Of all the regular characters on Walker, August Walker is the one who’s most often relegated to the background. Most of his moments with the other family members involve him being a sounding board or a plot device. His individual plots are often short (when he gets them), and even his longer arcs involving his love life are still given very little screen time. Within the fandom, his character is often ignored or forgotten beyond being Cordell’s son. He’s just another character in an ensemble of others who have had larger, more memorable plots and more impactful moments. Despite all of this, it’s hard to ignore the impact August has had on Walker’s overall narrative - or perhaps, it’s a bit too easy to ignore it.
When August was first introduced to us, he was described as Cordell’s thoughtful son. August then spent the first few episodes acting as a peacemaker and buffer between his father and the far more opinionated Stella. Though he has gained a bit more personality over the course of the show, it’s still easy to put August in the background of his more dynamic family members. Because of this, his impact on the plot and the other characters is easy to miss or even forget about, when in reality he has been the driving point behind most of the larger plots and character development moments.
I’m sure we all remember the infamous text to Twyla Jean that forced Cordell to go back undercover and, more recently, stealing and re-hiding the mysterious lantern from the Burned Luck Barn. But I wager there are a few more examples of August stirring up trouble that you either missed or forgot.
Here is a comprehensive list of every time August advanced Walker's plot:
- 1.04- He hid the phone and disposable camera from Cordell's undercover box. He also texted Twyla from “Duke’s” phone, forcing Cordell back undercover, which made him look crooked to his superiors.
- 1.12- August chose to stay silent about Stella’s deception, resulting in Cordell leaving for the Rodeo Kings job.
- 1.18- August left the rest of the family to decorate for the party and snooped around Stan’s house by himself. This resulted in him finding the poker chips, confirming for Cordell and the Walker family that Stan was involved with Emily’s murder.
- 2.05- August snuck out to the barn to spy on Stella and Todd. This not only made him a trespasser, not unlike his father 25 years before, but it resulted in him finding the infamous lantern. He also hurt his shoulder here, which is what led to him becoming friends with Colton in the next episode.
- 2.07- Not only did he tell Colton about the mysterious lantern, but he carefully waited until Abby was out of earshot to do so.
- 2.10- He told Colton that Stella/Todd was “just a fling”. Though he said he did this in the name of keeping his friendship with Colton, it resulted in Colton lashing out at Stella in the next episode when she tried to talk to him. Colton's hurt feelings over Stella pushed him away from the Walker kids and led him to tell Gale about August finding the lantern.
- 2.12- August agreed to go with Denise for questioning, despite both Geri and Stella telling him not to. She also likely couldn’t legally have forced him to go, especially without a legal guardian present. This not only resulted in the lantern being uncovered and Bonham being arrested, but it served to further the tensions between the families as Cordell finally let go of any hope of peace between them.
- 2.14- He accidentally(?) let it slip that Cordell had told them all about Geri being the missing Davidson baby before she had a chance to tell them herself. While this seems small, it increased tensions between Cordell and Geri before their big breakup.
Probably more than you thought, huh?
Given how many antagonists are present in the show, I found it interesting that so much conflict and plot advancement came from one of the Good Guys. While not everything on the list could be seen as malicious, all of these points have contributed to the drama of the story in some way and impacted the rest of the characters significantly.
Of course, now we have to ask ourselves the question: why is it that August is the one behind all this? Is he a bumbling idiot who stumbles into these things without a care in the world? Does he feel neglected by his family and this is how he tries to get their attention or get back at them for the lack of it? Or, is he perhaps merely an enjoyer of chaos?
It’s difficult to say for sure. Though we have gotten to know August a bit more since his peacekeeping days, there are parts of his character that remain a mystery. Still, I think we can come up with an educated guess, though whether these ideas will ever be validated by canon is a mystery all its own.
Let’s start with the first theory: August is a Bumbling Idiot. While August was initially set up as thoughtful, innocent and perhaps a bit naïve, he proved himself to be more than that very quickly. For example, though his attempts to gain the attention and affection of the ladies may often make him look foolish, he is intelligent and he seems to be especially aware of how the people around him will react to things. We first see this in “Bobble Head.” After Stella stops him from burning his feet in a misguided attempt to woo Ruby, he asks her why she came to the party and if she’s trying to make their dad leave again. She tries to brush him off but he continues, recounting how she’s been pushing Cordell since his return and how it seems like she doesn’t want their dad around. Later, in “Four Stones in Hand”, he calls Stella out on her poor treatment of her friend Isabel when Stella tries to complain about getting ignored by her best friend. He tells her that she can’t seriously expect Isabel to sit around waiting to be friends again while Stella's off running around with Trevor. There are plenty of other examples of August
showing this level of awareness, so it’s hard for me to believe that he wouldn’t understand the consequences of using his dad’s phone to text a mysterious woman, or commenting on his sister’s relationship. Even in the cases where he’s stumbled onto some big news instead of causing it, I find it hard to believe he could do this so frequently by accident.
Next, we have the Neglected Genius theory. August is close with his family but he seems to be outshined by Stella more often than not. Bonding moments between him and members of the family who aren’t his sister are quite rare, and the moments we do get are short lived. There is also some clear favoritism toward Stella from Cordell’s end of things; he’s often soft when it comes to punishing her while he’s usually a lot fairer, if a bit harsh, when it comes to August. We also see more bonding between Cordell and Stella than we do with him and August.
On top of all this, he seems to have trouble making friends at school. Even among his fellow AV club members he fades into the background, to the point where they don’t even know his name. He seems to get his friends from Stella rather than making his own, though he laments his lack of popularity in “Four Stones in Hand.” In this same episode, he attempts to fix this problem by fueling the rumor mill that popped up at school around the events at the ranch because, somehow, the story got twisted into making him a hero. Though it backfires in the end, August enjoys being the center of everyone’s attention and happily informs Stella of his intention to milk this for all it’s worth. This is indicative of August not receiving enough attention at home. It’s entirely possible that all the actions listed above are his way of acting out and trying to get force this attention, even if it is negative.
That brings us to the final theory: August, the Chaos Enjoyer. Some characters just want to cause trouble and watch the fallout as their friends and family crumble around them. While this is an interesting idea and I’m not ready to entirely discount it, I don’t think there’s enough evidence to confirm this at this point in time. August loves his friends and family and he doesn’t seem to get joy out of causing them pain and strife. It’s possible that he does and he’s just good at masking it but we also already know he’s a terrible liar, especially when it comes to his family, so I believe this is unlikely.
But those are just my thoughts. What do you think? Am I on point or am I thinking way too much about this? What do you think is the reason behind August causing all this trouble? Is it all purposeful or has everything in this series just been a chain of unfortunate accidents? Let's discuss!
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