I really enjoyed last week’s gentler, slower paced “Walker” episode, Four Stones In Hand.
The title refers to the hypervigilance that comes from being accustomed to being on the defensive, which is the position many of the show’s characters find themselves in after the events of the last year. As we’ve gone through Season 1, most of the characters have been slowly fleshed out, their complexity and emotional reactions to the stress of losses and trauma becoming more and more obvious.
With this episode, many of the characters seem to turn a corner, dropping enough of their defenses to start on the bumpy road to healing. Fifteen episodes in feels like the right time because in real life when we humans are hurt, we hang onto those defenses for a long time – sometimes longer than we need to, just to make sure. I like that “Walker” hasn’t rushed to sweep the traumatic events of the past onscreen year under the proverbial rug, but instead, has allowed us to watch the characters struggle and now try to deal with the messy aftermath.
This episode is nicely framed, beginning with Liam’s challenge to his big brother – and ending with the Walker brothers in a slightly different, less defended, place. They’re not the only ones.
Cordell is pretending to go over paperwork for the Side Step when he’s joined by Liam.
Cordell: I’m worried about you (as Liam heals from his gunshot wound).
Liam: I’m worried about YOU.
And rightly so. Cordell is listening to a police scanner, unable to let go of his motivation to keep solving crimes (I’m tempted to say, saving people hunting things…) although he knows he’s on leave. He tries to BS Liam about that, but it doesn’t work; the brothers know each other.
Liam: You chose to take a breather, but it feels like you’re not breathing.
Cordell insists he’s going to, and Liam challenges him to prove it.
Liam: Keep your mind on something other than solving crimes for one day.
He hands Cordell a Rubik’s Cube and challenges him to solve it.
(I confess to never having had the patience to do that, but Cordell accepts the challenge.)
Micki comes by the Side Step for some breakfast, avoiding both Adriana and her mother, feeling betrayed by both of them. Her anger is understandable, but Walker can see how much it’s tearing her apart to be estranged from both of them.
Micki: I don’t wanna talk to either of them.
Cordell (looking over her shoulder): She’s right behind you…
The relationship with her mother is strained, Micki insisting that her new name is who she is, not her birth name. Her mother says she’s been trying to find her daughter for a while – she found someone who said they were her daughter and scammed her, turning out obviously to not be. She pleads with Micki to stay, but Micki walks out, defenses fully up and running.
Also, somewhere in this scene we find out that Trey and Cordell are texting each other a lot, which was a big hit with most of the fandom.
After Micki leaves, Cordell takes out the trash and sees Mercedes crying in her car. Though he (literally) tells himself not to get involved, he can’t walk away and ends up asking her to tell him about the woman who scammed her. He cares about Micki and wants to help both her and her mother, but he’s also having a really hard time actually taking that leave of absence.
Mercedes relates her painful experience of thinking she’d reconnected with her daughter only to find out she was being scammed, which resulted in years of sobriety being gone.
Cordell: I’m gonna take your case…but let’s not call it that…let’s just call it a favor.
He goes to the house she’d sent the letters to and starts to climb the fence (very athletically, to the appreciation of the fandom) and ends up getting arrested. Awkwardly, the cops who arrest him seem a bit in awe of him as a Texas Ranger and apologize profusely, but they still arrest him. This episode gave Padalecki a chance to flex his comedic muscles, especially in this scene and a few others, but props to the guest cast too.
Micki visits him in lock-up and is pissed, asking him what he did. Speeding? Driving while shirtless?
Walker fandom: Yes please!
Micki: If I did the same thing you did, I’d be deported. Even though I was born in this country!
She’s mostly pissed that he didn’t stay out of her relationship with her mother though.
Nevertheless, once he’s released, he visits Micki at her desk and gets a call from the Mayor’s office, who’s helping him figure out who scammed Mercedes. Micki is furious at him for meddling and quick to think the worst of Mercedes when at first it doesn’t seem like her story adds up.
(More of that defensiveness)
Micki: Who woulda thought that the woman who sold her daughter would turn out to be a liar??
Walker doesn’t give up, however, eventually gathering information from Mercedes to figure out the dates when the scam occurred (showing some of the smarts that Walker is supposed to have but that honestly, we haven’t seen much of yet). Micki at first chides him for getting so involved, reminding him that he’s a civilian “or supposed to be trying to be one”.
