The Curse -| Review Score – 4/5
Run -| Review Score – 4/5
Roofing -| Review Score – 4/5
Mabel -| Review Score – 5/5
Wide Net -| Review Score – 4.5/5
Decolonativization -| Review Score – 5/5
Stay Gold Cheesy Boy -| Review Score – 4/5
This is Where the Plot Thickens -| Review Score – 3/5
Offerings -| Review Score – 5/5
I Still Believe -| Review Score – 5/5
In a much-anticipated return, Sterlin Harjo and Taika Waititi’s ensemble comedy-drama Reservation Dogs delivers a more heartfelt and witty story than ever for its second season
Elora Danan (K. Devery Jacobs), Bear (D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis), and Cheese (Lane Factor) are the Rez Dogs–but they’re now a splintered group. Elora has gone off to California with Jackie (Elva Guerra). Meanwhile, the other three are left to do their own thing, and to find out who they are apart from their group identity.
In season 2, we get to know The Rez Dogs not only as a group, but as individuals, with rich episodes that dive into compelling themes surrounding each teenager’s identity. Elora’s major episode (“Mabel”; co-written by Jacobs herself) is especially heart-wrenching, exploring the intersection for Elora of grief and alienation and longing. Bear wrestles with feelings of inadequacy and the concept of manhood. Cheese (who absolutely deserved more screen time) still gets his moment to shine in an installment about finding a place of belonging when blood family fails you. And Willie Jack steps up as an instigator of unity.
The creators of Reservation Dogs had to make a difficult adjustment for this format, but it works well to explore weighty themes for each character–and for the community too. A couple of episodes actually ignore The Rez Dogs completely, focusing rather on the aunties of the reservation and then Officer Big. These episodes are surprisingly heartfelt, not only fleshing out additional characters, but also treating the reservation as a living and breathing character of its own.
Such an approach is well in theme with Harjo’s vision for the show. “I always wanted to tell a story about a community,” he said in an interview with GQ. “Part of that is holding a mirror and showing people what is special about us, and to me, it is that community-driven life.”
In season 2 of Reservation Dogs, Harjo and Waititi connect generations within the reservation. As more is revealed about the adults on the reservation, we see that these stories are circular. They have struggled against the same injustices; have been guided by the same spirits; have held on by the strength of the same community; have wondered the same questions about identity, purpose, and home. Through this subtly building drama, Reservation Dogs contains a gentle urging to both rely on and support those who have come before you.
Ultimately, Reservation Dogs Season 2 is heavier in its themes than season 1–but it’s more affecting and amusing too. You won’t find anything quite like it on TV right now.
Verdict - 9.5/10