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This week’s episode of Walker brought a few characters their “Just Desserts”.

Since “Just Desserts” was so focused on the central event of the Walker Family Thanksgiving, I’m going to be covering all the hard-hitting action scene-by-scene. Also, I’m going to be doing things a little differently with this review and tone down on the detail a smidge to keep things manageable.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

We start with Abeline bringing firewood up to the ranch house. She’s leaving a voicemail message for her brother, Will, as she walks. She’s inviting him to the family dinner, but there’s an understanding that he likely won’t be coming.

After she sets the firewood down, she hears Cordell and Liam arguing outside and goes to investigate. On the back porch, she finds her sons preparing for a turkey hunt, a new Thanksgiving tradition Cordell cooked up in an attempt to give Stella a little FOMO and have her running back to the ranch. Bonham and Abby can see what he’s trying to do a mile away, no matter how much he tries to spin it, and Abby can’t help but comment that he’s going through a lot of trouble to avoid actually addressing the issue. But her comments and suggestions are shut down as part of another, more established Walker Thanksgiving tradition: Abeline may not have any say or part in the preparations for the big dinner.

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Side note: The “Bonham” impressions from Cordell and Liam were so damn cute. Liam’s was better though

A quick ATV race across the ranch later and the Walker men have found a flock of turkeys. Cordell takes the lead on shooting them, but misses and scares them off. He starts panicking a bit, since they’re running out of hunting time if they want to have everything ready for the big dinner. Luckily, Liam is there to distract him with a little request. See, he’s invited Ben to their family event and he wants to include him in the Circle of Thanks, even though it goes against tradition. Cordell earns a few Good Brother points by allowing him an exception. But that doesn’t solve their turkey problem. Bonham then earns a few Smart Dad points by informing the boys that he bought a frozen turkey last week since he knew this whole endeavor was a pipe dream. Cordell accepts that but reminds them that they need to keep up the façade of having caught a wild turkey for Operation Guilt Stella Back To The Ranch.

A while later, we see Ben and Cassie arriving at the ranch. They’re getting ready for their own Thanksgiving tradition: Black Friday Shopping. Their last attempt wasn’t a huge success after a mealtime screw up on Cassie’s end, but this year will be different. They’re going to be lined up and ready for the doorbusting deals and get all those sweet, sweet discounts!

As they approach the house, Liam comes out to welcome them and gives them a rundown of the Thanksgiving schedule (dinner at 7-9pm and relaxing conversations until then), which clashes very hard with their shopping schedule. Ben was under the impression that this was going to be over a lot quicker. How are they supposed to be lined up at the mall at 7pm if dinner won’t start until after? Not wanting to be rude, the brother-sister duo says nothing to Liam’s face but secretly plot an escape plan once he heads back up the walk.

Meanwhile, at the Side Step, Stella and Colton are preparing a Thanksgiving buffet for a local women’s shelter. Colton is happy to have his girlfriend over for the holidays since the rest of his family is gone but Stella’s reasons for being there, however, are less than happy. She’s not impressed with her father’s attempts to lure her back to the ranch and she still can’t believe that August hasn’t come clean about the party. Colton thinks her going back wouldn’t be the worst idea, at least for the holiday, but he wisely backs down when prompted.

Side note: “Whose side are you on?” “Whichever one you tell me to be on?” “Good answer.” I probably should be concerned about this (especially considering that Colton allegedly fell for Stella when she was accusing him of keying her car) but it made me chuckle.

Colton gets a call from his parents and Stella takes the opportunity to get the trucks loaded up for the food delivery. But when she opens the door, she sees a closure notice from the city. August’s rager got their liquor license revoked because of all the underage drinking. Happy Thanksgiving!

Back at the ranch, Cordell, Liam, and August are working in the kitchen to get Thanksgiving dinner ready. Cordell and Liam are working in sync but August would clearly rather be doing something else. He’s not taking the art of Baked Alaska very seriously and he’s rude and snarky with Liam when called out on it. Liam is taken aback by this behavior but there’s not much time to dwell on it as Ben has just come onto the scene.

Ben is very happy that Liam invited him here but he’s decided to voice his concerns about the time conflict with his and Cassie’s plans. He wants to leave early, but Liam wants him to be there for the Circle of Thanks. Cordell comes up with the compromise of moving the Circle of Thanks up on the schedule to be during the dinner. Ben accepts that, just as long as they eat quickly so he and Cassie have time to line up for the good deals.

