Sometimes we get episode titles and I wonder where they came from. “Random Acts” is one of those titles because there was nothing random about the acts in this week’s episode of Walker: Independence.
As usual, I’m amazed at how much story was packed into this 42 minute episode and impressed at how well balanced the different storylines were. Today, I’m going to split up the recap into two plotlines: the plot regarding Independence itself, and the plot regarding Liam’s murder.
Because I’m a sucker for angst, let’s talk about the plotline regarding Liam’s murder and the investigation(s) surrounding it.
We open up where the last episode left off, with Calian telling Augustus that he believed Tom Davidson was responsible for Liam Collin’s murder. Augustus asks him why he didn’t come to him sooner, then tells him he thinks someone else is responsible for Liam’s death. He thinks it was Otis Clay, former sheriff of Independence and Augustus’ mentor. Otis may have retired but it may not have been his idea and the man was prideful to a fault. That sounds like a good motive to him. And, after speaking with Ruby, he knows it wasn’t Griffin (the outlaw Augustus killed).
Calian apologizes to Augustus and says he should’ve come in with his suspicions earlier. Gus agrees with him, then says that he still has too many questions about Otis’ potential involvement to be sure. All he has so far is a potential motive and the fact that the killer used a .36, the same kind that Otis uses. So, he plans to pay Otis a visit and see if he can get any more solid evidence out of him, and he wants Calian to join him.
Meanwhile, at Hagan’s, Kate finds out that her Pinkerton Handler, Ethan, has arrived in town a few days early. She storms up to his room to find out why and he says that he was concerned for her safety after the Eli McDowd issue. Kate asks him if he’d do that for any other agent; they both know he wouldn’t. She’s not like the others to him. Kate wants to leave their past in the past and talk business though.
She informs Ethan that she has an eyewitness to Tom Davidson killing Liam Collins and even found some motive from how his family is moving in around town. Ethan points out that owning property is not enough proof, but Kate thinks she can get Abigail to testify. If she can, that would do the trick. Ethan promises to meet with Abigail the next day and Kate prances downstairs to deliver the good news.
When Abigail hears that Ethan is in town, she grows worried. She thought they had more time. They still need to collect more evidence. Even if she did agree to publicly speak against Tom, it would just be her word against his. Kate just says they’ll need a stronger case and that’s part of why Ethan is here.
Side note: I’m not sure about the manners around speaking of one’s sexual exploits in the 1870s but I’m pretty sure that it would be frowned upon for two unmarried women to be discussing one of them having an affair in the workplace in public…..
Abigail is concerned about how long this will take. She wants justice served sooner rather than later. Kate understands that but they have to be careful. When cases like this get rushed, people get hurt, and that’s not a mistake Kate is willing to make. Abigail promises to look for more evidence if she gets the chance.
Side note: Anyone else hear that silent “again”?
Back with Calian and Gus, Calian wonders what else makes Augustus think that Otis is suspicious, besides his gun. Gus points out that Otis hasn’t been to town once since Liam’s murder, which is odd. The man was a fixture in town for over a decade and now he’s a ghost. That’s still not enough proof, but Augustus thinks they can get that proof if they talk to Otis. After all, “the only thing that man loved more than the law was talking.” He also thinks Otis may have something weighing on his mind.
As they approach Otis’ cabin, a shot rings out, spooking them both. They look forward and see Otis standing on his porch with a shotgun in hand. Otis laughs, tells them they ought to announce themselves, then welcomes them in.
In the cabin, Augustus asks Otis why he hasn’t been around town lately. Otis is nonchalant, says that he’s been busy and he figured the new sheriff wouldn’t want him looking over his shoulder. Though Otis seems calm, he seems to suspect that something is up with this line of conversation and tries to steer away from it. But Gus isn’t giving him an inch and tells him to sit down. They have some questions. Otis complies, resigned to the whole situation.
