This ‘Walker’ Episode Doubles as a ‘Supernatural’ Reunion

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Jensen Ackles directed an episode of
    Walker
    in Season 2, reuniting with Jared Padalecki for the first time since
    Supernatural
    .
  • The episode featured music by Kansas and included multiple
    Supernatural
    Easter eggs, including references to characters and locations from the original series.
  • Despite Ackles not having a larger acting role, there is hope for a more significant
    Supernatural
    reunion in the future, given the strong bond between the two actors.


Ever since Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles rounded out their 15 years on Supernatural back in 2020, fans have been waiting for the band to get back together. With Ackles continuing the Supernatural saga via his prequel The Winchesters, not to mention reuniting with Eric Kripke for The Boys, many hoped that Padalecki would do the same. But since Supernatural ended, Jared Padalecki has been busy helming a CW series of his own, Walker. This reimagining of the Chuck Norris classic, Walker, Texas Ranger, is a good time, but it was in for a wild ride when Jensen Ackles returned to support his former co-star. During Walker‘s impressive second season, that’s exactly what happened. The episode “No Such Thing as Fair Play” brought this dynamic duo back together for more, with Ackles returning to the director’s chair to help bring this Cordell Walker story to life.


Walker

A widowed father returns to Austin after one year, attempting to reconnect with his children, navigate clashes with his family, and find common ground with his new partner, while growing increasingly suspicious of his wife’s death.

Release Date
January 21, 2021

Cast
Mitch Pileggi , Molly Hagan , Chris Labadie , Jared Padalecki , Lindsey Morgan , Violet Brinson , Rebekah Graf , Keegan Allen , Odette Annable , Jeff Pierre , Gabriela Flores , Genevieve Padalecki , Coby Bell , Alex Landi , Kale Culley

Seasons
4

Network
The CW


“No Such Thing as Fair Play” Was Jensen Ackles’ ‘Walker’ Debut

Following a shocking season finale, Walker introduced the Davidson family, the McCoys to the Walker’s family’s Hatfields. In the middle of dealing with land disputes, aggressive family rivalries, and a mystery surrounding a burned barn and a dead body, Walker took a break from some of those theatrics with the episode, “No Such Thing as Fair Play,” which took Cordell Walker (Padalecki) and his family to Austin’s annual Ranger Fair for a nice reprieve. Only, as usual, things don’t stay nice when Walker’s new partner Cassie (Ashley Reyes) spots an unfriendly, familiar face, and Geri (Odette Annable) deals with the revelation that she’s a Davidson herself.


But it’s Jensen Ackles’ part in the episode that was the most notable, returning to the director’s chair for the first time in three years. Prior to directing this Walker episode, Ackles helmed six episodes of Supernatural spanning from Season 6’s fan favorite “Weekend at Bobby’s” to Season 15’s “Atomic Monsters” in 2019. But this 2022 Walker episode pushed the actor back into directing, and, boy, does he do an impressive job. Just like his Supernatural episodes, this Walker episode thrives on its attention to detail and in Jared Padalecki’s performance.

“It was fun to get back into the shorthand with him with performance notes, with technical notes,” Ackles told Entertainment Weekly. “I can even use a reference to a movie, and he knows that I’m actually giving him a note. There’s nobody else I can do that with. He and I have that, and we’ll always have that.” The actor-turned-director also noted that he believes that Cordell Walker is a lot more like Jared Padalecki than Sam Winchester ever was. “Not necessarily in actual character development, but just in mannerisms and reactionary things,” Ackles explained. Understanding who Padalecki is as a person and an actor no doubt assisted Ackles in directing this character, who he didn’t know nearly as well as he knew Sam Winchester. Unsurprisingly, the results speak for themselves.


Jensen Ackles Could’ve Had a Bigger Part in this ‘Walker’ Episode

Jensen Ackles' cameos as Miles in the 'Walker' episode "No Such Thing as Fair Play"
Image via the CW

Ackles also played a part in the episode, even if it was just a small one. Sadly, we didn’t get to see him and Padalecki on screen together again this time around (though maybe one day), but Ackles did cameo at the very end of the episode as a stand-in for Cassie’s ex-partner Miles (later played by Mustafa Elzein). “That’s my M. Night Shyamalan,” the Supernatural star joked, noting that true fans would still recognize him even masked in shadow. But originally, Ackles was offered a different part when the Walker crew first reached out asking him to consider directing an episode. Had things gone differently, Ackles would’ve played Fenton Cole.


