In Reservation Dogs Season 2 Episode 5, old friends Rita, Teenie, Bev, and Natalie take a weekend trip for the yearly Indian Health Services conference.
The women each hope to “snag” (have non-committal sex) at the conference, and Rita has her sights set on Sam, one of the speakers. They bond at the pool. She later confesses her dreams of going to New York, and he suggests that he take her to his favourite place there some day.
Rita, Teenie, and the others get dressed to party and dance to the song that Cookie used to lead them in. Afterwards, they collapse. Drunk and high, they start talking about how they all went from kids to women overnight. Everyone expected them to be traditional Indian women.
Except Teenie. Rita says she doesn’t know what they’ve gone through because she abandoned them after Cookie died. Teenie storms out.
Bev and Natalie decide to start snagging, and Rita gathers her courage to approach Sam. She turns her back when she sees him with a younger woman, but she doesn’t see him push her hand away.
Later, Rita runs into Teenie in the bathroom. She says a younger woman swooped in on Sam. Teenie remarks that, in the city, men don’t look at you if you’re over 25.
“I don’t get it,” Rita says. “Everyone talks about honouring women.”
“You’re beautiful matriarchs,” Teenie mimics them.
“Except no one’s doing shit for us.” Rita then tells Teenie that she doesn’t know what she’s going through. From her perspective, though, it looks like she has it good. Teenie, however, wants what Rita has.
In reality, they both miss the old days. When people didn’t expect the world from them, and they could just sit on the bed together and watch TV.
At the bar, Sam waits for a while, likely hoping Rita will show up. She never does, because she and Teenie crash in bed together to eat junk food and watch TV.
The Episode Review
In one respect, this episode is an incredibly fun comedic break that lets us laugh with the aunties, who are finally cutting loose.
But it’s also a meaningful arc for the women who are deeply important to their reservation. Nothing about this episode is a deviation from Reservation Dogs’ plot because the show is about community. And these women have always been there in the community, struggling and giving of themselves like no one else.
Of course, Teenie hasn’t been there, as Rita takes care to point out. But the episode does well to pull her into the story and give her character a sense of purpose and direction. I’m excited to see where she and Rita will go from here.