I really liked this Walker's 6th episode, "Bar None", except when I had issues with a particular character. We’ll get to that part later.
There was a lot of denial in this episode. Micki confronts Walker about his upcoming hearing over use of excessive force. Walker at first says that he felt threatened, which made his response okay. Micki calls him out on his violence, and the cost of his legal defense.
It’s the one-year anniversary of Emily’s death. Walker denies that he’s grieving, and says that it’s just a day. At the Side Step bar, he remembers Emily and the stuffed boar’s head she gave him that still hangs on the wall. Part of the ceiling at the bar collapses, as if to contradict Walker about it being just another day, almost like Emily is listening and disagrees. His mail is being delivered to the bar (why ?) and when Geri gives several envelopes to him with a snide remark about moving in with his parents, Walker realizes he received the life insurance check for Emily’s death.
Meanwhile, Liam and Captain James go talk to Carlos Mendoza, the guy who pled guilty to killing Emily. They conclude that he’s scared, supporting their suspicion that there’s more going on.
Back at the ranch, there’s a plan to go camping as a way to remember Emily, because she loved camping. (Texas-raised kids aren’t going to beg to go camping in storm season. Someone even mentions that it’s not the right time of year.)
We finally meet Micki’s mom—toxic, manipulative and angry. She’s also the one who will be handling Walker’s hearing, and while she claims not to have arranged that, we find out later that she’s lying and set it up ‘to teach her daughter a lesson.’ I like that Micki confronts her mother and protects Walker even when he’s in the wrong and could lose his badge.
Walker gets a call about Geri wanting to sell the Side Step. He ditches his family and the camping trip to go try to fix the damage at the bar. “You can’t fix this,” she tells him. “These are foundational problems. I know you don’t want to face it—time to move on.”
When Geri finds an interested potential buyer, Walker declares the bar to be a crime scene so it can’t be sold. “Can’t move on from a crime scene.”
Both the ‘foundational problems’ and the ‘crime scene’ comment are, of course, talking about something more than the bar. Walker has ‘foundational problems’ in not being able to process his grief or be the father he needs to be for his grieving children. And since he doesn’t believe that Emily’s killer told the full story, her death remains a ‘crime scene’ that he can’t move on from.
In a flashback, Walker remembers talking to Emily about getting wills done. Their banter turns serious, and he tells her that if she died, his life would be over. (Did anyone else get a little walking-over-my-grave shiver of ‘What would I do with out you?’—Sam ‘Crash and burn.’—Jessica from the Supernatural Pilot?)
Meanwhile, Stella, Auggie and Walker’s parents decide to go on with the camping trip. The discussion of wearing ‘a flannel’ made me snicker, another Supernatural Easter egg. (“A flannel just seemed too off message’ was the line that made me laugh.)
Stella has called Trevor, the boy she met doing community service at the Ranger horse barn where he was hanging around to get extra time with his dad, who is one of the convicts working at the barn. Texas has plenty of horse barns—I can’t believe they’d risk the child of a Ranger working at a barn with convicts. Given Cordell’s job, I question Stella’s intelligence in thinking that dating the son of a convict could possibly be a good idea. Are there no other cute guys in Texas? Does she actually know what her dad does for a living?
On the way to go camping, they have car trouble. It’s Walker’s mom, not his dad, who fixes the engine trouble. (This reminded me that Dean, the mechanic of the two brothers, was named after his mother, Deanna. A subtle nod?) Bonham tells Abeline that he is trying to improve, and says that he’s ‘evolving’—which seems to be a theme in the episode. Bonham is trying to change. Walker is fighting change, but comes to accept the necessity. Micki has evolved to be able to confront her mother and push back. Walker’s whole family needs to adapt to life without Emily. Even the Side Step is changing.
Meanwhile, Liam and James move Hoyt to be Mendoza’s new cellmate with the promise of a reduced sentence if he can get details out of Mendoza about Emily’s death.
