Jensen Ackles’s Inspired Tracker Casting Gives Us Goosebumps

Spoilers

If you’ve been wondering when we’ll meet the mysterious, potentially deadly old brother of our favorite reward-seeker, Colter Shaw, you are in BIG-time luck.

News dropped officially via Justin Hartley’s IG page that Jensen Ackles — yes, THAT Jensen Ackles — would be joining Tracker as Russell Shaw. And the internet is going WILD.

Why are they going crazy, exactly? Because Justin Hartley and Jensen Ackles teaming up in an action-adventure series as brothers is just about the most perfect casting I’ve seen in a while.

And it goes far beyond the fact that they could actually pass for long-lost siblings.

Colter’s journey throughout Tracker Season 1 has taken him across the United States, where he’s helped countless people track down missing loved ones and even those who weren’t necessarily looking to be found.

But while he’s been racing around, saving the day and collecting his paychecks, he hasn’t been able to outrun his past.

Colter’s family and the questions surrounding his father’s death have been fixtures since the pilot. However, the series has decided to keep it in the background since the early episodes mostly.

We haven’t seen Mama Shaw since someone broke into her home during Tracker Season 1 Episode 2, and we stopped hearing about Russell’s phone calls to everyone Colter knows a little while back.

But it was always obvious the Shaw Family drama would be a slow-burning affair, and rightly so.

Though, we were starting to reach the point where it was becoming forgettable.

But this casting news changes everything.

Ackles, fresh off his scene-stealing turn on the third season of Big Sky, joins the cast at the right time.

With only a few more episodes left in this season, it makes sense for the mystery surrounding the Shaw family to ramp back up, especially knowing there will be a Tracker Season 2 to help prolong the story or fill in any loose ends.

Not much is known about Russell to this point, as we’ve only seen him in flashbacks, where we saw the relationship between the two brothers was not exactly all that great.

Colter doesn’t want to hear from his big bro. He clearly doesn’t trust him, yet Russell seems rather desperate to contact his estranged sibling.

Ackles is a veteran actor with many credits to his name. While he’s most well-known for his storied run on Supernatural, recent years have seen him join established series and immediately stand out while quickly appealing to the audience.

As previously mentioned, his role on Big Sky was the best part of the final season, and if you’re a fan of The Boys, then you already know what Soldier Boy meant to that series and how flawlessly he jumped into the fray.

All this to say, the actor is familiar with joining programs already in progress and not only making his mark but also making it appear like he’s been there from the start.

At this stage, the actor has done it all, with turns as a leading man, a supporting character, and everything in between. When his bell is rung, he shows up and executes.

One of Ackles’s biggest strengths has always been his charm, and teaming him up with Hartley, another actor known for his captivating on-screen presence, makes a lot of sense.

Both actors have a lengthy history of playing one half of a complicated brother dynamic. Just saying.

Colter has been reluctant to speak with Russell, and he has a lot of built-up anger toward his brother. We’ve yet to see Colter get too emotional, but reuniting with Russel will surely bring a variety of emotions along with it.

How could it not?

With years of This is Us under his belt — the series that probably boosted Kleenex’s sails throughout its run — Justin Hartley is no stranger to hitting emotional beats, and this should play well against Ackles’s simmering intensity.

Both actors also have action experience if Tracker decides to lean into that action side of the equation a little more than they typically do.

It would be interesting to see the two of them have to work together reluctantly and then find themselves fighting side-by-side. That’s something I would like to see.

There are many possibilities here with Colter and Russell, and knowing that Ackles is stepping into the role, it’s easy to imagine many of them because he’s proven time and time again that he’s a multi-faceted actor.

Funny, serious, sad, a little mixture of everything, Ackles can do it all. Tracker will also be a fun playground for him to play around in.

Variety reported that Ackles will arrive for the finale, which is currently slated to air on May 12. Russell and Colter will team up to look for Russell’s old Army buddy.

But with a casting as splashy as this, it’s hard to imagine the character doesn’t stick around for a significant arc heading into the second season.

It would be a mighty big shame if this truly was a one-and-done guest spot because you can’t waste this kind of stellar casting.

News also dropped earlier this month that Dory Shaw, Russell, and Colter’s little sister, will be played by Manifest alum Melissa Roxburgh. And the three genuinely do look like they could be siblings.

While Dory will arrive in the penultimate episode, we’ll have to wait until the finale to see Russell and perhaps see all three siblings, along with Mary Dove Shaw.

A full Shaw reunion has the potential to be quite the explosion to close out what’s been a very enthralling first season.

As the season winds down, only four episodes remain as of the run date.

Remember to check TV Fanatic to stay up to date with all of our thoughts on Tracker and reviews as soon as every episode ends!

You can watch Tracker on Sundays at 9/8c on CBS.

Whitney Evans is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lover of all things TV. Follow her on X.

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