With my healing powers in basic tow, I finally shook off the dust on my computer and decided it was time to write again, and what better way to start than a new season of Reservation Dogs – the critically lauded, award-winning series that shows its truly a good day to be Indigenous, created by Oklahoma filmmaker Sterlin Harjo.
Last season, after a rich tableau of characters and situations—some hilarious, some poignant—were introduced, a catastrophic tornado stirred the windblown pot, taking each Dogs to a new storyline: Elora (Devery Jacobs) is on the road to Los Angeles while Bear (D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai) picks put the heartbreaking pieces, while additionally Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) and Cheese (Lane Factor) continues series one-two punch of heart and souls, deftly delivered.
So, in this new season, much like the last one, I will recap each episode for those that don’t have FX or Hulu, and those who do, giving the basics and not spoiling anything too much. Skoden? Stoodis!
Episode 1/2: “The Curse” / “Run”
The Plot: In the season opener, the community deals with the fallout from a recent tornado, with Officer Big (Zahn McClarnon) musing on bigfoot, Mose and Mekko (Lil’ Mike and Funny Bone, respectively) on their late bicycles and, of course, the white trash denizens being gifted with an abandoned horse.
With Elora on the road—more a that later—Bear and Wille Jack try to reverse a supposed curse (“bad medicine”) while Cheese is entertained with a VHS copy of Big Trouble in China Little. Meanwhile, Bucky (Wes Studi) and Uncle Brownie (Gary Farmer) come to Tom Petty-assisted blows.
While that is going on, Edora and NDN Mafia leader Jackie (Elva Guerra) try to get to L.A. until the car breaks down. Bizarre Jesus freaks, gun-toting rednecks, and a nice-enough divorcee (native Oklahoman Megan Mullally) try to get them back on the road.
The Review: While many season premieres try to encapsulate the last big event, Dogs, instead, gives us a new continuation. With the first two episodes, the characters have only grown—matured—like most Indigenous children who are not allowed to have stereotypical childhoods. This is especially so for Willie Jack, who takes on the funny “curse,” and Elora, who takes out true pieces of problematic flotsam.
Even the retro-entertainment that Cheese takes part of, it’s second-hand – Native children are born tough, especially with the amount of shit they put up with. In season two, the Dogs have matured. They have to be adults…maybe it’s been a much-overlooked milestone.
They take on the given problems and try to figure out a self-solution; maybe it's not the best, but it always works. The two episodes give a definite maturity that other programs would try to emulate while still being flat-out funny. It bodes well for the next episode!
Best Line: “Carry on, my wayward son, there’ll be peace when you are done…aho!” - William "Spirit" Knifeman (Dallas Goldtooth)
Funniest Moment: Bucky and Uncle Brownie’s duet of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” takes the cake and then some.
Oklahoma Soundtrack Pick: Loudon Wainwright – “The Swimming Song”