Walker has been trying to fix the bar ceiling. Micki tracks him there. He claims to know what he’s doing, and puts a nail through his hand with a nail gun. (Ouch!) Micki uses a crow bar to remove it, splashes it with whiskey, then calls Trey—a former medic—to come take care of it. (Walker doesn’t have Sam Winchester’s tolerance for pain.)
Trey comments that it was good the nail didn’t ‘hit bone or anything structural’ which would be hard to fix. Back to foundations and structures, and fixing. Walker stubbornly sticks to fixing the bar, as Micki tries to get him to practice for the hearing, because she knows her mother’s interrogation style. He blows up at her. Then his repairs collapse.
Walker finally admits that he’s upset about Emily’s death, saying that he’s angry not sad. Micki pushes him to deal with his feelings. Walker says that he knows he can get away with claiming that he felt threatened and that he knows that’s wrong. There’s an important veiled conversation going on here in barely-sub subtext about qualified immunity and systemic racism in policing, especially between a white guy and a Latina. Walker is coming to see that just because he can get away with his behavior, that doesn’t mean he should. He makes a comment about how getting away with it is worse.
Hoyt tells Liam and James that Mendoza has ALS and is dying. They discover that Mendoza’s sister opened an art gallery just over the border in Mexico and sold several very pricy paintings shortly after Mendoza pled guilty. They figure it’s hush money, and track the source.
Micki finds her mom and Trey cooking dinner. She tells her mom that Walker intends to plead guilty, take the punishment, keep his badge.
The next day she’s with Walker going into the court house where they encounter her mom on the steps. Minutes later, an officer shows up with a warrant for Micki’s mom and takes her away in handcuffs.
Walker calls his family and asks them to come back, Trevor leaves, and Cordell wants them to ‘camp’ in the Side Step bar. We find out that Emily actually hated camping (so did Dean...hmmm). Her frequently repeated comment that things ‘don’t have to be good to be good’ (in other words, something imperfect can still be valuable) is a healing thread in the episode. (I was getting Lilo and Stitch vibes. ‘This is my family. It is little and broken, but still good....’)
Geri shows up and says she has another offer to buy the bar. Auggie tells Walker that he can’t let her sell it, that he should buy it with the life insurance money, because Emily would have wanted that. Stella agrees. Walker matches the offer, and Geri takes him up on it, handing over the keys.
As Geri leaves town, we find out that the company that paid Mendoza’s hush money was Geri’s LLC for the bar. (How is she involved? Where was she when Emily died that she was still close enough to close her eyes? Why didn’t she see/know more about what happened that night? Was Emily betrayed?)
Trevor goes to see his dad...and tells him that Duke Culpepper is alive and is really a Texas Ranger who was responsible for sending his dad to prison. This after being welcomed and treated well by Stella’s family, even Cordell. Trevor obviously understands a lot more about the way the world works than Stella does, and his loyalty lies with his dad.
I thought that this episode had a solid plot and the pieces started to finally work together instead of being out of balance or clashing. There are plenty of unresolved questions, and some disturbing possibilities (plus some fun Supernatural nods if you squint). Out of all of the possibilities, the one that annoys me is the most preventable—Stella dating a convict’s son. How could that possibly not go wrong? Why isn’t an adult sitting her down and asking if she wants to get the whole family killed? Both Stella and Auggie show an unbelievable lack of understanding of the nature and dangers of Cordell’s job given their ages and intelligence. Wasn’t Cordell paying attention enough to figure out who she was dating and who Trevor was related to? And if not Cordell, then how about Liam? Did the family not know where she met him?
If Stella had just met Trevor in a neutral place, she could be forgiven for not knowing about his dad and anticipating the problems. But the way the show set it up, Stella is either impossibly naive or exceptionally dim. I understand the desire to see the best in someone and not judge Trevor for his dad’s misdeeds. But if Stella was so sheltered as to not understand the potential danger of her father’s work, then shame on Cordell and Emily and Liam for not protecting her better by explaining it. This smacks of one of those writer shortcuts I hate where a character does something stupid to make a plot point work when it wouldn’t have taken much to get to the same end without the stupidity.
Otherwise, I really liked the episode and applaud it for tackling some thought issues deftly.
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Screencaps by Raloria on LJ