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The Morning After

A round of applause for the fast pacing of season 2! Walker’s 4th episode of the year, “It’s Not What You Think”, answered yet more questions that were posed by Cordell’s first season investigation into the Northside Nation’s corrupt grip on Texas. Last week in “Barn Burner”, we learned that Serano instigated the surveillance on the Walker ranch. After Serano’s arrest, Dan Davidson took over the operation, eager for a chance to spy on his neighbor. But Hallelujah! Cordell discovered a camera and realized they were all being watched. His keen eye and astute assessment of the situation attests to his instincts and training as a ranger, which was a welcome endorsement of Cordell given all the humbling jabs he continues to endure from his family and partner. It was also a great relief that the eavesdropping mystery didn’t drag on as a tiresome plot device. It was in play long enough to be intriguing then was resolved before it became trite. Just as with Emily’s death, the first culprit to be blamed for the crime is not the person who is ultimately responsible. Once again, the perception of what happened is not the truth.

Title Thread: “It’s Not What You Think

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Cordell: somebody or "somebodies," broke into the ranch and hid a surveillance camera-- likely more than one-- in our home, to spy on us…. I needed to make sure you were all safe. And now I'm a step ahead of whoever's watching our home, and I can get to the bottom of this. Plus, I have a decent idea of who is responsible.

Liam: I hope the Davidsons are on your list of suspects.

Cordell: I don't need you to add fuel to this dumpster fire of a family feud in front of my kids. Besides, the person behind this is Serano.

Liam: Oh, really? You know, we never found anything in his warehouse that would suggest that he's using hidden surveillance, okay? That's not his M.O., but it could be the Davidsons' M.O.

Cordell: They're our neighbors, Liam. They're not some crime syndicate.

Liam: Oh, you know what, you know what, you always do this. You always give Denise the benefit of the doubt. Never me.

Cordell’s ranger instincts were right. Serano was (past tense) behind the surveillance.

Cordell: Last night, I discovered a surveillance camera hidden in our home.

Capt. James: Okay, what makes you think that Serano's behind it?

Cordell: The way he addressed me. It felt like a little too familiar, considering we had never met. That and the way Stan Morrison said I was being watched. [Excellent reminder of clues and reasoning.]

Denise: Okay, so all roads lead to Serano.

We seem to be learning that the obvious answer is never enough where the Walker family is concerned, though, so Liam is also right. He took the time to investigate the equipment capable of that type of surveillance, and found evidence to support his supposition of the Davidsons’ guilt. Unfortunately, Dan’s lies seemed to clear his family of suspicion before Liam’s hunch could be proven. We can only hope that Liam's sulking suggests he’s not giving up.

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Liam is motivated by his need to discredit his enemy and redeem his reputation (rather than to impartially find the truth). First, Denise stole Liam’s promotion. Having to take orders from a newcomer (and a family rival) reminds Liam every day that he wasn’t the county residents’ or his superiors’ first choice for district attorney. He also got hot chili spilled all over him because he was an easier target than the 6’4” judge of the contest. Liam’s justifiable bitterness towards the Davidsons is both prejudicially slanting and realistically informing his opinion of their possible guilt. The problem is that no one is listening to him. Not even his brother.

Secrets and Lies

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We all know that Dan spied on the Walkers, but just like Stan, Dan protected his secret criminal activity by murdering the only person who could incriminate him. History is repeating itself. In yet another parallel (see my 2.02 Threads review for numerous parallels) to Cordell’s past, the rangers seem destined again to blame the trigger men for the crime (the dead felon and Serano) without digging further to uncover if someone else gave the orders.

By killing the henchman, Dan’s “heroic” act of saving Liam’s life actually accomplished more than Dan could have anticipated. Obviously, it hides his guilt, but it also heaped more humiliation onto Liam. Liam looks like the biased sore loser who flung baseless accusations at his neighbors while Dan looks like a brave “hero” who came to the rescue of an enemy. Count that as a Davidson win on the Davidson/Walker feud scoreboard. Dan also looks like a “man of action” to his wife, with whom he was having marital problems. She later defended Dan and her family to Cordell, playing the injured party who has been unjustifiably accused by a Walker.

How long will it be until they learn that Dan isn’t a hero? That question now replaces the initial surveillance mystery. The compounding, more intriguing mystery is whether Dan is the only Davidson who is guilty of something.

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Denise: My office is struggling with charges against Serano that'll stick.

With Garrison dead, Denise said the DA’s office doesn’t have enough for RICO charges. Is that a convenience working in her favor or is she dragging her feet because she’s part of the Northside Nation hierarchy? To make matters worse, the surveillance shack has been discovered but with the henchman dead, there’s no evidence that Serano was involved.

Cordell: Okay, then we perform. Like we just did at my place.

Denise helped set up the sting operation to find out who was behind the surveillance – but that doesn’t necessarily prove her innocence. Maybe Serano took the initiative and spied on Walker without getting approval from his superior. If Denise is Northside Nation, it’s possible she really didn’t know Serano ordered the surveillance on the Walkers.

Liam: If these cameras aren't transmitting over Wi-Fi-- and I already checked, they're not-- it means that they're transmitting over a local receiver, which means whoever's watching us is close. I mean, there is one other possibility, but the tech said that it's unlikely. That the cameras could relay to another surveillance setup nearby, but the same principle would have to apply. It would have to be close.

Denise: Wait. Are you saying that there's another surveillance setup nearby? If Serano is keeping tabs on your family, wouldn't he want to do the same thing to the D.A. that's prosecuting him? Wouldn't he be keeping tabs on me, too?

