In the fourth episode of the third season of the FX original series Reservation Dogs, Bear and his gang are back at the Okern reservation and that means getting the punishment coming to them from their parents and elders.
Reservation Dogs season 3 episode 4 recap
We’re at the IHS clinic and while bingo day is proceeding like usual, aka molasses with sporadic bursts of unexpected bliss, Bear’s mother Rita gets off of the number picker’s chair to take care of more important business.
That business being laying down the chastisement of the four rez dogs who went to California. Bear, Elora, Cheese, and Willie Jack plus a hapless Jackie (who did not actually run away to California) are hobbled for the day with every embarrassing duty their parents can think of for them to do around the IHS clinic.
Mostly it’s cleaning. Lots of cleaning during the grounded day.
Cheese and Willie Jack are partnered together to clean the graffiti (some of them they made) on the wall along the entranceway of the clinic.
Elora is partnered with the IHS maintenance head Leon who tasks her to wipe down every surface and bag up any garbage she sees aka trash duty.
Meantime, Bear is partnered with Jackie for sweeping and mopping duties. Basically, it’s every teenager’s nightmare but to the rez dogs’ credit, they do take their licking with dignity and just do as they’re told.
By the by, Cheese has a sweet Naruto shirt on which makes him look tres cool despite all the wall scrubbing he does. But the real development in this episode is how Willie Jack bonds with the alleged medicine man Fixico or Uncle Fix.
This is the old guy who mans his “real medicine” booth (actually just a table draped with a native-designed blanket for character) and sells anything from used books to old-school Indian medicine bags.
When Willie Jack tells Cheese to go get his prescription glasses from the optha, she uses it as an opportunity to sidle up and ask Old Man Fixico to train her in his ways. I mean, she spends lots of time hanging out with him anyway. Might as well, right?
She figures his hataalii shaman ways can’t be any harder to learn than navigating their way to LA, especially since he just keeps prescribing stinkweed to anyone who comes to him for magic meds. Like a nurse or doctor in a neighborhood whose go-to is to just prescribe aspirin for any kind of pain.
Elora also meantime takes a stab at imagining her future by actually refusing Leon’s offer to be trained as the next head of maintenance for the HIS clinic. This mentorship program isn’t really attractive to her despite displays of job perks like unrestricted access to the vending machine.
She voices out loud that she likely would rather opt for school and higher education (psychology, maybe?) so she can get out of the rez. Finding her newly discovered white father is also on the list.
Sorta, kinda. But towards the end of the episode she takes a real step in that direction by asking the clinic for her own medical records.
Her father’s name is Rick Miller. WTF kind of name is that?
With Bear and Jackie’s sweeping duties, it’s mostly Bear trying to convince Jackie that he had indeed met the mythical Deer Lady in the flesh. Yeah, it was awesome. Yeah, he’s probably likely an accessory to murder. But what it’s how Bear rolls now.
Bev teases Bear’s mother Rita that hey she better be prepped for some grandma duties soon.
There’s also a peculiar flirtation going on between Bev (Jackie’s mom) and Officer Big. This budding dynamic of peculiar repugnance started off when Bev accidentally on purpose peeked into the examination room where Big was sans pants or underwear.
I would love to see the whole BTS of the episode, especially after that yucky gum scene during the credits.
Another observation for the episode is the sweet shirt saying I’M TOO SACRED FOR THAT by the twins. I mean that should be on the show’s official merch.
By the end, it’s a Caucasian teen who bags the bingo. White Steve gets the win prompting jabs of “Haven’t his people taken too much from us already?”
This is a pretty relaxed episode where the gang and the viewer can just breathe, settle into the dreary, and tranquil life back on the rez. The small changes that happen do so in a nuanced and organic way.
You can watch seasons one to three of Reservation Dogs on HULU