All too soon, “Walker” is headed into its mid-season hiatus – but boy, did it go out with a bang!
Last week’s episode was an emotional roller coaster, which we should have expected since it’s titled “Just Desserts.” That doesn’t just apply to what comes at the end of Thanksgiving dinner either!
The opening scene sets up the episode as one that deals with loss and family strife. Abby leaves a message for her brother William, saying she’s here if he wants to talk. Molly Hagan can make me feel so much with just a short little scene.
Cordi and Liam try to cope with everything they’ve been through by starting a new tradition – ranch-to-table turkey, complete with turkey imitation gobbles (which we also got some behind-the-scenes iterations of, lucky fandom that we are).
Stella always said she wanted to “mix things up” and Cordell is really missing his daughter, so he’s also planning Stella’s favorite dessert. Abeline and Bonham point out that Cordell is making grand gestures instead of talking to her instead of avoiding some awkward conversations. He clearly is upset that she’s been “radio silent” for a few weeks – and I find it hard to believe that Abeline hasn’t made sure Cordell realizes he got it wrong about what happened at the SideStep yet. What the hell??
The brothers tell their mom she’s not lifting a finger, assuring her they’ll have everything ready in time for the traditional Circle of Thanks, because they know this is a tough day for her.
They also clearly enjoyed roaring around on ATVs wearing hunting camo gear and trying to outpace their dad – both the characters onscreen and definitely the actors. The whole kill the turkey on Thanksgiving Day and get all dressed up in camo gear and oh we also need to race ATVs didn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I don’t think that was the point – it was some indulgent fun that everyone could roll their eyes at a little.
They find some turkeys just hanging around gobbling and take a shot – which misses.
Liam: I was kinda hoping a Texas Ranger would be a better marksman.
They oddly give up on hunting fairly quickly, perhaps because they ran out of time riding around on their big toys like little boys. Cordell rationalizes.
Cordell: These gobblers are crafty.
Defeated by the wild turkeys.
It was silly but I enjoyed it anyway.
Bonham came prepared though, having already bought a turkey a week ago at the market. It’s clearly been a bonding experience for the Walker boys despite the lack of turkey, who vow to keep the truth about that between the three of them.
BOYS. Did I say that already?
Liam has invited Ben and seeks a “significant other exemption” from the Circle of Thanks tradition, whatever that is, but I love how supportive everyone always is of each other’s relationships. All of them. That seems important to say when there just was a hate crime mass shooting at an LGBTQ club the very week this episode was airing. It may not seem like a big deal, and it shouldn’t be, but shows like “Walker” make a difference in the way people look at ALL relationships.
This episode is all about family traditions, and Cassie and Ben have their own to uphold – Black Friday doorbusters and vowing never to pay full price.
Unfortunately, their tradition is in direct conflict with the Walkers’ all day festivities since Doorbusters start at 8 pm and the Walkers eat at 9 pm.
Of course, in keeping with the theme of nobody ever telling anyone what the hell is really going on, neither Cassie nor Ben mention this conflict to any of the Walkers.
Meanwhile, Colton and Stella serve meals to people who need them and then contemplate whether to start their own Thanksgiving tradition or “give into bribery” and join in the Walker family one. The stereotypical developmental crisis that every young adult must face eventually – individuation and do your own thing, or keep to the family of origin tradition?
Nobody tells my kids they’re not coming home for the holidays though, I don’t care if they think they’re grown ups…
Colton is the only one who expresses the same kind of incredulity I’m feeling, asking why August has STILL not set the record straight about who really threw that ill-fated party. Stella is furious that Cordell is blind to who August is becoming. I don’t blame her for at all on this. To complicate things even more, there’s a Notice of Closure on the Sidestep door thanks to the disastrous party.
This family really cannot get a break.
Colton: Well, Happy Thanksgiving…
Colton is the voice of reason, saying someone has to know that it’s been shut down, and Augie especially needs to know – he’s defensive of Stella, wanting to drop the grenade on the family and then bounce, making August clean up his mess for once.
Back at the ranch (literally), Trey and the Walker parents watch football. I kinda love the Walker ranch, it looks incredibly homey and comfortable. I appreciate you, Walker set dress crew!
Cassie texts with Kevin, who she’s realized is not so bad, and Trey suggests she invite him to dinner while he has to go to work.
Cassie: Invite him here, for a first date? That’s crazy.
Trey: It is crazy – but it’s also very much you.
Cassie: Oh…you’re right.
Capt James shows up too, saying that he had to handle a barrage of calls from the DA’s office – and misses Liam being in that office, which agreed, me too.
Liam: It must be pretty bad if you’re wishing that.
Me: Awwww Liam, no!
Cordi is still jittery when Grey Flag is mentioned by mistake by Cassie, and in between all these other things happening, Liam and Cordi bicker like brothers do as they try to work together to pull off this Thanksgiving meal. I give them credit for trying so hard!
