“Walker” returned for its second season last week, and the show immediately hit the ground running with some intriguing new mysteries and some deeper themes that kept my psychologist brain happy too. I couldn’t watch it live so I caught up on the CW app, which means I missed live tweeting with Jared Padalecki, unfortunately.
I am so enjoying how active he is on Twitter recently – I always end up smiling at his ability to spread joy and excitement throughout the “Walker” and “Supernatural” fandoms by just randomly replying to tweets. At the same time, I really admire his ability to ignore the haters who seem to always be lying in wait. It must be tempting to just pull back and stay quiet when you know you can count on being attacked every time you interact – he does see some of that and it has to be hurtful on some level – but being a positive force is more important and so he does it anyway. One of my first in-depth conversations with him, way back in the early days of Supernatural, was about how hurtful those online comments can be – yet here he is, still persevering and being a bright light in the lives of so many fans.
Last week was an eventful one for the “Walker” fandom – it was premiere week, which was a joyous occasion, but it was also the week that Lindsey Morgan announced that she would be leaving the show. I don’t know anyone who didn’t love her character of Micki, and her dynamic with both Cordell and Trey, so the fandom was sad about her departure.
I’m sure the cast and crew and producers were also sad about it since a mid-season unplanned departure has all sorts of ramifications – but it is to the credit of both the fandom and the show that everyone supported Lindsey in her decision to take care of her own mental health. Too often, we all ‘push through’ and ignore what our brains and bodies are telling us we need, sometimes with disastrous consequences. I will miss Micki, but Lindsey set a great example in being candid about what she was going through and making the tough decisions she needed to.
I know Jared understands that need – in his autobiographical chapter in the book Family Don’t End With Blood, he wrote openly and eloquently about his own mental health and how difficult it had been for him to ever make that a priority as a lead on a television show. There’s a lot of talk about how we all should do that, but Jared put his money where his mouth is and got behind Lindsey and her decision, both as a lead actor and as an executive producer. That’s a real departure from ‘the way things are done’ in television and film, and I feel kind of proud of both Jared and Lindsey for doing the right thing.
That said, I am really going to miss Micki Ramirez!
The episode itself was non-stop, sometimes moving so quickly I felt a little dizzy.
Micki’s storyline was the action-packed one, with her undercover assignment three months in and the demands of living that role 24/7 starting to take a toll on all her relationships, just like it did when Cordell became a little too much Duke and less Cordi. She’s cut herself off from Walker and from Trey (and presumably from her moms after just reconnecting/reestablishing those relationships). It’s easy to see how that seems like the right thing to do, to keep everyone safe, but it takes a toll anyway. Lies and deception and isolation are built into being undercover – which is something I honestly never gave a moment’s thought until watching “Walker.”
I really felt for Trey, knowing that Micki is in danger but cut off from her and unable to verify if she’s okay. I don’t blame him for tracking her down at trivia night at some bar, just in time to see her partner-in-crime (literally), the hapless Spider, get tossed off a building onto the roof of a car and murdered. Micki grabs Trey and tells him that she loves him, tearfully saying that she “sure hopes that girl of yours comes home”. But then she sends him on his way.
Everyone, in fact, is worried about both Micki and Trey. The episode begins with a nice bonding scene, Walker and Trey and Liam all out for a run. They make a pretty picture for the fandom too, which I’m sure was not lost on anyone (though they looked a lot more like Jared, Jeff and Keegan to be honest).
Walker and Trey have gotten closer during Micki’s time away, as Cordell later tells Denise. Bonham and Abeline fuss about Trey not eating enough and how he should stay for breakfast, and everyone tells Cordell to ask Capt. James how she’s doing. You get the feeling that they’ve all become a close extended family over the past three months, with Geri also included.
We also get to see a lot of badass Micki in this episode – when Spider pulls a gun to go after a tow truck driver who’s towing the car he’d got drugs stashed in, Micki impulsively leaps onto the moving truck, starts the car, and backs it right off the tow truck!
As the stakes increase, James tries to convince her to come in from undercover, but Micki feels she’s too close to getting to the kingpin himself and refuses. James is still feeling guilty about how Walker’s undercover stint went, but he doesn’t pull her ultimately.
After Trey’s brief meeting with Micki, he’s more worried than ever. That prompts him to tell Cordell that Micki is undercover because of him, to save him – that the sniper wasn’t just targeting Stan, but Walker. He’s caught off guard, clearly upset, and probably feeling a little betrayed by his close friends who have kept him in the dark.
Trey: Help get her out of this, please.
So of course Walker does.
The Original Denise
The other main storyline of this episode is the return of the Davidson family, who lived next door to the Walkers. We see flashbacks of young Cordell and Denise in the Davidson’s barn, clearly getting close, and then them running, Cordi marveling at what we at first think are fireflies in the night, but turn out to be sparks – from the burning barn. He goes back to save Denise, and young Liam is somehow involved too, but we don’t really know what happened – a new mystery for Season 2.
