Back in The Saddle is the second episode of the first season of The CW series Walker. It premiered on January 28, 2021.
WALKER TRIES TO RECONNECT WITH HIS CHILDREN – Walker continues to try to reconnect with his family but finds that his kids have developed new routines with Liam. Back at work, Captain James tells Walker he needs to get recertified to be a Ranger, but old memories of Emily hinder his progress. Micki investigates a suspicious fire.
Everything is quiet at Manchester Fields stable until the cameras shut off and a fire erupts through the stable. Men hurry to free the horses but a beam falls on one of the men before he can free the remaining horse.
Cordell walks to his truck carrying tools. He touches his saddle and remembers the day in which Emily gave him the saddle atop a horse. The pouch has their initials engraved on it. He thinks it’s perfect and they kiss. In the present, he closes the bed of his truck and drives off. He calls Abeline to tell her he’s fixing up the old house as he still has the mortgage there. She wants him to hurry home to hug his kids, with him planning to if they let him. As he’s removing a torn screen he sees empty beer bottles and signs of partyers. He texts Stella to ask if she knows of anyone who’s been using the house, to which she replies that she hasn’t and criticizes his formality in texts. He smiles and kicks a beach ball into the pool.
He leaves the house but notices Stella and August’s handprints on the concrete slab, and remembers the day they imprinted them in 2011.
Micki and Trey kiss on her bed but a call from Captain James distracts her much to his chagrin. She is called into work despite his protests and tries to call Cordell but he doesn’t answer. She gets dressed though she notices he brought a lot of gear with him, he dismisses it as him having a longer leave. He wants to spend it with her but she is apprehensive as he’s never stayed for more than a few nights. She needs to focus on her job with him teasing that he’s a distraction.
It’s morning in the Walker ranch, with Bonham teaching August how to use a leather kit, Abeline quipping on his lack of organization, and Liam making a smoothie for Stella. Walker tries to keep up with the family’s new pace but finds himself a step behind. He disagrees with Abeline’s encouragement to live in the farmhouse, as she thinks the children need stability while he thinks they need to get back to normal. Stella wonders if Walker ever thinks about where she and August want to live. Liam and Stella leave for school, while August assures his father that Stella gets like this sometimes and even goes to their old house sometimes. He’s fine anywhere his dad is. Walker appreciates the sentiment but has to leave for work, with August needing to work on his project before school. Liam takes him to school but invites Walker to lunch. When his parents’ exit, Cordell is left alone in the kitchen.
Walker goes to the crime scene where Micki fills him on the fire that resulted in the deaths of the stablehand, Matt Harmon, and prized racehorse Texas Nightshade. The partners go over to where James is talking to Mr. Manchester, the owner of the stable. Mr. Manchester and Jed tell the rangers about Matt’s life while Jed thinks they should talk to Dan Hutchinson, the man who lost a bid on Texas Nightshade. As they walk away, James criticizes Walker for not shaving, not calling him Captain and their reform which means wearing a white hat. He didn’t call Walker to the scene because he needs to be recertified as a Ranger. Until he passes he isn’t allowed on the field.
Walker protests in the office but James isn’t interested in having the discussion. He wants to make real change with his term in office and doesn’t have time to deal with Walker pissing him off. He brings up Walker looking at the footage from the border control beacons the night Emily died. Walker sits to explain as he fiddles with the poker chip, as he doesn’t think he gave himself enough time to think about the case. James knows the case is solved but Walker is worried they got something wrong. James apologizes for putting Walker on the Rodeo Kings case but he has to be stable on the job. Walker knows he’s right and leaves. Micki intercepts him as they need to take the tet together. She worries he isn’t up to taking the test but he jokes that he’s just a bit testy. Connie gives them a message from Hutchinson that says he’s out of the country, which the Rangers think is suspicious.
Stella and Bel play soccer expertly, though they can’t play due to their records. Bel’s family has ICE sniffing around which worries her. The coach calls them in and Stella learns she’s playing center-back while Bel is still benched. As a form of protest and solidarity, Stella walks out of the game until she and Bel are treated as equals. August talks to the girl running the AV club, and she offers her help with his “What Austin Means To Me” project.