When Liam uncovered that the equipment was close to the ranch, Denise realized that she may also have been watched. Once Denise thought that Serano’s operation might have captured something on tape about her that she wanted to keep secret, she raced to protect herself. If Serano doesn’t know the identity of his boss in the syndicate, he could have been spying on the DA who was after him without knowing he was crossing his boss. She also didn’t want Cordell joining her so soon after she got home, which begs the question that Liam asked:

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Stella and Trey both clearly understand what it means to keep ranger investigations secret, yet Denise blabbed about the surveillance to her husband. I suppose Denise telling Dan is no different than Cordell telling his parents, brother and children, but on an unsecured cell phone with no warning about “active investigation” and all that? Just as Stella was concerned that the watcher learned her secrets (texts and lingering feelings for Trevor), what was Denise afraid the watcher would see about her?

Capt. James: You got to sell the performance. Look, these two, they have-- they got history. They have familiarity. They're just using it.  [then later] What a performance!

The issue is that I’m not sure who’s performing for whom, or who’s using who. Denise’s indignant rebuke of Cordell at the end seemed like too dramatic of a “performance” to be convincing. The best defense is a good offense. Once she realized that Cordell suspected her family of wrong doing, it seemed like she purposely tried to “distract” him with guilt about doubting her. I wonder if that was a tactic she had seen the Davidsons use before.

The Past is (Not So Much) in the Past

Capt James: It just kind of seemed like you didn't want the past to repeat itself.

Dan Davison started a fire, but someone else will be blamed. Curious how that parallels the fire in the barn years ago. I’m fairly certain that fire was started by Marv Davidson but the truth about the real “barn burner” died with him, making it easy for the Davidsons to blame their rival’s teenage boy. Cordell began being everyone’s scapegoat at a very early age.

Emotional Backlash

James: Ah, first day back, your partner's setting records for fastest DPS surveillance drone setup.

James is being very patient with Micki as she tries to reintegrate into stringent ranger protocols, but since when does the most junior officer on a sting involve additional personnel and drone surveillance without getting approval from her captain?? Supposedly they wanted to keep their "stakeout footprint small” but Micki involved DPS knowing Northside Nation has corrupt officials inside local law enforcement agencies? Then Micki lectured Cordell about his “focus” (which again seemed a bit arrogant on her part)?

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Cordell: Is there some reason you don't want [Denise] here?

Micki: I just thought it could help you focus. Help us all focus.

Cordell: Do I not seem focused? (repeating a word Liam also used to encourage Stella to concentrate).  

Micki's concern challenged Denise’s presence at the sting and the “focus” of the investigation, both of which echo the questions about Denise that I highlighted above, so at least Micki’s snap did more for the plot than just degrade Cordell and demonstrate her irritability. That barbed wire was the least damaging fallout of Micki’s emotional instability. Aside, I truly hope she doesn’t break up with Trey.

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Geri was another casualty of the surveillance op. That woman has to feel like her attraction to Cordell is cursed! I hope he gets a chance to explain and we end up hearing what she wanted to say to him.

Text: It’s not what you think. We should talk.

Left as it is, Geri has entirely the wrong perception of what Cordell was doing.

Stella’s emotional stability was also severely shaken by the events surrounding the surveillance operation. Seriously, Cordell should have let her go to school to take her big exam and told her later.

I feel like I'm going to fail, and ruin my life, and be stuck on a cursed ranch where the sky's falling, and I can't even say why 'cause it's, like, confidential.

She and August are still reeling from what happened last year – with good reason. I’m impressed they’re keeping it together as well as they are. Her anxiety-fueled failure was saved by a well-meaning friend, but that kid now has to keep a secret that could get him expelled! Setting off sprinklers during the SAT exams is a serious “prank”! Anyways, why is Stella only taking college aptitude exams as a senior? Those should have been tackled a year earlier.

Lastly, gramma Walker has had just about all she can take, too.

Then maybe it's time we take a hard look [reprise of the word "focus"] at what's tying us to the ranch… Do we really want to spend our golden years someplace that's under surveillance? Or attack? Or with neighbors who are trying to tear us apart? Don't we owe it to ourselves to, at least, consider something different?

Running away from all the drama swirling around the Walkers is a very natural reaction, but isn’t it a bit extreme given Texans’ connection to their land?

Time Will Tell

Despite the conclusion of the surveillance mystery, the dramatic turn in Dan’s luck, the Davidson’s getting the upper hand on the Walkers, Serano getting perilously close to being released, the lingering questions about Denise’s innocence or guilt, the emotional fallout that is rocking everyone associated with the Walkers, and the tease about the Walker ranch map (was that a colt??), Liam’s situation made the biggest impression on me in “It’s Not What You Think.”  

Liam. Hey! No one thought to give me a call? No one thought to invite me to this party? What a way to make a guy feel wanted. I'm kidding, of course. Connie filled me in. Hey, Captain James. Micki, good to see you back.

Denise: Liam, we were just trying to keep our stakeout footprint small. We weren't trying to leave you out.

Really? Do you believe that? The Assistant DA who’s supposed to be handling Serano’s conviction wasn’t looped into a major undercover operation that could greatly help his case? Cordell didn’t wonder why Liam wasn’t read into their sting? No, Liam was right on all fronts. His perspective isn’t being respected. His big bro isn’t listening to him and his boss is working around him. That could either be because Denise is biased against him as a Walker, or just the opposite – she knows he’s good and is purposely sidelining him so he doesn’t discover her criminal ties.

Cordell: Geri, it’s not what you think!

Either way, I felt sorry for Liam this week, and I believe him. He’s being hot headed around the Davidsons but his spidey sense is tingling so he’s on edge. Go with the feeling, Liam. As the episode’s title warned us, nothing is as it seems.

- Nightsky

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Transcript courtesy of TV Show Transcripts