Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Walker: Independence (Pilot), on CW

Like many people today, Abby and Liam Walker have left the corruption of Massachusetts in search of opportunity in Texas. Unfortunately, the corruption has followed them. Liam was supposed to be the town’s new sheriff, but he was murdered on the trail. She was also left for dead, but leaving-for-dead works just about as well in westerns as it does in horror. Naturally, she wants revenge and the suspicious new replacement sheriff goes to the top of her list in the pilot episode of Anna Fricke’s Walker: Independence, which premieres tomorrow on the CW.

After she and her husband were gunned down in the dead of night, Walker wakes up in an Apache camp. For understandable reasons, the noble (and rugged jawed) Calian is reluctant to walk her all the way into town, but he will be her first ally. Shortly thereafter, she will have an awkward first meeting with irresponsible outlaw Hoyt Rawlins, but they will also forge a weird alliance of convenience.

According to Calian, the town’s deputy is a decent fellow, but newly installed Sheriff Davidson gives off seriously villainous vibes. It turns out he is also from Boston, but he was part of the corrupt machine there. Cautious about announcing herself, Walker finds temporary employment with Kate Carver, a showgirl of some repute and Kai, an immigrant Chinese laborer. At the end of the episode, we also learn one of them has a secret sideline that should wear well throughout the first season.

is a Yellowstone-like prequel spinoff to the CW’s rebooted Walker. None of the characters from the contemporary series could credibly guest-star, since there is roughly one hundred and forty years separating their timelines, so fans of the original Chuck Norris series could pretend it is a prequel to it instead.

Indeed, they might want to, because
Independence shows all kinds of potential. Comparing pilot to pilot, Independence might represent the rare spinoff that far surpasses the quality its parent series. Whereas Walker presented itself as the corporate diversity seminar version of the Texas Rangers, Independence is nicely setting itself up as an old school western. It is very clear Abby Walker intends to get justice or revenge, which ever comes first.

Katherine McNamara is a strong, believably seething lead as Walker. Matt Barr and Justin Johnson Cortez have yet to really flesh out Rawlins or Calian yet, but it is easy to see how they will come together as Walker’s kitchen cabinet. Katie Findlay (the undercover cop in
Nancy Drew) could well be the show’s fan favorite for the sly attitude and energy she brings as the intriguing Carver. Unfortunately, Greg Hovanessian does not do much moustache-twisting or scenery-chewing yet as Sheriff Davidson, but hopefully it will come.

In the pilot,
Independence gets down to business nicely. Simply based on this first episode, it represents a vast improvement over just-plain Walker. We might stay with the spinoff, whereas its sire was mediocre in all things except its mediocrity. Recommended thus far, Walker: Independence premieres tomorrow night (10/6) on the CW.