And your father ?
Photo: Shane Brown / FX
While last week’s episode had the Dogs Reservation the crew draw closer, the events of this week’s episode threaten to tear the group apart. Four episodes and the show’s biggest storylines are starting to become clear, but now I’m so, so scared! Can’t our endearing Rez criminals stay together? Alright alright I know the show needs to get bigger, but also for my own sanity I need to bask in the glory of the native youth telling jokes and being healthy (okay , healthy) for at least a little longer.
So what’s the problem ? Well: Bear’s dad, rapper Punkin ‘Lusty (played by real-life Mvskoke rapper Stenn Jodi), was invited to perform his new hit song “Greasy Fry Bread” at the diabetes awareness event in Indian Health Center (we see the entire video for the song before the show starts and IT.IS. SAVAGE). Excited to see his father for the first time in years, Bear goes out of his way to prepare for the show. However, Rita, the mother of Bear, played by Anishinaabe / Ashkenazi actress and artist Sarah Podemski (and star of one of my all-time favorite shorts, Danis Goulet awakening), is far from optimistic that Bear’s Dad will keep his promise to his son.
Throughout the episode, Rita talks about her conflicting feelings with the Aunt of the Devil / Angel version on your shoulder, each wearing pearl earrings suited to the role. We also witness the deeply chilling aftermath of one of Rita’s one night stands that made me wave my arms uncontrollably in distress as I watched her. In a scene as if the father of Get out had a Pocahontas Perplex, we find out that the potential new father figure Rita picked up at the bar is a white dude with a rude fetish for native women and that the natives were only recently allowed to dine in the big fancy house. Rita initially woke up in awe. He also has a big Confederate flag tattoo. Everything is really, really disgusting. It’s one of those scenes I would have laughed at if it hadn’t hit so close to home. The way Podemski plays the transformation from flirtatious to horrified is fantastic, and during the episode she really ends up stealing the show.
Later, when Bear’s dad inevitably ends up letting go of the show – and his son – Rita steps forward (more than likely for the billionth time in Bear’s life) and tells Bear that she’s ready to do it. support whatever he chooses regarding his future and Punkin’s relationship. It’s an incredibly touching scene, and it shows that despite her sweet bear ribs, Rita truly cares about her son. And teach your child self-reliance and personal sovereignty? I am here for this !
Unfortunately, not everyone’s relationships develop as well. In an earlier effort to show off to his dad, Bear digs into the gang’s California getaway funds to purchase a new tracksuit and a beaded locket for his dad (which is supposed to be a microphone but ends up looking ratherâ¦ phallic), and Elora calls out for draining more than her share of the gang’s savings, which Bear indifferently ignores. It’s an unflattering moment for Bear, because when he blithely promises Elora that he’ll get the money back, he ultimately makes the same kind of empty promise his Punkin ‘dad tends to make.
It’s an unfortunate move on Bear’s part, as it’s clear his relationship with Elora is starting to reach a breaking point. Earlier in the episode, rival gang leader Jackie approaches Elora and invites her to leave the ship and join their gang so Elora can more effectively collect the money she wants to get in California. . While Elora rejects the initial offer, it’s a clear setup for future drama. Bear’s embossing eventually reaches a peak when, at the end of the episode, he leaves the expensive tracksuit and locket dumped on the couch. Elora, visibly disgusted, grabs her things and runs away. As she exits, Elora suddenly receives a text from Jackie asking her if she will accept his offer to join their crew, leaving us at a moment of suspense with this intrigue.
The portraits of Indigenous women and women throughout the episode are striking, as Indigenous women have, on the whole, been invisible in film and television, with a few exceptions. In general, westerns (which is the genre where most Indigenous characters have appeared primarily for all of movie history) have focused on conflict between white and Indigenous men, so Indigenous women and children are largely absent from these stories. When Indigenous women first appeared in the media, they were either sexualized as seen in movies like Disney Pocahontas, who has taken radical liberties with the real-life experiences of an eleven-year-old girl, or when they are not objectified, they are downright degraded. For example, there is a notable “joke” in John Ford Researchers which revolves around kicking a native woman in a ravine which always causes audible gasps when I show the film to students and colleagues. So I applaud the episode’s two writers, Tommy Pico (Kumeyaay) and Bobby Wilson (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) for approaching the subject with nuance … although we also have a few native women in the credits of the lead writer – nudge, nudge – I know there are any native women out there in that writer’s room!
The episode’s statement about the experiences of Indigenous women really crystallizes in an exchange between Elora and Rita. After Elora surreptitiously tells Rita that Bear let her down, Rita replies, âWe are Indian women. We have to face reality when they go out to play. And at the end of the day, we are the ones who have to make it work. Rita is talking about Punkin ‘, Bear’s dad, and Elora is talking about Bear, so this moment again seems to bring them into an unflattering comparison.
Afterward, Elora must decide if she thinks Bear is just playing games or if he’s serious about the crew’s plan. It’s clear Bear is enjoying the California fantasy, but as the series progresses, it’s clear that his dedication is waning. Elora, on the other hand, appears to be committed to the plan to leave town, though her precise motivations remain unclear. Hopefully we will know more soon? At this point, it looks like Bear is either going to overcome his blind spot and realize he has to commit to the California plan, or end up choosing to stay on the ground floor and risk breaking up the group. I want to know what’s going on but alsoâ¦ big yuck! Why can’t everything stay sweet only a little bit longer?
â¢ Did the pickle jokes in this episode sound almost poetic? Well, one of the episode’s co-writers, Tommy Pico, just happens to to be a poet. The whole meeting scene with Rita also resonates with the things Pico wrote in his recent collections. Junk and Poem Nature. Check them!
â¢ Bobby Wilson, the other co-writer listed in the episode, who appeared on “Uncle Brownie” as the cashier at the Weed Dispensary, is a 1491s member alongside Sterlin Harjo, Dallas Goldtooth, Migzi Pensoneau (who serves as producer on Reservation Dogs) and Ryan Redcorn (who shot all the great promotional photos for the series’ proms). I hate to sound like a broken record but if you like Dogs Reservation and haven’t dived into the 1491 catalog yet – check it out! Uh, okay, maybe saying you should “find out” about the 1491s isn’t the better phrasing â¦
â¢ Given the looming disaster this episode portends, let’s end with Aunt B.’s wise insight (performed by the hilarious Kimberly Guerrero): âWhat kind of native rapper doesn’t like pickles! “