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There was a lot to like about this week’s episode, and some things that made me go ‘hmm’. All the mini-hiatuses make it hard to keep the flow. I know they’re a necessary concession to the current pandemic situation, and I’m sure the cast/crew would prefer not to have the interruptions either. But they do make it a bit harder to slip back into the story after a gap.

I loved the first scene, of Cordell and his kids, plus Liam, Bonham, and even Micki and Trey at the Side Step doing some heavy-duty remodeling. (And this time, Cordell doesn’t nail his hand, although he does make a joke about it.) Stella gets her license back. (Where is Abbie?) Walker refers to Micki and Trey as ‘Tricki’ and Trey calls the Side Step remodel ‘Restaurant Impossible.” Everyone is happy and it’s a great moment. 

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There’s been a time lapse since the last episode, because Geri has been gone for a month, and Trevor as well. Cordell expects Geri to return. Stella is upset and worried about Trevor.

Liam is visited by the current District Attorney who is stepping down and endorsing a guy who is ‘old school law enforcement’ with ties to the oil and gas industries and the ‘old guard’. The guy being endorsed makes a comment about Liam that comes really close to being a gay slur. The Walker brothers aren’t fans of the status quo, so if Liam needed a push to make his decision about running for office, he’s got it.

What about Bret? Liam now knows that his reason for pushing Bret away (fear of the North Side Nation’s reprisals) wasn’t valid (or so it appears), so if he really loved Bret, shouldn’t he be groveling to explain and get a second chance? He sure doesn’t act heartbroken. Maybe Bret wasn’t the right one after all? (Did the actor playing Bret leave the show or get another part elsewhere?) Liam’s not acting like anyone I ever knew whose engagement got called off! 

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Micki and Trey talk bout his recovery from the injuries the night of the tornado, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and some damage to his hand. He’s worried about whether he’ll ever get back to how he was before. Micki encourages him. But we see later when Trey is teaching Auggie to flip bottles a la Tom Cruise in Cocktail and he misses a catch that Trey’s grip and reflexes aren’t quite right. Obviously, he’s worried about what that means. 

Cordell and Micki get called in on a case that’s related to an old one Micki worked in the past involving a locally famous singer, Minnie Jayne, and a missing violin. There’s a thief loose who steals instruments from musicians, leaving a red guitar pick as a calling card. Micki got blocked from fully investigating last time, and she’s suspicious that Minnie is in on the heists. Cordell is a big fan of Minnie’s (and he plays the fan boy so beautifully), but he agrees to back Micki anyhow. Cordell also tells Micki that he kissed Geri, and he isn’t sure what that means, but he keeps thinking about it. She’s gone, and he hasn’t been able to reach her.

Stella breaks into Trevor’s room at the horse barn (why would he be living there?) and goes through his things (hello, boundaries?). She doesn’t find him or anything that helps her piece together what’s really going on. 

Liam and Bonham are at a picnic where the candidates for DA will be announced. Bonham gives his blessing for Liam to announce his candidacy and the announcement clearly makes the old guard unhappy. (He sure got over Bret fast!) Liam asks why his grandfather’s campaign didn’t work, and Bonham says that the grandfather didn’t really believe in anything. He makes a comment that ‘a deer blind can go wrong real fast’ (was that a reference to Dick Cheney’s hunting accident?) 

Auggie and Trey are bonding back at the bar. Trey tells Auggie how he and Micki connected in a story about stray dogs and MREs. Auggie is creating a memory wall—a nice touch. Trey is worried that he’s changed and how Micki will react. Auggie encourages him to talk to her, and comments on secrets being bad.

Stella seriously needs an ankle monitor and an Invisible Fence. For a character who isn’t supposed to be dumb, she is unbelievably reckless. She goes to the horse barn to talk to Clint (Trevor’s father) to find out where Trevor is. Clint makes a reference to ‘Gone Girl’ and says it’s about “selfish people, the ones who run away and the ones who stay”. He tells her that Trevor picked her family over his own, and Clint is done with him. Stella tells him that lies destroy a family. Clint warns her not to tell Cordell that they talked and that he’ll find out if she does, threatening her by saying, “you’ll be surprised by the reach I have.”

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Assigning the daughter of a Ranger to work community hours in a barn with convicts put in prison by her father is stupid and negligent. She should be paired up with a bunch of suburban DUIs and truants. Then having her confront Clint and follow his directions on where to find Trevor (and not take backup or suspect a trap) is insane. Is she really so clueless, protected and privileged that she doesn’t *get* the danger or fully understand what her dad does for a living? 

I couldn’t find the name of the episode writer. Was it a guy? I ask because Stella’s actions go against every safety measure drilled into girls’ heads from the time they can walk, even if they aren’t in a law enforcement family. Don’t go off by yourself. Always tell someone where you’re going. Never allow a situation where you’re one-on-one with someone you can’t trust. Anticipate danger. Most girls and women put more threat assessment awareness into walking from the car to the shopping mall than Stella does confronting a convict who has reason to want her father dead. 

