Jared Padalecki has held many impressive roles in his career. Some may think of him as Dean from Gilmore Girls, while others only see him as Sam Winchester on Supernatural.
But now, he’s stepping into the shoes of the legendary Cordell Walker on The CW’s Walker adaptation, a role previously held by the Chuck Norris on Walker, Texas Ranger, a beloved action drama with a premise that’s occasionally viewed as problematic for its portrayal of good guys versus bad guys.
In the 1993 series, the idea of justice was always painted with a black and white brushstroke, but in 2021, we know that’s not the case.
That’s why The CW’s version aims to stay true to the original with a dedicated cop who takes down the bad guys with roundhouse kicks, while also infusing the modern-day version with more progressive viewpoints. The pilot alone touches on the topic of undocumented immigration and introduces Walker’s partner, a Mexican-American female ranger, along with his gay brother.
I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from The CW series going in, but even without fully knowing, it seems I set my expectations just a bit too high… like those famous roundhouse kicks.
Nothing about Walker’s pilot episode drew me in (or made me want to keep watching) despite it being the network’s most highly-anticipated show of 2020, and there’s nothing legendary or iconic about Padalecki’s performance… not yet, at least.
Padalecki’s Walker is angstier and less carefree than Norris’. He comes with a lot of personal baggage inflicted by the mysterious death of his wife, Emily, which spirals into his struggle to raise his two children, Stella and Augie, without her.
One major flaw off-the-bat is that the writers and creators assumed audiences would care about a lead character when much of the action — his wife’s death and his undercover mission following her death — happens off-screen or in “flashbacks.” Instead, we’re provided context upon Walker’s return 10-months after his mission through a series of “heartfelt” talks with his family that often miss the mark.
It’s an action series with minimal action that relies more on telling, not showing. It’s a surefire way to alienate a fan-base coming to see a character famously known for being an ass-kicking badass. Especially since we barely see that side of Walker.
Instead, we’re given a protagonist that ran away from his problems by throwing himself into his work while the rest of his family — his parents and his brother, Liam (Pretty Little Liars actor Keegan Allen), who works as a DA in the liberal city of Texas — stepped up to the plate to raise the children.
Sadly, both Walker and the series struggling to juggle the work-life balance.
In short, it’s unclear what the main focus of the show is supposed to be. Is Walker a man who wants to repair his relationship with his kids? Is he a man who wants to protect his reputation as ranger and focus on justice and equality? Or does he want to solve his wife’s murder, which is strung along as an overarching plot to unravel over the course of the season?
If he’s all three, the show needs to find better ways of communicating it because right now, it feels stiff and falls flat.
Padalecki doesn’t seem to have a full grasp on who his character is or where his priorities lie either, which means that while his shortcomings as a father and a ranger are brought up, he shows no emotional depth. It’s a tough pill to swallow for an actor who has nailed the whole “brooding” persona far too many times.
It’s also hard to figure out what narrative the show wants to push forward. At one point he’s patted on the back and given promotions for being “the best of the best,” but scolded and called out for his “problematic” and “rule-bending” behavior in the same breath.
One thing that’s hammered home is that he hasn’t been a very present father and his daughter, Stella, faults him for it. She may be rebellious, but so far, Stella’s brush-in with the law only serves a potential storyline in which Walker and Liam help her best friend’s parents, who are facing deportation because the crime she committed is now on their record.
It’s also hard to get invested in the mystery of his wife’s death considering we only saw their relationship briefly in the first few minutes of the episode. And it was expected the moment he told her to “be careful.” Other than that, we have no idea what her job entailed or what led to her death, but if we never find out, I’m not going to lose any sleep about it. In fact, I found myself more intrigued by Jerry, the woman that was with Emily the night she was murdered. Walker doesn’t seem to hold any resentment about her involvement and there even seemed to be some sparks flying between the two of them.
The personal aspects of Walker’s life completely overshadowed the case-of-the-week, which was haste and lacking. It was an afterthought when it should have been the selling point for a series pulling inspiration from police procedurals and a crime-fighting icon.
