Reservation Dogs – Season 2 Episode 4 “Mabel” Recap & Review

Mabel

In episode 4 of Reservation Dogs Season 2, Elora sits by her dying grandmother’s side. The community comes together in Mabel’s home, including Willie Jack, Bear, and Cheese.

Elora’s aunt, Teenie, comes home as well. She’s been gone ever since Elora’s mother, Cookie, died. Now, she’s here for Elora, and she says she should have been there sooner.

Jackie comes by to be there for Elora as well, but the rest of the Rez Dogs aren’t ready to accept her yet. Jackie asks Cheese to admit that he doesn’t like her. He doesn’t. Or, at least, he’s not supposed to. But “life is short,” he says. Maybe she’s not so bad. She is here for Elora, after all.

Bear has an encounter with the spirit warrior at Mabel’s house. He asks Bear why he’s there. He says he wants to be there for his friend. But the spirit wonders if Elora knows that, if Bear won’t tell her.

Teenie and Big talk outside, pondering how funny it is that death brings people together. They tell each other that they’re here for Elora. It goes unsaid, but you have to wonder after Bear’s encounter with the spirit–Does Elora know that?

Elora is mostly quiet at the gathering, accepting condolences when offered and listening to stories about her mom and Mabel. At one point, Jackie asks if they are going back to California after all this. Elora affirms that they are.

But Elora is in for a shock when Teenie tells her that Mabel’s house will be hers when she passes. She can keep it, or she can sell it and get out of here, like Teenie did when Cookie passed. 

That night, Mabel passes. Elora can’t take being around everyone inside, so she rushes out, crying. “Hey, shitass,” she hears. Turning around, she finds her grandmother’s spirit.

Mabel tells her granddaughter that she did good today–and not to sell her dish set, or she’ll haunt her. Elora laughs as Mabel’s spirit walks away.


The Episode Review

K. Devery Jacobs, who plays Elora, co-wrote with series creator Sterlin Harjo the best episode of season 2 so far.

With Elora and Jackie back in Oklahoma, this time skip for their journey back could have easily made it feel like a piece of Elora’s story is missing. It’s a seamless transition, however, because Elora’s hasn’t yet made the decision to stay. We haven’t missed out on seeing her grappling with leaving, but get to witness her struggle while she’s surrounded by everyone she once left behind.

There’s not much dialogue, but there are many brief instances of connection that depict where each character is mentally and emotionally at these moments. At the center of it all is Elora, who watches and absorbs–but we can guess at what’s going through her mind and how these connections and conversations will affect her future actions.

Throughout, Jacobs gives an excellent performance that elevates such a poignant and beautifully-written episode.

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