In Reservation Dogs Season 2 Episode 3, Bear gets a job in construction. He definitely didn’t expect to be working with Daniel’s dad, Danny, but the man stoically greets him on his first day.
A couple of his other co-workers are friendly, although they do haze Bear as “the new guy.” They don’t even teach Bear how to do the job, simply instructing him to copy them and learn from his own mistakes.
At one point, Bear nearly falls off the roof of the house they’re working on. He may have learned from that mistake, but this instils a sense of inadequacy in him. It’s only aggravated when the guys tell him to think of something that makes him angry while he’s driving in nails. Bear thinks of his dad… but he still can’t manage to hammer a nail into a board. He confides to the spirit warrior that he doesn’t feel he can do this job.
On a later break, the men get to talking about Bear’s dad. Danny comments that “most dads are bad.”
“You should know,” Bear mutters, causing Danny to hang his head and walk away. The others tell Bear he needs to let men make mistakes. It’s how they learn. “If you slip once, you learn from it. If you slip again, you’re just being careless.”
Bear later apologizes to Danny, who then says Bear should learn how to do the work. He takes the time to show him how to do their job.
He asks how Elora is, and Bear replies that she abandoned him for California. He’s still harbouring anger towards her, but Danny thinks that’s good for Elora, as it’s what Daniel would have done.
Everything’s changed since Daniel died, according to Danny. He moved, split up with his wife, and stopped drinking. He still can’t help but berate himself for not being a better father; for not preventing his son’s death.
Bear says he feels bad too. He thinks he should have been there for Daniel. But Danny is quick to correct him. Something like Daniel’s situation–that’s on the adults around him to notice and act on.
Bear is going to be a man one day, he says, and he shouldn’t listen to the other construction workers about what that means. A man shouldn’t just make mistakes and just hope they’ll “do better.” Instead, he “knows whatever he does has consequences.”
Bear and Danny then stand up to get off the roof. As they look up into the sky, they see a bright, unexplainable light shining down on them. Could it be Daniel?
Bear gets paid and goes home to relax after a hard day. He’s quickly jarred, however, by a tapping at his window.
It’s Elora. He starts to yell at her for abandoning him, but she stops him, crying. “My grandma’s dying,” she says through tears.
The Episode Review
There’s always a lesson to learn whenever Bear is concerned. While the 17-year-old’s episodes can feel moralizing at times, they’re not exactly preaching to us viewers, and that’s a good thing.
They instead reinforce Bear as this fatherless teen, grasping for fatherly wisdom–in addition to building the show’s theme of community through the advice-giver. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking to see how the reservation is constantly rallying around Bear–and he still doesn’t notice how wonderful a community he has.
This episode’s dose of kindly wisdom comes from the surprising form of Daniel’s father. A character we don’t know much about, but can easily place in our minds as a grieving father and a potential father figure for Bear. I look forward to that relationship being explored in further episodes.
As for the next episode, it will likely fill in the gaps between Elora’s journey and her reappearance. How did she get news of her grandmother? What will happen now that she’s back?