Last week’s episode of “Walker” was titled Mum’s the Word, which was partly about mothers and children and how we all cope with the danger that’s all around us, but also about silence and when you need to break it.
Stella and Augie are still in a bad place, August still angry that Stella didn’t go away to college as planned. It’s not pleasant to watch and it makes him an unappealing character for now, but it strikes me as very real for an adolescent who desperately wants out from under his older sibling’s shadow.
I don’t think Cordell really gets it, because in his own sibling relationship, he’s the older sibling in the spotlight.
Augie has got a bit of a martyr thing going, asking his dad to please be there to play on the junior team for the annual flag football match tradition.
Walker says he will if he can, but he’s got a new assignment the next day so can’t promise.
Stella isn’t happy either, feeling lost and not knowing what her future holds. She and Geri work the food truck at the game the next day, a former classmate of Geri’s coming by to condescendingly say she’s so brave to still show up there after all she’s been through and then toss out to Stella, “I could’ve been your mom…” Not very good taste in previous girlfriends if that’s what she’s implying, Cordell!
Afterward, Stella says she doesn’t want to be “that weird alumna who’s always around” and then realizes Geri might take that personally. She doesn’t, though. She tells Stella that she was originally supposed to go to business school, but then her dad died and left her the Side Step, and “life got in the way.” Part of being a grown-up is owning your choices, she says, pointing out that Stella is lucky to have a safety net.
She definitely is, but an 18-year-old isn’t really an adult (says someone who was a psychologist in a college counseling center full of 18-year-olds for many years). Everyone is expecting Stella to magically turn into an adult just because she graduated high school, but that’s not really fair.
Stella tries to say that their dad has been trying to show up for them lately, but Augie dismisses that, saying “for you maybe”. She invites him to hang out with her and Colton – which I think an 18-year-old would definitely know that would not be what your 16-year-old brother would want! – and he is once again furious that she doesn’t get it.
Stella is in the tough position of trying to be August’s big sister and also a bit of a mother figure for him too, which is never going to go over well with a younger sibling. When Augie hears that the Sidestep will be closed that night, he gets his 16-year-old rebellion on and invites all his friends for a party there, with beer flowing freely.
Augie ends up locked in the tap room with his friends, who tell him that they actually think he’s “badass”, which I feel like a 16-year-old would not say, but anyway, they thought he was the one on his high horse.
Savage was the word teens for badass a couple of years ago.
August is making strides in popularity, but has to text Stella to come let them out. She comes and kicks everyone out and frees her brother, angrily asking “what were you thinking?”
And that’s the moment the police show up and arrest both of them.
Meanwhile, back at Ranger HQ…
Cordell now runs on a treadmill instead of outside, which I really can’t blame him for, and he’s still jumpy and hypervigilant, but he seems to be slowly recuperating from his ordeal. James assigns Walker and Cassie to go pick up a briefcase of evidence from the Dallas station, from the mercenaries who are now all captured. On the way back, a strange ringing comes from the case, and they leave it on the road for a while, pondering whether it’s a bomb.
Cassie: It could be kitchen timer…or a Furby…
Finally, Cordell decides to open it, with a realistic flinch as he finally pops the lid. Inside are synchronized watches going off.
Cassie: At least we didn’t go boom!
It’s hard for Walker to see it though. He explains that when he was held captive, every day at the same time, the mercenaries would come and take them… and they would…
The mercenaries were apparently called Grey Flag, and they have files on Cordell and Miles and Fenton and even Cassie. His has tons of information, right down to his dental records. Hers is nearly empty. I’m not entirely sure why that bothers her so much, but it does.
Cassie is dealing with an identity crisis of her own, realizing her life has been way too focused on just her job and determined to turn that around.
As a start, she and Walker take a detour from their assigned delivery to join the centennial celebration for Cassie’s family business. Walker is impressed that she’s apparently ‘Texas barbeque royalty’ and fine with helping her start a new trauma-less chapter of her life (though I’m not sure Texas Ranger is the best way to go about staying away from trauma…).
Cassie, not Ben, invites Liam to the centennial party. Ben doesn’t introduce Liam as his boyfriend, and his abuela keeps calling him Lucas, and it’s pretty awkward.
She is very impressed with Walker.
Abuela: Who is this handsome young man? And tall too!
When she hears his name, she says oh, the famous Ranger, always on the news. Cordell says he’d prefer not to be, and Liam is once again the little brother never in the spotlight.