Stella shows up and her grandparents are happy to see her, but she recoils a bit when her dad tries to hug her too.
As a parent, that made me say “ouch” out loud.
August is apparently sleeping in Stella’s room, and everyone is awkward when Stella says she’s just there to talk to August and then they’ll be going.
That sends an upset Cordell into the workshop, and Bonham after him. Bonham says more of this is about August than he’s admitting; that he has a blind spot about August and Stella – as many of us do at times about our kids, I suppose. Cordell still blames Stella for the lies about the car, and now for her moving out, insisting that August is the solid one and it’s been that way forever.
Bonham: Don’t look now, but I think they call those blinders.
Sometimes Bonham is just plain right.
At that, the electricity goes out and a tree falls – right through the kitchen window.
It’s total Thanksgiving chaos, gravy spilled all over the floor, the oven no longer working, the food not fully cooked – and honestly, who hasn’t experienced the absolute stress of a holiday you’re trying to make perfect going south in a spectacular way?
Stella finds August and hands him the notice, demanding that he tell the truth to their dad.
Abeline joins their discussion and agrees with Stella, and also tells them both that it’s not worth it to stay on the outs like this.
Everyone has been empathizing with her about what a tough day this is, the implication being that her own fractured relationship with her brother Will makes holidays bittersweet – and we soon find out it’s even more than that.
Liam wants to call it and give up on their dinner; Cordell asks if their forefathers had a working oven.
Liam: I find it problematic whenever we examine the history of this holiday too closely.
Good point, Liam – I love that this show never backs down from telling it like it is. They decide to “spatchcock” the turkey and Liam’s “what?” is priceless.
James and Abby have a chat about their tradition of Abby not cooking on Thanksgiving – it turns out that her mom died on Thanksgiving almost 20 years ago, and it’s defined the whole day for her.
She and Will got into a fight that night, and it’s never been the same between them. Her boys made it their mission that she never lift a finger on Thanksgiving. They’re good kids, Liam and Cordell, honestly.
Kevin shows up in the pouring rain and the dark.
Cassie: How did you even get here? You’re soaked.
Kevin: I’d very much like to come inside now if that’s okay.
He’s not about to squander a second chance with a woman he’s aware pretty much hated him the first time they met, he says. Kevin and Cassie are so cute together, not gonna lie. I’m really glad to have the amazing Jake Abel on the show. He was so good as Michael and Adam on “Supernatural,” and we’re lucky to have him on “Walker” now.
So, Stella and Colton and everyone else ends up staying for dinner after all, though the turkey turns out to be half frozen – which is weird if it was only killed a few hours ago, Abeline points out – and what they think is gravy is actually soup.
To make things even more uncomfortable, August keeps making snide comments about “the new guy” aka Kevin.
Kevin: It’s okay…
All the guests try to run interference as the Walkers become more and more and more awkward and bickering. All the actors get a chance to show off their comedic talents because the whole scene is priceless and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the struggle not to have it all decompensate.
The tension is so thick, and they are all so anxious that when Cordell brings out a blow torch for the baked Alaska, we can all understand Captain James’ warning.
James: Oh, blow torch… I just wanna make everyone aware there is now a blow torch in the room.
Coby Bell’s delivery was so perfect I laughed out loud.
Abeline interrupts that with FINALLY protesting how no one in this family ever bloody talks about the elephants in the room, and Stella shows Cordell the notice. Now things are REALLY awkward.
When Cordell continues to blame Stella, Abeline FINALLY spills that too, saying that it was August who threw the party and got his sister thrown in jail and lost the license.
She adds that August is skating by on privilege, and she is frankly afraid of what he might become.
August: You don’t have to be such a bitch about it, Mawline.
I legit gasped out loud! All the kudos to Kale Culley for playing that flawlessly.
Bonham is pissed as hell and says Cordell better handle it or he will, and looking at him? Oh boy, I believe it.
Abeline leaves the table, and oh boy Cordi, you are in bad spot right now in part thanks to your own inability to listen (but also to many other people’s inability to TALK).
After the awkward family dinner to end all family dinners, Liam and Ben connect over their family traditions and the awkwardness that always gets in their way too – like it does for most of us! Liam tells Ben how thankful he is for him and their relationship, and they share a passionate kiss, and I love the two of them together so much.
Matt Pascua and Keegan Allen have great chemistry, and I think everyone in the fandom is rooting hard for Liam and Ben!
Ben: I’m excited about my new relationship.
Liam: Me too, that’s why I was yammering on about mashed potatoes earlier…
Ben: It was adorable.
Me: It so was.
Ben and Liam set out to make some traditions of their own.
Kevin helps with clean up and he and Cassie are also freaking adorable.
Kevin: it might sound kinda messed up but I kinda enjoyed it. I always wondered what it was like to have a loud and chaotic table.
