The third season opener of Walker was one of the best of the series so far and arguably the best premiere. The powerful emotions it evoked as it interwove the theme of the invisible string that connects those who love each other reached out to the audience and pulled them in, as well as showing how each character reacted to being helpless in the face of crisis, learning to deal with what’s going on with the central character….
Cordell (and Emily)
Poor Cordell, the powerful Ranger rendered helpless by force and restraints. His way to cope is to bring forth a vision from his subconscious to steady himself, to help him think. A vision of the one he trusts and misses, Emily. Heartbreakingly, the first thing he does is apologize for being kidnapped and missing Stella’s graduation. Conjuring her lets him feel less alone and talk out his thoughts as the audience gets to see Cordell’s intelligence and his limits as he tries to figure out where he is and how to make it through intact. Jared Padalecki excels at portraying a person in pain, so much so that many of his fans crave these moments. But he also makes it hurt, and the audience's hearts ache for him, especially when he begs the vision of Emily not to leave - just as things took a turn and he tugs sharper on the invisible string to …
Abeline and Bonham
Molly’s powerful portrayal of a mother worried about her son brought tears to many. She covered her worry in front of her grandchildren with the talk of the invisible string to Bonham. But it was Molly confronting Captain James about both the past when Cordell went undercover and now with him taken that really showed the depth of her pain. Her pain carries over to her conversation with Bonham, as he realizes how much she needs his strength, too. Because while Mawline spent the episode breaking while trying to be strong, he spent the episode supporting everyone. Mitch has mastered that stoic strength as others around him break down. There is a saying, it’s hard to fall for the one everyone is leaning on. That’s how Bonham copes. In this he had help, as he worked to keep up everyone’s morale up alongside…
The one turned to in a time of crisis, Trey again rises to the occasion. Quickly deciding to become a Ranger by necessity, he immediately gets to work. After he sets up base camp, he quickly gets concerned about people’s morale, again impressing Bonham with his offer of a pancake breakfast for all. But he is more than a rock. He proves he's cut out to be a Ranger by using literal string to connect the dots and figure out Walker was specifically targeted. Jeff is a pleasure to watch. Trey’s frustration at being kept in the dark because he’s not a Ranger yet is palpable. But after he explains his reasoning of Walker being the target, even though he’s not officially a part of the the investigation, he is furthered helped by …
Since this is her second partner that she has lost, Cassie is determined to find Walker and bring him back as quickly as possible. Ashley is wonderful as the persistent ranger. She uses all she remembers about Sean, her date who now holds Walker captive, but this just leads to a dead end as Sean had planned, actually, to buy more time. Joining in the 'how does one respond when they feel hopeless' theme, Cassie talks out her concerns to Abeline, recounting her nightmare of needing to be somewhere, but unable to find it, because she’s missing something - partially because her reasoning and methods are questioned by...
Proving once again that being the head of an elite law enforcement agency doesn’t prevent one from feeling helpless, he tries his best to keep everything together in order to find Cordell. While doing this, he tries to tread carefully in order not to fray the already stretched thread. But in this, he is repeatedly shot down. Stella informs him that it doesn’t help, because they’ll just assume the worst. Abeline lets him know he doesn’t need to come by the ranch until he has Cordell because when Cordell was undercover, Larry felt he needed to be there for the Walkers. Coby in the scene with Molly was brilliantly heart wrenching, with tears pooling in his eyes as he’s confronted with her request. But he shows he understands that now they want him to be singularly focused on finding Cordell because others can help with the coping, people like …
Cookies make everything better, and Geri knows this. She uses baking “sad cookies” to help her, August, and Stella cope. Though she also feels the painful pull of Cordell in danger, that’s not her only way to tie the family together. She serves as a conduit between the desire of the adults to protect the younger generation from the worst of reality and the urge of August and Stella to be included and respected. Though she is uncertain, she doesn’t stop Stella and Colton from going upstairs. Odette was adorable here as her face showed all her emotions. And she is openly vulnerable for August and allows his lie of being fine in order to help him. It worked for the time being, but who knows the future with …
Stella and August
No longer children, but not truly adults, Stella and August are torn enough between those two worlds. Now their dad is once again absent, but this time not of his choosing. Having not learned the lessons of helplessness adulthood brings, they assume the feeling is from how they’re treated as kids. So Stella vows to use her newly acquired adult status to do something. August has to rein her in, in an effort to be like …
The little brother who has always looked up to his big brother, and not just because he’s taller. The link between the two is a source of great angst this episode as Liam recalls he always worried about Cordell, even when he knew Cordell may be joking. Keegan plays this well, at times looking almost like a lost little kid missing his brother, which is impressive for a 6’2” bearded man. He looked especially lost and little when the invisible thread that connects him to Cordell ended up pulling him to his big brother’s side to join him in captivity in a heartbreaking cliffhanger.
The greatest thing TV can do is evoke emotion, and this Walker episode did that extremely well. Watching Cordell be tortured was both riveting and painful. This heartbreak was compounded by the reaction of those who love him. Watching everyone’s helplessness is relatable in a world where far too often, bad things happen and nothing can be done. This feeling stays with the viewer, even after the episode ends.
Another good point was connecting Cordell’s current absence to when he was undercover. Not only does the audience get more information about how the family felt during that time, it’s expertly contrasted with their reactions now. This adds depth to already well developed characters, and makes the audience connection to the characters even stronger.
The only gripe is how did no one hear Cordell get a shot off before he was kidnapped. Guns are loud.
Overall though, this was an incredibly amazing and evocative episode that makes the wait until the next episode that much harder.
4.96 stars out of 5.
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Photos Courtesy of The CW
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