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Walker

Walker Series Premiere Review – Cordell Walker is a Stale Texas Ranger (1×01)

Walker -- “Pilot” -- Image Number: WLK101g_0178r2 -- Pictured: Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker -- Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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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.

Walker Pilot Review Season 1 Episode 1

Walker — “Pilot” — Image Number: WLK101a_0140r — Pictured: Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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?


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Lizzy Buczak is the founder of CraveYouTV. What started off as a silly blog in her sophomore year at Columbia College Chicago turned her passion for watching TV into an opportunity! She has been in charge of CraveYou since 2011, writing reviews and news content for a wide variety of shows. Lizzy is a Music Business and Journalism major who has written for RADIO.COM, TV Fanatic, Time Out Chicago, Innerview, Pop’stache and Family Time.

Walker

Walker Review – Dig (1×17)

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Walker Review Dig Season 1 Episode 17

If you thought the mystery of Emily Walker’s death was resolved, think again. 

There were a lot of moving parts on Walker Season 1 Episode 17 that fit together seamlessly by the end of the hour!

When a bomb threat thwarted the District Attorney debate, Stan and Liam made up for lost time with beers and BBQ.

Since the bomb threat was also Cordell’s first time officially back on the job, he was taking the whole “reformed ranger” approach to heart, especially after Micki promised him that she would be by his side the whole way through. 

I love those honest and deep moments between Cordell and Micki. It’s rare that we get a   well-written true platonic friendship on television, but when we do, it’s like we’ve struck gold. 

When the man who made the bomb threat explained that he simply wanted to be heard despite his past mistakes, Cordell decided to get some closure by paying Carlos Mendoza, Emily’s “alleged” killer, a visit at the hospital. 

Anger aside, I’m pretty sure he’s happy he did as Mendoza revealed that Cali was in cahoots with Stan, who was always in charge, in framing him for Emily’s murder. 

Cordell’s outrage was and is warranted. The man that his family welcomed into their home and treated like one of their own is directly responsible for the death of his wife!

This is the second time Cordell has been blindsided by someone that has been considered a friend.

They really need to cut it out with that Southern hospitality. 

And not that I’m in any way defending Stan, but why did he ever think that Carlos wouldn’t talk? A man that’s dying has nothing to lose. 

When I say that Stan was having a really terrible day, I’m not even exaggerating! 

On top of realizing that Cordell figured out that he was connected to Emily’s death and in cahoots with North Side Nation, he also just killed a man.

Byron’s death was an accident, but it wasn’t an accident that Stan chose to cover it up.

And let’s be honest, he probably always intended on killing him, he was probably just going to pay his guys to take care of it. 

Byron sealed his fate by pursuing the story and getting too close to the truth.

In a surprising twist (as if none of the other twists were surprising), Stan called in his goons, who ran Cordell off the road and then brought him to where Byron was killed so that he would dig the grave. 

It seems as though the point was to bury Byron and Cordell in that grave —  which I have a weird feeling is on Walker’s property since Stan was in and out of their house in between — but they clearly underestimated Cordell’s abilities. 

It’s not like he’s a Texas Ranger or anything. 

When he saw the opportunity, Cordell shot both of the goons and then pointed that gun right at Stan. 

Now, the old Walker might have shot him on the spot, but the new Walker will likely let the legal process do the work. At least I hope so. 

Killing Stan would be too easy; he needs to be publically exposed and tried. 

And honestly, justice for Byron!

What do you think Cordell will do?

Will someone find him before he makes a bad decision?

On a lighter note, the kids celebrated Spirit Week at the Side Step snacking on wings. Spirit Week had a whole different meaning back when I was in high school!

All those high school problems, like your first crush, seem so trivial, but we’ve all been there. Matters of the heart are important at any age, but especially in a teen drama!

However, after the year that Stella and Auggie had, they deserve some trivial problems.

Auggie is really mature for his age. He’s been crushing hard on Ruby the whole school year, but when the opportunity finally presented itself, he realized that the moment had passed. 

Walker Review Dig Season 1 Episode 17

Walker — “Dig” — Image Number: WLK117a_0206r — Pictured (L-R): Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker and Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

I’m sure the fact that Ruby didn’t give him any signs contributed to it, but it’s also obvious that Auggie was completely blindsided by his feelings for Bel. 

When he was in the moment with Ruby, he really wanted it to be with Bel. 

Though, I don’t know why that was such a late realization for him since it was totally obvious during the episode where he set up the fireworks show to help cheer her up. 

Ah, young love. 

Stella was less focused on her love life — a break up with a boy whose father wanted to kill your father in a fit of revenge and then killed your uncle will do that to you.

Instead, she was trying to figure out what her summer break was going to be about. I think a little trip to Mexico with Bel would allow her to clear her head and break away from all the trauma that she endured back at home, but with Cordell’s current situation, it seems unlikely. 

Geri and Cordell’s romance is happening but it’s moving at a very glacial pace. 