I love Kevin and Jake, as I said, and Ashley Reyes also, who has created a character in Cassie that feels very real to me. I am so rooting for them!
Cordell tries to awkwardly apologize to Stella as she and Colton are leaving, though he doesn’t manage to actually say those words – he does say he should have listened to her, that he missed what’s happening with August, that he’s been stuck. He says she was right, that he didn’t give her an inch of slack and he gave August a lot – and that he hopes he’s not too late.
Stella: I don’t know, Dad. I hope it’s not too late too, but we’re pretty far gone, and right now, I’m tired. So have a good night.
She leaves with Colton. I do feel bad for Cordell, he tries really hard, but like all parents, he doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes he gets it very wrong. Jared Padalecki is so good in these emotional scenes – Cordell tries to swallow it all down, but you can see the hurt and how lost he feels, right there on his handsome face.
He sits down with August and tries so hard to listen instead of yelling at another of his children, but he’s so much gentler with August than he was with Stella that it’s kinda hard to watch. August does say he knows he keeps messing up, that he feels out of control – and it’s a pretty realistic depiction of an adolescent who is dealing with a lot, from loss and grief to the hormonal changes of adolescence and has always pretended to be the “okay one” who doesn’t have any needs.
Cordell realizes he assumed that August was doing such a great job that he’d grow up all on his own, which is what happens sometimes to the kid who isn’t quite as needy right then.
Cordi emphasizes the importance of how men speak about and treat women with respect and tells Augie he needs to go apologize to his grandmother.
He goes outside, where Abeline is taking a walk in the night air, maybe missing her brother, when suddenly she stumbles. Molly Hagan made these few moments hauntingly chilling, as you see Abeline realize something’s wrong, try to keep going, and then just crumple.
She falls to the ground.
I legit screamed because NOOOOOOOOOOoooo not Abeline!!!!
And that’s where we leave the Walker family, for a mid-season hiatus. With my fave face down and me not knowing if she’s gonna be okay!!
‘Walker’ Thoughts Halfway Through Season 3
I’m rooting for everyone in this awkward and tragedy-prone family, honestly. They have all been through way too much. None of them are perfect, and I’m okay with that – more than okay, actually. I prefer characters who are realistically flawed, and story lines that don’t wrap everything up neatly in a bow, as long as their reactions make sense.
I feel for Cordell, who has been trying his best for the past three years we’ve been watching him. He was the firstborn of the family, who got the message that he had to be strong and resilient and maybe close to perfect. I’m not sure that was ever a great fit for his personality, just as it doesn’t seem to be for his son’s, but he tried. He found a great partner in Emily. who provided enough stability that Cordi could be imperfect and do some youthful acting out and exploring, and that allowed him to be successful and disciplined in the service and to come home and be a dad and a husband.
Her loss upended all that and he’s been struggling ever since, all the coping strategies that worked perfectly fine with a stable partner by his side falling apart when she’s not there. Eventually he was overwhelmed and turned to avoidance, physically and emotionally – and he’s been drawn back there repeatedly ever since when things get overwhelming.
And unfortunately, in this show they often are overwhelming! It’s hard to be a fictional character on the CW, let’s face it.
I hope we continue to get some exploration of the relationship between the Walker brothers, because Liam as the little brother seems to have had a different experience growing up with Abeline and Bonham. He was in the shadow of his big brother as he struggled to become his own man and figure out who he was and feel solid enough to invest in an intimate relationship wholeheartedly.
In some ways, he was given more leeway, but in others he remained in that shadow, as recently as when the brothers returned from captivity and torture and everyone seemed to prioritize Cordell’s needs even as Liam was falling apart.
And then there are the younger siblings. I sometimes have no patience with August and Stella and have to remind myself that they’re teenagers. Teenagers whose childhoods were cut off by loss and trauma and haven’t had a chance to really stabilize ever since. Stella was the vocal one whose needs were front and center, and August got the message that he had to be the ‘strong’ one, who didn’t have any additional needs that might overwhelm his emotionally fragile father – the only parent they had left.
No wonder the strain finally got to him, and as hard as it is to watch him act out and fall apart now, it strikes me as realistic enough that we all should have seen it coming. Augie has been a powder keg, and these are the inevitable explosions.
Stella’s acting out has been more consistent throughout the past three seasons, and while her refusal to forgive her father for not listening to her side of the story is frustrating to those of us watching from the outside and remembering the things she’s lied about, it nevertheless is also realistic for an eighteen-year-old who feels unmoored in every single way right now. Who can she take it out on other than her father, the only parent she has?
I appreciate that the show is taking all these complicated humans and letting us see them struggle, flaws and all.
How will Mawline’s stroke affect them, when she’s been a rock for all of them? I have a lot of trepidation, which means I can’t wait to find out!
“Walker” returns on Thursday January 12, followed by a new “Walker Independence!”