Back in Independence, Kate and Abby are having a lunch at Kai’s. Abigail is flipping through Liam’s lawbook and Kate asks if she thinks she’ll actually find any clues in there. Abigail isn’t sure but she saw Liam reading and making notes in it every day. She hands the book over for Kate to look at and Kate finds a note marking it as a gift from Otis Clay on the inside cover. Abigail remembers that Liam had met Otis formally before his death. Then she asks Kate what she knows about the former sheriff. Kate says that he was a good man (or at least as good as a lawman can be) but he didn’t seem excited about his early retirement.
Abigail thinks it might be worth talking to him. He spoke to Liam before they made the move out of Boston. He might know something about what happened or at least what Liam was keeping secret. Kate tells her where Otis lives and says she can be back by dark if she heads out now. Abigail is glad to be making some progress and asks Kate to cover for her to Tom while she’s gone. Kate is just fine with that; she needs to speak with His Royal Highness anyway.
Back at Otis’ cabin, Gus is explaining that he has reason to believe that Griffin wasn’t Liam’s killer and that they caught the wrong man. Otis corrects him: he killed the wrong man. Then he says he’s happy to help with the investigation. He asks if they know what killed Liam and Calian responds it was a .36. Otis grins, grabs his own .36 out of his holster and says that it should do the trick.
We cut to a shot outside where Otis is setting up targets on a fence. He asks how they know it was a .36 and Augustus says they could tell from the powder burns on Liam’s shirt. Otis comments that it must’ve been a close range kill, an easy shot. Calian also confirms that there may have been an accomplice since they found extra horse shoe prints near the site. Otis asks how the body was found and they say it was moved and buried in a shallow grave, which Otis finds curious. He asks when Liam was killed and Augustus figures it was around the first of the month. Otis comments that it was very rainy that week; a lot of cloud cover and no stars to light the way. It would’ve been easy for the killer to remain unseen.
Otis then laughs and remembers the first case he and Augustus worked together. A little boy had gone missing. It was thanks to Calian that they found him down a well. It was a lucky break.
Otis then comments on how Augustus and Calian became friends. Augustus was a Buffalo Soldier ordered to drive the Apache off their land. It would’ve made more sense for them to kill each other rather than become friends. Calian says that Gus had been shot; he wasn’t exactly a threat and it wasn’t a problem for his tribe to help. Augustus then says that in his condition, it made more sense for him to stay with the tribe and he wasn’t exactly keen on going back to a commanding officer that didn’t care more for him than he did the Apaches.
Otis soaks in the story and then says that it’s a hard world they live in. It can be difficult to make the right choices. He’s glad that Calian and Augustus made the choice to become friends. He just wishes he’d been able to make the right choice and leave the sheriff’s position for Augustus. But the choice hadn’t been in his hands. He just wishes that Tom Davidson hadn’t been picked for it, or that “son of a bitch” Liam Collins. In his anger, Otis shoots all the targets on the fence.
Then, Abigail Walker rides onto the scene. What perfect timing.
Augustus introduces her as a law clerk for Tom. Otis greets her like a proper gentleman, then invites everyone back inside. As they walk toward the cabin, Calian pulls Abby back to ask why she’s here. She wants to speak to the former sheriff about Liam, but Calian doesn’t think that’s a good idea and shares Augustus' suspicions with her. Abigail is not deterred though and insists that she should speak with him. She is the law clerk, after all. It’s her job to make notes when interviewing a suspect.
Once inside the cabin, Otis tells Augustus that he knows Otis suspects him of being connected to the murder so he may as well come out and say it. Augustus outright asks him if he did and Otis denies it. He says he didn’t pull the trigger, it had nothing to do with him.
Abigail asks Otis if he’d met with Liam before his passing. Otis confirms that they did meet, but he didn’t like the guy. He could tell Liam was just looking for a way to get out of Boston and fast. Why, he couldn’t say for sure, but he had a few theories. Abigail asks him to elaborate and Otis says the whole situation, his forced retirement and Liam’s quick hiring, all felt off. Like someone was pulling the strings behind the scenes. When prompted, he speculates the Davidsons may have been behind it; goodness knows they have enough money to throw around.
