Walker Independence Fall Finale: Justin Johnson Cortez Talks Calian's Verdict and Two Potential Love Triangles

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Thursday’s Walker Independence. Proceed at your own risk!

Walker Independence put Calian on trial for the murder of one of the town’s founding fathers, Francis Reyes, in Thursday’s fall finale.

Acting as Calian’s lawyer, Abby tried to build a reasonable doubt defense. But with Calian’s arrow found in Francis’ body, and Calian’s inability to remember what happened (aside from the fact that he saw a vision of his long-missing sister Nascha), the judge was forced to rule that Calian was guilty. As Calian was about to be hanged, Hoyt learned that Luis accidentally killed his own father during an argument and framed Calian. Augustus found the bullet, but at the point, Sheriff Davidson — still wounded and bleeding from last week’s episode — had, surprisingly, already spared Calian’s life.

Below, star Justin Johnson Cortez talks about how the ordeal will shape Calian moving forward and whether there are romantic feelings between the tracker and Abby. Or perhaps it’s Francis’ daughter Lucia he’s got his eye on?

TVLINE | Coming out of his experience with the trial, is Calian going to view the town of Independence and its residents differently in the upcoming episodes?
I think it’s one of those things where there’s always something he understood about where he stood with them, as much as he maybe hoped it was different. I think it was just kind of something that was confirmed through the trial. And I think Calian still has a lot of compassion for these people, even though they hurt him and haven’t been able to see him for all that he is as a human. They kind of made up their mind about him before he even had a chance to express himself or explain himself. But I think it’s in Calian’s character to give people chances to redeem themselves. So I think he always has been cautious when it came to people in town, so I think he’ll continue to be that way, and it might take some time to heal and to find his way back there.

TVLINE | At the end of the episode, it almost felt like he was saying goodbye with Abby and Augustus. Is he going to be keeping his distance for a while?
Since Day 1, it’s been really tricky. Since we first started the project, it’s been part of the conversation like, “How do we get Calian into town?” when he’s definitely probably the most removed from town in terms of the main characters, and that’s been a challenging bit. So yeah, after this experience, that challenge isn’t any easier. But what I can tell you is that he’s a part of the world, he’s a part of these other characters’ lives and they’re part of his, so we’re definitely not going to lose that. But it’s going to be a lot of fun, trying to figure out how to intertwine those.

TVLINE | We learned a little bit about what happened to his sister, but there isn’t really a definitive answer. Is Calian going to go search for answers? And is there any possibility that his sister might still be alive?
That’s kind of the heartbreaking thing about this story is I think Calian has constantly been searching for those answers and hasn’t been able to find them. In his search, it’s led him down a path and led him into different people’s lives and different people into his life… I don’t think his sister will ever leave, and I don’t think that search for her will ever be gone in him, whether we see it or not. I don’t think that’s something that is ever going to fully be dealt with with him, because it’s hard. It’s really difficult to lose somebody that way, to feel responsible the way he did. I think he’ll always kind of carry her with him.

TVLINE | In this episode, you have quite a few significant moments with several characters. Which of his relationships is changed the most moving forward?
I love that him and Augustus have had the longest standing relationship between any two characters on the show, and I think theirs was kind of put through a test in a way since we first encountered Calian and the secret he has been keeping from Augustus concerning Tom and Abby. The way the episode ends, I think that bond is still very strong. And I think going through those types of challenges with any relationship just makes it stronger. That’s one that’s always going to be very close and important to Calian. Augustus is definitely the person who understands Calian most and can relate to his experience in the world the most. They’re both outsiders.

And as far as it goes with Abby and Hoyt, who are probably the other stronger relationships that Calian has, those are definitely ones I can’t wait to explore deeper and see where they go. Calian and Hoyt, they’re friends and they’re connected, in a way, but they’re still resistant to each other, and they’re still resistant to giving into that relationship, that friendship, fully, which I love. I love that dynamic between the two of them. I think what happens here in Episode 7 just kind of affects everybody in such a powerful way, and going through experiences like that, it doesn’t usually leave people. So they’re going to be carrying this shared experience together for a while. It’s going to be interesting to see how that adapts and changes their relationships.

TVLINE | Even Hoyt came through for Calian, and obviously, Abby came to his defense, as well.
Yeah, I loved that bit about this episode, how Hoyt was torn between helping Lucia and what he felt for Calian. The way he came in in the end was just really great and really telling of his character and kind of the man that I think Calian always knew Hoyt could be, even when Hoyt might not have believed it in himself. That was a really special moment. And I love how it ends kind of playful, because when you respect somebody and you become friends with them, you kind of start to speak the way they speak or move the way they move. It’s like a sign of respect in a way. The fact that Calian kind of joked with him at the end there… it’s like I’m speaking in Hoyt’s language a bit because Hoyt is so easygoing and outgoing and funny. That part was really special to me.