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Side note: I love how awkward Liam and Ben are around each other. Liam was especially adorkable in this episode and it was a nice break in the angst

Back at the Side Step, Colton is unable to get a hold of Geri and Stella is freaking out. Colton thinks that they need to tell Cordell what’s happened and Stella is very much against that idea. She’s not about to get more blame heaped on her. Colton assures her it won’t be like that. They should have August tell him; this whole thing is his fault and he should be held accountable. They could just pop in, drop the bombshell on the dinner, and then leave and let August handle the fallout “for once”. Stella is hesitant but eventually agrees. She wants to see August get knocked down a peg or two.

Side note: The “for once” thing really bothered me. The past two seasons have shown Stella get away with one crazy antic after another with barely any consequence while August handled his own problems. Is Colton not aware of this? Getting away with one thing (no matter how big) and enjoying it is hardly a “deal with your own consequences for once” situation. Although I will say it is nice to see Colton do something besides be the Perfect Boyfriend this season. He was starting to get annoyingly Nice and Perfect.

Back at the ranch, Bonham is getting irritated with the Dallas Cowboys’ playing. Trey tries to defend them but, as that’s getting him nowhere with the Walker patriarch, he looks around for Cassie and finds her sitting in the other room on her phone. He assumes she’s prepping for Black Friday shopping but she’s actually texting Kevin. Turns out Mr. Golden isn’t the terrible politician stereotype she assumed he was. And she might even like him a little bit too.

Trey then gets an idea: she should invite Kevin to the dinner. He’s got a shift later tonight and he probably won’t be able to stick around for the meal anyway. Sure, it’s a little weird but that would be very on-brand for Cassie. She’s hesitant but agrees and sends him an invite before they head over to the kitchen to confirm with the Walker brothers. She’s a little thrown when Kevin accepts the invite but Cordell and Liam assure her that he’s welcome to join them.

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Just then, Larry James arrives. He’s late but he has wine so it’s acceptable. He’s also a little overdressed for the occasion; the barrage of calls he’s been getting from the DA’s office prevented him from getting into his more traditional holiday garb. It’s a little sad that James misses having Liam in the DA’s office given his track record, but Liam is happy to hear that the people who kidnapped him and Cordell are getting what’s coming to them. Cassie then makes a joke about Grey Flag having a plan for his wardrobe, which causes Cordell to fumble the bottle he was holding. Cassie tries to spin it into a statement about being glad that they’re all together but it’s too late.

In the next scene, Cordell pulls Cassie away from the party to set up the table decorations (for Abby’s sake) and scolds her for mentioning The Name They Don’t Know while a thunderstorm rolls in the background. Cassie argues that James likely didn’t know that any of that information was in the evidence they delivered but Cordell counters that they don’t know what James knows with any certainty. If there’s any suspicion at all that they tampered with the evidence, it could spell big trouble. Cassie again assures him that as far as anyone else knows, they didn’t mess with what was in the box. It’s just a whole lot of fuss over nothing. Cordell accepts this answer, for now.

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But there’s no time to think about that because Trey has just left the building and Stella has come to fill the void. The whole family is happy to see her, even if they don’t know what to do about Colton, but no one is happier than Cordell. His plan worked! His baby girl is back home, and things can get back to normal! He has Baked Alaska and everything!

But Stella’s not here for dinner. She’s here to talk to August. Cordell says that he’s up in his room (or, rather, Stella’s old room) and she wanders off without another word, leaving a very confused Cordell behind.

Side note: My heart broke a little for Cordell when Stella didn’t return his hug

Side side note: I found it funny that no one knew how to handle Colton being there. Like he was the stray puppy Stella found on her way home from school and no one knew how to tell her they couldn’t keep him.

We cut to Cordell moping in Bonham’s workshop. His father enters the room and pours a little liquid courage for this conversation. Normally he wouldn’t meddle in Cordell’s business (he leaves that up to Abby) but he’s been cutting August far too much slack lately; he’s got a blindspot. Cordell doesn’t know what he’s talking about. August wasn’t the one that lied to him for months. August wasn’t the one that randomly decided to quit college to throw ragers at a bar. August is the responsible and steady one and it’s always been that way. Bonham says that kind of thinking is the problem; August had a hand to play in every incident Cordell just listed. Cordell thinks that’s just Stella’s bad influence though. He knows August wouldn’t do anything crazy like that.

Before the conversation can go any further, the power goes out. Then, the storm knocks a tree branch through the kitchen window. Everyone jumps into action to clean up the mess and save what they can of the food but will it be enough to save Thanksgiving?

Side note: Love the ominous placement of the “This is our Happy Place” serving tray.

Stella finds August chowing down on candy in his room while everyone handles the mess downstairs. She’s not impressed with his behavior but he’s not exactly listening to her at the moment. She then hands August the closure notice and tells him it’s time to fess up. August refuses to. He tries to turn this “attack” into some twisted, sad guilt trip fueled by her insecurities; she’s floundering and doesn’t know what to do with her life, meanwhile he’s finally starting to thrive outside of her shadow. Stella isn’t taking his crap this time and asks him how he can be so proud of single-handedly getting the family business shut down.

