Walker Independence pilot review: a refreshing new Western

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Walker: Independence follows Abby Walker (Katherine McNamara) as she embarks on a journey from Boston to Independence with her husband Liam (Brandon Sklenar), when he is murdered before her eyes by Tom Davidson (Greg Hovanessian) and leaves Abby for dead. 

Pictured (L-R): Matt Barr as Hoyt Rawlins, Katherine McNamara as Abby Walker and Justin Johnson Cortez as Calian — Richard Foreman/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Characters’ motivations are clearly shown or teased in the pilot, and as it progresses, they are somewhat intertwined. Walker: Independence is not like other Westerns and does not feel like a typical one, which is a good thing as it works to the benefit of the pilot and its characters. There is enough mystery and intrigue established that will propel the story forward while keeping some secrets that surely will be revealed as the season progresses and guided by fun and interesting characters.

Abby is affluent and resilient with a quick and sharp mind that is complemented by easy and natural chemistry with every other cast member. Abby has a mind of her own and fierce determination that McNamara can portray through a variety of emotions that guide Abby on in her grief and her quest for revenge. Hoyt Rawlings (Matt Barr) will be an easily beloved character as the slipper rogue and con artist who adds much-needed fun into the pilot. He crosses paths with Abby, and the two end the episode by teaming up. What is refreshing is that there seems to be no hint of romance between the two, something rare for the CW, but instead a partnership embroiled in revenge and admiration as he mistakenly took Abby for a mark, but instead finds a fast-thinking partner for his own activities. The scenes between Abby and Hoyt are the best parts of the pilot episode and the most fun even in the heaviness of the murder and revenge plot. The two characters balance each other out, much like the story balances out the tale of revenge with the levity of Hoyt. Another character is Kate Carver (Katie Findlay), a burlesque dancer who takes an instant interest in Abby and why she arrived in Independence. There is not too much of her in the pilot, but enough to make an impression due to Findlay’s charming performance.

Pictured: Katie Findlay as Kate Carver — Photo: Anna Kooris/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

McNamara is an excellent choice for the lead character as she has an organic chemistry with every character and the different levels of relationships. Some of the more touching scenes are between Abby and the soulful Kai (Lawrence Kao) who offers Abby friendship without an agenda. Another is Calian (Justin Johnson Cortez), an Apache character who helps Abby after the fateful night that resulted in the death of her husband who has a curiosity of Independence but wary of it. 

Unfortunately, some of the music choices took away from the show. There are times when the music is quite jarring for the scene. The show opens with a very brief clip of Future Starts Slow by The Kills, an odd choice that is too brief and out of place to make sense. Another instance is at the end of the episode, as Abby watches over Independence, she speaks, but the music is too much, and often too loud of the character’s audio. The song is much appropriate for the theme and the context of the scene, but then it changes to take away from McNamara’s performance and makes the climax a little cheesy.

Overall, Walker: Independence is a refreshing change from the typical Western genre with an array of characters and a diverse cast that help boost the mystery of the town and its inhabitants that could help shape the show into something fun. McNamara shines as Abby and is complimented with the fun performance of Matt Barr, which promises an interesting partnership on the quest for revenge and mystery surrounding the new sheriff.

With Abigail Walker leading the narrative and McNamara’s performance, it stands to reason that the MVC goes to her.

Pictured (L-R): Lawrence Kao as Kai, Gabriela Quezada as Lucia, Katherine McNamara as Abby Walker, Matt Barr as Hoyt Rawlins, Katie Findlay as Kate Carver, Justin Johnson Cortez as Calian, Greg Hovanessian as Tom Davidson and Philemon Chambers as Augustus — Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/The CW — © 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The pilot was screened for review.

Walker: Independence premiers on The CW Tuesday, October 6th at 9:00 pm ET.


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