Micki eventually gets on board though. When Cordell asks her, “so, you ready to join my quest?” when they figure out the letters were for real, she says yes.
Everyone watching also: YES!
Micki and Mercedes go to a recovery meeting led by the woman they suspect is the scammer; more or less undercover.
Mercedes: Act like we don’t know each other.
Micki: Oh, act normal then?
Micki is really good with the defensive barbs, that’s for sure.
She also plays an addict rather convincingly, saying she knows it’s hard to trust an addict, while her mother listens. Then Mercedes shares, talking about her pride in her daughter and saying that “she’s only the person who she is because I left.” She also says that forgiveness from her daughter was all she wanted. These are things that Micki very much needed to here, but she remains guarded and defensive, unwilling to trust and be hurt again.
The therapist uses that same phrase ‘four stones in hand’ which makes Micki suspect the therapist from the group her mother is in as the scammer.
(Damn it, I hate it when it’s the therapist!)
Cordell breaks into the therapist’s place while she’s having coffee with Micki, trying not to get caught this time (and at Micki’s encouragement this time). It’s another amusing scene, though not helped by that annoying instrumental music that played on “Supernatural” sometimes when we were supposed to find something funny. Cordell is bumbling in an endearing way sometimes, and Jared pulls off the humor.
Walker remains smart and competent in this episode despite the bumbling, however, and figures out where the hidden letters from Mercedes that the therapist saved are hidden. Micki calls to warn him when the therapist heads for home.
Micki: Did you find anything?
Cordell: I found everything!
However, he doesn’t even seem to hurry to get out of there, which left me yelling at my television, sure he was about to get caught. C’mon, Walker, get out of there!
He does make it out before she walks in, resuming his amusing disguise of being an Uber Eats delivery guy or something. My Uber Eats guy never looks like Jared Padalecki, alas.
Walker joins the undercover operation at the next meeting, ‘confessing’ that his addiction is breaking the rules and he realizes he needs to change (arguably there’s a kernel of truth there…).
Then a parade of people that the therapist has scammed come into the meeting one by one, confronting her for what she’s done, including Mercedes. She is arrested still protesting that she wanted to give them all hope, and saying she’s a recovering addict herself, which makes it a complex situation that we’re probably not going to get more information about.
Micki confronts her as they take her away, saying “they’re humans with feelings, and you treated them like disposable income.”
It’s a defense of her mother – at least her mother’s humanity – a step away from her own defensiveness to really see her mother. Mercedes overhears and it’s what she too has needed to hear from her daughter. However, she tells Micki she can’t go out to lunch with her, she needs to go to a meeting.
Mercedes: A real meeting. I can’t risk sobriety now.
Meanwhile, Stella and Augie go back to school, initially feeling bonded by their shared ordeal, saying that no one is going to get it except the two of them.
Augie says he’s glad for once that he’s invisible, but soon finds out that’s not the case – girls who ignored him before are now treating him like a hero.
Popular girl (pushing Ruby out of the way): You’re so brave…
Augie: You know my name?
Augie is pretty adorable sometimes. At some point, Stella comments that not everyone at school calls him Arlo, which was the original name of the character (and also a Padalecki dog, I believe).
Yes, Arlo is a service dog with the Padalecki’s.
While Augie is reveling in his newfound popularity and playing it up, Stella is realizing that she jeopardized her friendship with Bel by prioritizing Trevor.
Augie isn’t dealing as well as he seems to be either. He goes to plug in some A/V equipment and the loud noise triggers a flashback of the gunfight they were all in the middle of. He slumps to the floor, covering his ears. Outside the door, Ruby sees him sitting there, traumatized.
Later, August goes off on Stella about Bel when she complains that Bel is mad at her, losing his temper when she says he’s being a jerk.
Augie: You basically disappeared after Trevor. Whenever he showed up, you just ran off. Bel told me about her parents before she told you! Our mom is dead, our dad left us for a year, your boyfriend held a gun on us – I’d rather people think I’m a jerk than feel sorry for me!
(That’s often the result when people stay defensive, four stones in hand always at the ready).
Stella (noticing the red light glowing on the console): Does that light mean that we aired this to the entire school?