The case served up a few fight scenes, which yes, included a roundhouse kick, but it mostly allowed Walker and his new partner, Micki, to get to know each other and connect, a little too quickly, if I might add. Instead of giving their partnership time to evolve, it seemed expedited and by the end of the hour, Micki attempts to be the “buddy cop” next to Walker’s brooding one. They even banter as though they’ve been partners for years, which feels off considering she scolded him for his behavior, which also seems misplaced considering he outranks her.
That’s more of a casualty of the writing than anything else because for the most part, Micki sells is more intriguing as a character even with limited screen time. She has more riding on the line than Walker, and one could make the case that she should’ve been the lead of the series rather than being reduced to a conflicted, emotionless man’s sidekick. Not only is she more secure and confident, but she’s also complex. She worked hard to climb the ranks as a woman in a male-dominated career, and she won’t let Walker screw that up for her. In addition to validating her career choices to her family, she also wants to prove herself to a system that would love to see her fail.
The case resulted in a mind-numbingly generic storyline about a drug cartel, which may or may not serve as a future plotline. And that right there is the biggest issue. A pilot episode is supposed to sell you the idea of better episodes in the future. It’s supposed to entice you into coming back again, but the identity of the series was so vague, we don’t actually know what we should expect from it (and Walker) moving forward. It’s equal parts something we’ve already seen before and equal parts forgettable.
iZombie, for example, adopted a case-of-the-week format that fed into the overarching plot more and more with each passing episode.
Walker can succeed if it finds the right balance of action scenes, intriguing cases, personal development, and a stellar supporting cast. But so far, it hasn’t sold us any of that.
And Padalecki can’t rely on his fans from shows prior to make this a hit.
What did you think of the pilot episode?
Walker Review – Undercover Ranger (1×05)
Hats off to Cordell and Micki because Walker Season 1 Episode 5 was a home run!
While The CW series initially got off to a slow start, with each passing week, it’s proving that is has what it takes to be a mainstay.
“Duke” embraced a completely different vibe than any of previous episodes as it found Cordell returning to his undercover identity to tie up some loose ends.
When August first texted Twyla Jean on Walker Season 1 Episode 4, I was skeptical about how the series would pull this off. We were just getting better acquainted with Cordell and Micki, so having them embrace new characters could have easily missed the mark.
But Jared Padalecki and Lindsay Morgan proved they have the necessary acting chops necessary to pull it off.
Padalecki made a great rogue cowboy named Duke, while Morgan was stellar as Adriana. This is the third episode (out of five) where she’s stolen the show! I’m beginning to think the show should be called Micki, Texas Ranger instead.
She didn’t think twice before crashing Cordell’s undercover party, and while he seemed annoyed at first, it was good that she had his back. That’s what partners are for!
It’s a bit frustrating that Cordell didn’t tell her he was going to meet up Twyla Jean. His sole purpose for resurrecting Duke and meeting up with Twyla was to get her out of town because it threatened him and his family, but why wouldn’t he get backup since there was so much unfinished business? Did he know her phone was tapped and that they would eventually find out what he was up to?
Did he think he could just do this on his own? Of course the FBI would want to close this case!
Obviously, it looked pretty shady when he went rogue, especially with $300k from the previous Rodeo Kings robbery missing.
Graves wasn’t convinced that Cordell didn’t take it as he had a romantic relationship with Twyla, and well, flashbacks to what happened at the robbery didn’t work in his favor as he helped Crystal get away with the money.
However, Cordell genuinely didn’t know where it was until he recalled her final words to Clint being “we’ll always have one last dance.” At that moment, he realized it was hidden in the juke box at the bar.
Of course, blurting it out amongst a crew of robbers wasn’t his finest moment, but it didn’t really matter since Micki, as Adriana, was wired and the FBI heard everything.
Finding the money worked in their favor as they didn’t have to plan another bank robbery, which likely would have ended with more dead bodies just like the first one.
The only dead body ended up being Duke’s. It was a brilliant twist that allowed Cordell to finally say goodbye to his undercover identity, an identity that caused his children so much pain.
While Cordell had every right to be furious with August for texting Twyla in the first place and then showing up to the scene and almost blowing his cover, he also realized that he never would have been able to put all this behind him if it wasn’t for his son.
Though, I think they all have to have a serious talk about boundaries as they pertain to Cordell’s job.