According to the Texas Rangers’ official website, they deal with “major violent crime, public corruption, cold cases,” border security, and crisis negotiation (aka SWAT teams). They aren’t out busting speeders or ticketing expired meters. It’s unbelievable to me that Cordell and Emily didn’t explain the dangers to their kids for their own protection, and/or that Stella is really too dim to understand. 

Back on the case, Micki and Cordell talk with Minnie (we have Minnie and Micki?). The singer says she’s being framed, and says she believes Rex, a guy who auditioned for her band, is behind it. She also weirdly admits that she taught Rex and others how to steal instruments from rich people and sell them to bankroll starving artists. Why would she tell them that, how is that okay, and why do Micki and Cordell not even blink?

Cordell and Micki search Minnie’s house, and realize someone is hiding in the attic. The masked thief makes a run for it, managing to foil two Texas Rangers (?) but they get his prints and confirm that it’s Rex. Minnie offers to help them catch Rex, but she wants her own record expunged in return. They believe the thief will go after a guitar that once belonged to Robert Johnson, a Blues singer famous for supposedly having made a deal with the Devil for talent and fame. (Supernatural fans recognize that story and the importance of crossroads deals!) 

Stella finds Trevor hiding at his aunt’s house. Whether North Side goons followed her or whether Clint sent them after providing Stella with the clue about where to go, I’m not sure, but they try to grab her and start beating Trevor. She gets to the car but doesn’t drive away. Instead, she drives right into the fight, giving Trevor a chance to jump into the car so they can escape. (Nice move, but that kind of thing only works on TV.) Also, why is a sixteen year-old allowed to drive an expensive, vintage Mustang as an everyday car?

Trevor admits that Clint probably used Stella to send a warning to him, and that Clint wanted to use Trevor to hurt Walker, as payback for the death of Trevor’s mother. Clint resents Walker’s ‘normal’ family (Supernatural fans mentally supplied ‘white picket fence and apple pie’.) He says that Stella and her family made him want to be a better person, and he wants to protect her. Trevor thinks the history between their families is too much for them to overcome. 

Back at the Side Step, Minnie and Micki discuss double standards and the scrutiny that comes with being female and not white. Cordell remembers how the bar was the hangout for him, Emily, Hoyt and Geri, and now he feels like he’s ‘chasing ghosts’. (Nice Sam Winchester reference!) He slips out to call Geri, but her voice mail is full. Later, she texts to let him know Hoyt is coming home the next day.

Am I the only one who was looking for a stuffed moose head or taxidermied squirrel, that yellow monkey statue, a sign for Margiekugel beer, or taps from Family Business Brewing to show up in the Side Step?  (Note from Alice - That would be kind of awesome.)

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Trey tells Micki that he doesn’t know when he’ll be cleared to drive, and says “I don’t know how to be me, when who I am is changing.” I think that is the whole theme of the season, right there, for all the characters.

Stella and Cordell have a celebratory dance. It’s a great dad-daughter moment as he jokes about letting her dance while standing on his feet as a little girl, and then twirls her. They both say “I love you.” Stella goes back out to the Mustang, where Trevor is waiting. He wants to know how they can fix what their fathers broke. Stella says, “Let’s just drive until we run out of gas and watch the sun come up” which is *such* a Dean Winchester sentiment!

Shout-out on the music for this episode—it was well-chosen and reminded me of Supernatural in terms of being emotionally and lyrically tied into the episode. 

The tough stuff— Stella, Liam, and Minnie. I like the actress playing Stella, but I hate that she’s written as being inexcusably reckless for a smart girl. It’s another case where with less lazy writing, they could still put her in peril without making it all her fault (and completely predictable/avoidable). 

I want to like Liam, but if he really cared so little for Bret that he’s completely erased him, then I have to reconsider. Even if Liam chose not to explain/apologize or beg Bret to come back for whatever reason, acting as if it never happened smacks of SoullessSam. Some angsty unrequited love and grief would go a long way toward making Liam seem less callous and make his motives less questionable. 

Do the Texas Rangers really get involved in cases about stolen guitars? It doesn’t seem to fit the mission on the real Rangers’ website, and seemed trivial after chasing gangs and car bombings. The whole Minnie case was a muddy mess that made no logical sense. What’s next for Cordell and Micki—crossing guard duty? 

Could we please have exciting cases and as much action as the standard police show? Without a solid crime drama thread, Walker teeters on the edge of becoming a family drama soap opera with law enforcement trappings. It could easily have both a strong action/crime plot line and an equally strong family subplot, and better writers could make that happen, like they do on many other shows. Jared and the rest of the cast are turning in great performances—the writers need to up their game or get replaced. 

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