After the whirlwind that was this episode, my sanity could use a “Search and Rescue” mission.
Similar to “Champagne Problems”, this episode had a central plot that brought together a lot of smaller ones for a big finish. In the spirit of that, I’m going to format my review the same way and give a play-by-play overview of the episode instead of going through each plot individually. And boy do we have a doozy of a plot to look at today!
Before we get started, I want to make sure we all know that the reason we got very little Cordell in this episode was because they filmed it while he was recovering from a car crash and they didn’t want him to overdo it. While this does leave the plot that he was a part of a little underdeveloped, there’s still enough time to set it up for the next episode.
And now, on with the show!
We open to a dark screen with Stella’s voice echoing around us, telling Colton to stay wake up. Her face slowly comes into focus and we see Colton laying on the ground, his head bleeding. He’s as disoriented as we are while Stella takes care of him. She steps away briefly to call Liam and tell them where they are when her phone battery cuts out.
After the title screen, we cut to earlier in the day with Cassie and Cordell entering Ranger HQ. Cordell is explaining a personal dilemma to Cassie. While he wants to support Stella’s decision to date Colton and put the bad blood of the families behind them, it’s not that simple. The possibility that one or more of the Davidsons had a hand in tilting the race in their favor would destroy any chance of peace between them. Cassie doesn’t seem to be taking it as seriously as Cordell would like but she offers Happy Hour Therapy and all is well.
James then calls Walker into his office and asks him to close the door. He starts by saying that Cordell has taught him something over the past year: that when one of his rangers has a gut feeling about something, he shouldn’t ignore it. He goes on to say that Cassie may have been right in thinking that Miles wasn’t dead after all. He tells Cordell about a call he got from Rita, Miles’ wife, who had concerns about Captain Fenton. Apparently, he’d been acting very strangely over the past week and, out of concern for him, she followed him in his truck one night. She saw him meet with someone in an abandoned clearing in a wooded area, but she was too scared to get close enough to see who it was. Cordell jumps on the idea that it could be Miles and insists on telling Cassie what’s going on. James tells him to hold off on that, just in case this is nothing. It wouldn’t be fair to her to get her hopes up like that; James doesn’t want her to go through what Cordell did. Cordell reluctantly agrees and they make plans to visit the location Rita gave them.
Side note: I really like the way they do the timecards in this show. The way they blend into the environment is nice.
Next, we see Ben and Liam playing pool at the Side Step. Liam is giving Ben a hard time over being reluctant to call what they’re doing “a date” but Ben’s taking it all in stride and calls Liam out on his own reluctance to open up. Liam admits that he’s been feeling a little out of sorts lately and Ben asks if it’s got anything to do with their feud with the “Davids”. It would appear that Cassie has been supplying him with the Walker family secrets.
Liam tells Ben about his concerns regarding the validity of the race and admits that he’s nervous about pursuing that path, just in case it’s nothing. Then again, his batting average has been terrible this season and he could really use a win, both for himself and the family. Ben encourages him to pursue the idea, reminding him that he’s a lawyer and it’s his job to sort out the facts. Liam takes this advice and leaves Ben at the bar to embark on his new mission.
Side note: I really want to know what kind of lawyers Ben has been dealing with that say “I’m gonna nail you to this table.” I feel like his experience comes from *ahem* adult sites, but I could be wrong.
Meanwhile, Stella and Colton are about to have their first date at a nature trail. Stella admits that it’s a weird idea for a first date but it’s something she’s familiar with thanks to Emily and it’s an experience she wants to share with Colton and he’s happy to oblige. Just as they’re about to kiss, August makes himself known, and complains about the sunscreen Colton packed. Stella interrupts his tirade to ask about a “friend” he’s supposed to be meeting at the trail. As if on cue, a pretty girl appears, causing August to forget all about the sunscreen issue as he waltzes off to meet her.
Back in Austin, Bonham and Dan are chopping firewood when Liam speeds up the driveway to the property and storms into the house. Dan takes the side entrance in and finds Liam arguing with Denise in the front entryway. When he asks what’s going on, Denise tells him that Liam has concerns about the validity of the race. From there, Liam flat out says that he knows someone in their family cut the saddle and then shifts to directly blaming Dan. Dan asks if he has any proof and Liam says that his father’s leather detailing knife has gone missing, which is met with derision and ridicule by the Davidsons. Ultimately, the conversation goes nowhere and Liam leaves, only to be confronted by Bonham outside. Liam apologizes for not bringing the saddle issue to him sooner and says he just didn’t want to dish out false hope. Bonham is understanding of this but asks him to let the situation go as things between the families are rough enough as it is. As Liam goes back to his car, Dan comes out and politely fires Bonham, which doesn’t exactly serve to make things better.
