Sunday, October 2, 2022

‘Walker: Independence’ Pilot Review [SPOILER-FREE]

TELEVISION'Walker: Independence' Pilot Review

Fans were excited to learn back in December that a Walker prequel was being developed, with Walker‘s Jared Padalecki, Anne Fricke, and Seamus Kevin Fahey executive producing, alongside Nancy Drew‘s Larry Teng. Fans got the first chance to see the pilot of Walker: Independence at ATX Festival, where there was a screening and a Q&A with Padalecki and stars Katherine McNamara, Matt Barr, and Justin Johnson Cortez.

Buzz about the show (and the cast) has been climbing ever since, and now, ten months after the initial announcement, fans will be able to see that idea brought to fruition when Walker: Independence premieres on Thursday, October 6.

I got the chance to preview the pilot early, and in short: it’s incredible. Walker fans will not be disappointed, and if you love Walker, you’re surely going to love this as well. With a team of producers and writers coming from Walker, it’s a safe bet that we’re going to be along for one hell of a ride.

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When we spoke to Padalecki back in April, he talked a little about assembling the cast, and they’ve really knocked it out of the park with this one. Katherine McNamara is a perfect Abigail Walker, showing grace in tense situations but also remaining strong and kind. Her presence on the screen is commanding, and we see that Walker tenacity that we’ve come to love in the original show so evident in her. Matt Barr was born to play Hoyt Rawlins in Walker, and even more so as the cowboy version of his ancestor in this series. Barr embodies the same loveable Hoyt characteristics that we love, just with a new playground (and a horse). One absolute standout is going to be Justin Johnson Cortez as Calian, who plays the character in such a way that we already care about him and simply cannot wait to see more about him. Fans are going to adore him. Katie Findlay is energetic and charismatic as Kate, and you’re instantly drawn to her. Philemon Chambers is perfect and charming as Augustus, and as we’re brought into the story to be skeptical of the law enforcement in this town, I was left wondering if I should root for him (which I so want to) or if he’s hiding something too. Greg Hovanessian is set up to be the villain (and sure, maybe he is), but with these writers, I’m not quite sold on it yet. His presence is still off-putting, and it will be really intriguing to see what happens to his character as the story progresses. However, he is a Davidson and well, we know how those other Davidsons turned out. Lawrence Kao is so sweet and his performance and character echo that, and Mark Sheppard is dynamic on screen. Gabriela Quezada is mesmerizing as Lucia, and you can’t help but want to hear her story as she rounds out a fantastic cast.

As for the story, it is captivating and will have you hooked instantly. The story is told from Abigail’s point of view, which as the cast and crew have mentioned, is not typical of westerns. I think what Fahey and the writers do is make you feel so enraptured with every character they introduce in Independence that you cannot wait to learn more about all of them, which is a rare feat in television these days. Representation has been a big point among the cast and crew, and they really excelled at making Independence filled with rich and diverse characters that the audience is going to love. They also do their best to add that Walker-esque mystery, where you just know the story is going to have its twists and turns and you can’t take anything at face value. One of Walker‘s selling points is its ability to take small things and plant them as seeds to grow into bigger plot twists later, so I’m really excited to see what they’re going to do here.

Larry Teng directs a beautifully shot pilot where the landscape truly adds to the show as its own character. The sprawling landscape and the beautiful shots of the horizon really set the tone. The sets and costumes are crafted well, and honestly, you just want to be a part of that town.

From the start of the show until the very end, audiences will be engaged with the plot and its characters. Walker fans will spot an easter egg in the pilot and the cast and crew state that there might be a few more sprinkled about in coming episodes as well.

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Overall, the show is a complete homerun. And, while it is tied to Walker as a prequel, this show is going to firmly stand on its own two legs and flourish and I can’t wait to go on the journey with them.

Walker: Independence is set to premiere on Thursday, October 6. You can see all of our coverage of the show, here.

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