The Reservation Dogs had a tough time this season. Nothing a little bonding time can’t cure. In “I Still Believe,” the rez dogs go on a journey for Daniel (Dalton Cramer).  Will this journey heal their hearts? Or are the Reservation Dogs through?

When Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis)  and Daniel were freshmen, they were assigned to write a letter to their future selves. The letter contained their dreams. Bear and Willie Jack got their letters back last week. The teacher gave Daniel’s to his cousin. Willie Jack showed the others and they all decided to take a trip … for Daniel.. 

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CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’

In Daniel’s letter, he talked about going to California with his friends. He hopes to bust out Cheese (Lane Factor) when the time comes. (Cheese is younger than everyone else.) We find out that he really liked Elora and he hoped she would like him back by the time they graduate. His dream was to go to California with his friends, if only to see Elora smile when she sees the ocean. 

The time has come. First the gang has to steal Elora’s car. The car is in Kenny Boy’s (Kirk Fox) junkyard. If you recall, the radiator stopped working when she tried to run away with Jackie (Elva Guerra). It’s sitting in the junkyard because Elora can’t pay for the repairs. Bear and Willie Jack go to Kenny Boy’s office to find the car keys. Elora and Jackie go to the main building to open the front gate. And Cheese is the lookout. Which is good because Ansel (Matty Cardarople) is wandering around the yard. 

Bear finds the keys pretty easily. Elora and Jackie have some trouble figuring out the code to the gate. Kenny Boy finds the girls trying different numbers on the keypad. He tells them the code is the year that Sitting Bull was born, 1831. Elora is suspicious, but Kenny Boy tells her to take the car and to pay him when she can, whether that’s in this life or the next. 

Mose (Lil Mike), Mekko (Funny Bone)and the NDN Mafia tell the Rez Dogs goodbye. Mekko and Mose give them a lot of advice to keep them safe. White Steve (Jack Maricle) is the only one who looks like he’s going to cry. Jackie wishes Elora good luck and Elora promises to come back. 

THE WORLD IS YOUR NDN TACO

The Reservation Dogs are off, traveling through the lands of many nations, including the Dinosaur Oyate. Everyone teases Elora because Daniel was practically in love with her. They also talk about what they are going to do when they get to Cali. Bear suggests they put Daniel’s letter in the ocean, since that’s all they have of his. Everyone likes the idea, but it was Daniel’s dream to see the ocean.

They make a pit stop. Bear takes out a large envelope of money that he and Elora worked for. He only takes a little bit into the store for snacks and puts the rest in the glove box.  Bear finds the Medicine Man fortune teller machine and decides to try his luck. The Medicine Man tells him not to whistle at night or he will lose a testicle. And the journey is never over, but always beginning. His printed fortune card says “The path that you are on is unsure. You must pave new ways or you’ll probably die.” Bear thinks it’s all nonsense. When he walks away, the eyes of the Medicine Man follow him. That Medicine Man sounds just like the spirit William Knifeman (Dallas Goldtooth).

Bear gets his fortune from the Medicine Man machine on Reservation Dogs.

RESERVATION DOGS — “I Still Believe” — Season 2, Episode 10 (Airs September 28) — Pictured: D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai as Bear. CR: Shane Brown/FX. Copyright 2022, FX Networks. All Rights Reserved

After many hours in the car, they finally make it to Los Angeles and stop for food. When it’s time to pay, Bear realizes that he left all of the money in the car. Willie Jack goes to get the money and finds that the car has been stolen. Everyone freaks out. They can’t report it to the police for fear that the cops will arrest them and send them home. They don’t know anyone in the area, except for Bear’s dad. When Bear reluctantly calls him, the phone is disconnected. That’s when HE arrives

‘SUP WHITE JESUS

White Jesus (Brandon Boyd) saw some guys in suits steal the car. They might be gangsters. They could be Mormans. Either way, the car is gone. The kids want to get to the ocean so they ask White Jesus to lead them. He is amused and is happy to help. The only one with reservations is Elora.

