I watched the Walker pilot so you don’t have to

Last week, I watched the pilot episode of Walker. Yesterday, it was officially renewed for a second season. While I wasn’t originally planning on writing a review of the first episode—given my assumption that the show wouldn’t last even one season—I now feel compelled to share my thoughts with those of you who feel conflicted. Is Walker worth watching?

This reboot of Walker, Texas Ranger (yes, of Chuck Norris fame) follows its titular character, played by Jared Padalecki, as he navigates life after the murder of his wife Emily (Genevieve Padalecki). The loss of Emily pushes him to take on a deep undercover job for almost a year—and when he comes back to Austin, Texas a lot has changed. His two children aren’t sure how to act around him, although his son seems far more accepting of Walker’s absence than his daughter. His parents and brother have shouldered raising the teens while he was away, and are eager for Walker to move forward in the stages of grief…not just for his own health, but for theirs. And back with the Texas Rangers, Walker’s new boss assigns him a new partner—rookie Micki Ramirez (Lindsey Morgan), a Mexican-American woman trying to make her way in a world that her family is certain won’t accept her.

Though on the surface Walker seems to be trying to make amends with his family and get back into the swing of work, he is still grieving the sudden loss of his wife—and can’t shake the feeling that there was something sinister about her death.

Rebecca Brenneman/The CW — © 2020 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

What I enjoyed

There are elements of the pilot that were nice to watch. JarPad looks great in a cowboy hat, for one. It’s always nice to have Genevieve on screen. The cast is more diverse than a lot of shows. Lindsay Morgan’s performance was a big highlight for me—the most memorable part of the episode, in fact.

And…my list pretty much ends there.

What would have made it better

*checks watch* how long have you got?

via Giphy

As a whole, the pilot wasn’t riveting. Nothing about the story made me want to keep watching. A few changes that could have made it more interesting are:

  1. Not using the tired trope of a woman’s death advancing a man’s storyline. Cordell Walker’s wife was mysteriously murdered, and he’s now obsessed with finding the killer. Ring any bells, Supernatural fans?
  2. More action. The episode was incredibly slow-paced.
  3. A different approach to Cordell’s relationships…particularly those with his children. We get that their family unit is broken after the death of Emily, but what was it like before? Was he actually a good dad? It doesn’t seem like he knows anything about his own kids, and not just because he was recently on a long undercover assignment. We don’t really know much about Cordell as an individual either—his identity is wrapped up in loss and the feeble attempt to reintegrate himself into the lives of his family as though nothing has happened.
  4. More information about Emily. Obviously, Cordell loved his wife, but why does the audience need to be interested in finding out who killed her? We don’t know anything about her or why the mystery is supposedly so captivating—and I’m not invested enough to look forward to all the flashbacks they are bound to include.
  5. And lastly, and I can’t stress this point enough…the entire concept of the series needed serious rewrites. In this day and age, do we really need another cop show? And if we do, what important messages can it deliver about social justice? I would have been far, far more interested in seeing a complete overhaul of the character and circumstances. Who’s to say that Walker couldn’t be a Mexican-American ranger (played by Lindsay Morgan, even) who leaves the life behind when they realize that the system is flawed? Why can’t we see someone leaving law enforcement in the wake of events like the murder of George Floyd and the detainment of children in cages to seek out avenues that can actively help those whom the system abuses? We deserve far more from our media than another guy with a gun seeking revenge.

At the end of the day, I have no plans to continue watching the show. There just isn’t enough draw—not to mention the offputting nature of their marketing and attempts to automatically build a fanbase using the SPN family. I hope that I’ll be proven wrong eventually, and I’m curious to see what reviews come out over the next year. But until Walker can turn the cop genre on its head, the only CW show that I feel like supporting is Nancy Drew, which we recap on this blog once a week. If creepy mysteries and badass women are your jam, join us here and on Twitter!