And Abby being there for him, she says, “Hey, I owe it to you because you saved me.” But I don’t think Calian ever expected anybody, especially not her, to put herself on the line in that way. So I think that saying goodbye there at the end is really tough. But again, I think when you go through these shared experiences, it only makes your relationship stronger.

TVLINE | Abby said to Calian that they’re friends, but is that all that they are? Are there any romantic feelings there between the two of them?
I love this episode because it definitely reveals why Calian feels such a connection to Abby. Nascha is the one who brought him to her, and because of that, the connection was instant for him and it had a deeper meaning, deeper than he could express to anybody because he was the only one having that experience, and he’s the only one who knows what Nascha is to him. So knowing that Nascha brought him to her, she had to be special in some way. And I think that just made his loyalty to Abby that much more powerful. I think that’s where it starts, and as you get to know a person, as Calian sees the woman that Abby is and how much compassion she has and just like her drive for life and her fight, that she’s fighting and standing up for herself, I think he’s just more and more impressed by her. I watch it, and sometimes I’m a little heartbroken because it’s a tough situation. Abby has just lost her husband, and she’s just trying to make sense of it all and prove that this man killed him, and it’s not a simple situation, and sometimes the circumstances of life are bigger than a relationship could ever be. I’m very curious to know [where it’s headed]. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer for that. I know where my head is at, and I don’t want to share too much of that. That’s going to be something I’m excited to see as it progresses.

TVLINE | At the same time, there was an episode a couple of weeks ago where Lucia and Calian also had some lovely moments together, and then this week, her own mother’s talking up Calian to her. I’m not sure which love triangle I should be watching out for: Abby/Calian/Hoyt or Calian/Lucia/Hoyt.
Yeah, I know! The love triangles are… They’re doing a good job there. Like I said, Calian kind of always saw the man Hoyt could be. There’s actually, I think, a line that got cut in one of those scenes between Hoyt and Calian where Calian talks about Lucia.

They wrote it so nicely, because it’s really heartbreaking at the beginning of this episode, where Lucia’s mom is suggesting Calian and then they come to find out that her father has been killed and everyone suspects Calian. Like, what a messed up kind of situation to be like one minute suggesting this man, [and] the next moment, thinking the same man might have killed her father. When I came on screen, I was like, “Oh man, that’s heartbreaking!” But I’m not quite sure where all the love stuff is going. I wish I knew.

TVLINE | We also need to talk about Tom Davidson, because even before the sheriff found out that Luis killed his father, Tom cut the noose and he spared Calian’s life. So does that change how Calian sees the sheriff? And then what does that mean for Abby and Calian and Hoyt’s investigation into Liam’s murder?
I don’t think that instance changes the way Calian sees Tom Davidson. I think that moment is really special, because Calian recognizes that this injury that Tom has is a serious one and more serious than I think Tom has admitted to himself at this point in the episode. And so in his last moments, Calian is, basically, comforting the sheriff and being like, “Hey, this is how I view death, and you shouldn’t be afraid because it’s not the end here.” It’s kind of this nice moment where as you’re leaving this world, you kind put down your differences, and you’re able to see someone as a human. But I don’t think that changes the way he feels about justice in this world. So I think when it’s all said and done, Calian still wants the right thing to happen in the end. And I think, again, the fact that Nascha led him to Abby is why Calian believes her so strongly. He feels like he was led to her for a reason. And people make mistakes. It will be interesting to see how he feels moving forward, as things develop with the sheriff.

TVLINE | Having been healed by Calian and his people, might Abby look to him for help saving Tom’s life after this cliffhanger?
Who knows what Abby’s going to do after this cliffhanger. I noticed there was like a knife behind Tom’s head, and I was like, “Oh man, what’s she going to do? She should just like grab that thing.” I don’t know which way she’s going to go, but I think at this point, Abby feels probably like Calian has slipped by by the skin of his teeth, and she’s probably not in a hurry to bring this world to him or to his camp. I think it’s safe to say that she’s probably not considering thrusting this new thing upon him after such a difficult couple of days that he’s had.

Walker Independence fans, what did you think of the episode? Grade it below, then hit the comments with your hopes for the rest of the season!

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