In the next scene, we have Cassie and Trey playing darts at the Side Step. It seems that Trey is having trouble deciding whether or not he wants to move out of the bungalow he used to share with Micki. When Cassie describes this as a “crossroads”, he accuses her of being dramatic and brings up that she’s still currently living in a motel. Before the conversation can go much further, Cassie’s friend, Angela, shows up from her shift at the local children’s hospital. Angela also works as a first responder and participates in helicopter rescues when needed. Sparks are flying between her and Trey while Cassie gets drinks and she seems awfully proud of herself for this.
Back at the nature trail, Stella and Colton have made a last-minute change to their plan and chose a different hiking path, which brings them to a climbing area. They banter a bit about their climbing skills and Stella suggests a race to a patch of flowers up on the rock wall. She times Colton as he climbs toward it and seems impressed. Then, his shoe slips and he falls, hitting his head on a rock as he reaches the bottom. She immediately rushes over to check on him, but the adrenaline is still going and he doesn’t seem to realize he’s been hurt yet. He stands up and tries to keep going, telling Stella that she needs to reach her mom, before he falls over his own feet. This brings us to the opening scene and Stella makes the call for help.
In another area of the park, August and his new “friend” are waiting for Colton and Stella at their meetup spot. They’ve been waiting for half an hour with no sign of them or signal to call. His friend tells him that they’re running late for something and asks if he really wants to stick around waiting for the other half of their double date. August considers going with her but he declines, saying he needs to go find his sister and wanders off down the trail calling for them.
Next, we see Liam and his parents discussing their plan of action to rescue the kids. Liam tells them what little he got from the seven-second phone call and it’s not looking good. Dan and Denise pull up and Abby walks over to give them a long-range radio. She also tells them that they can use their truck to investigate the off-road areas while Liam goes on foot and she and Bonham handle base camp. Everyone involved agrees to set their family differences aside for the sake and safety of the children, with Liam stepping in to needlessly remind Dan that all the children are important.
In the next scene, Cordell and James have come across the trailer we saw Fenton go to in “No Such Thing as Fair Play”. They bounce around a few ideas on what this could be if it isn’t Miles’ hiding place before announcing themselves. When there’s no answer, Cordell checks the door and finds it unlocked. He goes in and, after a few seconds, calls James in with him. With both men in the trailer, a truck pulls up to the property and faceless men with guns exit, only to open fire on the trailer.
Back at the nature park, Dan and Denise are arguing over Liam. Dan thinks Denise believes he had something to do with the saddle breaking, and she points out that he hasn’t had the best track record with honesty lately. After a few moments of senseless arguing, they both agree to stow it and focus on finding any of the kids.
We cut to August, who’s still looking for Stella and Colton. However, in all his searching, he finds himself lost and he wanders back to the river, possibly to orient himself. Dan and Denise see him and call out to him. He turns his attention to them and loses his footing on the river rocks, falling into the water and down the waterfall. Dan jumps into the water without hesitation and swims toward a flailing August to bring him to the shore. Once they’re on dry land, August asks what they’re doing there but ignores his own question to tell them Colton and Stella might be in danger. Dan uses the long-range radio to tell Liam the path August knew they were going on, but no one is aware that they changed plans and he sets off in the wrong direction.
Meanwhile, Stella is playing Florence Nightingale with Colton. She’s trying to stop the bleeding and keep him awake and hydrated while they wait for help. In his bleary state, Colton asks if she thinks they’re cursed and she says that they probably are but that it’s going to be worth it. Colton toasts to their perseverance, an action that doesn’t agree with his current physical condition.
Liam is calling for them on the trail just above them and Stella calls back. Liam tells them to stay put and that he’s going to climb down to them. Before he can, Dan pulls him back and tells him it’s too dangerous to free climb it. The only way down would be to take the path, but it would take too long. Running out of options, Liam decides to call in reinforcements.
