This review is going to be different from my usual discussions of characters. Instead, it’s going to follow the format of fellow reviewer, Gail. It will start with what I liked and loved about the episode, then give you the chance to stop before I discuss what I didn’t like.
The Good Things
New Catch Phrase?
Beginning at the beginning, “Hawk’s Shadow” was a hilarious show within a show. It’s a spoof of those 90’s niche audience shows that seem deliciously cheesy now. The episode's writer, David James, revealed on Twitter that this was originally just supposed to be a voice over, but Steve Robin, producing director, insisted it be filmed, giving us a wonderful look at the hero who dressed like a hawk. The funny over-the-top dialogue and signature “Ca-caw!” that followed throughout the episode added a much needed bit of fun. Though, honestly Jared showing Cordell’s constant consternation was the funnier part.
Captain James and Kelly
After seeing them rekindle their relationship in “Two Points for Honesty,” it was great seeing the progress these two have made. Though that progress was endangered by missteps at the beginning of this ep, watching them come together at the end was beautiful. Captain James saying that the idea of being with his family on the beach made him feel whole was heart wrenchingly perfect.
Jared Padalecki is a fine looking man and the suit he wore this episode as 'Cordell Walker undercover' magnificently accentuates that. Though his wardrobe has been amazing all series, this tailored suit raised the bar. He looked incredible and debonair.
Jeff Pierre lights up every scene he is in and this episode was no exception. The way he saw that two people he cared about were hurting and felt compelled to help just shows what a wonderful person he is. The slow motion close up shots of him swinging various tools was also nice. And yes, he very much needs a hat.
Bonham and Stella
If there is a list of actors that are perfect for their characters, Mitch Pileggi as Bonham Walker needs to be on there. He embodies the crusty exterior, yet incredibly loving, old cowboy like he was made for this role. And he shined this episode. From his reaction to seeing the “D” on the gate, to his confrontation with Dan that softens under Stella’s plea that they work together for the safety of the horses, he nails every scene. The way information about his cancer scare was gleaned from the wrong side of civil conversation with Dan was brilliantly done. And the conversation with Stella at the end? The line about not hiding wins just felt wonderful. Also, the fact he figured out that Stella lied and went to see Colton instead, followed by a gentle warning, was excellence.
Stella’s lead in about putting differences aside for the greater good was also an amazing part of the episode. One wonders if this can be applied on a larger scale, or will be.
Cordell taking down the henchmen with his belt that he refused to leave behind was absolutely genius… and hot. It’s always wonderful when the show shows Walker being the superior ranger he is.
A Lighter Air
It was nice to take a break from the drama laden last few weeks. The stakes were lower, and it felt more like a time to breathe. Also, a time to laugh.
The Bad Things
I’m usually super positive about Walker. I love this show. So if you liked this episode, I’m so happy for you. I also beg you to stop here because the following may hurt you, anger you, spoil your enjoyment, or a combination thereof.
A very quick explanation of the difference between Doylistic and Watsonian arguments. Doylistic relates to the creators and that outside the story, Watsonian relates to in-story aspects. These are Doylistic complaints.
Sacrificing Characterization for Plot Points
Making the characters act in ways that the story has previously established they wouldn’t for the sake of drama is rarely appreciated, and it’s happening to more than one character this episode just to make the story work.
Cordell mentions how Geri goes off with Gale and Denise, how it’s odd because she’s his best friend, she’s always had his side, and suddenly she doesn’t. Now, in the episode, his feelings are explained to describe his pain but it also illustrates how out of character it is for Geri. She has been his friend for decades but the writers needed drama, so she goes off with the Davidsons despite that.
Captain James knows and loves the Walkers, and cares for Cordell. So it’s really against character that he not only forces Cordell to work with the Rodeo Kings again, but he’s also not understanding and is in fact annoyed with Walker for not wanting to work with them again - especially after seeming to know at the beginning that the perpetrator being related to that case would be a problem. Somehow it feels like everyone forgot, including the writers, that the head of the Rodeo Kings shot his brother, held his family hostage, and killed his best friend. Cordell even seems scared. After all, Twyla threatened him last time. But Captain James laughs this off and even takes a jab at Cordell. Not understanding that Cordell was late because he was trying to help his family find a home even felt off, when normally Captain James would ask after them.