August is in high school, so he’s old enough to understand that his father’s job sometimes requires undercover work. How did he not catch on that his dad wasn’t acting like himself? And why wouldn’t he realize the only reason his dad was with Twyla was because he texted her?
Come on, August. Everything about his behavior was so aggravating, but, at the same time, it was hard to be upset with him because he was just manifesting his insecurities of being abandoned by his father again..
Cordell is on the right path of righting his wrongs, but he still has a way’s to go.
For starters, he can stop promising that he’ll attend Stella’s soccer games when he knows there’s a chance he’ll get caught up at work.
Much like Auggie, Stella is still trying to gain her father’s love and approval.
She told Coach Barnett that it’s the reason why she began playing soccer in the first place as she hoped it would bring her dad back home and that he would attend all of her games the way he did her mother’s.
It was truly heartbreaking to see her become that vulnerable because it shows that she’s still hurt.
Hopefully, Cordell will begin to make a bigger effort when it comes to the kiddos now.
It was also nice to see Micki’s boyfriend get in on all the action rather than be siloed at home. In the beginning of the season, it wasn’t clear how he was going to be integrated into the storyline, but having him as a direct line to Cordell’s kids seems promising. He’s in their orbit, which puts him in Micki’s orbit even more.
Micki confronted her own mommy issues when she eventually agreed to meet Trey’s parents. We know that she and her mother don’t get along because Adriana (yes, she used her mom’s name while going undercover) doesn’t approve of her career, which will eventually make for a compelling episode. They’ve brought it up several times, and it really hits a nerve with Micki, so you know it’s coming!
Amidst all the action, Liam still managed to circle back to the Emily Walker mystery. He confronted Captain James about pulling the drone footage and admitted that there’s something shady about her murder.
As the teaser (we’ll have to wait till March for a new episode) reveals, Hoyt Rawlins, Cordell’s childhood bestie, is about to become cellmates with Emily’s alleged murderer. I doubt this would ever happen by chance since the risk is too big, so my guess is that Liam and James made it happen so that they could find out the truth.
Hopefully, once Cordell gets wind of the fact that something was off about his wife’s death, which his gut told him this whole time, he won’t spiral again. In that moment, his kids will need him to stay strong.
- Liam and Cordell always had a bit of a rocky relationship, and it’s likely due to Liam’s guilt over not listening to Cordell about the bank robbery. Dealing with that, however, seems to have been the breakthrough they needed.
- I’m really digging the One Tree Hill reunions on this series! First Matt Barr as Hoyt and now Austin Nichols as Clint! I just wish Nichols’ had a longer arc!
- When the robber asked “are we dense” while talking to an undercover ranger, I couldn’t help but snicker. Uh, ya think?!
What did you think of the episode?
Are you hooked on Walker yet?
Walker Review – Off the Books (1×04)
Now this, this version of Walker I can get behind.
Walker Season 1 Episode 4 hit all of the right notes — it featured a compelling case-of-the-week, Cordell and Micki (or should I say Beau and Flor) found a groove and established trust, things with Cordell’s kids finally settled down, the immigration-aspect of the series began to find its footing, and new mysteries were introduced that served as some solid cliffhangers.
All in an hour’s work! Impressive.
They always say it takes about four episodes to determine if a show will make it or break it, and with this episode, that theory seems to hold true.
Even those emotional beats that felt all-too forced in the first few episodes seemed to flow naturally as Walker established that while his life is getting back on track and moving forward, there’s still an Emily-sized void that he can’t seem to shake.
This time, Cordell’s grief was believable because it hit him in waves, just as grief does in real life.
As Cordell attempted to bond and form a relationship with his partner, the duo got a call that oil field boss, Bob Harlan, was murdered. According to Sheriff Shaw, a Hispanic male was the allegedly shooter, so naturally, our Texas Rangers pursued him and ran him off the road.
The city of Austin heralded Shaw, who was just days away from retirement, as a hero for nabbing a member of the Olvidado gang. Even Micki got some recognition, but being paraded on the stage as the only female Latino to capture a Mexican bad guy left a bad taste in her mouth, especially after Enzo’s daughter, Delia, called her out for betraying her own people.
