After the high intensity of the last couple of Walker episodes, "Wild Horses" was a real shift. It reminded me of how Supernatural used to break up the big season arc with a ‘monster of the week’ story that gave us a breather but still had connections to the main story.
As usual, I’ll skip to the recap and go right to my impressions.
I’d say that ‘horse rescue’ is the theme and the metaphor. The stolen wild horses can’t be wild anymore, but the thieves are trying to save them from slaughter. Liam goes to equine therapy, the Mustang has been repaired but was recently damaged, Cordell buys the horses for Liam, but Cordell himself is still skittish and not fully dealing with his issues.
‘Next steps’ also plays a big role in this episode. Stella isn’t sure what she wants to do for a living. Auggie feels like he’s lost his chance to step into his own because Stella didn’t leave. Trey is finishing his training to become a Ranger. Liam is struggling, trying to come to terms with his experience in captivity. And Cordell is still having flashbacks, refusing to admit that he doesn’t have it all together.
This is a short review this time because it wasn’t the action that mattered in this episode—it was the reactions.
The ‘monster of the week’ this time were activists freeing the wild horses that had been rounded up, and releasing them into the wild. Trey does a great job of working with the Feds, following his instincts, identifying the coffee truck receipts that gets a break in the case, and then following/chasing the suspects even when he goes against orders. He has overcome his earlier trauma from the storm injuries and breakup with Micki to end up with a new life and prove it’s where he belongs.
Auggie’s plans are upended by Stella’s change of plans. He doesn’t get her room, doesn’t get to be the temporary only child, doesn’t get his last two years of high school without her shadow. “And I get nothing, as usual,” he says, surprising her with his anger. His reaction takes her by surprise.
Cordell gets Stella a part-time job (that is going to cause Auggie to get fewer hours) without consulting her. He buys the horses for Liam without consulting him. Cordell is ‘taking care’ of people but refuses to take care of himself.
Bonham confronts Cordell about not listening to Liam or recognizing that Liam didn’t have Cordell’s Marine Special Ops training. Cordell says he hears what Bonham is saying, but he still doesn’t talk to Liam, doesn’t ask him about buying the horses, doesn’t give anything of himself. He admits that he doesn’t know how. This increases the distance between them, instead of closing the gap. As Liam says later, ‘I can’t keep relying on you to make me feel better.’ Ouch! Cordell doesn’t seem to realize that what the people around him need is for him to drop his walls and relate to them and let them relate to him, not for him to ‘fix’ things for them without their input.
Cassie has noticed Cordell zoning out when he gets flashbacks. He still won’t talk about what he’s going through, but he does tell her about his mentor, who was killed in action. He’s tamped down and compartmentalized his grief, but hasn’t really felt it. Cassie talks him into taking his mentor’s folded flag to the family. Cordell goes to the house, sees photos, and leaves the flag without actually meeting his friend’s mother, and then lies to Cassie about having a good talk.
Cordell is still stuck because he doesn’t want to face his trauma, work through the messiness, or feel the grief. I have a feeling that at some point soon the walls are going to come crashing down on Cordell and he won’t have a choice about dealing with the past.