Abeline comes in just then and finds out what’s going on. August starts to apologize to her but that’s not going to cut it. She tells August it’s time for him to fess up. Then, she tells both of them to figure out whatever it is that’s going on between them before it creates a rift they can’t fix and leaves.

Side note: Loving the parallels between Stella and August and Abeline and Will. Let’s hope the kids can learn from the mistakes of the past.

Downstairs, things are not improving. James’ flight is grounded so he won’t be seeing his family and Bonham can’t figure out why the generator hasn’t turned on. Liam thinks that it might be time to call off the dinner. They have no power and no food. What’s the point? Cordell isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. After all, everyone is stuck here at the ranch anyway with the storm going on. Why not just make the best of what they’ve got? That little speech is enough to convince Liam and off they go to cook some turkey.

In another area of the house, Abby is attempting to fix one of the bowls that got broken during the tree incident. James interrupts her by accident and messes up her progress but it’s not like she was going to be able to fix it anyway.

James then asks about the whole “Abby Walker Doesn’t Cook On Thanksgiving” tradition. It sounds like the most un-Abbylike thing in the world. She then decides to tell the story behind that little tradition. You see, 20 years ago, her mother died on Thanksgiving. It’s set the mood for the whole holiday ever since. They just dropped everything and rushed to the hospital. She remembers thinking that they needed to keep her feet warm because they seemed so cold, then her brother Will reminded her of why their mother’s feet were so cold. She also remembers having a huge fight with Will. What about, she couldn’t say, but she remembers the fury behind it all. And their relationship was never the same after that. So, her dear sons decided that after that very stressful day, their mother should never be stressed on Thanksgiving again and took over everything. It’s a welcome distraction.

On that heavy note, there’s a knock on the door. Cassie answers it to see Kevin, drenched and shivering. She’s surprised to see him there and so ill dressed for the weather. Once he’s inside in the (relative) warmth of the house, he tells her that the roads are closed out this way and he wanted to give them a warning. Cassie doesn’t think that’s the only reason and he eventually admits that he also wanted to have a second chance to make a good impression on her.

As if by magic, the power comes back on and the dinner is ready. Perhaps things are looking up?

The Walker Family (and guests) gather round the table to a great spread of food. Everyone is enjoying themselves…. Except Abeline has noticed that the bird is frozen in some places, which is odd since they allegedly killed it this morning. There are also some issues with the other dishes, including the “gravy”, which Liam and Cordell are falling all over themselves to apologize for. Also, August is being a bit rude to Kevin.

Stella takes advantage of the displeasure going around the table to point out that August hasn’t been eating much of anything. Almost like he was snacking before dinner. Abby tells them to can it and Cordell doesn’t appreciate her telling him how to parent. Cordell tries to keep things calm and offers to get the Baked Alaska ready to shake things up and move on to the Circle of Thanks. As the tension between the Walkers grows, Abby finally tells Stella to just show her father the closure notice.

Side note: It was a good idea to get the flamethrower out of Cordell’s hands at that point. But it may have come in handy later….

Cordell sees it and, while he does his best to stay calm, he’s not happy. Kevin says that he could probably help with getting their liquor license back but Cordell tells him not to worry about it. After all, Stella is an adult and she needs to start facing consequences for her actions. Stella is pissed, August is relieved, and Abeline can’t watch this go on any longer.

She tells Cordell in plain English that it was August who threw the party, got Stella arrested, and caused the Side Step to lose their liquor license. She’s not going to let him skate by on his privilege anymore because he’s so damn proud of himself for getting away with this and she can’t stand the person it’s turning him into.

August then quietly, but clearly, says that Abby doesn’t “have to be such a b*tch about it”, leaving everyone (the family, the guest, the audience, and even himself) shocked.

Side note: August is incredibly lucky that Bonham was willing to let Cordell sort him out or he might’ve been the one going to the hospital.

Side side note: Did anyone else hear the collective Walker Fandom gasp?

Needless to say, dinner is ruined.

We then cut to Liam and Ben outside. Liam says that he didn’t understand the whole Black Friday thing before but now he sees why some people escape into their phones on this day. He then apologizes to Ben for how awkward he’s been all day. He really just wanted Ben to be there for the Circle of Thanks so he could properly tell Ben how grateful he is for him. Ben appreciates that and apologizes for his own awkwardness. It’s just that Black Friday was a big tradition for him and Cassie and he wanted to do things right, now that they were on good terms again. However, his reluctance to say “No” to Liam’s invitation left him worried that he was putting his new relationship over his family. Liam had the same worries, which was part of the awkwardness. Luckily for him, Ben thought it was cute. Ben then suggests that Liam come join him for Black Friday shopping now that the roads are open and Liam is more than happy to leave this awkwardness behind.