Ackles admitted later that the character was too big of a role for him. “If it’s Supernatural it’s one thing, I know that character backwards and forwards, but creating a new character onscreen while also trying to direct might be a taller order than I’m willing to do.” Instead, the new Walker director chose to cast Austin-based actor Josh Hopkins in the role after working together previously on the infamous Western film, Rust. “He and I worked together on Rust,” Ackles explained, noting that Hopkins had moved to Austin at the time as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. After what happened on the Rust set, Ackles drove back to Texas, with Hopkins accompanying him. “So I called Josh and he was like, ‘Yeah man I’ll come play with you.'”

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The Rock Band Kansas Reunited With Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles for This ‘Walker’ Episode

The rock band Kansas appears in the 'Walker' episode "No Such Thing as Fair Play"
Image via the CW

Of course, Jensen Ackles’ directing slot isn’t the only thing that Supernatural fans will recognize in this Walker episode. Perhaps the biggest surprise in “No Such Thing as Fair Play” is that the classic rock band Kansas made an appearance at the Texas Ranger’s Fair, complete with a concert performance of “Carry On Wayward Son.” That might not sound all that exciting to casual Walker fans, but to Supernatural fans, that’s almost as good as Jared Padalecki being back in the show’s trademark ’67 Chevy Impala. As the official unofficial theme song of Supernatural from the very first season (played in nearly every finale), this Kansas anthem is a great callback to Padalecki and Ackles’ previous show. But that’s not all it is.


When Supernatural was filming its series finale, “Carry On,” back in 2020, the original plan for the ending was that the show would conclude in Heaven with all of Sam and Dean Winchester’s friends and family at an otherworldly Kansas concert, with the band appearing for the first time on-screen to send off the show. Unfortunately, as a result of the pandemic, that’s now what happened. “I didn’t know this, but they were literally at the airport and some of them were getting on a plane to come to Vancouver when they got called and told, ‘Sorry, COVID, we’re shutting down,'” Ackles told EW concerning the Supernatural finale. “So that’s how close we were to having that experience with them.”


But even after that massive disappointment, Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, and Kansas were able to reunite to close that chapter. Ackles explained that after finding out Kansas was actually going to be playing in Austin, they did everything they could to make the band’s Walker appearance happen. In the final episode, the Walker cast attends the concert together, with almost all of them singing at the top of their lungs. “The fact that we got to do that in any capacity felt like we got to scratch an itch that needed to be scratched,” Ackles concluded.

‘Supernatural’ Easter Eggs and Reunions Can Be Found All Throughout ‘Walker’

In “No Such Thing as Fair Play,” Supernatural Easter eggs are abound. Jensen Ackles’ return as director and the appearance of Kansas are only the tip of the iceberg that includes a prominently displayed plate of bacon, a familiar green cooler full of Larklair Tejas beers, and “The Novak Memorial Auditorium” (Jimmy Novak being Misha Collins‘ Castiel’s human vessel) all harken back to their original television series. Even the song “All My Livin’ Time” by Radio Company is a sly Jensen Ackles reference, given it’s Ackles’ own band. Walker makes references to Supernatural throughout its run, displaying “Winchester Auto” on Walker’s phone and Captain James (Coby Bell) calling our titular Texas Ranger “a moose of a man.”


Of course, these aren’t the only Supernatural references or reunions that can be found throughout Walker‘s first three seasons. Jared Padalecki’s wife, Genevieve Padalecki, who played the demon Ruby during Supernatural‘s fourth season, also recurs as Cordell’s deceased wife, Emily. Former X-Files star Mitch Pileggi once played Sam and Dean Winchester’s grandfather, Samuel, during the fourth and sixth seasons of Supernatural, and Jake Abel, a recurring cast member in Walker Season 3, originally played alongside Padalecki and Ackles on Supernatural as Sam and Dean’s half-brother Adam (and Michael the Archangel). And let’s not forget that Colin Ford, who played a younger Corporal Cordell Walker throughout the show’s third season, originally played a young Sam Winchester during the early seasons of Supernatural.


For Padalecki, it looks like Walker will continue to go strong. Despite the failed attempt at a prequel series with Walker: Independence, the series was renewed for a fourth season. But even with Walker being his primary focus these days, the former Supernatural star has expressed interest in reuniting with his old creative partners, both for The Boys and eventually for a potential Supernatural revival. Who knows, now that Big Sky has been cancelled, maybe Ackles will make his way back to Texas again for seconds.

Walker airs Wednesday nights on the CW and can be streamed on Max.

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