Cordell needs to deal with everything concerning Emily’s death before he can fully move on. It wouldn’t be fair to him or Geri otherwise. 

But I can’t say I hate the flirtatious texting between the two of them. 

Their relationship works because there’s a history between them, and we’ve been clued into that history. 

When it comes to Emily, I can understand Cordell’s grief because I understand the overall idea of losing a spouse, but I’m less invested in the story because we never got to see all the magic between them. 

At least Geri is around to deal with the Side Step while Cordell is off fighting crime. 

Micki and Trey had the “will we have kids” conversation. When his mother blew into town and brought it up .5 seconds into coming inside (you know how moms are!), I was concerned that it might cause some friction between the couple, especially when she suggested they might not be on the same page. 

Thankfully, that doesn’t seem to be the case. While Micki is understandably concerned about having kids and how it’ll affect her work-life balance, she’s not against having them. Her concerns are valid as she just made it as a ranger and wants to prove herself before being forced to step away for a moment. 

And speaking as someone who just had a baby, it changes your life. Even if you want to continue on with your career, it’s completely different, as is your mindset. Being a ranger comes with dangerous territory, which you have to take into consideration when becoming a parent along with the hours and a world of other things. 

I hope Micki eventually makes the right choice and not one she’s being pressured into. 

Bonham’s cancer also needs to be addressed. He’s been keeping it quiet as to not cause even more stress for the family, but an illness is not something to keep from your loved ones. 

Anything could happen, and they would be heartbroken if they found out when it was too late. 

What did you think of the episode? Would you agree that it was one of the best Walker installments to date?

 


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Walker

Walker Review – Bad Apples (1×16)

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Walker Review Bad Apples Season 1 Episode 16

Cordell Walker didn’t last long without the Rangers. 

He tried to deny it, but he wasn’t good at hiding it all; everyone around him realized that he missed being a Ranger.

Once Stella gave her dad the green light to rejoin the force (and Auggie agreed because he no longer wanted to do tasks around the house), Cordell was overjoyed.

And he happened to return for one of the biggest cases in Austin as Captain James took down a corrupt Lieutenant. 

Campbell was the very definition of white privilege. He thought he could get away with anything because he paid off people to turn a blind eye to his laundry list of crimes. 

And he was convinced that his rank would make him untouchable. Does the world really revolve with under the table deals and alliances?

However, Captain James wasn’t afraid to pursue a case that would piss off some people. 

Campbell was supposed to be taking down the Lozada cartel, but instead, he was a dirty cop who was seizing the drugs and pumping them back onto the streets. 

Turning on your brothers in blue is the equivalent of breaking bro code, but in this case, it was warranted and justified.

Campbell wanted to think James was a traitor, but he was simply doing the job he was hired to do.

Campbell deserved everything that was coming his way, especially after he came after James’s son by planting the drugs on him and being rough with him during the arrest.

And it was very satisfying to see James finally tell him he’s under arrest and mean it. 

No getting out of this one, buddy. 

The case was heavily focused on Captain James, which was a welcome change. His son, DJ, also came back into town, but it’s clear that being the child of a cop is quite a tall order. 

It’s always the kids that end up suffering because of the choices their parents make. Stella and Auggie have gone through hell and back because of Walker’s job, and now, DJ was exposed to danger as a retaliation for an arrest his father made. 

Hopefully, his dad gets that arrest removed from his record since the poor kid was framed! 

For this reason, I’m not surprised he left town almost as quickly as he came, though, for a second, I thought DJ might be Stella’s new love interest. 

It’s probably best that she just takes this time to find herself and figuring out her post-high school steps.

The case of the week was exciting and involved everyone in some capacity. I’m still impressed with how the show manages to weave in most of the characters organically — even Liam. 

Liam is a stand-up guy who is going to have a lot of pull in Austin pretty soon. I can feel it. 

Walker Review Bad Apples Season 1 Episode 16

Walker — “Bad Apples” — Image Number: WLK116b_0499r — Pictured (L-R): Coby Bell as Captain Larry James and Josh Brockington as Dominick “DJ” James — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Hearing his speech about honesty and partnership proves that he has what it takes to bring about real change. 

And it’s a bonus that he has Bret back on his team. I know that they’re moving forward in a strictly professional capacity, but it’s clear the love is still there for both of them. 

Maybe one day, Liam will have a chance to tell Bret everything and they’ll decide to give their relationship another shot. 

With Liam shooting up the ranks, he’s going to have much more pull, which I feel will come in handy for Walker, Micki, and James. 

I will say some of the acting in the episode was a bit subpar, and the fight scenes were also a bit of a letdown. 

When Campbell was escaping from the restaurant — where did he think he was going to go? — it all felt so staged and anti-climactic.

In fact, much of the episode felt stiff compared to the others this season. 

It’s almost as though it was their first rodeo when they should be seasoned Rangers. 

I guess we can chalk it up to Walker being out of commission for a while! 

