Reservation Dogs – Season 3 Episode 9 “Elora’s Dad” Recap & Review

Elora’s Dad

In Reservations Dogs Season 3 Episode 9, Elora visits the financial aid office of The College of the Muscogee Nation, where she hopes to study for a career as a mental health advocate. The only problem is that she needs her dad’s financial information before she can receive any financial aid.

So, Elora tracks down her dad, Rick, with no intentions of reconciliation. She just wants him to fill out some paperwork. She ends up following him throughout his town only for him to catch her in the act. His initial hostility at being followed drops as soon as he sees her face. He knows exactly who she is.

They talk at a diner, and Elora quickly corrects Rick on his assumption that she wanted to get to know him. It’s straight to business for her as she hands him the paperwork she needs him to fill out.

But Rick isn’t ready to part so quickly. He’s thought about tracking Elora down before and doesn’t want this moment to get away from him. He’s only just able to convince her to follow him to his house so he can give her a surprise gift.

Once there, Elora learns she has three half-siblings, ages 7-12, who are currently at school. Rick runs back to retrieve a picture of Cookie holding her at her first birthday. He says it was the last time he saw her. Cookie broke it off with him, and he now realizes she was right to. At that time, he still had a lot of growing up to do.

Rick tells her he had a tendency to run when things got hard. Elora comments that she now knows where she gets it from. Her face shows that she wants to run from this very moment, but something causes her to stick around and tentatively feel out this new relationship.

When Rick invites her to walk with him to pick up her half-siblings from their school bus, she gives into her curiosity and agrees. While walking, they talk about why he left and how he was too much of a coward to reconnect. Rick admits he messed up by not being there for her. But it’s clear he’s done a lot of growing since then.

Elora’s half-siblings take to her well, and they all eat pizza together that night. It seems that this little family–her family–has grown on her against her will. When Elora finally leaves, she gives Rick a hug goodbye and promises her siblings she’ll continue to visit.

The Episode Review

K. Devery Jacobs (who wrote this episode) and Ethan Hawke play off each other beautifully as estranged daughter and father in this penultimate installment of Reservation Dogs. Elora’s impulse to run is tangible, and yet you can’t help but root for their reconciliation in seeing Rick’s obvious guilt and awkward eagerness to make things right. In just one episode, his character makes a strong impression, with Hawke hitting all the right notes to complement Jacob’s poignant script.

I know I’m not at all ready for this show to end, so I can’t imagine what Indigenous viewers are feeling at the prospect of losing the rare form of representation Sterlin Harjo has provided. It’s a bitter feeling, preparing to say goodbye to such dynamic characters as Elora, Bear, Cheese, and Willie Jack. I’m nervous, but also excited to see what’s in store for the Rez Dogs in the finale.

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You can look forward to a full season review when this show ends!


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