The holiday themed episode of “Walker,” aptly titled Douglas Fir, has an interesting start – which in my book is a good thing. A Texas-sounding version of Jingle Bells plays as a big red bow blows down the street like a tumbleweed, shifting to a guy eating a candy cane driving along the road listening to that song on the radio. It then shifts into more stereotypical “Walker” territory as some bad guys hold up the public safety truck (wearing truly creepy reindeer masks and carrying big guns). They beat him rather brutally and then break into the van with a blow torch. That was a suitably offbeat beginning for an episode that turned out to be very emotional, for its cast and its fans.
This was the last episode for Lindsey Morgan (Micki), who leaves the show for personal and self-care reasons, with the full support of the rest of the cast and production. As a fan of the show and the character, I will definitely miss her, but this episode handled her departure with compassion by bringing some of the real-life themes right into the canon of the show.
It’s also the holiday episode, so the next scene finds the Walker kids bringing in a sort of Charlie Brown Christmas tree, right down to the criss cross wood stand it’s nailed onto. Augie’s shoulder is still hurting but he doesn’t want to own up to how it happened. Enter Cordell – Jared Padalecki looking seriously adorable in an elf hat and being all in the holiday spirit. Bonham is decidedly not in the holiday spirit, unfortunately – and not on board with the Charlie Brown tree though I think it’s kinda cute.
The Walker bros reminisce about 90s Christmases which unfortunately also includes some bad memories with the Davidsons. Cordell is still not wanting a war and Liam agrees to be civil.
Cordell: We’re good?
Liam: Yeah man, we’re good.
Enter Denise, who shares a lot of those holiday memories with the Walkers but isn’t in the holiday spirit, especially now that the transport van was hijacked. Denise asks Liam to go with Cordell to check it out since the locals will clam up when they see her in her old stomping grounds.
Meanwhile, Micki and Trey try to talk it out about Garrison, so she doesn’t answer Walker’s phone call. She apologizes for not telling Trey sooner and tries to explain, being truthful about Garrison being her ex-fiance. Trey’s hurt, understandably, because she lied – especially about something so big, not just an ex boyfriend but Micki being engaged. Her explanation for how he ‘slipped right out of my hands’ is so vague I’m not sure Trey even understands that it is literal and not a metaphor, but it seems like they have a chance to work things out now that she’s come clean.
Micki: Are we okay?
Trey: Cmon, it’s us, it’s Tricki…
(I kinda love that they’ve incorporated the fannish ship name into the show). But the directorial choice to position the painting between speaks volumes.
The brothers Walker go Christmas tree shopping as they investigate, intending to be ‘holiday heroes’ – fandom is happy because they are both wearing their hats along with scarves and they frankly look very attractive indeed. They accuse the tree place owners of being part of Serano’s team and of hijacking the van, but the guys put the suspicion on none other than Dan Miller.
Cordell: Dan Miller lives in Austin.
The bad guy says nope, he lives in Thalia now, which is news to the Walkers.
Back at the school, there is much holiday decorating and partying and Augie holding his hurt shoulder but ignoring it so he can impress the girl he likes. Augie connects with Colton over music and they agree to work together on playing the piano.
Denise thanks Trey for his good work as a counselor with the escape rooms.
Back in Thalia, in another weirdly juxtaposed scene of Christmas music playing, Dan boxes up his decorations – including a creepy reindeer mask – and hides shotguns in the decorations box, as the Walker bros knock on the door.
Liam calls him ‘Danny Boy’ which he definitely does not appreciate.
Walker: You always keep your shotgun next to your decorations?
Dan: Oh yeah, right next to my second amendment.
Kinda liked that it’s the bad guy saying that, NGL.
Dan reminds Cordell that he had a little run in with Serano “saving your baby brother,” which gave me lots of “Supernatural” feels but is not meant to be friendly coming from Dan Miller. The Walkers are not amused. Liam confronts Dan, accusing him of finding the route for the evidence van on Denise’s laptop and going back to his old ways, or maybe Northside Nation is squeezing him.
Liam: I just can’t figure you out…must be that perfect hair.
Dan: Well, you just gotta put in the time and find the right product, you’ll get there.