Augustus is confused; he thought Otis wanted to retire. Otis says that wasn’t true, even if he may have wanted it to look that way. He confesses that he’d received an offer, money and some land, from one of the circuit judges if he left his position. He didn’t want to leave but it was a good offer and he couldn’t turn it down. All he did was take the money.
Augustus isn’t convinced that he’s innocent. A new person sliding into the position he was forced to leave still seems like a good motive. Otis insists that he had nothing to do with it, but who else could it have been? Otis doesn’t know but it could be anybody. Liam was clearly running from something. He was constantly looking over his shoulder, like something was following them. Augustus asks who this “them” was and Otis clarifies that Liam had a wife, who was never found. Otis gives Abby a Look, as does Augustus. Abby tries to maintain her composure but hearing all this news about Liam has her a bit shaken.
Otis is then asked if he ever met with Tom and he says that the new sheriff never even bothered to come visit. Otis won’t go to town to meet Tom because he was forced out of it. Staying out here is better than the pain of going back.
Augustus then asks where Otis was the night of Liam’s murder. Otis says he was on a cattle drive with Francis Reyes that night. Gus doesn’t seem to believe him and Otis is getting fed up with this. He says that getting a payoff, no matter who from, doesn’t make him a killer and that he’s a little tired of being treated like one. Then, he throws the bottle he was drinking from into the corner and breaks it.
Augustus decides that they’re going for a ride. Without Otis’ gun. Now.
Abigail decides that she needs to go back to Independence. Calian offers to go back with her but she turns him down. She will want to hear what he finds out later. As she rides off, Gus asks Calian why he kept her a secret from him. Or was she the reason he was being so secretive in the first place.
Otis rides into the picture then and says he can’t confirm his alibi alone. Time to ride out.
As the trio rides to the Reyes’ ranch, Otis recalls stories of them solving cases and finding lost children together. As they talk, Calian sees the echo of a little girl running across a field. Otis and Augustus notice and Otis sees a marking on Calian’s saddle. He then says that, out of everything he did as sheriff, his biggest regret was not finding “her”. He also says that he did everything he could to bring her home. Calian asks if Otis really did everything he could before speeding off ahead of them.
Side note: This makes me think that Calian knows exactly what happened to the girl and he was relying on Otis to bring the perpetrator to justice.
At the Reyes’ ranch, Calian is still seeing the girl and he wanders off to follow her on her game of hide and seek.
Side note: Is…. Is that the same girl he was talking to in 1.03 "Blood and Whiskey"? Because if it is…. Geeze….
Augustus is concerned about his friend but it’s time to talk to Francis Reyes about Otis’ alibi. He asks Francis about the cattle drive, where Otis was, if anything suspicious happened on the trip, and so on. All Francis does is confirm what Otis told them earlier. Looks like that lead fell through.
Some time later, Augustus wonders where Calian went off to. Otis suggests that nature called him away but Gus doesn’t think it’s like that. He says Calian does that sometimes, just wanders off in his own world.
He then apologizes to Otis for suspecting him for the murder. Otis brushes it off, saying that he would’ve been a bad lawman and a worse protégé if he hadn’t. Then, he says that he and Francis never strayed from the trail during the cattle drive, but those two ranch hands standing by the barn did. He wasn’t sure of it before, but he is now.
Before Augustus can take that lead and run with it, a gunshot rings out. The ranch hands get their guns out and so do Gus and Otis. There’s a small shoutout between the four men before the ranch hands run away. Otis was hit and Gus helps him plug the bleeding wound before running off to find Calian. When he does, he sees Calian standing over Francis’ dead body, killed by one of Calian’s arrows. He asks Calian what happened, but his friend cannot answer. Francis’ son, Luis, then says that Calian shot and killed him. Then, Hoyt arrives at just the wrong time. He rushes to Francis’ body and asks Calian what he did. Calian cannot answer him either.
Augustus moves him away from the body and tells Calian to tell him what the hell happened hear. But Calian doesn’t know.
Side note: I wonder if this has anything to do with the ghost girl….