Back at the bar, Trey accuses Cassie of trying to set him up, which she denies, though she wouldn’t be opposed to them dating. This circles back to the bungalow discussion and Trey admits that he’s still dealing with the breakup earlier this season and maybe he is at a crossroads. Before the conversation can go further, Cassie gets Liam’s call for help and offers to get him special first responders instead of just rangers.
It’s time to suit up and go out in a rescue chopper. There’s some more banter, including a nod to Trey’s time in the military and his old nickname “Tip Top Trey” and the fact that Cassie’s afraid of helicopters, followed by some very badass shots of the copter as they head toward the rescue site.
It’s very dark now and it takes them some time to locate Stella and Colton. Trey goes down and Stella informs him of Colton’s condition. They send him up first for medical treatment. In the next scene, everyone is at the helicopter base and Colton is being loaded in an ambulance while the Walker family, sans Cordell, reunites. Stella gets complimented for keeping a clear head in an emergency and she credits Trey for teaching her. At the end of the day, everyone’s okay and that’s all that matters.
Following this, Liam walks over to where Dan is parked and attempts to apologize for his earlier accusations. Dan brushes him off, making a comment about how they were never meant to be friends. Liam agrees and starts to leave, when he turns back and sort-of apologizes for the punch he delivered in “They Started It”. It was the first domino that drew up a lot of tension between the families and set the tone for their specific dynamic. Dan sort of accepts it and admits that he did goad Liam into the punch. They share a small laugh before going their separate ways.
Back at Trey’s bungalow, he’s arranging paperwork for a new apartment and packing things away. Cassie arrives to ask how he’s doing and he tells her the good news. She tells him she’s been apartment shopping as well, though it hasn’t been going that well. Trey suggests the complex he’s moving into and she immediately jumps to them being roommates, a concept she will not let go of despite Trey’s protests.
Side note: I will personally hand every crew member involved with Walker $100 to have Cassie and Trey as roommates. I need this PLEASE!!!!
Back at the Davidsons, Dan has been thinking about what happened earlier and brings his concerns to Denise. He realizes now that the look he read as accusing earlier was more one of recognition. He then accuses her of cutting the saddle and costing the Walkers the race. She avoids his questioning and eventually settles on a stance of “We won; nothing else matters”. This only solidifies Dan’s doubts and he makes to leave the house. Denise starts begging him not to, but she’s already lost him.
Back at the Side Step, Ben and Liam discuss the events of the day and their messed-up date. Ben admits that Liam was right earlier in that he wasn’t quite ready to move on to a serious relationship yet. He also points out that Liam isn’t in the right headspace for it either but he’s still willing to give it a shot. This leads to their first kiss and things start to get a little heated, only to be interrupted by Bonham and Abby entering the bar. Bonham apologizes for interrupting them but 1) If Liam wanted privacy, there are better places than his brother’s bar and 2) Dan is on his way and he has something serious to talk about. Before Liam can ask for more information, Dan enters the bar. He tells the Walkers outright that he knows Denise was the one to cut the saddle and throw the race and that he no longer wants to operate on the wrong side of this feud. There’s a tense moment of silence before Bonham steps forward and offers him a drink before they shake hands.
Our final scene is in Ranger HQ, where Cassie meets up with Cordell and James. She asks what they’ve been up to all day and Cordell holds up his hat, which is sporting a new bullet hole. James then tells her that there’s something she needs to know and they both gesture for her to turn around.
Before she can fully turn, she hears her name and she instantly knows who it is. She turns around, looking as if she’s seen a ghost, before we’re shown her old presumed-dead partner.
And, on that shocking note, the episode comes to a close.
As much as I studied the trailer, promo photos, and interview articles about this episode, I found myself surprised in a lot of ways. I did expect Dan and Liam to work together, but I didn’t expect Denise to become the new suspect for the saddle tampering. I expected the search and rescue mission but seeing the Davidsons and Walkers work so well together was eerie. And, while I knew they’d be investigating Miles’ case, I was not expecting them to do the face reveal so soon.
Despite how much happened in this episode, I thought it was all handled reasonably well and, aside from the trailer search, nothing felt rushed or underdeveloped. Liam and Dan coming to a real understanding of each other was a great, if unexpected, element of this episode, as were Trey and Angela. Honestly, this episode knocked it out of the park and I can’t wait to see where this all goes next week.
What did y’all think of the episode? Were you as shocked as I was by that ending? What about Dan and Liam’s newfound frenemy status? Are Stella and Colton doomed to fail? Let me know what you think in the comments!
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