‘Reservation Dogs’ Season 2, Episode 7 Recap

Reservation dogs

Stay the gold, little boy

Season 2

Episode 7

Editor’s note

4 stars

Photo: Shane Brown/FX

It’s the best moment of the Dogs Ground season – we get a cheese-focused episode! Last season, we watched Cheese take a lesson in justice and Deer Lady while he took a ride with Big. This season, Cheese receives a dark lesson in injustice when he is incarcerated in a youth detention center after his uncle Charley (Nathan Apodaca) is arrested for growing weed in their home. Back in the first episode, during Willie Jack’s show monologue, she hinted that Cheese’s uncle would get her into trouble, and this week’s episode is a result of that prophecy.

With Uncle Charley in prison, Cheese has no legal guardian, so he is left in limbo in the house of detention until the state finds another arrangement for him. House coordinator Gene is played by comedian, actor and podcaster Marc Maron. His character is clumsy, self-absorbed, incompetent, and, most unsettlingly for Cheese, dedicated to a plan for recovery from addiction that involves appropriating a mishmash of Native American spiritual and cultural practices. Gene claims that an interaction with a “Lakota medicine man” during a mental break motivated him to get sober, and as a reward for receiving this knowledge, Gene spends his days harassing and venting the traumas of young people. indigenous.

Locked away with Cheese are a handful of kids with their own quirks, resulting in various comical clashes between the youngsters. James (Kamron Alexander) usually spends all “phone hour” talking to his girlfriend, preventing Cheese and the other boys from contacting their loved ones. Tino (played by Navajo rapper Travis Thompson) doesn’t know how to pee and has a handful of kids around the world he struggles to support. Tino’s big plan is to get a job at Red Lobster so he can send money to his children’s grandmothers, but he explains to Cheese that while the boys locked up in juvenile detention can get jobs, paradoxically, they are not allowed to actively search for them inside. Julio (played by actor and playwright Reynaldo Piniella), however, managed to find a job, in part because he’s been incarcerated at home longer than anyone else. Julio and Cheese eventually bond over their mutual love for 1980s musician Sade, and Julio offers to lend Cheese his cell phone.

Cheese manages to use Julio’s phone undetected to call his “grandma,” the woman we met last season when the Rez Dogs visited the Indian Health Service clinic. Cheese doesn’t tell her that he’s been locked up, but she auspiciously offers to help Cheese in any way she can.

In a touching look inside Cheese’s mind, he explains to Tino and Julio that Daniel was “his hero” and that his unique therapeutic speaking is a way of honoring Daniel’s memory: “I I just thought maybe if I treated others the way they wanted to be treated, they would do the same…eventually. Cheese’s optimistic outlook inspires Julio and Tino to work through their differences, Julio agrees to help Tino find a job with him, and the two turn in agreement and solidarity.

Meanwhile, Jackie witnesses the raid on Cheese and Charley’s house and kindly reports the news of Cheese’s arrest to Bear and Willie Jack. In return, Willie Jack makes a final reconciliation offer – as payment for telling the Rez Dogs about Cheese, Jackie gets a free punch to the head or stomach. Jackie chooses to impersonate Willie Jack instead, but Willie Jack’s earnestness and bravery seem to convince Jackie that the Rez Dogs are tough. Now working together, the three children leave to tell Elora about the situation. Arriving at Elora’s house, they find her painting her room. (Sidenote: Elora’s room was once dark blue in color and seemed like the darkest room in the house. Now she’s repainting it to be the same yellow beige as the rest of the place. That means is it Elora taking her aunt’s advice and getting ready to sell the house, or is this a signal that Elora is trying to get out of her grief somehow?) Elora is surprised to see Jackie, Bear, and Willie Jack working together, and the three explain that it was because of Cheese’s arrest that they decided to join forces.

The newly reunited and expanded Rez Dogs then come up with a plan (evil and poorly planned) to get Cheese out of the youth house. At first, Elora tries to convince Gene that she’s Cheese’s aunt (“Indian ways! I have a niece who’s 58!”), and when that doesn’t work, she tries to bribe Gene to he let Cheese go. with her. Gene doesn’t buy into any of this, so in a last ditch effort, the crew tries to convince Cheese to just run for it, but Cheese refuses. Eventually, it seems that, through some creative planning with Big, the crew manages to convince Cheese’s “grandmother” to agree to be his guardian, which leads to Cheese’s fiery exit from the house of young, when he finally gets to “play hard” and put on a show of his outing with Big.

By focusing the episode on Cheese’s experience inside the youth prison system, the episode draws attention to an important issue. According to national data collected in 2019, Native American youth were three times more likely to be detained than their white peers. And in many states, these disparities are growing. This problem follows youth into adulthood: Native Americans in the United States are incarcerated twice as often as whites. In 2019, Native Americans made up less than 1% of the total US population, but they were overrepresented in prisons at 2.1% of all federally incarcerated people.

This episode does a great job of showing how broken the youth incarceration system is – there are so many rules and policies (limited phone use, no access to professional resources, removal of family safety nets and community) that prevent boys from getting out of this situation themselves. The deck is stacked against them. And, as Julio shares with Cheese and Tino, having to live with the fear that your friend could be taken away at any moment causes you to shut down emotionally in ways that can hurt you deeply.

The episode is certainly heartbreaking – it’s incredibly painful to see indigenous youth in handcuffs – but it feels like the larger message or issue worked through setting the episode in a youth detention home gets lost. in the writing’s attempts to include goofy humor (for me, Gene’s monologue about meeting his wife just didn’t pan out). And there are ideological consequences. For example, Gene’s incompetence is more played for laughs than situated in a larger colonialist system that voluntarily dispossessing indigenous peoples by removing young people from their homes. In other words, characters like Gene make it seem like Indigenous peoples are being targeted due to accidental state neglect rather than statistically proven state hypersurveillance of Indigenous communities. The choice to focus on the interpersonal relationships between incarcerated youth is compelling, nuanced and innovative. And it seems like a solid setup with some parallels: Cheese, Tino, and Julio reunite inside while Willie Jack, Jackie, Elora, and Bear reunite outside. I just wanted to see it all come together in a stronger way thematically. The show is certainly able to balance humor, serious situations, and broader story arcs (see episodes like “Mabel” and even “Roofing”), but those elements aren’t balanced in “Stay Gold, Cheesy Boy”.

It feels like by choosing to split the episode’s focus between Cheese on the inside and the rest of the team on the outside, the writers were forced to omit some important character developments and of stories. For example, there could have been more screen time devoted to the newly reunited setup of the Rez Dogs plus Jackie as they advocated releasing Cheese, which would have made the new alliance strong and important. A major theme this season has been characters coming to terms with their own psychological uncertainties, in part because of how disconnected the community has become. The writers chose to dramatize the Rez Dogs’ reconnection around the particularly important issue of the incarceration of Indigenous youth, but such a big victory over systemic discrimination demands more airtime. Looks like the triumphant Rez Dogs reunion has been truncated. While there were a lot of great moments in this episode, it all ended up feeling a little disparate due to all of its moving parts. Things never quite managed to gel the way they did before this season. With three more episodes remaining and some of the Rez Dogs’ interpersonal beefs resolved, hopefully the remaining episodes will have more wiggle room.

About Michael B. Billingsley

Check Also

Incredible Growth in Hotel Reservation Services Market by 2029 | Booking Holdings Inc., Hotel Engine, HRS Group

New Jersey (USA) – The Hotel Reservation Services market research report provides all the insights …