The next morning, at the hotel, Kate wakes up and looks out the window to see Ethan and Tom meeting in the alleyway below her. This is very confusing and distressing for her but she doesn’t have time to think about that right now because Abby is calling for her. She opens their curtain and sees Abby sitting on the bed with a pile of money. Kate jokingly asks who she robbed and Abigail tearfully explains that Liam was paid off by the Davidsons to take the job. She went to the bank to check Liam’s account and told them they needed the contents for the investigation. It was $7500 and a letter explaining the whole thing, which she hands to Kate. Liam had been lying to her all along and Abigail doesn’t know how to handle that.
Outside, Hoyt is driving the cart bringing Francis’ body into town. Luis sits on the cart with his father’s body. Behind them, Augustus rides with Calian’s arrows on his back. Calian rides behind him on his own horse, his hands cuffed behind his back, as the whole town looks on.
Side note: Is there going to be a dead body in a cart in every episode?
Now, let’s talk about the plot regarding Independence itself.
This one starts with Hoyt Rawlins stepping out onto the town for the day. As he steps into the street, Francis sees him and calls him over for a chat. Hoyt heeds his call and asks after Lucia and the ranch. Lucia is off visiting her abuelita and things at the ranch are not doing well, what with all the cattle that was stolen.
Francis then comments on Hoyt’s injury and says they heard about the shootout over Eli McDowd. He seems impressed with Hoyt’s bravery. Hoyt plays it cool, saying he just didn’t want innocent people to get hurt. Francis says that they were just concerned about him. They want him to be around for a while, you know. Hoyt seems surprised to hear this and Francis assures him that, even if he and his wife aren’t very good at showing it, they do consider him to be part of the family.
He then starts talking about Hoyt’s father, how it was all his idea that they settle down in this area. He tells the tale about how, when they traveled these plains, it was Hoyt’s father that spotted an old oak tree. It’s been cut down now for The Side Step but it used to be the only shade for miles. Papa Rawlins saw that tree and knew this was the place for them to grow. He then tells Hoyt that he was born in a cabin not to far out of town, the first baby boy born in Independence.
Hoyt is speechless, for once, and seems unsure how to react. Francis then says that even though his father never got to see Hoyt grow up, he has a home there. Originally, the Reyes and Rawlins’ were going to run the ranch together. Perhaps Hoyt has a future with them after all. Francis invites Hoyt to come see him later and then gets in his cart to go home.
Side note: The juxtaposition of Hoyt being the firstborn son of Independence and thus inherently belonging there against Hoyt’s grifter personality and literal homelessness….. giving me Thoughts.
We then pick up with Kai asking Kate where Tom is. Tom wasn’t at the sheriff’s office so Kai thought he would check at the hotel. Kate tells him that Tom hasn’t left his new office yet and Kai thanks her. As he leaves, Abigail loudly says bye to him and gets his attention. As he walks upstairs, Abigail teases Kate about Kai not even noticing she was standing right there. Perhaps love is in the air between these two? Kate says that Kai’s is not a heart worth breaking and sips her coffee.
Side note: Kate, please… My Kate/Kai shipping heart can’t take much more of this.
Upstairs, in his office, Tom finishes staring at the dried puddle of Eli’s blood and reads the telegram from his Aunt Teresa. She wants him to know that a railroad exec named Virgil Green is going to be visiting Independence soon and that it’s imperative that Tom convince him to build a railroad to town. Also “Make a good impression. No mistakes this time”. No pressure!
Kai enters the office and Tom welcomes him. He invited Kai to talk a bit about his time working the railroad. He asks Kai if he ever to got see or speak to the men in charge of the railroads. Kai says he never spoke to them but he did see them at the fights. Tom asks what the fights were and Kai elaborates. The railroad workers were hungry, overworked, and underpaid. To make some extra money, they would fight in the ring. For the bosses, it was entertainment; for the workers, it was life or death.
While Kai talks, Tom wanders to the balcony outside his office and sees Hoyt fighting with a man who was messing with the Special Stump. Kai joins him and Tom asks if he ever participated in the fights. Kai says he didn’t and Tom ends their meeting. He’s got an idea brewing.
