The time has come to say goodbye to Reservation Dogs. In the series finale, “Dig,” Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) says goodbye to her mentor, Elora Danan (Devery Jacobs) makes a decision about her future, Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai) learns his lesson and Cheese (Lane Factor) is just Cheese. This episode is directed by Sterlin Harjo
Life happens. Babies are born and elders pass on to their next life everyday. Unfortunately for the Native community in Okern, Old Man Fixico (Richard Ray Whitman) has passed. Willie Jack visits Hokti (Lily Gladstone) to give her the news. Her spirit, Gram (Tafv Sampson) and Gram’s new snag, Tupelo (Steve Mathis) sit nearby to tell Hokti how to react.
Hotki uses snacks to demonstrate how Fixico isn’t really gone. She says everyone who interacted with Fixico and his teachings carry him with them. And those people carry Fixico with them when they interact with others. This is how community works. The colonizers tried to break the community when they tried to get rid of Natives. Break the community and you break the individual. Fixico isn’t gone. He will always be with Willie Jack.
Hotki asks what Fixico taught her. Everything she describes is how Fixico took care of the community. Willie Jack isn’t sure she knows what to do, but Hotki says she’s already doing it. Now it’s up to her to take care of the people Fixico left behind. And Willie Jack should make sure that Fixico is sent off the right way.
Willie Jack takes her new position seriously, overseeing all of the details of Fixico’s burial. From the food, to digging the grave, Willie Jack is all over the place making sure it’s all done right. The Mvskoke people have customs that must be recognized. While the women cook all day, the men dig the grave. The community takes time out to honor Fixico and say goodbye. And the young ones check on the elders throughout the day to make sure they are comfortable.
Maximus (Graham Greene), Irene (Casey Camp-Horinek), Bucky (Wes Studi), and Brownie (Gary Farmer) reunite to say goodbye to their friend. Occasionally, they mess with the young ones, making up customs like don’t eat donuts and coffee keeps spirits away. Bucky and Brownie also make fun of Maximus and his belief in Star People.
When Elora arrives, she immediately asks to talk to Bear. They all have to go into the church, but Bear says they will talk later. The boys help move the casket into the church. Wotko (Wotko Long) gives everyone instructions for the day. The men will dig the grave and the Aunties will cook for them throughout the day. They say a prayer before letting everyone view the body. Big (Zahn McClarnon) thanks Fixico for saving his life with a book. Leon (Jon Proudstar) takes the book though. Danny (Michael Spears) whispers something to Fixico and Marc Don (Chad Charlie) just bows and moves on. Mekko (Funny Bone) and Mose (Lil Mike) send Fixico off with a copy of their latest CD.
Big takes a zucchini to the kitchen and flirts with Bev (Jana Schmieding). He runs into Teenie (Tamara Podemski) on the way out and lets her know that he’s seeing someone. She’s happy for him but there was nothing really going on between Teenie and Big. Teenie heads into the kitchen and catches up with everyone. She mentions something about the nice dorms that Elora will move into, but Elora cuts her off quickly. She hasn’t told anyone that she got into college. Teenie turns her attention to Rita (Sarah Podemski) and asks if she took the job in Oklahoma City. Rita did take it and Elora is surprised. She didn’t know that Rita was leaving. She asks if Bear is going with her, but he decided to stay in Okern.
Elora goes to find Bear in the church. She tells him that she’s leaving. She got into college and will attend the coming fall. Bear is quiet at first, but then tells Elora that he is proud of her. He knows how hard her life has been. She’s had it harder than any of them, but it made her tough. He will miss her but he thinks its a good thing for her. She promises to come back on weekends. He’s okay with that. Nothing can break up the Rez Dogs. They both start to cry and hug, saying they love each other.
While the guys set up for digging, the elders listen to music under the arbor by the church. Bucky gets up and starts dancing. The Aunties take a break and watch. He grabs one of the Aunties to dance as the rest clap and smile as they watch. When it’s time to start digging, everyone gathers at the gravesite. Wotko asks Willie Jack to break the ground, even though the men traditionally dig. After she digs the first hole, Leon realizes they only have one shovel. Never fear, Uncle Kenny Boy (Kirk Fox) and Ansel (Matty Cardarople) arrive with a truck full of shovels.
When night falls, the men gather around the gravesite and start digging. Cheese is ready to get to work and accidentally hits White Steve (Jack Maricle) in the face. It seems like Cheese is doing most of the digging. Bear shovels once and pretend to be tired. The elders sit nearby and watch. Kenny Boy tries to talk to them about death and they are not amused.
Bear goes into the woods for a bathroom break. The Elders warn him not to whistle or he will summon the spirits. After Bear does his business, he whistles! (YIKES) He hears a familiar voice say “A ho!” The Spirit, William Knifeman (Dallas Goldtooth) returns, but not because Bear whistles. He’s there to help Fixico move on. And to see Bear.
They haven’t seen each other since Bear told him to go away. Spirit says he was really hurt. But he’s been following Bear on instagram and tiktoks. (Don’t follow William Knifeman on TikTok…it’s a burner account.) Bear asks what advice he has for him. Spirit is actually there to say “See you later.” (Native people don’t have a word for goodbye.)
Spirit says he’s proud of Bear. He deserves to be loved and he deserves to love. The people at the church are offering him love. That’s why he’s here. Spirit asks Bear what he learned. Bear says he learned that he doesn’t have to be the only leader. He’s from an amazing community and he’s proud to be a part of this community.
As for the future, Bear says he’s going to stay in Okern for a year and figure some things out. Bear starts to thank Spirit, but he stops him. Spirit wants to say something sacred but can’t, so he’s going to walk away. Just kidding, Spirit hugs Bear and Bear thanks him. As Spirit walks away, he tells Bear to sanitize his hands. Bear hears Spirit’s war cry as he walks away.
The next morning, everyone gathers at the gravesite now that it’s complete. Wotko says it’s time for breakfast and asks if anyone wants to speak. Willie Jack steps forward. Willie Jack reflects on the small amount of time she spent with Fixico and the things he taught her. He taught her that every little thing is important. They have to take care of people and be there for them. Fixico cared about the community and she hopes she can do that too. Willie Jack says Fixico helped her find her purpose and she thanks him for everything he taught her. She says she loves him and knows he will be there for her.
They don’t know what they will be doing in a week, a month or a year. But they will always come back together when they need to. Some of them will go. Some will stay. This place and the people will live in each of them forever. And it will go on like that.
While she talks, we see a glimpse of the near future. Rita leaves for her new life in the city. Bear … with hickies on his neck, tells her not to worry. Jackie (Elva Guerra) is with them and Rita tells her to take it easy on Bear’s neck! Cheese sits with his Grandma Irene and drinks coffee. Elora sells her house and packs up her things. She bought a truck from her dad. Bear, Cheese, Willie Jack and Jackie show up to see her off, hugging her before she goes.
Back at the gravesite, Leon hugs Willie Jack as everyone heads to the church. Bear, Elora and Cheese stand with Willie Jack. They all tell each other that they love one another. Cheese says he’s hungry so they turn to leave. Willie Jack takes a handful of dirt and throws it into the grave. The four friends walk to the church, arms around each other.
Epilogue, Bev pulls Big out of the woods, handcuffed to each other. The elders sit together. Bucky says they did good. And Brownie agrees. So does Irene. They sent their brother off in a good way. Maximus says until the next one. They all raise their cups and toast.
Hvtvm Cehecares Reservation Dogs.
Watch the Reservation Dogs on FX on Hulu.
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