Twyla Jean is an unrepentant criminal. She sought out Clint to join his gang after he robbed the bank she was working at. Cordell was frightened last season that she was in the same town as his kids. She betrayed a fellow Rodeo King, Jackson, and threatened Cordell at gunpoint numerous times. People died in the bank robberies that she helped set up, but Twyla views their deaths only as something that will be held against her. She even manipulated Cordell to feel guilty for doing his job and threatened him if he didn’t visit her. But suddenly, in this episode, she’s portrayed as a trustworthy, forgiving person who Cordell should want to get to know better. She even, after all she’s done previously, asks why he always thinks the worst of her. It would be laughable if it wasn’t played so seriously. One can only think this drastic change in character was to perhaps set up for future drama.
Bonham hates the Davidsons. Mitch talks about how he and Molly scowl at the word. So, as he even says, he wouldn’t work for them in a million years. … Except that’s exactly what he does. Though it’s not clear where it’s going, what is clear is that it’s another example of changing a character to serve the plot.
Walker is an awfully young show to have storylines repeat, yet it has several.
Colton is Stella’s second Romeo in as many years. At this point, it might as well become a running joke. Whoever is the antagonist, Stella will fall for their kid. Teenage girls do more than fall for the unacceptable boy, and it’s sad that this is Stella’s main storyline season after season.
Though 'grace should probably be granted' is an intentionally repeated theme, when something happens to separate Cordell from his ladylove, he has twice now turned to Twyla, the “right one at the time.” The first time was understandable, a broken man doing what he needed to do to get the job done. But now? Geri and Cordell have been broken up for about two weeks, and Cordell is put undercover with Twyla again, and connecting - again. It’s odd because he seemed to feel so guilty about it the first time, but now it’s played like his guilt is for putting her away, not for being with her so soon after his wife’s death. As written, it seems like Dan, the antagonist is more faithful to Denise, than Walker, the hero, is to Geri, and horribly, maybe even Emily.
Cassie pushing for Cordell to be in a relationship also feels repeated. In the span of six episodes she’s done it twice with two different people. Once was odd considering the short time they had known each other. Two times, in not a long period of time, feels intrusive.
Frustrating Ways Protagonists are Treated
Cordell Walker is the main protagonist, so much so that the show is named after him, yet it often feels like he is not liked and definitely not respected by the other characters of this show. This episode was definitely one of those times. His family ignores him, even though he tries his best to listen. His captain overrides his very understandable objections, and views them as annoying disrespect. Cassie insults his intelligence and instinct often, even mocking him in front of a person he once put away. In fact, it was painful that many of the jokes in this episode were at his expense. Twyla insulted him often. Stella lied to him. August refers to him as annoying. It’s actually painful to watch how the person the audience is supposed to connect the most with is treated. The only one showing consideration for him this episode was Bonham. And his other main supporter, Geri, has been turned into a Davidson.
On that note, Geri is also a protagonist, yet she is often the one the writers intentionally turn the audience against. In the first season, she was the red herring for Emily’s murder. This season, she is shown seemingly siding with the antagonists at their worst. It’s an odd way to treat a character that the audience is supposed to like, because it makes them hate her. Fans of the character often feel heartbroken at all the hate Geri gets, but it’s the writing that puts her in that position.
A quick summation before the last point, because people may need to skip it. This episode had some truly great parts. It was genuinely funny and warm in many areas, and many of the flaws may not be the writer’s fault because it’s part of the seasonal arc. But overall, not a favorite episode. Maybe in the future this will change, so no star rating will be given.
Trigger Warning: assault
Forgive the switching to first person, but it’s a personal grievance. I try really hard to separate the past of Supernatural in my Walker reviews, but find it impossible to do so for this point. When Twyla stripped Walker, I was forcefully reminded of all the times Sam’s bodily autonomy was stripped from him. Watching Jared’s character again have something done to him over his protestations while he was limited in recourse was painful. When he said something to the effect of “whatever you’re going to do, just get it done,” broke my heart. Twyla could have just told him to remove his tie and unbutton his buttons. But she physically forced herself on him. A person who threatened him. A person he does not trust. The fact that it was played off as 'hot' churns my stomach.
I hope you’re not too upset if you read this far, but I more hope that next week will be an amazing episode for which I can again only offer praise because this show is wonderful in so many ways.
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