When Tom finally heads downstairs, Kate attempts to talk to him but he ignores her in favor of greeting Virgil Green. He’s very happy to see such a distinguished gentleman gracing their humble town and establishment. And, what a wonderful coincidence, he’s arrived just in time for Independence’s inaugural Fight Night! Hopefully, Mr. Green will be there. In the meantime, he’s in the best room with all the bells and whistles and Miss Carver will attend to any other needs he may have. Kate smiles politely but she’s not exactly pleased with the situation.
Later, Kate confronts Tom about the sudden Fight Night. She warns him that it won’t end well. Hagan tried to do it once and it went terribly. There was hundreds of dollars in damage done to the hotel and her girls were harassed all night. Tom says that he’s not Hagan and the girls can have the night off; he was planning on using white doves anyway. Kate doesn’t think that’s much better but Tom isn’t backing down. He insists that he’s not doing this for the money, but for Independence as a whole. Kate doesn’t buy his sudden selfless act. Where is he going to get fighters anyway, especially on such short notice. Tom tells her to just worry about taking care of the crowd; let him handle the fighters. Then he grabs a stack of flyers and heads out onto the town.
Side note: I love how much Kate cares about her dancers and the white doves. Harassment is not acceptable, even from paying customers, and I love that she wants to protect them from that.
Kate follows him because she’s not done and asks again who he’s going to find. Tom spots Hoyt and points him out to Kate, who laughs at the idea. Maybe he’d be a decent fighter but she doubts he’d be willing to risk his pretty face. As if to prove her point, Hoyt is showing off his gunshot wound to a pretty girl. Tom says that he’ll handle it and walks away.
Later, Tom is talking up Fight Night to Hoyt at the bar. Just imagine it: Hoyt Rawlins, the Spirit of Independence. Hoyt isn’t too sure; not that he wouldn’t love to smack the crap out of some out-of-towner, but what’s in it for him besides the glory? Perhaps….free drinks for a month and drop the charges about the bank robbery? Tom agrees to a week of free beer and a talking-to with Augustus. Hoyt agrees to that, plus a little gambling on the side. Tom is just happy to have his prize fighter; he needs to make an impression tonight. Luckily for him, that is a Hoyt Rawlins specialty.
As sunset draws closer, the people of Independence gather around for an exciting night at the hotel. Bets are being placed and the place is getting a bit rowdy. Kate is working the crowd, doing her best to keep everything calm and to keep the doves from getting harassed but there’s only so much she can do. She stops by Tom’s seat to tell him it’s a bad idea again but he tells her to just keep working her magic and start things off. Kate enters the ring and announces the beginning of the event, encouraging the crowd to place their bets on tonight’s fighters!
First up, we have our hometown hero, Hoyt Rawlins, who steps into the ring to many cheers, even before he takes his shirt off. His opponent, all the way from Brenham, is Andrew Jones, a larger man that leaves Hoyt feeling a little intimidated.
While the fighters posture for the crowd, Kate finds Tom again and tells him she’s not sure how much longer she can keep the crowd under control. Tom isn’t concerned though. Let them get riled up; he wants this to be a big night.
After night falls on Independence, it’s time for the fight to begin. Andrew and Hoyt face off and, while they seem to be evenly matched, Hoyt is taking a lot of hard hits and letting his guard down. When he gets tossed against the ropes, Kate tries to coach some sense into him but he just tells her to bet against him and swaggers back into action. It’s pretty obvious that Hoyt is trying to lose as he continues to leave himself open to hits and goes down fairly quickly.
When Hoyt is led out of the ring, Tom checks Green’s reaction and sees that he’s not amused. Tom needs to think fast if he wants to impress this man. So, he takes off his jacket and gets into the ring. Just then, Abby walks in and she’s very confused and curious about what what’s going on. Kate greets her and tries to talk to her to no avail with all the noise. She’s mostly just annoyed with how this whole night is going.
