‘Tracker’ Season 1 Episode 10 Review – Into the Wild (spoilers)

This past Sunday, the latest episode of Tracker with Justin Hartley as the “rewardist” Colter Shaw aired on CBS. Titled Into the Wild and written by Elwood Reid and directed by Larry Teng, this episode took Colter all the way across the country to Idaho. (See you later, Aurora.

Into the Wild with Tracker

This episode was interesting in a few ways and was a fast-paced pleasure to watch. It starts off without a crime, although as we get into it, there’s a whole lot of murder. We open only with Colter running through the picturesque Idaho (or maybe British Columbia, where the series films) landscape until he returns to his beloved Airstream to shower. I will note that the land he’s running through and the mountains we see in this episode are absolutely gorgeous and make me suddenly want to take up outdoor hobbies. But back to Tracker. An old friend that we already love surprises him in his trailer post-shower, and we are off to the races. 

Surprise! Reenie (Fiona Rene) is back. And much to my delight, Into the Wild turned out to be a very heavy Reenie episode. Like the Bobby episode, in which we went into the world of MMA and learned more about Eric Graise’s character, we get a lot of Reenie’s backstory in this episode. It turns out, like Colter, she has father issues. Through dialogue and action, the folks behind Tracker really build the mystery of Reenie’s dad. The guy didn’t like having his picture taken, and there’s some fairly hint, hint, wink, wink moments alluding to the fact that he may have worked for the government. 

Gus McMillion needs Tracker’s help

Either way, Reenie’s dad’s friend needs Reenie and Tracker’s help, and the duo are there to save the day. The man is coincidentally in Idaho, where they are now. It’s funny how TV magic works that way. If this were Burn Notice, there would be flashy white text on the screen saying Reenie was the client, but alas, this is not that show, and we just have to take solace in the fact that she needs a favor from him for once. 

Tracker is tasked with finding the adult kids of Gus McMillion, played by the scene-stealer Gil Birmingham. Gus runs an aerial outfitting company with his kids. Hank (Jarrod Daniel) and Madison (Rachel Colwell) are pilots, and they and their plane has gone missing in the bush, along with a mysterious client named Walter, who is on board. Simple enough, right? With the cash Gus is offering, other rewardists should be jumping at the bit. You’d think there would be search parties if a plane just drops out of the sky. But not in remote Idaho. 

Gil Birmingham as Gus McMillion in Tracker copy
Gil Birmingham as Gus McMillion in Tracker. Image courtesy of CBS.

And as the story unfolds, we find out that this isn’t a simple story at all, but a very bloody one filled with dirty casino money, an excellent villain named Voltz, played by Peter Stormare, and so many bodies. Without spoilers, this episode has a happy ending, and there’s the hint of something more than just fishing for Colter and Reenie. Sorry, Billie (Sofia Pernas), but at least she ends up with Hartley in real life. 

Into the Wild is a great example of what the show Tracker gets right

This episode was a great mix of the things that Tracker does right. Colter is not MacGuyver, but he sure can do some cool stuff. He was shot in this episode, but he uses tea bags to save himself from bleeding out or having a worse outcome. And in addition to the ingenuity with the tea bag, Colter was fully using his tracking skills. There were maps and light boxes! Canada! And jumping out of planes, but more on that later. 

And although I love Justin Hartley as Colter, it was fun to have some Reenie-led scenes and give the poor guy a break. Unlike previous episodes, he wasn’t in every single scene, and we got some great moments that remind us why Fiona Rene does such an excellent job of bringing the lawyer to life. Please, more Reenie! And again, more of Tracker’s merry band of helpers.

Justin Harley as Colter Shaw and Fiona Rene as Reenie in Tracker
Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw and Fiona Rene as Reenie in Tracker. Image courtesy of CBS.

Where’s Bobby?

I desperately hope that this isn’t a situation like the Bobby MMA episode, where the episodic storyline was all about him, and then he’s missing from the rest of the Tracker world for a few episodes. When Colter was talking about Bobby to Velma (Abby McEnany) and Teddi (Robin Weigert), my heart soared because I thought we could see the tech genius on screen again. They needed phone numbers, locations, and other tech things – it was right up his alley. But pfft, no luck. Bobby was again missing this episode. I hope we continue to see more Reenie.

Cool stunts and the perfect villain

But don’t fret: There were some really cool stunts in this episode. (And frankly, I feel like I can appreciate them so much more after recently seeing The Fall Guy, but that’s a whole ‘nother article.) Not only is there a whole lot of shooting, but Tracker casually jumps out of a plane. Thanks to his survivalist training, and his suspiciously small backpack of holding, Colter is totally fine to hop out the door of the moving airplane into the forest as he looks for the missing siblings. And of course, he has the training to do so.

Justin Harley as Colter Shaw in Tracker - Into the Wild - Episode 10
Justin Hartley as Colter Shaw in Tracker. Image courtesy of CBS.

This episode was also wonderful in that it had such a creepy villain. The moment Voltz walked into Gus’s shop, you knew something was not right. Peter Stormare was so memorable in the role that I really can’t stop thinking about it. It was exactly the right kind of unsettling and was totally befitting of the character. 

Not only is Into the Wild an essential Tracker episode, but it was fun, too, as long as you don’t think too hard about some of the improbabilities. (Ahem. I’m still stuck on Colter’s magic backpack, which has untold capacity for holding all manner of things, like a satellite phone that just happens to get excellent reception in the remote woods and rappelling gear to go down into a ravine.) 

Where we go from here with the next episodes

At this point, Tracker appears to have completely abandoned the episode is named after a city convention. Episode 11 of Tracker is called Beyond the Campus Walls and it is written by Travis Donnelly and directed by Joel Novoa. This will be Donnelly’s third Tracker credit, having co-written Camden and St. Louis.

The final two episodes of the season, episodes 12 and 13, are respectively called Off the Books and The Storm.

The Jensen Ackles Connection

The internet let out a collective squee (we heard it) when the announcement came out that Supernatural star Jensen Ackles was returning to network TV for a guest stint in Tracker. He’s playing Colter’s brother, Russell. Up to this point, the current day Russell has just been a nondescript voice left on messages on the phone, while in flashbacks, the character has been played by Mathew Nelson-Mahood. He’s extremely important to who Colter is as a person. 

If you’ve been paying attention to the rumor mill, then this isn’t a huge surprise. Internet detectives connected the dots about Russell’s casting weeks ago. Even before Ackles and Hartley posted that they were hanging out on Instagram, Ackles had been spotted in Vancouver, where Tracker films. 

Ackles is a super-talented actor, and we’re excited to see where this takes Tracker. According to recent promotional information, he’ll make his debut in Episode 12, Off the Books. The synopsis says Russell seeks out Colter to track down an army buddy gone missing. Off the Books is slang for something that’s not recorded or reported, so there’s all sorts of interesting potential drama ahead in this episode. This is especially so considering the recent casting of Colter’s sister, Melissa Roxburgh,aka Michaela Stone from Manifest.

tracker-Jensen Ackles-Justin Hartley - Off the Books
Justin Hartley and Jensen Ackles in Tracker – Season 1, Episode 12 – Off the Books.

Tracker airs on Sunday nights on CBS at 9PM ET. The season finale will air on May 19th.

Learn more about the show, including how to watch all the episodes, at the official CBS website.

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