Pilot review “Walker: Independence” [SPOILER-FREE]

Fans were thrilled to learn in December that a Walker prequel was in development, with Walkerexecutive producer Jared Padalecki, and Anna Fricke and Seamus Kevin Fahey writing the teleplay. Fans got their first chance to see the pilot from Walker: Independence at the ATX Festival, where there was a screening and Q&A with Padalecki and stars Katherine McNamara, Matt Barr and Justin Johnson Cortez.

Buzz about the show (and the cast) has been building steadily ever since, and now, ten months after the initial announcement, fans will get to see that idea come to fruition when Walker: Independence premieres Thursday, October 6.

I had the chance to see the pilot in preview, and in short: it’s incredible. Walker fans will not be disappointed, and if you like Walker, you will surely like it too. With a team of producers and writers from Walkerit’s a safe bet that we’re going to have a hell of a ride.

Richard Foreman/The CW

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When we spoke to Padalecki in April, he talked a bit about putting the cast together, and they really knocked it out of the park with this one. Katherine McNamara is the perfect Abigail Walker, showing grace in tense situations but also remaining strong and kind. Her screen presence is commanding, and we see that Walker tenacity that we’ve come to love in the original series so evident in her. Matt Barr was born to play Hoyt Rawlins in Walker, and more as a cowboy version of his ancestor in this series. Barr embodies the same lovable Hoyt characteristics we love, just with a new playground (and a horse). An absolute star is going to be Justin Johnson Cortez as Calian, who plays the Native American in such a way that we already care about him and just can’t wait to hear more about his character. Fans will love it. Katie Findlay is energetic and charismatic as Kate, and you are instantly drawn to her. Philemon Chambers is perfect and charming as Augustus, and as we are made in the story to be skeptical of law enforcement in this city, I wondered if I should encourage him (which I then want) or if he is also hiding something. Greg Hovanessian is set to be the bad guy (and sure, maybe he is), but with these writers, I’m not quite convinced yet. His presence is still off-putting, and it will be truly 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 echoes that, and Mark Sheppard is dynamic on screen. Gabriela Quezada is compelling as Lucia, and you can’t help but want to hear her story as she completes 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 mentioned, is not typical of westerns. I think what Fahey and Fricke and the writers do is you feel so thrilled with every character that they bring into Independence that you can’t wait to learn more about each of them, which is a rare feat on TV these days. The portrayal was a big deal among the cast and crew, and they really excelled at making Independence filled with rich and diverse characters that audiences will love. They also do their best to add that Walker-esque mystery, where you come from to know the story is going to have its twists and you can’t take anything at face value. One of WalkerThe selling points of are its ability to take small things and plant them as seeds to grow into bigger twists later on, so I’m really excited to see what they’ll do here.

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

From the beginning of the show until the very end, the audience will be captivated by the plot and its characters. Walker fans will see an Easter egg in the pilot and the cast and crew say there might be a few more in future episodes as well.

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

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

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