Episode 3 of Little America begins in Nigeria 1967 with two young boys fixated by the big screen as a cowboy film plays. Only, the electrics go out prompting immediate waves of disappointment to ring around the open-cinema and the kids forced to head back home with their father.
We then cut to 1981 with Iwegbuna grown up and in Oklahoma attending school. Moved to the front of the class, he asks his teacher to put his cigarette out but he ignores him and continues to address the students. Back home, Iwegbuna listens to a tape that comes through the post for him while we see more of his American family set-up before heading to class and working on his accent. As he does, he also hears back from his teacher that he doesn’t try hard to fit in and is a little pushy.
That afternoon Iwegbuna heads in to a shop specializing in cowboy attire and leaves with a hat and boots. Unfortunately the boots badly chafe him but at home he soaks them in water to try and help. The next day he arrives back at class and walks into the lecture with his cowboy hat and boots on, taking a seat infront of a kid with his own cowboy hat, who glances over and sees the water seep from his boots, smiling knowingly.
Iwegbuna stops by the local ranch and helps out before running into the same boy from his lecture again, where he hands over one of his toothpicks and tells the boy his boots will last him a lifetime. That evening, Iwegbuna discusses the issues surrounding the country and phones home, intending to get to the call centre and leave a message. He holds for a long time and eventually on the phone is his brother Chioke who tells him there’s talk of a military take-over.
During his TA interview, Iwegbuna talks of Nigeria and the two begin discussing the ramifications of the military takeover. It’s a pretty educated conversation too and it’s here our protagonist admits that he only wanted the job so he could head back home. However in a nice twist of fate, we learn he got the job as a TA and as we cut forward in time, see him working and receiving his first paycheck.
During the post-episode scene, Iwegbuna is now a dean of economics in Louisiana.
With light characterisation and little depth to a lot of the supporting characters, there isn’t a whole lot going on here beyond a simple message of finding purpose and fitting in to the culture of a country. It’s not a bad episode per-se but compared to the others in this anthology, The Cowboy does feel a little overshadowed by some of the better episodes here.
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