This is Where the Plot Thickens
In Season 2 Episode 8 of Reservations Dogs, Officer Big is sent by the police chief to the scrapyard to investigate a stolen shipment of catfish from Cleo’s.
Kenny Boy and the others at the scrapyard can’t help him, so Big goes on his way–but not before grabbing one of their sodas and downing it. The others watch, laughing. Much to Big’s surprise, they had dosed the drink with psychedelics. Big has never done drugs in his life.
Freaking out, he runs for the forest. Kenny Boy takes after him–right after he takes a dose of psychedelics for himself.
Everything starts to distort around Big, and he starts seeing things that aren’t there. His grandma, Imagene, appears at one point, while he hears sirens.
“I know what you did,” she says.
The deer woman then stands over Big. She tells him he’s been a better man than his father. He runs away, again hearing sirens.
Kenny Boy later wakes him up with water. They trip together, admiring the beauty of nature, until they start to hear a group of men chanting. “Ours! Ours!”
They discover figures in black robes. Big realizes they are the Order of the Midstreamers, a group of white people who believe they are the rightful heirs of Indian property. And they just stumbled upon their initiation ceremony.
Four of them then strip off their robes to reveal the bodies of men and the heads of catfish. They then start to fornicate with fish carcasses (a sentence I never thought I’d type), likely stolen from Cleo’s.
Big and Kenny run in to stop them, but the men laugh. They’re not scared of a tribal cop; in their eyes, he’s not a real policeman. They knock Big and Kenny out, shouting, “Ours!”
Big dreams he’s talking to Elora’s mother, Cookie, at a gas station. She’s drunk, but insists she has a “sober hand” driving her home, so Big lets her be.
But when she gets on a motorcycle with a man Big can see is obviously wasted, Big pursues them in his car. They pull over briefly, but the man scoffs. He says he thought it was a “real cop,” then drives away.
Big continues the chase. The next we see is an ambulance, a motorcycle engulfed in flames, and Cookie’s dead body. Big watches on with tears in his eyes.
Big wakes up, blindfolded and tied to a tree. He tells Kenny Boy he’s not a good man. He failed his friends, let two people die. “Why did it happen?” he asks.
A gunshot interrupts him. Big shakes off his blindfold to find the deer woman standing in front of them.
She kisses Kenny on the cheek. He tells her he’s trying to be good. Big asks her how she found him, and she says Cookie told her he was in trouble. She hugs him, telling him to take care of himself and to keep being good.
Big then calls in backup. But not waiting for help, he and Kenny take the guns of the men the deer woman shot and go after the rest of the secret society.
He and Kenny Boy end up on the news for busting the secret society.
“You’re a good man,” Kenny Boy tells Big. “I hope so,” Big replies. The episode ends with him walking home.
The Episode Review
Like “Wide Net,” “This is Where the Plot Thickens” makes a departure from our fearsome five protagonists (if now including Jackie) to focus on yet another important side character.
It’s touching to bear witness to Officer Big’s past beyond his initial run-in with the mythological deer woman. And, for an even richer story, this goes hand in hand with getting more context to Cookie’s death.
Although serving up great emotional heart, this episode isn’t as focused as others and could have done more to integrate the importance of Big’s traditionalism into the episode’s story arcs with Cookie and the secret society.