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Title Duke
Episode 1.05
Aired February 18, 2021
Ratings 2.82mil - 0.5 (18-49)
Director Steve Robin
Writer Bret VandenBos & Brandon Willer
Synopsis When his past unexpectedly collides with his present life, Walker is forced to resume his undercover identity to keep his family safe. Micki gets caught up in Walker’s old case while August threatens to blow his father’s cover. Trey starts his new job.
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Four Months Ago

Cordell (as Duke) is working at the Rodeo. In the background we can see Clint West riding, with Jaxon and Crystal West watching from the sides. Twyla Jean is also there, and she makes eyes at "Duke". When Duke starts talking to her, she states that she was working up the courage to introduce herself to him. She mentions that she's a regular at the Rodeo, and she works at a bank.

Clint rides up and challenges Duke to ride a bull for 10 seconds (oh machismo). Before Duke hops on, Twyla gives him a secret by stating the bull has a cracked rib, so he shouldn't squeeze his legs. It's a crime that we don't get to see Cordell/Duke actually ride the bull.

Present Day

Cordell walks out of August's room after having found his old phone in the previous episode (with a text from Twyla, of course). He rushes into the bathroom and dunks his head in water, which is a known technique for helping with anxiety attacks[1]. Stella bangs on the door and says they only have one bathroom and it's game day, but Cordell needs another second to stare at his reflection in fear.

Now dressed for work, he walks through the kitchen on his way out and tells the kids he was called into work because of a Prison Break in Kyle and he was called in by Larry James. Stella reinforces that it's game day and Cordell says he'll be there for the noon kickoff (spoiler alert: he won't). He then mentions that August is grounded when August makes a comment about Cordell skipping town. August says he can't be grounded because he has to work on an assignment with Ruby, meanwhile Stella looks confused. Cordell again denies anything is going on.

Over at Micki's house, Trey is seated at the table drinking coffee, with a playbook on his iPad. He's an eager beaver, because it's his first day as soccer coach at Sacred Heart High School. He asks Micki if she told Cordell about his new gig, and we just want them to be best friends forever. Micki and Trey flirt back and forth for a bit before Trey admits he was looking into flights to Vegas. He reveals that he wants to take Micki to meet his mother Tina, who we can deduce lives in Vegas. Micki seems shaken by this, snapping a little at him, because it's such a serious thing. But she promptly apologizes for her reaction and they agree to talk about it later.

Cordell drives out to the middle of a field (?) with his bag of Duke's things. We get a nice montage of him changing into Duke, complete with a few seconds of glorious shirtlessness. He puts on a cross necklace and some gross aftershave, then says to himself "Leep the circle small, and the lies honest", as a sort of mantra before he jumps back into undercover life.

Walking down the hall at work, Micki is stopped and asked to join Capt. James, Liam, and Tessa Graves in a room. Tessa introduces herself as being from the FBI San Antonio office, taking a jab at Cordell by calling Micki the "good" partner because she doesn't have a DPS Hearing coming up. Liam asks Micki if she's aware of "Operation Watch The Throne", which she is. It's the undercover operation Cordell had been on for ten months, resulting in his IDing for people for the Rodeo Kings crimes: Clint West, Crystal West, Jaxon Davis, and Twyla Jean. Jaxon had broken his leg, which is what Cordell used to his advantage, earning himself a spot among them due to Jaxon's injury. Twyla was their inside woman, working at the bank before the robbery.

There seems to be some tension between Tessa and Liam, because Liam wouldn't put his brother on the stand to blow his identity and put his family in danger (Which we totally understand). But $300,000 is missing from the robbery and Cordell was the last person to have been seen with it. He also had a tendency to often go dark during the mission. Tessa states they had wired Twyla's phone and they noticed "Duke" had texted her, to which Twyla responded to meet up. Tessa believes they're making a run at the missing cash and are gonna skip town.

They pull up the CCTV footage of Cordell driving up to Annunziata's, a karaoke bar the Rodeo Kings used to frequent, and he has a gun (oh no!). It appears to be attached to (or next door to) Jarrow Motel where Twyla is staying. Back with the Rangers, Micki asks them if they considered getting Walker's side of things. Liam seems convinced that Cordell is just trying to get Twyla out of Austin (which we also totally understand), because he hated who he was when he became Duke. Micki is scheming on how to fix things, giving them a look like "I know what we can do". She's so great.