Micki has proven time and time again that she has impeccable gut instincts, and it didn’t sit right with her that Enzo, who allegedly left the gang life behind him when his daughter was born nearly 30 years ago, would return to a life of crime.
She asked Cordell to help her go “off-book,” which made him way too excited. The one thing we know for sure about Cordell is that he likes to go a little rogue.
Micki’s hunch was right because the Harlan family revealed that Enzo and Bob remained close all these years. And yet, no one seemed to like him all that much. Another hunch led Micki figure out that Enzo was Bob’s son. But if that was the case, why would Enzo murder his dad and ensure that he would never get any of his assets from the recently-amended will?
Desperate to get to the bottom of it, she asked to see the footage from the Botanical Gardens, which revealed that Mrs. Harlan and Shaw, the beloved Sheriff, were having an affair. Once Bob found out, he signed over his assets to his son, but Shaw tried to frame him so that they would get the money instead.
You’d think a tenured Sheriff would check the cameras before canoodling the woman of a man he was about to kill, but I guess he thought his reputation made him untouchable,
Without concrete evidence, it wasn’t in their best interest to accuse Shaw of murder, but Micki played it out by simply jumping into his car and running her theory by him, which riled him up and proved that he was guilty!
It’s a good thing she followed her gut and had a partner like Cordell who trusted her enough to play along because it exposed Shaw for the murderer he really was. It’s one thing to selfishly commit an act of murder for the woman you love, but it takes a ruthless man to point a gun at a fellow officer’s head and actually pull the trigger.
Micki may have been overcome by guilt for contributing to Enzo’s death, but she saw the case to the end and cleared up Enzo’s name, which meant that his daughter got all of Harlan’s money.
She is the hero just like Lady Libertad!
In my review of Walker Season 1 Episode 1, I mentioned that it almost seemed like Micki should’ve been the lead ranger instead of Jared Padalecki’s Cordell, and this episode proved it. She’s the glue that holds the show together. She’s a stronger lead because she has more to risk and fights that much harder to make a name for herself in a male-dominated industry and predominantly white industry.
She’s blazing a trail, she’s setting an example, and she’s becoming an inspiration to other young girls. There’s so much meaning and depth wrapped up in her role versus Cordell just being one of 170 white men who are good at the job. In this episode, Cordell was simply the side-kick that helped her get from point A to point B, but his support helped solidify their partnership, and it’s good to know that they can trust each other in the most tense of moments. Something tells me, there will be a lot of “life or death” moments throughout their partnership!
Trey getting a job means that he’s here to stay, which is a good thing because I actually like him and Micki together. I want to see him become more involved in her world, but for now, I’ll take all the ab moments I can get!
The immigration storyline was touched upon with Liam attempting to counsel Isabel’s parents, who are now on ICE’s radar after their daughter’s arrest.
The show underscores the stark difference in the way a young white girl and a Mexican-American family are treated for the same crime. Stella got community service, while Isabel’s whole existence is being threatened by her parents’ possible deportation. It’s a reality many children of immigrants know all too well.
Liam also learned that Captain James has been looking into surveillance from Emily’s death despite telling Cordell to drop it, which re-ignites the mystery of her death.
Does he think something shady happened? Did they not get the right guy? Is Emily somehow still alive? Is this his way of going off the books to get it on the books? It all remains unclear, but I’m more interested in Liam digging into the case than Cordell.
There’s also a possibility that Emily was killed because of Cordell’s previous undercover case… or was she undercover also? We don’t know much about Emily at this point so the writers could really pull off whatever they want here and the audience wouldn’t question it!
And that’s not the only mystery of the night as August accidentally opened up a box from his father’s past, which he may come to regret.
Texting Twyla Jean before even talking to his dad and finding out more about her was pretty stupid of him. And while it’s unclear what Cordell’s connection to Twyla truly is or why she called him “Duke Culpepper,” the fact that she asked if he’s out of jail paired with the previews for next week seem to indicate that she’s bad, bad news and will likely suck him back into some life of “crime” so that he doesn’t blow his cover.
I can’t wait for Padalecki to have show off those acting chops!
As he goes “off book” next week, will his team and partner be informed ahead of time? I hope his days of leaving Micki in the dark are over.
Will Twyla become a love interest? There seemed to be plenty of chemistry there in the photo and in the brief teaser!
