and fires it up in the air to stop the fight as Ramirez calls for backup.

Clint: Shoot him!

Trevor: (brokenly) Why didn’t you come home?

Clint: He talked me out of it!

Walker admits it, saying he did – because it was his job.

Walker: This is not about manning up. This is about humanity. Who do you wanna be? Who he expects you to be? Or do you wanna be me? Because if it was me right now, I’d pull that trigger. But you’re not me and you’re not your daddy.

(Though Walker has shown he actually does have restraint, so I think he’s selling himself short here).

Walker Trevor holding gun on Cordell Jared Padalecki 1.13.
Walker Cordell reacting to Micki gun on Clint 1.13.
Walker Clint looking up at Micki holding gun on him.

Micki intervenes too, talking to Trevor.

Micki: Put down the gun, Trevor. Let me tell you about your mom. I met her, I pulled her over because she was speeding so fast just to get to you. But who is really responsible for her death? This all ends if you just put down your gun.

Walker Micki holding gun on Clint 1.13.

Trevor, crying, puts down the gun. Clint goes for it and it looks for a moment like he’s going to win after all, raising it to shoot, when a shot rings out. Against all odds, it’s Liam who saves the day, bare chested branded and bleeding, staggering out of the house. Clint falls, Trevor sobbing “Dad!” 

Walker Liam reaching down to get gun on Clint Defend the Farm.
Caps Courtesy of spndeangirl
Walker shirtless Liam holding gun on Clint 1.13.

Micki holds him, while Cordell runs to Liam and holds his brother. Stella and Augie join them, Cordell trying to get his long arms around all of them.

There’s a real finale feel to the scene, like that stage play tableau I mentioned, Cordell holding Liam and his kids, Abeline leaning over Hoyt, Bonham holding her, Trevor sobbing over his dad, Micki holding him.

Walker Trevor breaks down over dead father with Micki.
Walker Jared Padalecki holding LIam close from dying 1.13.
WAlker Cordell holding hurt LIam August and STella Defend the Farm.
Walker Trevor sobbing over his dead dad while Micki is holding him.

The cops show up, sirens blaring.

The next day Walker goes to see the Captain, who tells him that DPS gave him two weeks probation.

Cordell: That’s not right. James, my past caught up with me and I got my best friend killed. I almost got my brother killed. I put my kids’ lives at risk, my parents, and for what? You were right. We have to do better. I — I have to do better. And right now…

Walker Captain James tells Cordell hes on two weeks probation 1.13.
Walker Cordell learns hes on two weeks probation Defend the Farm.

He places his badge on the desk.

Cordell:  … I can’t do this.

Walker Jared Padalecki quits his job I can do this anymore
Walker Cordell turns in badge quitting his job.

I think it’s a step in the right direction that he’s realizing just how broken he is, but honestly, if I were him, I would be saying ‘I can’t do this and I need to find another job!’  I’m assuming that’s not what he’s saying – that he just knows that two weeks isn’t gonna cut it to make things better.

Jared Padalecki excels when he lets himself go there emotionally, whatever that emotion is, and his understated sense of resignation in this last scene came through loud and clear. I feel for Cordell, who has been through so much. Who always tries to support other people, but doesn’t always have someone supporting him. Just the amount of loss he’s endured over these thirteen episodes feels overwhelming.

Since this will likely be Austin Nichols’ last episode, I wanted to give the actor props for making me care a little about Clint by giving the character some shades of gray and nuance so he wasn’t a cartoonish villain. I felt for him, and I feel for Trevor, who has now lost both his parents.

There are so many loose ends that I’m glad this wasn’t the season finale.

  • Whatever happened with that drug cartel?
  • What’s up with Geri and how will she and Walker feel now after what happened to Hoyt?
  • Not to mention Stella and Trevor and that heartbreak, or the (lack of) consequences for Stella’s lie about her dad driving into the hitching post that sent the story careening down this unfortunate path.
  • Is Emily’s murder really truly tied up and mostly just wrong place wrong time?

I guess it’s good to have lots of questions – and now the show has five additional episodes added on to hopefully answer some of them!

New “Walker” episode this week, with Mehar’s Jacket 1.14 – Thursday on the CW.