Now that’s an adolescent nightmare if I ever heard one!
Near the end of the school day, Ruby finds Augie sitting outside on the stairs, and he drops his defensive posture and admits that he’s not doing so well.
Augie: I guess things weren’t so okay…
Ruby reassures him that she sees him, the way he really is.
Stella apologizes to Bel for shutting her out.
Stella: Turns out I was a bad judge of character and a bad feminist…
She also says she knows that Bel likes August and that’s okay, and that they don’t have to talk about it until Bel wants to.
Stella: But in the meantime, let’s talk about everything else!
The other story line that is heating up, and one that I thought rang very true, is Bonham’s cancer treatment. He goes to see a doctor (with Abeline along for moral support), but it’s clear from the start he doesn’t want to hear a word the doctor says. He criticizes the doctor for looking like a kid and doesn’t react well to hearing that he needs treatment right away and it will last for six months, since he doesn’t want to burden the rest of the family with even knowing about this.
(Those Walker guys are really the helper type, aren’t they? Also, four stones in hand, ready for throwing!)
Doctor: We can talk alone if you want, sir.
He says no, and the doctor lays out the side effects to both of them. Impotence, loss of sexual appetite, severe pain. Bonham changes his mind about committing to treatment, sounding like he’s ready to sacrifice himself and assuming no one will care, but Abeline calls him on it, saying that refusing treatment is the easy way out.
The last portion of the episode brings things to resolution for most of the characters. Augie was real with Ruby; Stella was real with Bel. Cordell figures out the Rubik’s Cube (though actually he cheated). Micki confronts him about it.
Micki: That’s a perfect metaphor for the day. I believed you in there about breaking the rules. You can’t live your life as a civilian with the privileges of a Ranger.
Cordell confesses that he broke one more rule – he grabbed the letters from her mom.
Micki waits for her mother after a meeting, having read some of the letters.
Micki: Why did you keep writing after you knew?
Mercedes: If I stopped writing to you, it was like giving up on us. I just wanted to talk to you, Micki. I still do.
Micki: Then maybe you should have my address – see if any of these are worth mailing again to your real daughter.
Liam is also meddling, like his brother – in his parents’ relationship.
Bonham: Your mother gave up a whole other life.
Liam: If this is about her, then do this FOR her.
Abeline sends Liam away with a kind ‘all right, son, you can go,’ and confronts her husband about his reluctance to get treatment. He says that if treatment doesn’t work, he doesn’t want her to think she’s failed, that he knows her and she’ll just focus on taking care of him.
Abeline brings him to the hotel where they met (the real life Driskill in Austin), where she’d just gotten engaged and was drinking champagne alone, so he joined her and they celebrated together – and the rest was history.
Abeline: You don’t get to tell me to quit in the name of sparing me. I didn’t ask for easy. I have no regrets.
She gets down on one knee and asks him for a fresh start, to renew their vows.
He agrees to call the doctor.
Abeline: We can call him tomorrow. Why don’t we give Room 416 a try?
My only complaint is I felt like we should really get subversive and let the grandparents have a passionate kiss instead of a peck on the forehead. C’mon, “Walker,” you’ve done so well with painting these two with a complexity that is rarely seen for the grandparents in a show, keep going! Shirley Maclaine and Jack Nicholson pulled it off brilliantly in “Terms of Endearment.”
Micki ends the day with the Walker brothers.
Micki: I was a bit hard on you earlier. Thank you for today – for everything.
Cordell: Even for meddling…
Liam: You solved it [the Rubik’s cube], wow.
Cordell then says he’s come to a turning point.
Cordell: My life can’t be what it was. Emily was who kept everything in check with work. I need to start keeping myself in check. It’s about figuring out who I’m supposed to be.
He turns to his brother.
Cordell: About that cube…
Liam: You cheated, yeah I know, white and blue are never next to each other.
I laughed, and it was a nice scene and a nice ending to the episode. The three of them drink to “moving on”, and it felt like that.
Not something that’s easy to do, and something I’m still struggling with even with things as seemingly inconsequential as losing a favorite TV show. I appreciate that this show has not glossed over how hard that is or how long it takes or how we never really move on completely from something we’ve loved that much.
To moving on…
Next new “Walker” episode airs July 15 as Season One nears its end with Bad Apples 1.16!