Reservation Dogs Recap: Free Fallin’

Reservation Dogs Recap: Free Fallin’

Published August 4, 2022
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The last episode of Reservation Dogs exposed the rifts that had developed between our main cast of characters, and in season two’s second episode, it seems like Cheese, Elora, Jackie, Bear, and Willie Jack are continuing to drift apart. As each of the teenage Rez Dogs struggles to find their place in the world as burgeoning adults, they are quickly finding that the grown-up world is a sad, sorry place to be. While the Rez Dogs are doing their best to dodge their present responsibilities as soon-to-be-adults, all of the adults in the series are busy running away from the past.

Bear … still doesn’t quite get it. Having ditched Willie Jack and her plans to reverse the curse that’s been wreaking havoc on the village, he ends up crossing paths with Mose and Meeko. Bear laments to them that the rest of the gang are busy “off doing kid shit,” as if moping down the middle of the street by yourself doesn’t qualify as “kid shit.” He seems to be caught up in the performative aspects of adulthood, like finding a job, which Mose and Meeko offer to provide him in exchange not for money but for “free exposure.” It hasn’t quite dawned on Bear that without the important bits (things like introspection, developing personal values, and honoring kinship relations), whatever work you do manage to get done won’t be quite so meaningful to yourself and your community.

Bear later struggles with his lack of self-awareness when he pitches to Rob and Cleo that the three of them go into business together, only for Rob to remind Bear that he’s stolen more than his fair share from the store already. Cleo offers Bear the opportunity to volunteer for them in order to make up for his past transgressions, but Bear seems skeptical of the arrangement. This exchange is followed by a rather endearing callback to season one when Mississippi Miles arrives (Miles is the driver of the Flaming Flamer’s truck that the gang stole in the series pilot). Miles, Rob, and Cleo break it to Bear that they’ve known all along that Bear and the other Rez Dogs stole the truck, but that they didn’t tell the police because “we don’t need no more young folk in jail.” It’s a quirky yet touching exchange, and Miles reminds Bear that “it’s easy to tear things down, but a lot harder to build them up.” After two straight episodes of having some legitimate knowledge dropped on him by his elders, Bear finally seems ready to get it together and to start to give back to the community that has compassionately protected him for so long. Let’s hope it sticks!

Meanwhile, Willie Jack and Bucky meet up with Jackie’s old crew in search of some of her old stuff that they can use to break the curse. Bone Thug, Weeze, and White Steve report that they’ve been experiencing the effects of the curse too, meaning that there may be something real to Willie Jack’s theory. Uncle Brownie arrives and, after an epic standoff between him and Bucky, the two agree to collaborate on helping to break the curse. I can’t help but wonder if the exchange between Bucky and Uncle Brownie that they “haven’t seen each other in a long time” isn’t some kind of subtle reference to the fact that actors Gary Farmer and Wes Studi haven’t performed on screen together since the 1989 film Powwow Highway.