HomeTelevisionReservation Dogs: Mvto for 3 Amazing Seasons

Reservation Dogs: Mvto for 3 Amazing Seasons

Reservation Dogs
Photo: Shane Brown/FX/Copyright 2023, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

It’s always hard to see a great series taken from you prematurely, but solace can be found when it’s the decision of its creator, and when it’s done so well. In the final season where the Rez Dogs spend a lot of time apart, the show still manages to tell a well-rounded story of connection; to each other, to family, and to their community. It masterfully interweaves stories from the past, introduces younger versions of characters that we know, and continues to blend the humor and gravitas that has made its run so engaging.

The final season opened where it left off at the end of Season 2, with Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Only the Good Survive), Elora (Devery Jacobs, American Gods), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis, Ghostbusters: Afterlife), and Cheese (Lane Factor, The Fabelmans) stranded in California after their trip to honor and say goodbye to their friend Daniel (Dalton Cramer, Ghosts). The premiere episode, “Bussin’,” is one of just four in the final 10-episode run which featured the gang together, and at times during the season, that was a point of contention. It’s not that the episodes focused on Bear getting back home after becoming separated from the group, or other seemingly standalone episodes, weren’t appreciated – in fact some of them were among the best of the series – but knowing that this was the final time we would get to see the Rez Dogs together on screen, you had to hope for as much time together as possible.

While much of the series has focused on a more traditional coming of age narrative, with our teens yearning to leave their reservation in Oklahoma and find their purpose in the world, creator Sterlin Harjo made the choice to shift and explore the lives of the elders throughout a running story arc that speaks to a sense of community. It comes at the cost of the core group’s time together, but in the end, it’s worth it to speak on how important it is for elders to spend time with young people and pass on what they know.

It’s the third episode of the season, “Deer Lady,” when the weight and purpose of the narrative really becomes clear, and in heartbreaking fashion. It explains the origin of the mysterious Deer Lady character, played by Kaniehtiio Horn and as a young girl by Georgeanne Growingthunder, as she’s forced into a Catholic boarding school. The intention of these schools was to eradicate Native culture and traditions, by removing children from their communities. The episode is by far the hardest to watch of the series, but it lays the foundation for everything that follows.

Not every episode is as heavy as that one though, because this series is still a comedy at its core, and sometimes laughter is the best way to make a message memorable. “Send It” is a great example of that, as it brought the group together to do what they were when we first were introduced to them: committing crime, albeit poorly. This time, it’s not for selfish reasons, and it provides some of the best comedic moments of the final season that don’t involve Dallas Goldtooth as William Knifeman, Bear’s “helpful” spirit guide.

In another standout, the penultimate episode, “Elora’s Dad,” Elora needs to provide proof of her estranged father’s income so that she can qualify for financial aid. It forces her to track him down, and throughout the episode, we see the tough demeanor of a kid that’s felt abandoned by this stranger in front of her authentically shift as they spend time together. It’s yet another powerful example of how beautifully the show handles difficult topics. Devery Jacobs not only shines as an actress, but the episode was also written by her, and the surprising guest star who portrays her father is just further proof of how well respected this series has become.

Ultimately, it’s a shame to lose these characters and this talented Indigenous community that brought them to life over three amazing seasons, but the series definitively goes out on a high note, and their talent has shown through enough to ensure that more opportunities will follow. The show explained that if you break the community, you break the individual, but even with Reservation Dogs ending, in its lasting impact, the community has only grown. Mvto.

Reservation Dogs is now streaming on Hulu.


Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison
Ben Murchison is a regular contributor for TV and Movies. He’s that guy that spends an hour in an IMDb black hole of research about every film and show he watches. Strongly believes Buffy the Vampire Slayer to be the best show to ever exist, and that Peaky Blinders needs more than 6 episodes per series. East Carolina grad, follow on Twitter and IG @bdmurchison.

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