- Stella and Trevor, sitting in a tree. Hey, even the kids need love interests these days!
- The Benjamin Moore ad was so not subtle.
- Abby had a brief affair with Gary. I’m not sure how that plays into the overall story, but what a spicy little jalapeno pepper our Abeline is!
- Beth Broderick will never be anyone but Aunt Zelda from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!
Walker Review – Cautionary Tale (1×03)
On Walker Season 1 Episode 3, the case-of-the-week had a personal tie in.
Cordell Walker’s childhood best friend, Hoyt Rollins, rolled into town and made sure that everyone was aware of his arrival.
It’s been a minute since I’ve seen Matt Barr on my screen, but that man will never stop being psycho Derek from One Tree Hill.
Almost immediately, Hoyt began stirring up trouble in town while working with a gun smuggler, Torrento, which made things a bit messy for Cordell.
His relationship with Hoyt made it difficult for him to arrest him. And while he was “gathering intel,” he was being blindsided with memories from the past, especially after Hoyt gave him Emily’s Mustang.
It was a bit strange that Cordell recognized Hoyt from the CCTV footage at the strip club but didn’t inform his partner that he went way back with the guy.
Wouldn’t it just have been better to inform Micki that he and the suspect had a past before he was going to try to gather intel. Why keep her in the dark? Micki would’ve understand that they needed more evidence against him to charged him.
It’s almost as if Cordell didn’t want Hoyt to get caught.
Micki had to figure it out for herself by tracking down her stolen truck, which, by the way, was definitely embarrassing for two “elite” rangers. They should’ve known better than to get played like that.
And if I were Micki and found out my partner was lying to me by stumbling upon the family having dinner, I’d be pissed. Captain James also knew Hoyt’s identity and didn’t say anything. What gives?
Typically, having a conflict of interest is a bad thing, but in this case, Cordell’s deep knowledge of how Hoyt operates allowed him to predict his next steps.
When Hoyt misled them about where the drop would be, Cordell figured it out instead.
I know the show technically isn’t focused solely on the case-of-the-week, so these could be minor inconstancies and I could just be picky, but why didn’t they put a tracker on Hoyt after releasing him? Why didn’t an officer follow him?
Why did they just trust him at his word? Cordell of all people should’ve known that Hoyt would play them.
Micki was right about one thing — Cordell has a blindspot and wants to be likable, which means he ignores when people mess up or do the wrong thing. That was the case with Stella because he so desperately wanted to make amends and make up for lost time.
But, at the end of the day, Stella still needed a father. And a little tough loving does the soul good. If Hoyt got that tough lovin’, maybe he wouldn’t be so self-destructive.
Auggie came out of his shell a bit when he attended the bonfire and got wasted. It’s surprising that a freshman didn’t get into more trouble for drinking alcohol, but I guess the hangover was punishment enough.
Overall, the episode didn’t contribute much of anything to the season. And as someone who remains on the fence about Walker, it didn’t convince me that this is a must-watch series.
Sure, there were lighthearted moments, some cheesy fight scenes, and Cordell finding his footing as a single parent, but there was nothing that made this a stand-out episode.
The supporting characters still feel one-dimensional. Geri hasn’t stepped foot outside of the bar, and though she seems to be close to Cordell and Emily, we don’t really know much about her. Was she in love with Hoyt? Was Hoyt’s Emily’s brother? See, it’s all so vague and unclear.
Liam is the go-to uncle whenever the kids can’t reach Cordell, and apparently, he’s getting married, which is great for him, but that’s the extent of what we know about his character. His husband is also just there and doesn’t contribute anything at all.
The series seemed to be finding its footing on Walker Season 1 Episode 2, but this week felt like a regression. It was an entertaining episode, sure, but in a passive way that almost doesn’t require you to get too invested in the storyline.
It’s a bit of a disservice to the stellar cast, who we know have the acting chops to sell us the most outrageous and supernatural plots, and yet, the show fails to deliver on the material.
You know it’s concerning went the best scene from the episode was Micki and Bonham Walker bonding over Wagyu and bourbon. Also, that made me hungry!
What did you think of the episode? Am I being too harsh? Am I not seeing the magic everyone else is?
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