Rutherford Falls Season 1, Episode 1 recap: The battle for Big Larry’s statue

RUTHERFORD FALLS -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/Peacock)
RUTHERFORD FALLS -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Ed Helms as Nathan Rutherford -- (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/Peacock) /

Rutherford Falls is Peacock’s latest original comedy from Ed Helms, Sierra Teller Ornelas and The Good Place creator Michael Schur. Set in an offbeat small town, the series focuses on two best friends who find themselves at a crossroads as their town gets a serious wake up call regarding its history and founding.

The new comedy is as timely as can be as this town is forced to reconcile its Native nation with its whitewashed history books. On one hand we have Nathan Rutherford (Helms) a passionate town resident and direct descendant of Lawrence Rutherford, the town’s founder after he formed a treaty with the Minishonka National in 1638.

In honor of his ancestors’ legacy, Nathan spends most of his time and energy on the upkeep of the Rutherford Falls Heritage Museum, including giving tours to whoever might be interested.

On the other hand we have Nathan’s best friend Reagan (Jana Schmieding), a member of the Minishona who is trying her best to get a heritage museum of her own running in tribute to her indigenous history. But in contrast to the refined, sprawling Rutherford Museum, the Minishonka Cultural Center is a dingy, one-room space shoved into the corner of the local Running Thunder Casino, owned by the tribe and ambitious C.E.O. Terry Thomas (Michael Greyeyes).

In fact, the “Cultural Center” is so small and bland, the first time we see Reagan there, she’s forced to cajole two random casino users out the door after they mistake the few exhibits for items in a gift shop.

Rutherford Falls
RUTHERFORD FALLS — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: Dana L. Wilson as Mayor Deirdre — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/Peacock) /

Rutherford Falls Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Where to move Big Larry

The most significant conflict in the first episode (which sets the stage for the remainder of the season) is a battle over moving the statue of Lawrence Rutherford, or “Big Larry.” In the opening scene of Rutherford Falls Episode 1, someone in town crashes directly into the statue, an occurence so common the traffic cop isn’t even phased. It’s no wonder this happens so often, the statue is smack dab in the middle of the road.

But Big Larry’s location is important since it marks the exact spot the town was founded, so says Nathan. When Mayor Deidre Chisenhall (Dana L. Wilson) announces that they’ll be moving the statue to prevent further accidents, Nathan is horrified.

What the first episode of the series really puts into perspective is how Nathan and Reagan have ignored a big chasm in their friendship throughout the years. The statue situation puts into perspective the fact that perhaps the town’s founding wasn’t exactly as Nathan has always believed and has long since overshadowed the truth of the Minishonka Nation’s story. As Reagan fights to get her cultural center built, she starts to realize this and, as Entertainment Weekly describes, she and Nathan “are launched into fraught personal journeys of cultural reconciliation.”

Rutherford Falls
RUTHERFORD FALLS — “Pilot” Episode 101 — Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Leigh as Bobbie Yang, Dana L. Wilson as Mayor Deirdre — (Photo by: Colleen Hayes/Peacock) /

Rutherford Falls Season 1, Episode 1 recap: Nathan’s rant goes viral

At the culmination of the first episode, Nathan has finally agreed to move the statue at Reagan’s request. He calls a press conference to announce the plan, but becomes irate when the town reveals they could care less about Big Larry. Their insults get Nathan all riled up unitl he erupts into a speech ranting about how his ancestor founded the land “his family’s land” and he’s not going to move the statue after all.

Of course someone films his tirade and posts it on the internet. It quickly starts attracting attention and seems to confirm something for Terry who immediately calls a board meeting. Terry decides to launch “Operation Running Thunder” to take Nathan down. The ending is a little unclear as to what the next step is, but based on the teaser for the remainder of the season, it looks like Terry is planning to sue Nathan.

Not only that, but Nathan’s comments get a lot of people interested in Rutherford Falls’ history and everyone suddenly discovers something shocking in the books that could change everything. Perhaps the town’s founding  didn’t go down as Nathan has always said it did?

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Watch the entire first season of Rutherford Falls right now on Peacock TV.