Cordell passes his target shooting with expert marks as does Micki, drives the obstacle course with ease and speed that makes the instructor nauseous, and finally, is ready to take the last test - horseback riding. He sees his saddle on the horse and is flooded with memories of Emily and what she was like. When he mounts the horse it becomes agitated, and Walker is unable to follow through with his last test. He dismounts and gives the reins over to the instructor, walking off.
He goes to Side Step where Geri pours him a drink and listens to his overdramatic antics. He opens up that he couldn’t do it because he can’t even think straight or about anything but Emily. Geri sits beside him noting that she can hear her laugh, hear her changing the stations, second-guessing her directions, and still taste the overnight oats. They reminisce together but he blames himself since the only reason they don’t know what happened that night is because of how well he mapped out roads for her to take. He also can’t shake how they found Emily’s body with her eyes closed. Geri emotionally admits that she closed Emily’s eyes. While she doesn’t have the answers to everything in Walker’s head, at least she gave him that one.
Liam waits for Walker at the restaurant but Bret shows up instead, as he knew Walker wouldn’t show. Bret can’t believe Liam is still surprised that Walker didn’t show. He loves Liam but just wants him to shun his family and be with him instead - in New York. Liam isn’t keen on leaving Austin. At home, August walks to the fence with his camera and remembers his mom teaching him about the camera and photography. Abeline watches him from afar and confides in Bonham about her worries over August. She worries about Cordell as well and wants Bonham to talk to his son, but he’s hesitant to have him move back in as it isn’t a fresh start moving in with your parents. Cordell has to decide what’s right on his own.
Micki visits the veterinarian for the autopsy report on Texas Nightshade, but Dr. Jamison reveals that the horse that died in the fire wasn’t Texas Nightshade but a workhorse. The real Nightshade had a fractured hind leg, but he reported to Walker already. At the office, Walker eats queso as he reads over the case files. He thinks someone staged the fire to fake Nightshade’s death, with her adding that he wasn’t going to win anyway due to his injury. To save face and insurance money, Mr. Manchster could have had him killed. Micki remembers that Walker isn’t supposed to be on this case, but he confides that this is the only place he fits anymore and asks her to let him help as an unofficial consultant. He plans to pass the recertification by having a sugar cube on him. In the meantime, the stable hand that died had a good family, fiance, and had no reason to set the fire. They need to find the racehorse to prove foul play. Meanwhile, Texas Nightshade walks in the middle of the street in downtown Austin.
Walker tells Micki that Manchester’s private jet is about to take off and a horse is wandering around downtown. They decide that Micki and James will catch Manchester before he can flee, while Walker goes to catch a horse. He tracks Texas Nightshade through the park, into the woods, across a river, and eventually finds him by a bush. He gives the horse a sugar cube and puts the harness on him. Across town, Micki and James pursue Manchester on his private airstrip and they exchange fire with the Rangers tire being shot. Cordell rides up on Texas Nightshade and James shouts that he’s certified, as Walker grabs Micki and pulls her onto the horse so they can pursue the criminals. She dismounts into the car and apprehends them.
The trio goes to Side Step to celebrate Cordell’s recertification. The jockey, Jed, confessed as he was in on it with Manchester, but couldn’t go through with it as he loved Nightshade too much. He freed the horse but thought it was a crime to give up on a thoroughbred. As they celebrate their win, Liam approaches and informs Walker that he missed lunch which he apologizes for. Liam brushes it off as Stella didn’t show up for her soccer game so now he can figure it out from there. Walker asks Micki to help him tie up a loose end.
Stella is at their old house with Bel, who thinks they should have just gone to the game and accuses Stella of using the party as a distraction for herself. Walker and Micki pull up so Bel leaves. Micki goes inside to close down the party while Walker reprimands Stella who angrily shouts that this isn’t their home as he isn’t going to do any of the things that mom did or be there. He shouldn’t get to be there now as he wasn’t there the first time around. She wishes Liam got custody of them when he tried and storms off.