At the motel, Duke knocks on the door and Twyla pulls him inside for some lovin'. They mack on each other for a bit, and we get another shirtless Cordell scene (score!) before he stops Twyla, pushing her away while calling her "Baby Girl". Love it. He tries to argue that they can't have the sexy times because he's fresh out on bail so they can't be seen together. It'd be worse for her than for him. She then drops the bombshell that she thinks he has the missing $300k, to which he adamantly denies.

Twyla also mentions that the bank did an audit of the Rodeo Kings job and she thinks she has an FBI tail, so she needs to leave. Duke agrees, saying they both need to get out of town asap. They take a break to think it over, with whiskey and garlic bread.

August is outside the farmhouse with Ruby, holding a fishing pole with a camera attached to it??? He seems upset and Rub asks why, so he shows her Cordell's "Go Box", hidden in the trunk of the red Mustang convertible. It's apparently lighter than the last time he'd seen it, and August is convinced his dad is not on a case like he said, instead he's with the woman from the photo he'd found in the previous episode. He's not wrong, but it's much more than that. August is scared his dad isn't going to come back that night, and Ruby gives him the push to give Cordell an earful as to why he should stay.

Duke and Twyla are at Annunziata's, drinking, listening to bad karaoke, and reminiscing over the Rodeo Kings back at O'Shea's (another bar). While Duke asks the bartender for all the arancini they have, Twyla goes to the jukebox and plays a slow country song. She coaxes him to come dance with her.

In another flashback, we see them on the sidelines at the Rodeo, sharing a drink. They're discussing how Clint initially robbed Twyla point blank and she followed him to a bar to become friends. She asks why he's only happy when he's riding a bull and he mentions losing a brother (aww), so Twyla and the bull are the only things that hold a candle to that loss.

Present day, they finish dancing and walk back to sit at a table. Behind them as they walk, we see Micki at another table, being oh so inconspicuous behind a menu. She's dressed in civilian clothes and is obviously undercover. The door to the bar opens and Jaxon waltzes in. Micki spots him and speaks into her earpiece, saying Jaxon is armed. They tell her to hang back, but she obviously senses danger so she walks up behind Jaxon to disarm him, placing his gun on the table. Cordell looks very confused, as he should.

Micki introduces herself as "Adriana", Duke's backup. They all put their guns on the table and Adriana steals some of Duke's arancini to munch on.

At Sacred Heart, Stella is obviously looking for her dad, who isn't there (told you so). Coach Bobby calls all the girls in for a pep talk, and lets Trey have the honours. He gives a great pep talk before the girls all run to their prospective spots on the field. He even asks Stella if she's "good" and she says she'll work it out on the field.

Back at the bar, Jaxon and Adriana are both seated at the table, and Jaxon thinks Duke has the $300k. He refuses to leave until he gets his money, so Adriana says they should get him his money, because they're an experienced crew. Twyla chimes in, saying she's never heard of Adriana, and tries to test Micki/Adriana by asking who Duke's best friend was (who was also a safe cracker). Adriana mentions Hoyt Rawlins, stating he's a wheelman (not a safe cracker), and it's proof that she pays attention. Duke mentions the "Kyle Job", which was the last job Clint had cased and prepped before he got "popped". But before they can do any Rodeo Kings jobs, Adriana has to prove herself by riding the "brahma" (the bull).

Larry, Liam, and Tessa are still listening in, and Tessa and Larry get up from the table to say they're gonna prep a tac team. It cuts to another flashback, showing Liam entering the bar after receiving a text from Cordell saying they need to meet there. Crystal is in the background singing "Last Dance" terribly (it's kinda charming, ngl). The group manages to coerce Clint to join her for the song just as Liam steps into the back room to meet his brother.