Meanwhile, Trey is officially made a Ranger, and his mom comes to town for that celebration. Liam, Ben and Cassie get a preview show with Trey for some reason skidding into the living room with an unbuttoned shirt – which they (and we) appreciate, but his mama? Not so much.
Trey: Sorry Mama.
At Ranger HQ, everyone applauds as Capt. James pins a badge on Trey, and everyone puts on their white hats, but his mom looks a lot less happy.
Even Micki Ramirez sends a “meat bouquet” which is a bit awkward, but clearly, they’re staying in touch as he knows she’s headed to New Orleans with her moms.
Captain James is excited enough about Trey being a Ranger for both himself and Trey’s mom, telling Trey the story of a Ranger who was one of only a few Black rangers, who gave James a holster with initials engraved.
James: Willy had it made to set himself apart. It was his way of saying, I’m one of you, I’m here, I ain’t going anywhere. A legacy that you’re a part of and I know you’ll live up to.
He shares how proud he is with Trey’s mom, but also understands her fear for her son and her disappointment that he’s no longer the guy with the house, the girl and the safe job.
James to Trey’s mom: Call me Larry.
Trey: Can I call you Larry?
At the party – after Ben and Cassie repeat their childhood teenage dance routine much to their abuela’s joy – Cassie tells Walker that she realizes that for too long she’s just been living for the job.
Walker admits that work/life balance isn’t his strong suit either, but sometimes all you need is family. Cassie replies “is that why you’ve been tiptoeing around your brother all night?”
Cordell takes the suggestion and calls Liam over, giving him some relationship advice to talk to Ben and not just go with the flow and not say anything about the little things. The brothers finally talk a little about their shared trauma too. Liam says the horses are helping, but he’s still very far from better.
Cordell: When you and I get home, how about we talk about it, what we went through?
Liam: Yeah, I’d really like that.
Cordell: it’s a date.
That’s definitely progress, for Walker especially.
On the way back after the party, Walker and Cassie have a heart to heart.
Cordell: What you said earlier – the captivity, those things have a way of sticking with you, so the watches, the files, it all made it rush back. But I’m not gonna let past traumas rule my life. It’s gonna happen again, no matter what I do, someone is gonna come for me. I can’t change that, but I can change how I react to it. I’m done looking over my shoulder.
Cassie: I know you have the whole boys club thing, but happy to join you any time, running and frying on a dirt road.
Walker says that their partnership has really helped a lot. The two agree not to say anything about their scare with the watch alarms. Bags were never opened, no tampering, it would be a whole mess for nothing.
Liam and Ben have that open conversation Cordell recommended, choosing not to stay ‘mum’, and finding themselves on the same page.
Liam: You wanna take a break?
Ben: God no!
Everything is going pretty well….which makes the last scene even more shocking. Stella and Augie in the county jail, Augie saying this is why he wanted her to leave, Stella saying she’s sorry about the favoritism thing, but he made a choice that night. Cordell arrives and orders August to wait in the truck without letting him explain anything.
Then he turns on Stella, furious.
Walker: What the hell were you thinking?
Stella: You should ask August.
Cordell says he’s been trying to be patient, but she lied for months about the car, and he was trying to be the cool modern dad who lets her make choices, but he’s furious that she threw another party and ended up in jail and dragged her brother into it too – which of course is the opposite of what happened.
Stella: This is not my fault. I was trying to help August out. Ask him what happened.
Me: Why the hell are you not telling your father EXACTLY what happened right this second, Stella?? This is a case when “mum’s the word” is not a good idea! She just keeps saying “Dad, please” as he says how can he believe her when she’s been lying. That she’s an adult now and has to face the consequences of her actions and that means she’s staying overnight in the county jail. (Note: this is not prison, it’s a holding cell, so she’s safe, but still, it is a cell!)
I don’t condone what Cordell did, but it also strains believability that Stella didn’t tell him everything – he wouldn’t have done that if he knew what had actually happened, after all! And if August doesn’t fess up right away, whoa, that is really not cool.
The fandom was pretty unhappy with Cordell Walker, but I’m always game for a complex, complicated, flawed character – so much more interesting than a one-dimensional “good guy”. Walker has been flawed from the jump, so I don’t mind seeing his lingering trauma do a number on his patience with his own children. It’s hard to watch though, as the door slams shut and he leaves Stella behind.
I wonder how long it will take him next week to find out what really happened and how bad will he feel when he does??