Overcome with anger, Cordell speeds away without Micki and finds Liam outside their parent’s house. He shoves Liam and confronts him for trying to steal his children. They fight outside the house and wrestle on the ground until they separate long enough to yell at each other, with Liam justifying his actions as Emily was dead and Cordell was MIA for three-months. Liam didn’t want Stell and WAlker to be orphans. Their parents agreed, which angers Cordell. As they fight, Cordell brings up the poker chip as it doesn’t make sense and he wonders if it was a calling card. Liam shouts that he’s chasing ghosts and if he doesn’t stop, he’s going to lose everything. Liam walks away while Corell notices August standing on the porch having witnessed the fight.
Cordell finds August on the steps of the farmhouse with a box, which August gives his father. It was supposed to be a gift from Emily for fathers day - a poker set. She carried a chip with her to show everyone the chips. Cordell pulls the chip out of his pocket and puts it in the column where it matches perfectly. Cordell apologizes for his actions while August assures him they’ll figure it out.
Trey makes dinner for Micki who apologizes for not telling him how happy she is to have him around now. She’s scared that she won’t get her job or this right, though she wants to get their relationship right. He does too and tells her that he’s not going to re-up as he wants to figure out what’s next. She inspired him to make a change which she finds cheesy.
The next morning, Cordell makes breakfast as Stella walks in. He attempts to ask about his mug but she doesn’t respond, so he texts her. They are able to open up more as they both admit to missing Emily, and he apologizes for not asking her where she wants to live. She takes his mug out of a drawer, as it reminded her of him too much while he was gone so she hid it. He takes the mug but decides that they should do something else instead.
He takes her to their old house to dig up the concrete slab with her and August’s handprints. She tries to lift it out with a shovel and it breaks in half. She is overcome with emotion despite him assuring her that it’s okay. He comforts her as just because it’s broken doesn’t mean they can’t take it with them. He pulls her in for a hug and comforts her. They return to the ranch where Walker talks to Bonham alone. Bonham gives him a new saddle and pouch. He knows that getting back to normal means starting fresh and saw the old one and reminded him of an old life. Every big birthday Bonham’s father made him something, and since he missed Walker’s birthday last year he’s giving him the pouch. The conversation is witnessed by Abeline.
Cordell goes into the farmhouse where Stella and August are watching his project. It starts with what Emily recorded and includes montages of them as a family starting from when they were children. The family watches it together as Cordell remembers the day they made the kids’ handprints on the slab, which turned into a hose fight between them. As he watches the video he becomes emotional, but can’t help but smile at the memories.
- Jared Padalecki as Cordell Walker
- Lindsey Morgan as Micki Ramirez
- Keegan Allen as Liam Walker
- Mitch Pileggi as Bonham Walker
- Molly Hagan as Abeline Walker
- Violet Brinson as Stella Walker
- Kale Culley as August Walker
- Coby Bell as Captain Larry James
- Jeff Pierre as Trey Barnett
- Odette Annable as Geri Broussard
- Genevieve Padalecki as Emily Walker
- Sophia Flores as Isabel Muñoz
- Alex Landi as Bret
- Madelyn Kientz as Ruby
- Deke Anderson as Ed Manchester
- Justin Hall as Matt
- Anthony Hernandez as Dr. Jamison
- Derrick D. Edmond as Jed
- Andy McMillian as Connie Richards
- Andre Martin as Coach Bobby
- Bruce Davis as Recertification Manager
- April Patterson as Female Instructor
- Cordell learns that Geri is the one who closed Emily's eyes the night of her murder.
- The poker chip Emily had in her possession was part of a poker set she bought Cordell for father's day. She took a piece to show it off to people she saw.
- Geri to Walker: I know you're turning over questions in your head, but to that? At least you have an answer.
- Bonham to Walker: Sometimes, getting' back to normal might just mean starting fresh.
- Micki: Tall guy, white hat, laughs at his own jokes?
- Coroner: That's Walker.