Cordell walks in, as Duke, and locks the door before turning on the faucet at the nearby sink and dunking his head in water again. When Cordell stands up again, Cordell tells Liam to go to Larry James because they have to arrest the Kings that night, because Crystal and Clint have been talking about going down in a blaze of glory like Butch and Sundance. Liam rejects this, saying that they have to actually physically step foot in the back before they can be put away.

Back to present day, Liam leaves with Tessa and Capt. James.

Micki and Cordell (as Adriana and Duke) are walking toward the brahma, and Cordell finally realizes he's forgotten about Stella's game. He mentions that he knows Tessa Graves had shown up that morning, and he even goes as far as shouting into Micki's earpiece to ask Tessa if she still thinks he's guilty. Micki takes a moment to let Cordell know that she doesn't think "Duke" stole the money.

Jaxon and Twyla yank a cover off the brahma and they mention that nobody joins the Kings without riding the bull. So, naturally, Adriana/Micki hops right on and rides like a champ. She even beat Duke's record, staying on for 15.82 seconds. Badass.

In the background, a car begins to drive up, and Cordell/Duke asks Twyla if it's the feds tracking her. So he goes to take care of it, approaching the vehicle alone, with a hand on his gun. But of course, it's August and Ruby. Awkward.

Cordell puts his gun away and walks up to them, telling them to leave. But August has things on his mind and he's gonna say them. Cordell even tries to yell at August to leave (as Duke). August is sure that Cordell is leaving, calling him a coward who abandoned them twice, and threatening to tell Twyla all about it. But Cordell manages to get them to leave as Twyla appears behind him. He shouts over his shoulder that it was just a couple of kids trespassing, but he looks like he's about to cry :(

Back at Sacred Heart, Stella is running sprints. Trey approaches and comments on their tough loss, asking her where her head was. He's trying to get her to open up and even offers to run sprints with her. Before they can, she stops him and admits that it hurts that her dad hadn't shown up for the game. She also admits that she joined soccer in an attempt to get him to come home while he was gone, because he'd never missed any of her mother's games when she'd played soccer in college.

At the Rodeo, the newly formed Rodeo Kings 2.0 head into the back room, where they have their weapons all lined up. Micki gives Cordell's hand a squeeze and says August will forgive him, because she'd seen what happened. We enter another flashback, this time showing us the robbery in progress. Clint has a duffel bag of money and he shoots at the police, getting shot in the shoulder in the process. He shuffles back to behind a wall where Crystal is on the floor, hands at her stomach. "Duke" also has his hands there, holding down on a gunshot wound in an obvious attempt to help. He says she's not good to drive because she's lost too much blood but Crystal refuses to give up, so they all get to it. Duke helps Crystal to the car, with the $300k, and tries to convince her again that they "don't have to do this". She's hellbent on going through with it, and before she drives off she tells Duke to tell Clint they'll "always have one last dance". Just as she leaves, Tessa and the rest of the cops arrive and arrest "Duke".

This memory sparks realization in Cordell's/Duke's mind. He announces out loud that Last Dance was Crystal and Clint's karaoke song, and the money must be in the jukebox at the bar. With the bar being closed, he thinks they should go get it. Twyla takes that opportunity to knock out Jaxon with the butt of her gun, before holding it up toward Duke and Adriana. She tells them to get on the ground and they comply, counting from 50 as Twyla races out of the room. Cordell, having thought it over, has an idea, after hearing August tell him if he never sees Duke again it'll be too soon. So, "let's give my boy what he wants". Duke gon die.

Back at Annunziata's, Twyla has broken in and is in the process of taking apart the jukebox. She finds the money as Duke comes in, trying to reach for her hand for the rest of their dance. Though they do dance, Twyla mentions that's it's too late for it to be just the two of them, because there's something behind his eyes that won't let her in. As she attempts to flee with the money, Capt. James comes in, but she runs out the back door instead. She continues to run, as does "Duke" (though separately), and Twyla is stopped by Tessa and arrested. She's still standing by as Duke confronts Tessa, and she witnesses Duke being shot by Tessa when he pulls his gun on her. It's the only way to really "kill" Duke. He falls into the nearby motel pool and Twyla is taken away before Liam runs in, shouting for his brother.

