Thursday, January 21, 2021

REVIEW: 'Walker' - Walker Returns Home to His Family and Sees How Much Things Have Changed in His Absence in 'Pilot'

The CW's Walker - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Texas Ranger Cordell Walker, a widower and father of two with his own moral code, returns home to Austin, Texas after being undercover for two years. As Walker attempts to reconnect with his son and daughter, he finds that he needs to navigate clashes with his family. Walker finds unexpected common ground with his new partner Micki Ramirez, one of the first women in Texas Rangers' history, while growing increasingly suspicious about the circumstances surrounding his wife's death.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of The CW's Walker.

"Pilot" was written by Anna Fricke and directed by Jessica Yu

This premiere features several plot devices that are absolutely dreadful and terrible. It's embarrassing and bland really. It's baffling because of the talented ensemble that has been assembled for the series. It wants to be a modern-day update of the Chuck Norris series Walker, Texas Ranger. And yet, absolutely every single idea associated with this premiere already feels dated and tired. It's completely void of any personality whatsoever. That doesn't set the show up for success. The network obviously wanted to stay in business with Jared Padalecki following the end of Supernatural. This just doesn't feel like a good showcase for him at all. Again, it's just weird. Sure, it's understandable that the storytelling approach of the original series wouldn't work in 2021. That show was basically just an excuse to see Norris in various action sequences. The plotting was completely nonsensical. This version absolutely has broader ambitions. It introduces an entire tortured family dynamic to make it more of a melodrama. Walker feels torn because he is committed to his job but feels the pressure to be there for his family following his wife's tragic and mysterious death. And yet, the show positions Emily as a saint. The family had no problems before she was killed. Everything was perfect and happy. And then, this tragedy occurred. Walker left and the rest of the family struggled to pick up the pieces. It's just the latest example of a show fridging a female character in order to provide depth and purpose to the leading man. In this case, it barely does that. Emily doesn't exist as a crucial figure. The audience is only meant to infer an emotional connection because she is Walker's wife. That descriptor is suppose to do all the hard and arduous work of getting the audience to invest. It fails spectacularly. Moreover, the premiere tries to set up a mystery of what actually happened to her. Liam states that the case has seemingly been wrapped up with a man confessing to her murder. Walker has his doubts because pieces don't line up. It's behavior meant to imply that he is obsessing over details out of his control and that don't matter. He is refusing to be present with the family that is still here and needs him right now. It's easier for him to go away. He can use the excuse of it being necessary for his job. It's the role of being a Texas Ranger. It's convenient for him. Him choosing to stay in Austin for his family is meant to suggest some introspection on his part. He won't make the same mistakes that he did in the recent past. But again, the audience already knew that was going to happen. He is grounded in this specific region. The show wouldn't go through the burden of introducing this tortured home life if he was going to be in different parts of the state each week. That wouldn't make any sense. Again, it's a familiar trope that never works. It's the show threatening its basic premise in order to actually set it up. It has no meaning because the audience doesn't feel like we have something to lose. It's simply a reality for this world. It removes any kind of emotional resonance. Meanwhile, Walker is meant to behave on the job. He can't continue carrying out his sense of justice. He is mildly called out for his behavior when bringing in a suspect. But it's also incumbent on the other rangers in the office to feel like it's their responsibility to offer reforms of policing methods. Walker is the one with a personal attachment to pain and loss. He is very dramatic about that. Captain James and Ramirez feel the weight of their presence in this organization. That is barely given any recognition here. It may be the only little pieces of depth given to them. They see the value in enforcing the laws and making things right in an unjust system. Walker is the center of the show though. He will be disruptive to that mission. That will provide conflict. But again, it's the lazy way to tell this story. Moreover, the show doesn't offer the audience any reason to get invested in any of this. It's lip service without actually putting in the work to ensure that this story is necessary and vital. Walker is the center of the show but baffled whenever someone expects him to have a personality. Others seem set in their realities and perspectives on the world. Walker has been successful for so long without having to forge an identity for himself. That bears consequences on his kids who don't know how to cope following their mother's death. And yet, it's still on them to tell him how to feel instead of falling into the same patterns that should have been called into question a long time ago. There isn't anything bold or relevant in that. It's simply the same tired tropes that people still think work for some reason.