Oh snap. Three dudes with pretty much perfect hair all throwing down about hair!
Micki and Trey get along at the holiday party until Trey says he threw himself into the new job to get his mind off what “you had done”. She asks for honesty, asks if he blames her, and he says he doesn’t but that she ran off undercover once they started to talk about commitment.
Trey: You were engaged, so maybe it was about commitment to ME. That fork in the road you mentioned, you know I’m on the wrong side of it.
Ouch. Tricki is in trouble.
The Walker brothers go out for burgers, a little more in sync than the Winchester brothers ever were about food. Liam is convinced that Dan is guilty and a violent criminal, while Cordell still wants to stay calm. He says he knows what Liam is going through.
Liam: No you don’t. Because when I hear a gunshot now, Cordell, I look down to see where the bullet is in me.
I love the way this show does not shy away from exploring the very real emotional reactions that people have when violence invades their lives. Supernatural did some of that too and I always appreciated it. This scene between Jared Padalecki and Keegan Allen was so intense – as it should be – as Cordell realizes and apologizes.
Liam has a bad feeling about Dan; both brothers ask each other to trust the other.
And then Gail Davidson shows up at the restaurant, wanting a word alone with Cordell, so Liam goes outside, clearly pissed. Dan gets out of his truck, gloating with a “safety first, never know if anyone shady is around” and Liam snaps. He looks in Dan’s van and sees the creepy deer mask and knocks out the taillight of Dan’s truck, then uses the handy dandy payphone (payphone?!) to call in a tip about it. Uh oh, I have a bad feeling about this.
Gail gives Cordell the intel that a hardware store sold blowtorches to some “meth heads”, claiming she’s up in Thalia with Dan because he screwed up and missed a counseling session last week. Cordell doesn’t really buy it, though he says he’ll check it out.
Gail asks Cordell to keep Dan’s ‘bachelor weekend’ to himself and he says he will.
Cordell: But if you screw me over on this, my whole peacemaker bit is over. And you won’t like what comes next.
Dayum threatening Cordell, is hot.
They find the bad guys and the van, a shoot out happens, Cordell drives right through the garage door and they take the bad guys down – though one of them threatens Cordell with a blowtorch and taunts him. Walker throws down the gun and says ‘bring it’ and takes him down with fists anyway. And a well placed swinging chain – all set to some bouncy music.
Cordell: You know, you could’ve just dropped the torch.
The music in this episode is perfect.
Cordell says they might owe Dan Miller an apology and the Walker brothers head out to get another Douglas fir, and for some reason Liam doesn’t tell Cordell that he saw a creepy deer mask in Dan’s truck. Why not??
They run into Dan stopped by the police on the road and Cordell realizes that Liam did something he shouldn’t have. Liam tries to get Cordell not to stop and admits he made a call, insisting that Dan was a threat. He says he was safe, there were no cameras, and Cordell realizes just how serious this is.
Cordell: Don’t lie to me. Did you call in a false report to get around a warrant?
Liam is tearful as he admits it, and Cordell is furious, saying this is a line you do not cross, that this is the end of a career – “your career!”
Oh no, poor Liam. I realize he shouldn’t have done that, but ouch.
A lot happens at the holiday party as the episode draws to a close. Augie suggests that he and Colton upgrade from neighbors to friends, they play piano together at the party and Augie’s crush appreciates it, while Micki and Trey avoid each other across the room. And Liam mans up and goes to talk to Denise and it seems like things are about to crash down around him.
Cordell arrives at the party and sees Liam confessing to Denise. He lets the kids drag him into the holiday spirit though, just as Bonham arrives – as Santa in a pickup truck! Priceless Mitch Pileggi “light ‘em up!”
Stella asks if Cordell knew about this and Cordell says yes.
Cordell: He and I wanted to surprise you, and frankly I wanted to see him in that wig.
While his dad seems in a good mood, Augie confesses about falling through the Davidsons’ barn (because he had to see about a girl…) and being injured.
The tree is lit, Cordell hugs his kids, and it starts to snow in Texas.
Trey: That wasn’t supposed to happen tonight.
Micki: A lot of stuff wasn’t supposed to happen tonight, I think.