Cordell, no longer Duke, opens his eyes and climbs from the pool, with Liam at his side. Liam affirms that they're all safe, and Duke is dead. Sometime later that day, once the sun has gone down and Cordell has changed back into his Ranger clothes, he's approached by Tessa in the parking lot. He asks her if she still thinks he's crooked and she says he's clean. "On this". So maybe she still thinks he's a bit of a criminal, it's still better than nothing.

She leaves and Liam approaches, saying he should've listened to Cordell because people died during the robbery, and Cordell was way ahead of it. Cordell stops him, reassuring his brother that it wasn't on him, it was on Clint. Then they have a really cute bro-hug, we love it.

At the Ranger station, Capt. James is at his desk and Liam comes in. He has a file in his hand, Emily's drone footage. They'd both requested it. He mentions that something is off about Emily's murder (obviously, amirite?).

Trey walks into Micki's house (though we're beginning to think of it more as "their" house), and she asks him how his first day was. She even gives him a present, a drawing she's done of him as a soccer player, with Las Vegas behind him. She's implying it's okay for them both to visit his mother, and she comments on how her own mother makes her feel small. But Trey affirms that his mother doesn't.

Cordell arrives home to August sitting at the kitchen table, confronting his dad and saying he needs to tell Stella if he's leaving. Stella comes in and hears this, visibly confused. She's holding her mother's soccer jersey and informs Cordell she's changing her number to her mother's (if you're curious, Stella's original number is 12, and her mother's is 8). Cordell then apologizes to them both, and specifically to August, saying he isn't leaving. He also says he didn't mean what he'd said when he yelled at August, but August says he meant what he'd said (which Cordell knew). August yelling at him "put him straight", and he again assures them he's not leaving.

Cordell mentions that Duke is over, because of August, and nothing inside or outside his "go box" will ever keep him away again. Duke is dead, and they need to cremate him. So they grab the box and a box of matches, heading outside to the firepit. After placing the box in the pit, August asks what Duke was like, and Cordell says that Duke pretended a lot. Stella admits they also pretended a lot, before they say a final goodbye and light the box on fire.


Young Genevieve Padalecki
  • Cordell (as Duke) mentions to Twyla that his brother passed away ("I lost someone... my brother"). This is most likely a reference to Dean Winchester on the series Supernatural. And if this isn't a reference, it's a very fun coincidence.
  • Stella mentions to Trey that her mother was a big deal in college soccer at UT and she threw herself into soccer in an attempt to make her father return home, because he never missed any of her mother's games. In real life, Genevieve Padalecki has been a soccer player (and avid fan of soccer) since childhood.
  • In this episode, we learn that the name of Cordell's undercover operation was "Operation: Watch the Throne"
  • We also learn that Trey's mother is named Tina in this episode, and Micki's mother is named Dr. Adriana Ramirez.
  • The "crap aftershave" Walker wears as Duke isn't a real brand. The show's graphic designer made the sticker (which reads "Runabout") BUT the bottle is from Clubman, which is a real aftershave
  • Twyla Jean is from Bexar County in San Antonio, which is where Jared Padalecki (Cordell Walker) is from in real life. (Thank you @cordirez on twitter for spotting this!)
  • Cordell's undercover op "Operation Watch The Throne" is a similar name to episode 3.04 of The 100: "Watch the Thrones"

Music In Episode

Song Title Artist Scene Info
Heaven Lincoln Durham Flashback to when Cordell was undercover as Duke Culpepper
If I Die Low Cut Connie During the scene we first see Cordell take his shirt off to change into Duke
You and I Ali Holder Duke and Twyla have a little slowdance and it's sweet
Last Dance Donna Summer At the karaoke bar, being sung by Crystal West to the rest of the group
This Is Mine Think No Think Micki owns on the mechanical bull, like a badass
Hate the Taste Black Rebel Motorcycle Club When Twyla is trying to escape with the money and inevitably gets caught
Although We Cry Paul & The Tall Trees The Walker fam "cremates" Duke Culpepper's belongings


Lead/Recurring Characters

Guest Stars

Episode Stills

Rebecca Brenneman/The CW

Episode Transcript

Click here for Duke transcript