White Jesus leads them to a homeless camp. He has a tent and offers to let them sleep there. White Jesus even offers to let them use his multi-purpose toothbrush. Elora doesn’t want to stay, but he says they are safer at the camp than they are on the streets. They agree to stay and take turns keeping watch. 

Cheese and Elora talk about The Lost Boys, in particular, the saxophone player on the pier, Tim Capello. He sang the song, “I Still Believe.” Cheese says he also played saxophone on Tina Turner’s song for Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. He learned all of this from Daniel. Daniel made both Cheese and Elora watch those movies. Cheese says Daniel was his hero. Elora is his hero too. She laughs at the revelation. He says its because anytime they get in trouble, Elora always knows what to do. She’s not so sure what to do now, but he’s confident she will figure it out. 

Willie Jack wakes everyone up in a frenzy. The cops are outside, clearing out the camps. Their host is nowhere to be found. Cheese says he will live forever in their hearts. They leave the camp and wander the streets of LA. They find themselves in a nice neighborhood and are getting eyed by the locals. That makes Elora think about Anna and her ranch dressed biscuits. Bear stops and makes everyone listen. He hears waves. They are near the ocean and that gives them the energy to keep going. The Reservation Dogs made it. The ocean keeps going; like a big ass lake that never ends. 

FLASHBACK

We’ve seen flashbacks of the day of Daniel’s funeral. His casket has a quilt on top. Two men stand by the casket singing “Heleluyan.” This time we see Willie Jack, Bear and Cheese sit together. Elora is nowhere to be found. The rest of them lean on each other for comfort. Elora is sitting by herself on her porch, staring out at nothing.

Back to the present … the rez dogs take off their shoes and walk toward the water, except for Elora. She says she can’t let go of Daniel. Bear says they aren’t letting go of Daniel, they are letting go of their pain. The pain has them stuck. Daniel would be happy seeing them live their lives. He’d be happy that they made it to California. 

Elora takes off her shoes and joins the others. They don’t really know what to do or say since they don’t have the letter. Willie Jack starts singing Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin,” Rez edition. She stops when she can’t remember the words, even though she’s making up her own words. 

LOVE YOU BITCH!

Bear asks Cheese to say a prayer. He starts as he normally does, with the pronouns. He says they wanted the moment to be significant like the Neverending Story. They are there to say goodbye, but Cheese admits he’s mad at Daniel. Daniel was his hero. He starts crying because they can’t make things right. 

They all lost someone they love. Cheese lost his hero. Willie Jack lost her relative. Bear lost his best friend. And Elora lost her hope. Daniel was their brother and they will always remember him. They came to Cali for him. Bear grabs Cheese and hugs him.  Willie Jack and Elora join them and they cry together. 

The kids decide to go into the water together. Elora hesitates, saying she’s scared. Willie Jack says she is too. She grabs Elora’s hand and says she won’t let her drown. They walk into the ocean together, screaming and laughing. The four of them grab each other. They did it … together. Another arm wraps around them. Daniel is there with them. They all look at him, smiling. Daniel doesn’t say anything. He just smiles at them. One by one, they all tell Daniel that they love him and hug each other tightly. When they let go, Daniel is gone.

They look better. Like a huge weight has been lifted. So, what now? Elora says they need to find the car and return it to KennyBoy. Willie Jack has relatives on a nearby rez that might help them. And Bear … he says he’s not going back. They walk along the beach and not so far in the distance is Tim Capello, playing his saxophone and singing, “I Still Believe.” 

RELATED: Catch up on all of the Reservation Dogs recaps here! 

Watch the Reservation Dogs on FX on Hulu.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I was asked not to reveal the special character. I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve seen of HIM.

I thoroughly enjoyed this season. It was much more emotional, but in the best way. Grief is always hard to deal with, no matter how prepared or unprepared you are. What happens next for the Reservation Dogs? We have to wait until 2023 to find out. 

Noetta Harjo
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