Side note: Do Liam and Ben have a “Family places only” policy for kissing? This is the third time in a row….

Inside the house, Kevin is cleaning up the remains of the dinner. Cassie walks in and apologizes for the weird and awkward dinner. But Kevin actually enjoyed it; he didn’t have a big family and he’d always wondered what a big, chaotic family meal would be like. A bit weird for a first date, but entertaining. Cassie feels better about that and then admits that she feels really out of her depth when it comes to dating. Kevin says he’d be much more concerned if she was actually good at dating. She then says that the roads are open now and her current ride just ditched her. The unspoken invitation hangs in the air as she covers his hand with hers on the counter. Maybe she’s better at this than she thought…..

Meanwhile, Stella and Colton are taking their leave. Before they get too far, Cordell tells Stella to wait. She keeps Colton by her side, which makes Cordell uncomfortable but he needs to say this. He apologizes to Stella for how he handled this whole mess. He jumped to conclusions when she should’ve listened to her and he gave August far too much slack for the same reasons. He just hopes he’s not too late.

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As much as Stella appreciates this, it’s a bit late (literally and figuratively) and the gap between them is a little too big to bridge right now. She’s going back with Colton.

Side note: I’m glad Stella didn’t forgive Cordell right away. As much fault as she has in this situation (Cordell didn’t jump to blaming her without precedent of wild behavior), he also made a lot of missteps and he’s only apologizing because he got smacked in the face with the truth. They’re going to need a lot of time to heal.

As he watches his daughter walk away, James steps out of the house. It’s time for him to go home too. But he, Cordell, and Cassie need to have a Talk sometime soon. That doesn’t bode well.

But that’s a problem for another day. Cordell has a Talk of his own to have right now with August.

Cordell isn’t sure how to handle this situation because, frankly, he doesn’t recognize August right now. And August doesn’t seem to either. He’s freaking out; he didn’t mean what he said, it just came out, he couldn’t stop himself. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. Cordell tries to sooth August. This is a little bit his fault too.

He can recognize that this has been building up for some time and that he turned a blind eye to it for too long. He admits that, with everything going on with Stella, he forgot that August needed him too. He’s just used to August being able to take care of himself. He was August the Noble; what more could Cordell possibly have to offer him?

August doesn’t think that  version of himself was ever real; he’s just always been this terrible person deep down. Cordell doesn’t believe that for a second. He knows that August can be good, that he is good and he’s going to help August figure this out. He doesn’t need to be an adult to be a man, and that starts with how they treat and act around women. But first, August needs to apologize to his Mawline.

Side note: I’m glad they didn’t go the “August the Brat” route with this storyline but I do think Cordell could’ve yelled at August here. Just a little bit. for Mawline’s sake.

Side side note: Kale Culley did such an amazing job in this scene. He did a great job of showing August’s distress in realizing the kind of person he was turning into on his journey of Coolness. (This is what happens when you don’t hire 25-year-olds to play 16-year-olds.) Excellent job.

Speaking of Mawline, she steps outside of the house into a light snowfall. She starts walking on the grass and stumbles a bit. She recovers quickly and takes a few more steps before collapsing entirely and falling unconscious onto the grass.

Side note: Is it just me or is the spot she landed roundabouts where Hoyt died???

This episode was….A lot. But it was done really well.

I have to say, it’s impressive how fast Stella and August’s relationship devolved from going to the ends of the earth for each other to tearing each other apart, and Cordell was oblivious to the whole thing due to a mix of dealing with his own problems and willful ignorance. I’m not happy with Abeline’s insistence on interfering but, in this case, I’ll admit she might have had a point.

Liam and Ben and Cassie and Kevin were adorable, awkward, and just what the episode needed to give us small breaks in the tension this episode brought. Let’s just hope they can all go on less stressful dates in the future.

Speaking of the future, I can’t believe we have to wait until 2023 to find out what happens next! Why did Abby collapse? Is it the same thing that killed her mother? Will her brother finally come around? Will Stella, August, and Cordell be able to sort out the mess their relationship has become? Will the Side Step remain open? Will Cassie and Cordell be able to keep their badges? How will Geri react to all this? And what’s she up to anyway? I have so many questions!

Another outstanding episode. 9/10 (loses a point for coming right before a hiatus).

But what did y’all think of the episode? Are you going to be able to make it until January? What do you think will happen next? Let me know what you think in the comments! I’m so curious to read your thoughts.

Catch up on Esther's detailed Walker Recaps and insightful Character Profiles, all found on Esther's Writer's Page

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