Marv Davidson, Denise’s dad, is the man who Abeline broke off her engagement with to marry Bonham, and he also apparently was killed in the fire, so there’s a lot of water under the bridge for these two families. The Davidsons moved away after, but now they’re back – and the awkward tension between the Walkers and the Davidsons is back too.
Denise Davidson (Amara Zaragosa) takes the DA position that Liam was hoping for, and he’s forced to stay on as an ADA, which he protests is humiliating. Denise is a take-no-shit kind of DA, and she and Liam clash.
There’s resentment still there for Liam about being left out of Cordi and Denise’s childhood/adolescent closeness too. One of my favorite scenes was Keegan Allen getting a chance to really shine as little brother Liam, drunk at the Side Step and still pissed about those childhood rejections.
Denise is married to Bill (Odette Annable’s real-life husband Dave), who’s as much of a firecracker as Denise is. Denise also knows the score though. When she and Cordell do a little reminiscing, they mention her mother.
Denise: My mother can be…
Denise: I was gonna say a real bitch, so let’s go with demanding.
Her scenes with Padalecki were amusing, with Walker thrown off and nervous around her.
Cordell: Yeah I was close with Micki…and I’ve gotten really close with her boyfriend Trey, we jog together, bbq together…
Denise: Always the over sharer…
They both agree to try to put the past behind them, however, and to keeping it professional. I’m intrigued by their past and how it’s going to inevitably impact their present, though, despite their determination to not let it.
The Kids Are All Right (or Not)
Stella and Augie tease each other about being single then drive to school together in their uniforms and in the red Mustang, fighting over a parking spot with yet another mop haired pretty boy (missing Gavin Casalegno a little, not gonna lie).
When Stella finds their car keyed after school, she leaps in front of the boy’s pickup truck and accuses him of being the perpetrator. He sneers back.
Colton (newcomer Jalen Thomas Brooks): You’re Stella and… Arlo? You blame other people for your messes. Go home and tell your Ranger daddy to arrest me then! I’m Colton – and you’re a little princess.
Stella’s hands are fisted in rage, but it’s Augie who punches Colton in the face. The boys fight until hardworking coach Trey notices and pulls them apart. Later, the kids and parents meet with the annoyed principal, and Walker tells Augie to apologize for the punch, while Denise (yep, Colton’s mom) tells him to zip his mouth or he’s going to military school.
Augie: I punched him, but only because…
Cordell: Stop. Apologize.
Augie: I’m sorry…that I beat you up…
Cordell has to turn away because he’s having to fight not to smile, but it’s to his credit that he at least turns around.
I do think Augie should have absolutely apologized – sans gloating.
By the end of the episode, Stella has a chat with Coach Trey about the existential crisis she’s going through – developmentally appropriate but complicated by the trauma her family went through three months before.
Stella: When it comes to family, I get aggro now. I don’t want something to happen again, I’m supposed to think about college, decide my life path… some people have jobs lined up for 2026!
He assures her that not everyone has everything figured out – that he went through three jobs in the past year alone, and it’s okay to take a minute to figure things out.
Stella is also freaking out a little because her dad didn’t come home the night before, which must bring back all the trauma of the year he was undercover. Colton joins her in detention, and she informs him that she doesn’t want to talk about her dad. He retorts that he doesn’t want to talk about his mom. Then Stella gets a text – from someone named Liz. Apologizing for dinging her car.
That felt very real life too – every day in online discourse, someone blames someone for something that they sometimes didn’t actually do and then tons of people pile on to do the same. It will be interesting to see where Stella and Colton go from here – it seems like they’re setting up the classic enemies to lovers trope, or at least an adolescent version of that. Stella kinda has a thing for the bad boys too…
The Older Generation
We don’t get a whole lot of Bonham and Abeline, but we do get an intriguing scene where Abeline doesn’t want to talk about Marv and the fire and is a bit pissed at Liam for being so drunk the night before. When Liam complains that a painting on the wall is sideways, she snaps back that it’s his drunken brain that’s sideways – but when Bonham goes to fix it, we see that it’s someone else’s pov. The mysterious man spying on the family!
There’s also a nice scene with Bonham and Abeline and some beautiful horses. She asks him how he’s feeling, and he answers ‘good.’
Mawline: Would you tell me if you weren’t?
Bonham: PSA levels are good, meds are working, I’ve got you by my side. I learned my lesson, no more secrets.
It’s a good lesson for a lot of the Walkers, honestly.
The Family Feud
We get a lot of pretty adorable big brother-little brother interaction at the Side Step as Cordell tries to convince a drunk Liam to come with him and go home.
Liam: Aww, don’t treat me like a kid… Denise did that to me earlier, like she used to, she’d tell me to get lost while you two were out looking for fireflies or whatever. Who am I, Rudolph?
Poor Liam, Keegan really sold that little brother vibe. Clearly Denise had something in mind other than fireflies with Cordi, I’m guessing.