It’s kinda the tag line for the episode, and for some real-life happenings too. Trey and Micki have a heart to heart, still so much warmth between them, and it’s a conversation that parallels Lindsey Morgan’s real life exit from the show – that honesty that’s necessary to move forward. They both have tears in their eyes as they struggle to say goodbye without wanting to say it, just as she’s doing in real life. They hug as music plays in the background, asking “Don’t you wanna be happy?”
Micki: I need to go home, I need to figure out how I got here, otherwise I don’t think I can make it back.
It’s what Lindsey needs too, to go home, to regroup, to figure out how to be okay and move forward.
They kiss, but it’s goodbye.
Micki: I love you.
She walks away, wiping tears as the snow falls, and it’s part great acting but it’s part Lindsey too, I can’t help but think, and suddenly I found myself crying too.
I will miss her, a lot.
Micki goes to her office to clear out her desk and leave a note for Walker and Captain James finds her there – she lays down her badge and her gun and picks up a framed photo to take it with her, and he comes in and he knows.
James: Please tell me there’s something I can say to make you change your mind.
The thing is, in real life too sometimes there’s not. Because sometimes leaving is the right decision.
Micki: Sometimes you spend so much time trying to prove you can do what everyone says you could and you’ve just lost track of why you’re doing it at all.
Walker comes in too after talking to Trey, and also realizes. He apologizes to her, saying she helped him and he should’ve reached out to her more, but Micki says no, she’s trying to look at the positive here. I have no doubt that’s Lindsey too, because it was clearly hard for her to leave but the right decision for her.
Micki: Everything that happened, it gave me this clarity. I wanna love my job, this place. I used to.
I don’t know how intentional it is, but that dialogue works perfectly for the real life situation too.
They quote Shakespeare to each other, like when they met. “Give me your hand if we be friends.”
Cordell is tearing up too, part Walker, part Padalecki.
Micki: Thank you for taking a chance on me, sir.
That feels like Lindsey, and it’s clear that no one regrets taking that chance.
James: The door is always open, all right?
Micki: You’ll always be my family, Beau.
Cordell: Back at ya, Flor.
She hands her badge to James and he reluctantly takes it.
Micki: It was a privilege.
She walks away, all three of them with eyes full of tears. The last shot is Micki – Lindsey – leaving. Walking away. And that’s what she did, in reality.
I am so so proud of the show, of Jared as EP, of the network, of her colleagues, for supporting her in making the decision that was best for her, that she needed to make. So often, perhaps especially in this business, but in life in general, we don’t support each other in making those kinds of decisions, and so people find it hard to do what they need to do to take care of themselves. Kudos to “Walker” and all involved for breaking that mold.
When I was putting together the book ‘Family Don’t End With Blood’, Jared Padalecki volunteered to write a chapter. I expected a few pages – but when the draft arrived it was over thirty pages of him getting just as real as Lindsey did when she made this decision. He wrote about the pressure of being the lead on a television show when you’re struggling with your emotional health, and how impossible it can seem to do anything about that. Jared knows what that’s like, and when he was in the position of creating a climate that would allow even a lead actor to practice self-care, he made sure that could happen. It’s rare, but so needed, especially in this more stressful than ever world. When I saw him last weekend, I told him how much I valued this episode and its real-life parallels. He nodded and expressed his thanks and then said quietly, “I cried.”
I said “Me too.”
The last scene of this episode worked perfectly as both Micki’s goodbye and Lindsey’s, the dialogue a mirror for real life acceptance of a real person’s need to walk away to be okay and be true to herself. Watching Jared Padalecki and Coby Bell struggle to support her while having to say goodbye felt more real than acting, but that just made the scene more powerful.
I can’t help but think that Lindsey meant it every bit as much as Micki did when she went on.
Micki: It was a privilege.
And Jared and Coby meant what they said too – the door is always open and you’ll always be family.
Jared Padalecki live tweeted the episode and reiterated that sentiment to Lindsey, with the fandom chiming in with our support and gratitude as well.
We’ll miss you Lindsey, but I’m so glad you were able to do what you needed to do to take care of yourself, and that you landed in the rare environment that made that okay. We need more of that!
“Walker” is on hiatus until mid-January – happy holidays everyone!