With Tom in the ring, things get more exciting for the crowd. Tom’s not doing too well but he keeps getting back up and that’s good enough for the citizens of Independence. When he goes to the corner, Kai starts giving him advice. He needs to tire his opponent out, make it a chase. Then, once he has Andrew cornered, he needs to make hits on specific points. Tom understand and appreciates the advice.
Before he goes back in the ring, Kate leans in and asks them what he’s doing. Tom says he’s going to make something of this town.
With Kai’s advice, Tom does much better in the ring, though Andrew still manages to land a good hit and almost put Tom out. Blood dripping from his mouth, he struggles to get to his feet. In the corner of his eye, he sees Abby looking at him. He smiles at her, but she doesn’t return it.
Eventually, he pulls himself up and gets Andrew in the corner. Kai looks on with pride when Tom knocks him out and wins the fight for Independence. The crowd is ecstatic and Tom drinks in the praise. He staggers back to the corner and tells Kai that he knows Kai participated in Fight Nights on the railroads. And, speaking of, he looks around for Mr. Green, only to see him wandering back to his room. Tom cannot believe this; after all the work he put in to make this a show for him, the man can’t even hang around for victory drinks? Unbelievable.
Outside, Hoyt collects his cut for losing. While he gets his cash, he comments that Andrew was a terrible fighter and he could’ve won easily if he’d been trying. But at least this way he got paid. As he gets ready to saddle up and ride to the Reyes ranch, Hoyt gives a longing look to the crowd inside, where everyone is cheering for Tom Davidson. Perhaps that moment could’ve been his, but he’s made his choice. He rides off into the night and doesn’t look back.
The next day, Tom reads a newspaper write-up on the Fight Night that he got pre-released from a friend of his. Virgil Green may have skipped out on them but all of Texas is going to be reading about them in the paper. Word will be spread far and wide of Independence, the heart of the frontier of Texas. Kai tells him he should be proud, but Tom wants to share some of that glory with Kai. It’s a good day for the both of them.
Tom leaves the restaurant, newspaper in hand, as his voice narrates the rest of the write-up. As he walks, a passerby quickly stabs him in the gut and leaves him bleeding out on the ground. Quite the juxtaposition to his own voice singing the praises of the future of Independence.
And with that, our recap comes to a close.
I know we’re only six episodes in but it still amazes me how each episode ends with more questions than I had when I started watching. I’m starting to measure the goodness of these episodes by how many new questions I have!
Calian captured my attention most this episode with his Ghost Girl issue. Who did Calian lose? And is it intentional that she looks like the same girl Calian was talking to in 1.03 "Blood and Whiskey"? Was she his daughter? A sister? Someone else? How long ago was she lost? Does Calian suspect someone from Independence was responsible?
Then there’s everything we learned about Liam. If Liam was paid off by the Davidsons, does that eliminate Tom as a suspect? Did the Davidsons approve of his death or was that all Teresa’s doing? Why was Liam involved with the Davidsons to begin with? And why didn’t he tell Abby anything?
I have so many questions about Hoyt’s past now as well. We know that the Reyes’ and Rawlins’ settled in town together. Where is Hoyt’s mother? Did he have any siblings? Why did Hoyt not know any of his own history with Independence? And, on a different note, why did Hoyt lose the fight for money? Was he going to give it to Francis to help with the cattle crisis? Or to pay for his part of the ranch? Does he want to settle down there but he just never felt fully welcome before?
And then I have the overarching question of what do the Davidsons want with Independence so badly? Do they need a hub for their crimes? And why here? Why now?
And who shanked Tom?!
This episode was amazing from start to finish. From Gus and Calian being sleuthing buddies to Kate and Tom bickering over how to run the hotel to Hoyt asking himself questions about his future, every second was used to it’s advantage. 10/10 would let it break my heart again.
But what did y’all think? Did this episode leave you on the edge of your seat? What did you think of the ending? What new character information surprised you the most? Is it possible that Tom was connected to Liam’s death still? And how many more secrets was Liam keeping? Let me know what you think in the comments! I’m so curious to see your thoughts.
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