Geri is also not a fan, recalling stories she heard about the Davidsons not inviting Hoyt to their parties because he lived on the wrong side of the tracks and Marv stealing the Walkers’ ranch hands.
Geri: Also, didn’t Gail Davidson blame you for that fire?
Cordell insists he wants to try to keep the peace and keep the past in the past, but it’s not easy. Denise’s husband Bill is all too eager to poke at all that past discord when he shows up, taunting Liam that he lost to a guy who was on trial for murder.
Liam retorts by pointing to Denise the stuffed head on the wall of the Side Step, which we hadn’t known the back story to.
Liam: You know who that is? That’s Denise the deer, named after our Travis County DA.
Bill: You think that’s funny? Take it down!
Bill insists that Denise’s father died in the fire trying to save Cordell’s ass, which prompts Liam to throw a drunken punch – and poor Trey once again pulls people apart. Denise puts Bill in the truck and Cordell puts Liam in the truck, both of them in a sort of time out, and then the two try to be civil.
Denise: Denise the deer…which is a BOAR…
Cordell: I’m sorry, we were drinking…
Neither of them really remember much about the night of the fire, other than what they were told, and both agree they should try a peace summit on neutral ground, at the Side Step. Erase some bad memories, make some new ones.
It’s another theme of this episode, and one that seems as relevant as the theme of grief and loss felt in the first season. Whether it’s the pandemic or politics or fandom, it seems like people are at each other’s throats more than ever, and peace feels elusive everywhere you go. I’m looking forward to Walker exploring how long-standing grudges and disagreements fester and persist, and the impact that has on relationships in the present. It feels disturbingly relevant.
Cordell turns to Geri after everyone has left.
Cordi: You’re not actually taking Denise down?
Geri says no way, that was a gift from Emily.
The episode ends as action packed as it began. Walker keeps his promise to Trey and heads out to protect Micki, lying to Capt. James (who 100% knows he’s lying but goes along with it reluctantly). Walker comes in the door to the place that Micki is searching, gun drawn, only to have her overpower him and throw him on the floor. He lands on his back in a sprawl.
Walker: Uh, I’m here to save you…
(Shades of the Winchesters bursting into someone’s apartment and then realizing there was nothing to save and saying the same thing)
Walker: And…I think someone followed me. Or maybe you. Yeah, you.
Micki: I hate you.
Walker: I miss you too, Flor.
He reaches up expecting a hand up, and she walks away.
I will so miss their dynamic as partners.
The guy who was tailing Walker shows up and it’s someone he knew from the force who’s also a Ranger now – James had him following Cordell. But there’s someone else following them too, one of the bad guys named Morgan.
Cordell tries to convince Micki to back out, but she refuses, saying she’s so close, she’s gotta get back out there. In fact, Micki has an idea.
Micki: This will only hurt for a minute.
She starts a fight with Cordell and then runs away, while Walker and the other Ranger take down Morgan. Cordell really cannot get a break a lot of the time, though, because going after Micki meant he missed the peace summit that he set up at the Side Step between the two families. Geri calls Bonham, the Davidsons sitting there being stood up by the Walkers.
Bonham: Let me guess, he’s a no show? Put this on my tab.
Even with Morgan arrested, Walker argues that this only buys Micki a couple of days, reminding her that Serrano has no trouble picking off his own people. Micki says she’s doing this for him, that she knows what he would’ve done and hates how much she knows.
Micki: The way you were when you came back, all dark and rogue and unhinged. And even worse I get it, which is why I can’t let it happen again.
Walker: Exactly. And I can’t either. So why would I let you do the same damn thing to yourself?
But at that moment she gets a text.
Micki: Serrano just asked me to dance.
They put a plan in place, and Micki tells James that she kicked Walker’s ass and ran.
Walker: Uh, that was a plan we made together…. We talked about it beforehand…
Jared is so good at that kind of comedy, it always makes me smile. Cordell is so different from Sam Winchester, and as much as I will miss Sam forever, I like Cordi. He’s a little bit bumbling in a way that Sam usually wasn’t, not so sure of himself, especially when it comes to women.
Even Denise agrees that Micki should stay in.
Denise: Don’t start any fires, Cordi.
I get the feeling that she still cares about him, in spite of what’s between their families. Maybe that’s why her husband is so antagonistic.
And the Plot Thickens
The ending scenes leave the Walkers and the Davidsons still at odds, with Gail Davidson leaving a gardening Abilene with this barb:
Gail: I’ll give you a call when I do the garden. You know what you’re doing, knee deep in dirt…
Micki meets with Serrano, with Cordell and other Rangers with rifles at the ready trained on the cars pulling up to meet with her.
Another car pulls up and a stranger gets out.
Walker asks in Micki’s ear, ‘who’s that other guy?’
And Micki finally answers the question that Spider kept asking her in the beginning of the episode:
Micki: It’s the one that got away.
Oooh, now that’s intriguing!
I’m looking forward to where this season goes and hoping the show will keep its depth and psychological focus once again. Fingers crossed!