Trey got a world of good news as his TBI was deemed “not permanent” and he was accepted to medical school. However, after getting the acceptance letter, he decided he didn’t want to be a surgeon anymore and told Micki he might want to pursue psychology. 

I love that Micki is fully supportive of all of his decisions. And it’s interesting that he chose to seek advice from Cordell. I wouldn’t peg them as close friends, but I guess the show has to find a way to include him somehow. 

I’m just glad he’s going to be okay and has the privilege of making a choice about his future rather than being told he can’t do what he’s always dreamt of. 

What did you think of the episode? Are you happy Liam and Bret made amends? Do you think it’s a good thing Cordell is back on the Rangers? 

Are you digging this new understanding between Micki and James? Let us know in the comments below, and also weigh in on your thoughts about Walker Season 1 as a whole! 


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Walker

Walker Review – Four Stones in Hand Season (1×15)

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Walker Review Four Stones in Hand Season 1 Episode 15

Walker Season 1 Episode 15 focused heavily on deepening Micki’s relationship with her biological mom, Mercedes.

After recent events, Cordell turned in his badge and took a temporary reprieve from being a Ranger, which would’ve been fine if he wasn’t a workaholic.

But he is; he’s a workaholic addicted to the lifestyle who was listening to the police scanner instead of doing what he was supposed to be doing and taking a breath. 

Cordell didn’t have to look far to find his next case as a civilian (with Ranger protections) as he decided to help mend the rift between Micki and Mercedes. 

Mercedes wanted a second chance at getting to know her daughter, while Micki was against it because she felt betrayed and abanonded by her mother.

But Micki isn’t one to ignore cold hard facts, so when Cordell informed her that there was something fishy about her mother’s story about being scammed by someone pretending to be Nina (Micki’s birth name), she agreed to take on the case. 

A quick investigation revealed that the scammer was likely someone in Mercedes’s NA group. And how terrible is that to think about? You’re an addict, you’re at you’re lowest, you seek out help and confide in a group of strangers, and then someone from that group uses your pain against you. 

Since Mercedes was scammed out of a significant amount of money, Micki goes undercover as a new NA member and shares a heartbreaking story about inheriting $60K after her mother’s death and not being able to find her sister to share the wealth with. 

She then waits to see if anyone’s ears perked up at the significant amount of money. 

The group leader, Joyce, expresses interest in Micki’s story, which wasn’t out of the ordinary, but when she used the phrase “four stones in hand” — the same phrase Mercedes said the imposter oneces used — Micki knew in her heart that she was responsible.

However, every good cop and ranger knows that you can’t arrest someone based on a hunch. You need concrete evidence obtained legally, so she called in reinforcements aka the one man who would be willing to trespass. Cordell is a star ranger, so I was surprised by how careless he was when he first went to sniff out the address Mercedes gave him. What a rookie move.

Of course, Cordell was more than happy to assist. You can take the man out of the force, but you can’t take the ranger out of the man. Just go with it. 

The second time he trespassed and broke into Joyce’s place, he didn’t get caught, but he did find evidence linking her to the crime.     Joyce took a play out of a serial killers book and kept the notes and other mementos from the people she scammed (thankfully, not killed!).

But in order to arrest her, they needed to catch her redhanded. Cordell devised a plan and went undercover to the meeting where he confessed that he had a problem with breaking the law. At that point, Micki ushered in all the people Joyce scammed over the years, which led to a confession and an arrest all in one. 

Walker Review Four Stones in Hand Season 1 Episode 15

Walker — “Four Stones in Hand” — Image Number: WLK115a_0306r — Pictured: Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker — Photo: Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Cordell still has it even without the badge.

The case allowed Micki to understand her mother on a deeper level. After reading some of the notes she wrote to the fake Nina, she decided to give her mom another shot. Everyone deserves one, right?

Cordell knew in his heart that Micki was simply too scared to open herself up to the possibility of getting hurt, but if she didn’t, she would regret it in the long run. 

And the experience helped him realize that he needs to rethink how he approaches his life because what worked for him when Emily was still alive isn’t going to work moving forward. It was a bit of a wake up call for him, which, well, was the whole point of the break! 

The Walker kids returned to school after the shooting and had a difficult time dealing with the extra attention.

August embraced the popularity it gave him, but only because he didn’t want people to feel sorry for him.

Eventually, he admitted that he’s dealing with some PTSD and he didn’t feel as heroic as everyone made him out to be. 

Ruby was the only one who genuinely cared about him. However, there’s also Isable, who admitted to Stella that she has a thing for her brother. 

Stella was also forced to acknowledge that she had been a terrible friend because she ignored her bestie and only cared about Trevor. 

I’m glad that Auggie was there to help Stella see the error of their ways. 

Bonham and Abeline were also #couplegoals as she convinced him to get treatment for his cancer. It’s a reminder that you should always treat something this serious immediately rather than playing a waiting game. Cancer is brutal and isn’t something to brush off. 

What did you think of the episode?


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